(Letters from February 15, 2007)
When the president of the Shandaken Republican Club, Joanne
Kalb, who is also a member of the planning board, states out
loud for all to hear in Town
Hall at the end of the February 5th town meeting "I DON'T
GIVE A SH_T ABOUT PHOENICIA.....WAIT 'TIL THE CITY CONDEMNS
YOU!, -- All this while the video camera was still taping
the meeting. She, through her own words has sent a very chilling
and disturbing message to all of the residents of our hamlet.
When the chosen leader of the Republican Club and a planning
board member expresses such virulent distaste for our town,
it makes one wonder if our Town Board's actions are taken
on our behalf or if, perhaps, there may be a secret hidden
agenda planned to, in some way, harm or destroy our town.
With an attitude like that, Joanne Kalb has absolutely NO
place being on the planning board of this town. She should
submit her resignation immediately
and, if she chooses not to, it should be asked for by the
I love this town. That's why I bought my home here six years
ago and I fully intend to spend the rest of my life in Phoenicia.
I, for one, find Joanne Kalb's words frightening and disconcerting
and believe it's time for a change in leadership... TIME TO
FIND PEOPLE WHO DO GIVE A (TO USE JOANNE KALB'S WORD) "SH_T"
Last Monday, February 5, I attended a regular meeting of the
Serving in an elected office can be difficult under ordinary
circumstances. Unfortunately what goes on in Shandaken is
by no means ordinary. As the Board attempted to conduct town
business, I was appalled to witness fellow residents shouting
out demeaning and rude comments. Refusing to follow the simplest
of rules, a small rowdy contingent insulted, heckled and verbally
abused Town Board Members. What makes matters worse is this
goes on month after month.
No one should be subjected to this onslaught of rude behavior.
I applaud the Town Board’s civility in the face of the
actions of a few outrageous and totally inappropriate individuals.
Somehow in their noisy chaos, common decency and a willingness
to listen have been lost by those who want to obstruct everything.
I want to commend and thank each and every member of the Board
for your efforts to continue to do the town’s work.
I believe I speak for many in our town who find the actions
of a few abhorrent.
Big Indian, NY
Property Tax Reform: Is STAR the Solution? NO, Not Even Close.
Most homeowners in New York State can't afford their property
taxes and Governor Spitzer’s expanded STAR, announced
today (1/30/07) provides scarcely a band-aid's relief.
There are several fundamental design flaws inherent in the
current STAR exemption program:
• The STAR exemption targets property taxes paid, which
skews the program toward rich counties and property owners,
instead of those of lesser means who are stressed by the ever-increasing
level of property taxation. As a result, according to the
New York Fiscal Policy Institute, the benefit to the richest
New York school districts was $1875 per student, nearly 250%
of the $762 / student received by the poorest school districts.
• STAR provides no benefit to renters, either directly
to them or indirectly to their landlords.
• The STAR exemption program ignores the cost side of
public education. Accordingly, STAR has had no effect in stemming
the rising costs of education at the local level. To the contrary,
data show that school costs (including pension and medical
benefit costs) continue their upward spiral. Implementation
of the current STAR program produced only a brief hiatus in
property tax increases before they resumed their relentless
Governor Spitzer’s proposed expanded STAR exemption
delivers far too little property tax relief to those who most
Here’s an example –
The 2006 property tax on a primary residence in Ulster County,
valued at $275,000, consists of:
$4,439 School District Tax (16.14)
1,089 County (3.96)
196 Town + Highway (.713)
118 Fire (.428)
55 Library (.20)
That’s $ 872 Proposed STAR Savings under Gov. Spitzer’s
plan; $485 Current STAR Saving; and $387, an 80% increase
in exemption but only a 6.6% decrease in the overall tax rate.
The Property Tax Reform Task Force proposes that New York
State abandon STAR, and step-up to genuine reform of public
school funding. The only thing that will bring a major change
in the present level of property taxes is to shift a big part
- if not all - of school funding to the state income tax.
