I have read with interest the recent articles concerning the
lawsuit that Shandaken faces for raising the assessments of
property owners who have more than 20 acres. As a party to
this suit I feel that the true motivation behind the suit
should be clarified. A short explanation of how property taxes
SHOULD work is called for.
All properties within a town should be assessed at the same
time using some standard decided by The Town to determine
the value of land and buildings. The standards will never
be 100% fair but at least everyone is valued using the same
standards during the same year. The town then adds up the
assessments for the entire town and divides it by the budget.
Everyone pays their equal share. When a property owner makes
a change, perhaps making an addition to a home, building a
home, demolishing a building that has been assessed, the Town
Tax Assessor should then, and only then, make a change to
that property’s assessment and that change should reflect
only the improvement made.
When an assessor decides on her own to increase or decrease
assessments arbitrarily, without following standard principles
some people end up with assessments based in 1979 dollar values
while a neighbor’s assessment is in 2006 dollar values.
We all know how that works.
For many years the tax assessors of Shandaken have raised
the assessment of individual property owners arbitrarily.
By that I mean that even if nothing had been done to a property,
the assessor would “decided” to raise the property
assessment to reflect what he/she thinks it should be, whilst
keeping a neighbors property at previous levels. This is not
only grossly unfair, it’s illegal.
Until now, this arbitrary system of tax assessment has been
done on an individual basis and challenges were dealt with
individually. This time however the selective reassessment
was done to an entire property class – those over 20
acres. As we taxpayers gathered together to discuss this violation
we discovered that many of us had been subjected to this arbitrary
reassessment multiple times. We also discovered that for most
of us, going before the Tax Grievance Committee was at best
an insulting experience.
After thoroughly researching the subject we found that not
only is The Town liable for the practice, but the individuals
involved are also personally liable for the illegalities.
To save the Town the costs associated with a lawsuit we approached
the Shandaken Supervisor to ask that our grievance be heard
by the entire Board. Even with early assurances of cooperation,
this was not to happen. As taxpayers that have been illegally
treated by our own government we have been forced to seek
legal remedies to reverse the discrimination.
Today there are members and financial supporters of our organization
who do not want their names publicized for fear of retribution
by some in Town Hall. Can you imagine a more telling statement?
It is a very sad day when residents are fearful of reprisals
from those who are elected to serve them. Perhaps in addition
to reversing the injustice and creating objective standards
for assessments this lawsuit will help rid the Town government
of some of its pompousness and arrogance.
(The following was addressed to a recent piece written by
Blake Killan, Editor of the Ulster Townsman.)
This is in response to your article and the editorial in your
newspaper, Ulster Townsman, on the “Set-up” pertaining
to the Town Supervisor Bob Cross and Peter Vinci. I am outraged
and perplexed at the blatant lies and the twists on the truth
that you have peppered throughout your “reporting”.
You are a man who makes his “living” reporting
on the events that happen in this area. I am talking to your
conscience now, if that is still alive at this time in your
life. It is so obvious that you made sure your twisted “view”,
or whoever is supporting your newspaper that their “view”,
is made clear to the reader. Unfortunately, either you are
in total denial of the lies you are reporting that you actually
believe them to be true or you know you are lying and do not
care as long as those lies are supporting your lifestyle.
All I have to say is that I pity you Mr. Blake for who you
turned out to be….deceiving your readers, using the
public forum of your newspaper to feed the people with lies
that you want them to eat. It is people like you that have
ruined the good name of this country—you have no conscience.
You know what I am talking about. Deep inside you, there is
a truth that you cannot deny. You may be able to fool everybody,
but you can’t fool yourself and this is what you have
to live with everyday. I am your conscience talking to you
so if there is any glimmer of light, you may hear me and see
what you have done and what you are doing to yourself and
Mt. Tremper, NY
Let me extend my gratitude to the Onteora board of education
for considering my analysis and input on the Large Parcel
option. This is the fourth consecutive year in which this
poorly contrived and deceitfully enacted law continues to
divide the OCS community. In 2003 the board should have disregarded
the LP option; it would have prevented the overwhelming divisiveness
and anxiety which had to result from entertaining this “prescription
for plunder.” Over 90 percent of the other affected
school districts have ignored the option, and I urge the current
OCS board to follow their example. It is the only way to restore
harmony in our school community, and there are excellent reasons
upon which OCS may base this decision.
First: Onteora does not gain one cent in tax revenue by imposing
the Large Parcel option.
