to the Editor
As the debate about the Onteora School District and the upcoming budget
continues, I would like to add a brief comment from my perspective as
the Executive Director of INDIE Programs, which you will know is in
danger of having its funding drastically cut or eliminated.
Why should Onteora support INDIE? Why should the local community support
INDIE, especially in such straitened times? I would like to put this
a different way: Is it not in fact the other way around?
INDIE supports Onteora. INDIE supports the community, and has done so
for ten years. It is true that we receive payment for some of our services,
but it is also true that the majority of our work is not contracted
and not paid. We work as teachers, as filmmakers, as consultants, to
cover the financial shortfalls and to continue to serve our constituency:
the youth of the district. We work after school, at weekends, through
holidays, on trips to festivals, in meetings and talks with parents,
with teenagers and community workers.
All of us at INDIE could find work elsewhere that is more lucrative.
But we could not find work that is more rewarding or significant. That
is why we do it, despite the difficulties.
I am sometimes told - sympathetically - that in today's economic climate,
INDIE must consider itself as a business, and bow to the rules all businesses
must bow to. Very well, then. If we are a business, what is our product?
And what is the value of that product? What does it cost to make that
product, and is it - purely in dollars and cents - a viable enterprise?
Our product is a young citizen who is fulfilling his or her potential
that otherwise would not be fulfilled. Our product is a student who
finishes high school instead of dropping out. Our product is a young
man or young woman who goes to college instead of sitting on the village
green at 19 years old. Our product is a group of individuals who are
happier, more productive, stronger, with more skills and self-confidence,
who then put back into our community.
Three hundred students have been a part of INDIE since its inception.
Many are now at college.
Now, imagine the district without INDIE, with more troubled students,
with more drop outs, with more stress and strife, and higher expenditure
on other programs (always higher than Indie),
Finally, I would like to stress that at INDIE we are all local residents,
committed to the local community - not only Woodstock, but Pine Hill,
Olive, West Hurley and Phoenicia and especially the outlying townships.
I have worked with staff at local schools for five years and I can say
that I have rarely met a group of more talented, dedicated and creative
teachers. They are working under impossibly difficult conditions, and
it is time to acknowledge that good schools begin with a vision - a
vision which involves the entire community, and must morally center
on the future wellbeing of our children, and embody our best hopes.
A vision has no place for fear, or faint heart.
So yes, let's treat our schools as businesses, and work out what the
priorities are for the $50 million annual budget.
Perhaps the broadest education and encouragement of our 1,700 students
is a good starting place?
If the school budget were fifty dollars, INDIE's relative 'cost' would
be one dime. Removing that dime will not solve any of the very real
problems which exist in the district, or in the world - but employing
it for the benefit of those currently in need would be a very efficient
use of a dime indeed.
Russell Richardson, Exec. Director
The administration has proposed a spending increase of 3.97 percent,
the same as if there were an austerity budget. The tax increase on that
proposal is estimated to be nine percent. If the budget is defeated,
they would, under state law for austerity budgets, be allowed the same
3.97 percent spending increase. The proposed 9 % increase is inconsistent
and excessive because of the economy of this Country and doesn’t
take into account that retirees and those living on a fixed income are
finding it harder to keep their heads above water. It’s likely
that the proposed budget tax levy increase might be lowered when the
stimulus and State money comes in, but not enough to lower the tax levy
to a level that the working poor and those living on a fixed income
would be able to afford.
The proposed 9 % increase is not necessary because the school could
and should consolidate. Last years Board of Education’s plan with
help from an Advisory Board said that consolidating, closing one elementary
school and other money management factors they had planned would save
the district 2.3 million dollars annually.
Word is that the three Board members that got elected last May ran on
the idea that they wouldn’t close the Phoenicia School. People
working at the Phoenicia School didn’t want to loose their jobs
so they undoubtedly played a large part in getting the three incumbents
thrown off the Board so their long range plan to possibly close their
school wouldn’t be implemented. Do the new Board members now find
themselves in a box that they can’t get out? Apparently campaign
promises is making it almost impossible for them to go along with the
previous board’s long range consolidation plan that included closing
In a recent e mail Superintendent Ford was asked if the 2.3 million
dollars saving plan to close the Phoenicia School that was talked about
last spring was a true annual savings to our school district. Her reply
was that figure was compiled from our own stats at that time, based
on actual personnel, layoff effects, etc. Those things change in time,
so I could not say the figure was exactly the same now. As with any
large shift, there would need to be recalculation toward a goal date.
