Sure, you grew up here and loved it. When you were growing
up here, you
probably didn't lock all your doors every time you ran down
to the grocery store because you were worried about the 1,800
construction workers descending on your little mountain town
every day for eight years to build a luxury hotel complex
you can't afford to stay in. What if one of those construction
workers suddenly decides he is late for work just about the
time you are approaching in the oncoming lane with a car full
of grandkids? Back then you probably weren't alarmed at the
400 plus minimum wage "guest workers" you will see
in your neighborhood every day hitch hiking to work at the
mega-resort complex coming soon to a mountain top near you.
They are hitch-hiking because, in this era of tight credit,
no banker in his right mind will give a hard-working minimum-wage
earner an auto loan. If you want a career of minimum-wage
sex harassment for your child, there will soon be a new business
in town that can provide that. If you really want a secure
future for your children in Shandaken, I suggest you send
them to locksmith school.
The following is a partial list of why Friends of Catskill
Park did not sign the Agreement in Principle supporting the
reconfigured Belleayre Resort. We see this area within the
Catskill Park and Forest Preserve as one of rare and unique
natural beauty, a remarkable resource of statewide significance,
and believe it should be preserved for future generations
to appreciate, learn from, and enjoy. Right now the area is
growing organically. As we all know, 911 marked the beginning
of a mass migration from urban to rural areas, and the central
Catskills area has become a popular destination. So far, the
area has been able to integrate that growth, but the building
of the Belleayre Resort would jump the growth meter into the
red. It would bring with it all the detriments of rapid growth
such as higher taxes, destabilized communities, heavily-trafficked
roads, a population influx, an exacerbation of the existing
affordable housing crisis, environmental degradation and more.
We could have supported a significantly smaller project that
would integrate with, rather than overwhelm, the area, but
we cannot support what is on the table now.
The modified proposal is still way oversized. It includes
370 hotel rooms and suites, 259 two- and three-bedroom time
shares, an 18-hole golf course, spas, conference centers,
restaurants, bars, clubhouses and more. It would effectively
be a town on the mountain much larger than any of the neighboring
villages. In fact, most of the components of the eastern site
known as Big Indian Plateau, were simply moved to the new
Highmount site on the west.
Development is proposed for steep slopes with 19 buildings
at an elevation of over 3000 feet. Because of the increased
frequency of heavy rains in the area, the potential for flooding
and erosion is a very real concern. Once hundreds of mountaintop
and mountainside acres have been deforested, it is difficult
to prevent flooding and erosion during severe storm events,
especially during construction. And the construction stage
would last for up to 8 years. Storm water controls have often
failed in less extreme conditions, including a recent situation
at another local golf course.
We feel that Governor Spitzer is being extremely loose with
taxpayer dollars. The State has agreed to purchase the Big
Indian Plateau (approximately 1200 acres) for a cost of 14
million dollars. That is almost $12,000 per acre, many times
what it would be worth on the open market and many times what
the developer paid for it. In addition to this, the Belleayre
Ski Center plans to build several new trails and lifts (also
at taxpayer expense) that would integrate directly with the
resort at a cost of millions more. Rumor has it that the price
tag for the whole ski center integration and expansion is
in the range of 45 million dollars. And, the State Department
of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is the lead agency conducting
the environmental review of the resort, the State runs the
Belleayre Ski Center, and now the State is using taxpayer
dollars to enhance this private development as well as the
Ski Center. Taxpayer dollars are supposed to be used for the
public good and this obvious conflict-of-interest does make
us question who’s good is being publicly paid for here.
The local people would pay the most and in a variety of ways.
Traffic on the already-busy and dangerous Route 28 would increase
by many hundreds of vehicles per day. In addition to personal
vehicles, there would be service trucks, supply trucks, delivery
trucks, and trash trucks during operation. During construction,
we would be sharing our one main roadway with a steady stream
of construction vehicles.
The socio-economic impacts would be enormous. We don’t
have the labor force to fill 600 jobs so a new population
would have to be brought in and they would be entitled to
services such as police and fire protection, education for
their children, social services, etc -- all at taxpayer expense.
And the developers plan to apply for tax breaks, so taxpayers
would live with the cost impacts long before we get the tax
revenue from the development. It can take up to 20 years for
a development of this magnitude to pay full taxes when tax
breaks are given. In actuality, taxpayers usually wind up
subsidizing big development in a variety of ways, often to
the detriment of their own quality of life.
For these reasons and many more, we will continue to make
use of all of our options to downsize this development. We
simply could not put our name on an agreement that would allow
something that we believe is wrong for the area. Once it’s
built, there is no turning back.
Chair, Friends of Catskill Park
To preserve their ability to participate fully in the review
process, without restriction, Catskill Heritage Alliance,
Friends of Catskill Park, Sierra Club and Pine Hill Water
District Coalition did not sign the Governor's Agreement with
Developer Dean Gitter.
Many members of the local Ashokan-Pepacton chapter of Trout
Unlimited, those who actually fish these streams, disagreed
with their state Chair's unilateral decision to sign in their
name. It's reported that he was pressured by phone calls from
Governor Spitzer and others, and then given only 20 minutes
to review and sign the 25-page legal Agreement. Sierra Club
has also come under withering pressure to reverse their NY
(Atlantic) Chapter's decision not to sign the Agreement. The
developer was overheard boasting that the Governor promised
to "get" the Sierra Club for him. They're certainly
working at it.
