Letters to the
In response to Neil Eisenberg's letter in your last issue, I
would, ALSO, like to extend my best wishes for his continued
success in any new and future endeavors;and to thank him for
his past volunteer work on the Onteora School board.
Rita Vanacore, Onteora Trustee
This letter is in response to Brian Hollander's comments on
my letter to the editor on page 26 in the June 30 issue of the
Woodstock Times. Brian declined to publish this letter siting
their policy of keeping letters to about 300-500 words.
First Brian, let me appreciate that you took the time to focus
on this Large Parcel issue through the medium of my letter.
In addition I'm happy that you gave my letter, your reply, and
thus this painful issue such prominence in the paper. I hope
that any dialogue that this stirs up will assist in bringing
our various community elements back into more harmony.
Now to my response to your comments. I must say that while I
assumed that you would want to publish a response to my letter,
I had [naively apparently] hoped that it would be done with
a sense of seriousness rather than the snide tone that permeates
many of your responses [when you are not just quoting Cahill's
letter]. I guess snideness is what passes for 'good' rhetorical
tricks in your way of doing things. Your reply contains an air
of flippancy that I think does you disservice when addressing
such a profoundly painful and communally disruptive situation
and is one of the points I made about your editorial tone on
June 16th. As you mentioned, as editor, you can print most anything
you want. Please try looking at this issue with a bit more of
your journalistic hat on. While I did mention your editorial
in the June 16th issue, I also mentioned other comments that
have appeared in the Times [you mentioned some of them in your
addition, while an editorial column is obviously a place for
your personal views, you still haven't addressed the central
point in my letter which is that you seem to ignore straightforward
facts that 'contradict' your views. Editorial or no, truth counts
Brian. This is not something that reflects well on you.
Simply quoting Cahill and leaving it at that with no reference
to where the letter is published [unless it is private communication
to you, of course], is not real journalism. Would you be willing
to print the letter from Cahill or at least give a reference
so that interested persons can read it in it's entirety and
understand the context of the quotes you use? While he is an
elected official and thus his utterances rate some exposure,
a good journalist would check him out on his facts and do some
back ground work to put what you find in context. If you had
done so, you would know that in some of the quotes he is not
telling the truth in some cases, and in other cases, he is using
the 'truth' to obfuscate. As a journalist, and someone likely
to be hip to 'political speak' you should be on to such tactics.
You even referred to your awareness of this kind of tactic in
your reply to my letter. Why haven't
you checked him out? Is it because of this anti Olive bias that
'clouds' your journalism? Is it because of your long friendship
with Cahill [which is fine with me if it is, but as a competent
journalist, you need to put that out front, no?]?
If you were trying to get at the truth, Brian, you would go
to the trouble of reading the legislative record IN IT'S ENTIRETY
and know that, while the Large Parcel Law 'passed unanimously',
ALMOST ALL legislation used to pass that way with almost NO
legislators present during the voting process due to the rules
of the legislative houses [this is one of the things that has
drawn such public ire about Albany, which I'm sure that you
know, and the rule used in this instance was, when this law
passed, that if a legislator wasn't present in the hall at role
call time, which most legislators weren't, their vote was counted
as a YES vote]. Why didn't you challenge that 'quote' from Cahill
as any good journalist would do? Did you actually check to see
if he was present on that vote or was it a 'default' vote? Do
the journalism Brian, please. You owe it to your readers, Woodstockers
And by the way, you have missed the point again when you imply
that the State Association of Counties supported the bill. That
was true of the bill as originally proposed which is something
that I would do as well. The problem is that it was not worded
as it was 'approved' when
the law was actually voted on. Check it out.
You say that you want only that equally appraised houses in
each town pay equal taxes. That is a consistent point in your
print words, BUT why do you not check to see if that is the
actual intent or even the likely outcome of the Large Parcel
Law. I have done the research and can assure you that it was
not either the intent nor the likely outcome of the law, quotes
from Cahill not withstanding. Would you be willing to do that
same THOROUGH research [you can use the same public record that
I did] and do a true, unbiased story on this point? I would
to see THAT in print in the Woodstock times! On the other hand,
if you are not, then obviously the public, including Woodstockers,
can not expect to get a straight story from you. That would
be sad given the pain that you are contributing to in the school
board as members continually face the pressure of this screwed
I note, as you point out in your response to my letter, that
Paul Smart has done a piece on the reval going on in Olive.
