I am writing regarding last week’s article in the Olive
Press entitled “Who Killed Our Bill” by Gary Alexander
relating to the “Large Parcel” matter.
Mr. Alexander used my name 6 times in the article, and made inferences
even he admitted were unproven, but never bothered to call me
for comment for that article. His article is not factually accurate,
has many misrepresentations, and is divisive. Let me set the record
In 1997, the “Large Parcel” legislation was introduced
in the Senate and Assembly. It had the backing of 2 statewide
groups comprised of both elected and appointed officials —
the Assessors and the County Real Property Tax Directors. For
5 years the bill was considered. Localities in our Senate District
contacted me in support of this legislation. No elected official
from Olive contacted me in opposition. In 2002, the legislation
passed with broad, bi-partisan support. Governor Pataki signed
the legislation into law.
The law creates a local option. The Ulster County Legislature
and the Onteora School Board considered implementing the “Large
Parcel” law in 2003. They did not do so in 2003. Many other
areas have also chosen not to.
The Town of Olive officials contacted me to see if the law could
be amended to exempt the Ashokan Reservoir from the “Large
Parcel’ law. I told them I would try to be helpful. What
happened next was that the advocates for the “Large Parcel”
law started lobbying Albany to have the law remain unchanged.
Furthermore, the attorney for the Senate sponsor of the “Large
Parcel” law stated publicly it was intended to include reservoirs.
The original sponsors of the law, both in the Assembly and Senate,
refused to move the amendment to the floor for a vote. The Governor’s
office indicated there was no support to change the law. No bill
was killed as indicated in the article. There simply was no support
for the amendment.
I told Olive officials that I would contact ORPS to reconsider
their assessments on the Ashokan Reservoir to alleviate the problem
Olive taxpayers are facing. I will continue to support the Onteora
School District with State Aid increases, continue to fight for
more State investment in Belleayre, support our emergency services
organizations, and fight to end the real property tax on primary
John J. Bonacic
I am grateful that the honorable Senator was gracious enough to
respond to my report. He affords me an opportunity to reassure
voters who are beginning to suspect that politics and honesty
not always walk hand-in-hand.
The Senator characterizes my article as "divisive" yet
I am certain that a moment's reflection would persuade any fair-minded
individual that the divisive element here is the Large Parcel
law, itself. The objective of this humble reporter has been merely
to unify the stories of those involved with the law into a cohesive
picture of what actually occurred prior to and since its passage.
Senator Bonacic has exercised his analytical endowment to discern
that his name was used 6 times in the article and I can assure
the Senator that it was quoted to me a multiple of that number
of times during the course of my research. He quite properly observes
that "inferences" are made and that, in such cases,
the report does not seek to advance them as "fact."
The story reports the accounts of individuals which sometimes
convey an impression of contradiction and gives them to the reader
to weigh for him or herself. The Senator's position, without his
personal confirmation, is not stated except
in the perception of it by others concerned and nowhere is it
attributed directly to the Senator..
I will grant that perhaps my efforts to contact the Senator were
insufficient. Nor has subsequent attempts been blessed by good
fortune before the arrival of his kind letter. I have spoken with
his office and received a message from his representative on my
answering machine but no closer contact was actually achieved.
My emailed questions have yet to solicit a response and my last
contact with his office, after days of fervent prayer next to
the phone, advised me that he had tried to call at a specific
time the previous day but encountered a busy signal and that it
probably wouldn't be fruitful to limbo another day. Such are the
wages of phone tag with an extremely busy and dedicated public
figure but I trust providence will reward some future effort with
the confident and robust tones of his own voice.
The Senator's letter misses a golden opportunity to elucidate
charging that the article is "not factually accurate"
and contains "many misrepresentations" without identifying
a single one of them. Since it is my purpose to enlighten the
community as to what has actually occurred, any contribution the
Senator could make toward alleviating inaccuracy or correcting
misrepresentation would be appreciated. If any of my sources are
in error or given to fabrication, it would be most helpful to
have the Senator's informed perspective as to where, specifically,
my facts are amiss. My sincerest apologies would be, thenceforth,
In all good grace,
While reading Councilman Bruce LaMonda's letter (Olive Press,
July 15, 2004). I understand his frustration at not being
able to locate "Cyrus McCormick."
