Gov. George Pataki and the chief of the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe
of Oklahoma have signed an agreement to settle the tribe’s
New York land claim, establish a Catskill-area casino and provide
for tribal collection of sales taxes. The pact now requires
approval by Congress and the state Legislature.
“The agreement allows us to move forward with plans to
establish the first of three new casinos in the Catskills, which
would create thousands of new jobs and provide a tremendous
boost to the region’s economy,” Pataki said in a
prepared statement. “Our agreement will also provide for
the collection and remittance of state and local sales and excise
taxes on products sold by the tribe.”
The pact says the tribe will relinquish its interest in the
$247.9 million federal court judgment obtained jointly with
the Cayuga Indian Nation in 2002 and indemnify the state for
final monetary judgment in the land claim case up to $350 million.
A federal judge set awards to both Indian nations after ruling
the state had illegally purchased 64,000 acres of reservation
land in Cayuga and Seneca counties more than 200 years ago.
The Seneca-Cayugas in August offered to end their litigation
and stake in the judgment in return for a state compact for
a Catskills casino. A source close to the deal said the site
proposed by the tribe will be in the Town of Thompson.
Representatives of the Cayuga Nation of New York have maintained
that the Seneca Cayugas have no right to the claim judgment
and shouldn’t be allowed to set up a casino in New York.
The deal was brokered by former state Attorney General Dennis
Vacco, who stands to earn a substantial success fee —
more than $1 million — should the project in the Catskills
get built. Vacco’s arrangement is under investigation
by the Temporary State Lobbying Commission because Vacco is
also a lobbyist and such contingency fees are illegal under
most circumstances when legislation is being sought.
Many think the Catskill Interpretive Center project long dead,
but according to Sherret Chase, Chair of the non-profit group
Friends of the Catskill Interpretive Center, the project is
alive and well.
All it needs is money. Money and permission from Governor George
Pataki, who stopped the project and took away the funding in
the first month of his first term in office.
“Our goal is to organize a process that would encourage
the State of New York to build The Catskill Interpretive Center
on the basis of an update of the plans originally formulated
a decade ago by NYSDEC with the advice of community members,
and at the originally planned site,” Chase said to a small
audience of Shandaken residents this week.
After more than a decade of planning the plug was pulled on
the project in the mid 1990’s, leaving behind a well paved
road, a new bridge, and a leveled off parcel of land that was
to be the location for an impressive structure built of local
materials such as timbers and bluestone.
The arts, local libraries, historical societies and a host of
other agencies and programs are facing funding cuts next year
because Ulster County’s $295 million tentative budget
for 2005, rising over 20 percent because of jail and other costs,
calls for a 25 percent cut in the county’s support of
so-called “contract agencies.”
Some 39 agencies and organizations have submitted $1.69 million
in funding requests for next year to Ulster County. But the
funding of these agencies is one of the few discretionary items
in the annual budget that is left fully to the Ulster County
Legislature to decide. This year, the county doled out $1.28
million to agencies, an amount equal to roughly 3 percent of
the 2004 tax levy.
When County Administrator Arthur Smith presented his tentative
2005 budget in late October, it included a recommendation that
lawmakers cut the funding for contract agencies by 25 percent
from current levels. Should lawmakers take his recommendation
to heart, it could pit agencies with large requests against
those seeking less, because all the agencies will share a pot
of $959,250, or just under 57 percent of the total requests
submitted to the county.
As in past years, the three largest funding requests are from
Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Ulster County Development
Corp. and the Ulster County Library Association, none of which
has received a county funding increase in at least three years.
And with only 75 percent of last year’s agency funding
to spend, lawmakers would be unable to fulfill even these three
funding requests, which total $1.14 million. That leaves legislators
with the tough choice: Direct funding to the largest beneficiaries,
at the expense of the arts, historic and social groups that
also depend on the county’s annual contribution; or cut
funding across the board.
The Mid-Hudson Region Small Business Development Center, meanwhile
was recently ranked first in New York State in economic impact
for the fourth straight year. In addition, it was ranked first
in the state for overall performance among the 23 state Small
Business Development Centers.
