And so when over 30 million people are given from $300 to
$600 apiece the country's economy will really get a boost!
A boost like this is a bit on the silly side, isn't it? A
genuine boost would be to end the war in Iraq, and reduce
the cost of energy, gasoline, health care insurance and drugs.
A decrease in any of these would be a real boost to all Americans.
As it is now that booster money is going to be spent paying
for all the things which are too high in price for us all.
However don't lose out. Be sure you get the boost that is
coming to you. Any one with an income above $3,000 year, which
includes Social Security as well as earned income and some
other benefits, is eligible and the way one gets it is by
filing an income tax
The filing of your income tax return is the way you will get
your allotment and you need no further action. There is no
relationship between your tax refund nor what you will pay
in taxes and this payment. There are millions who do not file
and who won't get their boost unless they do so and by April
15. If you haven't been filing you need to get the forms and,
if needed, help in filing. If you know folks who aren't keeping
up with the news be sure to inform them.
The Church should be a citadel of Truth and an anchor when
all others fail. The Church has been negligent, lacking the
courage to broadcast the Truth and separate myth from reality.
Easter bunnies, chicks, bonnets and colored eggs have nothing
to do with a crucified, then resurrected Savior who is called
the Passover Lamb. These traditions were pagan spring fertility
goddess rites that got mixed into the Church. Priests and
pastors since 325 AD, when Easter was set apart from Passover
by the Council of Nicene, have damaged the Truth. If we permit
little myths and lies, how will we get the world to trust
us on the big stuff?
Some will say, "What does it matter, let me eat my Easter
ham, color my eggs - I don't worship any goddess and I don't
celebrate Passover." The Bible says, "You have a
fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to
observe your own traditions."
Our nation faces moral decay, family breakdown and a myriad
of problems that need large doses of Truth. Politically, there
is no one to carry the banner. So let us get on with restoring
our influence and respectability. From Jesus' tears in the
Garden to His Resurrection all happened during Passover. This
year there are twenty-eight days between Easter and Passover.
One celebration is lined up with Truth and the other is not.
Skip hunting for the eggs you hid and search for the Truth
of the Risen Lord.
West Hurley, NY
I am writing to explain our views on potential constitutional
violations of Article XIV, section 1, the "forever wild"
clause presented by the proposed Belleayre Mountain Ski Center
(BMSC) Modified Project and Unit Management Plan. We are very
pleased that DEC has decided not to pursue the proposed Belleayre
East ski lift and trails, especially those in Cathedral Glen.
ADK is deeply concerned about the proposal to create ski-in,
ski-out trail access from the BMSC to the privately owned
Belleayre Resort complex, especially the 19 high-level luxury
homes on the Belleayre - Highmount Ridge. The Agreement in
Principle (AIP, pages 4 and 20) proposes to construct a ski
lift and ski trails on lands of the Catskill Forest Preserve
for the purpose of connecting the privately owned facilities
of the Belleayre Resort to the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center.
The Agreement also states that DEC and the privately owned
and operated Crossroads Ventures Corporation will execute
a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to: "memorialize
collaboration in their respective improvements and future
operations to maximize efficiencies and improve the visitor
experience." (Agreement in Principle, p.14) We are especially
concerned about the prospect of DEC constructing trails and
lifts on Forest Preserve lands for the exclusive or predominant
benefit of the owners of the Belleayre Resort complex.
ADK believes that DEC should request Attorney General Andrew
Cuomo to address the Article XIV issue of whether or not the
proposed tree cutting, blasting, rock removal, and slope alterations
of the lands of the Catskill Forest Preserve at the BMSC can
be legally undertaken for the purpose of providing an exclusive
or predominant benefit to privately owned properties under
Article XIV, Section 1 of the NYS as described in the AIP.
A May 2, 1947 Attorney General Opinion that interpreted the
original constitutional amendment that originally authorized
the Belleayre Ski Center stated, in pertinent part:
"Broadly speaking, if and when the proposed amendment
is approved by the People, Article XIV, as amended, taken
in its entirety, would not seem to authorize the construction
on forest preserve lands of ski trails and appurtenances thereto
intended primarily to supplement or complement an essentially
private development located on adjacent privately owned lands."
Accordingly, we believe that Article XIV, section 1 forbids
the construction of "ski in, ski out" trails and
appurtenances on any existing or proposed lands of the Catskill
Forest Preserve intended primarily to enhance the value or
desirability of the privately owned lodging facilities of
According to the Final Scope, the Department of Environmental
Conservation (DEC) proposes to acquire portions of the former
Highmount Ski Center totaling approximately 78 acres to accommodate
a westward expansion of Belleayre Mountain Ski Center. ADK
questions whether DEC can legally use these newly acquired
lands for the purposes of expanding the Belleayre Ski Center
without an additional constitutional amendment to Article
XIV, section 1 of the state constitution specifically and
expressly authorizing these facilities on the Highmount parcel.