Politicians and reporters may sigh and protest that this is
a "done deal" but they are just incorrect. The ordinary
review process will continue.
New citizen groups like Highmount Preservation Association
(HPA) and Hardenburgh Association of Residents and Taxpayers
(HART) have formed as voters finally get to see what's actually
in the new proposal. It was developed in secret negotiations
and sprung on the public during a surprise September 5th PR
extravaganza in Kingston calculated to roll over all opposition.
But in addition to the scale, with 629 units (2 hotels, 18-hole
golf course, spa, underground spa, conference center, stores,
restaurants, clubhouse, time shares, detached homes, etc.)
only slightly smaller than in the previous DEIS, new questions
· Many new buildings and a new road -- parts above
3000' elevation -- wind up the steep slopes of Belleayre Mountain.
· The development will require extensive blasting close
to forest preserve lands, watercourses and existing homes;
· No accounting of the taxpayer-funded ski lifts, trails
and snowmaking into and for the private development, in addition
to taxpayers buying 1200 acres for $14,000,000;
· Water supply pump testing not yet completed; as they
fail to prove supply, the developer tries to change the testing
· The project will use the Village of Pine Hill’s
oversized Sewage Treatment Plant capacity, built with taxpayer
· S tormwater runoff protocols for the new Highmount
Development are conceptual only;
DEC, DEP requirements or recommendations that locals chafe
under, waived or relaxed;
This new development requires a new SDEIS. The first step
will be a scoping session when concerned parties will bring
their issues forward at a public session or in writing. Watch
See the developer's maps, exhibits and the Agreement at http://www.catskillheritage.org/.
I urge citizens to consider the precedent for future development
of open space in the Catskill Park, along Route 28 and in
UC Environmental Mgmnt Council
Member, Hardenburgh Association of Resident's and Taxpayers
For the record...
We are grateful for press coverage of our organization- the
Highmount Preservation Association (HPA) and would like to
correct the record on a few points, particularly in Mr. Gitter’s
statements quoted by Jay Braman. Both Mr. Braman and Mr. Gitter
have confused the HPA with the Hardenburgh residents and taxpayers
group- HART. The two groups have distinct memberships and
leadership. HPA was formed by residents of Highmount, Galli
Curci Road and Todd Mountain in direct response to the release
of the governor’s Agreement In Principle (AIP). We do
share with the other groups in the fight- HART, The Catskill
Heritage Alliance (CHA), Friends of Catskill Park, the Sierra
Club and SavetheMountain.net a common goal of preserving the
natural legacy of the Catskills.
The developer gives the impression that opposition to carving
up Belleayre Mountain and Highmount for mega-development is
limited to the “same faces” that fought his original
grandiose plans. We’re reminded of Donald Rumsfeld’s
characterization of the opposition in Iraq as a few “dead-enders.”
In fact, opposition to the AIP is broad-based and growing.
Some business people may look to the planned development for
short-term gain but if you poll the public, you find either
ambivalence or fierce opposition.
Mr. Gitter claims that by opposing Crossroads Ventures development
plan, we are also opposing the organizations and agencies
that signed the AIP. We question just how willingly they agreed
to become cheerleaders for this project. What was said to
well-respected environmental advocates such as the NRDC, Riverkeeper
and Trout Unlimited to get them to sign on to a mega-build
sprawling clear to the top of unspoiled mountains? What was
said to the DEC for it to agree to Disneyland in the High
Catskills? What did it take for the DEP to agree that shifting
the threat from Ashokan to Pepacton is a step in the right
direction? We believe that Governor Spitzer could answer these
questions. We know in the case of TU that the state chairman,
Ron Urban, was given 20 minutes to read the 25-page document
during which he received phone calls from Governor Spitzer
and Mayor Bloomberg and held no consultation with the local
TU chapter. Today, there is widespread dissatisfaction in
the ranks with the chairman’s unilateral decision and
the local Ashokan-Pepacton Watershed chapter is exploring
its legal options for opposing the AIP. In addition, the Sierra
Club, which is still in the fight, is coming under intense
pressure from the governor’s office to fold.
The NRDC, the DEP, etc., charged with defending the environment
and citizen’s long-term interests respectively, are
in lockstep behind Dean Gitter, of all people. Governor Spitzer
played matchmaker to this unlikely union. He ran and was elected
as an environmentalist but now, barely 10 months into his
term as governor he has gone from being environmentally green
to being money green. There are ways to create jobs through
sustainable, environmentally sound development; building a
resort city on a mountainside isn’t one.
Matt Frisch, Coordinator
Freddi Dunleavey, Communications Director
Highmount Preservation Association
A member of the SavetheMountain.net coalition
Over the past couple of weeks as a resident of the Town of
Hardenburgh I attended two meetings concerning the Belleayre
Resort. Although my husband and I are against the resort,
nothing we heard changed our minds, if anything it only convinced
us we were right. We thought we knew everything we needed
to know, but the new things we found out just blew us away.
