To Sue Onteora?
It is thought by many Olive residents that certain resentful towns
in the district spun the numbers to convince the school board
that the town's tax advantage should be shared by other municipalities
with no regard as to how and why it was created. Olive town board
members are rumored to be reading Joel Best's new book More Damned
Lies and Statistics: How Numbers Confuse Public Issues.
The town board also discussed refounding their own school district
and seceding from the Onteora District. It was thought that a
test of public opinion on the issue was needed before proceeding
in that direction.
Dismissing Chris Johansen's complaints against Police Commissioner
Robert Schank's alleged listing as a "police officer"
with the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services as "petty
nonsensical politics," the board nonetheless resolved to
send a notice to DCJS stating that Schank is a police commissioner
and not an officer.
Councilman LaMonda asked Johansen what the point of his objection
was and what difference the distinction made.
"It doesn't make any difference," Johansen replied.
"But it appears as if somebody's falsifying business records.
Somebody put his name on as a police officer 7 different times,
starting in 1991."
"What benefit would that be?" asked LaMonda, puzzled
about the motive of a commissioner padding an unpaid position
with an additional nothing.
"That I don't know," replied Johansen.
Sylvia Rozzelle noted that many images of old Olive from the Vera
Sickler Collection, donated recently by her cousin John D. Emler,
have been added to the Olive archives at the town offices and
the library. The many images were scanned by Mark DuBois, a former
Olive resident and DEP employee now living in Woodstock who donated
his time, and presented to the town on a cd-rom.
The board also resolved to support Senator Bonacic's bill to amend
a new state law which seeks to keep all traffic fines for the
state. Previously the town was allowed to keep a surcharge portion
of fines which were plea-bargained down. In some towns the capture
of these monies by the state would necessitate a rise in local
taxes. In Olive, it would mean a difference of $50,000 to $60,000.
Rozzelle also mentioned the new situation wherein people attempting
school taxes in person at the school were told that they would
not receive a receipt for their payments and that, now, the funds
were being sent to Syracuse, where they were being handled "for
free" by J.P. Morgan Co. Some older residents objected to
sending the money west and not receiving a receipt, she said,
while others apparently thought the banking arrangement
slightly peculiar. Or, as they say in the 'hood, What's up with
Regs Draw Fire
City Department of Environmental Protection officials replied
that the rules and regulations had to be written for over 100,000
acres of land on both sides of the Hudson. They tried explaining
that nearly half of the 80,000 plus permit holders currently using
City lands for recreational uses are from more suburban or urban
locations on the East side of the Hudson, in Westchester and Putnam
counties, as well as from the City. The portion of the system
that's truly wild, they inferred, was small- similar to the way
there are over 60,000 anglers, at presentm, versus 6,300 hunters.
And yet for those cross-armed men, as well as a number of other
influential men from around the Catskills filling elected town
seats, or heading such entities as the Catskill Watershed Corporation,
the City's catch-all attitudes are maddening.
Comments at the September 14 meeting ranged from Shandaken supervisor
Bob Cross' point-by-point questions addressing wording errors
and designation vagueness, to angler and hunter Hank Rope's practical
Quietly percolating behind the surface of the meeting, shifted
at the last minute from Shandaken Town Hall because the City had
forgotten that town buildings were being used for statewide primaries
that day, was recent news that the City's proposed regulatory
changes had NOT been well received by the Catskill Watershed Corporation
the previous week in a special meeting on the subject. Or that
a growing number of local sporting groups, supposedly represented
on an advisory council to the DEP's rule-writers, were not happy,
At a special meeting held on September 7th in Margaretville, the
Watershed Corporation's Executive Committee stood behind a group
of sportsmen that claimed the City's proposal is in violation
of the spirit in which the DEP is supposed to work with upstaters
in preserving the historical use of the lands for hunting and
In 1997, the Watershed Corporation formed a Sporting Advisory
Council to render opinions on the recreational use of over 100,000
acres of City owned land. The deal was designed to protect the
quality of the City's drinking water, which flows from the Catskills,
while at the same protect the quality of life for Mountain dwellers
that must abide by the water quality rules the City is empowered
But on September 7 the Sporting Advisory Council, noting that
the deal was meant to establish a healthy partnership between
upstate and downstate, now claims that the City is being too heavy
handed by planning to pass laws that restrict recreational use
rather than preserve the local heritage of hunting and trapping.
Faulting the City for possessing "a strong anti-gun,anti-hunting,
preservationist attitude," the resolution passed by the SAC
and later adopted by the Watershed Corporation charges that the
proposed laws treat hunting and trapping as "culprits"
instead of willing participants in water protection.