Since the proposed Highmount Forest Preserve acquisition was
not part of the Catskill Forest Preserve in either 1947 or
1986, it is ADK's legal position that those respective amendments
to Article XIV, section 1 can not support the cutting of trees,
blasting, rock removal and alteration of the "wild forest
character" of the "hereinafter acquired" Highmount
property in order to expand the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center.
We assert that DEC must request an Attorney General Opinion
to answer the question of whether the 1947 and 1986 constitutional
the creation and subsequent expansion of the Belleayre Mountain
Ski Center apply only to the lands that were part of the Catskill
Forest Preserve at the time that each of the respective constitutional
amendments were approved by the voters.
ADK asserts that the 1947 and 1986 Belleayre constitutional
amendments could apply only to lands actually in state ownership
and subject to Article XIV, section 1 at the time of each
respective voter approval. Our review of the respective amendment
documents and ballot questions reveals that neither the Legislature
nor the voters were ever informed that amendment was intended
to apply to lands that were not part of the Catskill Forest
Preserve at the time of the legislative approvals and the
The voters in 1947 and 1986 could not have contemplated or
authorized the cutting of trees and alteration of the wild
forest character of lands that would not be added to the Catskill
Forest Preserve until many decades thereafter. Under DEC's
current interpretation of the 1947 and 1986 amendments, some
future DEC administration could expand the ski center eastward
to encompass the 1200 acres of the proposed Big Indian plateau
addition to the Forest Preserve without the necessity of seeking
either legislative or voter approval.
Clearly such a result was not contemplated or authorized by
the state legislature or voters. Since the 1947 and 1986 amendments
authorized activities and facilities at Belleayre that are
wholly inconsistent with the "forever wild" principle
of Article XIV, section 1, we believe the courts will strictly
construe them to apply only to lands that were part of the
Catskill Forest Preserve at the time that the amendments were
Further, ADK understands that approximately 10 miles of new
trails are proposed as part of the BMSC expansion. ADK believes
that this trail expansion alone could expand the ski center
to its full, constitutionally authorized build-out of 25 miles
of ski trails. It appears that DEC has thus far not included
the footprint and dimensions of the proposed ski lifts, the
new snow-making reservoir, new Tomahawk Lift Base Lodge, expanded
Sunset Lodge, new Visitor Center, new Amphitheatre, new sand/salt
storage facility, expanded snowmaking infrastructure and other
appurtenances in calculating the current Article XIV, section
1 footprint limits on tree cutting and wild forest character
ADK asserts that DEC must calculate the square footage and
total cleared area associated with the new ski trails, lifts,
and associated buildings proposed for construction on existing
state lands. DEC must then determine whether or not these
proposed facilities can be legally accommodated within the
constitutional footprint limits currently set forth in Article
XIV, section 1 of the NYS constitution.
ADK believes that the cleared area of the existing and proposed
ski trails, buildings, reservoirs and appurtenances must be
taken into account in calculating the permissible area of
tree cutting and wild forest alteration authorized by the
citizens of New York in 1947 and 1986.
It is legally inconsistent with the footprint limits of the
1947 and 1986 amendments for DEC to now assert that there
are no constitutional limits whatsoever on the size of the
footprint of the lodges, buildings, reservoirs, pumping stations,
lifts and other "appurtenances" that can be constructed
on Belleayre Mountain.
ADK believes that DEC's apparent decision not to count the
cleared dimensions for the proposed additional ski lifts,
new buildings and other appurtenances against the constitutional
footprint limit is contrary to the letter, spirit and intent
of Article XIV, Section 1 of the state Constitution. The ski
lifts, buildings, reservoirs and any appurtenances that require
tree removal, blasting and site alteration must be counted
against the dimensional limitations of the 1947 and 1986 amendments
to Article XIV, section 1.
ADK asserts that no new ski trails and facilities can be constructed
on the proposed Highmount addition to the Catskill Forest
Preserve without an authorizing amendment to Article XIV,
section 1, approved by the voters specifically authorizing
those improvements on this new parcel.
ADK is very concerned about the cumulative impacts of the
construction of these new trails as well as the impacts of
additional structures on these Forest Preserve lands. The
amount of tree clearing for both the ski trails, ski lifts
and buildings will result in a very substantial amount of
vegetation removal. It is important for the DEC SEQRA scoping
process to set forth the nature and degree of alteration of
the wild forest character and number of trees to be removed
that are in excess of 6 inches diameter at breast height (dbh).
The decision in the landmark case Balsam Lake Angler's Club
v. NYSDEC , 199 A.D.2d 852 , (Third Dept. 1993) allows only
those public facilities and public uses that are compatible
with the character and preservation of wild forest lands and
which do not involve any material cutting of trees. Moreover,
the decision prohibits: 1) any public use or activity requiring
a material degree of tree cutting and/or 2) activities that
are incompatible with the wild forest character, even though
they are recreational and do not require material amount of
tree cutting and 3) any private use of the Forest Preserve.