I don't know if it was in response to my letter or not, but
it clearly does not show that Olive is dragging it's feet. However,
I also note that you are still implying in your response to
me, that there is a bit of foot dragging going on. Perhaps,
as a comparison, you could do some simple research and find
out how long it took from the absolute beginning of the idea
to a full completion of the last reval in Woodstock. I note
in Paul's story that Olive's reval is expected to complete in
about two years from a dead start beginning. How does that compare
with Woodstock's record? Isn't this about average? Do the journalism,
So, in summary, Brian, you have simply repeated your mistakes
when you say the Large Parcel Law "should not be repealed
because it has worked. Properties of equal value are [for the
moment, while Large Parcel is in force] closer to paying similar
amounts of school taxes. And the sword of large parcel disappears
when Olive completes the revaluation." You have not shown
either of these to be true, but are simply repeating the 'conventional
wisdom' of those who have gained a momentary 'benefit' from
this screwed up law with out doing simple fact checking. You
have also 'hedged your bet' by using the word 'closer' which
is basically meaningless. If this law was intended to achieve
the parity that you say you want, then you wouldn't have to
resort to such
slick use of words. When you are interested in doing the journalism
[NOTE: throwing in a few anecdotes about comparing a single
sale in Woodstock with a single sale in Olive won't cut it.
Anyone can cherry pick the data to 'prove' a bias. Journalism
is about getting the WHOLE story.] I think that you will find
that you are wrong that Onteora will be out from under the "the
sword of large parcel ... when Olive completes the revaluation".
Again, as in my last letter, I ask you to do the math and the
story. Check your facts [please let's not hear more quotes from
Cahill, but instead, straightforward journalistic research on
your part quoting, if you need quotes, competent professionals
on what the law really means.] The pain and disharmony will
continue as long as the Large Parcel is not changed or repealed.
It will not end with Olive's reval. Is that what you want to
You propose that all will be well once Olive has completed its
reval [and by the way, just when is it that you are going to
'go after' Shandaken to reval?]. I hope, though it is a dim
hope given your responses to my letter, that you will have done
a bit of research when you discover that after the Olive reval
is completed that it is not the solution to the Large Parcel's
distortions in our community and begin to
help in the search for a true solution.
I n the past two-plus years, since the Large Parcel option became
known, Woodstock Times has published 31 articles on the subject,
more than 31,000 words, written by six different writers, not
to mention seven editorials, and about a hundred letters to
Beginning in June, 2003, in print:
We've discussed the bill jacket arguments; have repeatedly discussed
Olive's perceived plight; discussed it with state Legislators
on both sides of the aisle and in both houses of the legislature;
have discussed the issue with the Catskill Watershed Corporation,
the Catskill Center, and officials of all the towns included,
including many Olive officials. We have repeatedly laid out
the exact provisions of the law, and examined what other states
do in terms of funding schools; we’ve written about the
political implications; and about how the Ashokan Reservoir
valuation figures into it, including a two-part interview with
the New York City Commissioner of the DEP. We have allowed comments
from all segments of the population, and have kept our opinions
to editorials and columns, but out of the news stories. We published
a 2,500 word back-and-forth with Dr. Conaway, and felt that
other voices also deserved to be heard, though we extend to
him and all readers of The Olive Press the invitation to be
heard in our letters to the editor column.
Brian Hollander, Editor
When interviewed by the press for his response to the Large
Parcel lawsuit, Woodstock supervisor Jeremy Wilber attempted
to defend his own position by publicly attacking the character
of Charles Blumstein. This appears to be typical of Wilber’s
Wilber in the past has continually accused Olive residents of
cheating, of “getting away with” not paying their
“fair share”. He has convinced many that Olive was
to blame for high Woodstock taxes. He has caused angry recrimination
against Olive by residents in other towns in order to justify
his own active support and promotion of the “Large Parcel
Law” -which has been interpreted to mean that property
taxes paid by New York City for its Reservoir holdings in Olive,
are to go not to the town of Olive, but to be apportioned throughout
the school district and county.
The constant spin put on this issue by the Woodstock Town Supervisor
has almost totally obliterated basic facts. New York City has
paid taxes to Olive ever since it purchased thousands of properties
from tax-paying Olive residents and businesses in order to build
the Reservoir. NYC thereby became a tax-paying Olive property
holder just like everyone else. Wilber found this situation
reprehensible on Olive’s part. Wilber insists that the
NYC half of Olive’s tax revenues rightfully belongs to
all residents in the School District and in the County, a somewhat
bizarre line of reasoning.
The effect of the Large Parcel Law and of Jeremy Wilber’s
policies has been devastating. Goodwill and cooperation between
local communities is turning into dissention and conflict. For
Olive residents there has been a huge tax increase; for residents
in other towns a fairly minor decrease. Only owners of sizeable
and extremely high value properties in Woodstock like Jeremy
Wilber, of course, stand to benefit substantially from the Large
Parcel Law. t
This letter is in response to a quote by Jeremy Wilber where
he assassinates the character of Charlie Blumstein and Dave
Patterson in the article that appeared in the Woodstock Times
titled: Tell the judge--Olive resident files large parcel suit
I am particularly disturbed by his comments about Mr. Blumstein.