If you think you know everything you need to know think again,
the whole game plan for this resort has changed. I think they
call it the old bait and switch move. Go to a meeting near
you, look at the new maps. This resort is not downsized all
that much. They have taken everything from one side of the
mountain and moved it to the other side and they're building
up, not down. Go check out the maps and see for yourselves.
We found out how our democratic system failed us, starting
with Governor Spitzer. We found out how he thinks closed door
meetings and trade off with special interests is acceptable.
How our representatives were hit with gag orders so the public
couldn't know what was going on. To our senators who without
visiting the site think that we are so impoverished here that
we will fall for anything, Shame on you Hilary, and all our
representatives who let us down.
I also find the DEC who will not allow us to take gravel out
of our own streams to protect our homes from being flooded
are willing to sign off on a project that will allow complete
destruction of the mountains in the watershed, not including
the runoff and God knows what else.
And last but not least is the environmental groups, where
did you go on this? You are supposed to be there to protect
the Catskill Park, what happened?
I must admit Crossroads did send a gentleman to answer questions
we had, most of the time his answers were I don't know or
I'll find out. I'd think by now they should have the answers
Many of the questions were old ones such as jobs, fire, police,
ambulance, traffic, pollution, taxes, etc. One subject was
the four-lane highway, where it will start and end. If your
house sits along the Route 28 corridor I'd be thinking eminent
domain, they have to get the land somewhere.
I could go on and on about the changes and tactics they are
using to run this resort down our throats, but I won't. You
need to seek the truth yourselves.
My husband and I have firsthand experience with this subject.
We lived in a beautiful area with mountains. They came in
and clear cut all the trees and we listened to chain saws
and blasting and jackhammers and truck traffic for years.
The engineers said they had everything planned out, well the
first time we had heavy rain everything flooded. The best
engineers in the world cannot control mother nature, I wouldn't
want to be living downhill from this resort when she chooses
This whole resort issue reminds me of a fairy tale we all
know. The fairy tale is Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. We are
Red Riding Hood and the resort is disguised as the wolf waiting
to devour us.
So the people of Hardenburgh let them know we may be a small
group, but we can roar with the best of them. Join your neighbors
who are getting this resort shoved down their throats, and
in their backyards. Don't sit back and say it doesn't concern
me, it concerns us all. And you never know when that backyard
could be yours.
Let your elected officials know you're not letting our futures
be decided behind closed doors again.
A letter sent to Gov. Spitzer...
I guess I was just naive thinking that the beauty and pristine
nature of the area would remain that way – business
& profit always win out – I thought the Republicans
were the worst offenders - you were my team - I have followed
you for years loving the way you fought for justice –
but to cave in without due process for the rest of us is just
dirty tricks at work.
Dean Gitter does not care about the environment - just the
dollars. The traffic, noise and pollution will ruin our Catskill
area and the run-off into the Esopus will be devastating for
the water flowing to NYC.
Despite nine years of studies and debates and an agreement
in principal between most environmental groups and economic
development forces, the hyperbole surrounding the Belleayre
It continues in part, because local newspapers fuel it with
sloppy journalism and biased reporting, designed to keep controversy
alive and sell more newspapers. A case in point is two stories
written by Paul Smart in a single week after the resort announcement.
A story in Woodstock Times and a story in the Phoenicia Times
were virtually identical. Virtually, but with some notable
The start of the Woodstock Times story says "It's over."
But in the Phoenicia Times, the story begins "On the
surface, it seemed to be all but over." Assuming someone
read both stories, that leaves a reader to wonder. "Well,
is it over or isn't it?" The reality is that most people
don't read both papers. Most people read one or the other.
So why does a paper want the Woodstock readers to think it's
over and the Phoenicia readers to think there's still something
going on behind the scenes that we don't know about?
In the Woodstock Times, Smart tells readers the state would
purchase 1,216 acres of land known as the Big Indian plateau.
In the Phoenicia Times the same week, Smart makes that number
read 1,400 acres. In the Woodstock Times story, Smart notes
that Congressman Hinchey had signed on to the agreement but
was not in attendance. That fact was not highlighted in the
Phoenicia Times story. The Woodstock Times story tells us
Dean Gitter will get to build half of his project. The Phoenicia
Times says that, but then adds that he will get to build three-quarters
of the project if you look at the actual number of rooms.
There are other differences, but you get the drift. Reporters
and their editors tell us what they want us to know and shape
the news to get the results they want to get. In this case
a single reporter and two different editors (Brian Hollander
at the Woodstock Times and Brian Powers at the Phoenicia Times)
gave us two different slants on exactly the same story. They
are not alone. Reporters and editors in every other paper
do the same thing. And they do this not just when they are
reporting on the Belleayre Resort, but when they are reporting
on elected officials, candidates for public office, and other
important issues of the day.
When one single writer uses different facts in two different
papers in the very same week (such as the number of acres
in a proposal), it highlights the problem in a way that makes
it easier to see. One has to question the reporting and the
goals and objectives of the reporter and the publication.
As we move forward through the coming election cycle, and
the next year of review of the Belleayre Resort, I would urge
writers to be careful about what they write and readers to
be cautious about what they believe. Every story has more
than two sides and we are better served by people who would
try to unite us than by those who continue to foster division.