That sounds like there was some talk at one time or another about closing
the Phoenicia School, but no vote was ever taken. Dr. Ford’s statement
didn’t say that the long range plan that the previous board planned
on doing wouldn’t be cost effective and it didn’t say that
it would effect any student’s education. In fact it sounds like
it was a very well thought out plan that would benefit students and
the tax payers well into the future. All of Onteora’s School District
tax payers ought to be asking this question. If the total consolidation
plan that the previous board had in place was the practical and cost
effective way to go last year why isn’t it this year? Maybe the
present Onteora School Board members should take a look in the rear
view mirror to see the future of our district in the way that the previous
INDIE is so many things to so many individuals and the community at
large. I know that for my daughter, her friends and my family, INDIE's
presence, influence and guidance is a beacon filled with hope and possibility.
I would hazard to say that for anyone in INDIE's history, whether directly
or indirectly involved, the sense of being part of something of great
value for our collective future would be quite similar.
INDIE is: a place for creative expression; education beyond the borders
of the traditional classroom; spurring interest and inspiration for
the individual and the collective community; motivation; a sense of
accomplishment; an opportunity to build community, to learn, to experiment,
to experience; a place to listen and a place to be heard.
For many of its students, INDIE is what keeps them in school. This is
not a slogan or simple rhetoric, it is a sentiment that I have heard
come from their very lips, time and time again. Onteora alone is not
"doing it" for many of our children, they need INDIE, as they
need BOCES and Special Education, and sports, and band, etc...
This is about our most precious commodity, the youth, our future, it
is not a simple red line through some numbers on a balance sheet.
Karin Alisa Houben
West Hurley, NY
It is a shame that the people we are forced to learn from know so little
about how to teach. It is a shame that Lance Edelman cannot elaborate
further on the subject of what will happen to the at risk students of
Onteora. He may believe Onteora is meeting the needs of its students
but for many years the teachers at the school have believed the same
and yet so many students there are unhappy. My personal experience at
Onteora was that it was the most traumatic and depressing time of my
life. The first two years of which I did without INDIE and if I had
not been recommended for INDIE I would have dropped out when I turned
16, if I had lived to be 16. Instead I joined INDIE, I made films that
got into the Woodstock Film Festival, and won awards from the Hudson
Valley Student Film Festival, and the Reel Teens Festival. I left Onteora
a year early to go to SUNY Ulster and today I have a real chance of
escaping Woodstock, which is something not a lot of Onteora students
achieve. Many other students that I started INDIE with are doing the
same, students who, at the beginning of high school never, thought they'd
leave Ulster County. They are almost all in college. So it is apparently
the demise of INDIE that it has helped so many students succeed, because
they are no longer around to fight for it or for the prospective students
who will need it. I can assure anyone with doubts that there will always
be students who need more than Onteora alone can give, and without INDIE
to shoulder that burden Edelman has no hope of providing a safe learning
environment for any of his students. I once heard that INDIE was created
as a reaction to what was stirring in most schools in the late 90s,
which was that students were acting out violently toward their schools,
the worst of which was the Columbine massacre in 1999. Today we live
in a time of change, which is good. However, teenagers have not changed
so much that places like INDIE are no longer needed. The fear and dismay
and angst that all kids feel is still alive and well and as long as
Onteora students are compressed into that little tiny building there
will always be more need for INDIE than Lance Edelman can see. I advise
everyone to take a closer look at what experiences Onteora students
leave with or without and what experiences we would like them to have
or not have. As far as myself, I am afraid for the prospective students
of Onteora if they do not have the option of INDIE and I am sad that
something that was so vital to my survival of high school has had such
hardships in surviving for itself.
As some of you have noticed, the brackets lining the streets of Phoenicia
that once housed baskets filled with beautiful flowers, have been taken
down.. While it is a sad turn of events, something wonderful is going
to come from it.
A wonderful project in its own right, the Summerscape Program brought
attention to the town in a positive way, (for a change) over the last
several years. Recently however, discord found its way to the flowers,
and the town board, along with some residents, felt that it was money
not well spent. Our Supervisor said himself that he and the Town Board
did not support the program, would never fund it, and felt the need
to offer other services to the community far outweighed the Program.
