(letters from January 18, 2007)
The following is an open letter to the Townspeople of the
Town of Shandaken.
I am writing this in the hope that I can clear up some of
the confusion and put an end to the malicious rumors that
have been circulated by certain members of our community concerning
the rather abrupt resignations of Jerry Pearlman, Lisa Benjamin
and myself, Adele Pearlman, from our positions on the Shandaken
Ambulance Squad at the January 2 reorganization meeting. First,
the Town has not been left dangling, we will continue to do
our regularly scheduled shifts through 1/12/07 at which time
all control of the ambulance will be turned over to Peggy
Vitarius. A little background on this whole affair is probably
in order at this point. Jerry Pearlman has been working 130
hours a week, 52 weeks a year, for the past 10 years, give
or take a few hours as Chief Technician, Lisa has been working
only slightly less, plus doing the billing for the squad.
During that time they spent endless hours improving the quality
of care that the ambulance provides by upgrading our services
to the paramedic level. After grappling for many hours learning
the intricacies of the medical insurance and Medicare systems,
they were able to put in place a billing system that has brought
many hundreds of thousands of dollars to the coffers of the
Town. I find it hard to fault them if they were just a teensy
bit offended when after all their hard work the Town Board
relieves them of their jobs with 2 days notice and hands control
over to an unqualified person. We will not work for Peggy
Vitarius. We have already had that experience and will not
It is no secret that for the past 3 years there has been a
dispute between Jerry and Lisa and Tony Lanza over the increased
use of the Town’s thinly staffed ambulance service by
Belleayre Ski Center. The squad is short of personnel and
always has been. There has been no good faith attempt at a
solution from Tony Lanza, and in fact he chose to attack and
slander Jerry, Lisa, and the ambulance service in general
at a meeting at Town Hall in 2005 that was called to try and
address this issue before it came to a crisis. Our town supervisor
has been unable to deal with Mr. Lanza, and now the entire
Town Board has chosen to take Mr.Lanza’s approach by
replacing Jerry and Lisa with an administrator, that has presented
the Town with a bunch of names on paper, allegedly people
who would work on the ambulance to solve the staffing problem.
These people were appointed by the Town at the reorganization
meeting, yet the Town had not received an employment application,
resume or any documentation of qualifying credentials to verify
that they were actually qualified for the positions. It is
ludicrous that the Town Board would actually appoint people
to any position much less to a position that required people
to enter other peoples homes and become privy to very sensitive
personal and medical information without obtaining any personnel
information. This is yet another example of negligence and
incompetence on the part of this Town Board. Please be aware
that many of these people are affiliated with Belleayre. My
advice to Bob Cross was that he had best make sure that these
individuals understand that they have been appointed to serve
the entire Town of Shandaken, and they will have to do their
Belleayre Mountain boot-licking on their time off.
This is a dangerous business. It is unfortunate that politics
can have such a strong effect on ambulance operations, and
that the Town Board allows ambulance policy and operations
to be directed from Belleayre Mountain. While it is true,
as Ms. Joan Lawrence-Bauer contends, that the town is being
held hostage, it isn’t Jerry, Lisa, or myself that are
the hostage takers. You won’t have to look to far to
find out who they actually are.
In conclusion, Jerry, Lisa and I would like to thank the people
of the Town for the opportunity to serve them and for the
support they have always given us. We have personally received
much satisfaction from serving, especially on those occasions
when our presence contributed to a positive outcome for the
Finally, since I am no longer a Town employee, I can now be
free to vent my spleen, and say that after 25 years of ambulance
service and many Town administrations, I believe I have the
experience to say that this is one of the most inept, self
serving, brown nosing, back stabbing bunch of idiots it has
ever been my misfortune to be employed by.
PS: This letter was written on 1/3/07. The following events
took place after that. On 1/3/07, at 10:00 AM, when we submitted
our resignation letters to Town Hall, Peggy Vitarius was present.
Jerry asked her what paramedic did she have that he could
legally transfer custody of the narcotics to. She gave a name
that was on the list of appointed paramedics, and Jerry told
Mrs.Vitarius to have this person contact him immediately to
affect a legal transfer. Jerry also asked Mrs. Vitarius if
she would be able to provide 24-hour paramedic coverage immediately.