Big Indian, NY
Editor’s Note: When stories appear in different publications,
they inevitably get edited differently. Furthermore, facts
change between editions of papers... ever read the way AP
stories shift over a day? The move from “done”
to what is now becoming “not quite done” is the
result of observation of processes and the defensiveness inherent
in letters such as this... which unfortunately, because of
the writer’s background as a reporter and public relations
specialist, feels disingenuous. Yet we agree that all news
reading be done with care and from many sides. A last note,
I, Paul Smart, am editor of this paper.
Two of my children attend the Phoenicia school. I am very
concerned about the grade 5-8 Middle School configuration
which the Board of Education voted for at the June 5, 2007
meeting and its ramifications. Parents in Phoenicia have formed
a research group and Onteora Parents Yahoo Group, with many
files downloaded, to be better informed. We have been studying
the grade 5-8 Middle School and how it relates to our rural
We are a rural school district. We are not a wealthy suburban
district with a non-profit set up, like Chappaqua, which our
Middle School Steering committee, and board of education based
a large part of their decision on.
At a June 2007 Board of Education meeting, where Onteora Middle
School principal retired, we were told that lots of information
regarding a grade 5-8 Middle School was available for anyone
to review. I persisted all summer, but found the Chappaqua
visit and the National Middle School Association Summary (the
main report) are the bulk of information available. View it
on the Onteora Web Site. Most references are from the 1970s,
80s and 90s. Would our students be allowed to use research
As a parent and taxpayer I ask the board of education to re-visit
this decision for a grade 5-8 Middle School. Across this country,
districts are abandoning the grade 5-8 Middle School. The
same National Middle School Association. I just referred to
reports only nine percent of U.S. Middle School principals
accept 5-8 as a good grade configuration. Clearly stated in
our Architect’s report, our Middle School Steering Committee’s
Goal is for a 5-8 Middle School. Why? If it is not a sound
educational plan; is it to close a school?
Of the two plans that include a 5-8 Middle School —
one plan consists of only (2) k-4 schools. The other plan
calls for (1) k-1 school and (1) 2-4 school. Imagine all children
in the District travelling to (1) school for k-1 and to (1)
school for 2-4 ! We are geographically, the 2nd largest District
in New York State ! This makes no sense fiscally, educationally
(more transitions for a child) or last but not least, environmentally.
Bussing would be a huge problem, at increased costs. Can we
then conclude that (1) elementary School will become the 5-8
Middle School, or (1) elementary school will close ? Either
way, one of our communities will lose a school.
On June 19, the Superintendent, in her Educational Plan Press
Release writes this is an exciting time for our school district
and she states that the new Board will be deciding the timeline
of how to implement the decision of 5-8 Middle School and
which buildings will be used. I agree that this is an exciting
time for our School District. We have a 6 new administrators
(High School Assistant Principal, Middle School principal,
Bennett principal, Director of Transportation, Interim High
School Principal, and Superintendent of Schools). We are searching
for a new High School principal. Shouldn’t we concentrate
on creating a well-equipped, well-maintained building for
our High School students? A magnet to keep and entice families.
In conclusion, please remember that we, the Onteora families
and taxpayers, will be directly affected by your decisions.
The 5-8 Middle School configuration is not in the best interest
of our rural community schools. We greatly appreciate your
enormous amount of time as a Member of the School Board and,
we hold you to make the best, most informed decisions when
it comes to the education of our children. Our children are
the future of our communities and our world at large.
This is in reference to my Foil request, FOIL 2007/08- #7.
Recently I submitted a Foil request asking for the District’s
total cost of salaries, benefits and overtime in both the
Maintenance and Custodial Departments. I also asked for the
reason for working overtime in both of those Departments and
how many employees worked in those departments.
In the second registered letter reply dated August 20, 2007
Victoria McLaren wrote. The information requested in your
FOIL request number FOIL 2007 / 08 #7 Custodial / Maintenance
is available. The request includes 438 pages at .25 cents
per page for total due of $109.50. Please make a check payable
to the Onteora School District. As soon as the funds are received,
the documents will be mailed to you or you may make an appointment
to review the documents at no cost.
I feel that it goes beyond being unreasonable to expect an
untrained financial person like me to pay $109.50 for documents
that I probably wouldn’t understand. Even if I were
to go to the school to read the documents I would certainly
have many questions. It’s to be noted that the administration
is not obligated in any way to answer any questions that I
may have. Also, I would have to make many trips to the school
to read all of those 438 pages.
I requested the above information because I was interested
in researching the possibility of sub-contracting the work
done by the above-mentioned departments. Sub-contracting some
or all of the work being done by the above-mentioned departments
would more then likely be more cost effective then the way
that it’s being done today. Using cost-effective measures
makes good business practice, reduces spending and saves tax
If I may, I would like to ask that all recipients of this
correspondence forward their comments regarding the possibility
of sub-contracting all or a part of the work now being done
by our Custodial and Maintenance Departments.
