(letters from July 20, 2006)
What kind of people do we want to be? And in what kind of
community do we want to live?
Over and over again, that is the question facing us; and so
far, we have seen our community violently split in an effort
to answer it.
Now, once again, we face that question with Andrew Poncic’s
dreadful water harvesting proposal.
Unlike the Belleayre Resort proposal, which some could at
least attempt to argue benefited our community, this proposal
benefits NO ONE except for Mr. Poncic and perhaps his heirs.
They stand to make lots of cash, and that is their ONLY motivation
for harvesting the water of our precious stream. They do not
want to benefit the community in any way. They do not want
to help our kids. They do not want to create a destination
for tourists, thereby bringing money and jobs to our community.
They do not want to improve their land for future generations.
All that Mr. Poncic wants to do is to make some cold hard
What is the price the rest of us will pay?
Those of us who live in Woodland Valley will see our peace
and quiet destroyed. All day long we will hear trucks thundering
up and down the road. Our stream, famous across the country
for trout, will see its temperatures rise and its trout populations
decimated. Trout fishermen will spend their dollars elsewhere.
Our children and our pets and our seniors will be at risk
as they wait for the school bus or walk along the road. Cyclists
will choose other roads — and other towns to spend their
dollars. Those of us who offer rentals will see our rental
income dry up — and the businesses to which we refer
our renters — from Sweet Sue’s to Kirk’s
to Bethken’s to tubing -- will see less business as
those people decide to vacation somewhere else. Those of us
who have invested so much time and money in our properties
will see our property values fall. Our bridges, built for
cars and bicycles, not tractor trailers, will suffer and perhaps
require yet more costly repairs.
All so that Mr. Poncic can make some cold hard cash.
Don’t live in Woodland Valley? Don’t think that
this affects you?
The Shandaken Planning Board is watching to see how all of
Shandaken reacts. Our response to Mr. Poncic’s attempted
theft of our stream water is a gauge for many of their future
decisions. Our stream is your stream — our community’s
response to this crisis may mean that your stream, your street
or even your front yard will be protected — or destroyed.
Woodland Valley, NY
(The following letter sent to Shandaken's Planning Board chairperson
The Shandaken Zoning code, Article VII - Special Permit Uses
- 116-39, General Standards, states "In authorizing any
special permit use, the Planning Board shall take into consideration
the public health, safety, and general welfare, the comfort
and convenience of the public in general and that of the immediate
neighborhood in particular."
We the undersigned, owners of all six of the adjacent neighboring
properties bordering the proposed Goodwater harvesting project
sites, strongly object to this proposal due to its obtrusive
impacts. It is not in keeping with the community character
of our neighborhood and will seriously compromise our comfort,
convenience, property values, public health, and the general
Brigitte & David Hershkovits
Marcy T. Meiller
Woodland Valley Road
I am perplexed by the assertions of those in power in the
Town of Shandaken of their supporting the development of local
businesses when in fact a unique business that attempted to
establish itself in Shandaken has been forced to relocate
Lucky Chocolates, a first-rate and creative endeavor of Rae
Stang, offering exceptional products, cookies and chocolates,
enjoyed by locals and visitors alike, tried to establish itself
on Route 28. Although permits were garnered from the Department
of Agriculture, it seems that on the local level, she didn't
fare as well.
Apparently, the changes required by the town were so complex
and expensive Ms. Stang had no choice but to get out of town.
Not only are the cookies and chocolates going, but so are
the tax dollars that would have been paid to Shandaken.
Funny, the town supports big developers, giving tax incentives
and other types of assistance, but a small, local business,
run by a talented and creative woman, offering a product of
quality and distinction, is resisted. The town offered little
in support, guidance, and encouragement.
So the tax dollars will go to Saugerties, and we who live
in or visit Shandaken and its beautiful environs lose out.
It is a shame that those in charge did not support a local
I was glad to read Mr. Teplensky's remarks that were quoted
in this paper. It is his right to make choices for his family,
but not his right to force his values on other young, vulnerable
kids. His obvious determination to make sure predatory military
recruiters have daily access to our children while they are
trying to learn is unacceptable to me, and most parents I
know. His jail-house vision for our schools assures a nightmarish
Gestapo-like educational environment of dogs and police, even
coming into our own homes! Our children are not criminals!
