At press time it was learned that a special meeting of
the town board, planned for 6pm Thursday May 24th, is
going to be another showdown over the Phoenicia sewer
The issue is whether the board will vote to authorize
Supervisor Robert Cross Jr. to commit to accepting the
deal as currently offered by the City of New York.
On Monday Cross was clear about the plan for the meeting.
He said he knew the anti-project contingent, which has
complained long and loud about the Board’s efforts
to make the project come to fruition, would probably be
out again to insist that the project not move forward.
At the same time, Cross also said he expects supporters
of the project, who have been quiet in comparison, to
be at the session to insist the plan move ahead, especially
now that nearby Boiceville has weighed in so strongly
in favor of a similar, but differently-funded project
for that community.
“What does Phoenicia know that Boiceville doesn’t?”
Cross said. “Absolutley nothing. It’s the
Supporters of a $10.7 million waste treatment system overwhelmed
the project’s opposition two weeks ago in Boiceville,
where voters in the hamlet ushered in the plan via referendum
Out of 148 possible votes from within this small hamlet
on the banks of the Esopus Creek which feeds the City
of New York’s Ashokan reservoir, 96 were cast at
the firehouse, which sits next door to the site slated
to hold the new treatment plant.
Of those who voted in Boiceville, 80 supported the project
and only 16 opposed.
In contrast Phoenician’s defeated the $17 million
Phoenicia project, in a much closer referendum held in
February, by a vote of 156-123.
Since then New York City Officals, as well as EPA officals,
have made it clear they want the Phoenicia project to
move forward despite the defeat at the polls. The City
has proposed a cooling off period for the community to
revisit the plan, but wants a statement from the town
by the end of this month saying the town will not try
and negotiate details of the deal any further.
“That’s the biggest part of this meeting,”
Jack Jordan has become the first individual this year
to announce that he’s considering a candidacy for
the Shandaken Town Board this November.
There are three seats up for grabs on the five member
board this time around…and all three are held by
Republicans while the other two are currently held by
Democrat Peter DiSclafani and Rebublican Robert Stanley,
both of whom have terms running until 2010.
On Tuesday Joe Munster, whose term ends this year, was
still on the fence when asked whether he would seek re-election.
“I haven’t decided yet,” he said.
Robert Cross Jr., the town Supervisor whose second two-year
term ends this year, remains tight lipped on his plans.
Cross could not be reached for comment, but when last
asked he told reporters he had made up his mind but was
keeping the decision private until the appropriate time.
Jane Todd, who could not be reached for comment, has yet
to announce any plans to seek re-election.
Jordan, a five year resident of Pine Hill with multiple
education degrees from SUNY-New Paltz, was until February
2007 the interim Superintendent for the Onteora School
district, replacing the late Justine Winters. Before that
he was Sullivan County BOCES Director of Secondary programs,
former superintendent of the Jeffersonville-Youngsville
School District (which he merged), former principal of
the Tri Valley High School in the 209 corridor, and a
former high school social studies teacher and sports coach
specializing in basketball and golf. He has served on
the Claryville Fire Department, the Town of Denning board
of tax assessment, and the Sullivan County Chamber of
On Tuesday Jordan said he had not made any commitment
yet to a run.
“I’m considering it,” he said. “In
fact I’m meeting with some people tonight to talk
The people Jordan was referring to are members of the
Shandaken Republican Club. Jordan said he has been in
contact with Club president Joanne Kalb. He said the meeting
Tuesday, slated for after press time, was an opportunity
for the Republicans to talk things over with Jordan and
see if he would be a candidate that would represent the
Another potential town board candidate that Republicans
are interested in is said to be Joan Lawrence Bauer, a
former publicist for Crossroads Ventures and currently
the Executive Director of the M-ARK project in Arkville.
She was previously registered as a Democrat.
“I’ve heard that too,” Jordan said.
However, Lawrence Bauer did not return calls Tuesday so
her intentions remain unclear
A much-anticipated investigation into the county jail
debacle will be postponed yet again as county legislators
go over a proposed $90,200 budget and scope of work more
The Law Enforcement Center project began under Republican
leadership in the Legislature, when current county Chamber
of Commerce director Ward Todd was the body’s chairman.
Democrats took the county majority in 2006 after making
the jail debacle a key campaign issue.