ADK submits that Article XIV, section 1, read together with
the McDonald and Balsam Lake cases preclude tree cutting,
blasting, rock removal and terrain alteration on the proposed
Highmount addition to the Catskill Forest Preserve in the
absence of an authorizing constitutional amendment specific
to the Highmount parcel. The said 1947 opinion of the Attorney
General precludes the construction of "ski-in, ski-out"
trails and appurtenances on Forest Preserve to primarily benefit
Neil F. Woodworth
Executive Director and Counsel
Adirondack Mountain Club
Dean Gitter (Crossroad Ventures) Paid Off the DEP. That’s
right PAID OFF David Tweedy the man who took the top 6 most
important issues off the 12 item list of the Belleayre resort
project the last possible minute was paid to do so by none
other than Crossroad Ventures (Dean Gitter). Dean Gitter hired
George Arzt Communications, Inc. to lobby “pay off”
DEP officials since 2004 and stop right before the announcement
in Kingston by Gov. Spitzer this past September/07 to the
total amount of $42.500. Does this go to the top office of
Here is proof for all to see... http://www.nyc.gov/lobbyistsearch/search?lobbyist=Fred+Winters
This only shows that dirty business is going on between Gitter
and Albany and we the people of Shandaken and surrounding
communities have been sold for Personal Profit. There is no
doubt now in my mind that government officials are and have
been accepting bribes from Dean Gitter and in no way have
THE PEOPLE in mind. This means that the offices of the DEP/DEC
cannot be trusted or be allowed to be involved in the review
process of the resort and must be investigated.
When a people raise voice to proclaim in ONE VOICE WE DO NOT
WANT THIS PROJECT and the voice of the people is ignored by
all including the governor himself and when the governor calls
personally to strong arm anti resort groups with treats this
means PAY OFF
We all know what Gitter wants ($) he does not care about our
community and will do anything in his power to destroy Shandaken
for his personal profit. Only one thing can truly send a message
to NYC and Albany == force them to spend 40 billion dollars
to build a water treatment plant by polluting the water. :Let’s
say a big FU to our so called elected officials who only care
about money and how much they got paid.
Like our ancestors who once lived where today the reservoirs
are, who were evicted from their land without compensation
to this day, whose lives were destroyed for the gain of the
rich “genocide” -- let us not allow the same to
happen to us.
Take to arms Shandaken and surrounding communities. This is
a war for our town’s, for our lives.
The Belleayre ski area has more than doubled the number of
visitors in the last few years. You can hardly claim that
it is failing its mission to expand low cost, easily accessible
recreation. However, opponents of the proposed Belleayre resort
have been warning for years that Mr. Gitter's enormous resort
project would hurt the popular ski area's opportunities for
growth. Now we see it has. By competing for available water
and space on the roads. By greatly adding to storm water and
flooding problems. By sapping scarce government funds available
to subsidize development. The developer claims that the 300
or so poverty wage jobs provided by the resort would use up
the entire available labor pool in three counties, and concentrate
all those poor people into a small area right around the thriving
ski area. I don't see how this will help the local economy.
It would certainly make it a lot harder to find people to
work in small local businesses in the whole region. Mr. Bonacic's
knee jerk response to the cutting of new ski trails is part
of a rapidly dying dinosaur mentality, that Golfzilla will
save us. Even Mr. Spitzer apparently had better things to
do that night than show up to receive his award at the Belleayre
Snowball. The Belleayre ski area was doing fine without the
resort. I'm worried that because of heightened scrutiny around
the resort, the ski area will lose funding that was previously
assured. And that resort boosters will blame the messengers
instead of the root cause, the grossly supersized resort project.
Since the announcement by Governor Spitzer on Sept. 5, 2007
of the AIP to revive the long stalled development project
at Belleayre, local and national community and environmental
groups have been expressing disapproval with key elements
of the governor’s plan. These groups, including the
Sierra Club, the Catskill Heritage Alliance, Friends of Catskill
Park, Pine Hill Water Coalition, Hardenburgh Association of
Taxpayers and Residents and the Highmount Preservation Association
have joined forces under the umbrella of Save the Mountain
to expose the excesses of the AIP and to work toward a viable
alternative. The governor personally brokered this agreement
that has caused so much controversy. I believe that recent
revelations of the governor’s erratic behavior and poor
judgment place in sharp relief the fundamental flaws in the
The governor erred when he endorsed high-density development
near and on the top of the ridge. The developer should not
have been offered 3x the value of its Big Indian Plateau holdings.
Ski area expansion and enhancement should not be entangled
with the private development. The DEC cannot be a disinterested
judge over its own development. The purity of Pepacton reservoir
must not be jeopardized by an oversize development.
