Ralph Legnini, Ann McGillicuddy and Laurie Osmond today announce
their Candidacy in the upcoming election for the Onteora Central
School District's Board Of Education. They join Donna Flayhan,
who already announced her candidacy, in campaigning for the
four vacant Board Seats. The election is to be held on May
Flayhan, Legnini, McGuillicuddy, and Osmond are united and
encourage everyone to vote for all four as a block. The four
candidates, each of whom has at least one child in the School
District, have agreed upon a ten-point shared platform (see
attached document), that includes the following key issues:
* Moratorium on the Grades 5-8 Middle School configuration
* Save our Schools, Keep All Three Elementary Schools Open
* Moratorium on $69-$86M Bond Proposals
* If still an issue, Candidates Will Vote Not to Enact Large
Ralph Legnini has lived in the Onteora School District for
27 years, divided equally between the towns of Shandaken,
Woodstock, and now Olive. He has two children in the public
school system. He grew up in The Bronx, and moved to this
area after graduating with a degree in music education from
Herbert H. Lehman College. A musician who has recorded with
artists like James Taylor and Kate Pierson, he has been music
producer on Saturday Night Live, worked for producer Nile
Rodgers with Mick Jagger and Madonna, and held a senior position
in Todd Rundgren's Alchemedia Productions, where he administrated
multi-million dollar recording/production budgets. Ralph now
runs his own music production company. He is a third degree
USAF certified black belt in the martial art of Aikido, and
director of the Children's Aikido Program at Woodstock Aikido.
"This election is not about separate towns within the
School District. This is about the children across the whole
of the School District. If together, we can keep our community
schools open and thriving with quality education, wisely managed
by a transparent school board – while staying fiscally
responsible - it will be an accomplishment to be proud of."
He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ann McGillicuddy and her husband Cornelius moved to Shandaken
from Kingston six years ago to raise their children in this
beautiful rural area, with its community schools and friendly
towns. Having grown up in a small village in the Hudson River
Valley, she has a love of the mountains and streams. Ann has
three sons, the eldest of whom is twelve. She is a Phoenicia
school parent and a PTA executive member. In her spare time
she bakes, knits, quilts, weaves and fishes. Ann enjoys bringing
people together. She wants to be a part of affecting change.
"Let's think outside of the box ~ In keeping our community
schools open we will keep our children's education local,
and we will help support our own economies, and create a strong
foundation for the future of our hamlets and towns."
She can be contacted at email@example.com
Laurie Osmond is a parent with a child at Phoenicia Elementary
School, and a small business owner. She and her family reside
in Willow. She is an active member of the Phoenicia PTA, and
is part of the team that helped bring recycling and an environmental
awareness program to the school. She is also a member of the
Ulster County Chamber of Commerce. A producer, writer and
director with twenty years experience, Laurie's professional
skills include coordinating groups of people, organizing,
scheduling, budgeting, and thinking creatively. She attended
Brown University and San Francisco State University, and has
her B.A. in Broadcast Communication Arts. "I believe
in creating a fiscally responsible, affordable plan for the
District, that puts solid, broad-based education first and
also values our local businesses and economies by keeping
community schools open. This election is a wonderful opportunity
to create something positive and inclusive for our children
and our towns, and I look forward to serving." firstname.lastname@example.org
Donna Flayhan has two children at Woodstock Elementary (Grades
K & 3), is an Associate Professor at SUNY-New Paltz. She
received a B.A. from University of New Hampshire (1990), M.A.
and a Ph.D. in Communication (Public Health & Cultural
Studies) in 1997 at the University of Iowa. Flayhan Directs
The Lower Manhattan Public Health Project, is on the Advisory
Board of Unsung Heroes Helping Heroes, Inc (for the sick of
9/11), and is Vice President Elect of the New York State Communication
Association. She and her family move to Woodstock from Maryland
(where Flayhan worked on Gulf War Syndrome) in 2004. Flayhan
lives in Woodstock, New York with her husband, two children,
dog and cat. "I want to fix the transportation problems
that are experienced from Big Indian to West Hurley...and
I am for a Moratorium on the 5-8. No to 80 Million Dollar
Bonds that will break our piggy banks and our childrens' spirits
by forcing them to grow up too soon. Vote for us, we will
reverse the 5-8 Middle School and Save all Three Elementary
Schools from closure." email@example.com
Background: The current Board of Education has proposed a
new Grades 5-8 Middle School configuration, which will force
the closure of ANOTHER elementary school in the district (West
Hurley closed in 2004). The combination of this new Middle
School configuration, the closure of another elementary school,
leaving only two elementary schools in the second largest
district in the State, and bonds of up to $86,000,000 to pay
for all the changes have drawn continued criticism from parents
and taxpayers across the district, complaints that have failed
to stop the current Board moving ahead with their plans. Three
members of this current Board are up for re-election in May,
and another seat has opened up due to a current Board Member's
sudden retirement. Donna Flayhan, Ralph Legnini, Laurie Osmond,
Ann McGillicuddy look forward to filling these four seats
to ensure an open and interactive School Board.