The new jail opened in February, nearly three years after
its initial target date. The Legislature originally approved
the project at an estimated $53 million, but bids came
in at $71.8 million. The county has settled all but two
of its claims, making the project’s total cost $95.2
million. Claims with the construction manager and architect
are still outstanding.
The investigative committee asked for $90,200 to fund
its work, including up to $69,500 for an investigative
consultant; and an estimated $3,500 for clerical services;
$3,000 for legal filing fees and subpoenas; $500 to establish
a tip hotline; $4,000 for stenographic and transcription
fees; $1,500 for travel expenses; and $8,200 of contingency
funds in the case of unforeseen costs.
Tracey Bartels, a non-enrolled legislator from Gardiner,
and chairwoman of the jail investigative committee, had
wanted to complete the work by the end of August.
The investigation will include a review of all documents,
contracts, bids, correspondence and schedules related
to the new jail. It will also encompass interviews and
testimonials from individuals and groups involved in the
The committee chose West Park consultant John Mavretich
to conduct initial interviews, review and analyze documents
and prepare legislators for formal interviews that require
subpoenas, along with other necessary tasks.
On May 30 at 6 PM a special meeting of the Onteora School
board will be held at the Middle/High School to discuss
the future of the district. The meeting will reflect the
results of a community forum held March 3 in which people
were asked about specifics on the three plans proposed.
Statements based on strengths, weaknesses, threats, opportunities
and concerns on how to renovate and reconfigure the district’s
buildings often contradicted each other, then. For example
many mentioned a dislike of redistricting students outside
of their neighborhood schools, but others used it as a
possibility to keep an additional school open. Some list
having a central campus as ideal because all communities
will be treated equally, while others are concerned that
the unique character of a community school will be lost.
All will now enter more serious discussion.
Attend if you can…
Also, students will have an extended holiday this week
with Onteora taking an extra snow day to let the school
off from midday Thursday to Tuesday morning. Have fun…
No Plan B?
According to the Belleayre Resort’s DEIS, plans
for providing potable water for the proposed western side
of the resort have always centered on an access or sale
arrangement with the public water supply from the nearby
Village of Fleishmanns. But although five years ago Crossroads
Ventures did receive a vague letter from a previous mayor
expressing a willingness to discuss it, no formal arrangement
to access the village’s sources has ever been put
In advance of May’s Village Board meeting, project
investor Ken Pasternak was rumored to be making a planned
presentation to the village on that very subject. Pasternak
never came, but questions on the subject did. With four
of five village trustees present, the answers seemed to
come back clear and unanimous.
No, any advance word of a presentation by Pasternak were
“rumors.” No, no discussion on the subject
is currently planned or expected. And in answer to a direct
question as to whether the village might consider such
a request in the future, the answer wasn’t remotely
“We can’t even think about selling them water,”
said Mayor Kathleen Wilber. “We don’t know
how much we have or how much we’ll need.”
Finally, asked if they were aware that the developer appeared
to be looking for somewhere between 200,000 and 400,000
gallons of potable water per day, the general response
seemed to be that that was pretty funny.
“That’s a LOT of water,” agreed the
We’ll keep you posted…
Ulster County Administrator Michael Hein recently announced
the schedule for four regional County Budget Meetings,
to be held in June. The purpose of these meetings is to
provide an opportunity for the general public to have
input on the county budget substantially earlier than
in the past. The County Administrator’s Office will
also discuss the mandated portion of the budget and the
services offered by the county.
The first meeting will take place Monday, June 18 in the
Town of Lloyd Town Hall; the second is set for Tuesday,
June 19 in the Town of Rochester at the Accord Fire District
Bldg; the third is on Wednesday, June 20 in the Woodstock
Community Center on Rock City Road, and the fourth is
in Kingston on Thursday, June 21 at the Ulster County
Office Building, 244 Fair Street.
The Hunter Village Inn, a Greene County Main Street nightspot
that was key to the Hunter winter ski scene for years
– and host to numerous fights and several deaths
over the years — was destroyed by a fire that started
the evening of Sunday, May 13 and continued into the following
morning. The inn, opposite the Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl,
had been closed the day before it burned and was unoccupied
at the time of the fire. Five fire companies fought the
blaze, bringing the number of firefighters on the scene
to about 100. A cause and origin team was investigated
the scene to determine how the fire started and has yet
to release a ruling, even though Hunter firefighters told
the press that they did not believe the origin was suspicious.