Second: Throughout this “Civil War” Shandaken
and Woodstock clamored for Olive to do a reval. It is completed
and it is implemented.
Third: The law is a sham. The bill’s very memorandum
of intent was breached prior to it becoming law. Within in
the bill were provisions for Home Rule which according to
chief sponsor William Larkin, in a letter to Olive attorney
Richard Smith, specifically stated the LP “can only
be used if all affected municipalities opt to use the LP equalization
process.” Olive read this letter to the school board
in 2004, and it went on record that it was totally against
implementation of this law. The board disregarded Olive’s
desire to invoke Home Rule by the “host community. “
Thus the board did not adhere to the original intent as understood
by Senator Larkin, and as presented in the sponsor’s
memorandum. Its failure to do so was a grave error.
Fourth: In response to the preposterous tax burden placed
on Olive in 2004, its citizens have proven that they will
go to extremes to defeat a law which is not “fair and
equitable.” In fact, as early as August 2003, when the
original debates began, nearly 500 Olive taxpayers attended
the meeting held in the brutally hot auditorium. Woodstock
and Shandaken were represented by only a handful of politicians
and several constituents. The board should have recognized
then that Olive considered itself the victim of this manipulated
masquerade. It didn’t.
As a result of tax increases of as much as $10,000 when coupled
with the county legislature enacting the LP, Olive formed
the group, Olive Matters to fight back. On a blustery February
in 2005, over 20 percent of Olive’s full time residents
picketed the Ulster County Legislature to undo this travesty.
A more determined group I have not encountered. As a spin-off,
Charles Blumstein filed a pro se citizens lawsuit on behalf
of Olive. Onteora was named as a defendant. In May, 2005 over
1500 Olive residents voted down the budget and elected three
board members who recognized this divisive law for the evil
it is. In May 2006 a nearly successful write-in campaign was
waged for another prospective board member who agrees that
the LP is destroying our school. Again Olive voted down the
budget. Olive’s behavior clearly shows that it has the
resolve and resources to fight until this injustice is overthrown.
And Olive is not alone in its recognition of the unfairness
of the law.
Phoenicia Times publisher Brian Powers in a May 25, 2006 editorial
wrote, “ we wish Olive well in its effort to exclude
reservoir properties from Large Parcel in the future; we certainly
agree they shouldn’t be included.” Even Assemblyman
Kevin Cahill claimed in 2003 that if any town was going to
be injured as much as Olive that the option was best not to
be implemented. And with the chief sponsor insisting that
the original intent was to address wild swings, none of which
exist with regard to the Ashokan reservoir, this board knows
what is the best decision to make to restore harmony in our
The evidence is clear that this option should be disregarded
by this board, and any future board. It is unfair. By its
very nature it pits one town against another. Our district
cannot afford to continue this “Civil War.” Any
one with an ounce of sensitivity realizes this law was poorly
thought out regarding its potential for destroying the harmony
in a school community. OCS needs to step away from this insanity
NOW!!! The board is faced with many challenges which directly
involve the education of our children. I urge you to focus
ALL of your energy on those areas. Please ignore this law.
As New York State assesses the damage from the most recent
round of devastating floods it is a good time for voters to
consider how the filling and development of wetlands contributed
to the damage that we suffered during the flood. The small
wetlands that are scattered around our state serve as important
buffers for rainwater during periods of peak rainfall. Wetlands
protect us because they effectively absorb and slow the velocity
of run-off from rain and snowmelt. They also help to protect
topsoil because the sediments carried by the floodwaters are
trapped by the vegetation in the wetlands.
For the last two New York State legislative sessions a majority
of our Assemblyman and Senators have supported legislation
that would offer us better flood protection. The bill is entitled
the Clean Water
Protection /Flood Protection Act. This bill protects small
isolated wetlands from development. It also offers us better
protection for our drinking water. Wetlands filter and break
down pollution before it flows into streams and aquifers.
So why hasn't this bill passed one might ask? The answer to
that question is that for the last two years the Republican
Senate Majority leader Joe Bruno has refused to allow this
bill to be submitted to the floor for a vote. In a 7/3/2005
article, the Albany Times Union documented Mr. Bruno’s
involvement in real estate transactions that involved the
sale of wetlands that had been filled in violation of federal
wetlands protections. It is a sad state of affairs when one
man’s self interest can thwart the will of the majority
and limit our ability to protect ourselves from future flooding.
In the most recent flood, houses were destroyed, roads washed
out, lives were lost, and the clean up costs are now projected
to be in the tens of millions. A significant proportion of
these cleanup costs will come out of the taxpapers wallets.