You see, Bruce, I have had the same problem locating one of our
Police Commissioners. The Town of Olive has a police commissioner
named Robert Schanck who has a phone number listed in the Town
of Olive portion of the Ulster County Directory as 246-7855.
Not only is it listed there for 2004, but it has been listed that
way at least since 2001, which is the oldest edition of the Directory
that I have in my possession. I knew this couldn't be OUR
police commissioner because Robert Schanck lives in Saugerties
and has for many years.
I would like to know what number you or other town officials use
to locate this Police Commissioner?
West Shokan, NY
Remember all that we tax payers went through when the school board
decided to close the West Hurley school? Remember having to vote
twice to reduce taxes? What is going on is the school board or
at least some school board members change their minds and cave
in to public pressure so they will stand a very good chance of
being re-elected. At the July 26th meeting David Patterson made
an appeal to keep the West Hurley School open regardless of the
price tag. In all fairness to Patterson he was not on the board
when the first decision was made to close the school, but saying
regardless of the price gives one an idea of how he thinks about
school taxes. As stated in the Daily Freeman Marino D’Orazio
and Herb Rosenfeld voted along with Patterson. D’Orazio
said the board gets accused of waffling but I don’t see
it that way. I just see people struggling with a very difficult
Maybe if the school board members stop shaking their heads yes
to everything that the School Superintendent and the administration
want and do some research on their own they wouldn’t be
accused of waffling and we wouldn’t be paying such outrageous
out of control school taxes. When we elect school board members
we expect them to not only worry about what’s good for students,
but take into consideration tax payers that are struggling to
keep their heads above water. Next election let’s find out
who’s qualified to make million dollar decisions before
Several months ago, Richard Ostrander was forced to resign from
the Olive Police Commission by Town Supervisor Berndt Leifeld
and Councilman Bruce LaMonda. They were acting on the orders
from Democrat County Chairman, John Parete. As it turns
out, Rich was dismissed because he served as campaign treasurer
for Robert Wilkins' election for county legislator.
It's been common knowledge in Olive that our other Police Commissioner
has not lived in town for several years now and splits his time
between the town of Saugerties and the state of Florida.
Why would the Town continue these elaborate schemes to keep one
commissioner, who doesn't live here, and dismiss Richard Ostrander
on orders from John Parete - who lives in the town of Marbletown?
I would also like to publicly thank Richard Ostrander for his
six years of service to our Police Commission and Town.
I guess our town leaders couldn't publicly thank you for your
service and then explain why they forced your resignation.
West Shokan, NY
I want to thank Phil Sullivan for bringing up a subject that desperately
needs to be part of the national dialogue.
We are told constantly by the powers that be that we live in a
democracy, meaning a government by people where the supreme power
is vested in the people and exercised directly by the people.
Maybe it is time to truly take this to heart and call our government
Our congressmen, senators and president work for US! We the people
pay their salary with our taxes. When did any employee ever have
the right to keep secrets that are of direct concern to the employer
from that employer? There is some very shady stuff going on in
our government right now and we the people have the right to know
what the hell is going on! I don’t care if you are a Democrat,
Republican, Green or whatever – things are messed up big
time in this country and as citizens of a democracy it is our
responsibility to fix it!
First and foremost we need publicly financed elections so that
representatives truly represent US and not the haves and the have
mores of Bush’s blatantly self-proclaimed base
We also need instant run off voting so that more people have a
voice. It was Thomas Jefferson who said, “It is not by this
consolidation or concentration of power, but by their distribution
that good government is effected!”
And the final thing necessary to run an effective democratic government
is to take back the media! We the people own the airwaves, yet
our representatives have given away those airwaves to just a handful
of the have mores who effectively determine what it is we see
and think. This has to stop or there is the possibility of falling
more deeply into a very scary Orwellian world.
West Shokan, NY
On Saturday, August 7, the Peace Action Network will commemorate
the 59th anniversary of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki. From 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Woodstock Village Green
a gong will be rung signifying each year since those tragedies.
Also, at that time, cloth panels from Ribbon International will
be displayed depicting the feelings of people worldwide as to
what they would miss most if there were a nuclear war.