Election Day is just around the corner – a very important
election for the residents of Ulster County and the Town of
Shandaken. Do you want another robbery of over 40 million
dollars of taxpayer money for the county jail? Or do you want
another robbery of $50,000 cost overrun for the Phoenicia
Filtration Plant – a plant that isn’t even finished
yet and the water is lousy. If politicians claim credit for
good things – they should accept the blame for their
mistakes – and pay for them.
Shandaken has one politician with claims of serving the town
well for 8 years but fails to point out that during most of
that time had 2 well paying positions in the town –
positions that gave over an opportunity to extend many political
favors. Also, serving both positions at the same time one
could call it very unethical at the least. During most of
those eight years you also had the majority of your political
party on the board. What big things were accomplished? Do
we need this kind of leadership?
Besides regular town business we have some big decisions to
make in the future. The cellular towers, Belleayre Resort,
bringing the ambulance department back to the finesse it had,
the Phoenicia Sewer District, dredging the streams, and taxes
– to name a few. Some of these problems have lingered
Peter DiSclafani can provide the town with this strong leadership
that is needed. He believes in open government, representing
all people, and solving problems. He will make us happy and
proud to again say “we live in the Town of Shandaken.”
Let’s work together as neighbors for the betterment
of all of Shandaken. - where is there a better place?
How disheartening it is to attend Town Board meetings. It
is nice to know that the public is invited to a Board workshop
meeting, however there will be no public input allowed, but
that really doesn't matter since one of the topics of the
meeting is the preliminary budget no one has seen anyway,
and another is the proposed cell tower lease that the Board
has already refused to discuss.
The saying "it is all done with smoke and mirrors comes
to mind" The presentation made by the current ambulance
administrator was just so much smoke. On the on hand, it was
nice to know that there are a few competent paramedics on
the squad. However, after months of asking questions about
the actual workings of the squad, there are many questions
that continually go unanswered, and will apparently never
be answered. All we are told is that there are more and more
people on the squad, and they are bigger and better than ever.
Here are a few questions regarding staffing and appointments.
· How many positions exist for the ambulance squad,
and how many personnel that have been appointed are actually
· What is the screening process for prospective employees?
A very important issue, since the Board unanimously voted
to appoint 5 members to the ambulance in January, none of
which had even submitted an application to the town. At the
last meeting, Bob stated he had phone calls from 2 paramedics
that would like to join, so he would appoint them as well.
Nice. In light of the growing roster, do we need them, and
more importantly Bob, what do you know about them? What do
you, or the rest of the board know about the individuals appointed
(unanimously) at this meeting?
· What is the standard, where is the due diligence?
Ever consider background checks; ever consider a drug and
alcohol screening policy? Given the open floodgate policy
that is in effect, and the times we are living in, I think
that is not only appropriate, but also should be mandatory.
· In budgetary matters, I hear that there is going
to be a $30,000. increase in the ambulance budget. Why? Bear
in mind, that if ambulance revenues have fallen short by $30,000,
then an increase in the budget by that amount is actually
a $60,000. increase to the taxpayers. More smoke and mirrors.
There are many more unanswered questions involving this Town
Board, but in the interest of time and space I will end with
this statement. Pay close attention to this budget process,
it is the last gasp of a lame administration, and it is your
money they are playing with.
My name is Lynne O’Brophy and I’m running for
the Shandaken Town Board. I’m writing to raise a voice
against negative campaigning. Unhappily, many people seem
to think that negative, and often nasty, campaigning in our
national elections is good, simply because it works. And it’s
human nature to think that “where there’s smoke
there must be fire.” I strongly oppose the whole idea
of negative campaigning and I urge you to challenge that kind
of mean-spirited thinking in our local elections.
My feeling is that negative campaigning works because the
candidates haven’t the moxie to offer anything better,
much less some real-world specifics on what they’d bring
to government. Instead they talk in nothing but generalities
for fear they might lose a vote or two if they say what they
really think. So we get to chose on the basis of cheap slogans,
who we like best, or who best appeals to our prejudices. And
we almost never hear real-world SPECIFICS on what the candidates
want to do on things like health care, social security, education,
the war in Iraq, the security of our borders against terrorists.
illegal immigration, jobs, the safety of air travel or prescription
drugs or food inspections or much of anything else. And then
we later complain about our public officials.Yuk.
I can’t do much about all this on a national level.
But in my own campaign for Town Board you won’t hear
a negative word about who screwed up in the past, what’s
wrong with my opponents, or what’s wrong with those
who disagree with my position on the issues. I think you can
figure out those things for yourself and don’t need
help from me. Instead, I want to concentrate on exactly what
I hope to bring to our town government. In the simplest terms
it comes down to thinking in positive, practical terms about
each of the issues - looking for approaches that will bring
us together rather than draw more lines in the sand. I’ll
also be talking very specifically about each of the issues
in my campaign. Maybe we can all strike a blow for fair-minded
debate and what we are for, not just what we’re against.
Who knows - we might even set an example for others!
Once upon a time not to long ago there lived in these hills
an old man with all kinds of illnesses. He spent most of his
time helping others any way he could, never asking anything
in return. The happy faces of the recipients were sufficient
reward. Old fashioned by today’s standards he believed
that somewhere there was this tremendous energy force that
regulated all things large and small. He called that force
God. As was taught years ago he honored that force trying
to obey a set of rules carved in stone tablets, 10 in all.