Onteora Parents Group
A synopsis of Olive Matters meeting held on 16 April 2008
Last night, members of Olive Matters met with Ralph Legnini,
an Olive candidate for the Onteora School Board. He is running
as a block with three other candidates (Shandaken, Phoenicia,
and Woodstock). We listened to Mr. Legnini's platform, and
although we are sympathetic to his wants for the district
and a specific few students, we found his platform not aligned
with the best interest of the taxpayers, or the entire student
body. Mr. Legnini's and the others platform ignores the declining
enrollment and its effects on 7-8th grade student population
and the High School students future needs. It focuses only
on maintaining the status quo at taxpayers expense. We therefore
feel we cannot, as Olive Matters, support Mr. Legnini or the
block of candidates that he is running with.
Olive Matters empathizes with those wanting what they want.
We value community schools. The facts are that the Onteora
School District over the last 20 years has become a huge dinosaur
with a very large appetite for taxpayers money. For the past
three years, the incumbents, Bernholz, Vanacore, and O'Connor,
along with other board members, have gone over the budget
with a fine tooth comb, sought and took the advice of numerous
volunteer committees from the community and paid researchers
to come up with a budget this year--a 1% increased tax levy;
the lowest ever--that reflects the concerns for lowering school
taxes, and a plan to preserve and enhance the educational
opportunities for ALL the districts students.
Therefore, the general consensus of Olive Matters is to recommend
and support only: Cindy O'Connor, Mary Jane Bernholz, and
Rita Vanacore for re-election to the Onteora School Board.
My name is Ann McGillicuddy and I am running for Onteora School
Board, on a unified slate with three other parents in our
onteora community ~ Donna Flayhan, Ralph Legnini and Laurie
We do not agree with the direction that our school district
is headed in. We hold a different vision for our district’s
future. In order to affect change, we understand that we must
change the board.
I appreciate all the hard work and years of service the incumbents
have given to the board. The 5-8 ms is not a convincing educational
configuration. In fact, studies show that it is not effective
in a rural school district ~ and we are classified rural.
The 5-8 MS configuration does NOT have 99% teacher approval
as a member of the panel stated at the Woodstock town board
meeting on April 15. Many teachers in the district have expressed
their concern of the 5-8 configuration to me. Studies show
that 6th, 7th and 8th graders have higher academic achievement
in k-6 or k-8 schools, than when taken away from the lower
grades. Aren’t our society’s children growing
up too fast already?
I would also like to know why transportation costs have never
been studied or if they have, not given to the public. Why
did the Budget Advisory Committee explore other facets of
our budget, but NOT transportation costs? I would think that
our fuel costs are extremely high and they could possibly
be a large chunk of the % of the budget. I have read studies
which indicate that a school district which closes a school
and continues to consolidate, actually spends more on transportation
costs. It can be a misperception that a district will save
money; especially in a rural school district. Our district
encompasses 300 square miles!
I cite from a paper written by a Cornell Professor entitled,
“What Does a School Mean to a Community? Assessing the
social and economic benefits of schools to rural villages
in New York “
“Why is it important to document and quantify what a
school means to small rural villages? First, it is important
for policy makers, educational administrators, and local citizens
to understand that schools are vital to rural communities.
The money that might be saved through consolidation could
be forfeited in lost taxes, declining property values and
lost businesses. I have shown a pattern of consistent results...
Housing values are considerably higher and municipal infrastructure
is more developed in small villages with schools... There
is a body of research which shows that in communities where
the citizenry is civically engaged, local businesses prosper,
and that these factors anchor populations to place. My results
show that in even the smallest rural villages in New York,
schools serve as important markers of social and economic
viability and vitality. “
If you would like to find out more about our platform; please
go to www.saveouronteoraschools.com
At Tuesday night’s (4/15) Woodstock Town Board Meeting,
Onteora CSD Superintendent Leslie Ford introduced a Budget
Advisory Committee (BAC), which presented a number of recommendations
that included closing an Elementary School, selling any unused
Elementary Schools, reducing teacher salaries and benefits
where possible, and other measures.
Although the presentation was detailed, and questions following
were specific, there are still points that remain unanswered
• The Budget Advisory Committee pointed out that 75%
of the budget is committed and not immediately controllable,
and only approximately 3-4% is controllable in the short term.
(50% of the District
budget is committed to salaries, 25% is committed to benefits.
Of this 75%, 18% is for Special Education salaries and budgets.)
However, this leaves an additional 21-22% that has not been
Where does this go?
• Administrative position and salary reduction was not
discussed by the BAC. Why not?
• What percentage of the budget goes to Administrative
salaries and benefits?
• On Tuesday, April 8th, the Board of Education approved
a measure put forth by the Ulster County School Boards Association
that contained the following: “To attract and retain
regional education leaders, eliminate the salary & benefit
• It was mentioned that on 1/15/08, KSQ Architects recommended
only two elementary schools in their plans. It was not mentioned
that they were instructed to do so, and that in February 2006,
based on community meetings and input from all “stakeholders”,
KSQ Architects’ original recommendation was to keep
three elementary schools open and create a 6-8 Middle School
(Plan A.) This recommendation was later disregarded.