The so-called "StarWars" system is basically a weapons
in space program which increases the possibility of using nuclear
weapons. Smaller "tactical" nuclear bombs are being
developed for more "ordinary" use. Peacemakers must
now be heard before it is too late to break this increasing cycle
Please join us to register your desire for peace in space and
peace on earth.
Our cellphones go dead west of Shokan. I fail to understand what
exactly is being accomplished by refusing to erect cell towers
in our area, making it impossible to stay in touch with loved
ones in the current climate of vulnerable instability. If it's
the towers themselves, there are celltowers that look exactly
like trees, and could easily be erected in places they'd
never be seen. If it's the use of the phones themselves, there
are laws now for useage with earpieces while driving. Past that,
it is a matter of choice, or it should be. I must say, from the
rest the world, this refusal for modernization in a world
full of cellphones, makes this area look stubborn and silly. Cellphones
make a lot of sense in this day and age, and they're here to stay.
I'm sure there are people who would advocate a return to horse
and buggy, but that's not going to happen either. I resent having
someone legislate my freedom to communicate. Can we reopen a forum
on this matter? The lack of cellphone towers has moved from backwards-thinking
and inconvenient, to possibly dangerous or just plain stupid.
Welfare is the ultimate security policy for every woman in America.
Like accident or life insurance, you hope you'll never need it.
But for yourself and your children, you need to know it's there.
Without it, we have no real escape from abusive relationships
or any protection in a job market hostile to women with children.
Imagine the worst. You are laid off from your job. Your marriage
falls apart. Your young children need childcare. And you have
no family close to help.
This is the kind of thing that "happens to someone else."
Someone we like to think is "different." And to underline
the difference, we usually figure the woman is somehow at fault.
"Why did she have kids if she can't support them?" we
ask. "What's the matter with her?"
But, at heart, we know how uncomfortably close we are, ourselves,
to being without support, without savings. All it takes is a few
strokes of hard luck. Hard luck is so common, it strikes millions
of women with children every year. Women with no job security
in unstable or abusive relationships with nowhere to turn but
But if that isn't enough, society seems to insist on adding insult
to injury. A fly on the wall in a social services office would
hear very different tones and innuendoes. A woman using welfare
to support her family must endure questions about her sex life,
risk being fingerprinted (as a fraud measure) and must grit her
teeth and smile when they tell her that her benefits are being
cut. For women on welfare, everyday is a painful, bitter, humiliating
juggling act. To be a poor woman in the United States today is
to live between a rock and a hard place, day in and day out.
There are the families that use the food pantry at Family Domestic
Violence Services. These families frequently skip meals and eat
far too little, sometimes going without food for days at a time.
In 2003 we provided 7,110 meals to these women and children in
Ulster County. This year we have suffered a drastic cut to our
funding and we are asking your help to keep our food pantry stocked.
You can help us by organizing a food drive, holding a bake sale
and donating the proceeds or just writing a check to the Family
Domestic Violence Food Pantry, attention Kathleen Welby, Program
Director, PO Box 3817, Kingston, NY, 12402.
Child hunger and poverty has become one of America's leading problems.
It is a problem that affects a large number of children all over
the county. With your help we can start to address this problem
and see that our children are fed.
Kathleen C. Welby
You’ve probably heard in the past few weeks the charge that
the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would define marriage in
the U.S. Constitution as the union of one man and one woman, would
write discrimination into our country’s founding document.
Don’t believe it for a second.
It is not homosexuals, but marriage, that is under attack. Left
unchecked, rogue judges intent on finding new rights in the Constitution
will succeed, someday soon, in extending marriage benefits to
gays. Supporters of a marriage-protection amendment aren’t
out to discriminate against anyone; they simply want to preserve
the institution of marriage as it has served society for centuries.
Amendment supporters have also been disparaged as “bigots.”
How can that be when the language being proposed is identical
to the language of the Defense of Marriage Act, passed by 427
members of Congress? Are they —and former President Clinton,
who signed the bill into law —bigots, too?
This aggressive campaign to undermine marriage as it’s always
been known can be defeated —but only if we all stand up
to support the Federal Marriage Amendment.