Over the past 20 years, over a dozen major structures
along Route 23A in Hunter and Tannersville have burned
to the ground under similar circumstances.
The three-story building, at least 100 years old, contained
a bar on the ground floor and rooms on the upper floors,
and collapsed in on itself as it burned. Route 23A in
the village of Hunter was closed for several hours during
the firefighting effort because hoses were run across
the street to hydrants.
The Hunter Village Inn, known by many as the HVI, made
news last year when a bouncer was charged in the Feb.
4, 2006, death of a bar patron. The man, who was charged
with criminally negligent homicide, was later acquitted
by a Greene County jury who concluded the death occurred
as the result of cardiac arrest due to asphyxiation, with
heavy alcohol consumption a likely culprit.
More Bad FAD
Greene County is seeking changes to a plan to grant New
York City a 10-year extension of a federal variance allowing
it to avoid filtering its upstate water supply. Last week,
the county Legislature unanimously adopted a resolution
urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which
grants the waiver, to limit its “filtration avoidance
determination” to five years.
In addition to calling for a reduction in the length of
the waiver, the county resolution urges the federal agency
to incorporate comments by municipal leaders in the city’s
watershed and hold hearings on flooding within the watershed
and in adjoining areas. The resolution also urges the
city to open land within the watershed for recreational
purposes on par with state-owned lands, require the city
to create voids in its reservoirs to take into account
the potential for flooding from excessive rain and melting
snow, and require the city to fund the Coalition of Watershed
Towns with an amount adequate to establish an ombudsman
program to advocate for municipal needs.
The resolution, provided by state representatives, is
making its way through local municipalities in the watershed
before a review period runs out on the EP decision at
the end of this month..
Some have noted that, with the Coalition of Watershed
Towns having failed to make its problems with the FAD
known more forcefully or in a timely fashion, the best
that could be hoped now would be canoeing on the reservoirs,
and maybe the ability for hunters to shoot geese with
As for the expansion to ten years, others have pointed
out that that may be a good thing, keeping the city from
adding to regulations every five years, as has been their
The Onteora Community Junior Football Committee is continuing
its push to offer local kids the chance to learn the fundamentals
of contact football via the setting up of teams to compete
in the Kingston Area Jr. Football League, which plays
in Dietz Stadium.
Registration is for 13 and below, with all 13-year-old
players needing to be in the 7th grade and only able to
play interior line positions. Weight restrictions are
There will be a Junior Division for 8-10 year olds and
a Senior Division for 11-13 year olds. Sign ups for the
2007 season will take place starting at 10:00 AM on June
2, at Olive Meeting Hall on Bostock Road in Shokan. Uniforms
and equipment will be ordered based on turnout at that
time. There will be a league mini camp on August 13,14
and 15 at Dietz Stadium each evening from 6 to 8 PM; League
team practices then start august 16th.
The Onteora Community Junior Football Committee is committed
to helping the Onteora School District rebuild the Onteora
Football Program by enlisting children ages 8-13 to learn
the fundamentals of contact football in a community league.
By joining forces with the Kingston Area Jr. Football
League in Kingston, children in the Onteora communities
of Woodstock, Shandaken, Hurley, Marbletown and Olive
will have the opportunity to play the game of contact
football prior to entering seventh grade. The committee’s
philosophy is that of engaging and teaching children football
fundamentals so they have basic skill before entering
the Onteora Middle School and join the Onteora Modified
The Kingston Area Junior Football League was started in
1971 to provide a safe and healthy environment for young
people to learn the game. The goal of the Onteora Community
Junior Football Committee is to organize two new teams,
a junior and senior team, each with 20- 25 players. All
players that join our new team will have the opportunity
to give their team a name and pick the colors of their
uniforms. All games will be played at Dietz Memorial Stadium.
Monday night games are played under the lights and a real
treat for the kids. Practices will be at our community
The Committee is presently seeking donations for the initial
start-up cost for uniforms and equipment. The cost for
the uniforms and equipment is approximately $100 per player.
The initial total cost would be $5,000.. Once the new
teams have acquired the uniforms and equipment, a yearly
registration of $75 should support the program.