The Task Force, established in 2004, by the Town of Marbletown
(Ulster) and endorsed by the Association of Towns, is a statewide
citizens’ coalition of adherents from Long Island to
Niagara County, and from Red Hook to Cuba.
Carole Kraus, Leader
Property Tax Reform Task Force
The Rabbi mentioned at Friday night services that this is
the month when the almond trees blossom in Israel and I felt
a longing to be in the land where the almond trees bloom.
I read that the Arabs call this month "the one eyed"
because February has a dark face and also a bright one - "The
storms of February have the smell of summer in them,"
they say. I think of the thousands of trees (olive, almond,
carob) that have been burnt and cut down in Palestine by orders
of the Israeli government to make way for the 670 kilometer
separation wall that snakes through the land dividing its
peoples from each other and crippling lives. I remember a
poem by Ada Negri, an Italian woman poet who lived at the
time of the Second World War and I take poetic license to
substitute the words "The Almond Tree" for "The
Apricot Tree": "It was flowering this morning, the
young almond tree/ the first and only one, in the garden still
bare./In three of its highest branches/ it was flowering,
lightly: in its sublime whiteness/ it was laughing to the
blue with the stupor of childhood./ Lord, in the name/ of
these first flowers/ that innocently open their eyes/ amongst
the smell of blood, the echo of destruction, the cry/ of people,
forgive,/ forgive us, Lord."
Kudos to Republican Florida Governor Charlie Christ who after
several election debacles in Florida, has called for the removal
of touch-screen voting machines that do not produce a paper
ballot, and their replacement with the more efficient optical
scanners that produce ballots marked directly by the voter.
If we are mandated by law to replace our mechanical lever
voting machines, the New York State Board of Elections should
follow the visionary lead of the Ulster County Legislature
that passed Resolution No. 139 on April 11, 2006, "Urging
The New York State Board Of Elections To Promptly Certify
Precinct Based/Optical Scan Voting Systems For Procurement
By The Local Boards Of Elections And Urging The Ulster County
Board Of Elections To Select A PB/OS System As The New Voting
Technology For Ulster County".
History is replete with pictures from third world or war-torn
countries of endless lines of citizens waiting to vote. Amendments
to our Constitution as well as the 1965 Voter's Rights Act
have been enacted to insure that every citizen of voting age,
regardless of race, gender or economic circumstances has the
right to vote. Whatever our political views, we can all agree
that the vote is the hallmark of any democracy, and we all
deserve an accurate honest count.
Mike Harkavy, Committee Chair
Saugerties Democratic Party
Five students and two staff members from the Hudson Valley
Sudbury School joined an estimated 500,000 other protesters
from around the country at the recent "March on Washington,"
to protest President Bush's proposed "surge" of
troops in Iraq.
The trip was organized at the request of a group of students
who, although not yet old enough to vote, felt it was their
responsibility to be part of the protest. I'm proud to know
that our students feel this way.
The war in Iraq has been a constant topic of conversation
at our school since we opened, just three years ago. On Monday,
one of our students, Marina Lopez, a fifteen year old, had
a chance to talk about it with staff members from Senator
Schumer and Senator Clinton's offices. Here is what she said:
"I wasn't old enough to vote for my representatives,
but my generation and I will have to pay for this war and,
if the escalation is allowed, generations long after mine
will have to deal with the debts. I want these Senators to
look me in the eyes, and those of my generation, and tell
us truthfully that they did everything that they could to
prevent the deaths of more, innocent children."
I can't seem to get those last words out of my mind. I sensed,
when Marina asked those Senators to look into her eyes and
tell the truth, that she was asking all of us who are old
enough to participate in government if we've done all that
we can to protect and provide for her and her generation in
the future. Have we?