• One of the Board members stated that “99%”
of all the teachers in the district support a 5-8 Middle School.
This is flatly untrue. No figures were offered to support
• In the BAC’s initial presentation on 3/11/08,
the members specifically stated that the sale of the Woodstock
Elementary School property would likely be
the most lucrative for the District. At Tuesday’s meeting
in Woodstock, that language was omitted.
• In response to a question, the BAC affirmed that their
recommendations would maintain current class sizes. This is
incorrect. Their recommendations would increase class sizes
to the limits allowable. Maintaining current class sizes is
not the same as not exceeding current class size limits.
• The Budget Advisory Committee states that the annual
savings proposed by closing a school neatly equals the annual
cost of a proposed bond of $45 million. But the total costs
of proposed bonds range from $70-$86 million, as detailed
in KSQ Architects’ presentation of 1/15/08. So why is
just a $45 million bond being discussed? Does the Board hope
to break it into pieces to make it seem more palatable?
• It was also revealed that the members of the Budget
Advisory Committee were suggested by the Board, so perhaps
it is no coincidence at all that the numbers coincide so neatly.
I urge everyone to examine what is going on in the District
very carefully. Go to meetings, talk to your friends and neighbors,
do your homework, and make sure to go to your local Elementary
School on May 20, from 2-9pm and VOTE for the School Board
Candidate of your choice.
I am pleased to be running for School Board with Donna Flayhan,
Ralph Legnini and Ann McGillicuddy, and hope
that our cross-community message of a moratorium on the 5-8
Middle School, opposition to closing a community Elementary
School, moratorium on a bond of $70-$86 million and promise
not to vote to enact Large Parcel will resonate with voters.
The wrong educational decisions not only hurt our children,
but our communities, local businesses and property values
There’s been a lot going on for the past three years
in the Onteora School District. School Board members and school
administrators working together have had to make some of the
most difficult decisions in recent memory. Declining student
population, the highest cost per student in Ulster County
and keeping the budget at a reasonable tax levy forced decisions
that were tough to make. The decisions that were made utilize
the district's resources and staff efficiently for the best
interest of the students while being fiscally responsible
to the tax payers. The board is expected to make a decision
on where to place the 5-8 middle school on May 06, 2008. According
to the Board elementary discussions deciding on how to best
utilize the district's buildings will begin in June and the
final decisions will be made in the fall of 2008. There are
ongoing discussions about consolidating the district. Consolidating
the district will be cost effective in many ways.
Unfortunately there appears to be various rumors floating
around the district that have some parts of the community
upset and there is a small group exploring the possibility
of breaking away from the District. Some in this group think
the board will end up closing the Woodstock school. Recently
the board approved spending more than a million dollars to
install a new heating system in the Woodstock school. Why
would the board close the Woodstock school after spending
that kind of tax payer’s money?
District tax payers should make their decisions based on the
true facts and not what they hear from those that disagree
with the board.
Despite Mr. Vanacore's attempt to strike fear into the hearts
of Olive residents by evoking the spectre of Large Parcel,
the fact remains that for people in the other towns, Olive's
revaluation and other developments have simply made this a
Recent newspaper reports confirm that the idea behind the
reval was to shrink any difference between apportionment and
equalization rate to remove one of the law's requirements
so as to remove the huge tax hikes imposed on Olive residents
after its enactment. It is not hard to expect that with both
NYC and Olive recently agreeing on a value, that ORPS would
say otherwise. With the ORPS acceptance of this value, there
would not even BE a Large Parcel vote coming before the School
Board. And should ORPS' deliberations on the matter extend
past the deadline for the OSD Board to decide, it would clearly
be responsible to take no action at all while waiting on ORPS..
Mr. Vanacore laments that some candidates, including his mother,
have been accused of only caring "about what's good for
Olive" yet, he then proceeds to attempt to rally Olive
over a non-issue in an exclusionary way which hurts the process
and attempts to re-open old wounds which were just starting
to heal. Can we not all applaud the efforts of the Town of
Olive in pushing for their reval and working so hard in their
fight against NYC and just finally move on and focus on the
REAL issues at hand?
No one denies that the candidates up for re-election have
dedicated many long hours in their commitments as Trustees.
However, it is clear from public reactions at a multitude
of meetings that the public, so far, has been unconvinced
that the vision which they have put forth is the best one
for this school district.
In fact, the real issue that Mr. Vanacore avoids and one which
is of concern to us all is the proposed series of bonds, which
has been reported to add up to be as high as 80 million dollars,
not counting possible partial reimbursements from government.
With the Ulster County Jail coming in at 100 million plus,
it is hard to imagine spending anywhere close to that in a
District with declining enrollment and paid for by just our
member towns; at least the 100m for the jail is the responsibility
of all of Ulster County.