Wilber says: ". . . Blumstein is on his way to earning
the title of the Blanche DuBois of the Onteora School District.
Having so long lived off the kindness of strangers, the poor
man is now confusing it for an entitlement. How fortunate for
him that we have school board members like Dave Patterson who
are willing to completely abnegate their responsibilities so
that these poor individuals like Mr. Blumstein can continue
In the play Jeremy Wilber is probably referring to, Blanche
is a social pariah due to her indiscrete sexual behavior. She
has a bad drinking problem, is destitute, insecure, and is a
dislocated individual who lives in a state of perpetual panic
about her fading beauty. She is raped, and lives the rest of
her life in an institution. And this is who Mr. Wilber is comparing
Mr. Blumstein to? And he says that Dave Patterson is irresponsible
Please tell Jeremy Wilber that in his attempt at defining Mr.
Blumstein, he has well defined himself as an evil, mean-spirited,
inhumane and ugly individual.
I was delighted to read in the recent advertisement of Crossroads
Ventures LLC, of this company's great generosity to our community.
We have a great deal to be grateful for in their support of
so much that is valued by our community and that shapes its
vitality and individuality. I do hope that the donors are aware
of our appreciation and will feel encouraged to continue their
very generous support of
initiatives and services so central to the well-being of our
The proposed resort however is of a different scale, character,
and impact on our community than the causes to which donations
were made; many of us express very real concerns that such a
development, everything that comes with it, and that it opens
our home to, would destroy the very aspects that we value most
about living in this very beautiful state park, recently acknowledged
as a bio-gem of our planet. This area also provides life-shaping
experiences of wilderness for many who do not reside here, and
is of paramount value as a rare fresh water supply for ourselves
and for a great city at a time of exponentially escalating planetary
shortages of unpolluted drinking water.
If we pride ourselves on being a democracy, then it is essential
that all must be encouraged to speak freely of their concerns,
listen to all others, be listened to carefully and respectfully
by all others, and
that we discuss issues central to the shaping of our lives and
future of the area until action can be taken on the wishes of
the majority with the minority's consent — however long
this takes. I sincerely ask
that the developers not to be impatient, but be prepared to
go through a truly democratic process on matters profoundly
affecting us all.
After all, everyone of us wants the same things — a vital
and nourishing community able to work respectfully with dissension
and difficulty, an example of how to provide for our children,
our grandchildren and our neighbors a non-violated, challenging,
and profound life embodying the very best of human experience
that we can make possible. For the majority of us, this includes
intimate contact with the inspiring and healing wholeness of
a rich natural environment to which we are rare, and most fortunate,
heirs in Shandaken.
Mt Tremper, NY
Dean Gitter deemed it necessary to pay for a full page ad in
the Phoenicia Times to try to malign our quiet neighbors at
the Monastery. Why?! Because they take their civic rights seriously
enough to take the time to understand and be involved in the
local political “process”? Because HE thinks they
have “no visible means of support? Is commercialism the
only means of support that counts? He states that the members
of the Monastery “toil not, nor do they spin”. Instead
of bloviating about his good works, he might learn something
about the support services that the Zen Monastery offers quietly,
without boasting about it in full page ads. Perhaps he is familiar
with the phrase “Let not your right hand know what your
left hand is doing”. Now, that is TRUE charity.
Crossroads has spent lots of money hoping to make the town “grateful”.
(See his long ad listing all the ways Crossroads Ventures keeps
trying to buy the town’s favor.) The donations of this
self-named “greedy developer” do not make his opinion
the only valid opinion. To keep bragging about the amount he
has spent on this project already only goes to illustrate how
much Crossroads intends to “reap” if the project
is ever completed. Mr. Gitter complains about “loud opponents”,
yet he takes a full-page ad to brag loudly about the crumbs
he has thrown us to try to buy allegiance. Why does he claim
virtue in supporting “every local cause from Little League
to the Shandaken Theatrical Society” when local townspeople
have been supporting these causes for years with their own efforts
and regular donations? These are business deductions for Crossroads,
and don’t cost him a cent personally.
Good grief! I’ve tried to keep a low profile, not having
energy for all the worthwhile projects surrounding and enveloping
us every day, but Dean Gitter’s arrogance and accusations
(not to mention quoting of Scripture!) are just beyond tolerance.
We UNDERSTAND Crossroad’s and Gitter’s motivation
-their job is to make tons of money - that’s not the issue.