They are students! This awful obsession with more and bigger
jails is breaking our county and must stop before our schools
and neighborhoods are incarcerated.
Teplensky's failure to reveal his religious belief shows me
he is sympathetic with the movement to Christianize the public
school system. "Intelligent Design" is stealth code
for religious indoctrination. Teach various courses in religion,
but not in the science classroom. I strongly respect Mr. Teplensky's
right to his own beliefs, but his obvious desire to force
his personal beliefs on others makes him an bad choice for
School Superintendant. Far worse, this is a consistent national
pattern of fundamentalist religion walking hand in hand with
the military and repressive prison culture and politics. Freedom
of religion is a founding principle of America. Politics and
religion don't mix.
On another note, I wish to express support for the person
who created the post cards criticizing Bob Cross and the proposed
Belleayre Resort. They contain fair and accurate statements.
of speech is another founding principle of America. People
who run for public office must be prepared to face criticism
from their constituents. Mr. Cross does not have his temper
under control. He just got in a "fist fight" outside
town hall with someone who opposes his administration's policies.
I have heard that Mr. Gitter got in a fight with an opponent
a while back. We do not need this barroom brawl mentality
in Shandaken. I believe words are more powerful than fists
anyway. To Mr. Gitter: Please restrain yourself! Don't extend
the grotesquely elongated "Emerson Plaza Shopping Tunnel"
all the way to Route 17. To Mr. Cross: No slapping.
I apologize to everyone in Shandaken who may have been embarrassed
by the incident involving Bob Cross, Jr. and myself last week.
I would like to be very clear about something. As Rob Stanly
and Peter DiModica can attest, I was standing alone, smoking
a cigar on the town hall steps when Mr. Cross came outside
to confront me.
There are many falsehoods about the incident and its background
as reported in the Ulster County Townsman in fact so many
that I can only address a few here. One of the worst of these
is the claim that the landowners legal actions are directed
against our current town board, which they are not. Also false
is the assertion that Brian Powers and I brought these actions.
Mr. Powers is one of 27 plaintiffs and 43 members of our not-for-profit
and completely bipartisan group. He is not even one of our
Please allow me to clarify a statement I made at the meeting
that has been quoted more then once out of context. After
being spit in the face and punched by our town supervisor
I was frankly very upset. I wanted the town board to understand
our commitment and that we would not be bullied out of protecting
our rights. In conveying that in a lengthy address to the
board, I used the phrase “bury the town.” What
we want to bury, forever, is corruption in the town government.
My own feeling is that we are all one Family in Shandaken
and have no issues with any of my neighbors. I do not even
dislike either the town assessor or Bob Cross. I tried to
befriend both of them for over a year and after being misled
and lied to, I felt I had no choice but to take a stand and
bring the facts to the public.
On behalf of all the Shandaken landowners, we regret the town
has cancelled settlement discussions which Mr. Cross and I
had negotiated over several months and which I believed would
have shortly led to a resolution of the town’s tax problems
and an immediate end to all legal action against the town
and its officials. Unfortunately the town has unilaterally
chosen a different course and the most expensive one possible.
We brought our actions because our town supervisor and assessor
broke the law and violated the constitutional rights of over
250 of our taxpayers. What was done was no accident or mistake;
they knew perfectly well the town’s 2005 selective reassessment
- which is what this whole thing is about - wasn’t legal.
In fact we believe the town’s illegal action against
its own taxpayers was used to defraud the state into settling
its own long-standing dispute with the town. And if we have
to prove that in court, which the town it seems now wants
us to, we will.
We tried everything possible to resolve this before taking
legal action. Once begun, we tried everything we could to
continue to resolve it out of court. The town’s response
by contrast, continues to be unreasonable and is actually
escalating in its ridiculousness and its cost factors. For
longer than people in Shandaken can remember, most of us have
lived in fear of unfair taxation practices. We think it’s
time they all came to an end. If you think you’ve been
victimized by the town’s assessment practices, call
me at 688-2300 and let us know. We don’t care how many
acres you do or don’t own. We’re all entitled
to the equal protection under the law and to be free of fear
of its misuse by our town officials. “.