"To ignore the voice of a large segment of upstate residents
is continuing to sow ill will toward the city as we see our attempts
to control our own future being slowly taken from us by an unreasonable
and unapproachable landlord," the resolution states.
Sportsman at the CWC meeting, as well as this past week's hearing,
said that the proposed regulatory changes designate what can happen
in different activity areas without saying where the "designated
areas" are, or giving criteria for such designation; noted
that the appeal process is only to the DEP; pointed out how the
new regs cover the reservoirs, but not the main feeder streams;
and wondered how the DEP plans to enforce what they're proposing.
"Whereas the role of the SAC has been relegated to insignificance
with the power of DEP being brought to bear reducing this Council
to the role of futility," read one of the clauses in the
CWC resolution, reflecting the advisory council's frustrations.
"We believe that the DEP is expressing the opinions of an
urban mentality rather than that of the 'country people' who live
here and want to hunt here."
DEP Land Management official John Potter tried to explain, at
the recent hearing, that the City stayed vague on much of the
new regs' wording so that they could maintain discretion for different
areas of the watershed, which has an ever-lessening amount of
old-style wilderness within it. And he said that all comments
would be considered for final changes, which the department would
be making over the coming months.
But that wasn't enough to assuage many of the men in the dark
room at Belleayre, or such local figures as Alan Rosa, Executive
Director of the CWC, who said this week that the misunderstandings
expressed by the new regs only indicated a growing sense of split
between New York and the Catskills.
"There has been a deterioration in the relationship in the
last six months," Rosa said this past week in an interview,
adding that he could not put a finger on specifically why things
have changed, but that he felt there was different "tone"
coming from DEP toward upstate.
Last month Rosa testified at the Issues Conference on a proposal
to build a massive new resort in the central Catskills, Dean Gitter's
Belleayre Resort proposal, that, "The second-home market
tears our mountains all to pieces."
Cross has also spoken publicly, including quotes in The New York
Times, about the disparity between city people and native Catskillians.
DEP spokesman Charles Sturcken replied to Rosa's comments this
past week by noting that recent bitterness is due to the high
profile, high stakes debate over Gitter's project, as well as
the fact that both sides have different missions in general, with
DEP protecting water and upstate protecting its older, fast-disappearing
rural traditions. Like hunting-
"It's a very difficult relationship. I wouldn't say it's
deteriorating though," Sturcken said. "Maybe it's the
seven year itch- but we're not going anywhere."
Written comments on the new rules and regulations, which are available
online, at local libraries, or in town offices, will be taken
up through Thursday, September 23, when the final hearing
will also take place at the Neversink Town Hall in Grahamsville
from 7-9:00 P.M.
The town is
still awaiting a response to Leifeld's letter of August 20th which
calls for the reopening of the City-owned reservoir-skirting road
which was closed in the immediate wake of the deadly attacks on
the City in
2001. Intimating that, despite all of the squabbles and formal
legal actions between the municipalities during the decades since
the Ashokan Reservoir was built, the common spirit and stance
of the residents of the town has been staunchly protective of
the reservoir itself, the letter asserts that "for nearly
100 years...the town has enjoyed a harmonious relationship with
New York City as we both strive to ensure proper drinking water
to the residents of New York City."
"Unfortunately, certain actions taken by the NYC Department
of Water Supply (have) caused great harm to the residents of the
Town of Olive," it continues. "Unilaterally, the Board
of Water Supply has blocked off the road traversing the main dam...
The justification for this action was that security concerns necessitated
by 9/11 require these actions. Both the Town Board and the residents
(of Olive) do not see it that way."
When Leifeld had finished reading the letter, an audience member
said that DEP Police Chief Edward J. Welch had claimed at a public
meeting in August of 2003 that he would privately provide proof
to town officials that the dam was at risk and asked if Welch
had done so. Leifeld admitted that no such evidence had been presented.
At that meeting, Welch had alluded to an interrogation of Khalid
Mohammed, a reputed Al-Qaeda leader captured in Pakistan the previous
May. But Khalid's relationship to that country's military intelligence
service has raised questions which cloud the entire issue of the
9-11 attacks and numerous citizen's groups, some representing
families of that day's victims, have demonstrated at the conventions
of both major political parties to demand answers. On the third
anniversary of the attacks, the 1,000 seat Manhattan Center left
hundreds of citizens on the street outside hoping for cancellations
to a program hosted by actor Ed Begley Jr. called "Confronting
the Evidence: 9-11 and the Search for Truth." A Zogby poll
revealed that over 40% of New Yorkers do not accept the official
story of the attacks.