So it became apparent that there was not a gleam of hope that a blossom
would ever bloom again from the baskets along Main Street Phoenicia.
So, what to do with those pesky metal reminders of summers past, empty
and longing, waiting for a purpose once again. Well, a purpose once
again they shall have.
One can not argue that the greatest and most immediate need facing our
community, is to feed the increasing number of residents relying on
our community Food Bank and Food Pantry. Reports about the growing number
of people looking to these services to nourish their families while
they struggle to survive, dominate local and regional newspapers. With
this in mind, it seems a no-brainer for SHARP and the Town Board of
Shandaken, that instead of having these vacant objects hanging futilely
from the poles, they could be sold and the proceeds can go towards both
the Food Bank and the Food Pantry.. The brackets and baskets would go
to a municipality that would make use of them in their own beautification
program, and our town would benefit through helping those most in need.
It is a win- win situation and solves the dilemma that has been brewing
over the Summerscape Program. I encourage you all to support this town
wide effort and I applaud the cool minds that came up with the solution.
Exec. Director - SHARP
On or about December 9, 2009 I forwarded a letter addressing the bailout
Understanding basic contract law, I advocated that no tax payer dollars
be spent until all players sign letters of renunciation, renouncing
all bonus money, all golden parachutes, all accrued compensation and
all extra benefits, such as planes trains and cars etc.
What is done by a contract can be undone by a signed renunciation.
The congress did not place these types of restraints on the bailouts.
Now you have the greedy and arrogant corporate CEO's saying a contract
is a contract.
I cannot believe that the congress does not have some lawyers who are
knowledgeable in basic contract law. Perhaps there is a little Rush
Harp conspiratorial thinking in all of us.
Senators and Congressmen have a separate retirement program that is
not tied into FICA. It is funded directly with taxpayer dollars.
I wonder who manages and insures the senator's and congressmen's retirement
fund. Could it be AIG? Did they take care of themselves and leave the
taxpayers to swing in the breeze? What do you think?
H. Clark Bell
This letter is in response to the recent Public Hearing on farm stand
regulations in the Town of Shandaken. I had requested the opportunity
to speak at this public hearing……I thought that was the
purpose of the hearing….but was denied by supervisor DiSclafani
because the hearing was taking more time than had been allotted. I wonder
if one of the supervisor’s “advisors” had requested
to speak if they would have been permitted to do so? That is another
issue for another time.
My question to the Town Board’s representative on the Economic
Development Committee, Doris Bartlett, was if this committee, organized
to promote economic development had reviewed the proposed farm stand
law? At the end of the regular Board Meeting Ms. Bartlett informed me
that her committee had not. I would think that if the expressed purpose
of this committee is to promote economic growth within the Town of Shandaken
they would have carefully studied these proposed laws to see if indeed
they would advance economic opportunity. It seems to me limiting the
hours of operation, the time of year they can be open and when a business
may keep their lights on certainly is not something the Economic Development
Committee should be supporting by taking no stance on the proposal or
not even discussing it for that matter.
If I recall correctly before the last election for two positions for
Town Council and Supervisor each of those candidates, who were ultimately
elected, campaigned for increasing the economic base of Shandaken by
promoting new businesses along the Route 28 corridor. Seems ironic that
by passing the new Farm Stand Regulations they will be discouraging
future economic growth and possibly forcing the closing of one of the
few thriving businesses on Rt . 28 that now provides a valuable service
to town residents. (Doris Bartlett can’t be blamed for not following
through on campaign promises… she wasn’t even elected but
rather appointed by the majority of the current Town Board.)
Rather than spending time and tax payer money (attorney fees) to impose
limits on services to our citizens the supervisor and council people
should be trying to increase the tax base and provide more needed services
such as addressing cell phone service, senior citizens needs, affordable
sewer system for Phoenicia, and full cable TV service as promised by
provider Time Warner.
Pine Hill, NY
Society deserves something back from Bernie Madoff, and all those other
finance crooks. Enslave them in hard labor camps. Test all drugs, tortures
and surgical techniques on them -- forget animals. Give ALL their homes
and other assets to the people they screwed, NOT families or friends.
And when they die, donate their organs, preserve what's left, and hang
them naked in front of the Stock Exchange.
