to the Editor
I was the President of the Onteora School Board and I resigned on Monday,
After thirty years of living in this community, I had the crazy idea
that we could bring some harmony into the School Board and let it filter
down into the schools and out the door back into the community. After
the divisive mascot and large parcel issues, I thought it was time -
and worth a try. The prime reason I decided to run for the BOE was to
try to accomplish this.
Each member of the school Board and the community has a unique voice.
I believe those voices need to combine - as harmonies – for the
“song” to be powerful and effective. To do this, I envisioned
a BOE that would be respectful, kind, and ready to share thoughts and
ideas with willingness to, if necessary, compromise so that everyone’s
voice is part of the final mix.
As President, I wanted every BOE Member to be supportive of the decisions
of the Board as an entity, and to take pride in the process and in the
position, rather than grandstanding and asserting that one’s own
righteousness exceeds another’s.
I did not anticipate having to spend half of my time mediating or dealing
with unnecessary battles. I hoped to see this BOE set an example for
our children as to how grown ups should act while they work together
for a common goal. I’d hoped that, working together, we could
make our schools the best they can be while being fiscally responsible
to the taxpayers who pay the bills.
I’ve observed individual agendas sidetracking the Board and overpowering
the most important thing the BOE can do: facilitate the relationships
between students and the dedicated, professional teachers who work hard
everyday to nurture and educate them. These people come to teach our
children daily, regardless of the atmosphere permeating down from the
All the things I have tried to promote as President of this BOE are
exactly echoed in the literature and training provided by the NYS School
Board Association, and also to me by other BOE Presidents around the
country that I have befriended and sought much advice from. There is
now data from NYSSBA studies around the country that clearly shows a
unified, harmonious Board Of Education has an extremely positive effect
on the student population and all who work in the schools.
This BOE has some pressing issues to address. We can keep a school from
closing with our vote in July - but the plan of the previous Board needs
to be replaced with a different one – now! Enrollment is declining,
kids are leaving the school for private and home school programs, our
biggest school campus is collecting dust, the facilities are in disrepair,
the global economy tanked and a very diligent 2009-2010 budget for our
District and the community needs to be addressed. These big ticket items
need the Board’s immediate attention above other items that could
be addressed at the PTA, or at some other level.
It was a pleasure getting to know the three previously seated BOE members.
Thank you for your open mindedness, and your acceptance of me after
such a volatile election. I hope both new and old BOE members can ultimately
achieve all of their goals – together. Without me there, it will
undoubtedly take a new twist and turn, and maybe a better one. I hope
my resignation shocks everyone into positive and harmonious behavior.
I sincerely want to thank Dr. Leslie Ford, and her assistants, Victoria
McLaren and Katy O’Brien for giving me their undeniable trust,
and for their time and the sincere effort they all put into establishing
a great working relationship with me as the new BOE President.
I envisioned awesome, energized schools becoming the stars that our
community revolved around, with participation from all. I think we all
envision that, but it is not something that can be pulled off without
the positive participation from the BOE and the community. Aside from
my family, most of my life is dedicated to two things - music and the
martial art, Aikido. It’s not a coincidence to me that both those
endeavors share the same fundamental principle – harmony. My personal
vision is now revised. Instead of seeing how something good can trickle
down from the BOE level, I will go and do other, positive community
projects that I hope will defy gravity - and filter up.
Former OCSD BOE President
West Shokan, NY
We, the undersigned, would like to thank Ralph Legnini for his service
to the Onteora Central School District's Board of Education as President
this past year, and to offer our understanding regarding his resignation.
We would also like to thank those members of the School Board who have
worked as a team, and trust that they will continue to recognize the
importance of working together as the school year continues. We have
faith in our students, our teachers, our Administration and our community
at large, and look forward to continued progress within the Onteora
Central School District.
Tony Fletcher, Posie Stren
Kate Hyman, Hurley
Abbe Aronson, Mt. Tremper
Kristen Eberhard, Woodstock
Tim Rands, West Hurley
Robert Burke Warren & Holly George-Warren, Phoenicia
Russell Richardson,Dorota Czerner, Robin Richardson, Woodstock,
Tom Hickey, Oliverea
Trip & Lysa Ingalsbe, West Hurley
Ric, Jen and Joey Dragon, Chichester
The Onteora School District is facing a possible "contingency"
budget of $50,000,000.00...that being approximately $29,000.00 per student.I
was at the BOE meeting on Tuesday night and listened to the preliminary
hearing as presented by Dr. Ford and her administrative staff. They
did an admirable job... I applaud them, They projected taking apart
our district educational system as we know it and piecing it together
as only these experts could do. All, at the direction of the Board of
They know that we are faced with a rapidly declining student population...
we've lost another 100 students since 2008 and are ahead of the predicted
decline. They understand and are trying to anticipate what this decline
will do to our educational environment as it stands right now and are
valiantly trying to save the integrity of the Onteora educational standards.