New York State voters are slowly coming to the realization
that every time we decide to allow another wetland to be filled
for yet another parking lot or housing development we increase
the severity of the next flood down the road. With global
warming increasing the severity of storms, it is time for
the voters to ask their representatives to pass the Clean
Water Protection/Flood Control Act.
NY Trout Unlimited Council Chairman
Port Ewen, NY
Dear Editor, Those of us who come from the first wave of Disability
Rights advocates began our struggle within the civil rights
movement of the 1960s. We learned an important lesson from
the civil rights movement as to how a minority of citizens
could change the way a society views the rights of all the
people. In the case of the civil rights movement Afro-Americans
gained freedom as a direct result of the civil war remaining
In the southern states Afro-Americans lived mostly separated
lives from the white majority. Afro-American’s personally
experienced Post Reconstruction period of reaction that assured
white supremacy. Racism in the northern states existed but
never publicly acknowledged. When FDR dedicated the Lincoln
Memorial Afro-Americans did not participate directly and old
Jim Crow ruled the day. Those Afro-Americans who stood up
for their rights such as Malcolm Little’s father very
often found themselves dangling as “bitter fruit”
on the nearest tree or lamppost. Only a mass civil rights
movement actively demanding equal opportunity and jobs raised
Afro-Americans to equal citizenship.
The years of civil rights struggle taught the first wave of
disability rights advocates if we wanted to live barrier free
we needed to carry out the same struggle for equal opportunities.
We had to follow the path cleared by the Afro-American civil
rights movement and demand that people with disabilities be
treated fairly and no different than any other citizen. As
human beings we should not be limited from participating within
the mainstreams of life and have the same equal opportunities
as all able-bodied citizens.
The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voters
Right Act of 1965, and the establishment of affirmative action
within the workplace inspired people with disabilities. The
federal government by these laws is forced to develop policies
designed to uproot institutional racism of the North and Jim
Crow of the South, ending the practice segregation in public
schools, stopping job discrimination and offering real job
opportunities. The disability rights movement demanded the
least restrictive environment in public education for students
with disabilities. The federal government exercised its power
of the state to access the police and the National Guard to
enforce these new policies of desegregation and integration
in the workplace, the classroom, housing because of all mass
people’s social movements. People with disabilities
using the Voters Rights Act as a model demanded the passage
of the new Help America Vote Act (HAVA). HAVA provides funds
to state and local governments to upgrade their voting machines
and to make all of their polling places accessible to people
The Civil Rights movement is a non-violent peaceful revolution.
The progressive transformation that came about due to the
civil rights movement influenced the disability rights movement
and many of the other social movements of the 70s and 80s.The
reforms won b the Civil Rights movement is the model for mass
demonstrations and civil disobedience as a means of putting
pressure on the federal government to change its policies.
The public disclosure of CONTELPRO illustrates how the government
violently attacked the civil rights movement by creating an
atmosphere where its leaders were jailed or assassinated.
The disability rights movement fought and pushed the Reagan
and Bush administrations to pass the Americans with Disabilities
Act, which is entirely based on the Civil Rights Act. The
U.S. Supreme Court since the passage of the ADA is striking
down one section after another indicating that even the passage
of progressive laws as long as the right wing thugs rule the
Congress. The Supreme Court and the Executive Office all of
the progress made over the past 50 years is subject to the
Recent massive cuts in housing, benefits, food stamps, Medicare
and Medicaid by the right wing Bush Congress is a direct attack
on the low income working people, the frail elderly and people
with disabilities. This is why this fall election is so important
to all oppressed people and we need to organize an all people’s
movement to throw these reactionaries out of office and take
back our government and restore the cuts and restore the laws
designed correct the injustices of the past. After the elections
this fall we need to keep up the pressure and make sure our
rights and benefits are safe and protected.
West Shokan, NY
Who benefits from the policies of the Bush dictatorship and
his Saudi Arabian buddies?
Exxon-Mobil and Chevron sure do!
As reported by CNNMoney.com, “The company's profit -
which amounts to a cool $1,318 a second - is the second biggest
ever reported by a U.S. company, behind only the $10.7 billion
Exxon itself earned in the fourth quarter of 2005.”