For further information contact Cindy O’Connor at
657-2620, Wally Fulford at 657-6471, or Gene Sorbellini
A head-on collision on May 18 between a car and a New
York City Department of Environmental Protection vehicle
on state Route 28 sent three people to the hospital, two
of them in serious condition. The DEP vehicle failed to
keep right, according to state police at Ulster, and struck
a black Acura head-on. The female driver of the Acura
was flown by helicopter to Albany Medical Center in serious
condition. Her passenger, a man, was flown to Westchester
Medical Center. Police said the man’s injuries were
more serious than the woman’s but provided no further
details. The driver of the DEP vehicle, a man, was taken
to Kingston Hospital with minor injuries, police said.
He was ticketed for failure to keep right.
The Onteora Central School District is seeking to showcase
its beautiful setting and surroundings with a new 2007-2008
Onteora District Calendar that includes local photos.
Amateur and professional photographers, as well as students,
are invited to participate in a Photo Contest. Entrants
need not be residents of the District, but photos must
be taken within its boundaries and should not include
people as subjects.
Contestants may submit a maximum of six entries. Please
send high-quality, high-resolution, black and white or
color prints (no slides or negatives). Prints may be no
larger than 8x10-inches and no smaller than 4x6-inches.
Do not mount photos as this makes them difficult to scan.
Entry forms and guidelines can be obtained on the Onteora
School District website at www.onteora.k12.ny.us, by emailing
email@example.com, or attending a Board meeting
where flyers will be available.
The Onteora School District Calendar is sent to all District
residents with a circulation of approximately 13,500.
Contest winners will be recognized by photo credit and
caption as well as be invited to a recognition reception
featuring their work as part of a Board of Education meeting
in the Fall of 2007. Judging of entries will be made by
members of the District’s Communications Committee.
Mail or deliver entries to: Onteora Central School District,
Central Administration/Communications Committee, Attention:
Margaret Tinti-Harking, Photo Contest Entry, P.O. Box
300, 4166 State Route 28, Boiceville, NY 12412. Entries
may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline for entries is 4 PM, Friday, June 15, 2007.
Like the canaries that once warned of danger in mine shafts,
migrating birds are becoming harbingers of another risk
- climate change. Confused and disoriented by erratic
weather, birds are changing migration habits and routes
to adjust to warmer winters, disappearing feeding grounds
and shrinking wetlands. Failure to adapt risks extinction,
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body
of some 2,500 scientists, has warned in a series of authoritative
reports this year that high emissions of greenhouse gases
- mainly from power plants, industries and vehicles -
are likely to raise the Earth’s average temperatures
by at least 2 degrees Centigrade, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit,
which is predicted to drive up to 30 percent of known
animal species to extinction.
Migrating birds are especially vulnerable. Climate change
can strike at each stage of their annual trek, from breeding
ground to rest stops along their flyways, to the final
destination. Studies cited by the organization say arctic
permafrost and tundra where many species breed is melting.
Even moderate rises in sea levels can swamp wetlands where
travelers stop to feed. Deserts are expanding, lengthening
the distance between rests.
Birds face starvation when they arrive too early or too
late to find their normal diet of insects, plankton or
fish. With warmer winters in the north, some birds have
stopped migrating altogether, leaving them at risk when
the next cold winter strikes.
The Catskill Watershed Corporation will once again support
groups and individuals who clean litter and other debris
from streambanks in their neighborhoods. The CWC will
provide trash bags, gloves and tokens of appreciation
for those who choose to serve their communities in this
way. Call Kim Ackerley at 845-586-1400 to arrange to get
these items, or for suggestions on areas that need attention.
Volunteers might wish to coordinate their efforts with
National River Clean-up Week sponsored by American Rivers
June 2-10, 2007. Go to www.nationalrivercleanup.org to
register your group, get trash tracking forms and more.
The NYC Department of Environmental Protection is also
coordinating clean-ups at the Ashokan Reservoir June 2;
the Schoharie Reservoir Sept. 8; the Pepacton Reservoir
August 11; the Rondout Reservoir Sept. 15 and the Neversink
Reservoir September 29. Contact Amy Flavin (845-340-7530,
or email@example.com) for more information on how to
lend a hand with those projects.