One must wonder just how much that will cost the taxpayers
of this district. Maybe Mr. Vanacore forgets that the OSD
Board is supposed to represent all of the constituent communities
within the OSD. For someone who seems worried about the taxes
in Olive, Mr. Vanacore seems to be forgetting that most people
want to know how much something is going to cost them before
they agree to pay for it. No one likes to have their taxes
take a huge hike, right? Isn’t that what the whole LP
episode taught us?
While I think there is general public support for the idea
of renovating our schools and the need to do so, this school
Board majority seems to be moving forward with plans that
do not reflect the will of the people within the school district.
Of course, such displeasure would surely be represented by
the bonds not being passed, in which case, the OSD would have
to rethink the proposals and try again. In order to save time,
it seems clear that it would be much better to increase efforts
to inform the public and allow more interaction.
It is exciting to see the New Paltz Schools using tools like
blogs to help promote community involvement on issues like
5-8 middle schools, etc. and wonder why we can not do the
Recent visits by Dr. Ford to local town boards is a step in
the right direction, but the information provided is limited
in scope, perhaps due to time constraints to be fair to Dr.
Ford. If recent meetings are any indication, the public wants
MORE involvement in the process, not less, and more information
This Board majority has been accused of not laying a good
foundation for community involvement and ignoring clear public
calls for more transparency in the process and restraint in
proceeding with current plans. Other charges include the desire
to centralize all of the students on the Boiceville campus,
thereby removing the community schools which bring so much
character to this area. While I understand the frustration
that comes from sitting on issues through long drawn-out processes,
making sure that the actions reflect the will of the public
should come right after determining what's best for the kids.
And if what they think is best for the kids is unpopular,
it is incumbent upon them to convince the public how important
it really is, and so far, that hasn't happened if public comments
are how we judge that.
One of the folks who spoke at the Shandaken Town Meeting on
April 7th likened the OSD to a 40+ million dollar business
with declining sales. Well, when you have declining sales,
you certainly want to cut costs, which is commendable (especially
in view of our highest-in-the-state per pupil cost). But neither
do you want to cut the sales force... and closing community
schools would make the OSD a LOT less desirable for people
considering a move into this area. If enrollment is declining,
how do you boost it? In addition to looking at how to cut
costs, should we not also look into ways to make our schools
MORE attractive to others thinking about coming into the area?
The public should be encouraged to become MORE involved with
the Elementary Schools, not less involved. We live in a community
of amazingly creative people. Surely we can come up with ideas
on how to make our schools more dynamic and educationally
And finally, with a group of Woodstock property owners actively
seeking to have the OSD split into 2 smaller districts, it
seems reckless to move forward with any plans for renewal
and / or construction until that issue is satisfactorily resolved,
one way or the other. To that end, perhaps it is best if the
OSD Board of Trustees puts a moratorium on further actions
on changes to the current configuration until that issue is
There are several issues I would like to address in response
to recent letters to the editor and press releases.
Re: 5-8 Middle School. The school board voted on this configuration
after THREE years of research, which consisted of input from
teachers, paid researchers, and a community advisory group
looking into the pros and cons of a 5-8 MS. The pros outweighed
Teachers in the district are excited and believe the 5-8 MS
will give students more educational opportunities. With declining
enrollment in the 7-8th grades, it will eventually cause the
cancellation of enrichment programs. Having a 5-8 MS will
ensure that music/band and art will be there in the future
for your K-4th grader. A 5-8 MS, IF it were to occur, would
not be happening overnight. It will take a minimum of 2-3
years before a middle school could be fully functioning.
Re: Indie Program. It was SUGGESTED that if the district could
provide this service in-school with the purchase of some equipment,
the district could save $150,000 a year.
Re: Ruthless Cuts. The Budgetary Advisory Committee made RECOMMENDATIONS.
They SUGGESTED where money could be saved. Their recommendations
are not written in stone, and IF all of their RECOMMENDATIONS
were enacted, it would take YEARS to implement.
Re: $86 million bond. This is what a “wish list”
looks like and what it would cost if wishes were granted,
and it is NOT the actual amount of money that you will be
asked to bond.
Re: School Board Participation in Community, Transparency,
and Communication. This present school board has created committees
consisting of administrators, educators, business people,
and community members from the entire district to report back
to them, enabling them to make informed decisions on the effects
and benefits of proposed changes to the students/schools.
The committees are: Communications, Facility, Early Childhood
Development, Policy, Technology, and the Budgetary Advisory
Committee. And, this board has held more public forums in
the past three years than any other board that I know of.
There is a District Newsletter, District Website, calendar,
and press releases to keep the district informed.
Re: Olive Benefits. Please show me where the Olive school
board members favored Olive students and disregarded the rest.