J. Andrew Smith
Regarding the construction on Route 28A by the Ashokan Reservoir, we
write to protest the extensive destruction being done in the name of
safety. Overkill doesn't even begin to describe the deforestation and
general lack of respect for the natural beauty of the area. As citizens
of the Town of Olive we wonder why we were not asked to vote for or
against this extensive work. Who made this decision?
The very pleasurable drive on 28A has now been ruined and it is now
with deep sadness that we travel through this once beautiful area. And,
in this economy especially, we ask the price of this project. We certainly
hope it is not being paid with our tax dollars.
Anthony and Virginia Castrogiovanni
I was reading yesterday's Daily Freeman newspaper about how the Shandaken
Town Board is trying to shut down a local farm stand and I started thinking
about the news headlines I've seen this past week, 1. President Obama
said government should be supportive of local businesses because they
employ community residents and pay local taxes. 2. Former President
Bill Clinton said that Americans must become more health-conscious.
For Universal Care to be affordable, we must focus on prevention, eat
sensibly (more vegetables!! less fast food!!) and exercise regularly.
3. There was a segment on 60 Minutes about Sustainable Markets. It is
every person's "right" to have the availability of locally
grown foods. There was also emphasis on the way area restaurants purchase
local produce and put these items on their menus, for taste and health.
4. And then there was the poll on "American Freedoms" and
restrictive legislation. It said that New York State comes in DEAD LAST
for "Economic Freedoms" and a miserable 48th place for "Personal
Freedoms." So what is wrong with this picture? Main Street Phoenicia
looks like a war-zone, between the eye-sore of a hotel and the gas-tank
debacle. (Is this what we want tourists to see this summer when visiting
our town?) Phoenicia still doesn't have life-saving cell phone service.
And the Shandaken Town Board is focusing all their legislative energies
on driving away business. No wonder New York State is DEAD LAST in "Economic
Freedoms." And if this town board has their way (some said this
new farm stand legislation was NOT strict enough), we will be DEAD LAST
in "Personal Freedoms" as well.
Martin Millman, Owner
Sure, there are crooks out there. But the overwhelming majority of actions
by corporate directors and managers that created today's messes have
Not only legal, but also widely regarded as essential for the American
Way of Life. To put food on our tables. To heat our homes. To provide
jobs. To defend liberty and freedom...
Simply put: giant business and financial corporations govern. The few
who run them make goverrning decisions dictating people's work, living
conditions, health and the nature of our communities.
Business and financial corporations are not simply "market players."
Although in legal terms corporations are mere "fictions of the
law," they function as political forces. Their directors and managers
define how people live, what people do.
They write our laws, propagandize our children, dictate public policy,
plunder the planet. To gain such power, they long ago got Congress,
federal judges and state legislatures to wrap their corporate bodies
in the Constitution of the United States. To bestow upon their corporate
"fictions" the authority to govern.
Armed with "freedom of speech," "due process," "equal
protection of the law," the "commerce clause," and other
constitutional authority, corporate directors and managers wield the
law against people, communities and the Earth.
Their real bottom line is not that their corporations are "just
too big to fail." It's that without giant corporations, we helpless
human Earthlings could do nothing to meet our needs. We would languish
freezing, starving, unemployed, unentertained, vulnerable, in the dark.
After the great Savings and Loan thefts, after the great WorldCom and
Enron corporation thefts - after every financial cataclysm of the past
century - people have been assured that the problem was "greed
There were always pundits and politicians to declare "greed and
excess," just as there were Madoffs galore to personify this evil.
So as night followed day, legislatures passed laws to regulate "greed
Sure, Madoff and his ilk are major crooks. They've caused great harm
to many people. There are laws aplenty to deal with such obvious crooks
- so they'll end up in jail and good riddance.
But after the Madoffs of each generation are locked up, corporate directors
and managers who "legally" screwed the nation continue governing
the nation. They keep instructing us that the source of the nation's
problems is "greed and excesses." They keep spending our money
to fix their messes. They keep writing our laws.
So let's not be distracted by high-profile crooks on perp walks. Instead,
we can look beyond "greed and excess" to what actually counts:
the constitutional law, statute law and judge made law enabling a handful
of corporate directors and managers to keep shoving their stupidities
down our throats.