Meanwhile, high school students from New York City and
local upstate schools recently joined forces to protect
local land and downstate drinking water. On May 15th,
45 students planted trees to enhance a streamside vegetation
zone next to an important water source in the City’s
“This marks the fifth year of a project that not
only benefits the stream by promoting establishment of
woody vegetation,” said Michael Courtney of Cornell
Cooperative Extension of Ulster County, “the project
is also valuable in the experience it offers to high school
students to participate in beneficial stewardship of lands
and make a connection with the source of their drinking
To date 130 students from six schools- Margaretville,
Onteora, Gilboa and Jefferson Central, High School for
Environmental Studies and Gompers have contributed to
planting over 700 trees. This year’s planting efforts
will focus on installing large maple and river birches
plus a variety of small native seedlings. The Beaver Kill
flows into the Esopus Creek, which in turn flows into
the Ashokan Reservoir, an integral part of the Catskill
The powerful senior lobby AARP announced an ambitious
expansion in the health-care products it markets to older
Americans, targeting in particular the roughly 7 million
who are still under the age of 65 and have no coverage.
As part of the expansion, the 38 million-member organization
renewed and expanded a longstanding contract with UnitedHealth
Group Inc. to continue to sell AARP-branded indemnity
health plans, Medicare supplement policies and drug benefit
plans. It will also market private, comprehensive Medicare
plans, known as Medicare Advantage, under the AARP name.
The group also struck a new partnership with Aetna Inc.
to design, underwrite and administer a range of health
plans for the under-65 set.
AARP says its move is an effort to improve the health
and to bring more affordable and stable health care coverage
to a population that increasingly finds it out of reach.
Unless they’re covered by an employer, many Americans
between the ages of 50 and 64 find individual insurance
either too expensive or simply unavailable from health
insurers eager to avoid customers in declining health.
AARP executives say the deals will help them reach their
target of providing health insurance products to roughly
14 million people by 2014, up from 7 million today. AARP
said the plans would become available at the beginning
The Ulster County Legislature’s Environmental Committee
is offering its support for a Community Preservation Act
- proposed state legislation that would enable towns to
institute a real estate transfer tax dedicated to protecting
natural resources. The proposed legislation, which has
passed the state Assembly but still needs Senate approval,
would allow for a real estate transfer fee of up to 2
percent. Money from the one-time tax on homebuyers would
go into a fund dedicated to protecting natural wildlife
habitats, working family farms and historical property.
It could also be used to buy development rights and build
parks and trails. Towns could choose to opt in, but would
have to get the public’s consent via a referendum.
The tax would be paid by homebuyers and would only apply
to the portion of a home that exceeds the median sale
price - an exemption designed to protect affordable housing.
Marbletown Supervisor Vincent Martello praised the Community
Preservation Act along with representatives of Scenic
Hudson, The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development
and The Nature Conservancy at a meeting of the Environmental
Committee last week. The towns of New Paltz, Gardiner
and Marbletown have all adopted bond acts to save farms
and preserve open space.
The act has drawn opposition from developers and real
estate agents in other areas, but Andy Bicking, director
of education and volunteers for Scenic Hudson, said local
builders often benefit from preservation efforts.
Currently, towns must receive permission from the state
Legislature to put such a tax up for the public’s
vote. Red Hook voters in Dutchess County approved a preservation
tax early this month. Some towns in Ulster County have
already adopted resolutions supporting the state enabling
legislation, including Gardiner, Marbletown, Olive, Rosendale,
New Paltz and Woodstock.
A group of local businesspeople is exploring development
of a green hamlet in the Town of Marbletown and long before
they draft plans for the 147-acre apple orchard in Stone
Ridge, they want input from the community. The land, at
the intersection of routes 209 and 213 could be developed
for residential and mixed use in a traditional neighborhood
setting, said one of the partners in the project, architect
“It’s an open, big idea, we think, to come
to the town before we have designed anything to see whether
or not one of their critical pieces of land, which has
been offered by the landowner right in the center of the
hamlet, could be considered in a very visionary way for
a 21st century approach to hamlet design, incorporating
demonstration level green strategies with a radically
open community collaboration process,” he said.
The project could even include a new town hall and other
amenities; all constructed and operated using green principles.
Hakim Rashada, 8, of Kingston, was the first prize winner
at Take a Kid Fishing Day on the Ashokan Reservoir May
12. Hakim reeled in a 19-inch brown trout. Second place
went to Nicholas Keefe of Olive, who landed a 17-inch
small mouth bass. Nicholas’ brother Jonathan took
third with a 16 1/4-inch smallmouth. The event, co-sponsored
by the Catskill Watershed Corp. and the NYC Department
of Environmental Protection, drew 48 people to the Woodstock
Dike on a brilliant spring day. Bushkill Rod & Gun
Club donated bait for the event. Fishing Days are also
planned for June 9 at the Rondout Reservoir and June 23
at the Cannonsville Reservoir. Call Paul Thiesing at the
DEP, 914-773-4553, for information and directions.
