(Letters from February 1, 2007)
This letter is addressed to the property owners of the Hamlet
of Phoenicia. On Saturday, February 3, 2007, we will be voting
yes or no on Proposition #1, a Proposal to Establish a Sewer
District, for the Hamlet of Phoenicia. The law requires that
any such sewer district benefit everyone in the district.
In this case, however, the primary beneficiaries of the Sewer
District and the Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) they want
to build are the City of New York and Delaware Engineering
From the beginning, the request of the taxpayers of Phoenicia
to pursue other options for sewer treatment was ignored. These
other options include a Septic Maintenance District Program
and a Community Septic Program as written right into the Memorandum
of Agreement (MOA) that governs waste water management in
the New York City watershed. If we were in such dire need
of a multi-million dollar sewer system, why did the DEP give
these two options to begin with? Discussion of these and other
much less expensive options were shut down early in the process
by our Elected Officials who were supposed to be negotiating
on behalf of us, the taxpayers of the Hamlet of Phoenicia.
If the taxpayers vote down the Sewer District, the Catskill
Watershed Corporation has funded, and will continue, to fund
acceptable alternatives like updated septic systems, septic
maintenance programs, and community septics for anyone who
lives in the watershed. People who live and work in the watershed
are grandfathered in and cannot therefore by law be forced
out of their homes and businesses. Most of the small towns
in the watershed and almost all of the hamlets in Shandaken
have no WWTP, and they do fine.
Money from the DEP Grant to build the WWTP should have been
used, as the taxpayers requested, to hire a contract manager,
or at least an independent attorney and engineer, chosen by
the people of the Hamlet, to give a second-opinion on the
entire process. This could have avoided the jumbled confusion
we now have and could still prevent a catastrophe for Phoenicia
like the Ulster County jail project. An independent review
of the contracts could prevent over-runs that end up costing
everyone. Without independent review the taxpayers are now
being asked to trust the attorney and engineers chosen by
the Town Board. This is a problem because the attorney and
the Delaware Engineering Company just want to get this done
no matter what. Read the proposition: “The sewer district
will own and be responsible for the sewer system.”
We the taxpayers – the ones who will be paying for it
– are thus faced with a proposal that is an open-ended
contract, with no guarantees of anything! Nothing is in writing,
yet the consequences will affect our lives for generations.
At the last public information meeting, Bob Cross and Kevin
Young, the attorney for the project, told Mike Ricciardella
that he can opt out of the system, and anyone can opt out,
but after all’s said and done, who would that leave
to pay for the ongoing costs of the system? To try to frighten
people into accepting the District, the Town Board has threatened
that the Health Department will close people down who refuse
to join, yet the Hamlet does not have to form a District in
the first place!
If this proposal is voted in, the Town Board will run the
Sewer District. The Town Board can expand the District at
will, create jobs for themselves, change the boundaries, or
whatever they choose. This will mean additional monetary burden
for us. This same spend-spend Town Board, who raised our taxes
35% over the past two years and raised our water taxes 137%
in 2006, now want to run a $17 Million Sewer system, where
they can levy taxes at will (as stated in the Sewer Use Law).
Why exactly would anyone want to build a $17 Million Sewer
System for a Hamlet with only 200-plus hook-ups? Phoenicia
does not have the tax base to support this. Figures that the
engineers are using to calculate costs are not the same figures
that we have, and they repeatedly refuse to give us access
to the list that the engineers are using so that we can correct
it. So while they say that New York City will pay 85% of the
costs of Operations and Management (O&M), we come up with
a figure closer to 60%. That means we pay almost half the
costs. If they will not make public the figures that they
are using, we cannot trust those figures. We the taxpayers
are being told to just trust them and “take their word
for it,” with no guarantees in writing. We are being
treated like fools by people who could care less about us,
the people they are supposed to be serving. This is America
in 2007. You have to have a written, concise, easily understood
contract for a project of this magnitude. Don’t be fooled.
Vote NO on Proposition #1 on Saturday, February 3rd.
of the Phoenicia Water District
We will be voting in favor of the sewage treatment plant this
Saturday. We will be voting yes to protect the environment,
to benefit property owners, and for the good of the town.
A year and a half ago we were contacted by the Catskill Watershed
Corp. to have our septic system tested and our septic tank
pumped out. We agreed only to learn that we have no septic
tank. Our wastewater is going into a hole in the ground, which
is about ten feet from a mountain runoff that goes directly
into the Stony Clove Creek. If this is the case on our property,
it surely is the case on other properties along Rt. 214. The
sewage treatment plant would rectify this situation and protect
the waters of the Stony Clove and the Esopus.