We the People can simply revise constitutional theory and practice regarding
corporate "fictions," flesh and blood "humans,"
and planet Earth. To do this, we'll have to assume the authority to
govern ourselves. Isn't that a revolutionary idea!
West Hurley, NY
Considering the financial melt down in progress this may seem like a
minor matter but, it is not for forest landowners in the north east.
We have had many major problems in the past with invasive insects destroying
our forests and are enduring some now that are out of control. Examples
are, Emerald Ash Borer about to destroy the Ash trees, the Wooly Adelgid
which is killing our Hemlocks, working its way up the Hudson Valley.
Our oaks are threatened with Oak Wilt and Sudden Oak Death syndrome,
diseases of which little is known. The one that there is a lot known
is the Asian Long Horned Beatle (ALB). This critter arrived in wooden
pallets from China and if left unchecked has the potential of wiping
out all the hardwoods, particularly the Sugar Maples, of not only the
Catskills but, the whole north east of the country.
The ALB, first discovered in Brooklyn in 1996, and later discovered
in Chicago and in some counties in New Jersey where it is believed to
have been eradicated using extreme measures. Recently it has been discovered
in Worcester, Mass. The potential for economic, social, and environmental
effects if this pest were to become established in the Catskills is
To counter and increase awareness of this threat and others to our forests
the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation is developing a day long
conference that will inform stakeholders, forest landowners and others,
how to detect these invasive and very destructive species. There will
be a description of a mock exercise of what a rapid response by the
DEC to a discovery of the ALB would be like in our area. This might
well include, and most likely would, the clear cutting of many, many
acres around the point of discovery. There would be no heed to the boundary
lines of properties, private and other and the DEC has the lawful right
to do this.
As a landowner, and knowledgeable of the potential disastrous effects
of an unchecked infestation of the ALB, and knowing the cataclysmic
impact of the DEC’s response would be if it occurred on or near
my land I would remain supportive of their efforts to eradicate it.
I suggest landowners and other stakeholders take note, get informed
and if possible attend the conference.
Date Wednesday, May 6 – 9AM to 4PM Upper Lodge, Belleayre Mtn.
Save the date, information on registration will be forth coming in the
Jack McShane, Treasurer
Catskill Landowners Assoc.
I recently became aware of an issue which could have a huge impact upon
our region. There is a new process for extracting natural gas which
can reach shale beds two miles below ground level. There appears to
be a high likleyhood of disruption to local aquifers, and emmisions
into the atmosphere connected to this process. Major pipelines are also
necessary for the delivery of natural gas to urban centers. The gas
companies are approaching landowners for leases on their property with
promises of big financial returns for the use of their land. At present
they are moving forward in Northeast Pennsylvania, but according to
an article in the New York Times in Sept.of 2008, landowners in the
Margaretville area have already been approcahed.
We should be concerned about this because although the benefits that
natural gas mining could bring to large landowners are attractive, every
resident of the region will be exposed to the risks and environmental
damage. This is something that needs to be discussed in the public realm
now, not after it is too late.
I ask the local newspapers to please bring this important story to the
attention of your readers.
Bravo for the free Phoenicia Times that prints some of the writing of
one of the most significant writers of the 20th century, winner of the
Nobel Prize for Literature, Samuel Beckett, from his play "Waiting
for Godot" and in the same issue where to obtain free cancer screenings.
This is a newspaper that tries to be for all citizens.
At the end of the scene printed in the 2/26 POV, Vladimir and Estragon
wait for Godot. Much has been made of who Godot is. God is often the
answer. Becket has said "If Godot were God, I would have called
When asked what Godot stood for, Beckett replied it suggested itself
to him by the slang word for boot in French, "Godillot Godasse",
because feet play such an important part in the play. This is the explanation
Second most repeated story is that B. encountered a group of people
standing on a street corner during the annual Tour de France bicycle
race and he asked what they were doing, "nous attendous Godot"
they replied that all the competitors had passed except for the oldest,
whose name was Godot.
Another story is that he was waiting for a bus on the rue Godot de Mauroy
and was accosted by a prostitute. He refused and the woman, in a huff,
demanded to know what special creature he was saving himself for, was
he waiting for Godot?
Becket also said "If I know who Godot was, I would have said so
in the play. He maintains that Godot was a bad play and expresses amazement
that people find so much in it. He said he wrote it to kill time, waiting
for the war to end and for his novels, which he felt was his important
work, to be recognized.