But, we have a Board dedicated to keeping the Phoenicia Elementary School
opened , at all costs, and so that white elephant stands in the middle
of the room during every Board meeting while all, in attendance,make-believe,
that it's not there.
Consolidation is the key to the Onteora dilemma and though it was eluded
to many times....one board member even mentioned the possibility of
looking at a 6-8 middle school at some later date... it remains a vague
apparition in the eyes of our Board.
But, in the real world, the Onteora district is carrying a $2,000,000.00
white elephant on it's back. The district was promised that Phoenicia
would remain open. This Board was elected on that premise and with no
other long term goals. They are now learning the reality of steering
a $50,000,000.00 business and are learning on our tax dollar... .that
of which is rapidly running out. In fact, one of our newly elected champions
has already bailed and resigned from the Board... so much for stability
Now, we have six Board members with no strategic plan, no long term
goals, and no idea that trying to cut line items and administrative
support is not the way to solidify their educational and fiscal responsibilities
to the school district.
Our whole student population is now at 1723.....that breaks down to
an average of 258 students per elementary school or roughly 32 students
per grade level in each school. How low do we have to go before the
integrity of the education for our children takes precidence over a
building? How long before our children are more important than preserving
Right now, we could have been one year in the transition..we could be
reconfiguring our elementary and middle schools....not only giving better
and more educationally diverse classes to our students but, at the same
time upgrading our facilities and saving millions in tax dollars.
We have slipped back to putting bandaids on the bleeding points rather
than operating on the injury and stopping the blood flow, once and for
It was stated Wednesday night that the reason the board meetings are
so poorly attended is because everyone believes that everything is getting
done.....I believe it's because no one really knows of the chaos going
on that is causing a misdirection of the educational future of our district.
I could cry for the ones being hurt by this chaos....the same ones who
have no vote and no choices.....THE CHILDREN.
A Universal Health Care program could potentially reduce taxes by up
to 1/3. We're talking about ALL taxes: Town, county, state, federal
and property taxes!
Talk about an economic stimulus plan. But Obama will need his sharpest
scalpel for this because it requires cutTING health insurance companies
out of the equation.
Imagine businesses large and small, school systems, and all levels of
government not having to budget in outrageous health care premium costs!
Sure, without high premiums, families and individuals get a break, but
more importantly, lowered property taxes could help homeowners keep
their homes and create more affordable housing for renters.
Businesses could stop being in the business of health care and get down
to keeping employees and going green. Schools could spend more money
on programs for students while maintaining smaller budgets. Physician
groups, like Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), support
health care reform and want to get back to the healing of patients instead
of fighting insurance companies.
While costs of providing health care climbed 20% over a six-year period
(2000-2006), health insurance premiums skyrocketed 87% during the same
period.1 Over the last 9 years, soaring premiums outpaced workers' earnings
and overall inflation. The average worker now contributes about $3,354
per year for family health insurance while his employer contributes
an additional $9,325 on top of that.2
As a nation, we already pay for the health care of those who need it
the most while health insurance companies cover those who need it the
So while insurance companies might deny those with pre-conditions, and
fight or simply refuse coverage when people get seriously ill; taxpayers
continue to foot high premiums for teachers, administrators, civil service
workers and other government employees. Taxpayers also foot the bill
for our veterans and military, our elderly, children in state heath
care programs, those with disabilities, prisoners, and emergency response
and care workers.
But the real kicker is, on top of all that, we pay the insurance companies
again when they manage Medicare plans like prescription drug benefit
plans for the elderly.
Where is all that money going? Not to hospitals in the red, and not
to nurses working double shifts on skeleton crews. Instead, for every
$1 trillion the government spends on healthcare about $400 billion goes
into health insurance company coffers.
Humana, a health insurance provider, more than doubled their profits
in 2007. Big enrollments in Humana's Medicare plans helped the company's
revenue grow a whopping 54 percent, to $5.66 billion from the previous
Universal Health Care could be, not only stimulating for the economy,
but the foundation of real tax reform.