If the sewage treatment plant does not go through we will
have to build a new system costing thirty to forty thousand
dollars. While it is likely that most, if not all, of the
cost will be covered by the CWC, it will involve tearing up
our property, running lines through our neighbor’s property
and putting up a pump station in our yard, which will, of
course, detract from the appearance of our property. At least
we have the room to do it. If the septic systems of homes
in the Hamlet of Phoenicia are tested, undoubtedly many will
need to be upgraded and we wonder if there will be the space
to do it. Not upgrading antiquated or failing systems will
negatively affect resale value. Putting in the sewage treatment
plant would resolve those situations and increase property
If the sewage treatment plant goes through, the look of Main
Street will be improved. Several of the businesses on Main
Street have already renovated their facades by taking advantage
of grant money. If the street is dug up for the sewer pipes,
the power lines could be buried and more attractive street
lighting could be installed. In all likelihood new restaurants
would move into the vacant buildings improving the look and
appeal of the town and increasing business for all of Main
All of the other towns that were offered sewage treatment
plants eagerly accepted them and this has resulted in positive
changes in the infrastructure and in the “curb appeal”
of these towns. We hope that Phoenicia will join this group
of towns that has taken advantage of the money offered by
New York City now and avoid getting to the point where the
sewer system is required and it’s left to the taxpayers
of Shandaken to pay for it.
Veronica & Jon Rowe
To my friends and neighbors in the proposed sewer district:
While I realize that newspapers have the right to publish
their editorial opinions, I do not think it appropriate for
The Phoenicia Times to editorialize and attempt to sway opinion
on a project that solely affects a small group of taxpayers
in the hamlet of Phoenicia. Per the attorney handling the
district, the sewer district is supposed to benefit only those
taxpayers in the district, and the taxpayers in the district
have the ownership and financial responsibilities associated
with it. As far as I know, the editors of the Times do not
live in the proposed sewer district, nor do 4 of the 5 members
of the Town Board. I believe the taxpayers that have the financial
liability for this project should be the only ones to decide
on this issue. I would also like to address the following
comments made in the editorial that I feel are misleading.
“…at $100 per year for homeowners that is as close
to free as it will ever get” - True at face value, however
in reality it is already said that the district will also
collect $50-100 per hook-up for a slush fund, so that cost
is immediately doubled. Coming with the project is the Sewer
District, which has the ability to raise taxes. What other
expenses will arise that need to be paid for by taxes? Add
taxes to the cost. There is no guarantee there will be money
in the project to pay for hook-ups, and the homeowner is responsible
to pay that expense out front, with the “anticipation
of reimbursement”. Add the cost of hook-ups and the
closing of current septic systems to the cost. That will be
a crippling expense for many, myself included. Who will pay
for maintenance of laterals? Owner expense according to the
Sewer Use Law.
“..the project is about protecting Phoenicia’s
property owners, the value of their homes and businesses”.
Nonsense. The project is about enabling the plans of the big
money developers. The Town Board has every intention of expanding
the district to accommodate interests outside of the hamlet,
and the hamlet of Phoenicia is just a pawn in that game. Get
the project going in the hamlet with NYC money, and when built
the Town will control it and do with it as the developers
direct them. The real danger is that the 250 or so taxpayers
in the Hamlet own it and have the liability for it. If the
interest was the protection of water quality, there were and
are better options, as stated in the editorial. “…no
one stands to gain more from the hamlet’s revitalization
than the current business owners”. I disagree. The O
& M expenses for businesses are uncapped. The current
estimates are based on unrealistic figures, and not to be
counted on. The costs for business operators in the District
have the potential for being astronomical, especially if you
combine the O & M costs with the potential taxes from
the District added. It is more likely that any business that
is operating on a narrow margin will fail. As far as I know,
there are no deep pocket business operators in the hamlet,
but there is one just down the road a piece. I guess it doesn’t
matter in the overall plan if the current businesses fail,
as long as there are others to replace them.
“…to kill a project of this importance because
of handful of people, elected and appointed, may not have
handled things perfectly….” This is the most important
point of all. Think about all the things this administration
has accomplished, (??), and things they have destroyed (skyrocketing
taxes, more lawsuits, no cell service, ambulance set back
years, water district crippled). Think about whom these people
actually represent, because they certainly do not represent
the taxpayers in the hamlet, nor the town for that matter.
The fact that this group of special interest politicians is
so ardently supporting this project is cause for suspicion.