Joanne Valentine, a representative of the 9-11 Visibility Project
in Kingston, says she began to really take notice when former
Senator Max Cleland resigned from the 9-11 Commission and saw
him quoted on the 9-11 Visibility website as saying "Americans
are being scammed" on CNN's Newsnight on November 13, 2002.
She immediately went to the CNN website to verify the quote but
was unable to find the transcript. Emails to CNN only confirmed
that the transcript was "missing" and they would investigate.
Two years later, she's still waiting for the completion of that
"Like so many others, I wanted to understand how something
like this could
happen," Valentine said of how she became interested in the
Commission's work. "I can't remember exactly when I became
aware of significant deficiencies in the official line but it
was through the Internet."
Valentine said she also read Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed's The War On
Freedom: How and Why America Was Attacked and spent weeks painstakingly
checking out the author's sources. Since that time, she's learned
that Ahmed's book
was one of a number that have been soundly ignored by mainstream
media. Although some, such as David Ray Griffin's The New Pearl
Harbor and former NBC executive business news producer Daniel
Hopsicker's Welcome To Terrorland: Mohamed Atta & the 9-11
Cover-up In Florida have sold briskly, the loosely-affiliated
citizen's groups critical of the commission point out that the
hard questions outlined in such works were not only left unanswered
by the panel but left unasked.
If a follow-the-money strategy had been fully pursued by the commission,
may have led to some astonishing facts relating directly to Khalid's
supposed "confession" to targeting Olive and his association
with Pakistan's ISI, an organization said to be under the thumb
of our own CIA at least since the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
It was the ISI's bitter rival agency in India which leaked to
The Times of India the eye-opening fact that ISI Chief General
Ahmad had $100,000 wired to alleged skyjacker Mohamed Atta shortly
before the 9-11 operation. At the time of the attacks Ahmad was,
himself, having a breakfast meeting with former CIA agent Porter
Goss and Senator Bob Graham- both office holders from Florida
(a busy state of late) and members of the Senate Intelligence
Committee who would later be selected to co-chair the 9-11 congressional
investigation. As outlined in Professor Michel Chossudovsky's
book War and Globalism: The Truth Behind September 11, Ahmad's
unusual visit began on September 4th and ended shortly after the
attacks. When the funds transfer became public, he quietly retired
and dropped out of sight.
The commission's critics contend that this is merely the tip of
the iceberg and fill their websites with evidence suggesting that
the attacks were an "inside job" and that the secrecy
which will shroud their core findings for decades is designed
to cover that ugly fact. All of this is off-limits to mainstream
media, they claim, and citizens without an Internet connection
are cultivated like mushrooms. Even the Chairman of the Commission,
former N.J. Governor Thomas Kean- himself accused of conflict
of interest because his Saudi business partners, Khalid bin Mahfouz
(Osama's brother-in-law) and Mohammed Hussein have been named
as Al Qaeda financiers in a trillion dollar lawsuit filed by families
of victims of the 9-11 attacks- has charged that 3/4 of the classified
material he read while heading the commission should not have
It is this kind of secrecy which Olive residents point to when
addressing the Monument Road closure. Could it be that it's secret
because it is based, like the "evidence" linking Saddam
Hussein with 9-11 or even, as some suspect, the still unrevealed
ties of bin Laden to the attacks, on bogus material?
Olive councilman Bruce LaMonda raised a question at the meeting
"prison-break" flood lights erected at each end of the
dam road, so bright that they "cast shadows in Moonhaw,"
one resident observed.
"These new spotlights they've got up there - to light up
the target for everybody," LaMonda said. "Could we write
a letter asking them to redirect them so that they don't blind
everyone coming up the hill there? They've got that lit up pretty
good. I don't think it'd be hard to find at all."
After an audience member pointed out the irony of reversing the
wartime blackouts of the 1940's, Councilwoman Helen Chase offered
that she had recently spoke with the DEP's Ira Stern and he had
said they had already planned to shield and redirect the lights
due to driver complaints.
"Total closure of this road is not necessary," Leifeld's
letter reasoned, saying it would be equivalent to the City closing
a tunnel or bridge. "The closure of the road prevents residents...from
using the most direct route from one side of town to the other...
This route has been available to the Town since the dam was completed
in 1913. This hardship to...residents and
visitors could be eased by your decision to monitor, but not close,
the road on the main dam."
The letter also reminded Bloomberg that "when New York State
passed a law on June 3, 1905, which enabled New York City to own
the Ashokan Reservoir in the Town of Olive, certain conditions
were attached... Our legal advisors
tell me that New York City was required to build such highways
and bridges as may be necessary by the construction of the reservoir
and to repair and forever maintain such additional highways and
bridges. ( I have taken the liberty of enclosing a copy of Laws
of the State of New York, Chapter 724 of 1905.)"