Now that Governor Spitzer is gone, we hope that common ground
can be found so that these and other flaws in the AIP can
be corrected and sensible, environmentally sound development
Regarding yesterday's statement from Crossroads Ventures about
the Belleayre Resort AIP... (sounds a bit defensive, as sent
to me in the following statement: “Today's events are
a personal tragedy for Governor Spitzer. Should he be forced
to leave office, it will have no legal effect on the commitments
the state made while he was its chief executive. The Agreement
in Principle is a compact among the State of New York, the
City of New York, seven prominent environmental groups and
Crossroads Ventures. It is as valid today as it was when it
was signed on September 5th, 2007. The compromise was the
work of Judith Enck, Deputy Secretary for the Environment,
who worked for nine months, not only with the parties, but
also with several branches of state government: the DEC, the
Attorney General's office, the DOH and Empire State Development
The Belleayre AIP deal was brokered in a questionable, secret
process at the insistence of Governor Spitzer. The most often
asked question is why? This would set a terrible precedent
for development in the Park. The entire financial rationale
for the project has been poorly vetted and was severely criticized
by the August 2006 NY Comptroller's analysis. Why would this
Governor trade away public assets, circumvent SEQRA and jeopardize
reputations for such a speculative and potentially destructive
private real estate scheme?
Now we see that similar plans have been announced for Gore
Mountain in the Adirondacks. Albany's "best and brightest"
in Governor Spitzer's office appeared to have some brainy
plan to privatize our irreplaceable public assets. That's
short term thinking.
Julie McQuain, Hardenburgh Rep.
Ulster County EMC
According to N.Y. State’s Education Web Site school
Superintendents compensation and benefits vary far and wide
in Ulster County for the 2007/2008 school year. Compensations
range from a high of $175,000.00 plus benefits of $41,297.00
for the New Paltz Superintendent’s compensation to a
low of $136,000.00 plus benefits of $40,324.00 for the Superintendent
How does the Onteora School District compare to lets say a
much larger district like the Kingston City School District?
Onteora’s School Districts Superintendent is the second
highest paid Superintendent in Ulster County. For the 2007/
2008 school year the Superintendent’s compensation is
$165,000.00 plus $40,468.00 in benefits.
Followed by Kingston’s Superintendents compensation
of $161,717.00 plus $41,888.00, Saugerties Superintendent
receiving $155,196.00 plus $38,511.00 in benefits, Marlboro’s
Superintendent receiving $150,000.00 plus $11,475.00 in benefits,
Rondout Valley’s Superintendent receiving $145,600.00
plus $36,147.00 in benefits, Wallkill’s Superintendent
receiving compensation of $140,000.00 plus $33,381.00 in benefits
and Ellenville’s Superintendent compensation is $137,516.00
plus $15,340.00 in benefits.
The Kingston City School District has eleven elementary schools,
two middle schools and one high school. There are approximately
8300 students in the Kingston City School District. The district
has one Superintendent, five Assistant Superintendents and
seven Principals. Collectively their total salaries including
benefits are $1,613,815.00. No other administrator’s
salaries are included in that cost. The Onteora School district
has four schools with a total student population of approximately
1836. The district has one Superintendent, two Assistant Superintendents,
one Director of PPS, and three Principals. Collectively their
total salaries including benefits are $949,642.00. No other
administrator’s salaries are included in that cost.
You do the cost per student analyzes.
I am writing as a concerned parent and taxpayer of the Onteora
Central School District. On any given day in this district
when there us a chance of flurries, the District closes school.
However on this day, February 26, 2008 with imminent weather
which started around 11am; the school did not have an early
dismissal. Instead they chose to keep school in session for
the day. Due to the inclement weather, the high school buses
did not even get to the high school on time which delayed
the entire Onteora School District busing to be delayed. Children
from the Bennett Elementary school did not even get home from
school until 5pm.
This is appalling to me and I point my fingers at the Department
of Transportation, Dave Morraca and Superintendent of the
School, Dr. Leslie Ford. How would they feel if they were
waiting at a bus stop for their children and no-one showed
up? Do they know the sick feeling in the bottom of all parents
stomachs on a snowy day to NOT know where your children are?
To think, "Are my kids safe? Did the bus get into an
accident?" Would it have been too much of a burden for
someone to call the parents and advise them that the buses
left late?? As a parent, I am aware of the call list where
a voluntary group of parents will call other parents to alert
them to an early dismissal. Why I ask do we not have this
in place for a situation like this?
Fortunately, I had one child home sick with me and I picked
up my other child from school at 3pm. as I was off work. But
not every parent had the opportunity that I had today. I was
shocked to find out how many phone calls that I received from
friends whose children did not get home from school unti 5pm.
Did anyone stop to think about the parents whose children
are driven to and picked up at a centralized bus stop? These
poor parents could not leave the bus stop to find out what
was going on in the glimpse chance that their children may
show up but yet they just waited with no answers.
This is a poor system and I am ashamed of all involved. School
should have been dismissed today at or around lunch time.
The protocol that was followed today jeopardized the lives
of many, our children, the staff that had to travel home from
school and the good folks that drive our children to and from
school, who we all take for granted. Did anyone stop and think
about the bus drivers and what they went through making sure
our children came home safe and what was waiting for them
when they reached their destinations and had to explain to
each and every concerned, upset and screaming parent?