She stated “yes”, witnessed by Bob Cross, Lisa,
Jerry and myself. On Thursday, 1/4/07, there was an unfortunate
article in the Freeman that was creating a disturbance at
Jerry and Lisa’s other employment and was raising questions
in the Health Department. It was also becoming obvious that
there was a campaign to discredit Jerry, both personally and
his past operation of the ambulance. Jerry was advised by
the Health Department in the early afternoon on 1/4/07 to
return the narcotics to the supplier, which is Kingston Hospital
pharmacy. Jerry still had not heard from the paramedic that
he was supposed to transfer custody to, and he immediately
contacted and advised Bob Cross. Bob was also told to advise
Mrs. Vitarius of the circumstances. The narcotics were surrendered
about 5:30 PM on Thursday, 1/4/07, following a process mandated
by the Health Department, which is extensively documented.
It is not Jerry’s fault that the Town had to contract
with Mobile Life Support to provide services that Mrs. Vitarius
stated she could provide. Had there actually been paramedics
on staff as everyone had been led to believe, there would
have been a paramedic to transfer the narcotics to, and there
would have been no need to surrender the narcotics, and had
there been paramedics on staff as everyone was led to believe,
there would have been no interruption of paramedic services.
Had there not been a flurry of unfounded and undocumented
lies being spread around Town, Jerry and Lisa probably would
have worked for the 2-week period that they had promised.
Cast the blame where it belongs.
Adele Pearlman, AEMT-I
Shandaken Ambulance Service
On Feb.3, 2007 the residents of Phoenicia will be asked to
cast a vote for or against the proposed Phoenicia Wastewater
project. There has been a lot of discussion as to the merits
of this undertaking. If you are a resident who is affected
by the “sewer project” there are a few points
concerning the project that should be stressed.
1. The City of New York is paying 17.2 million dollars for
the project - 16 million dollars is the actual estimated cost.
1.2 million is the allotted cash just in case there is an
overrun. In the towns where the Delaware Engineering Co. (our
contractor) has performed the same service there have been
no cost overruns. Should this be the case here the extra cash
will be used for reimbursing the landowner for the cost of
the lateral connection — which runs from the home or
business to the main line. NYC is also paying 85% of all operating
costs, the remainder of the operating cost will be paid by
the $100.00 per year fee for homes and the fee charged to
businesses. The business fee will be $200.00 per year plus
a small charge for use of more than 300 gallons per day.
2. There are also low income grants - a family with 2 children
may earn up to $33,000.00 per year and still qualify for a
grant that will pay for their lateral connection. Should the
family be larger the qualifying yearly salary would be higher.
There are also state and federal grants that may be applied
for as soon as the project is confirmed.
Eighty odd years ago NYC came to Phoenicia and wanted to install
a sewer system and it would have funded the entire project.
A handful of business owners opposed the project. In those
days all but a handful of residents worked for the business
owners, if they said -no sewer- you voted no sewer. Phoenicia
has been kicking itself ever since.
Two years ago the Phoenicia water system had to shut down
and flush and chlorinate its system. We for three days were
not able to drink our own water because of e-coli bacteria.
I have been told by a main street business that they do not
need a sewer system - because every time we have a 2-3 inch
rainfall their system flushes out and is empty and clean again.
Our e-coli experience happened 2 days after a heavy rainfall
- our water system is 2 miles downstream from main street
— Coincidence?? I don’t think so...
If we do not put a sewer system in place now, sooner or later
the county and state will come into our town and perform the
necessary testing and mandate that we do so - at our own expense.
Once NYC is off the hook it will not be back the third time.
When that happens - (not if—but when) we will pay the
entire bill which by that time will be much higher than 16
NYC wants clean water - we want clean water - NYC is willing
to pay —state, federal, and low income grants will be
available for our use. We have up to one million dollars built
in along with the grants. If ever there was a time to act
it is now.
We still have today, eighty years later certain individuals
painting their own picture of doom should we attempt to help
ourselves. Most businesses that I have spoken to cannot wait
for the system to be up and operational. It means growth and
prosperity for them and for the town as a whole. Business
expansion means additional revenue and jobs not to mention
the growth necessary to insure a secure future for the next
generation. When the day arrives I urge everyone connected
to the system to go to the polls and cast your vote.
This letter is to thank Mr.and Mrs. Jerry and Adele Perlman
and Mr. Lisa Benjamin for their long years of service to our
community as ambulance squad members. I have witnessed first
hand their professionalism, competence, and compassion as
they responded to emergency calls for both of my elderly parents.
Being a resident of Phoenicia for over twenty years I have
found Jerry, Adele, and Lisa to be among the most kindhearted
and decent individuals that I know. They are good people and
Things that led up to their resignation from the ambulance
took place at the Tuesday, January 2 reorganizational meeting.