Not so very much, but sometimes difficult to do. He gave all
he had to all he could as long as he was able, yet not enough,
for the world had changed from his youth. Nobody cared for
anybody but themselves. On every street corner there was filth
in it’s many forms – from prostitution to drugs
and liquor. Any way to get a “buzz on.” The police
tried to put a lid on it but were stymied by “The Law”
they had to follow, the rules the people preferred to side
step. Babies were having babies with no thought of responsibility.
Disease ran rampant as soon as the doctors seemed to gain
control another strain appeared. Yet the doctors themselves
were part of the blame. It was their duty to push pills in
order that their interest in the drug companies made for them
profit. I think back about that old time religion “what
gaineth a man if he loses his soul,” which is exactly
what is happening. I can think of a hundred countries so beautiful
it could make a man cry. All that is left now is ruins. The
fighting still goes on and people die. Seems we have forgotten
the Nazi Germany. Same thing, different players.
I am old now and considered useless, yet I know right from
wrong. A different scenario recently played out for my benefit,
to emphasize my helplessness I tried to fight, but lacked
the strength. I witnessed a crime in progress. Tried to call
for help, but much to my chagrin, the perpetrators were the
security people and janitor who indicated I was looney and
had me put into restraints, as they continued to commit the
crime and torture me the entire afternoon. When I did finally
get home I called the postal inspector of the United States,
who assured me that NO ONE including himself could open a
first class mail, addressed, sealed and stamped as this one
was. He told me to call the police, which I did only to find
out that no crime had been committed because later they gave
back the money it contained. I must assume that I can hold
up a store and seeing the arrival of the police simply hand
back the money and not be charged with theft. Which makes
no sense at all.
Let me empathize that no security guard or janitor has the
right to blatantly steal from some senior patient in KINGSTON
HOSPITAL. Thievery is thievery any way you look at it. I tried
to contact Michael Kaminski, the CEO, but he refused to talk
to me. I went a step furthering writing him a letter outlining
the circumstances, and that has been ignored.
In Asia if they catch a thief they simply cut off his hand.
We need stronger laws to protect the innocent. There are some
very good doctors and excellent nurses at that hospital BUT
there are some rotten apples that prey on the sick and elderly.
Please, please take care of your valuables.
I attended the September 24 presentation on Ulster County’s
new Open Space Plan at the Senior Citizen Center in Saugerties.
I commend the Ulster County Planning Department and the Environmental
Management Council, who worked together to develop the plan,
on an outstanding job.
In 2004, I led a bi-partisan effort in the county Legislature
to pass a resolution calling for an update of the county’s
Open Space Plan, which was enacted in 1972.
Hopefully, the new plan will help communities develop “Smart
Growth” strategies, protect historic, cultural and natural
resources and create new recreational opportunities for Ulster
I look forward to working with my colleagues and community
leaders on implementing the recommendations and meeting the
goals outlined in Ulster County’s new Open Space Plan.
Ulster County Legislator, District 4
Some change is definitely for the better, and that includes
what has developed in Ulster County government in the last
two years. County Legislator Don Gregorius has played a major
part in that change. Through his work on the important Ways
and Means Committee and his chairing of the Labor Negotiations
and Relations Committee, as well as his attention to the details
of governmental functioning, he has helped to make county
government more efficient and effective.
Don is able to work with both Democrats and Republicans. He
regularly works with town governments in his district to keep
them informed about county issues and to protect their interests.
His only agenda is to work for the good of those he has been
elected to serve. I urge everyone in his district to vote
to reelect Don Gregporius to the Ulster County legislature.
Lake Hill, NY
I’ve been listening to Vincent Bradley’s claims
that he has more experience than D. Holley Carnright. Although
he claims he’s a C.P.A. ,he’s not very good at
math. Holley Carnright has been our Chief Asst. D.A. and has
been prosecuting and defending violent felony cases for almost
30 years. He has personally tried to verdict 10 murder cases,
as well as countless manslaughter, robbery, rapes and violent
sex offenses. Vincent Bradley has only been a lawyer for 8
or 9 years and has only done felony trial work for a few of
those years. He has only done 13 felony trials-all of which
he has had other lawyers to help him.
Mr. Bradley has never tried a violent felony case---not even
one! Ask him. No murders, no rapes, no assaults, no robberies,
no burglaries –NONE. Mr. Bradley claims he has more
experience than Holley Carnright. At what? Certainly not at
doing the work that our next D.A. will need to do. The D.A.’s
office is not the place for on the job training….D.
Holley Carnright has my vote!
No matter how the impact of 9/11 has been sensationalized,
it was not masterminded by the government of a foreign state.
It remains a terrorist act perpetrated by a Saudi Islamist
fanatic and 19 men armed with box cutting knives.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell doesn’t think
it’s terrorists that pose the greatest threat to this
country. Recently, Powell said: “People will say it's
terrorism, but are there any terrorists in the world who can
change the American way of life or our political system? No.
Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody?
Yes. But can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves.
So what’s the great threat we’re facing?”