Its counselors provided 5,738 of service to 1,050 clients, resulting
in nearly $42 million in economic impact for the region and
1,303 jobs created or saved.
Meanwhile, legislators have been putting together a wish list
of new facilities they would like over the next six years, including
a $3.9 million, 20,000-square-foot state-of-the-art computer
center to house the county’s Information Services Department;
a $2.7 million, 15,000-square-foot county office building in
New Paltz, which would consolidate probation, mental health
and health department offices currently leasing space there;
a $2.3 million, 2-story parking garage in Uptown Kingston to
provide free parking for employees working in the Ulster County
Office Building; a $1.9 million visitor center at the Thruway
Exit 19 roundabout; a $3.2 million emergency communications
and operations center; a $13.4 million law administration building
on the site of the current county jail, which would house Family
Court, the Consumer Fraud Bureau, the Public Defender’s
Office and other criminal justice-related services and a $516,000
central auto maintenance garage.
Ulster County currently is $139.5 million in debt. This year,
the county will pay $10.9 million in debt service.
An Informational Meeting on the proposed 2005 County Budget
will be held on Tuesday, November 30, 2004 at 5:30 pm in the
Legislative Chambers, Sixth Floor, County Office Building, 244
Fair Street, Kingston, New York. Department Heads will be in
attendance to offer an explanation of their department proposals.
Legislation proposed by State Senator John Bonacic, designed
to repeal new laws changing the method for distributing vehicle
and traffic fines between local courts and the State, recently
passed the state Senate and now moves on to the Assembly in
the coming months. The provision, part of a larger budget bill,
had reversed a longstanding practice of the State to a1low localities
to keep most of the income from ticket and fine revenue. The
new changes were creating major shortfalls in a number of local
town budgets, and movement towards repeal is being hoped for
throughout the Route 28 corridor…
A program unanimously approved by the Ulster County Legislature
this month is expected to help local businesses, agencies, and
individuals buy automated external defibrillators by leveraging
the purchasing power of Ulster County to bring down the price.
The proper use of the devices has improved the survival rate
of heart attack victims from less than 2 percent to more than
80 percent, according to the American Heart Association.
“I’m very happy that everyone supported it,”
said program sponsor Robert Parete, D-Boiceville. “It’s
a good way that we can work in a bipartisan manner to get things
done for the residents of Ulster County.”
Parete came up with the program to boost county residents’
accessibility to the devices, given the Food and Drug Administration’s
decision last month to allow the sale of automated external
defibrillators without a prescription.
The county will seek bids on the bulk purchase of defibrillators,
up to an initial purchase total of $35,000. In addition to making
the units available to county residents at cost, the program
calls for defibrillators to be gradually placed in all 36 buildings
that house county operations. Currently a handful of county
buildings, including the Ulster County Office Building, the
county Jail, and the Department of Social Services, have automated
external defibrillators in them.
In addition to purchasing the units, the county will team up
with an agency to provide training to consumers and county employees
who may end up using the automated external defibrillators.
An amendment was added to the resolution asking that state representatives
- including the state Senate, Assembly, and the governor - be
asked to help the county by reimbursing it for some or all of
the program’s cost.
The 100th Anniversary of the Catskill Park has inspired a group
of individuals to launch the Catskill Mountain Club (CMC) –
the first all-inclusive hiking and outdoor organization to specifically
serve the entire Catskill region. Chris Olney, newly elected
president of the CMC, and a writer for this paper, explained
the new club is devoted to outdoor stewardship, education, hiking,
camping, fishing, hunting, canoeing, kayaking, biking, and other
non-motorized nature-related pursuits in the Catskill Mountains.
“We hope to encourage people to safely and responsibly
explore and care for the public lands of the Catskill region”
said Mr. Olney. “Membership in the Catskill Mountain Club
is open to anyone with an interest in the Catskills and its
outdoor recreational opportunities. We encourage people to volunteer
and give something back to our natural areas by leading hikes,
assisting with maintenance of trails and other recreational
resources, and participating with friends and neighbors in other
activities planned by the CMC”.