Does removing junk food from vending machines and initiating
the Winswipe so free and reduced lunch students can participate
in the food program without embarrassment, favor only Olive
students? Does keeping your school taxes to a 3-4% increase
for the past three years, where other districts have had a
6-10% increase only benefit Olive residents? Is only Olive
benefiting from a 1% increased tax levy in the budget this
year? And with the possibility of Bennett School closing to
make it a Middle School, how does this benefit the Town of
Re: Large Parcel. It is disheartening to have to inform people
once again that the Large Parcel will NOT go away, unless
or until ORPS agrees with Olive’s assessed value of
the reservoir each and every year! Today, NYC and the Town
of Olive have a 10 year agreement not to sue each other. What
will happen if ORPS doesn’t agree, or in 10 years if
ORPS, NYC, and Olive disagree once again on the value of the
Re: Olive School Board Members. When complaining about the
many Olive residents on the school board, remember to thank
Jeremy Wilber, Bob Cross and their merry men for making this
happen. It was through their mantra of “low tax Olive”
and “a house in Woodstock and a house in Olive . . .”
that got the Large Parcel Law enacted against Olive causing
its taxes to increase 90% in one year. Now that this sleepy
little town was awakened and roared, Olive is being told to
get over it, fogedaboudit, and move on.
Wilber et al, claimed Olive kept the reservoir value high
to lower Olive taxes. Now that NYC has agreed that the reservoir
was undervalued, and has vindicated Olive’s assessment
of the reservoir, will Olive’s taxes be lowered? No.
The fact is it will probably cause Olive’s taxes to
increase again this year. After that, Olive will get a reprieve
from large increases for 10 years. And BTW, increasing the
value of the reservoir benefits the entire district and all
Ulster County taxpayers. This present school board is to be
thanked for getting the Onteora District attorney involved
in Olive’s lawsuits. That convinced NYC to compromise
with the Town of Olive and may have saved the district from
having to repay NYC $14 million dollars.
Vote for Cindy O’Connor, Mary Jane Bernholz, and Rita
Vanacore. They find solutions to problems. They are taxpayers.
They have or had children and grandchildren in the Onteora
School District. They want what is best for ALL the students
and all the taxpayers of the district. They are the TAXPAYER’S
As a taxpayer I am grateful to Mary Jane Bernholz, Cindy O'Connor
and Rita Vanacore for being fiscally responsible. They were
instrumental in engaging the district's attorneys to act on
our behalf in the recent law suit brought by the City of New
York, which alleged that Onteora owed them a refund of nearly
$14 million dollars in back taxes for over-assessed tax payments.
On behalf of the school district, which was granted "Intervenor"
status, OCS' attorneys succeeded in gaining a dismissal of
a major portion of New York's claim with a smaller amount
still being considered by the court.
Also, at a recent board meeting, the Budget Advisory Committee,
which was appointed by the board, informed us that Onteora
is faced with rapidly declining enrollment and skyrocketing
costs. In just six years enrollment will drop from 1800 to
1400. If the status quo is maintained, the current cost of
educating a student will rise from nearly $25,000 to approximately
$42,000. The committee realizes that the current cost is outrageous
and that timely measures must be taken to avoid the disaster
which the district imminently faces.
Their suggestion to close another elementary school and implement
the 5-8 Middle School makes perfect sense and it is supported
by these board members. It will enable Onteora to make better
use of its facilities through consolidation. At the same time,
by divesting itself of an elementary building, major savings
will be gained through not having to repair, maintain, and
heat a building which is no longer needed. What is being proposed
by the committee will bear similar fruit for the Onteora taxpayers.
Do you realize that the current elementary schools cost nearly
$90,000 each to heat? Do you understand that repair and maintenance
costs are soaring? Consolidation is warranted and it is the
fiscally responsible measure to take when enrollment declines.
While some parents feel strongly about the closing of a school,
consider the fact that these measures will enable some people
to afford their taxes and not lose their homes. Fiscal responsibility
demands that the school board make the difficult decisions
which will not only provide a quality education, but also
make it affordable for the taxpayers. To do otherwise is irresponsible.
Mary Jane Bernholz, Cindy O'Connor and Rita Vanacore have
each spent 20-50 hours per week for the last three years to
get the district aimed in the right direction. They have earned
the right to continue and finish the quality work which they
have started. They care about the children and they care about
the taxpayers. They also have a firm understanding of the
challenges facing our school. Our district needs the leadership,
fiscal responsibility and dedication which each of them bring
to the board.
Join me in voting for them on May 20th. We need their experience
John R. Tisch
West Shokan, NY
On May 20, voters in the Onteora Central School District will
be going to the polls to elect Trustees for the School Board.
Most years just two Trustee positions are up for election,
but this year, in part because of the sudden resignation of
a Board Trustee, four of the seven total seats - a majority
- are up for grabs. As such, and given the current board’s
controversial plans for a new Grades 5-8 Middle School, the
closure of another elementary school, and multimillion dollar
bonds costing up to $86million, it’s fair to say that
this is the most important Board election in many years.
Donna Flayhan, Ralph Legnini, Ann McGillicuddy and Laurie
Osmond are running for the four vacant seats as a united block,
on a shared platform that includes the following key positions:
Education first: Kids Matter
Moratorium on the Grades 5-8 Middle School configuration
· Save our Schools. Keep all 3 Elementary Schools open
Moratorium on $69-$86M
If still an issue, Candidates will not vote to enact Large
Each of these candidates is a local parent with children in
the School District. Between them, they reside in the towns
of Woodstock, Olive and Shandaken. They are all actively engaged
in the Community at large. Apart from the above crucial issues,
they have come together to help unite the Onteora Central
School District, which for too long, at Board level, has played
individual towns in the District off against the other towns.