Powell went on to says that he would approach the problem
of terrorism differently. He says that this doesn’t
mean that there isn’t a terrorist threat, but that we
are “taking too much counsel of our fears,” adding
we shouldn’t destroy ourselves and use fear for political
Historically, our government has been more dangerous to our
liberty, than the enemy it claims to protect us from. FDR
insisted that Executive Order 9066 was necessary to save American
lives. He used that order to imprison and pauperize 110,000
Americans while General DeWitt, told Congress: “It makes
no difference whether he is an American citizen. He’s
still a Japanese.”
Roosevelt’s internment of the Japanese was the worst
blight on his presidency, and eventually necessitated a formal
apology from our government to those citizens whose lives
We have a long and painful history of ignoring the words of
Benjamin Franklin that “those who would give up essential
liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither
liberty nor safety.”
Hannah Arendt wrote of the "banality of evil" concerning
Nazi Germany. I certainly can relate that to the illegal U.S.
invasion and U.S. occupation of Iraq. But more than anything
it is the "overwhelmingness" of the evil that has
made me mute. Why, I ask myself, is the letters section not
full of outraged and anguished letters about the foreign
(U.S.) occupation of Iraq? Why, I have asked myself, have
I not written even one letter to the editor about the war?
Actually I have written two about 9/11 that were rejected
for being too long, perhaps, and they were. Or maybe too "controversial",
too "outside the permissable boundaries of discussion."
The 9/11 attacks were of course the "shock therapy"
that allowed the public to accept the two wars we are involved
in. So any discussion of the wars, how we got here, where
we should go from here, have to include 9/11, and what really
happened there. The discussion now is about how to leave.
We can't just leave, says everyone from Dubya to Hillary,
there would be a civil war, there would be a bloodbath. Of
course, there already is, and we caused it. But to get more
at the root of the problem we have to recognize that we did
not invade because we believed Saddam had WMD's. The U.S.
invaded to take control of the oil and of the region where
so much oil is, and to make the region safer for Israel. Permanent
U.S. military bases in Iraq are just as much in Hillary's
plans as in Dubya's.
Even more to the root of the problem: elements in the U.S.
government allowed or caused 9/11 to happen as a giant psychological
operation on the American people to overwhelm us so we'd accept
the illegal invasion and occupation of two other countries
which just happen to be the keys to the Caspian Basin oil
and gas and the Mid-east oil. And so we'd accept giving up
our rights domestically and to advance the "unitary executive"
theory that gives much more power to the President than the
founding fathers intended in the Constitution.
It is un-understandable to anyone who understands the concept
of Universal Health Care or National Health Care under the
aegis of the Government why there is so much confusion and
misunderstanding leading to objection. Of all the Presidential
hopefuls Dennis Kucinich alone articulates the concepts. John
Edwards wants all covered but talks about the need of increasing
taxes to make it possible. Hillary talks as though failure
to pass the Clinton plans of 1984 or-5 indicates that it isn't
wanted. Her plan then indicated utilizing of the agencies
now in the saddle and somehow having a managed program.
A universal health care plan would save money all around which
is why we need it. The money would come from the same sources
which it now does, taxes, individual premiums, workers contributions,
but all costs would be less and all Americans would be covered.
Why and how would this be?
One reason would be because with all under one plan there
would be a tremendous reduction in paper work for all involved.
See GAO statistics for the billions now being spent because
of the multiplicity of plans. The big reason is that the administrative
cost would hover around 5 percent. With administrative costs
of the HMOs and private Insurers above 20 percent and higher
both because of the outrageous salaries paid those profiteers
at the top and the fact that the population covered by these
plans is relatively very small. The smaller the number in
the pool, the larger the per capita contribution to the cost;
and the money these companies spend on lobbying officials
and spreading mistruths to the population, our money paid
to them for Health Care coverage, is what makes that possible.
This country should be ashamed of itself. In failure to consider
Health Care a right, in the low rating in health of its citizens,
in the extremely high cost for health care which is highest
in the world, and the inability of our manufacturers to compete
with other countries because of the health care cost that
is part of workers' benefits.
It took an edict from the state to force our two hospitals
to stop competing with each other and seriously determine
how to provide skilled, but cost effective, care for the residents
of this community. The state motive was to reduce the cost
of healthcare statewide.
Both hospital CEO's are now explaining how by reporting to
a parent corporation (an idea suggested and rejected eight
years ago) overseeing both hospitals will enable each hospital
to reduce cost while continuing to allow Kingston Hospital
to provide reproductive services to the community.
I'm confused by their plan to accomplish the latter. Currently,
Kingston Hospital has all the staff and equipment to perform
abortions in its existing space. Given that the state edict
was to reduce cost, how does spending $4M to build and equip
a separate building on the Kingston Hospital campus to perform
reproductive services make any sense? After all, it's still
Kingston Hospital unless connected by a walkway to the main
complex creates a disconnect.
Sure, the $4M will come out of the $48M just received from
the state to assist in the merger. But rather than waste $4M
on ideological correctness, why not use the $4M to further
improve healthcare services, another one of the state objectives.
I am totally in support of the merger; it is long overdue
but let's use common sense and reason in the process.