I am sure next week when we have a 20% chance of snow; school
will be closed. I am hoping that the Onteora Central School
District's Department of Transportation thinks back upon this
day and thinks about how many lives were at risk for their
poor planning and lack of a descent protocol. Safety is the
number one concern here and that was blown out of the water.
How many children wore seat belts today or any day for that
matter? Do the buses have chains? Do all buses have monitors
so when these bus drivers are forced to drive in such weather
and the children are being a bit distracting; is there an
aide to help calm them? Think people, think!
As a school bus driver, parent and taxpayer in the Onteora
district I feel compelled to address the total ineptitude
of our Transportation Director and School Superintendent that
took place on February 26th regarding snow. We as bus drivers
are constantly reminded by our supervisors and by the number
of safety meetings we are required to attend that we carry
the most precious cargo in the world; other peoples children.
And as school bus drivers we fully believe and understand
that fact more then anything else we are taught. My question
is this. Did Mr. Morraca forget this very principle that is
the covenant of our profession?
Now, many people realize that school bus driving is not a
very easy job. Most parents would be the first to say that
they don't know how we do it! The answer is that most of us
truly enjoy the children. When those children get on our buses
they become "our" children for the ride and most
times when they aren't on the bus as well. We truly care about
That is why I along with many others (who will remain nameless
for job security reasons) are so upset about this debacle.
Why was it that every other school district either closed
or dismissed early? According to Mr. Morraca in his comments
made to us as we waited in pouring snow in the high school
line up, " Sorry you gotta drive in this folks, but we
only go on the information we're given. take your time and
drive safe". Where was he getting his info from; the
Jersey Shore? We had buses going off the road and parents
having to drive to pick up their children because the buses
couldn't get through. Was the info given to all of the other
districts a secret? And drive safe?? Talk about pressure.
How can we be expected to drive safe when he didn't think
safe? It left many of us feeling like " well if something
happens it's on the driver; after all they're driving the
Now I realize that Mr. Morraca has a tough job and does a
good job trying to pacify the taxpayers of our town, the bus
companies and whoever else might come knocking on his door,
but he blew this one.
In closing I would like to thank all of the parents who realize
what a tough job we have and who appreciate the pride we take
in the responsibility given to us reagrding the safety of
your children. Believe me when I say it. If it was up to the
bus drivers this situation would have never occured. We know
our priorities. And to all of the parents who were able to
muster a smile and a thank you through their anger, it made
a tough day a little easier to swallow!
As I sat down to write this letter to the Editor, intended
to be about the next occupation in the Middle East, namely
Iran, I tuned into Amy Goodman’s show about the “Winter
Soldier” hearings, with testimonies from Iraqi war veterans
uncovering the rules of engagement over the past 5 years.
While we were talking about Eliot Spitzer’s self destructive
moves, along with uprooting race wars amongst ourselves, we’ve
been completely ignoring the truly grueling events that are
going on around the world in our names. Since no media is
covering this story, I find it necessary to report on this
event as we enter our 6th year of sending our young men and
women to an illegal war that will damage their souls, and
maybe ours, for the rest of our lives.
One soldier spoke of his first kill on April 18, 2006. “A
man was walking to his house. I shot him in front of his friend
and father. As he was dying he looked into my eyes. I had
to kill him.” He went on to tell about being congratulated
for his first kill by his commander. The commander went on
to say that whoever gets their first kill by stabbing, will
get a 4 day pass. He spoke about his 3rd kill, which was a
man riding his bicycle. He explained that when they had reporters
with them, they acted differently but the rules of engagement
were: “If you feel threatened by an Iraqi, shoot them
and don’t worry.” He said that until people hear
what is going on in this war, it will continue. He ended with
“I am sorry for what I did. I am no longer the monster
that I once was.”
Another soldier spoke of watching a woman walking towards
them who was carrying a bag. She was immediately shot to death.
When they looked into the bag, they realized that it was filled
with groceries, that she was trying to give to the soldiers.
Another soldier told of a roadside bomb that went off. One
of the Marines took it as a excuse to shoot at all cars coming
in the opposite direction. Another Marine watched a commander
shoot 2 old ladies as he was explaining what would fall under
protection of the present rules of engagement
Following Amy Goodman’s show, I realized that Barack
Obama was going to speak on the scandal about his Pastor.
I tuned in, and after hearing many more gruesome stories that
had me weeping, everything changed. It became clear to me
that Obama is the one, apparent leader that can take us out
of this divisive state of being, and help us to realize that
we all belong to the human race, and together we can salvage
it, or together we can destroy ourselves.
