As a former local elected official in a rural area of Virginia,
I know that folks don’t always welcome opinions from
an “outsider.” That said, I would like to encourage
those who voted against the waste treatment project to consider
what the lack of adequate wastewater treatment means to the
Phoenecia already and what it will mean for the future. The
question is especially pertinent now that the Phoenicia Hotel
The financial aspects of the waste treatment project may or
may not be ideal, but the costs to local residents seemed
reasonable compared to public sewer charges in my area of
Virginia. But, failure to address an important public utility
in the face of an undisputed need should give pause to anyone
concerned about the future of Phoenicia.
My wife and I began visiting Phonecia several years ago. We
found it a delightful place in a beautiful area with friendly
people. So, we decided to explore investing in commercial
property there. Soon, we learned that several properties we
were interested in had condemned or questionable septic systems.
We did not think it was wise to continue considering investing
when there was no better alternative in sight.
If other investors look at these properties the same way,
the buildings will remain there, in disrepair, contributing
very little in property taxes, and certainly not contributing
to the health of the business climate. Or, even worse, they
will remain only as vacant lots, having lost their “grandfather”
status for rebuilding with only a septic system. In time,
they will, if they have not already, detract from the tax
base, by devaluing other properties, and reduce the attractiveness
of Phoenecia as a place to visit and spend money. And, this
fate is not limited to commercial property. Residential property,
which has appreciated in value in recent years, is not exempt
from a creeping blight that could make the village a less
attractive place to live as well as to visit.
My wish for Phoenecia is that it would retain its small village
charm and move into the future with commercial success and
secure property values. It does not need to sell its soul
to big-time development, but it does need to be able to sustain
the commercial and residential development already there and,
at least, give have the option to thrive into the future.
Roy L. Fauber
Some of you may know me from Catskill Rose, the business that
I run with my wife, Rose, or you may know me from the volunteer
Fire Department, or you may know me as a Councilman from Town
Hall. If you haven't met me, my name is Peter DiSclafani and
I'm asking everyone for their support and vote in the run
for Town Supervisor.
Our town is at an apex , a moment, that is crucial for Shandaken.
We can work hard to get government for all the people of Shandaken
or we can continue on the present course.
When a government refuses to listen to the people, builds
walls of suspicion, secrecy and doubt, it is bad government.
When a government approves projects that are detrimental to
the people, puts people at risk or harm, disregards the wishes
of the majority or the opinion of the minority, it is bad
government. When a government raises taxes for frivolities,
re-election ploys or uses town resources on private property,
it is bad government. We, as a town, need to change this.
I believe in good government: A government that works hard
to find the best possible solutions, weighs the pros and cons,
listens to the people, is accountable for its actions, and
has the ability to negotiate and find compromises that are
acceptable to all parties. I believe in a government that
can tap the wealth of knowledge and diversity that is in our
town; a government that builds bridges of understanding between
people and always puts the people first. Good government is
what Shandaken needs and deserves.
Some people think the prize is on the top of the mountain,
I believe the prize is the entire town. We need to market
Shandaken. Find ways to energize the economy, seek new sustainable
businesses, help businesses find more customers, and showcase
Shandaken for the jewel it is. We need to come to the aid
of the community, fight for the Phoenicia school that is the
heart of young families, go after grants that ease the burden
of projects, lower taxes, keep services real, and do right
by people. We need to get our focus back on Shandaken.
I don't promise great leaps forward. I don't believe that
there is a magical single course of action. I believe much
can be accomplished with steady calm measures. Realistically,
we don't always get along, we're not all the best of friends,
but we can and should find common ground and join with our
neighbors and townspeople to find best solutions. I can be
a good Supervisor but I need your help and support. I would
be honored to be the next Supervisor of Shandaken and I appreciate
your consideration and vote at the polls.
Mount Tremper, NY
School funding reform has been a continuing issue of concern
to citizens throughout New York State because of the current
reliance on property taxes for the funding of schools. The
property tax burden has driven low and fixed income homeowners
away. It has made home purchase difficult for young families.
And high property tax bills create tension between those in
a community who want to maintain excellent schools through
rich school budgets and those who can no longer afford to
support them. This is a system that must be changed.
The Property Tax Reform Task Force, of which I am a member,
is a coalition of New York towns, community groups and citizens
based in the Hudson Valley -- see our web site at www.hvpropertytaxreform.org.
We believe school funding should be based on a more equitable
income-based tax, as employed in New York City, for example.