Margaretville United Methodist Church is sponsoring a
Community Concert to benefit the family of NYS Trooper
David Brinkerhoff, who lost his life in the line of duty
in the Delaware County community just up Route 28 last
month. The concert will be Sunday, June 3rd, at 2:30 p.m.,
at the Church, which is located at 55 Church Street in
Margaretville, next door to the Fire Hall. Theconcert
has been planned as a way for the wider community to say
thank you and to lend a helping hand to the brave family
who sacrificed so much for local safety. There will be
no admission charge for the concert, but a free will offering
will be taken. Many well-known local performers have come
together to organize this event. Those wishing to donate
to this worthy cause but who can’t come to the concert
can send donations to Margaretville United Methodist Church,
PO Box 438, Margaretville NY 12455. Please make your checks
out to “Margaretville United Methodist Church”
and note on the memo of your check “Brinkerhoff
Starting at 7 PM on Friday, June 1 in Room LC 100, Lecture
Center, SUNY New Paltz, a special panel discussion will
be held on the hot topic, “Was the 2004 Election
Stolen?” Among those addressing the issue, recently
brought up amidst the probe into US Atto0rney firings
and the politicization of the Attorney Genera;’s
office under Alberto Gonzales, will be BBC Journalist
and bestselling author Greg Palast, Steve Freeman of “Was
the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen?: Exit Polls, Election
Fraud, and the Official Count,” the Election Defense
Alliance’s Jonathan Simon; Bo Lipari of New Yorkers
for Verified Voting, and Nancy Tobi, co-founder of Democracy
for New Hampshire)
The premise of the evening runs like this: In the last
few elections millions of Americans were illegally prevented
from voting, another million were given provisional ballots
that were never counted, and still millions more voted
electronically, only to have their votes left uncounted
or switched. Even the evidence published by the US Census
Bureau reported a 3.4 million vote discrepancy in the
official tally in 2004.
For more information contact Northeast Citizens for Responsible
Media at www.re-media.org.
That Plame Game
Attorneys for Vice President Cheney and top White House
officials have told a federal judge that they cannot be
held liable for anything they disclosed to reporters about
covert CIA officer Valerie Plame or her husband, former
ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. The officials, who include
senior White House adviser Karl Rove and Cheney’s
former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter”
Libby, argued that the judge should dismiss a lawsuit
filed by the couple that stemmed from the disclosure of
Plame’s identity to the media. The suit claims that
Cheney, Libby, Rove and former deputy secretary of state
Richard L. Armitage violated the couple’s privacy
and constitutional rights by publicly revealing Plame’s
identity in an effort to retaliate against Wilson, who
publicly accused the Bush administration of twisting intelligence
to exaggerate Iraq’s nuclear threat and justify
The lawyers said any conversations Cheney and the officials
had about Plame with one another or with reporters were
part of their normal duties because they were discussing
foreign policy and engaging in an appropriate “policy
dispute.” Cheney’s attorney went further,
arguing that Cheney is legally akin to the president because
of his unique government role and has absolute immunity
from any lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge John D. Bates asked: “So you’re
arguing there is nothing - absolutely nothing - these
officials could have said to reporters that would have
been beyond the scope of their employment,” whether
the statements were true or false?
“That’s true, Your Honor. Mr. Wilson was criticizing
government policy,” said Jeffrey S. Bucholtz, deputy
assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s
civil division. “These officials were responding
to that criticism.”
Erwin Chemerinsky, a Duke University law professor who
is representing Wilson and Plame, said the leak was no
typical policy debate. President Bush himself said that
revealing Plame’s identity could be illegal conduct
and a firing offense, he told Bates. He added that after
Plame’s cover was blown, the couple feared for their
safety and their children’s safety and Plame lost
any opportunity for advancement at the CIA.