New Paltz, NY
Even as the national elections take up much of our attention and
energy, we simply cannot afford to neglect the importance of Kingston
Hospital's merger talks with both Benedictine Hospital and HealthQuest
(Vassar Hospital) as reported by Andrea Barrist Stern in Woodstock
Times on June 10 and July 8.
Talks are moving fast; Kingston Hospital's interim CEO David Buchmueller
told a group of community activists that the hospital's board
of directors will be meeting before the end of July for a vote.
Kingston Hospital has had a rough financial ride in the last few
years. Its overriding concern today is the financial health of
its system. Healthcare consumers, too, care about their fiscal
viability. But in times of crisis in our families' lives, we are
deeply interested in having a full-service hospital available
to us locally. If there is a Kingston-Benedictine merger, there
will not be a single full-service hospital on this side of the
Hudson River between Albany and Newburgh!
Our community fought long and hard to preserve women's services
in 1997-98. We could be on the verge of losing them to inattention.
Let's not forget which services are at risk in a merger under
the Catholic Healthcare Directives: Providing information on birth
control, counseling on HIV/AIDS including the use of condoms,
tubal ligations after caesarians, vasectomies, in-vitro fertilization,
abortions, and in the future, stem cell research. In April, the
Pope stated that in his view, it is "morally obligatory"
to continue artificial feeding tubes and hydration for people
in a vegetative state (USA Today, April 2). This means that the
final wishes of patients may not be honored.
We are not opposed to all mergers; we want to save health services
in our community, particularly access to the hospital-based reproductive
services only currently available in our area at Kingston Hospital.
But since the July 8 article, no details of any proposed merger
have been released. Where is the transparency? When has the larger
community been listened to? When has a public meeting been held?
We must ask the same hard questions about protection of services
to all candidates in a partnership or merger with Kingston Hospital.
We demand openness in the process. The decisions of the Kingston
Hospital Board have a profound effect on our daily lives.
A "parent governing board" has been suggested. But it
is not without problems. Which hospital gets what percentage of
seats on a governing or "parent" board? Who's to say
the merged hospital won't just drop unprofitable services? What
if the terms of the merger change after approval? What guarantees
will there be that services will be maintained? Many more questions
come to mind.
We ask for a public meeting with Kingston Hospital Board and management
before decisions are made, where questions from the public and
press can be asked and answered.
and Millie Meyer, Members,
Preserve Medical Secularity
I would like to respond to a feedback letter written last week
by Joseph Scott. Barbara Boyce does not get 25 percent of the
Onteora schools budget in special education. It is 19 percent
and some of the budget goes to help kids in programs such as Academic
Intervention. The school does not have a 15 percent drop out rate.
The school has a three percent drop out rate, the lowest in the
county and 1 percent return for GED, which is offered by the school.
GED at Onteora will most likely get cut this year. Special Education
children are already mainstreamed into regular Ed classrooms and
this is costly, but the most effective way of educating children
for life skills in the future. In the long run this is cost effective,
because they will be better educated and not have to rely on the
"system" in adulthood. Because of the contingent budget,
special education children will be grouped to save money. Mr.
Grehl was not hiring new drivers to expand transportation, but
instead replacing older busses.
Our inflated school budget is mainly due to employee benefits.
This is 22 percent of our budget. The tax burden should not be
put on property taxes, but instead income tax. President Bush
has increased Federal mandates on school testing and decreased
the Federal school budget. It is time we find a Governor and President
who are not keen on destroying our public school system. It is
not fair to blame Barbara Boyce, Dr. Rowe, and Mike Grehl for
wanting to educate our children and keep them safe. It is unfortunate
our children's education has to rely on misinformed people such
as Mr. Scott.
Just wanted to take the time to say thank you to the O.C.S. reunion
committee for the years 1954-1959. What a great job they did.
It was an honor to be part of the reunion for the Class of 1958.
I attended all three events.
It just seems a shame that so many local graduates couldn’t
make an attempt to attend, when so many came from many miles away.
Hail to the scarlet, hail to the gray, hail to the committee attendees,
good old OCS and the USA.
Jane Schoonmaker Staiger Van Laer,
High Falls, NY