Be aware that after the referendum, there will still be plenty
of time for this administration to change the district boundaries
before the next election. In fact, Bob Cross added 18 properties
to the district all by himself just yesterday.
It is a shame that a project with such potential benefit has
been so mishandled from the beginning. Had there been realistic
negotiation with NYC; had there been answers based on fact
to legitimate questions that were asked month after month
by concerned taxpayers; had there been a source for unbiased
advice for the taxpayers rather than all information coming
from people with a vested interest in the project; had there
been respect from the committee for the concerns of the taxpayers
rather than the bored looks and snide comments coming from
at least 2 of them at every meeting they attended; perhaps
there would have been a project that actually did benefit
the hamlet and could have been supported by the taxpayers.
I personally am voting NO on this proposition, since none
of the questions I have asked have been answered with anything
more than opinion from the lawyer and engineering company,
and vague and empty promises from the town supervisor. To
all my neighbors that have asked questions, I ask: Have your
questions been answered, and if so, can you trust the source
of the answers. Is there anything in writing to fall back
on? If the answer to these questions is no, I urge you to
vote NO as well. I believe that this project has the potential
to do far more harm than good for our community.
“Would you buy a used car from this man”? This
is how I feel when it comes to Supervisor Bob Cross and his
multi-million dollar sewer district and sewage treatment plant
project that he is so hard pressed and anxious to force upon
the citizens of Phoenicia.
Would you trust a project of this size that will affect your
pocketbook to a supervisor and his town board that mismanaged
something as simple as the building of a cell tower. It’s
been four years since Bob Cross promised us cell phone service.
Why don’t we have it? We don’t have it because
he signed a contract with a PAGING COMPANY NOT A CELL PHONE
SERVICE. This is a man who wants to give away millions of
our dollars by signing a contract with Delaware Engineering
and the city of New York.
Would you trust a project of this size to a supervisor and
his town board who raised our taxes 35% over the last two
years and our water taxes 137% in 2006? This due to mismanagement
of the town’s resources. Once that $17 million is in
the hands of Bob Cross, the town board, and Delaware Engineering,
who will pay for the inevitable overruns in the building of
the wastewater treatment plant due to mismanagement? Does
Supervisor Cross and the Town Board think we’ve forgotten
the Ulster County Jail fiasco? We know who’s paying
for that, all of the citizens of Ulster County through their
taxes. We won’t have the rest of Ulster County to back
us up when the Phoenicia Wastewater Treatment plant goes into
overruns, needs repairs, Operating & Maintenance costs
skyrocket due to inflation, or fines are levied for spills
and infractions. That, my dear neighbors, will come out of
YOUR pockets in the form of elevated and new taxes. And we
all know Bob Cross is NOT adverse to raising our taxes and
making us pay for his mistakes.
Would you trust a project of this size to a supervisor and
his town board who so mismanaged the handling of our precious
ambulance squad through lies and deceit that they endangered
the lives of every single individual in this town because
we were left without certified paramedics to respond to emergencies?
Through mismanagement, the replacements are costing the town
more than what we were paying to the previous squad.
Would you trust a project of this size to a supervisor and
town board who word a proposition ballot with vague terms
like “funded primarily by NYC”:(primarily: for
the most part), “estimated that NYC will pay 85%”:
(estimated: probable, likely), “the town board anticipates
that it will have significant funds”: (anticipates:
be hopeful of, think likely)? I find no concrete wording here
that anything regarding the funding and eventual cost of the
project will not be placed squarely on the backs of the taxpayers
of Phoenicia. In fact, I see lots of “wiggle room”
for excuses as to why it will cost more than anticipated.
I want to see words like “funded totally” by NYC,
“it is a fact that NYC will pay”, and “the
town board GUARANTEES that it will have significant funds”,
not terms that leave room for “Clintonese” interpretations.
I want GUARANTEES, IN WRITING. Never lose sight of the fact
that this proposition was written by Kevin Young, a lawyer
hired by Bob Cross and his Town Board and who gets his paycheck
by these very same people.
Would you trust a project of this size to a supervisor and
his town board who through mismanagement and deceit are costing
the Shandaken townspeople thousands of dollars in lawyers
fees (four lawyers and counting) for all of the lawsuits they’ve
incurred since taking office?
The list of mismanagement and wrongheaded decisions made by
Supervisor Bob Cross and his Town Board is endless and I won’t
bore you with what you already know…
There are just way too many questions that have gone unanswered
by Supervisor Cross, the Town Board, and Delaware Engineers.
The few answers that have been offered are often times vague
and backed up with unsubstantiated figures supplied by questionable
sources who have much to gain from an approval for this sewer
project as it stands.