Dear Editor, There is a perfect tax storm bearing down on the Catskills
All private taxpayers in the Catskills and Adirondacks need to tell
Governor David Paterson and the legislature “NO WAY!” to
proposals to freeze state property tax payments on state lands in the
Adirondacks and Catskills. Capping the taxes paid on state lands at
2008-09 levels would:
Welch on the state’s 120-year commitment to pay full taxes on
Forest Preserve and saddle private taxpayers with heavier tax loads
to make up the difference
Cut aid to schools just as taxpayers are demanding more state funding
to ease local property taxes
Divert property taxes from their intended use for local towns, villages
and schools and add them to state coffers.
Gutting the law requiring the state to pay fair taxes on Forest Preserve
land would break the bank for many Catskill and Adirondack property
owners, threaten New York City’s prized watershed for drinking
water, and endanger the Adirondack Park.
The state currently pays $30 million a year in taxes on state land in
the Catskills and almost $70 million the Adirondacks Over a few years,
a freeze on the state’s tax payments would dramatically impact
private taxpayers. For example, in the town of Shandaken in Ulster County,
where more than 65 % of the land is owned by New York State, tax payments
to the town jumped $32,000 from 2007 to 2008 to a total of $627,832.
If the freeze on state tax payments passes, it will be private property
owners who will to dig deeper into their pockets.
We know there is a budget crisis and we are willing to do our share.
But punitive budget cuts, which target the Catskills and Adirondacks,
are bad policy.
Log onto www.AdkAction.org right away and click on easy links to send
emails of protest to Gov. Patterson and your state legislators.
Marsha Stanley, member
of the steering committee of AdkAction.org.
At the Shandaken town meeting I attended January 31st, it was clear
that opposition to the sewer plan was based on the fear of what the
annual costs would be for the residents and businesses of Phoenicia.
This is very valid as Phoenicia has a small tax-base and the variables
terms of sewer maintenance are great. Unfortunately, some are advocating
a gambler's approach to the problem: vetoing the whole plan in the hopes
that NYC will come back to the table with more assistance for the Village.
This strategy may backfire as NYC could easily walk away from the project,
leaving Phoenicia to bear the brunt of financing this health crisis
on its own.
If the Phoenicia village tax base is too small to support the expense
of maintaining a sewer system, perhaps the cost should be spread among
all the residents of Shandaken. Woodstock had to do the same 20 years
ago and the Town of Woodstock residents have certainly benefited economically
from the health of its commericial village. All Shandakenites are stakeholders
in the health of Phoenicia, for should Phoenicia deteriorate, so will
the home values of the rest of Shandaken. Unlike Woodstock, however,
Phoenicia does not have to finance the cost of a sewer installation
thanks to the $17.2 million dollar offer from NY City. The current sewer
plan (be it conventional or reed-bed), calls for a charge of $100 per
year from Phoenicia residents and Phoenicia businesses would pay according
to usage. However, if each household in Shandaken contributed $50 annually,
that would ensure the businesses in Phoenicia wouldn't suffer the brunt
of the maintenance costs.
Annual costs for the sewer spread out over a town-wide tax-base would
benefit all the residents of Shandaken as its townspeople would enjoy
a revitalized commercial district that would in turn directly support
Shandaken property values
just as the Village of Woodstock continues to contribute to the value
of real estate throughout the Town of Woodstock.
I was dumbfounded to hear at last night’s Shandaken town board
meeting that I, on behalf of SHARP, was handing over the reigns to Mr.
Frank Nazzaro to continue with the flower program. I feel this issue
needs to be cleared up immediately. While it is true that SHARP will
not be doing the program this year due to a lack of funding assistance
from the town, I think it should be clarified that we are not working
with Mr. Nazzaro on this project on any level. Any donations that might
be made should not be sent to the SHARP office, nor should they be made
out to the Summerscape fund, as was the case in previous years. As for
any talks with Frank regarding the flowers, my only conversation with
Mr. Nazzaro was to take him to task while in my office recently, over
his attempt to undermine our very successful beautification project
at a previous Town
Board meeting. No agreements were made and no deals were struck between
Frank Nazzaro and SHARP.
We appreciate Frank’s desire to try to accomplish something at
no cost. However, his promise to have the ability to administer this
program entirely without cost is unrealistic. We have successfully run
this program and have relied on the skills of Mr. Ted French to negotiate
prices and curry favor from local businesses for both financial and
physical support. This is a difficult task and he became an expert at
it, making fund raising look easy while all the while developing it
to an art form. There is much more to running this program than just
planting flowers, it is a time consuming labor of love, and I can not
thank Mr. French enough for all of the hard work he put into it.