The Rotary Club of Phoenicia has drawn note to several
sophomore students at Onteora Central School who were
selected to receive full scholarships to the 2007 Rotary
Youth Leadership Awards Conference, which will be conducted
at Mount St. Mary’s College, Newburgh, from June
24 through June 28. The scholarships were awarded to Harrison
Edwards of Chichester, and Claire Wilsey of Phoenicia,
who qualified as students who demonstrate leadership potential
in the school and /or community. The program is designed
to strengthen and develop leadership skills through presentations
on the concepts and components related to leadership and
in an environment which offers the opportunity to discuss,
exchange ideas, and practice the skills with other students
from the Mid-Hudson region.
Hotel chain Marriott International Inc. is well on its
way to meeting its expansion goals and is keeping its
forecast for U.S. revenue growth this year, Chairman and
Chief Executive J. W. “Bill” Marriott said
“In the next three years we plan to add 85,000 to
100,000 hotel rooms worldwide and have a portfolio in
2009 of 600,000 rooms, 120,000 of which will be outside
North America,” he told a news conference. “We
are well on the way to meeting our target.”
At the end of March the company had 517,202 rooms worldwide.
Marriott said the group was “very close” to
presenting a new boutique hotel brand concept. He said
this would be positioned just below its luxury Ritz Carlton
brand and consist of hotels with an average of around
200 rooms. They also announced they had won approval to
open a new 118-room hotel, near Paris’s Arc de Triomphe,
under its Renaissance brand in 2009 and would be looking
at adding properties in and around the French capital
and elsewhere in France.
On the United States, Marriott said his chain was maintaining
its forecast for revenue per available room growth of
between 6 and 8 percent. But he stressed that the company
was also looking at acquisitions to accelerate development
elsewhere in Europe.
Marriott has long been rumored to be one of the larger
concerns interested in buying out the proposed Belleayre
Resort, should it ever get built.
One theme runs through any discussion of housing issues
in the Hudson Valley and Catskills: the cost of housing
is outstripping the ability of many people to pay for
it. That was a point made many times at a two-hour roundtable
discussion organized by State Senator John Bonacic, chairman
of the Senate Housing, Construction and Community Development
Committee. Among the participants, at the still under
construction Horizons at Wurtsboro senior housing project
in Sullivan County, were State Housing Commissioner Deborah
VanAmerongen, State Mortgage Agency (SONYMA) President
Priscilla Almodovar, county planners, developers and not-for-profit
officials from around the region.
Larry Regan, of Regan Development Corporation, builders
of the Horizons project, said people are fleeing Rockland
and Westchester for the Catskills and Hudson Valley to
search for affordable housing. The alternative is staying
put, and paying half your income for housing.
Several speakers pointed out the $60,000 disparity between
a prospective homebuyer’s average income and what
is typically needed to afford what is now the medial price
home in the Catskills - $195,000.
Regan said solutions must include tackling political realities:
municipal officials reluctant to open their doors to low-income
or workforce housing.
“To give exactly what you were just saying, political
cover to these leaders, so that they feel like they can
sell it to their community,” he said. “Not
only floating workforce housing zones, but PILOTs [Payment
In Lieu of Taxes]. Selling a PILOT is the hardest thing
a municipal leader can do.”
“Affordable housing needs to be presented as part
of the infrastructure for economic development”,
said Alice Dickinson, of the Rural Development Advisory
Housing Commissioner VanAmerongen said creativity may
work in bringing around reluctant municipal officials.
“They are letting the ‘not in my back yard’
…the NIMBY interests… keep affording out.
We really have to look at what incentives the state can
provide and I think we’re much more focused on a
carrot than a stick approach in this area.”
When the idea of building a new US embassy in Baghdad
was first mooted by the American administration in the
aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, there seemed to be
a grandiose logic to it. The compound, by the side of
the Tigris, would be a statement of President Bush’s
intent to expand democracy through the Middle East. Now,
however, the entire project is under fresh scrutiny as
new details emerge of its cost and scale.
Rising from the dust of the city’s Green Zone it
is destined, at $592 million, to become the biggest and
most expensive US embassy on earth when it opens in September.
It will cover 104 acres of land, about the size of the
Vatican. It will include 27 separate buildings and house
about 615 people behind bomb-proof walls. Most of the
embassy staff will live in simple, if not quite monastic,
accommodation in one-bedroom apartments. The US ambassador,
however, will enjoy a little more elbow room in a high-security
home on the compound reported to fill 16,000 square feet.