The letter closes with a request that the mayor investigate "the
of the road on such terms as may enable the security concerns
for all parties."
After living in Woodstock through much of the 1980s, affording
his own artistic lifestyle by fixing up abandoned houses at Byrdcliffe
and elsewhere around town to keep his expenses low, Slowinski
started getting discouraged at the number of galleries who told
him his work was simply too political and "weird" to
be saleable. So in 1987 he found a storefront in the then-dispersing
East Village art scene on Manhattan's 10th Street and founded
the Limner Gallery, named for a Medieval term for manuscript
illuminators that eventually became a descriptive term for itinerant
At first, Limner sold only its owners' works. He'd borrowed and
saved enough money to stay open for a couple of months, but did
well enough selling off his own paintings that his second show
featured other artists. And then those sold and he was of and
Changes in the art and real estate markets forced a number of
location moves for Limner over the years, taking it to Soho, Little
Italy, and the midtown edges of Chelsea, the new art Mecca. Finally,
Slowinski burned out on the city and decided to move back Upstate
to a Woodland Valley home he'd been renovating over recent years.
He closed up the city gallery this past winter after securing
the Phoenicia site last summer. Now it's all system go- albeit
after a giant, swerving circle of seven years making.
Over the years, Limner has shown a number of local artists, many
of whom Slowinski first met while living in the area in the 1980s.
Among the top is Saugerties-based Ernest Frazier, a true original,
and one of the leading African-American artists in the nation
He's abetted this high-level coterie of artists with those he
finds through advertising and competition, many of whom pay a
fee to be part of what he puts together, including Direct Art.
Slowinski says the move Upstate made sense because he was sick
of the City- and a majority of his purchasing clients, the collectors
all art is aimed at for support, are from Florida and California
and sundry distant locations, doing most of their viewing and
buying either online or through the mail.
"It just made sense to be up here," he says.
As for the changes he has seen in the area since moving away for
17 years, Slowinski says Woodstock had already started becoming
a difficult place for artists to afford living in way back then.
It's only worse now.
He adds that Phoenicia and Olive, to him, are the new Woodstocks.
Moreover, with the hip new street traffic in both locations spurred
on by constant mentions in the New York media, he feels it may
actually be a better location for a gallery than the town he'd
originally settled in a quarter of a century ago.
"I've gotten better traffic into the gallery here than most
of my locations in the City," he said. "I don't thin
I'll be going back down now. It doesn't make sense to."
His new show, like others in the small space on Main Street, in
the Phoenicia Hotel building, is big in its effects. Although
many of the best pieces in "Fantastic Visions" are relatively
small, their obsessiveness and intricate craftsmanship are memorable.
William Ayton, from Rhinebeck, has a haunting ink-rendered portrait
entitled "Manowar" that could have been dug up from
any classic civilization of the last ten, or future dozen millennia.
Canadian artist Oscar De Las Flores' "Blake's Spirit and
Exhumation over a Mass Grave," another medium-sized pen and
ink piece, does the great mystic poet's legacy right in its complex
sense of a darkly spiritualized world. Donna Dodson's "Pregnant
Owl," one of the show's only sculpture's, is naturalistic
and suggestive at the same time.
The themes spread across the globe, with works in the latest,
and all Limner exhibits coming from as far afield as Blooming
Prairie, MN and London, England, in styles ranging from the intimacy
of pen and ink to large, cartoonish oils and acrylics with pop-graphic
narratives their obvious rendering skills.
Two particular favorites in the current show include Kansas drawer
Kris Kuksi's morbidly-fascinating "The Decomposition of Kuksi,"
a graphite depiction of the artist's own death that seems to match
adolescent self-pity with an adult cynicism. And best of all,
Californian Mark Thompson's wildly creative commentary, "Release
2: Scripting Symbol of Paper Worth as Forest of Thought Begins,"
a delicately small watercolor and ink masterpiece redolent of
both Goya and Daumier at their caricaturing best.
And yet all dim behind the memorable paintings Slowinski himself
has been turning out over the years - colorful, almost comics-like
super-realist commentaries on life that have been popping up in
group shows all over the region, including this weekend's big
Tattoo & Body Fest in Woodstock.
"Taste is a result of personality, and it all reflects my
own painting style," he said of his concentration on the
surreal, the fantastic, and the politically ironic.. "I like
things political and emotionally intense. I like a certain amount
of weirdness in art."
Limner Gallery is located at 59 Main Street in Phoenicia. Call
845-688-7129 or visit www.slowart.com for further information.