If this important meeting was held at 7pm rather than the
inconvenient time of 1pm, much more of the public could have
been there to show our support for Jerry, Adele, and Lisa.
Was this just one of the reasons for the time change?
Many of our elected official town officials should look to
Mr.and Mrs Jerry and Adele Perlman and Mrs. Lisa Benjamin
in order to really understand what it means to be Public Servants.
Thankyou so much Jerry, Adele and Lisa for everything you
have done for our community.
Once again, as with most controversies, there are several
positions that can be postulated. I'm speaking about the recent
letters to editors concerning trapping and the changing demographics
of our area. These changing demographics are commonly perceived
as a socio-economic evolution. There is a more insidious evolution
that was started by the drought situation of about ten years
The Pepacton was like a stream. The Ashokan lowered, hilltops
and even an old church steeple protruded from its surface
water. Bear in search of water descended to the valley hamlets
where they found not only water, but also bird feeders and
Now, several generations later, they continue to come. Phoenicia
is not a petting zoo and I cringe when tourists flock to the
dumpsters to get the photo op of their vacation. These bear
are wild and dangerous and getting aclose up of the cute and
cuddly cubs is not a good idea. It seems that nothing can
be done about the bear except to treat them with respect and
There is a much more insidious problem with the wildlife in
the valley hamlets, and that is coyotes. Only true vegetarians
stand on the high ground in advocating the abolition of hunting.
I, on the other hand, have eaten more raccoons, opossums,
and even chipmonks than I care to think about. There are laws
that stipulate the use of traps and I am in no way defending
any violations of those laws. Violators of those laws need
to be prosecuted. It is illegal to set traps on private property
without that owners' knowledge and permission. Conversely,
there are leash laws in Shandaken, Olive and Woodstock, and
the entire Catskill Park. In these anti-trapping letters,
people are encouraged to vent their outrage to their legislators
and senators. Before anyone acquiesces to these suggestions,
let me point out the benefits these trappers provide the community.
For years, the DEC denied the existence of coyotes in this
area. It wasn't unitl it was obvious to everyone that these
mangy and sometimes rabid killers proliferated. A small pack
can eat an entire deer in one night. A few years back there
were approximately 45 running free in Chichester. They kill
everything they can, both wild and domestic. Look on any store
bulletin board or telephone pole and you will more than likely
see a plea for anyone who has seen their missing cat. Anyone
who has let their cat outside is risking its death. Knee-jerk
reactions that call trapping barbaric, bloodthirsty, cruel
and not-sportsmanlike are responding with prejudice and misconception.
Everyone feels the pain of an animal owner who has had his
or her pet injured or killed. In that same breath, how many
pets have been saved by the culling of these ravenous packs?
Coyotes pose a real threat to children and pets as they roam
Main Street in Phoenicia. I hope that tragedy will not be
the thing that sparks recognition of this problem. I want
to thank the trappers that are ridding this area of as many
of these carnivorous and dangerous animals as possible.
After reading Chairman of the Legislature David B. Donaldson’s
2007 State of the County, one segment that I wish to comment
on at this time is the Web Site that he claims to have “more
information to our constituents” through the efforts
of the Legislative Clerk’s Office. Actually, it would
have been more appropriate if he had referred to it as “useless
information” and I will tell you why.
Glancing at the County Directory on-line, I noticed that his
Madame Clerk had swiftly removed my name and title from the
Legislature’s listing, while leaving a deceased department
head intact. In checking further, another former Legislative
employee (who worked in that capacity for approximately one
month), appears in two different departments. In fact, there
are still glaring inaccuracies in quite a number of departments
that should have been corrected months ago. While one can
appreciate this information is speedily accessible, how useful
is it, if it is not accurately displayed?
Might I add the “Clerk” has the capability of
going right to the Web page and make the necessary corrections
personally. (This was an issue early in 2006 when she was
instructed to have direct access to the Web Page to post announcements
in a timely fashion.)
If the Chairman stands behind his statement that “we
will continue our efforts to make County Government more user-friendly
by providing information in a clear and concise matter”
(isn't it manner?), then why have these errors remained on-line
for months when the updates can be made almost daily if need
Fool me Once, Shame on You. Fool me Twice, Shame on NYS
NYS has seen the disastrous waste of money spent by other
counties nationwide on DREs (touchscreen) voting machines.
All those States fooled by vendors making billions on poorly
crafted machines that breakdown causing in some cases 8-11
hour lines, losing votes (18,000 in one Florida county in
2006) or flipping the vote you cast and giving it to a candidate
of the computer=s choice. Having been duped by vendors who
spent many millions to manipulate election officials to purchase
these lemons, many counties have now had to swallow their
losses and replace DREs with Optical Scanning machines (PBOSs
where voters actually cast their own vote on a paper ballot,
which is then counted by the Optical Scanner).