Shandaken Landowners Association
In both J. Blake Killin’s editorial and “news
story” (Ulster County Townsman 7/13/06) about the events
that occurred at the Town Board meeting on Monday 7/10, he
alleges that Peter Vinci “went after” Supervisor
Cross and that Cross was “set up”. I was one of
the three other people standing outside the building besides
and Cross. My back was to them during the incident so I can’t
comment on who slapped who first, but just previous to the
incident when we first stepped out during the break Vinci
asked me for a light for his cigar and was out on the street
smoking when Cross came out to confront him.
Why did Cross come out to Vinci when Vinci was outside having
a smoke? I’m having some trouble understanding how that
can be a set up. Since Blake was not there, how he can be
so sure of what happened outside? The incident was unfortunate
and childish but there’s no need to construct a conspiracy
As far as the lawsuit goes, if the court finds that the spot
reval was illegal, it may cost the Town taxpayers much more
money in legal expenses than a straight settlement would have,
so Cross’ attempt at “bringing home the bacon”
may result in putting the Town’s taxpayers in the frying
Pete Di Modica
Pine Hill, NY
Is the Onterora School Board confused or what? Or maybe they
forgot to do their homework. First they hire a school Superintendent
that had to resign after the board found out that he had troubles
in his district. I still can’t believe that apparently
no board member thought to make a phone call to the school
district that the Superintendent worked for before they hired
him. If they had checked it’s more then likely they
would have found that there was a big problem in that district.
As reported the board decided to hire back several special
education positions that they just voted to eliminate a few
months ago. During the budget process the board voted four-to-three
to eliminate those positions to save over $300,000.00. Now
the budget must be increased. I guess at that time they were
thinking about all the tax payers that are finding it increasingly
harder to pay their taxes. Now evidently tax payers don’t
count. Every board member that I communicated with before
the elections last May told me that they were very concerned
about the cost per student in the Onteora School district.
In fact Dave Patterson in an e mail said that the rising cost
to educate students in the district was one of his prime reasons
to run for a seat on the board. Of course the $44,000,000.00
plus budget that the board accepted earlier this year raised
the cost per student in the district.
The next turn of events that would make anyone wonder what
they were thinking is when they elected Marino D’Orazio
President of the Board when last year they ousted him. What
will be the next thing that they decide to change?
Dave Patterson stepped down as president of the school board,
at the July 11 meeting, citing the reason as lack of confidence
in him by two school board members. Patterson’s sense
of fair play and calmness will be sorely missed.
Marino D’Orazio was voted in as President. During the
course of the meeting, D’Orazio yelled and hurled accusations
LOUDLY and relentlessly over the microphone at Rita Vanacore
because they disagreed. While some board members sat helpless,
others were unsuccessful in calming down the rancor directed
at Vanacore by D’Orazio.
Regardless of who was right or wrong, D’Orazio’s
behavior is an embarrassment to the school board, to the position
he holds, and how he is seen by the community. All his bellowing
didn't win him anything. He lost what he was fighting for,
but in the fight, he showed what the board members will be
up against this year with him as president. This man is a
bully of the highest kind. He lives to argue. He is a lawyer.
He's the kid that loves to play, but runs with scissors. As
a leader, what a poor example of decorum he sets for the students
and staff of the Onteora School District.
By the end of the meeting I was shaking internally from the
episode, and expressed my concerns privately to D’Orazio
about the physical effect his yelling had on me. He blew me
off and never extended an apology as any gentleman would have
done. I expressed my concerns to two of the board members
who voted for D’Orazio to be president. They blew me
off also. It was an affront to be treated so condescendingly.
The Onteora School Board and the district are facing big issues
this year: the possible downsizing and consolidating of classrooms,
the possible building of a local campus, and the selection
of a new superintendent. The school board does not need a
tyrannical, abusive, father figure-cum-president to badger
them in their decision making.
Mr. D’Orazio, gets a vote of “no confidence”
in leadership from me.
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I finally forced myself to read the ridiculously long letter
written by Maureen O’Sullivan on the evils of hunting.