Albany has been making some, small changes in school funding,
primarily by increased supplemental school aid from the state,
but has been unwilling to consider fundamental reform -- or
even to establish a blue ribbon commission to study such a
We have been told, however, that school governance and expenditure
are local issues and that local voters have it in their own
power to limit their tax burden. Really? Seems to me that
much of what occurs at the local level is determined by school
law set at the state level, which limits local voter control.
For example, not all school taxpayers are eligible to vote
on local school matters -- those with second homes in a school
district, who provide funding through property taxes at the
same tax rate as local primary homeowners, are excluded. What
happened to the good old American tradition of no (local)
taxation without (local) representation?
State mandated programs impose costs on which there is no
control by either the local school or local citizen. Teacher
and other staff compensation comprises about 82% of school
budget costs and is negotiated between a school board and
the statewide-organized teacher's union. The local school
board is widely acknowledged to be on the light side of the
balance scale. School boards cannot negotiate collectively,
even though they share many similar local conditions and costs.
Other factors that have significant impact on the underlying
cost structure of local school funding include the escalating
public pension and health benefits costs, again established
by the state. My colleagues and I on the Property Tax Reform
Task Force don't want to put teachers in the same kind of
vulnerable economic position that so many people in the private
sector face on the issue of pensions and health care. These
escalating costs clearly have a major impact on local school
costs, however, and at some point will have to be addressed
by, for example, considering defined contribution pension
plans for newly hired teachers and state workers, or a medical
benefits Volunteer Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA)
trust. A VEBA trust is a device into which employees pay on
an ongoing basis and which the state funds to some pre-determined
amount through general fund revenues. For every dollar set
aside in such a trust, market appreciation can significantly
increase the value of the investment, helping to reduce the
long-term cost of the program without using property taxes
as a funding source. Such a plan for New York State could,
on the educational side, save about 22 cents on every educational
dollar spent in the state.
All of those issues, however, are entirely outside the control
of us local folk. We must continue to pressure state elected
officials to look at ways to address school funding reform
and remove property taxes from the formula. That is local
control. Send a message to your elected representatives if
property taxes are getting you down.
Benedictine and Kingston hospitals are moving ahead with their
plans to remove certain services from within Kingston Hospital.
Unless they are giving birth, women who choose to have their
tubes tied will not be able to have the procedure done in-hospital.
Also excluded from within hospital walls will be men who choose
to have vasectomies, and women who opt for abortions. The
reason? To quote a friend: “misplaced courtesy”
toward the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health
Care Services (ERDs). Other banned services include contraception
and discussion of birth control methods, safe-sex education
and counseling for the prevention of AIDS, and legal stem
cell therapies. The ban will extend to any services now provided
at Kingston Hospital which may be consolidated and placed
at Benedictine Hospital.
I wonder if the officials making these decisions behind closed
doors ever considered other proposals. During the five hospital-sponsored
merger forums, none of the officials answered questions about
alternatives. Instead, they only cited consultation with a
Long Island hospital official.
There are alternatives - including those in the document In
Good Conscience: Guidelines for the Ethical Provision of Health
Care in a Pluralistic Society, published by the Religious
Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). It gives guidance
for providers and patients.
RCRC is the only national interfaith organization dedicated
to preserving reproductive choice and achieving reproductive
justice. National religious and religiously affiliated organizations
from 15 denominations and faith traditions are members. They
include the Episcopal Church; three bodies of the Presbyterian
Church (USA); the United Church of Christ; two agencies of
the United Methodist Church; the Unitarian Universalist Association;
Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative Judaism; and independent
religious organizations such as Catholics for a Free Choice,
Disciples for Choice, and the Methodist Federation for Social
Implications are enormous for patients, doctors, nurses, and
other medical staff. I urge you to read In Good Conscience
Mildred M. Meyer
High Falls, NY
After 39 years, the government is finally beginning to crackdown
on peace mongers and marijuana use in Woodstock. As we all
know, the beloved Day Yusko was arrested for having a joint
in his house about two months ago.
The Ulster Regional Gang Enforcement and Narcotics Team (URGENT)
, was recently set up, with the aid of the FBI and the Kingston
Police Dept., supposedly to rid the streets of Kingston of
gang violence and narcotics. Chemically, the term narcotic
refers to opium, it’s derivative and their synthetic
substitutes i.e. cocaine and coca leaves. So, marijuana is
not technically, a narcotic. Furthermore, since Day was caught
with a mere joint in his house, he was charged with a misdemeanor
and not a felony.