Unlike these new overpriced and faulty DREs, PBOS machines
have been used for two decades. Not only do they cost less
than half the cost to purchase, but the cost of running a
DRE-election vs a PBOS election has shown itself to be cost
prohibitive in county after county, costing taxpayers millions
more for every election. Further, PBOSs are less susceptible
to problems (if the DRE fails, no one gets to vote, but with
a PBOS everyone can still vote, we just can=t count the votes
until the machine is fixed –or we can count them ourselves!
Write to your State Senator and Governor and tell them: having
waited to be the last state to purchase voting machines, we
would be fools if we failed to learn from the overwhelming
evidence of the abysmal failure of DREs.
Andi Novick, Northeast Citizens
for Responsible Media
A Personal Response to our President's Address to the Nation
Dear Mr. President:
I was disappointed and frightened by your long-awaited address
to the nation about your plans for Iraq. Your words will not
leave one person in the entire world unaffected. Therefore,
I hope you will feel my love and concern in writing. The >
"> new course" that you propose for Iraq is flawed
and will lead to disaster. It will bring more death and destruction
to friends and enemies alike. Most of all, it leaves God out
of the picture.
Mr. President, I respect you deeply. You are daily in my prayers.
Even on television, it is obvious how lonely you must feel,
separated from your fellow Americans and from the entire international
community. Yet there are millions of people who would love
to help you, and pray for you, if only you would reach out
to them. This is why I want to reach out to you and humbly
ask that, in this moment of world crisis, you lead our nation
by putting your trust in God alone and not in our military
The world is full of fear because of the events that have
occurred since our country started the "War on Terror.
“ And no one has become any safer.
We cannot ignore the important lessons that are taught to
us in the Old and New Testaments. For God is a jealous God.
He will not let Himself be mocked. He wants our leaders to
lead us in humility and compassion. When King Ahab realized
that he had done wrong, he tore his clothes, and put on sackcloth
and fasted (1 King 20:27). When Jonah finally preached the
word of God to Nineveh, the king himself rose from his throne
and laid down his robe, and covered himself with sackcloth
and sat in ashes. When God saw this humility, he relented
from the disaster that He had planned to bring upon them (Jonah
In Isaiah 1:5, the kings of Judah are warned sternly about
leaving God out of the equation:
When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes
from you. Even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen.
Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight. Stop doing wrong.
In the same way, the words of the prophet Obadiah speak directly
to this moment:
"Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you
shall be utterly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived
you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation
is high; you who say in your heart, 'Who will bring me down
to the ground?' Though you soar like the eagle, and though
you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring
you down," says the Lord. (Obadiah 1:2-4)
Mr. President, you profess to be a man of God. Show the world
that the words of the prophets are still true today, and pray
with us that God will not forsake our nation even in its darkest
God wants to give more grace. That is why the Apostle James
writes, "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the
humble." (James 4:6).
As a pastor who has worked with government officials for years,
I feel a special burden for your task, and would strongly
desire to meet with you to discuss these matters further.
Johann Christoph Arnold
Church Communities International
Recently, I received an email letter from Howard Dean on behalf
of the Democratic Party. He said the Democrats are "ready
to act." He wants me to write my local newspaper to voice
opposition to the President’s troop increase for Iraq.
This is what I wrote back to him.
I disagree with your bold contention that the Democrats are
ready to act. If they were, they would have immediately gone
on the offensive to begin proceedings to impeach George W.
Bush. The man is a criminal by law. He has broken and bent
the laws of our land. He and the neo-cons are destroying the
Constitution or at the very least riding roughshod over it.
And the Democrats are letting him! We are not talking about
clumsy mistakes - of which he makes plenty - but the President,
Vice President and his Cabinet have lied to the people and
Congress. Maybe you and our newly elected Democratic Congress
don't get that but the people who elected this new congress
So it seems to me the first order of business would be impeachment
proceedings but Nancy Pelosi says that is not on the agenda,
consequently the man in the White House and his fellow crooks
are emboldened. Now this is what will happen: Your Democratic
Congress, many of whom rubber stamped Bush’s previous
lies to America, will now attempt to block his escalation
of the war. They will fail. And what's amazing is, the Democrats,
as you say, think they have reason to be “upbeat.”