I, myself, would love to see a sewer system in Phoencia, but
we simply CANNOT AFFORD IT. New York City can. They want it,
they should pay for it in total, which includes the Operation
and Maintenance costs for the sewage treatment plant, as well
as our hook-ups, and all other costs involved with the project.
We need someone who will negotiate properly for us with the
city, not someone who doesn’t know the difference between
a cell phone and a pager.
What it all boils down to is: Would you buy a Sewage Treatment
Plant, or a used car for that matter, from Bob Cross and the
rest of the Shandaken Town Board? I for one, WILL NOT, and
I urge you not to either. Vote NO to Proposition #1, on February
I would like to take this opportunity to express some important
aspects of obtaining our water treatment facility. Being a
commercial user in the village of Hunter, I do have some facts.
Our construction fee for excavation, hook-up, and filling
in of our old septic tank was $2,800. Through grants, however,
we were reimbursed the full amount of the hook-up. We also
received our usage fee for the year. Our 3,800 square foot
commercial business paid $400 for this service in 2006.
As a Town of Shandaken Planning Board member, I have learned
about waste water management in several seminars. Programs
are being executed throughout New York state. We are not the
exception; this is the rule. Clean water is a priority. I
had the opportunity to attend a seminar with an engineer working
on projects in the Finger Lakes region. In these projects
the towns are required to pay for the waste water treatment
plants. The projects are going forward for the best interests
of the towns and their residents.
I have a dual interest in the towns of Hunter and Shandaken.
I am a resident of the village of Phoenicia, and I am a business
owner in the village of Hunter. I believe this gives me a
neutral prospective concerning this project.
The annual usage fee for a commercial property owner in Hunter
who owned a restaurant that seated 60 and had an 800 square
foot bar, with a three bedroom apartment above, and also had
a two bedroom rental unit behind the restaurant, was $1200.
At this time we have the opportunity to keep water clean with
assistance from government agencies. If we were to turn this
opportunity down, the village of Phoenicia will most likely
have to build the treatment plant at its own expense. The
EPA doesn’t care who pays as long as the water stays
On Saturday, Jan. 13, we went to the Parish Hall to once again
try to get answers to our questions about the proposed sewer
district. To our disappointment, once again we left without
answers and our concerns just as strong.
Attorney Kevin Young had given out at the last Town Board
meeting a paper showing what each business would pay for sewer
use based on the latest water meter readings. Following his
formula we could not understand how the figure was reached
we would be responsible to pay for our business, Simpler Times.
Mr. Young was at Saturday's meeting and we gave him our water
bills and asked him to explain to us how he reached our sewer
use fee. He tried, a few different times, and could not come
up with the figures on the sheet he had distributed. His answer?
"Are either of the Winchells still here?" In other
words, the figures he used, on a sheet EXPLAINING what each
business would have to pay annually came from a waste water
committee member, NOT an engineer, and were not verified by
an engineer or anyone else! If ours is wrong, how many other
businesses were given incorrect information on their annual
cost? We have been attending waste water committee meetings
and town board meetings for a year and a half trying to understand
the responsibilities we and our hamlet are being asked to
take on. We have been asking for FACTS so we can decide if
this project is right for us and for our community. Twice
I have given written questions to our town board at public
meetings. I have yet to receive the courtesy of written answers.
All we are given is conflicting answers by our town board
members and representatives of Delaware Engineering.
At this same meeting on Saturday, Helen Morelli asked Fred
Grober, an engineer from Delaware Engineering, to estimate
her cost to connect to the sewer system. Then she went across
the room and asked Tad Johnson, also from Delaware Engineering,
the same question. She got two different answers. Amy Wright
asked her cost to connect, and when she was given a very high
figure, our town supervisor, Bob Cross, looked it over and
the answer changed by thousands! He knows more than the engineer?
This is something that has happened meeting after meeting.
Bob Cross and John Brust, of Delaware Engineering, promise
you whatever you want to hear, but none of their promises
are in writing.
Duane Formont received a request for an easement on his property.
It would have greatly hampered his business so he asked to
meet with Delaware Engineering and Steve Stettine, who is
in charge of easements. After physically coming to the property
they determined there was no need for an easement as no water
went to the business! Didn't anyone from Delaware Engineering
check this out before requesting the easement? Plans were
100 percent complete! What if Mr. Formont hadn't asked questions?
His business would have been interrupted for nothing.