But Day has already paid a price, due to the full coverage
in the Press. I remember that there was once a precedent in
this country: “Innocent Until Proven Guilty”.
I thought that offenders had a right to privacy until tried
and convicted. When did the press decide to convict people
before they are even charged?
Have you seen that horrible show on the air, where they lure
potential sex offenders through the internet, to a location
where they have camera’s set up? When they open the
door the cameras roll, they air the show and they are found
guilty even before the crime is committed. On the surface,
this may seem like a good idea, but after giving it some thought,
I think I can top that show with my own.
“Don’t Piss Me Off” will be the title of
the show. The pilot will star one of my own personal enemies.
I’ll tell a story about them, whether true or false,
like they are part of a terrorist plot. I’ll plant some
kerosene in their yard, along with some other bomb making
substances. I can even reveal the truth at the end, and say
it was just a joke. They already have a similar show on TV
- and remember they did it to Kerry with the Swift Boat campaign,
so I’m not breaking ground here.
But I digress. Getting back to Day - I’ve been in the
Woodstock area since l987, and I never felt that I had to
lock my car door when going to town. On the other hand, I
lock it when I step outside in the town of Kingston. That’s
because according to police there are rival gangs in Kingston.
They even know their names, “The Bloods” and “The
Crips” and URGENT was formed to protect us from that.
Instead, they chose to arrest Day.
There will be enough letters and articles in this paper for
me to skip over who Day is, and has been for longer than the
20 years I’ve known him. Suffice it to say that he has
single handedly helped numerous young people, by getting them
work and boosting their confidence. For many lost and helpless
in town, there was always a place to come to try to rehabilitate.
Day would get work for them, feed them, and lift their spirits
with his music and spirituality. As I see it, he basically
took over where public assistance left off.
As for me, I feel less safe now that Day has been arrested,
since Day is what you may call an influential “Peacenik”,
who is better able to reason with lost teenagers than anyone
I know. I hope that this recent publicity will not divert
Day from his spiritual commitment to help bring peace to the
Tom Precious succinctly and convincingly summarizes the puzzle:
How can allegations of wrongdoing by the governor's office
be investigated in a fair way? The answer: on any golf course,
The question reminds me of what I consider to be the retired
Ulster County Charter Commission's brilliant, ground breaking
method to re-district-without-odious-Gerrymandering, Ulster
County legislative districts ASAP after receipt of 2010 Census
data (Sec 2.04 Changes of Districts: Reapportionment, Charter):
from a pool of Ulster County-resident volunteers, the county
Legislature majority leader and minority leader shall each
select two commissioners. These four shall, from the pool,
then select three additional commissioners. Should the original
four be unable to agree on the additional three, the Commission
is dissolved, and the selection begins anew.
Who better to investigate perhaps the two highest NYS public
officers than a broad cross-section of citizens employed in
significant state bureaus, yet perhaps ordinarily sheltered
from the media spotlight?
Practically any department heads would qualify; but I suggest
this special commission be composed of the: Comptroller; Racing
and Wagering Board; Department of Public Service; Inspector
General; New York State Association of Counties; Commission
on Judicial Conduct; Commission on Professional Standards;
Consumer Protection Board; Office of General Services.
From members of the NYS public, state-government-neutral,
these nine would select six additional members, for a total
of fifteen. The fifteen would select a chair and recording/corresponding
Thanks to the many folks who came up to me on the street,
shook my hand, and told me how much they appreciate my speaking
out on the sorry state of Shandaken's current leadership.
Republican committeeman Robert Kalb did an awful thing, harassing
Dave Pillard and terrorizing customers in Dave's excellent
shop, Tender Land Home. Mr. Kalb should have been man enough
to confront me directly if he felt anything I said was not
true. We are disgusted with the hooliganism, back-stabbing
and sneaky tricks, but many are afraid to go public for fear
of the personal attacks they would be subject to.
It's looking like Spitzer is just about as weak-kneed in standing
up for the public good over the influence of millionaires
as Pataki was. Spitzer may use his influence to force casinos
and a gigantic Belleayre Resort on an overwhelmingly opposed
community - even though it would cost us locals plenty in
jacked up taxes, cram the roads with hazardous traffic, hurt
local business, create a housing crisis, do permanent damage
to the environment and threaten New York City's water supply.
It probably would also dry up the water supply of Fleischmanns.