The Club consists of a 15-member board of directors. Committees
have been established to organize outings, educational workshops,
and stewardship activities. Mr. Olney explained the group was
brought together by their mutual enjoyment of the outdoor recreational
opportunities of the Catskills, and respect for the region’s
diverse public lands and natural resources.
As an inaugural event, the Catskill Mountain Club joined with
another regional organization, the Catskills Institute for the
Environment, to host a Catskill Park photo scavenger hunt contest
during the Catskill Park centennial Lark in the Park, sponsored
by the New York State DEC during a two week period in October.
Participants were given a list of ten things to photo-document
inside the Catskill Park. Helen Chase of Shokan won the contest
by locating and photographing nine of the ten items.
Membership in the CMC is currently free, however the club welcomes
donations to support their volunteer work and programs. For
more information about the Catskill Mountain Club, to participate
in upcoming activities, and to print out a membership application,
visit the organization’s website at www.catskillmountainclub.org.
Seeking to take advantage of the momentum from an election where
moral values proved important to voters, the Rev. Jerry Falwell
announced this month that he has formed a new coalition to guide
an “evangelical revolution.” Falwell, a religious
broadcaster based in Lynchburg, Va., said the Faith and Values
Coalition will be a “21st century resurrection of the
Moral Majority,” the organization he founded in 1979.
Falwell said he would serve as the coalition’s national
chairman for four years and added that the new group’s
mission would be to lobby for anti-abortion conservatives to
fill openings on the Supreme Court and lower courts, a constitutional
amendment banning same-sex marriage, and the election of another
“George Bush-type” conservative in 2008.
Born To Run
Humans were born to run and evolved from ape-like creatures
into the way they look today probably because of the need to
cover long distances and compete for food, scientists have now
said. From tendons and ligaments in the legs and feet that act
like springs and skull features that help prevent overheating,
to well-defined buttocks that stabilize the body, the human
anatomy is shaped for running.
Scientists suspect modern humans evolved from their ape-like
ancestors about 2 million years ago so they could hunt and scavenge
for food over large distances. But the development of physical
features that enabled humans to run entailed a trade off --
the loss of traits that were useful for being a tree-climber.
The conventional theory is that running was a by-product of
bipedalism, or the ability to walk upright on two legs, that
evolved in ape-like human ancestors called Australopithecus
at least 4.5 million years ago. But the new study argues that
it took a few million more years for the running physique to
evolve, so the ability to walk cannot explain the transition.
If natural selection did not favor running, the scientists believe
humans would still look a lot like apes. Among the features
that set humans apart from apes to make them good runners are
longer legs to take longer strides, shorter forearms to enable
the upper body to counterbalance the lower half during running
and larger disks which allow for better shock absorption.
Big buttocks are also important.
“Have you ever looked at an ape? They have no buns,”
said one of the scientists who authored the report.
Humans lean forward when they run and the buttocks “keep
you from pitching over on your nose each time a foot hits the
ground,” he added.
The Catskill Watershed Corporation has a message for homeowners
who have participated in its septic repair and replacement program:
It’s time to think about maintenance of those systems,
and the CWC can help. A new Septic Maintenance Program, piloted
earlier this year in Sullivan County, has been expanded throughout
the five-county New York City Watershed West of the Hudson River.
In early November, letters were sent to 1,100 eligible homeowners
– those who have had their systems repaired or replaced
by the CWC prior to 2002 — explaining how they might benefit
from this program to inspect their systems and pump out septic
tanks. The reimbursement program is intended to encourage homeowners
to have their systems maintained on a regular basis (every three
to five years). Preventive maintenance wards off costly repairs
and prolongs the life of on-site wastewater treatment systems.