Over the coming weeks, the candidates will be attending many
functions and meetings across the School District, where they
will be happy to talk about their individual and collective
positions. You are invited to read more about their platform,
and their individual biographies, at a web site especially
established for this election, www.saveouronteoraschools.com.
This site also has the e-mail address for each of the candidates.
Should you support these candidates, and wish to directly
contribute to the campaign, which is incurring considerable
costs for high-visibility promotional materials, please send
a check to Ann McGillicuddy, 6347 Rt. 28, Phoenicia, NY 12464.
Please note on your check that it is for the Election Campaign
and state if you would like a written receipt.
Again, this is a crucial election for the future of our district.
Please study the issues, talk to the various candidates, and
mark your calendar for May 20, when voting will take place
at the four Elementary School buildings.
Mt. Tremper, NY
After listening to the discussion about Empire Zones at the
April Town Board meeting, the following is the crux of what
I came away with. Crossroads Ventures wants a significant
part of the proposed resort to be declared an Empire Zone.
That would mean that they would get millions in tax breaks
over a period of ten years. They are claiming that the Town
would get more money with the resort being an Empire Zone
than they would with an IDA tax abatement package or other
tax-break packages that may be available to them. Of course,
they don't have any of these packages yet and there are no
guarantees they would or could get them.
The bottom line appears to be that Crossroads wants to increase
their profits on the backs of the taxpayers. So far, the State
has agreed to pay Crossroads 14 million for Big Indian Ridge,
which is estimated to be at least 3 times what it would bring
on the open market. We, the taxpayers, are the ones over-paying
for this. The State has also agreed to create new ski trails
and lifts at the Belleayre Ski Center to directly service
Crossroads' resort. This would cost the taxpayers (that's
us) tens of millions. Now the developers are claiming to offer
Shandaken the 'best deal for the Town' as to which tax break
program they use. Of course, these tax break programs are
all paid for by the taxpayers on the state, county, and/or
The obvious question to Crossroads is: Did it ever occur to
Crossroads to simply PAY THEIR TAXES LIKE EVERYONE ELSE IN
TOWN AND STOP LOOKING FOR HANDOUTS FROM THE TAXPAYERS? That
is, if they ever get permitted.
Think about the Devil and Daniel Webster. The developer wants
us to sign a bargain- by creating an “Empire Zone”
exclusively for him, and getting everyone in New York State
to pay his taxes… or he will try to force Shandaken
to pay his taxes in the IDA program. That’s extortion.
He only paid his long overdue Emerson tax arrears days before
he would have lost his IDA tax breaks. He ought to pay back
the millions of our tax dollars that NYS and NYC have wasted
on the environmental review of the Belleayre resort so far.
The resort is still nowhere near passing the review. It never
will. Pigs don’t fly. I feel sorry for those who have
invested in it.
But stupid things do happen. Take the Kingston prison. Please.
Everywhere mega projects like this get built, taxes go up.
The cost of living goes up. People can no longer afford to
live in their homes. They lose their homes. The developer
buys up more property dirt cheap.
The developer is a genius… at conning people. If we
pay his taxes, ours will go down. Importing 300 poverty wage
workers will help our economy. Cutting down steep forested
slopes will reduce flooding. He is doing all of this for our
benefit. It’s like invading Iraq will bring down the
cost of oil.
Worse yet, The Empire Zone can’t benefit our existing
businesses, even in the hamlets. It used to, but they passed
a clever new rule that makes it impossible.
It gets better. Kingston Mayor Sottile wants us to give the
developer’s millionaire backers EZ tax breaks. Maybe
he just loves millionaires. Or maybe he wants hundreds of
poor people from Kingston to move up here. When this was suggested,
he turned red and shouted “You should be ashamed of
yourselves!” and stormed out of the room.
I expect the Townsman and rumor mongers to twist my comments
into an elitist NIMBY rant against poor people, when I am
really criticizing the super rich. We don’t need jobs
for poor people any more than we need poor prople. We need
jobs for middle class people so we can afford to live well
and raise our families here. Living wage jobs for all, not
welfare for the wealthy and poverty wage jobs for the rest
Remember that corporate chain resorts always hire the top
salary people from within. They save the crummy jobs for the
locals. Don’t encourage the developer’s developmental
disorder with EZ tax breaks.
People come here because they love to hike. Daniel Webster
has some advice for the developer. Take a hike.
A resolution to create an Empire Zone for the two hotels being
proposed by Crossroads Ventures in the Town of Shandaken and
the Town of Middletown was presented to the Shandaken Town
Board on April 7, 2008. All residents and taxpayers should
be aware that at this time, 26 companies which have been EZ
recipients are being investigated by Empire State Development.
One of these companies, River Radiology, Kingston, NY has
received $102,656 in EZ credits for what looks like a total
of ONE full time job and no jobs created in 2006.