Whew, I barely have the strength left to offer a response,
but I’m going to give it a shot.
For the record, I don’t hunt any more. The last time
I shot a deer I felt awful, so I stopped doing it. I blame
catch and release fly-fishing, but the fact that I no longer
hunt notwithstanding, I found Ms. O’Sullivan’s
letter so critically flawed as to be outright offensive to
I’m sure there are a lot of rebuttal letters heading
your way full of reasons why people hunt, so I’ll leave
that to them that do and concentrate on the illegitimacy of
Ms. O’Sullivan’s attempt to use Dave Grossman’s
book, “On Killing,” to bolster her argument is
simply absurd. I haven’t read the book, but I did take
the time to Google some reviews and an abstract and I spent
about a half an hour on his Website, “Killolgy.”
Guess what? Not a word about hunting. Not even when I put
the word hunting into his site’s search engine.
The main thrust of his important research is that violence
(human on human violence, he makes quite a point about emphasizing
that) in movies, video
games and the like desensitizes humans and, in particular,
children to the killing of other humans. I am in complete
agreement with that, but to take his research, cherry pick
a bunch of stuff from it and use it completely out of context
is not only disingenuous, but can only serve to undermine
his very important work. I’m guessing Mr. Grossman would
not be pleased.
How could someone use research on the horrors of war and murder
(human on human murder) and equate it to hunting? Consider
the following quote from Ingrid Newkirk, President, People
for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: “A rat is a pig
is a dog is a boy.”
What the hey? you might rightly wonder. Simply put, the killing
of a rat is the equivalent of killing a child. Accidentally
run over a squirrel, might as well have run over a human baby.
Sorry, can’t do research on a rat just because that
research could result in curing your precious child of cancer,
because the rat has as much value in our society as your kid.
That’s how such a thing as using Mr. Grossman’s
book as an argument against hunting can be proffered. Does
this make sense to anyone?
Don’t want to hunt? Do what I do. Don’t hunt.
It’s easy and you don’t have to get up real early.
The world would be a very boring place indeed if we all thought
alike, but that palaverous letter smacks of the city slicker
that moves to a charming farm community and then lobbies his
councilperson to outlaw the spreading of manure because it's
Welcome to the neighborhood Ms. O’Sullivan, but you
have chosen to live in
an area rich in the hunting tradition, deal with it.
I have written several letters concerning the HAVA law and
it appears that major changes are very soon on the horizon.
Brad Williams who is the Director of the New York Independent
Living Association (NYILA) sent me important information concerning
the recent developments and what they mean for voters with
The NYS Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno sent a letter
to advocates who responded to an earlier action alert to update
them about the Senate’s efforts to comply with HAVA.
Mr. Williams indicates that the letter was written in a “technical
way” to “create a responsible tone” informing
recipients about actions being taken by the State to comply
with HAVA. The letter highlights the availability of federal
HAVA funds, addition of state funds for polling access, and
compliance with the recent federal court order.
All concerned citizens and advocates alike need to understand,
according to Williams, this communication is “in no
way shape or form, ensures full and meaningful compliance
with HAVA for New Yorkers with disabilities. Even the “present
court order referred to in his letter is woefully insufficient
to provide New Yorkers with disabilities the ability to vote
“privately and independently” on Primary and Election
Days 2006. Most of the counties in New York State are looking
to implement one fully accessible polling place per county
with one or more accessible voting machines. This is an outright
violation o the spirit and purpose of the HAVA law, and it
imposes tremendous transportation barriers and does not even
come close to meeting the voting needs of people with disabilities.
New York City, for example, is in the process of “expanding”
its’ already “inadequate requirement to only five
accessible sites per borough,” which is totally absurd.
It is important to note the Hon. NYS Senator John Flanagan;
Chair of the NYS Senate Elections Committee, recently went
public with his “disapproval of this court approved
plan.” Below is an excerpt from an Associated Press
article by Marc Humbert on May 16, 2006:
Under a state plan before U.S. District Judge Gary Sharpe
in Albany, many counties across the state would have just
a few accessible voting machines in place for the 2006 state
elections. That would leave many polling places without such
new machines. In New York City, only one polling place in
New machines. In New York City, only one polling place in
each of the city's five boroughs would have fully accessible
machines for the disabled, said Flanagan.