The rest ofus are entitled to our own opinions and motivations
as least as much as he is. Anne Nissen Shandaken, NY
Why is the New York State Health Dept (and the powers above
them) against health? An estimated 6,000 New Yorkers die annually
from infections they get in the hospital.
The Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths (RID) and other patient
advocates worked hard to win legislative approval for a bill
providing the public with hospital infection report cards. These
report cards are needed. If you must be hospitalized, you should
be able to find out which hospital in your area has the highest
At the final hours of the legislative session, the health department
insisted lawmakers delay making the report cards public for
four years!! That's outrageous. Every delay will cost more lives.
It's time government was on our side, instead of on our backs.
Betsy McCaughey, Founder
Committee to Reduce
New York, NY
Rita Dee's marvelous sculpture, Atticus, should not be removed
from in front of the Ulster County courthouse because it is
a powerful and very personal artistic statement. I am an art
historian, college professor, and museum curator with undergraduate
and graduate degrees in art history from Harvard University.
I am a specialist in the interpretation of religious art. I
am also a liberal democrat, an atheist/humanist, and a member
of the Hudson Valley Humanists, as well as a member of the Art
Society of Kingston. I am strongly opposed to putting the Ten
Commandments, or any other religion's message, in any government
sanctioned space. But this is an entirely different matter.
This sculpture is dominantly an impressive work of art, not
a religious statement. As a liberal and a humanist, I would
strongly condemn any effort to remove it. The fact that, when
you inspect this work closely, you encounter some, but not all
of the Ten Commandments, and some other Judeo-Christian phrases,
does not in any way make it a clear-cut statement in favor of
any religion. Like most art, its meaning is ambiguous, and can
go either way. I originally interpreted Dee's work as an anti-religious
satire. Many a religious person might object to these sacred
messages woven into the body of a horse. And the work of art
itself is in direct violation of the Second Commandment. "Thou
shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness,
of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth
beneath, or that is in the water under the earth." (Exodus
20, from a Jewish Bible.) The Second Commandment is conspicuously
absent from the sculpture. After all, this is an image of a
horse. So the sculpture could be interpreted as demonstrating
why the Ten Commandments cannot be simply considered a general
code of good behavior. The Second Commandment is clearly against
realistic art. The first and third commandments, about only
worshipping the one true God, and proscribing the veneration
of images, would be offensive to half the religions of the Earth.
To remove this wonderful work of art from in front of the courthouse
would be to follow in Rudi Giuliani's footsteps, when he tried
to close down the "Sensation" exhibit at the Brooklyn
James K. Kettlewell
Saratoga Springs, NY
Recently our Ulster County Election Commissioners have been
empowered by the State Legislature to make the decision of their
lives - and our lives.
The New York State Legislature has told the two election commissioners
of each county to choose the type of voting machine to be used
from now on. No, we cannot stay with the good old lever system
that has served us well.
As a citizen of Ulster County who wants my vote counted, I ask
Commissioner Castiglione and Commissioner Turco to insist on
a Paper Based Optical Scan system, not the Touch Screen Electronic
(DRE) system which the manufacturers have been enthusiastically
selling them on for months. I demand, also, that our Ulster
County Legislators, and those now running for that office, take
responsibility for ensuring the most trustworthy and economical
A Paper Based Optical Scan system based in our precincts is
not perfect, but it is the best option available to ensure our
precious right to vote. We need a system with a paper record,
not written in computerese, which will be available for recounts
by the people.
Election results must be known at the precinct on Election night,
not clicked away to a mysterious Central Command. Voter mistakes
must be correctable in present time. Each ballot type (Regular,
Provisional, Absentee) should be clearly marked in words, not
code. Provision must be made for disabled voters. The six states
now using Paper Based Optical Scanners know that those only
fulfill these criteria. They are simple and proven reliable.
Paper Ballots/ Optical Scan is also the only choice which will
not bankrupt the taxpayers of Ulster County! Projected comparison
of costs per polling place: Paper based Optical Scan: $10,250,
Touch Screen (DRE): $24,000. Not to mention costs of complicated
DRE maintenance, replacement, storage, extra poll workers, and
long lines at the polls. All borne by the county - us.
This Spring The Miami/Dade County, Florida Supervisor of Elections
recommended scrapping their $24,000,000 DRE system because of
flawed vote counts and tripled election day costs since their
installation. (see nyvv.org/documents for lots of such reports).
This is not brain surgery, as they say. I will, and we all must,
hold our Ulster Election Commissioners accountable for their
choice, which is supposed to be made by September!