The Empire State Development Corp. has a list of 26 companies
that it is seeking to remove from the tax-break program. Here's
the list, according to the state agency, of the companies,
the job projections or the investments that they failed to
Company Location, Projected Jobs, Projected Investment
Kayser Real Estate, BUFFALO, 1, $1,050,000
Buffalo Motor Car, BUFFALO, 0 $300
Buffalo Motor Car, BUFFALO, 0, $10,000
601 Main St., BUFFALO, 2, $500,000
DBMK LLC, BUFFALO, 2, $5,200
Stephen B. McGarvey. BUFFALO, 2, $2,950,000
River Radiology, KINGSTON, 0, $3,400,000
C.M. Products Inc., ISLIP, 6, $188,000
203-124 Corp., MOUNT VERNON, 4, $285,000
200 S. 13th Ave. Realty, MOUNT VERNON, 2, $870,000
Millers Wood Dev. Corp., ONEIDA COUNTY, 1, $3,871,000
Oneida Silversmiths Inc,.ONEIDA COUNTY, 20, $7,200,000
160 Union Street LLC, POUGHKEEPSIE, 1, $1,331,553
First Niagara Centre, SCHENECTADY, 3, $0
230-275 Realty, SULLIVAN COUNTY, 1, $25,000
S & K Vouyiouklis, BROOKLYN, 2, $160,000
WL LLC, SYRACUSE, 1, $1,690,000
Rellsey Properties, SYRACUSE, 1, $20,000
Hudson River Place, TROY, 2, $150,000
G & S Associates, UTICA, 1, $5,000
The Senpike Mall Co., UTICA, 1, $7,000,000
The Alfred Weissman Dev. Corp.,YONKERS, 5, $250,000
NIKOLAOS Realty Corp., YONKERS, 5, $2,750,000
Michael,Meluke,Cila,Anderson, YONKERS, 2, $3,875,000
870 Nepperhan Ave., YONKERS, 2, $575,000
PVC Enterprises, Inc., YONKERS, 1, $10,500,000
I am glad that our Town Board has decided to table the resolution
for the Crossroads' Empire Zone. I am also grateful to Don
Gregorius and Brian Shapiro for appearing at the meeting on
April 7 and for expressing their concerns regarding the Empire
I applaud the recent decision by Ulster County officials to
hire a new company, Caremark, to administer UlsterRx, the
county's discount prescription drug program. Caremark has
a proven track record in this field, having managed Dutchess
County's successful Prescription Discount Card Program. I
am especially pleased that Ulster County residents will still
be able to purchase prescriptions from Canada, which provides
the greatest potential for savings.
In 2004, I led the effort in the county Legislature to create
UlsterRx. There have been several media reports since then
documenting the lack of participation in the program. Despite
recent efforts by the county to promote UlsterRx, enrollment
still did not meet expectations--especially when compared
to enrollment in other counties with similar programs.
I firmly believe the previous plan administrator, due to poor
customer service and an overly complicated enrollment process,
was the main cause of the problems. I advocated for two years
for the county to hire a new company to run UlsterRx. I am
glad county officials took positive action to address my concerns.
It is my hope that with a new company, a easier (and free!)
enrollment process, UlsterRx will be able to help more people
in need afford the ever-rising costs of prescription drugs.
Ulster County Legislator
In the draft of his farewell address, Eisenhower warned of
the undue influence of the military-industrial-congressional
complex. Thus, indicating the essential role Congress plays
in the corruption of the military-industrial complex. Unfortunately,
Eisenhower decided to strike the word congressional in order
to placate members of Congress.
Our Senate used to pride itself on being the greatest deliberative
body in the world, but under Republican leadership meaningful
debate in the Senate was a rarity. On the eve of the vote
to authorize the invasion of Iraq, Senator Robert Byrd asked:
“Why is this chamber empty?” Congress abdicated
its constitutional responsibility to decide whether our nation
would go to war, by authorizing Bush to use force against
In “Losing America,” Sen. Robert Byrd reveals
that prior to the Iraqi war resolution some senators were
almost terrified at the prospect of being labeled “unpatriotic,”
if they voted against the resolution. He doubted that some
members fully comprehended the magnitude of Bush’s grab
for power and that Congress was relinquishing its Constitutional
authority and responsibility. Byrd’s concern was that
Bush was given a “blank check” for the unrestrained
use of military power. Byrd
concluded; “Never in his view has America been led by
such a dangerous head of state.”
Congressional Republicans have been an obedient, docile and
compliant accessory to the executive branch of government.
They must cease their hysterical, irrational fear-mongering
and defend the Constitution, by aggressively conducting themselves
as the independent and coequal branch of government they’re
supposed to be.
The role of money in the re-election process, coupled with
the diminished role for reasoned debate has produced an atmosphere
conducive to institutionalized corruption. Democrats have
initiated some positive changes, but they haven’t challenged
our corrupt, imperialitic military-industrial congressional
complex. Is this because some anticipate lucrative defense
contracts for their districts?
The bats are joining the bees and the polar bears in their
flight from human error, often to their own demise.