We wish Mr. Nazzaro success with his flower program.
SHARP Committee, Inc.
It was predictable, that not a single House Republicans would vote for
the stimulus package, because after 2006 and 2008, the Republicans remaining
in the House represent very conservative red districts. They don’t
have to worry about being reelection and they’ll do anything to
resist Obama. Their constituents are right wing zealots, who were delighted
to hear Russ Limbaugh say: "I hope he fails.”
Limbaugh’s diddoheads in the House of Representatives are not
ideologically predisposed to be productive partners in a discussion
about a stimulus package. A bipartisan bill isn’t likely to happen
because going to conservatives for ideas is not likely to be successful.
On MSNBC, Chris Hayes pointed out that expecting current members of
the House to engage in a dialogue to produce a bipartisan bill “is
like asking Quakers to draw up your battle plans.”
Senator Jeff Session of Alabama urged his Republican colleagues: “You
know, don’t even bother to pretend to negotiate with the Democrats,
just declare now you are going to vote against it.”
Senate Republicans could choose to obstruct the economic stimulus package
with a filibuster, because Democrats don’t have enough votes to
win on a straight party line voter and will need to get one or two Republican
votes, depending on who gets seated in Minnesota. Hopefully, in the
Senate we’ll see a little bit of give and take to secure a bipartisan
Eight Republican Senators are from states that Obama won and they’re
going to have to eventually answer to their constituents. Unlike House
Republicans, those eight Senators are aware that they’re no longer
representing very conservative red states. Hopefully, they'll recognize
that if Obama fails. America will fails.
Tuesday morning - my eyes opened at 7:10 AM, just as the pink light
of the rising sun spread over the otherwise white and blue landscape
that I'd been waking to since the snow covered my field. The crescent
moon was still directly overhead and it was still. The only movement
was of the birds, sitting on their branches and fluttering their wings,
as if in anticipation of taking off into a gentle sky, to soar above
all that will soon to be left behind us. It's clear to me, that they
are saying "This is the Day".
It was so still that I could feel the tightness in my chest release,
and I wondered if it was my heart, unclenching for the first time in
8 years. "My country, tis of thee, sweet land of liberty..."
liberty to once again speak freely of what I believe without fear of
being tracked down and punished for daring to speak my truth.
The good in my countrymen and women's hearts can from this day on, be
released, and we can once again, work together for our higher aspirations
- to revere our precious Mother Earth and protect her, without fear
of retribution from those who see her only as a money pit to be dug
dry and lifeless. We can now follow in our new leaders footsteps and
leave most of our differences behind, while we rebuild our country together.
Despite the full recognition that the coming months and years will present
hardships that even my generation has yet to see, I welcome them, because
although they may demand more of me, I will face them with my family,
friends, and neighbors as we share our common goals that aspire to goodness
instead of selfishness.
Once again, or maybe for the first time, we can truly understand what
was meant when the brilliant founders of our country said:
"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator (whoever he,she or it
is) with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty
and the pursuit of Happiness".
So, friends and neighbors, let's take joy in the task at hand. I can't
think of a better community in which to pursue this goal.
As an American Jew I am saddened, sickened, and troubled by Israel's
immoral, illegal, and brutal assault on Gaza. The mass destruction,
death, and suffering being visisted upon the captive population of Gaza
is collective punishment that would not be possible without US weaponry
and US foreign aid (paid for by our tax dollars). For months Israel
has blocked shipments of food, medical supplies, and fuel to Gaza. Many
Palestinians have no electricity, heat, medicine, food or water. 56%
of the population of Gaza are children. Hamas rockets did not break
the truce - months ago Israeli Defense Forces broke the truce by entering
Gaza to kill Hamas leaders. Remember that representatives of Hamas were
democratically elected in an election backed by the US. My heart breaks
for the four hundred dead Palestinians and the thousands wounded, as
well as, for the four Israelis killed by rockets. This will only stop
if enough of us speak out. Please say something.