Joe Munster, the liason from the waste water committee to
the town board, told us that Delaware Engineering was buying
70 grinder pumps so when one broke down, there would be another
available. We asked the engineer at Saturday's meeting about
this. He said the project requires 12 grinder pumps so they
could purchase up to 24, a big difference from the 70 Joe
says he was told. Also, attorney Kevin Young says it will
be up to the town board to decide if those needing grinder
pumps would have to pay for their replacement of if they would
be covered in the cost of maintenance and operation. Other
than Mr. Munster, no one on the town board lives in the proposed
district, so none of them will bear any financial burden yet
they are all in favor of the project.
We are not against improvements, including a municipal sewer
in the hamlet of Phoenicia. We are against being asked to
pay for a project, for the rest of our lives, when we have
been given no solid information on what our costs will be.
We are paying, PLENTY, for our water. Let New York City pay
for theirs, as they do in the other Shandaken towns of Pine
Hill and Chichester.
The purpose of this letter is to share information we have
learned so you can vote knowledgeably on Saturday, February
3rd. Please vote. Thank you.
Vincent and Susan Bernstein
Make sure you read the ballot carefully when voting on Proposition
#1 Feb. 3, forming the Phoenicia Sewer District. The ballot
states that NYC will be paying an estimated cost for the Operating
and Maintenance of this plant. After two and a half years
of meetings which I have been attending for the last two years,
I can't understand why the Sewer Committee, the Town Board,
and the attorney who have all met with NYC, still do not know
what percentage NYC will be paying of the O&M costs.
Besides the word anticipates, they use for the reimbursement
of the hook-ups. So at this point in time with nothing in
writing the town board can add or delete anyone from the Sewer
District. If more people are added to the sewer line that
are not in the water district, this will deplete the amount
of money left for the reimbursements.
If the taxpayers do not meet their estimated percentage cost
of the O&M, the Town Board has the right to levy taxes,
as stated in the Sewer Use Law, to make up the deficit, like
they did with the water plant.
With all the unknowns we are facing, by voting to approve
this proposal as it now stands, we are on all sense &
purpose giving NYC, Delaware Engineering, and the Town Board
a blank check, to be filled in after the work is done. It
only makes sense to vote NO until we have all the information
we have been requesting for the past 2 1/2 years.
Who has outgrown the infrastructure?
If you believe Bob Cross, I have a bridge to sell you. Shandaken
has not outgrown the infrastructure, Bob has. And, of course
Gitter's "Grotesquely Elongated Emerson Plaza Shopping
Tunnel," at more than twice the size it was permitted
for. Ask a few of Gitter's major contractors if they have
been paid yet. Gitter is a dead albatross hanging on the neck
of Shandaken and our business community.
A couple of folks around here may still imagine themselves
on Bob and Dean's glittering path to progress, but I bet you
are not one of them. Bob is done, and for heaven's sake, if
Jane Todd decides to run – as I keep hearing people
say -- let's not elect her. "Don't run, Jane run".
If you think Bob came up with all of those terrible decisions
on his own, I have another bridge to sell you. Jane is just
as responsible as Bob for the out-of-control spending that
got us a 17 percent rise in town taxes... which she could
have voted against but didn't. It's a real shame that these
two well-liked people have allowed their good reputations
to be ruined in service to a misguided guru. And to anyone
who Jane gave money while at the SHARP office, remember- that
wasn't her money, it came out of our taxes, and she got paid
to do it.
I seem to recall Jane saying she wanted to spend more time
with her grandchildren... well, we all need a break from the
endless parade of red herrings, broken promises, and outright
lies coming from Gitter's well-financed clique of rainmakers.
The "Bob Mahal" town hall Cross proposes is just
the latest in a dismal series of empty public relations stunts
and backfired boondoggles like the no-show cell tower, the
ambulance crisis, and the threat of industrial development
in Woodland Valley. Your hollow could be next. Poncic got
approval over the common sense objection of every Woodland
Valley resident that cared enough to speak. The Cross administration
and his mercenary appointments are caving in to their two
top campaign contributors, Gitter and Poncic. It’s hurting
our community, and making no measurable improvements. Cross
even tried, with the help of one of Gitter's lawyers, to cram
a crummy sewer deal down the throats of Phoenicia residents.
A deal that would have put hamlet businesses out of businesses.
The current deal still isn't as good as it could be. Hold
out for better. It makes a hell of a lot of sense to build
one large plant below Boiceville to serve the whole area.
That could still happen.