I end this letter with a strong and urgent appeal to all who
care about the United States, it’s Constitution, it’s
Bill of Rights and everything that we are supposed to stand
for: WATCH OR LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE SPEECH… It’s
over an hour long. It will indeed give you hope. We have found
It is with profound sadness and with great outrage that I
have read on the Earthlink newspage and in the Jornada of
Mexico, where I am visiting, that in Haiti people are now
eating dirt because food is too expensive...clay mud cakes
with some fat and salt! That George W. Bush choose to depose
Father Ariste, the elected president of Haiti who attempted
to feed his people, and spirited him out of his country in
what was a veritable kidnapping, will go down in the annals
of time as one of the most diabolical examples of how the
good old USA, which acts without the consent of its people,
despite all the freedom words, and despite the multiple elections,
acts in anti-human ways in its own back yard. Forgetting about
the invasions of Mexico, the last in 1917, and thousands of
other big bully acts in the Americas, this one really takes
the cake! Marie Antoinette said Let them eat Cake...the results
of our domineering is a 'let them eat dirt.' We should demand
food for Haiti now, organize convoys and get up from our sofas,
or else, we, too, should eat dirt!
West Hurley, NY
David Walker the comptroller general is an advocate of fiscal
reason and has brought public attention to government waste
and inaction on our financial crisis. He has announced his
resignation, to join a foundation focusing on critical issues
that are affecting this country.
Walker said: “I've accomplished all but one the objectives
I set out for myself in 1998 and the last objective is to
try to help get the Congress to make some tough choices about
the challenges that face the future of America. Hopefully,
I’m actually going to have more flexibility and more
discretionary resources by partnering with the Peter G. Peterson’d
Former commerce secretary, Peter G. Peterson is a long-standing
advocate for fiscal prudence and has pledged at least a billion
dollars over the next several years, which should make a difference.
Comptroller General Walker has sought to focus public attention
on difficult issues. He has tried to analyze, understand and
discuss with Congress unfunded liabilities, the infectiveness
and waste in government. Walker has repeatedly pointed out
that our government has
gotten us into a $53 trillion hole. About $9 trillion of that
debt we already have, however $44 trillion are unfunded promises
for Social Security and Medicare. The hole gets deeper by,
as much as, $3 trillion a year by doing nothing.
Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest men in the world, suggested
that Congress increase the taxable base above the present
$90,000, because he pays very little in the way of Social
The Congressional Budget Office states that our wars could
cost $2.4 trillion through the next decade. That figure includes
more than $700 billion in interest, since these wars are being
fought on borrowed money and 70 percent of this money is going
to the war in Iraq.
George Pignatello, aka George Douglas and George the Wood
Guy died July 3, 2007 in Shandaken. He became GTWG in the
mid-80’s when he located his Wood N’ Trout enterprise
in Boiceville following years of Weehawken NJ residence from
where he traveled to building and design projects coast-to-coast,
then drifted toward the fishing waters of New York state.
George shared many homes with family, friends, and colleagues
in the 40 years of our marriage and travels, always adding
more friends and colleagues while relying upon the mutual
love, devotion, support and sometimes rescue by his wife and
family who survive him now.
He valued the camaraderie and revelry with Bob Johannsen and
Ray Negron and the guys at Ronsen where he had his too active
shop for more than 20 years. Agnostic as he was in all things,
he depended on the caring and protection that so many offered
him in return for his turbulent presence, varied skills and——oh
yes—all that laughter and just plain fun. This was the
George who turned his university years into useful knowledge;his
time on the WVU Rifle Squad and his Army years on the Olympic
Rifle Squad into attending country turkey shoots where he
showed up wearing a can of cranberry sauce around his neck,
won the turkey and gave it to someone.
George, my Duodecahedron, was a promethean man of great and
good heart, egalitarian belief and practice. Throughout our
43 years together (including 5 days in the hospital preceding
his death) George and I talked, laughed and planned the what
next? While in the hospital he made his decision to have no
one see him, thus spending phone hours conversing and consoling
family and longtime friends speaking of adventures and events
with them and with the perfected trout of the serene stream.
He made plans having been given indications that there was
time. Fishing loomed large.
Letters in the Phoenicia Times written soon after George’s
death set forth that there is to be a memorial service for
him on April 1st which is oh, so providently both the first
day of trout season and April Fool’s Day. One letter
announced a “fundraiser” for last October?
George would approve of the idea of the Trout Day fling. He
always liked a party. He admitted that he was a fool for trout
and the river. April Fool’s Trout Day.
In George’s final hours in Shandaken family members
with him (at his request) spoke to him of “going on
the river; being with the river.” In my 43 years with
George I saw him one-last-casting on many rivers. We fell
off the steep side of Maroon Bells outside of Aspen (in an
SUV) because he just had to get to that pure mountain lake
for the fish but forgot the 4-wheel part. George was brought
to serenity and peace by the waters and the trout he perfected
by putting them back smarter. These were perhaps the only
moments of his life when his energy and arts turned him graceful
and fluid, a beautiful (and rare) thing to witness.
George’s longstanding wishes were that he be only “baked
and shaked” after his death. In keeping with his wishes
and his lifelong avoidance of funerals and formal ceremonies,
George’s family threw a memorial party for him called
“See ya, bye…” last August in South Orange
at George’s favorite party house—and home—where
he celebrated holidays and family events including Easter
2007. The stories, tributes, laughter and tears flowed as
we traded 50 years of tales of the edges George pushed us
over, the skills and joys he taught us and all the days brightened
by that prodigious energy, voracious curiosity, tough intelligence
and the balls-to-the-wall insistence that life had better
do it bigger and better.