We Americans joke about politicians, but we still trust that
our votes count. Let's face it, a centrally located, corporately
controlled, easily hacked DRE computer system is an enormous
temptation. We do not want to be licking our wounds, looking
dazed, wondering what happened to our precious democracy. Call
or write to your County officials and campaigners. We can't
leave it to "the other guy." The other guy is a well
It is my opinion that there is an urgent and pressing need for
more restrooms in the Catskill Region. Whether I am streaming
down Rt.28 or Rt.23 I notice a plethora of shops and stands,
yet there are few legal places to relieve oneself. Everyone
wants to sell you drinks, but where is all that liquid supposed
to go? After inquiring about a restroom, I'm bowled over as
some drip behind the counter tells me they have no bathroom.
Where do they go, in a bucket? Maybe they're just yellow and
are afraid some tourist will soil their personal porcelain.
Keeping a bathroom clean can be draining, but providing one
for money-spending tourists can be an asset to their business.
It doesn't take a wiz to figure out that more people will drop
in if they can use the facilities.
Will shopkeepers make customer relief a number one priority?
Depends. If they poo-poo the notion that providing relief will
increase the flow of traffic into their shops, then no. However,
if they are privy to the needs of their customers,they should
take the plunge, remove those "out of order" signs,
and open those doors! Thats all I can say for now as this took
a lot out of me and I'm pooped.
Woodland Valley, NY
What better way to unwind and cool-off at the end of a summer's
day than to go for a swim at the Olive Town pool? The privilege
of being able to enjoy this wonderful facility makes me feel
like a member of a country club.
At 4:00 when Recreation is over, the pool is turned over to
the townspeople. The trouble is that the Recreation users have
left the locker rooms a shambles. The whole place is soaking
wet: floor, lockers, benches. The mats are awry and there are
bits of refuse strewn about.
Granted, summer is a time for high spirits and fun, but it is
no excuse for abusing this wonderful asset and ruining it for
the enjoyment of others.
Counselors and parents must be made aware that they are responsible
for keeping the children under control and teaching them to
repect others and to appreciate how fortunate they are to have
this fine facility.
On June 12, I had an injurious accident falling off a roof in West Shokan
and I was in a semi-conscious state when the Olive First Aid Unit arrived.
Their response was quick and the on-site emergency treatment I received
was very professional. There is nothing so reassuring as knowing you
are in capable and competent hands when you are injured and hurting.
So please allow me to take this time and space to say "Thank you!"
to the Olive First Aid Unit and express my deep appreciation and admiration
for their care.
In addition, I must thank the Olive Fire Department, Olive Police, and
the NYC DEP police for their prompt response and support as well.
Please remember the generous community service Olive First Aid and the
Olive Fire Department provide when you see them out soliciting for funds
or volunteers. They deserve our utmost support. Thank you!.
West Shokan, NY
Well, the Onteora School budget has finally passed, and I can now speak
my piece. My three year term as a member of the Onteora School Board
has come to an end, and although I decided not to run again for another
term reluctantly, I couldn't go without saying one last thing.
My personal opinion is that if you have a problem with the school budget,
by all means enlighten the rest of us, so we can discuss it, and see
what we can do to remedy the situation. Otherwise, you need to keep
your mouth shut and let the people who are hired to do such things,
do their jobs. I've always held to the belief that if someone is such
an expert on the budgetary process that they can micro manage and criticize
it line by line, they should apply for the job of Business Official.
Otherwise...don't make yourself look foolish. After all, we probably
only devoted close to a year of review to the subject, having hired
a new Superintendent AND a new Business Official and Assistant Superintendent
charged specifically with the job of crafting a fiscally sound budget
that the community could support, and didn't compromise our educational
programs. This after nearly a year prior to that of our conducting an
exhaustive search process that specifically targeted individuals fluent
in the budget process. Does anyone think it's easy to cut a half million
dollars from a school budget?
I loved Rita Vanacore's quote where she said she didn't like the budget,
but voted for it anyway. Please. This from a woman who needed to be
told at a public meeting just two months ago that equipment purchases
were prohibited under a "contingent" budget, at the same time
she was advocating for budget defeat throughout Olive. Did she mean
she didn't like the color of the paper? What exactly didn't she like?
I guess we'll find out.
Any Board member who ran on a platform that outright called for a defeat
of the budget, and then turned around and advocated for the passage
of the exact same budget just a few weeks later, should be ashamed of
themselves. Either they outright didn't understand what they were talking
about, or they used the school budget and the programs that keep our
kids going, and growing, for their own political gain, and that is unconscionable.
Putting a budget before the voters twice costs the taxpayers money,
too. Is this some kind of game?