The day after the march, our group visited the National Archives
building and viewed, among other things, The Constitution
and the Bill of Rights. I stood there, marveling at these
corner stones of our great country, and I couldn't help but
wonder if the President had ever taken time to appreciate
them. Afterward, Tyler Anderson, an eleven year old, said:
"That was so cool. Those are the documents that allowed
us to march yesterday!" He got it. He totally got it.
At the end of Monday's meeting, Cody Cragnolin, a 13-year-old,
presented the Senator's aides with two sets of children's
shoes as part of a protest organized by Code Pink, the women's
group that had played such an important role in organizing
Saturday's protest. I could see, by the look in her eyes,
that Cody understood that the shoes represented a five-year-old
Iraqi boy and a two year old Iraqi girl - innocent, adolescent,
tragic victims of an adult war.
"I hope the Senators will bring these shoes to the senate
to remind them of the children when they vote on bills that
will affect the war."
Maybe we should all carry little shoes with us, to remind
us of what it's like to be a kid in the world these days,
and to remind us of the responsibility we have, as adults,
to keep them safe. And maybe we should listen to them more
often. After all, we share the same future. It's only fair
that they should have a say in it.
Hudson Valley Sudbury School
Oreo Joseph Palmer was 45, a 20 year veteran of the New York
Fire Department; he was the battalion chief of Engine Company
3 and Ladder 12 in Chelsea. He lived in Valley Stream NY with
his wife Debbie and their three children Dana 14, Keith 12
and Alyssa 9. Chief Palmer made it to the 78th fl. of the
south tower on the morning of September 11, 2001 sometime
shortly after the second plane hit at 9.03 am. He reported
on his radio that morning on the 78th fl. that there were
“two isolated pockets of fire which could be put out
with two lines”. On that chaotic morning Chief Palmer
intrepidly scaled the South tower, with 20 years of fire fighting
experience he quickly evaluated the situation and reported
what would be needed to bring the “Two Isolated pockets
of fire” under control.56 min after the South tower
was hit, it mysteriously collapsed killing Chief Palmer and
many other first responders. The official 9/11 mythology asks
us to believe that on Sept.11 ,2001 the South tower ,the North
tower and WTC 7 all steel frame buildings collapsed after
relatively minor fires of short duration weakened them enough
to make them lose their structural integrity. Never, I repeat
never in the history of steel frame buildings has one ever
collapsed due to fires. And on this day we are being asked
to take a leap of faith and accept that three Steel frame
buildings collapsed due to fire with absolutely no scientific
evidence to back it up. WTC 7 was a 47 story steel frame building
that housed the New York offices of the Mayor, the CIA and
the SEC. It was not struck by any plane that day. While damaged
by some debris it had only minor fires and yet it collapsed
into its own footprint in 6.5 sec at 5.20 pm on Sept 11, 2001
in the exact manner of a controlled demolition. Office fires
burn at low temperatures of 600-800 f. Jet fuel, an ordinary
hydrocarbons, maximum burning temperatures is 1200 f. in open
air. Steel melts at 2750 f. neither jet fuel nor the burning
contents of the buildings could cause the towers to buckle
or fail. All the recorded evidence from the morning of Sept.11
whether police, fire radios or official newscasts talk about
repeated explosions in the towers, explosions which rocked
the building from basement on up. We know ‘Isolated
pockets of fire” did not make two 110 story steel buildings
collapse. The Towers designed to withstand 140 mph hurricane
winds and multiple hits from jetliners came down from controlled
demolitions each in about 10 sec. We are also on this day
being asked to believe that four commercial jetliners were
hijacked and crashed yet we have no plane wreckage in four
separate locations. These massive jetliners just all vaporized
into thin air, how convenient.
Battalion Chief Oreo Joseph Palmer and about 3000 other innocent
individuals were murdered on that morning and yet justice
has not been served. The so called 9/11 Commission was a blatant
cover-up and WE MUST DEMAND THAT JUSTICE BE DONE for Chief
Palmer, his family, the 3000 other victims and for future
We have a presidential election coming up in less then two
years .Lets put the 9/11 hoax back in the major media and
make it be the number one issue for the 2008 election. Lets
put all of our so called representatives on notice that they
are either with us or against us in finding 9/11 Truth and
justice. And may we rise like a tide united in this cause
sweeping away all who stand in our way. Please join me in
this fight for truth and justice. For general info go to 911WeKnow.com
or contact me about our local campaign.