They can't see the forest for the trees. This
never-really-elected President will again be empowered by
his victory over Congress and do still more damage. He will
put more troops in Iraq and this bloody war will drag on.
More children will die, more families be uprooted, more villages
destroyed and more American service people will die and be
But the privileged members of the Senate and House, who have
no children in Iraq, will continue to play politics, will
not risk anything, not take any chances even though the President
and his cronies are busy wrecking what is left of civilization
both by war and absolutely horrid environmental policies,
not to mention torture, illicit spying, detention of innocents
and denial of universal right of habeas corpus. The Democrats
will have failed the country once again because, with exceptions
like Maurice Hinchey, Dennis Kucinich and a few others, they
have not an once of courage - something I thought you once
had. Party politics has robbed you of that. Once you spoke
your mind for the truth, now you just try to strengthen the
party. What a difference.
In the Jan 4 issue I; indeed we all are fascinated with the
80-90 year old account of Ms. Mescal E. Hornbeck's adventures
in the Olive Grade Schools.
Since Ms. Hornbeck began her formal education 90 years ago
at age 5 I must pause to wish her many more years in which
she might regale us with further delightful reports of her
most interesting and productive life. We are blessed with
you in our midst, ma’am.
Ms. Hornbeck endured the same difficulties and inconveniences
in those one room schools as did I, albeit 15 years later
for me in Olivebridge. I regard our experiences as pleasant
memories of friendships, education and joy.
All of her account is quite accurate with each Teacher, Trustee
and Parent embracing the same values and goals. Red Rover
and/or Fox and Geese blended nicely with our curriculum as
did Phys-Ed which were exercises and Soft Ball [hit it over
the fence and "you're out"].
The Olivebridge M E Church was closely related to the School
in that our secular programs and religious pageantry were
integrated; a rarity today.
In Olivebridge our student body consisted of 25-40 "clients"
[ages 5-14] which was well managed and tutored by one teacher.
In 1932 I first met Mrs. Elthia Quick who was intelligent
and dedicated. She retired in June 1938 and was replaced in
Sept. by a young, pretty Carol Gridley who shortly became
Mrs. Albert Davis [following courtship on a motorcycle]. She
was followed by Ms. Ludwig, Mrs. Winchell and Mrs. Burgher.
Ms. Hornbeck recalls that many of us went to High School at
age 12 and she attributes this to listening to the advanced
classes report and recite at the front of the room. In recent
times I would accuse Ms. Gridley Davis of sending me early
for my regents exams because, "that was your way of getting
rid of me".
Our running water was filling a pail at the hand pump and
running with it. Each Halloween the pump was justifiably raised
to 4 or 5 limbs in the maple tree above it. Someone else turned
over the out houses, I swear!
We also were assigned chores which included fetching an armful
of firewood, erasing the blackboard and then 'clapping"
the erasers outside to clear them of chalk. There were one
and two finger "signals" frequently implemented
but nevertheless controlled. Detention did not generate overtime
for the teacher.
I would be remiss if I didn't celebrate the supporting cast.
Mr. Charles Eckert was the Trustee and so very dedicated.
Bill Lortz was our Janitor who warmed up the school with its
wood stove and swept the floor. Bill was also the local electrician,
plumber and carpenter. As resident barber he cut our hair
on Saturdays for .25 cents and caused much laughter. Our parents
were instrumental in maintaining order and discipline as they
supported the teacher no matter how wrong.
I would say, too that the Phoenicia Times has added to our
enlightenment by its presence here. The Times has expended
much print and ink for us to express our view of current events
and exchange ideas. The Times is the information conduit between
OCSD, the politicians and we, the people. Bravo Schools and
Times! .......OK, our public servants are certainly praise
Thank you Ms. Hornbeck. You are a local, if not a national
Glenn T. Anderson
Boy, does THIS ONE really hit home.
by Ed Higgins
It’s always about loss,
this kind of epistemology
philosophers regard with dread.
And we can fool ourselves with thinking.
Like the grandfather
I read about recently
who picked up his four-year-old grandson
in two pieces on a Baghdad market street,
after a sudden car bomb there.
And then just yesterday grocery shopping,
concentrating on which broccoli florets
out of the corner of my eye
a little blond four-year-old girl
is running to the side of my leg
yelling grandpa, grandpa, we saw your car
in the parking lot and knew it was you.
And my son and his beautiful wife
are smiling an aisle away,
near the potatoes and sweet onions,
she holding their year-old daughter
on her hip the way m others do.
And I’m so happy to see them all there
in one piece that I begin to cry,
like a foolish, foolish old man.
Woodland Valley, NY