We as a Board have done a lot over the past three years to look at issues
from all sides, make intelligent and informed decisions based on facts,
study, and hard work, and make decisions for the good of the entire
district, without bias, and without prejudice. If you don't agree with
my decisions, that is perfectly acceptable, and to be expected. But
don't criticize unless you know what you're talking about.
David Patterson's comment about wanting to vote against large parcel
out of protest also seems to make no sense. You can say you don't think
it should be in the school board's purview, but it happens that it is,
so voting against it is still a vote. If you vote against it because
you are against it, then say so, and say why. You represent all of us...so
Unfortunately, the tides have shifted to what I see as a more politically
motivated board that still has a lot of homework to do. This "Olive-stacked"
Board seems to represent Olive residents that have clearly decided their
children don't matter, having voted against the budget twice now. Luckily,
the majority of our district residents see beyond the one issue of the
day, to the future of the Onteora community and have bailed all the
kids out. Finally! Let's hope that once the new board has a chance to
review the issues, that they do the right thing for everyone, as opposed
to the politically motivated thing.
I have lived in Olive for just over 14 years and have many close friends
who live in this town. Before that I lived in Shandaken for 13 years
and still work there and have many close friends in that town. I often
visit Woodstock and have many close friends who live there.
I read, weekly or biweekly, The Olive Free Press, the Phoenicia Times,
The Woodstock Times and even the Ulster Co. Townsman. I grove on all
the stories about local political goings on and especially like the
different 'perspectives' [maybe biases] on the same events that these
different papers and their reporters bring to the printed page.
One of the things that has struck me over and over again is the cohesiveness
of the Olive community which has been reflected in the recent school
board elections and the accompanying school budget votes. But another
aspect of this cohesiveness is some thing that is NOT happening in Olive,
but seems to be endemic in Shandaken and Woodstock. That is the level
of venom associated with various decisions that are attempted by the
various governmental panels in Shandaken and Woodstock [such as Town
Boards, Town Planning Boards, Zoning Boards, etc.]. This 'lack' obviously
could simply mean that everyone in Olive is asleep or uninvolved in
Town government. However, I think it also obvious to anyone who stays
half way informed, that just the opposite is true. Many, many Oliveites
[Olivorians?] are active participants in Town governmental deliberations
and decisions. And with that involvement it is clear that often there
are strongly held differences among Olive's citizenry. But this makes
it all the more worth remarking on the lack of a tone of venom.
So I conclude that the lack of venom has to do with a general commitment
to respectfulness of our fellows from the 'person in the street' through
merchants, town employees and elected officials at each level of government.
This letter is to express my admiration for that commitment and thanks
to all who earnestly do not give into the temptation, which is all too
human at moments of strong disagreement, to go ballistic. I appreciate
living in Olive.
It is good to be useful, to serve a purpose. The other day as I walked
along the shoulder of the road, a school bus that had been stopped slowly
moved forward. I looked at the driver and then the mostly empty seats
and at about the middle of the bus a girl about eight years old stood
and looking out directly at me made a hostile face and stuck her tongue
out as far as it could possibly go.
I wondered who she was angry at; her teacher, a classmate or her parents
or all of the above? At first I treated it humorously but then I wondered
what it was like for her when her mother met her at the bus stop or
I imagined her in the kitchen of her house. Did she vent her feelings
or did she have to hide them and that is why I was the recipient?
Mount Tremper, NY
Through my life I have picked up many important messages. All of them
have helped me at times. Some once in a while and others daily. The
message that might have impacted me most comes from a most over populated
and polluted country. It is this, "each one of us as humans, think
of ourselves the most important entity in existence. Or needs or wants
our beliefs are the only ones that matter."
This is a flaw, an illusion of the mind and heart as we are all a part
of the human race. No one person being more or less important than another.
I am sadden and feel helpless at the hands of the current powers that
be to make decisions for all of us that do not reflect all of our views.
We are not alone in our towns. We are a part of a mountain range a part
of a county a part of a state at part of a country and must begin to
think as a group not as individuals only interested in our little gain
or our us against them mentality. We as a group of people all with different
interests and goals have to be heard to each other and come to a DEMOCRATIC
a united republic outcome in our community or else what is left? Dictatorship
of what ever government in is power at the moment?
We put all these other countries on notice that we won’t stand
for their ultimate power over their people, but are we guilty of doing
the same on a smaller but not less impactive level? Please take into
consideration what a lot of us are saying. My little river will take
according to the DEP and the DEC 50 or more years to heal just from
this last flood . What do we want to do to our land? To create more
hardship on the ecosystem and reap the short term benefits that true
capitalism offers us? or do we look at a bigger picture and work within
the conditions that the land we live on offers us?