There is a line in Godot that really resonates:
Vladimir: But you can't go barefoot!
Estragon: Christ did.
Vladimir: Christ! What has Christ got to do with it? You're not going
to compare yourself to Christ!
Estargon: ALL MY LIFE I'VE COMPARED MYSELF TO HIM.
From his novel "Molloy" : "I can't help it, gas escapes
from my fundament on the least pretext, it's hard not to mention it
now and then, however great my distaste. One day I counted them. Three
hundred and fifteen farts in nineteen hours, or an average of over sixteen
farts an hour. After all it's not excessive. Four farts every fifteen
minutes. It's nothing. Not even one fart every four minutes. It's unbelievable.
Damn it, I hardly fart at all, I should never have mentioned it. Extraordinary
how mathematics help you to know yourself."
Mt. Tremper, NY
Several years ago I wrote a letter to this paper expressing my displeasure
with something the Olive Highway Department did on my street. Recently
they did something else and I now feel compelled to write again.
A couple of weeks ago we had a major windstorm and two of our trees
near the road got blown down, taking with them the electrical and phone
service for my house. Most of the trees wound up in the street and when
Central Hudson responded they sent a crew out and cut the trees off
the wires and moved them to the side of the road. That was great but
it left us wondering how we were going to get rid of the trees permanently.
The next morning we heard a strange noise and thought it was our generator
malfunctioning so we ran outside to find our trusty Highway Department
cutting up, chipping and carting away the debris. To say we were overjoyed
would be an understatement. They did a great job and removed a huge
burden off our shoulders and both my wife and I are grateful.
It’s easy to get motivated to send a nasty letter when things
go wrong, but we think it just as important to say thanks for the great
job when dedicated groups of people come to our aid in a time of need.
So many thanks to the Olive Highway Department, the crews of Central
Hudson, the Olive Fire Department and a couple of good friends (you
know who you are) for all they did to help us through some stormy seas.
Colin & Pat Houston
It's finally coming - the media is waking up. They are beginning to
acknowledge that Wall Street has been engaged in unprecedented corruption.
Someone leaked out the AIG bonus fiasco and told the public. Whoops.
Now, the middle class knows what the lower class has always known. That
we've all been had. Of course, the lower class had no hand in it, but
I'll bet that the middle class had an inkling that some of that easy
money that was multiplying by simply trusting their brokers, was tainted.
Now it's sliding out of their hands, just as easily as it slid in. Don't
you want to blame someone? Sure you do, but I think that we have to
first admit that we were a part of it, just as we were a part of going
into Iraq. Looks like doing nothing is becoming less of an option.
The guilt begins at the top, with the gigantic crooks at AIG and Goldman,
Sachs, to the lobbyists, and then to our representatives, and finally
down to our 401K's. Come on, don't tell me that you never suspected
that those portfolios that you never looked at, weren't invested in
something sordid. You just didn't want to know about it. After all,
everyone else on the planet was in on it. It became a world-wide way
As for the media, let me tell you that if your job is to cover Wall
Street, you're going to make friends on Wall Street. Those friends are
going to take care of you in order to gain favors, like an invitation
to CNBC when releasing a new product. You shake my hand, I'll shake
yours. I mean do you really think that they are not going to offer media
folks some advice? Like maybe tip them off to a good broker, or a stock
that's about to take off. You don't think so? Well, I'd like to see
someone look into the wealth of the Wall Street media pundits and find
out. Who decides which company to put onto CNBC when their stock needs
a lift? No-one? The news just gets out on TV? Or, are we fed whatever
is to their benefit? The media got their share, our brokers got their
share, and we got our share, until, like the very old Ponzi scheme,
the facts began to leak out.
Madoff had to run out of money, once some of his clients asked for their
investments back. They were spent, or stashed away in some other country,
because he wasn't invested in anything. Wall Street had to crumble,
because as enormous as their best picks were, just too much was going
out to the top and not enough into managing the companies.
We live in a culture that believes that money is infinite. We live in
a culture that believes that clean air and clean water will always be
available. That our planet can support an infinite population. Well,
we folks that live in the country, know that it's not true.
I'll never forget driving down a country road at night, a few years
ago, when I saw millions of frogs on the road. I had no choice but to
drive over them. It hurt. Next year, there were no frogs to be
seen. Need I say more about infinity? Let's wake up and get responsible.