In life, George seemed to be everywhere all the time: in several
places at once, in different lives, on different planes. Everything
for everybody. All of us who loved him long and knew him well
became accustomed to missing him as he bounced through places
and lives and creations. Always welcome;never expected. Now
we miss him in a different way. Me most profoundly.
George James Pignatello aka George Douglas (easier to spell
he said) aka GTWG was preceded in death by his parents, George
and Marion Pignatello. He is survived by his wife, Rita Karen
Douglas; a brother Richard Pignatello in Vermont; aunts, uncles,
cousins, nieces, nephews including Vincent Pignatello of Caldwell
NJ and Stowe,Vt.; Sean Pignatello in Maine father of 5; Juliet
Pignatello Biederman in California; Amy Jane Douglas and Pamela
Jill Douglas of The Oranges; Lee Martin of South Orange; Lisa
D. Crumrine and Paul Maiello of Philadelphia; James Douglas
of Elkins, West Virginia and a legion of friends and colleagues.
He would want you to smile now. And fish: barbless hooks with
respect for the uncaught Trout. You never know…
In gratitude for all who befriended, protected and smiled
with this lovely, loving man of complex nature.
Rita Karen Douglas (Pignatello)
South Orange, NJ
Having grown up in a poor rural working class family and actually
tilling the land by hand for pay, selling vegetables, fruits
and my mother's family hailing from Missouri Levon Helm's
Dirt Farmer has struck a chord deep within my very soul. The
other side of my family hailed from Europe at the turn of
the century and they embraced the pioneer spirit based entirely
on myths and family texts. As a youth my
grandfather worked first a boy shorting out the clink from
the coal then a Expressway Clerk in the railroad mail car.
Later he went down into the mines itself and many time barely
escaped with his life. He was totally disabled by the time
of the depression and died very young.
So it is this rich tradition that Helm's greatest contribution
to American music to date has been made. I have always been
a fan of The Band because each member made a contribution
from their individual cultural backgrounds whether it was
brother Dankos roots or Garth's classical training. The years
spent on the road, the hard traveling, good, bad and ugly
times each has been faced by life these "bad boys of
rock and roll" are what makes me feel very proud they
each made their homes and raised their children in these Catskill
I encourage everyone who is seriously interested in musicology
or the true seekers of understanding the realities of our
past and its transcendence as to where we are today here in
America need to purchase this album. Many have mistakenly
thought Levon's new contribution is a continuation of The
Band. No this is Levon, his roots, a personal life struggle
and a literal resurrection of American tradition folk music
as it was and remains to be a reflection of rural America.
Dirt Farmer goes deeper than The Band ever could because this
is Levon our brother singing his heart out for you and me.
It is living music from a time when social human relationships
were a lot easier to understand. A time when God and community
was not confused by fundamentalism or the state. A time when
working people knew where we stood in terms of the state and
big corporations and why each of us needed to support each
other in order to keep our democracy, freedom and liberty
strong and alive. When the right to vote was finally extended
to the workingmen and poor dirt farmers in 1827 a grass roots
movement almost elected Thomas Skidmore Governor.
The abolition Indentured slavery was gradually outlawed in
New York beginning in (1811). At the time no one ever thought
It bring about a new kind of slavery based entirely on wage
system and credit. Poor dirit farmers by then already thrown
off the land ived in extreme poverty. Those of us who remained
on the land had it tough going. Many poor farmers in 1845
from New York picked up stakes joining with many of their
southern brothers abandoning their hard worked land. Entire
towns and villages disappeared on the western side of the
Hudson while the farmers migrated west to Ohio and later to
the Indian Nation in Oklahoma.
These migrations cause conflicts between the northern and
southern eventually leading to a civil war. America lost more
young men in one battle than what we lost in lives in Vietnam.
The migrations pushed the native people off their land, some
who were dirt farmers from the south. These same remaining
dirt farmers were later tractored out by the banks by calling
in their loans throwing these farmers and their families off
the land. This first attempt at corporate take over of all
the farms in Oklahoma contributed to the development of Dust
Bowl adding more poverty and serious depression of the American
economy. By removing those dirt farmers from the land the
corp[orations and banks had little or any respect for the
soil and depleted it completely in a matter of years.
Today we can see this same struggle all over rural America
as dirt farmers are losing their homes and being forced to
sell because real estate corporate investment bubble exploded.
Corporations today have more rights than those who work the
land. We need to extend our
democratic rights back to where they should be. It appears
the struggle of working people such as the mythical "Virgil
Cane" who "used to ride the Danville Train,"
"farm boy Jesse James," "farm worker Tom Joad"
or "Pretty Boy Floyd the farmer" and so many of
the great movers
and resisters to corporate tyranny are beginning to ride again
all over the United States. The struggle is going to be a
lot longer road than all of us originally thought back in
the sixties and thirties. This is true for every generation
of Americans especially dirt farmers and other rural workers.