Who else benefits? Our wallets don’t, our schools don’t,
our elders don’t, our soldiers don’t, our environment
- that sustains all life - certainly doesn’t…so
I say thank goodness Bush, Cheney, the Republican controlled
Congress and the Saudie Princes are helping someone! Congratulations
President Bush has made History with his first Veto. Families
with members who have suffered and sometimes died from Alzheimer's,
Parkinson's, MS ,and the big one, cancer, know that President
Bush has turned his back on science and has not demonstrated
compassion for people who have seem their loved ones suffer
Science knows that anyone within the gene line may benefit
Politics is one thing but by now even President Shrub should
know that the world is not flat.
H. Clark Bell
What is the current nationwide movement for immigrant rights
This is the topic of a public meeting in New Paltz on Sunday,
Aug. 6, that will be addressed by immigration organizer and
activist Omar Henriquez. In addition, he will discuss the
campaign against restrictive legislation in Congress, and
the reasons why so many immigrants from Latin America have
been coming to the U.S.
Henriquez has worked in this area for 25 years, recently as
the SEIU1s Eastern Region Immigration Campaign Coordinator.
He also sits on the board of directors of The Workplace Project,
Resist, and CASA (the coordinating agency for Spanish Americans
of Nassau County).
The event is sponsored by the Caribbean and Latin America
(CLASP). It begins at 7 p.m. at New Paltz Village Hall on
Plattekill Ave., one block south of Main St. (Rt. 299), a
mile or so west of Thruway exit 18. (When you reach Starbucks
corner, Plattekill Ave., turn south one block. It1s just past
the firehouse on the right.) Park in the Village Hall parking
All are invited and it1s free. A potluck dinner begins at
6 p.m. for those who wish to partake. Information and directions,
(845) 691-8289 or email email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
New Paltz, NY
Did you know that in the June 25th issue of the Observer in
Britain, there was a story reporting that on June 24th, a
team of Israeli commandos entered the Gaza Strip to "detain"
2 Palestinians, which Israel claimed were members of Hamas?
According to the Observer, this was "the first arrest
raid in the territory since Israel pulled out of the area
a year ago”. "More precisely, it was the first
time the Israeli army had re-entered the Gaza Strip, directly
violating Palestinian control of the territory, since it supposedly
left in August last year."
The story continues: "one day later, armed Palestinians
slipped past Israeli military to attack an army post close
by Gaza. They threw grenades at a tank, and killed two soldiers
inside, seized another and disappeared back into Gaza."
That act of retribution and it's media coverage by the BBC,
started the war that now threatens the entire Middle East.
To this day, there has been no coverage in the U.S. of the
original story of the detaining of the 2 Palestinians by Israel.
A Guardian editorial phrased it this way: "Confusion
surrounds the precise motives of the gunmen from the Islamist
group Hamas and two other armed organizations who captured
the Israeli corporal and killed two other soldiers on Sunday.
('Storm over Gaza,' 29 June 2006)
In the Observer, we learnt that Israel had "detained"
the two Palestinians in an "arrest raid". These
were presented as the legitimate actions of a state that is
enforcing the law within the sphere of its sovereignty. Whereas,
the Palestinian retaliation was called a "kidnapping".
Nevertheless, at least they mentioned the original act by
Norman Finkelstein, Professor of Political Science at DePaul
University in Chicago, tells it this way:
Re: The situation with regard to hostages: "Let's talk
about those 9,000 Palestinians who are effectively hostages
being held by Israel. 1,000 of them are administrative detainees...
Administrative detainees who are being held without any charges
or trial. And the other 8,000 are being held after military
courts have convicted them, almost always on the basis of
confessions which were extracted by torture. So if we're going
to look simply at the numbers, we have one hostage on the
Palestinian side, and effectively we have about 9,000 on the
I felt it my responsibility to report this to some American
people, since this story cannot be found in our Press, but
only in Britain's, which may account for why they have broken
ranks with us on this issue.
To quote the Dalai Lama: "If we look at history, we find
that in time, humanity's love of peace, justice, and freedom
always triumphs over cruelty and oppression. This is why I
am such a fervent believer in non-violence. Violence begets
In the last issue at the end of my letter I committed to commenting
on the latest adventure in the mid-east conflict between Israel,
Hasbollah, Lebanon, and the Palestinians. I have decided to
relate a real life experience sans name or personal information
if I may.
Two weeks prior to Mother's Day I was visited by a person
who lives nearby who informed my wife and I that he was getting
married on Mother's Day. As we talked he noticed a collection
of hand made hunting knives on my coffee table and inquired
if I would sell him one so he could present it as a gift to
his "best man".