"It is a bad plan," Flanagan told an Albany news
In a letter to Sharpe, the Long Island Republican called the
state board's plan "wholly insufficient to meet the needs
of voters with disabilities in New York State. I believe the
state can do better."
The current court order is being challenged by a group of
disability, civic and civil rights organizations in the U.S.
Federal District Court and the issue is far from resolved.
By obtaining state funds to help with polling place access
begins another entire set of problems. The American with Disabilities
Act (ADA) mandates both public and private access. This includes
access to polling places. The owners of public and private
properties are responsible for making their premises accessible.
They should comply with the law, invest the monies to make
sites accessible, or risk losing designation of being a polling
place. Throwing more state public money at a given responsibility
only adds to confusion. The exact process has not yet been
fully defined. Does a site apply to their county, establishing
no other alternative? The accessible site is in proximity,
has an accessibility expert suggest the most efficient solutions,
obtain necessary bids, apply to the state for final approval,
hire the contractor, supervise the work and notify the county
upon completion? This process could take several years. This
is just not good enough for the concerned citizens with disabilities.
NYS Attorney General Spitzer sued three upstate counties back
in 1999-2000 regarding the lack of polling place access. Two
of the counties complained in the media and before the court
date how impossible it would be to meet substantial compliance.
Finally, in the end when the counties put their mind to it
they were complaint within nine months by Election Day 2000.
There is an interesting article appearing in the July 5th,
2006 Albany Post-Star. It illustrates the beginning of some
local responsible action on the part of election officials.
It is satisfying to see them acknowledge, on the record, their
own responsibilities under HAVA and the ADA. Their view of
consolidating polling sites so that all locations are accessible
and have one of the new polling places at the local Independent
I will continue to keep the good citizens of Ulster County
apprised of the current situation and will continue to pass
on significant events as they develop in the days, weeks and
months to come.
Thomas R. Siblo-Landsman
West Shokan, NY
Amy Goodman had an interview with a woman who's 18 year old
daughter was recruited into the Army on the promise that she'd
"travel and see the world" and get a college education.
In her Basic Training, she learned about "command rape".
You won't find that expression on the internet, but apparently,
you will find it when you get to Iraq.
Apparently, when this young woman, Suzanne Swift, got to Iraq,
she was invited by her Sergeant into his jeep and told: "you
want to have sex with me, don't you, Swift?"
She went to her equal opportunity officer and reported the
incident, but since he didn't believe her, she was on her
own. After that, she was pursued by other's in command and
felt that since her life was in their hands, she had best
do what they wanted.
When she felt she had enough, she stopped complying, and the
Sergeant made her wear a wall clock around her neck for 2
weeks. After l8 months, when she got out, she told her mother
that she had to return, since they had forced her to sign
a waiver ensuring her redeployment.
When she went on leave, she went into hiding. She was afraid
to go back, not to risk her life, but to get repeatedly raped
by her superiors. Later, the police came and arrested her
for going AWOL, and at present she's confined to her base.
she has a lawyer.
Since her mother put up a web site, she said that she'd gotten
hundreds of emails and out of that she said that they've only
gotten three negative emails.. Mostly, they had a huge number
of people saying, “This happened to me, and it was swept
under the carpet,” or “He was promoted and moved
and it was swept under the carpet" or "my needs
were not met, and I was treated like a piranha.” My
message today to young women who want to serve their country.
Take your basic training on the internet, on the streets and
at the polls and fight for the return of Democracy.
Are we any safer today re: terrorists than pre 9-11? It matters
not that we are the richest, most powerful and the nicest
people on the planet as our fraudulent security measures and
equipment are well fortified with loads of political hype
and "smoke". [ref: the new catalog listing 11,000
mini-towns that attract terrorists].
As we arise each morning we are informed of some new and more
bizarre terrorist attack on a different unexpected target.
Instead of a rail road station the train itself now gets attention.
And the list of dead and injured is extensive and "profitable".