When the smoke clears, I bet Ward Todd will be one of those
blamed for the back-room approval of a bloated, defective
prison four times the size of the old one. The cost of the
glamorous marble rotunda alone would have paid for most of
the renovations the old prison needed. Pork! A 40 percent
rise in County tax! Follow the money! Investigate! Remember,
Jane is on our town board not likely because she wanted to
be, but because Ward wanted her there so Gitter could get
his way with Golfzilla, the grotesquely elongated Belleayre
If you like the prison, if your cell phone works, if you're
happy that Poncic and Gitter run Shandaken, if you love those
jacked up tax bills, if you believe Blake and the Townsman,
if you want to pay for Bob Cross' health insurance for the
rest of his life, then vote for Jane and Bob. If not...
This is an election year, and we will have a chance to vote
for a change. Revitalize the hamlets! Don't smear us out along
the highway! Obviously it is in Gitter's interests to suck
the life out of local businesses so his flammable roadside
attractions don't tumble ever more deeply into debt. Ask his
The gerrymander, or drawing of legislative district lines
for political advantage, is even worse than we think.
Party leaders in nearly every state where the legislature
draws those lines follow a simple rule: “crack and pack,”
which means “crack open as many of your opponent’s
districts as possible”, and “pack as many of your
opponent’s voters into as few districts as possible”
thus minimizing their victories. Then spread your own voters
into 55-60% majorities, in other words, safe districts, in
as many districts as you can, thus maximizing your own victories.
The result is that, by design and with Supreme Court approval,
most congressional and state legislative districts are non-competitive,
leaving most voters effectively disfranchised. By design,
we have an electoral impact on our legislators only when we
are members of these artificially created majorities.
Worse yet, the practice works, for the parties, but against
the citizens. In 2006, the good news is that about twice as
many House seats were competitive compared to recent elections;
the bad news is that even in such a closely fought election,
fewer than 1 in 6 seats were truly competitive, decided by
10 percentage points or less, meaning that in only 70 of 435
districts did the electorate have a realistic chance to affect
The result of the Tom DeLay-led Texas redistricting in 2002
was that if Republicans won only 51.9 % of the statewide vote,
they would elect 70 % of the legislature and 22 of 32 congressional
seats. The Republicans called that “backlash insurance.”
In Iowa, on the other hand, a non-partisan civil service commission
draws its legislative districts. In 2002, 4 of its 5 congressional
districts were competitive; in 2006, 3 of 5, with the winners
in the other 2 gaining only 57% and 58% of the vote, respectively.
Competition is not only the lifeblood of capitalism; it is
the lifeblood of democracy. If you want competition in legislative
elections, get rid of the gerrymander by taking redistricting
out of the hands of the legislature, and assign it, as Governor
Spitzer proposes, to an independent, non-partisan commission.
We should also charge that commission with making all legislative
districts as competitive as possible. That won’t guarantee
good government, but it will enhance citizen power and bring
us a lot closer to the democratic ideal we all aspire to.
I would like to respond to the letter by Eric Hansen in your
Coyotes are an important part of the natural ecosystem of
this region, along with mountain lions. The scarcity or absence
of these predators is one reason the deer population has exploded.
I recently moved back here from the Rocky Mountains, where
coyotes are more abundant, and I can attest that they are
not dangerous to human children or adults. They cull sick
and weak deer, elk and moose, but mostly they consume rodents.
Their presence in our woods helps restore a balance that we
upset by exterminating them in the past.
Hunters like to claim that it is their guns that keep the
balance, but they can't do it alone. The proliferation of
cats can't control the rodent population either, and it does
irreparable harm to the bird population.
Trapping is even less effective against coyotes. They are
notoriously hard to catch with traps. Their wily reputation
is well deserved, and the traps catch more pets than coyotes.
We who have chosen to live in the habitat of these animals
should respect the part they played in making the Catskills
the beautiful ecosystem that drew us here. Driving predators
out only takes us a step closer to making these mountains
more like the cities we left.
The Onteora School Board has a rough road ahead of them and
it appears that they are going to have some real problems
along the way. As reported they can’t come to a conclusion
regarding the grade configurations and which schools should
remain open. They still have a lingering problem that they
have done nothing about. At least that’s been made public.
Members that were running for a seat on the School board have
said that they were very concerned about the high cost of
education in the district, but in recent memory there has
not been one resolution on any agenda to at least discuss
the high cost of education in the district. The Onteora School
District remains the leader in cost per student in Ulster
County and beyond. The question is why.