Eligible properties are those where the CWC paid for all or
part of a failed septic system at least three years ago. Eligibility
extends to new owners of properties on which septic system repairs
were conducted by the CWC prior to acquisition. Homeowners may
contract with any licensed septage hauler to conduct the inspection
and pump-out. Upon submittal of a completed inspection check
list, reimbursement form, contractor’s invoice and proof
of payment, the CWC will reimburse the homeowner 50% of the
incurred eligible cost. Funding for pump-outs of an eligible
system cannot be provided more often than every three years
under this program. The CWC does not pay for enzyme treatments
or other system additives. To learn more about the maintenance
program, or about the CWC’s Septic Repair and Replacement
Program, call toll-free: 877-WAT-SHED (928-7433), or go to the
corporation’s website, www.cwconline.org.
Despite mainstream media attempts to kill the story, talk radio
and the Internet are abuzz with suggestions that John Kerry
was elected president on Nov. 2 – but Republican election
officials made it difficult for millions of Democrats to vote
while employees of four secretive, GOP-bankrolled corporations
rigged electronic voting machines and then hacked central tabulating
computers to steal the election for George W. Bush. According
to reports, the Bush administration’s “fix”
of the 2000 election debacle (the Help America Vote Act) made
crooked elections considerably easier, by foisting paperless
electronic voting on states before the bugs had been worked
out or meaningful safeguards could be installed.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Verified Voting, a group
formed by a Stanford University professor to assess electronic
voting, has collected 31,000 reports of election fraud and other
problems. University of Pennsylvania researcher Dr. Steven Freeman
has noted that the odds that the discrepancies between predicted
[exit poll] results and actual vote counts in Ohio, Florida
and Pennsylvania could have been due to chance or random error
are 250 million to 1.
Unlike Europe, where citizens count the ballots, in the United
States employees of a highly secretive Republican-leaning company,
ES&S, managed every aspect of the 2004 election. That included
everything from registering voters, printing ballots and programming
voting machines to tabulating votes (often with armed guards
keeping the media and members of the public who wished to witness
the count at bay) and reporting the results, for 60 million
voters in 47 states, according to Christopher Bollyn, writing
in American Free Press. Most other votes were counted by three
Six important Congressmen, including three on the House Judiciary
Committee, asked the U.S. Comptroller General to investigate
the efficacy of new electronic voting devices. Black Box Voting
– the nonprofit group which spearheaded much of the pre-election
testing (and subsequent criticism) of electronic machines that
found them hackable in 90 seconds – is filing the largest
Freedom of Information Act inquiry in U.S. history. And the
Green and Libertarian Parties, as well as Ralph Nader, are demanding
an Ohio recount, because of voting fraud, suppression and disenfranchisement.
Recounts are also being sought in New Hampshire, Nevada and
In 47 Florida counties, the number of presidential votes exceeded
the number of registered voters. Palm Beach County recorded
90,774 more votes than voters and Miami-Dade had 51,979 more,
while relatively honest Orange County had only 1,648 more votes
than voters. Overall, Florida reported 237,522 more presidential
votes (7.59 million) than citizens who turned out to cast ballots
Leona Werner, 93, of Weber Lane, Olivebridge, died November
11, 2004 at the Kingston Hospital. She had been an area resident
for over 50 years. Many years ago, she had worked as a licensed
beautician at Jones’ Beauty Parlor in New York City and
Maryland. Mrs. Werner helped to establish the Olive First Aid
Squad. She was a member of the Olivebridge United Methodist
Church, the United Methodist Women, the Olive Rebecca’s,
the Olive Women’s Club, the Olivebridge Fire Department
Auxillary, and the Olive Senior Citizens. She was born May 28,
1911 in North Carolina daughter of the late James and Mary Lenora
Bevill Lemons. Surviving are her daughter Linda Werner of Olivebridge,
a son Charles Lemons of Olivebridge. She was predeceased by
her husband of 56 years, Joseph Werner on January 15, 2003,
and her siblings; Herman, Hal, Harry, Marvin, George, Joyner
Lemons, and Mabel Vitale. Private burial will be in the family
plot at the Krumville Cemetery. The family suggests memorial
contributions may be made to the Olivebridge United Methodist