Senator Barack Obama's book, "Audacity of Hope,"
is very refreshing reading. It is separated into chapters
on issues such as values, faith, family and race.
Many East Coast-West Coast-New York-Hollywood type liberals
appear less than comfortable talking about such issues. It
is interesting that Obama has chosen to address them in a
straightforward manner which gives this reader the feeling
that Obama really believes what he is writing.
I do not think America needs to dredge through some 16 years
of White House history - eight Bush and eight Clinton - and
the congressional scandals, corruption, trickery, deceit and
name calling. There seems to be enough blame to go around
for all of the main players.
It might be very useful for America to look to a new fresh
face with new ideas, policies and progressive priorities based
on social justice for all and pragmatism rather than knee-jerk
ideologue news bite rhetoric intended to rattle the cages
of the core constituencies and special interests.
Senator Obama seems to be the candidate who can deliver for
America. Why not give the new guy a chance to show what he
can do - he certainly will not do worse than what is out there.
If you want to know more about Obama, sign up with his email
at http://obama.senate.gov/about. If you feel so inclined,
send a contribution to Obama Exploratory Committee, 235 Mass.
Ave, N.E. Washington D.C. 20002.
Hoping for a better and fairer American.
H. Clark Bell
I want to thank our many friends and neighbors who joined
us February 3 to celebrate the official opening of The Hudson
Valley LGBTQ Community Center.
More than 500 people - including several elected officials
- gathered to bear witness to this inspiring new chapter in
local history. We are grateful to the numerous local merchants
who donated goods for our reception and look forward to working
with many more of you in the months to come.
Our mission is to nurture, guide and support the LGBTQ people
of the Hudson Valley through a variety of cultural and social
service programs. We also pledge to be good neighbors to this
community. For the rest of you: Please stop by and say hello!
Thank you again for the warm welcome to the neighborhood.
Ginny Apuzzo, President
The Hudson Valley LGBTQ
I’m writing concerning the coverage of Maurice Hinchey’s
talk at the recent Ulster County Chamber of Commerce breakfast
that I attended. I thought Mr.Gruner’s question to Congressman
Hinchey regarding the proposed Belleayre project to be fair,
even if delivered with a somewhat caustic attitude. Congressman
Hinchey’s response I considered rational, informed and
evenhanded. And while Mr. Gruner’s question did result
in a smattering of supportive applause, there was at least
an equal amount of applause, if not more, garnered by Mr.
Hinchey’s response. I don’t believe Congressman
Hinchey’s supporters in the room felt any need to “defend”
him, as he had done a through job of defending his position
I think it’s great that the Chamber provides these types
of open forums for the Kingston community and applaud Ward
Todd and his staff for the great job that they do.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Gene
Knoth on being awarding the prestigious "God and Service"
award this past Boy Scout Sunday at the Memorial United Methodist
Church of Shandaken.
Recipients of this award need to have at least 5 years of
service to the church, to scouting and to the community. Those
that know Gene through his service in the Shandaken-Allaben
Hose Company and Boy Scout Troop 60 and the Church, know what
a great example he sets for the community. He gives of himself
without seeking anything in return.
We also need to say thanks to all the volunteers in the community
that, though their efforts, make our community a better place
Ken Booth, Trustee
Memorial United Methodist Church
As humbling an experience as watching your life go up in flames,
it is even more humbling to be in a banquet room packed full
of friends and neighbors all willing to lend their help and
support. Wendy and I want to express our deepest thanks to
all of those who have reached out to us during this time.
It is greatly appreciated and will never be forgotten by us.
Pine Hill, NY