New Paltz, NY
Only sixty years ago, to the astonishment of humanity, the Jewish people
reclaimed our historic right to nationhood: modern Israel was established
after 1900 years in exile. Rising from the neglect of the Ottoman Empire,
the ashes of Europe and the indifference of the crumbling British Empire,
Jews reclaimed our birthright and heritage on the ancient land with
much toil, bravery, ingenuity and blood. Despite perpetual boycotts,
wars, terrorist and now rocket attacks, Israel has persevered and gained
strength by every measure. As a full member of the family of nations,
Israel does not need to justify self-defense in the face of katyusha
bombardment and repeated threats of annihilation; it needs only to exercise
it. Rockets from Gaza are rightly met by Israeli armor and jets to protect
When our enemies want their State more than they want to destroy Israel,
peace will be attained. Until then, Israel will maintain its defense
over their ideology of manipulated despair and destruction. Jews understand
the mathematics of “proportionality” better than anyone:
in this world, not very long ago, Jewish lives were cheap. Therefore,
every Israeli is very precious to us, and maybe only to us. Nowhere
do Jews glory over the suffering of our bitter enemies, but we do not
want to forever endure our own sufferings. That is proportionality.
America’s Preamble to the Constitution mentions, “…to
secure the common defense…” Israel guarantees no less to
its people in time of war. Therefore, along with our many friends and
allies, while we hope for a real peace, we remain in complete solidarity
with Israel at this time and in perpetuity. As in the words of our sages,
"The People of Israel Live."
The Board of Directors
Linda Hutchinson, Administrator
Jewish Federation of Ulster County
With millions of Americans out of work, why send over $3 billion a year
in aid to an already rich country? The Israeli average income is $31,767
a year (as per International Monetary Fund 2008). U.S. Foreign Aid to
Israel is $ 3-5 billion a year.
Israel is the No. 1 recipient of U.S. Foreign Aid in the world. While
Israelis lead a country club lifestyle, they use our money and military
technology to oppress and attack their neighbors.
Palestinians in Gaza are forced to live on less than $732 a year. Yet
Israel is determined to squeeze more out of them. If they resist, they
are labeled "terrorists", attacked, and beaten into submission.
Can't our foreign aid dollars be put to better use? It's time to break
the grip of the Israeli lobby on Washington and cut Foreign Aid to Israel.
Mt. Tremper, NY
Two weeks ago I promised I would not go on the attack so as to let the
dust settle. But then this morning the newly appointed Tim Geitner as
the Obama choice for Secretary of the Treasury came before the Senate
Committee for confirmation, Mr Geitner apologized to the committee for
his "lapse" in memory and explained that not filing income
tax returns for six years was not deliberate. Oh yes it was. Just as
Al Capone failed to ""file" income taxes and spent alot
of time in confinement, Mr Geitner an accountant and money manager is
able tp dismiss his frivolity with a casual wave of the hand. I believe
it is a felony to not file as opposed to filing a false return. His
illegal house maid [her work visa had expired] continued to be employed
by Mr Geitner and not withold income taxes or pay the employer's business
portion. He witheld no SS and did not match SS for her. These are all
Mr Geitner is now going to be the Tax Collector in Chief and woe to
those who fall short in their obligation(s). Scripture reminds us of
the character of the Tax Collector. Jesus dined with criminals and tax
collectors. Nice company.
I spent January 20th observing the whole procedure in DC and enjoyed
it. President Obama was gracious, charismatic and has begun his tour
of duty this morning by "undoing" some executive orders promulgated
by GW. I have no problem with that. That is the President's prerogative
in matters of governing. His appointment of AG which is being criticized
is OK with me and others. It is the flagrant breaking of the law by
Mr Geitner and offering two or three excuses. Mr Geitner; there is no
excuse for ignoring an annual four month celebration [Jan01 to April
We begin with our tax return booklet in January, Then H&R Block
begins reminding us of our tax returns. Somewhere before January 31
we must by law receive our W-2's from payroll or company comptroller.
And this vulture is going to keep me in his sights? Mr Obama, lets have
that transparancy you have spoken so much of.
Glenn T. Anderson
I read the most amazing sentence. I consider it a pregnant sentence.
It was written by the French author, Marguerite Duras, (1914-1996).
She was born in Indonesia of French parents who moved there as schoolteachers.
At age 17, she moved to France to continue her education. During the
war she worked with the French Resistance taking life threatening chances.
Her husband barely survived Buchenwald. Her first child died at birth.
She became an important writer and film maker. She is best known for
writing the screenplay to "Hiroshima Mon Amor" and her novel
"The Lover" was made into a film as well as others.
The sentence in question appeared in her novel "The Seawall"
published in 1950. It is about intelligence and because everyone thinks
they are intelligent, I think everyone will be interested.
"Intelligence can be a routine way of thinking blinding us to our
Mt. Tremper, NY