I have had to switch professions many many times in my life and have
adjusted to the change each time. Yes, maybe starting over is hard and
not always welcome but to say there is only one path and quick fix to
any one persons financial problems is shortsighted/ A persons right
to do with his or her land as they want is a right but to do right by
a community a planet in despair and an economy that is shaky at best
lends itself to more open comment and input than i am experiencing at
Just a note to thank you for covering our events and supporting our
efforts in and out of this community. We're grateful for the ink and
space we get from The Olive Press, and want to take advantage of it
again to mention a few other groups and individuals who have made our
work easier this year.
In May, as part of a national food drive, our local letter carriers
at the United Postal Service hauled bags (and more bags) of non-perishable
food items to help fill area food pantries; our pantry alone scored
1400 pounds of food in one day, and twelve other area pantries did as
The need seems great in this community, and though we'd like to address
the underlying causes and ultimately be part of the solution that eliminates
the need, we're happy to continue to keep the pantry filled
to the best of our ability.
Another pair of Angels in the community, Andrew and Nancy Silvestri
of Creative Spirit in Olivebridge, have been helping the cause by donating
100% of sales from a designated display shelf in their beautiful store.
The results have already been unbelievable!! Also, the hale and hearty
"youngsters" that run the thrift store at the church on Wednesdays
and Saturdays have agreed to up their monthly donation toward groceries
to keep the shelves stocked between food drives. It's
actually hard to stay negative and cynical with this kind of activity
happening around town all the time.
We continue to welcome any and all support for the food pantry whenever
you can offer it; big hits at the Olive Food Pantry are instant potatoes,
baby food, canned vegetables, meat and fish, pasta, and, of course,
peanut butter and jelly. We have to watch expiration dates, of course,
and hope one day to offer bread and produce...we'll see. For a complete
list of needed items or for more information, call 657-8388 or 657-6484
and leave a message.
Thanks again for everything; things in Olive really do matter.
Administrative Council Chair
Olivebridge United Methodist Church
When I was a boy, I used to listen to a program called "Let's Pretend"
at noontime on Saturdays. Now we have President Bush's weekly radio
Mount Tremper, NY
The Supine members of the Supreme Court (the so-called "more liberal
ones") voted to extend the law of eminent domain to private interests,
whereas it previously applied only to the right of government to seize
a citizen's land in order to build a publicly owned "improvement"
such as a road, post office,, other government building, etc. that would
supposedly be for the general public's good.
In this case the bubble-heads decided, or so they claimed, that private
interests such as Wal-Mart could exercise eminent domain and force people
to give up their real estate because the private development would be
for "the public good." How far is this country going to carry
Then there's the impending sale of this nation's biggest oil company
to China, and the toleration of China stealing technology, applicable
to military uses, from companies in this country, not to mention the
plan to finance Chinese nuclear power plants with American tax-payers'
money. Nuclear power plants can and do require weapons grade uranium,
and produce so-called '"depleted uranium" which we use, to
the detriment of those exposed to it, for superior armor-piercing weapons.
I recall hearing it said after Pearl Harbor that the Japanese were killing
our soldiers with the re-fashioned scrap iron we had been selling them
for years. Can't any of the pinheads in Washington understand what's
going on? Just more examples of where profit trumps the lives of young
American cannon fodder, only in this case it may mean also the demise
of the USA, in a war (at their time and choice), with a militarily powerful
China. With their huge population and an equal number of nuclear weapons,
they will prevail in a confrontation, which will certainly occur..I
don't remember his name; but I recall as a child hearing that some historian
or political scientist had declared that "China will eventually
rule the world." It may be so; but why are we helping them to achieve
it as quickly as possible?
The recent ruling by the United States Supreme Court will allow a developer
to have our Town Board seize a persons home and property to make room
for a development, including for parking and access roads etc. We all
know that there’s one way to prevent that from happening.
Peter Di Modica
Pine Hill, NY
Have you noticed how lovely it is? Fawns in the field, birds in the
nests, babies in the burrows. And that is exactly where they belong.
. . in the fields, the nests and the burrows. Wildlife babies are often
left alone by their parents for long periods of time. This does not
mean they are orphaned or abandoned.
Did you know that a doe may leave her fawn hidden and unattended all
day, sometimes for more than 10 hours; that a baby bird fallen from
its nest may be placed back in the nest; that newborn bunnies are safe
in the grass all day while their mother is away.
Wildlife babies should not be “rescued” unless it is known
for certain that their parents are dead or will not return. If you feel
this is the case, please notify a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. A
wildlife rehabilitator can provide the proper care, diet, and housing
for most of our local injured or orphaned wildlife species. A list of
local rehabilitators can be found at www.ravensbeard.net.