By the way, the reason many of us are struggling is not due
to a shortage of golf courses and multinational hotel chains.
It's because Bush, Cheney and their oily crew are ripping
us off. In the Chronogram, Larry Beinhart revealed that Ulster
County residents have shelled out $354 million for the war
in Iraq so far... and cost us some local young lives. It makes
Ward Todd's jail fiasco seem like small beans by comparison.
But don't despair. Home Rule can still prevail if we vote
wisely in the next election. So I will remind folks of a few
Shamedaken highlights. Remember when town clerk Laurilyn Frasier
conveniently failed to administer the oath of office to Howie
McGowan? This dirty trick allowed Gitter and Poncic's pals
to kick McGowan off his appointed seat on the planning board.
When she was asked why, Frasier muttered sarcastically, "I'm
not a babysitter." It's essential we elect a fair, honest
and friendly town clerk along with the new administration.
Remember when Jane Todd quietly sold Pine Hill's water supply
to Dean Gitter? Shandaken had been offered the water company
for free, and had grants lined up to pay for the necessary
improvements. The deal was days away, but Jane showed she
cared more about Dean making a buck than the hamlet having
water to drink. Now that the Phoenicia Hotel burned down we
discover that SHARP owned a piece of it and it wasn't insured.
And it appears that financing SHARP gave to the owner for
renovations didn't get spent on what it was supposed to be
spent on. Was Jane Todd looking after the money as well as
she should have been? To the argument that she and Gitter
have our best interests at heart, I say "Yeah, right."
It appears that the grotesquely elongated Emerson plaza shopping
tunnel was in arrears on its taxes as of 7/22/07. I wonder
if that's based on the taxes it would be liable for at the
size it was permitted for... half of what scofflaw Gitter
went ahead and built without permission. Glenn Miller on the
We will have an alternative this fall. Don't think about party
politics, think about the people, your friends and neighbors.
If you can't bring yourself to vote Democratic, just say NO
and don't vote at all. It's time for a change. We need new
leaders who will stand up for the public good instead of bowing
down to millionaires.
The Ulster Dog Training Club has been operating in Kingston
for over 50 years and we are the LEAST EXPENSIVE of all the
dog trining facilities in the area. Our training methods are
positive and progressive. I am writing this to all of you
out there who would like to take an hour or two a week to
train your dog, but the price of gas, food and life in general
has put that on the back burner. We are here for you!
For as little as $100 for the year, you can participate in
all of our obedience and therapy dog classes all year. If
you enjoy the professional training and the socializing opportunities
for both your dog and yourself, you can become a member at
the miniscule amount of $15 a year. Membership gives you training
discounts for other activities like agility, rally-o, etc.
Volunteer work for the club can also turns into reduced training
costs. We are ready, willing and able to help you train your
breed or rescue dog become a productive and responsive member
of your family. We are less expensive than all the others
because the club has always existed as a form of giving back
to the community and not as a personal business venture. We
all all volunteers....no one is on salary and because of this,
you get the financial benefit....not us. Our trainers are
experienced, actively involved in competition and continuing
education. We are going to hold a free introduction class
to Rally-O on Sept. 27th at 7:30 - 8:30 on the grounds of
St. John's Church in Kingston (as long as the weather holds)
The group is limited to 8 people. If your dog is socialized,
knows how to sit and stay and you would like to join in, just
come to see what Rally-O is, have any questions or would like
to receive a brochure... call 246 6012.
Fran Breitkop, Presidernt
Ulster Dog Training Club
On Wed. Aug.8,07, many if not all UC Legislators started their
day as usual with the Daily Freeman and a cup of java. The
editorial titled "Larger Issues" informed them that
the OCSD board had undemocratically decided not to vote on
the Large Parcel law and that perhaps the majority of the
school board should step down. Here is "the rest of the
The editorial stated "Voting against it continues inequitable
taxing levels on Olive's neighbors in Woodstock and Shandaken."
This bit of information is both false and timely given that
the UC Legislature was due to vote on the LP law that
I was a little puzzled given that UC Real Property Tax Service
Agency Director Martin informed the OCSD board that the Town
of Olive was fairly and equitably valued due to Olive's recently
completed revaluation. Even the staunchly pro-LP law Woodstock
Times stated in their editorial of Aug.2nd that the LP law
should not be enacted this year for the same reason. The UC
Real Property Tax Service Agency records show that Shandaken's
assessments are decades old and presumably unequitable.