I informed him that of more than 200 knives that I have crafted
I do not sell them. These knives are donated to Volunteer
Fire Depts., First Aid Units, Museums, Libraries, Churches
and Food Pantrys. They also go to groups that work with youth
or other charitable organizations, all for raffle or direct
sale [but I do not sell them]
I did however have a way of completing a direct sale with
the proceeds going to one of the above listed groups. I stated
that I would donate a knife of his choice to the St. John's
Food Pantry, an ecumenical effort in Woodstock. I would be
the sales agent and he would take the knife now. He would
write a check to Saint John's Food Pantry for $175.00 [these
knives have been appraised at $180-200.00 by the Knife Makers
Guild]. He would then mail the check to me and I would get
it to the Food Pantry [as I have done prior to this].
As a congratulatory gesture I also presented this Groom to
be with a hand made Finnish type hunting knife [with typical
round birch handle and "hanging" leather sheath"].
We are not social or employee friends, hardly see each other.
The check was to be mailed in a day or two as the buyer did
not have any cash or check book with him. I trusted him which
apparantly was/is a mistake. To top it off he has moved and
his house is for sale.
I sent a letter 3 weeks later reminding this person of our
agreement and it was forewarded to his new address [it did
not return]. I will not plead or beg nor will I institute
any legal action [not worth it].
What I should like to say to the "best man" is this,
"you stood up for the worst; one devoid of honor".
Your friend, the groom "ate St. John's lunch" as
the saying goes and you have the evidence. To quote a parable,
"show me your friends and I will tell you what you are".
Each knife is marked, "Tongore Knives" with a circled
"c" so it is recognizable.
Glenn T. Anderson
I'm not the type to write letters to an editor but William
Warnecke is. Over and over again, he has written letters complaining
about the Onteora School District. In his last letter, Warnecke
complained about hiring special education teachers. Anyone
who has a kid who needs the extra help knows what a difference
that can make in a kid's education. Some kids are just born
with a learning disability. It's not their fault and they
can be just as good as the "normal" kids if given
a little help. I know because I had been a kid like that.
But Warnecke doesn't care about the kids. He cares about lowering
his taxes since he's retired with a nice house, pension and
has no kids in school. William, how about giving Onteora kids
the same chance for a nice life as you have?
Thanks to the many volunteers and signers in our area and
statewide who worked hard to put Jonathan Tasini on the September
12 Democratic primary ballot for US Senate, the good news
is that nearly 40,000 signatures were filed in Albany last
Thursday, assuring a primary race against Senator Clinton.
Only 15,000 signatures were required.
Why take on a race against such a well-heeled, celebrity,
incumbent Senator? Simply because Jonathan Tasini truly embodies
the best values of the people in the Democratic party and
refuses to support the wealthy corporate elite. We must ask
if Mrs. Clinton represents us well in the Senate?
Jonathan Tasini's positions are in line with the majority
of Democrats in New York: an immediate, safe withdrawal of
all US troops in Iraq, cut off funding for permanent bases
in Iraq, and diplomatic solutions instead of pre-emptive war.
By contrast, Sen. Clinton carefully crafts statements can
be read many ways; mirroring the Bush administration, she
wants to find a plan to "win" the war. She has bills
to increase the number of troops and has voted for every Iraq
war financial bill submitted by Bush.
Among his many clear positions on domestic issues, Tasini
supports "Medicare for All", a simple, affordable
plan to provide health care to all Americans. Now that administrative
costs and paperwork take a full one-third of what we spend
on healthcare, to say nothing of the profiteering by insurance
and drug companies. By contrast, Mrs. Clinton has collected
$854,462 in campaign contributions by the health care industry
so far (NYT), ensuring "early donors will get a seat
at the table when health care and other issues are discussed",
according to one wealthy major player, even as she won't come
clean on universal health care.
Locally, Jonathan Tasini opposes casinos and their detrimental
effects on our communities. Instead, he supports smart growth
that provides living wage jobs and preserves our environment.
Mrs. Clinton is non-responsive to local concerns on this issue.
More of his positions can be seen on his webpage, TasiniForNewYork.org.
Support what you believe in; send a contribution to Tasini
for New York, PO Box 302, New York, NY 10040. Then vote for
what you believe in.
Have you heard people say they don’t see as many butterflies
as they used to? This is true, but does not have to be so.
This is the second summer of my butterflygardens in Shokan,
New York. It is thrilling to see scores of butterflies visiting
daily, from little banded hairstreaks, wood nymphs, and skippers
to the large great spangled fritillaries, tiger swallowtails
and monarchs. Invite them for lunch, and they’ll stay
for dinner. As wonderful guests, they bring joy and beauty
to your door.