This what is identifying and calling to my heart as I listen
to Levon Helm's Dirt Farmer. It is important to understand
that when things get this "tough the tough get going"
dirt farmers traditionally have done so while singing their
way across America. This is what brother Levon has so clearly
revealed as his greatest personal struggle. Levon is an inspiration
to all of us. He never gave up. He stood firm and this what
all of us can learn from Dirt Farmer. The ability to sing,
play, work, project and resist hard times and severe deversity
is what all of must face at one time or another in our everyday
lives. This is a lesson that runs deep in the all of us who
have touched or worked our sweet wonderful mother earth.
Thank you Levon Helm and may God bless you and your family
with the all the best available and may your voice get stronger
in the months and years ahead. Stay with us Levon we need
you now more than ever. I have always listened to our wild
birds as they greet us every morning. It is a new day coming
and Levon Helm has just made it that much better for each
One of the hottest items on www.etsy.com and www.eBay.com
these days is artist trading cards, or ACEOs. For those of
you who would like to educate yourselves on the subject, the
semi-official website is www.art-cards.org. There is also
a useful tutorial and forum at the ACEO group homepage on
eBay, for those of you who have active accounts there. Basically,
the rule is, anything goes, but it MUST be 2.5 x 3.5 inches,
the size of traditional trading cards. Horizontal or vertical
is o.k., and they can be as "thick" as you like
- assemblage is fine. At the Arts Upstairs, we are setting
up a special section just for ACEOs. The submission fee will
be a low, low $3. We will charge our usual commission of 30%
on all sales. You can set any price you like, and all media
are o.k., original work, photos, editions (limited and unlimited),
printouts, found art, doodles, are all welcome - anything
goes! Multiple submissions are fine. On the back of each submission,
be sure to put your name, the title of the work, the medium,
and the price (and anything else you think might be interesting
or useful). This will be a regular feature of all our shows
from now on. As always, the theme is optional. Remember, all
ACEOs must be exactly 2.5 x 3.5 inches - no exceptions! Work
can be dropped off and picked up at the regular time, the
weekend of the second Saturday of every month. For the next
show, that will be April 11, 12, and 13, during regular gallery
hours. Join the fun, and please forward this email to anyone
you think might be interested.
Your Friends and Neighbors
at the Arts Upstairs
My name is Sushma Subramanian, and I'm a student reporter
at Columbia University. I am taking a book writing class through
the graduate program in journalism and have chosen to write
a short narrative work about the Rainmaker's Flood of 1950,
when residents and businesses in the Catskills region were
drowned by heavy rains that some believed were caused by a
city-hired meteorologist. The meteorologist, named
Wallace E. Howell, was injecting clouds with silver iodide
to try to induce rain during a long drought in New York. For
my research, I am looking for anyone who might remember the
flooding on Nov. 25 and 26, 1950 and the aftermath whom I
can interview to gather research for the
project. Thank you for your help.
Have you seen the Town of Shandaken's new website? It is chock
full of news and information. The home page has updates of
current issues. The office page has contact emails and phone
numbers for town officials with links for addition help. The
minutes and resolutions of the Town Board, the Planning Board
and the Zoning Board of Appeals are posted for everyone to
view along with a calendar page of meeting dates and times.
Emergency services are clearly listed on their own page. Check
out the notices page for postings from the Town Clerk's office,
the Town Boards and Committees.
Not only does the website include information on the town's
government and offices, it also has pages dedicated to our
community and businesses. Offering classes? Want to announce
a meeting or event? List your organization or group on the
community page and your event on the
community calendar. If your business is located in Shandaken,
you need only a phone number or website to get listed. The
details can be found on the community page, the links page,
the calendar page, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The town site is located: at http://www.shandaken.us.If you
notice missing or incorrect information or have links that
you'd like to share, information and suggestions are welcome.
Mount Tremper, NY
I wish Governor Paterson the very best as he begins his first
day in office as governor. I have known him for many years
going back to my time in the State Assembly. David Paterson
is a very capable person who I believe has the skills to unify
the people of New York and lead us to better days.
Governor Paterson obviously comes into office under unusual
circumstances, but I truly believe that he will help restore
people's faith in their elected officials and their government.
I am confident that the state legislature will work with him
to pass and enact legislation that is critical to improving
the quality of life for state residents. We are in good hands
with David Paterson as our governor.
From our work to further establish New York as a national
and international leader in solar energy research and development,
to strengthening the upstate economy, to blocking unwanted
and unnecessary new power lines, to protecting and enhancing
our precious natural and historical sites, I look forward
to working closely with Governor Paterson. I believe that
the work my colleagues and I in the New York congressional
delegation will achieve in Washington will compliment and
further the great work Governor Paterson will accomplish in
Rep. Maurice Hinchey