The extreme intolerance promoted by the Crossroads Ventures developers
is appalling. Not content with tearing apart our community using political
tricks, they are now attacking one of our religious entities.
We call upon them to contemplate their methods and see the error.
We hope and pray that they can find it in their hearts to make peace
with and accept people of opinions, economic means and spiritual paths
different from their own.
Rose- Marie Dorn
Mount Tremper, NY
I found Crossroad Ventures’ full-page advertisement attacking
the Zen Mountain Monastery in your last issue bizarre and mean-spirited.
Questioning the monastery’s authenticity by putting the words
“religious” and “monks” into quotation marks
was a very strange move. Crossroads is cynically playing upon a provincialism
that believes any religion outside the Judeo-Christian tradition is
suspect. I think such a move is bound to backfire since that provincialism
doesn’t exist here. Crossroads’ real problem with the monastery
is that its students are not only concerned, but also show up at meetings
where they articulately voice their opinions on matters that affect
As for the implication that the monastery makes no positive economic
impact on our area, I beg to differ. As a realtor since 2001, I have
been involved in four successful real estate transactions with people
who came here because of the monastery. Over the monastery’s 25
year, about 70 families have bought property here, and countless others
contribute to the economy by renting. The vast majority of people who
are buying here don’t want a large-scale development such as Crossroads’
proposed project, while the variety of religious and spiritual institutions
they find here is at worst of no interest to them and at best an attraction.
Small-scale tourism and secondary home ownership are the engines driving
our economy. Just look at the statistics of home sales in Shandaken
through the Ulster County Multiple Listing Service over the last four
years: Single-family home sales almost doubled from $4,317,660 in 2001
to $8,331,200 in 2004 with the median home price rising about 77 percent
from $122,250 to $217,250.
While I believe the students of the Zen Mountain Monastery are following
their own personal convictions when voicing their concerns at public
meetings about preserving this special place—and echoing those
of the majority of Shandakenites as shown by the results of a Comprehensive
Plan survey sent out in 2001—those convictions are clearly right
on the money.
Rachel X. Weissman
Up at the end of Pantherkill Road kn Woodland Valley there is a situation
that is not fair to the landowners in the Town of Shandaken. It’s
a so-called religious organization whereby there are eighteen large
modern houses that are totally tax exempt. The same condition exists
at the Zen monastery in Mount Tremper. We should all write to our congressmen
and senators in Albany to protest the unjust situation and agree that
the chruches and one house be tax exempt.
After a short vacation, I read back issues of your paper. In a letter
to the editor, Dorian Hoyt made some logical points regarding the Emerson
Inn fire. I also have always considered Dean Gitter’s accusations
of who may have set the fire as unrealistic. My friends and I would
also like to see if he rebuilds and if so where he builds another inn.
To paraphrase Shakespeare, :Me thinks the gentleman doth protest too
Shokan & New York City
I am writing on behalf of the Board of Directors of Zen Mountain Monastery,
which was the subject of a recent letter, published by you, from Dean
Gitter of Crossroads Ventures, the principal proponent of the Belleayre
Resort development. In his letter, Mr. Gitter, incorrectly states that
Zen Mountain Monastery has taken a position in opposition to the proposed
Zen Mountain Monastery is a Church organized under New York law. Its
purpose is to provide Buddhist religious services and facilities for
the practice of Buddhist spiritual disciplines. The monastery is staffed
by resident monks who have taken vows to live in accord with the religious
principles of Buddhism, including vows of poverty and service to others.
The principles guiding this religious life were set down by the founder
of our religion, Shakyamuni Buddha, twenty-five hundred years ago and
are codified in the centuries-old tradition of the International Soto
School of Zen Buddhism, which recognizes the monastery as one of its
primary teaching centers in the United States. The monastery is also
the center of religious life for a lay congregation of several hundred
people who attend regular Sunday services and a year-round schedule
of spiritual retreats.
Zen Mountain Monastery is governed by its Board of Directors, which
is charged with responsibility for the congregation’s religious
and administrative affairs. The Board has taken no position with respect
to the Belleayre Resort proposal or the Town of Shandaken Comprehensive
Plan and it does not intend to do so now or in the future. Where individual
members of our congregation have made public statements or taken public
positions regarding the Belleayre development or the Town of Shandaken
Comprehensive Plan, they have done so as a matter of personal conscience
and not in the name of Zen Mountain Monastery. Their right to freedom
of expression is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States
Constitution and the Monastery Board cannot and will not take any action
that would abridge this right.
Very Truly Yours,
Zen Mountain Monastery
Rev. Konrad Ryushin Marchaj, MRO
Secretary of the Board of Directors