Let's hold criminals accountable. Let's go back to the
rule of law - and let's get back to work.
Michael Hein’s State of The County address was the most accurate
and realistic appraisal of the county’s state of affairs that
I have heard. I fully agree with him that tough times lie ahead and
fully support him in his effort to reduce the expansiveness of Ulster
The big savings, that supporters of the Charter envisioned will come
at the heels of reducing the size of our county’s government and
restricting the bureaucratic propensity to spend and expand.
Our County’s escalating property taxes have more to do with our
county’s department heads than our county’s legislators.
Remember if you will, our legislators, unlike the ones in Washington
and Albany cut their salaries and health benefits to reduce costs.
Had you attended legislative meetings over the past few years you would
have realized that county government had become far too complex for
part time legislators to handle. As a result, the legislators became
increasingly dependent on the counsel of the department heads that they
were supervising. Department Heads that were far more interested in
increasing their budget than reducing it. Most of the “run amok”
spending projects that we, the tax-payers have been straddled with over
the years, come from the drawing boards of certain department heads.
Now, with these departments under executive supervision, things should
However, Hein & his staff will have their work cut out for them
as they move to change an entrenched system that has been going on for
decades. From what I have seen so far, they seem up to the task. How
fast they can do it is another matter.
But, to give Hein his due, he has surprised the hell out of me already.
He has been able to neutralize his own and his staff’s salaries
and will be saving us an additional $133,000 when the Commissioner of
Finance retires. He has also reduced the county’s electricity
costs by $200,000 by signing up with an energy consortium.
I am impressed.
Thomas P Kadgen
Reference: Onteora Central Schools – School Board...
One man’s Observations and Opinion from information he has read
and heard regarding the Onteora School District
A little about me before I start:
1. Graduated from Onteora 1981
2. 5 years US Military - Navy
3. 30 years in construction industry as a laborer, foreman, supervisor
and now sales
4. My fiancé has a daughter in Bennett School
Enough about me but I hope that helps.
First, a question to the Board for my education and others reading this.
What is your Goal? And not to be sarcastic but what is your Function?
One issue as I see it is what to do with the building space the school
has and how to best service the students with this space.
Opinion one is to consolidate. Bring the current population to a central
location therefore meeting the request of the NY state government offices
the plan they wish to implement across the state. This to the means
of receiving more moneys to provide a better education for the children.
Opinion two to hold the status quo and use the buildings and space we
have to provide an education for the children.
How do we get these two points of view to meet?
My compromise (opinion) is as follows:
Take the space the school has and retrofit the buildings to be as green
as possible therefore receiving the green incentives the states may
be offering. This will also show a savings to the school in energy cost.
There will be improvements in the students’ attitudes and grades
(this information is documented in many magazines and studies). The
teacher’s should appreciate the improved atmosphere as well.
This will bring short-term jobs into the community through construction
improvements. These improvements will draw more families into the community
because they may want to have there children education in a green sustainable
environment. This may also bring some of the home schools students back
to the public school system to provide a different social atmosphere
to grow up in perhaps being able to better associate with society.
The State’s plan to consolidate the school system has many benefits
but has the State reviewed and judged what is best for the larger school
districts in the State. Onteora to my understanding is the second largest
school district in the state by area. So maybe the plan for the small
schools districts by area are not what might be best for the larger
school districts by area.
I believe the previous school board did some studies, opinions from
the community are share through emails like this, and the phone lines
set up. Therefore, I would like to see this board make decisions and
move forward on these issues, even if that direction is not the direction
I see as the best path.
I would gladly embrace any responds to this one man’s opinion.
Let me know how you feel. But more importantly, if you care about the
children at Onteora let the School Board know how you feel.
We all have opinions and on important issues like this, it is important
to share them with the people that are making these decisions.
Adam T. Baker
Christian, Father, Step Father,
Well our next big event is under way. A chicken BBQ on May 2, 2009,
Shokan Park, 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM. This time we are cookin!!!!!! Dinner
will be just like Olive Day. All Ticket we be sold in advance. You can
obtain tickets with Liz Sopata at the high school or email email@example.com.