His deputy will have to make do with a more modest 9,500
They will have a pool, gym and communal living areas,
and the embassy will have its own power and water supplies.
But commentators and Iraq experts believe the project
was flawed from its inception, and have raised concerns
it will become an enormous, heavily targeted white elephant
that will be an even greater liability if and when the
Americans scale back their presence in Iraq.
“What you have is a situation in which they are
building an embassy without really thinking about what
its functions are,” Edward Peck, a former American
diplomat in Iraq, recently told reporters. “What
kind of embassy is it when everybody lives inside and
it’s blast-proof, and people are running around
with helmets and crouching behind sandbags?”
Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 about 1,000
US diplomatic and military staff have been using one of
his former palaces as a make-shift embassy, which several
observers have criticized as giving the regrettable impression
that the Americans merely replaced Saddam’s authoritarian
rule with their own.
The need to make the compound secure is a top priority.
The Green Zone - the fortified four square miles in which
the Iraqi and American governments and other international
officials operate - used to be relatively peaceful but
in recent months has come under almost daily rocket and
mortar fire. This month the US embassy ordered its people
to wear flak jackets and helmets at all times when in
the open after four foreign contractors were killed by
a rocket landing beside the present embassy.
The multiple cranes surrounding the construction site
of the new embassy have already attracted attacks from
insurgents. Last week five contractors were wounded in
a rocket assault. Despite the peculiar pressures, though,
the Bush administration says the embassy will open in
September, and be fully staffed by the end of the year.
“A fortress-style embassy, with a huge staff, will
remain in Baghdad until
helicopters come to airlift the last man and woman from
the roof,” said one embassy employee in a recent
news report, anonymously. “Include a large roof.”
The Big Divide
The growing divide between the rich and poor in America
is more generation gap than class conflict, according
to a new analysis of federal government data. The rich
are getting richer, but what’s received little attention
is who these rich people are. Overwhelmingly, they’re
Nearly all additional wealth created in the USA since
1989 has gone to people 55 and older, according to Federal
Reserve data. Wealth has doubled since 1989 in households
headed by older Americans.
Not so for younger Americans. Households headed by people
in their 20s, 30s and 40s have barely kept up with inflation
or have fallen behind since 1989. People 35 to 50 actually
have lost wealth since 1989 after adjusting for inflation,
Fed data show.
Older people have always been wealthier than younger ones.
What’s changed is the disparity between the generations.
Old people have been racing ahead, helped by government
retirement benefits. Young people are running in place,
partly because they’re delaying careers to get more
education. In the USA, income typically peaks at age 57
and wealth tops out at 63, according to the Fed’s
Survey of Consumer Finance. Wealth describes a person’s
net worth - assets minus debts - and reflects a lifetime’s
accumulation of income, investments and inheritances.
Income measures how much a person earned in a single year.
The growing gap between rich and poor has raised concerns
about social justice, the fairness of the tax system and
other issues. Congressional Democrats, Federal Reserve
Chairman Ben Bernanke and President Bush have expressed
concerns about economic inequality, although there is
no consensus about what, if anything, should be done.
The increase in the wealth of older people tracks a sharp
reduction in elderly poverty that began in the 1960s,
when Medicare was introduced and Social Security benefits
were improved. And the wealth gap between young and old
is on a path to grow even more extreme as baby boomers
- 79 million people born from 1946 to 1964 - enter their
years of greatest wealth and maximum government benefits.
The April unemployment rate in the Hudson Valley is just
one-tenth of a percent above that of Long Island, which
had the lowest rate in the state. The Hudson Valley rate
was 3.3 percent; the Long Island rate was 3.2 percent.
Among metropolitan statistical areas in the state, Ulster
County has the greatest private sector growth rate, said
Labor Department analyst John Nelson. The Ulster County
MSA grew at 2.4 percent. In second place was the City
of New York MSA at 1.7 percent growth. The Putnam-Rockland-Westchester
MSA was fourth in the state in terms of private sector
growth. Dutchess-Orange was sixth.
Putnam County also had the lowest unemployment rate in
the state at 2.8 percent. Rockland and Westchester were
tied for third place at 3.1 percent. Dutchess was in sixth
at 3.3 percent; Ulster in eighth place at 3.4 percent.
Columbia County’s rate of joblessness was 3.6 percent;
Orange was 3.7 percent; Greene County was at 4.6 percent;
and Sullivan County was at 4.8 percent.