Board members will no doubt have a problem deciding what to
do with the upcoming multi million dollar budget for the 2007/2008
school year and also deciding on which one of the three Capital
Improvement project options to go with. The Architects came
up with three options with reported expenses ranging from
$30 to $62 million. Of coarse the bigger the project the more
it cost. It’s generally known that the more a project
cost the more money the Architects get paid in Architectural
fees. I hope that the board is aware that any project costing
millions of dollars can have cost over runs and very large
unexpected costs if any remodeling is done. If the board is
still concerned about the tax payers struggling to pay their
taxes one would think that they would agree to accept the
lowest priced option that’s been presented to them.
The School board has had at least five meetings that were
open to the public. As reported they have decided to have
another community wide meeting and mail a survey to district
residents. The meeting will be held on March 03, 2007. More
then likely the same parents, teachers, and school administrators
will attend that meeting with their same agenda’s for
what they want. Posted on the School’s Web page is a
section outlining many questions and answers derived from
those five meetings. I urge you to go to the school’s
Web Page and read the questions, answers and comments. Here
is just one interesting and very important comment. “When
you divide the number of Woodstock students by the levy the
Town of Woodstock pays, the average cost per student from
Woodstock is $26,000”.
As of December 2006 there were 1939 students in the district.
It’s estimated that by year 2011 there will only be
a little over 1500 students. Why are we even looking at this
possibly 62 million dollar or more project? We already have
two empty schools in West Hurley that are just sitting there
costing tax payers money. Of the three options the lowest
priced option is to simply forget the grade configurations
and perform the needed work to our existing structures. Obviously
we can’t let the schools get too far run down. If the
board wants to truly represent the school and the tax payers
they should consider using the available $662,000.00 grant
any other required monies to simply fix what needs to be fixed.
The $662,000.00 grant will cost tax payers nothing. There
are nice things to do then there are things that we have to
In a recent e mail to all school board members but one I asked,
was this possible 70 million dollar Capital Improvement Project
mandated by the State? If not, how did it get started? As
of this writing I have receive no replies. I couldn’t
e mail one board member because I did not have that person’s
e mail address. Board member e mail addresses are not listed
on the schools Web page. By order of the board you must write
a letter to the board and mark it personal to get board members
e mail address.
It is not difficult to write for or against a particular issue
or proposal these days, but a problem arises as to which topic
merits priority. As I listen today, [Friday, January 26, 2007]
to an overstuffed windbag named Rush Limbaugh on ABC radio
I wonder why he is not the President of these United States.
Here is a "rejected" overweight draft dodger of
the 1960-70's and recent "drug head" who now spends
his radio time denigrating and insulting those military heroes
who express their opinions in opposition to the "new"
[or old] Bush plan and mission. Mr Limbaugh is not interested
in the possible or projected increase in casualties in Iraq
[don't forget Afghanistan].
Limbaugh, with arrogance insults John Warner [WWII], Jack
Murtha, Chuck Hagle [Viet Nam] and three or four retired Generals
[all conflicts] who have stated from their experience that
the U.S. Forces have gained nothing for us at the expense
of 3,000 plus dead and 18,000 disabled. General Abidsaid told
Congress that, "we're not losing, but we're not winning
[he's gone] Our youth and our treasure matters not to Limbaugh
while blindly worshiping an "escape artist" by the
name of George W. Bush.
Oh yes, Mr Bush enjoyed the rare arrangement of transferring
from the Texas Air National Guard to the Louisiana Air Nat.
Guard when his Texas unit was about to be activated for duty
in Nam. How did he find out his unit was about to ship out?
I am 80 years old and never cared to weigh in with war stories
but as a senior veteran of WWII and Korea I have combat experience
that I am proud of and the likes of a Rush Limbaugh just doesn't
pass the "smell" test. How dare he attack those
career Flag Officers and other veterans who have more time
in battle and battle planning than Limbaugh has in three "domestic"
conflicts? He even charges that the "Grunt" [and
his family] who disagree with him and GW "want this country
to lose in Iraq". That's a "stretch" but we
did lose in Nam and we're still here.
Cheney is another "cardboard" warrior who shouldn't
have a gun or access to one. Wait until this is over and Cheney
cashes in his stock options with Halliburton. Those options
are triple their worth of six years ago due to Iraq.
Now we come to "what if". What if we had voted for
Gore or Kerry? To be sure, things would be different economically,
socially, in foreign relations and environmentally. Crime
might be up and 9-11 could be just a routine date on the calendar.
Illegal immigrants would be at the same level as 1940 and
two Border Patrol Officers would not be in prison for doing
Be sure to vote next time and vote for the person, not the
party. Shut off Rush Limbaugh and others like him. Remember
who voted for Iraq and who speaks against their own vote now
that it's fashionable [or is working both sides of the street].