This Saturday morning, I woke to find a bat hanging from my
south facing screen door. I’d never noticed that they
had such cute pink ears before, but on to more important issues.
Two of my friends told me that they too, had found dead bats
in inappropriate places. I tried calling the local animal
control, but quickly remembered that governmental agencies
do not work on weekends, so I went to the internet, to learn
of the new “White Nose Bats”.
It seems that erratic behavior of the bat population was discovered
in Vermont, when they migrated out of their winter caves too
early to survive. It is believed that they are dying either
from the cold, or from starvation, since their food - insects,
are not yet accessible.
Since the articles on the internet showed only that the true
cause of this new phenomenon is not yet known, I returned
to the phone, and reached the DEC in order to volunteer my
dead bat to a laboratory. They told me that they didn’t
need my bat, and that I should dispose of it. Further that
although the white fungus on the nose, and elsewhere was harmless,
I should nevertheless wear rubber gloves when removing them.
I’m writing this letter to alert you of the coming situation,
since the government does not have the funds to report such
things to you. Their funds, which we have contributed to them,
are now inaccessible to us, since they are committed to Iraq,
and now to the coming possibility of our next war with Iran.
Therefore, it is up to us to do our own research.
When I asked an engineer friend of mine what his thoughts
were, he suggested that the magnetic rays from cell phones
could be causing the problem, since bats are basically blind,
and get their marching orders from sounds. Maybe when you
answer your cellphone and say: "I'm on the road",
they are taking that as instructions to get moving. I think
that it's our job to figure this out, and then do something
about it, since the government is broke and can't be bothered
with such things.
With the rise of gasoline and food prices, you may be thinking
of ways to save money. This may be the moment for you to go
to your local library!
Here in Pine HIll, the Morton Memorial Library is eager to
see new customers. Besides an impressive collection of books,
we have four computers, all on WiFi, plus DVDs and tapes.
We try to get many of the books, fiction and nonfiction, recently
reviewed in newspapers and magazines--although it may be hard
to take them out, since our library belongs to the Mid-Hudson
library association, and books may go out to readers in other
libraries almost as soon as we get them. Many customers have
found our collections truly amazing for a library in a small
However, did you know you can order a book from your computer?
All you need is a library card. Then ask our librarian how
to go about it. If the book is not in our collection, it is
probably in some other library belonging to Mid-Hudson association.
The book wil soon arrive at our library and you'll be notified
by our librarian.
A good book can take you far away -- to Afghanistan ("The
Kite Runner") or 19th century Russia (the new translation
of "War and Peace") Not to mention Los Angeles,
Amsterdam, or New Jersey, in our collection of mysteries.
Who needs cheap gasoline or airline tickets? A book can take
you there with no further cost then a trip to your locatl
See you soon!
Pine Hill, NY
Since it was virtually impossible to thank all the people
that attended the Belleayre Mountain Hall of Fame Ceremony
on my behalf on April 5, 2008, I would like to do so at this
I grew up on Belleayre Mountain, first skied the Moutnain
in 1931, and retired from the Mountain in 1990. Belleayre
Mountain has always been a place that I loved with a special
place in my heart.
My introduction into the Belleayre Hall of Fame has been one
of the most rewarding achievements of my life. It is like
coming home to roost.
Again, thanks so much to all of you that attended on my behalf
and to those responsible for electing me to the 2008 Hall
of Fame. It is a great honor.
Robert "Bob" Munro
Attention walkers, joggers, and dog walkers! Want to earn,
while you burn calories? While moving along our incredibly
beautiful roads - Look Down! Bend Down! You will reap many
In a single space of twenty five feet along route #28 I noticed:
two green beer bottles, a coke can, several Crushed Bud Cans
(Someone really likes Bud, they are ubiquitous like the spring...),
a burnt out popcorn popper, Snapple, Vitamin Water, and weed
capitalization on an assorted amount of unknowable plastics.
Last Butt not least, there were multiple cigarette remains,
called Butt, or in gentler slang, cigarette litter.
Earning while you're burning is obvious to us - Adopt a Phoenicia
byway (we can), or streambank, for that matter-
In shorts: As you walk, or run, carry a trash bag along the
beautiful byways of Phoenicia. Bend those knees every few
However, the Butt Factor, is confusing. As I strolled one
mornig, I looked for an aesthetic quality or natural dispersion
pattern on my walk, and could find none. Why bend for Butts?
A Cigarette Butt's Carbon Foot print is larger than you think.
Maybe even a size twelve in the sprightliness factor? Unlike
paper products they’re not biodegradable. Nearly all
cigarette filters are composed of a bundle of 12,000 plastic-like
cellulose acetate fibers. It can take up to fifteen years,
for the fibers to decay into a plastic powder that can’t
be seen. As they do their deadly cargo is released...
Finally, remember this pledge oh ye striders into the spring:
"U.S. LitterButt's Pledge":
"I pledge allegiance, as I trash, the United States of
America, and to the cigarette butt carpet under which it's
hidden, one more, what can it hurt, another non-biodegradable
acetate filter for all."
(by John R. Polito - July 4, 2002)
Care for our footpaths, neighbors!