My point is, "do we take an alternate route to work and
home each day?" Do we go to Malls, Sports events, Museums,Theatre
and other events? Reject mass transit and stay out of taxis;
you may be riding in a "4 wheel bomb". Ignore Pizza
shops and McDonalds. Junk food is not healthy anyway. Stay
One might think the military is a safe haven and it might
be if one is stationed in Nepal. Each evening a list of 12-14
casualties runs across our TV screens complete with photos.
[It's depression time].
Then our minds and hopes sink to a new low as we realize that
we are no closer to discouraging or eliminating terrorists
who enjoy doing what they do, especially joining their victims
in a "happy" death. Just the planning promotes a
There is however a possible solution; there always is. During
WWII the allies wreaked havoc on those countries that harbored
Nazis, Fascists and the terrorists of the day. Even occupied
countries were destroyed in the retaking. We have differences
among some retired Generals and "sub" Flags as to
how to deal with this phenomena.
They can take a page from the Book of Joshua, a 13th century
BC General who with his troops took down the walls of Jericho
with a mighty shout; then rushed in and put the vanquished
to death by the sword. Of course we have more than "hoots"
and shouts in our arsenal but Jericho was destroyed and "burnt
to the ground". Thus began the ACLU and UN with their
numerous dubious complaints.
One modern day warrior states that bombing Dresden was not
acceptable. Another declares the A-bombs that leveled Hiroshima
and Nagasaki was an atrocity. Keep dreaming guys. It will
only get worse until we either leave or decide to convert
Iraq into a parking lot and then enforce the immigration laws
back home for everyone.
There are those who remind us that we are descendants of Illegal
immigrants and that is correct. The Native American welcomed
us as history reveals; some upon landing on whatever shore
and others as we moved west. Then we became greedy, arrogant
and "superior" and eliminated our hosts either by
annihilation or by moving them around onto reservations created
just for them. Get the point?
I continue to ask [not rhetorically] why are we in Iraq? They
have nuclear weapons or components? They have assorted gases
and toxic materials? So do we. But we don't have that much
oil.Then too, Iraq was terrorist free until we arrived. Sadaam
would not have shared anything with Bin Laden or anyone else.
Bin Laden applied for a "green card" but Sadaam
stamped it "rejected". [See CIA].
The best thing we could do is pardon Sadaam and reinstall
him without a leash and Iraq will go away [for us]. If he
is not executed he will return. The Arab is persistent.
Now I must prepare for an analysis of the Israeli, Palestinian,
Hammas, Hazbolah world wide local event that is usurping our
attention re: Iraq. Stay tuned. It's sure to turn some folks
Glenn T. Anderson
Is our past and present Shandaken Town Board and others trying
to bankrupt Phoenicia? First we have the partially completed
water filtration plant. Who ever gave the OK for it to be
built on a floodway? Part of the fill and boulders were washed
away in the April flood of 2005. And the erosion that it is
causing on the other side of the Esopus Creek has not been
taken care of. Who designed it, engineered it, and was clerk
of the works? How could anyone allow something to be built
when there wasn't enough money to finish it? I think someone
should be held accountable for this - The county Board of
Health - the engineers - and whoever designed it. Phoenicia
has its version of the Ulster County Jail - money is no object.
But - to top it off - the water is lousy - it is only good
for scrubbing the floors or flushing the toilet. Check on
how many people in the district are buying bottled water for
drinking! With being surrounded by wonderful water to drink,
who do we thank for this - the County Board of Health!
Then we come to the sewage treatment plant. Watch out for
the costs and the floods. How many of you noticed about the
sewage treatment plants in Broome and Montgomery Counties
in this last flood? Some were shut down. And don't you think
this could easily happen here? What happens then? Most likely
you would be forced to lock your homes and leave until everything
was fixed. How long could this be? A week - a month - six
How many floods have we had in the past 50 years and how many
people had to leave Phoenicia because their septic system
wasn't working? Let NYC maintain the present ones and for
the few in trouble build a small community system. As far
as polluting the Esopus - what is worse than the turbid water
we have seen for far too long? And it certainly doesn't help
our economy. Instead of concentrating so much on the treatment
plant, more time should be spent on seeing that the streams
are dredged and on flood control.