Glenn T. Anderson
After attending the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce breakfast
on January 22 where Congressman Maurice Hinchey was the featured
speaker, I was surprised at the coverage of the event in the
Kingston Freeman (January 23rd article by Joshua Rinaldi and
January 24th column by Hugh Reynold’s). Both missed
something very significant.
When Congressman Hinchey was challenged by an attendee who
asked if there were developments Hinchey would support, since
he had been critical of the AVR and Belleayre Resort proposals,
the question received moderate applause from some in the audience.
Hinchey proceeded to explain his reasons for his position
on the Belleayre Resort - steep slopes, thin soils, potential
for erosion, impact on water quality, filtration avoidance
for New York City and the Ulster County towns tapping into
the water system, and the cost of filtration for all New Yorkers,
etc, etc. He concluded with a statement which Mr. Rinaldi
quoted in his article, “I’m not opposed to that
project just for the hell of it. I’m opposed to it because
it’s a bad project.” At this point, the room broke
out into widespread applause.
Mr. Rinaldi’s article mentioned the “moderate
amount of applause” for the challenger’s question,
but neglected to mention the widespread applause for Hinchey’s
answer. Hugh Reynolds didn’t mention it either. In fact,
Hugh said, “no one rose to defend the Congressman”.
It’s true that no one “rose to defend” him;
he didn’t need defense. The audience just applauded
him - loudly!
This may tell us something about the ever-growing, ever-new
Ulster County Chamber. It appears that more and more realize
that smart growth is not only good for the environment and
everyone’s quality of life, it is also good for business.
And the Belleayre Resort, as proposed, is anything but smart
One more thing. Neither writer happened to mention that Hinchey
got a standing ovation at the end of his talk.
Under a new Federal grant called Money Follows the Person,
funds will be available later this year to assist some people
in Nursing Homes to return to community living. New York is
one of 18 states to be awarded Nursing Home Transition and
Diversion funding. The goal of the funding is to change the
bias away from institutionalization and to support people
who desire to live in their own homes and community.
Resources for Accessible Living (RCAL) in Kingston, an Independent
Living Center, anticipates receiving funding to work with
nursing home residents who might otherwise not realize that
community living is an option for them or have complex needs
that require special supports and intervention.
Staff and volunteers at RCAL recently met with Senator Bonacic
and representatives of Senator Larkin and Assemblyman Cahill
to talk about the need for affordable and accessible housing
in order to assist people in transitioning out of expensive
and inappropriate nursing home placement.
We are hopeful that New York State sets aside monies in a
housing trust fund to supplement the Money Follows the Person
Grant in order to help people avoid unnecessary institutionalization.
It is projected that each person transitioned from nursing
homes into a community setting saves over $63,000 in Medicaid
Fran Wishnick, Systems Advocate
Resources for Accessible Living
Here is a big thank you to all the wonderful people who made
the concert and auction for Clean Money Clean Elections a
great success--Maurice Hinchey, Kevin Cahill, and Susan Zimet;
performers Bruce Akerman, Mik Horowitz, Gilles Malkine, Princes
of Serendip, Sarah Kramer-Harrison, Robin The Hammer, Lane
Akerman, and Tom Pacheco; everyone who contributed terrific
items for the auction; all who worked so very hard to make
it happen, and Citizen Action for sponsoring it.
In case you haven't heard, Eliot Spitzer has made Clean Money
Clean Elections a top priority in his reform package for New
York State. That means he is very committed to full public
funding of candidates so that they no longer have to spend
most of their time begging for money. It means we get to vote
for candidates who run on ability and ideas, not how much
money they raise. It means those elected can feel free to
say no to big contributors who buy political influence that
undermines our common good, like universal healthcare, good
schools, and a clean environment. And it means we can have
the democracy this country was founded on.
But don't be naïve. It will not happen if we do not work
for it. Spitzer must have the support of New Yorkers all around
the state. He and the rest of us are up against powerful entrenched
interests. They will try to make us believe that partial public
funding is the way to go. And who can blame them? With partial
funding, which permits candidates to get both public and private
money, big private contributors would still have the upper
hand because their big bucks carry a very big clout. In fact,
they may like it better because they would not have to contribute
as much as they do now.
That is why I want to thank everyone who participated in the
benefit concert and auction at Ric's New World Home Cooking
on the 21st. And it is why I urge everyone who agrees that
democracy is better than having money dominate our political
process to join this bandwagon. We need you and you need us.
Neither of us can do it alone. To learn how you can help,
go to www.citizenactionny.org or call 518 678-3516.