The editorial claims that the law contains the Home Rule provision
which is also false. The editorial served 2 purposes- persuade
the Legislators to vote aye for LP that evening, and damage
the reputations of school board members from Olive. The Freeman
has been impugning the reputations of OCSD board members who
oppose the LP law since the inception of the LP law in 2003.
No mention was made that the publisher of the Freeman lives
in Woodstock, received a substantial tax reduction due to
LP enactment in 2004 and stood to benefit again had enactment
actually taken place on Aug.8th.
The Freeman claimed that the school board did not address
an issue of importance to the community and voted against
public discussion. In fact, the vote was at a public meeting
where all had the right to be heard. Indeed, Large Parcel
has possibly been the most debated issue in the schools history.
The public has had years to weigh in and has done so. It is
so divisive that it is steadily diminishing the ability of
Woodstock and Shandaken to maintain representation on the
board. I think that in this case the board felt that district
harmony has real value and with Tax Director Martins assertion
that Olive's house is in order there was no reason to waste
time given the sheer volume of other weighty matters. The
editorial claimed foul due to lack of publicity of the school
board vote, yet the Freeman chose not to publicize the county
vote. The precise nature of the language used in the editorial
indicates help from interests outside the Freeman, perhaps
the sponsors or drafters of the law.
After the UC Legislature Administrative Services Committee
tabled the matter for 07 due to the reasons mentioned previously,
Legislators Gregorius and Shapiro of Woodstock, along with
7 others from the southern Ulster area filed a resolution
on Fri.8-3-07, seeking enactment of the LP law, to be voted
on the following Wed.,8-8-07. Despite short notice Legislators
Kraft and Parete were able to lobby and argue effectively
on Olive's behalf. After a heated debate Wed. evening it was
In my view the attempt by the Freeman to manipulate and influence
the county LP law vote via the longstanding and ongoing dissemination
of false information is a serious breach of the public trust.
The public deserves accurate information, not false propaganda.
Had the Freemans effort been successful it would have cost
Olive residents plenty. Members of Olive Matters are working
to reduce and prevent the abuse of Olive residents by corrupt
media and politicians. This latest example is now being addressed.
The first attempt to obtain a judicial review of LPL failed
due to my incorrect choice of venue followed by personal exhaustion.
2 years of further observation and documentation of the workings
and effects of the LP law has added much valuable material
to our case that seeks a judicial order that would compel
the NY Legislature to amend the law to include the Home Rule
provision. Olive Matters has worked very hard to keep the
LP law at bay but it is not reasonable or fair to expect perpetual
efforts to safeguard our interests and assets. At this point
it is clear that a judicial review will provide the only lasting
remedy. It will take 4-6 months to prepare the revised and
I commend Ulster County Legislator Tracy Bartels on her handling
of the Ulster County Law Enforcement Center project investigation.
She has ignored the bluster and bombast of those who offer
simplistic and uneducated theories on why the project went
bad. I believe Tracy's dogged pursuit of the truth will provide
a clear explanation on what doomed the project from the start.
Some have questioned the need for the investigation. I believe,
however, it is vitally important to find out who's responsible
for the project being late and over budget and to hold those
people accountable, no matter the political costs. Ulster
County residents deserve no less.
Ulster County Legislator, District 4
"And I dreamed I saw the bomber death planes, Riding
shotgun in the sky, Turning into butterflies, above our nation."
from Joni Mitchell's beautiful song, Woodstock. From my point
of view this song is a most excellent focus of what this celebration
was about. I consider this "Aquarian Exposition"
to be a shining moment in human evolution. In 1969 the tide
of war turned in Viet Nam. I think Woodstock was a cosmic
celebration of this event. I believe that when enough people
want peace we will all get it. Only love can conquer hate.
The last time I was at the corner of West Shore and Hurd Road
where the celebration took place my feet found an old three-inch
diameter pipe with a cast aluminum road sign holder gizmo
on the end! It was buried under old weeds and mud in the ditch
at that sacred cosmic intersection. I put it in my truck with
the trash I was collecting and took it home. Grace Slick of
Jefferson Airplane said in her book that she wore white when
she graced us at Woodstock. I think a lot of us feel that
way. So I planted that pipe in the ground in a flower garden
in the front of our home and butterfly bushes started growing
all over the yard. And sometimes when I think of Joni's dream
I get a rush wondering if those butterfly bushes are getting
ready for Joni's dream to flower.
All One, All Win. Happy anniversary, Woodstock Nation.