Ronald E. Dietl
Talk about the kettle calling the pot black. Governor Spitzer
really wants two off-reservation Indian casinos for the Catskills
and has upped his lobbying campaign. Not only has he tried
to put pressure on Sectretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne
but he is now pressuring Congressman Nick J. Rahall II, Chair
of the House Natural Resources Committee to investigate why
Sect Kempthorne has not acted on an application for a casino
at Monticello, New York.
This is the same Governor who has failed to collect the taxes
due on gas and cigarettes sold to non-Indians on Indian land,
even though it was passed/authorized by the New York legislature
and its legality was reaffirmed by several recent legal decisions
- including the Supreme Court.
One can only question why Spitzer is mounted on his high horse
in putting pressure on Kempthorne to approve two casinos in
Sullivan County while he is under his horse on enforcing the
law about taxes with the Oneidas of Turning Stone casino fame.
I say that he is two-faced.
The summer reading program at the Phoenicia Library was a
great success. We had a multi-aged program for adults, young
adults, and children. The computers at the library continue
to be fully utilized. In July, 395 patrons used the on-line
services of the library. The total July circulation for our
little library in the mountains was 2925. Isn't that amazing?
The library is a great place to borrow books, and books on
tape, and other resources. It offers an expanding array of
programs, and a very friendly and attentive staff.
This past weekend, the vacuum cleaner at the library smoked,
and died. We are seeking a benefactor, who would volunteer
to underwrite the cost of a replacement new vacuum. If you
would like to participate, and help us in our effort to purchase
a new vacuum, please contact the Library with your name and
phone number, and I will give you a return call..
Once again, the library Director, staff, volunteers, and board
members wish to thank all , for their continued support and
patronage of the Phoenicia Library. We encourage all of you
to find out more about the Phoenicia Library. It is a vital
part of our community.
Phoenicia Library Trustee
This year the Hamlet of Pine Hill was the perfectly festive
for Shandaken Day. The true success of Shandaken Day is the
hundreds of people who come together for the day to explore
and celebrate everything about Shandaken and the Catskill
Region. It’s never easy to put on event like Shandaken
Day, but with the hard work and dedication from all of the
following people and organizations the day, once again, proved
to be highly successful. We would hope that people would read
these words of appreciation and give you all a well-deserved
pat on the back. Volunteerism is the heart and soul of our
community, and every hand that helps strengthen that community
deserves to be treasured. Special Thanks to all of the following:
Alan Carr; Autumn Carter; Tristan Daly; Tony Smith; RJ Stanley;
Storm Stanley; Jessie Wilson; Stephanie Barnes; Wendy Barry;
Jay Braman, Jr.; Elana Brazen; David Carr; Gary Carr, Jr.;
Todd Carr; John Crawford; Phill Darmstadt; Jaime DeForest;
Peter DiModica; Peter DiSclafani; Missy Esposito; Declan Feehan;
Neil Goodrich; Gene Gormely; Steve Greener; RK Griffin; Robert
Gurbo; Mary Herrman; Matt Johnson; Jack & Kathy Jordan;
Chandra Lencina; Rick Locasto; Ernie Longhi; Skip Malley;
Glenn Miller; Cathy Neal; Ellen Parker; Gina Reilly; Nancy
Rosenthal; Joe Ryan; Renee Santos; Bonnie Schaedle; Carl Shaelaw;
Cinthia Sinmon; Dave Smith; Maryann Somers; Bob & Sandra
Stanley; Adam Steen; Joe Strauss, Jr.; Anique Taylor; Allison
& Maryann; Audrey Taylor; Mike Weeks; Missy Weeks; Gene
& Kim Yarkin; Andrew Zhilyqkov; James Krueger; Michael
Kelly; Norm Wennet; Earl Pardini & the Slide Mtn. String
Band; Michaela Talley & the Rubbaband; Adam Johnson &
DETOUR; Catskillradio.org; Steve Witte & the Colonial
Inn; Robert & Valerie Konefal & the Pine Hill Arms;
Wadler Bros.; Naomi Graphics; Ulster Savings Bank; Tony Lanza
& the Belleayre Mtn. Staff; Paul Van Blarcum & Ulster
County Sherriff’s Dept.; James McGrath & Shandaken
Police Dept.; Kingston Artist’s Soapbox Derby Comm.;
Diane @ Stucki’s Embroidery Works; Tom Story & NYS
DOT; Don Peterson & NYSEG; US Post Office- Pine Hill;
Keith Johnson & Shandaken Highway Dept.; Brian Powers,
Paul Smart & the Phoenicia Times Staff; Blake Killin &
the Ulster County Townsman Staff; Shandaken-Allaben Hose Company;
Shandaken Ambulance Squad; M.F. Whitney Hose Company; Florence
Hamling & the Pine Hill Community Center; The Shandaken
Day Committee: Bruce Barry (Co-Chair), Laurilyn Frasier, June
LaMarca, Dakin Morehouse, Joe Munster and Maureen Nagy; ALL
of Our Advertisers; ALL of Our Vendors; and, of course, ALL
the residents of Pine Hill whose support and consideration
for such an event makes it all a success for Pine Hill and
the Town of Shandaken. Thank you all so very much. We look
forward to seeing everyone at next year’s event in Mt.
Tremper and Mt. Pleasant.
Robert A. Stanley
Shandaken Day Comm. (Co-Chair)