Tickets are $15.00 and include half of a chicken, homemade salads and
deserts and a beverage. Take out will be available. This BBQ is to raise
money for the Belleayre Bash. The Bash is an all night event that keeps
our kids safe on one of the most dangerous nights of the year, graduation
night. It takes approximately $10,000.00 to support the Bash and in
the past we have given away prizes that include a trip for two and a
laptop computer. Prizes and fun start the moment the kids get on one
of the three buses that pick them up at an elementary school and then
drops them off at that location the next morning. We are also looking
for local music entertainment to perform at the BBQ. We welcome donations.
Onteora SADD, PO Box 300, Boiceville, New York 12412.
Cindy O'Connor & Angie Singer
Babette Kiesel wrote a letter last week telling me I should be ashamed
for exercising my God-given American right to speak out against injustice
and petition my elected officials. She says I’m greedy and calls
me a “scoff-law.” She wonders if I want to set a precedent.
Ms. Kiesel, and the people trying to pass this new law either don’t
understand what’s going on or else they don’t share the
American values that most of us live by.
I opened a farm stand almost identical to another business in the same
zone and have been harassed since day one. The town tried to shut me
down but did not have a legal leg to stand on. When they couldn’t
close me down, they demanded that I pay $2,500 to them for a site plan
review that would give me the permit I needed. Then, after altering
then cashing my check, they did not give me the review. Instead, they
proposed this new law which is so bad that it would put me out of business.
Most Americans value their right to speak out when they are persecuted
and it is clear by their actions that this town board and some of our
fellow citizens are trying to shut me down not because I’m illegal
but because they just don’t like me.
Most Americans believe that laws should be enforced fairly and equitably,
not used as a hatchet to stop people you don’t like. The current
Shandaken administration lets their friends get away with abusing the
law and enforces selectively against people who disagree with them.
Most Americans think that competition is a good thing, that small Mom
and Pop businesses are good for the community and that entrepeneurs
who pay taxes and create jobs are good people, not greedy.
You can ignore the fact that their “shakedown” of me for
$2,500 was illegal and a really bad precedent, and you might not mind
that their alteration of my check was at least a misdemeanor and perhaps
a felony. And due process - forget it.They put the check in the general
fund instead of in an escrow account where it belonged. But if you look
at the law they now propose, you have to be frightened. You have to
stand up and shout.
They propose to dictate what days I open and close, what hours I open
and close, and what I can and can not sell. The law will prevent me
from lighting the business, or expanding it in any direction. And if
those rules aren’t enough, the law says the planning board has
the duty to think up more restrictions. So how is it that Dave Pillard
can call me the bully and Maureen Millar can say we need a law that
is more restrictive than this one?
Either they don’t understand what this means or they don’t
believe in the American free-enterprise system. They don’t want
big-scale development. They don’t want small farm stands. They
don’t want people in business who might make a profit and they
don’t think 3-6 jobs for local residents are important.
So, Ms. Kiesel, I am not ashamed for standing up for my rights, and
I’m not ashamed of the others who stood up with me. If they take
that right away from us, what do we have left?
Mt. Tremper, NY
Hey, it’s Cally again! Sorry, I haven’t written in while
because my brother has been sick and it’s been busy. I’m
going to fill you in on some of the news! I’ve been lost in the
world of seat assignments! We have bus seat assignments now in the afternoon.
Kids were saying, “no, I want to sit there!” or “no,
I had the outside seat!” and arguing about it, so now we have
sit in the same seat every afternoon. Maybe the kids are a bit too tired
to argue about seats in the morning, so we can sit anywhere we want
In my class we have new seat assignments. We just had this State math
test, and we were sitting in rows for it. I preferred sitting in rows.
I think it makes it easier to pay attention. Now, I’m in a group
of four. I sit with Ryan, Brianna, and Madison. You’re looking
right at the person across from you when you’re in a group like
this, and sometimes it’s easy to look at their paper, or you find
yourself talking to them.
I think seats should be assigned by personality. Some children are distracting,
and some children aren’t. Sometimes, I’m a distracting person,
and in my world of seat assignments I would be sat with someone quiet
who doesn’t have many friends and needs a distracting person to
bring them out. In my imagination of seat assignments, people who are
being distracting to other people can sit at their own table until they
have improved on their listening. People who have been wonderful all
the week would get to choose who they want to sit with (and get a “free
ice cream” slip to use in the cafeteria). I think teachers will
approve of my seating ideas. What do you think?
West Shokan, NY