I don’t think we in the Hudson Valley/Catskill region
want to wait till our seventy species of native butterflies
are on the verge of disappearing before we take simple steps
to invite these beautiful creatures into our gardens and our
There are a litany of reasons why butterfly populations have
declined, such as pollution, widespread use of insecticides
and herbicides, and tremendous loss of habitat. Deer overpopulation
also results in loss of herbaceous forest floor plants which
many butterflies need for survival.
Can we actually make a difference if we plant what the butterflies
need? You bet we can. Providing habitats for all stages of
a butterfly’s life is more than an obscure hobby, it
is of vital importance if we don’t want to see them
There are examples of butterfly species being brought back
from the edge of extinction. The people in the town of Wilton,
New York made a concerted community-wide effort in the Adironacks
to restore the habitats of the nearly extinct Karner blue
butterfly. By massive planting of wild blue lupines, its only
host plant, the Karner blue now graces the area each July.
Everyone got involved, from school children to community groups
Wouldn’t it be grand for all of us, from individuals
to schools and community groups, to plant gardens for the
butterflies, the birds and the bees? The Hudson Valley/Catskill
region could be known as a haven for butterflies.
By now, in the middle of the summer, you are hopefully seeing
many butterflies visiting your gardens. If not, it is still
not too late to plant a few nectar sources such as pinwheel
zinnias, sedums, cosmos, marigolds, sun flowers, and in the
fall, milkweed seeds for next year’s butterflies. No
matter the season, it is always time to be inspired by butterflies.
From spring through autumn we encounter these beautiful creatures.
In the winters, their power of transformation informs our
dreams and inspires our souls while we plan our gardens to
There are many reasons for stopping the decline of butterflies:
their sheer beauty, their value as pollinators, and planting
for local butterflies helps restore native habitat. Butterflies
not only pollinate flowers, but also our souls. Witnessing
the transformation of caterpillars to butterflies is a continual
reminder of our own potential to transform. They have inspired
our ancestors for thousands of years in all parts of our planet
through myth, art, poetry, music, literature and more than
ever in the popular culture. They are symbolic of eternal
love, immortal soul and rebirth.
Butterflies are an ecological symbol, reminding us to take
care of our planet, it’s the only one we’ve got.
They are the new canaries in the coal mine. If they vanish,
it would mean the whole tapestry of life is unraveling beyond
repair. If we all gardened with mostly native non-invasive
plants, we could make a big difference in keeping our mini-ecosystems
vibrant and help not only butterflies, but a myriad of species
thrive and flourish.
I will be giving a tour of her butterfly garden and an inspirational
talk about butterflies Sunday, August 6th in Shokan. For more
information and reservations call: 845-657-8073.
As you enjoy the very best days of summer - whether at the
beach, in the mountains, or just in your back yard - I want
to thank each one in the Hudson Valley region who has shown
overwhelming kindness to me in the past week. As there is
no way I can respond to all who wrote or called to pass on
greetings, allow me to respond to you through this letter
to the editor.
Most of you probably spent July 4 outdoors, but I spent it
inside: on the fourteenth floor of a Manhattan teaching hospital,
recovering from major heart surgery. I'm telling you this
only because I had a lot of time to think in the week I spent
there lying in bed, and I want to share my thoughts with you.
When I drove down to the city in late June, I planned to stay
only for the day - to see a specialist recommended by my cardiologist
in Kingston. But that all changed in an instant when this
doctor told me I should have had surgery to repair my valves
a month earlier. By the end of the day I was in a hospital
gown, and underwent a grueling seven-hour operation the next
Many of you have likely undergone major surgery, but until
you experience it yourself you can't have any idea what it
is like. I'm sure there was a battle raging in me while I
was under anesthesia, and when I woke up there wasn't only
excruciating physical pain, but also inner turmoil, which
was worse. It seemed like dark powers were surrounding me
and that God was very far away - though I knew he wasn't.
I have to admit I was not a good soldier, and there were times
when I wanted to give up. But I knew I couldn't, and that
is because of your prayers.
Being absolutely helpless and needing help with every move
was at first discouraging, but in the end it was a good experience,
because it allowed me to understand what it must be like for
so many others - the old and infirm, the weak, the physically
or developmentally disabled.
I was also afraid: Afraid that the surgery wouldn't be successful,
and that I would have trouble breathing, and that I would
choke on the tube in my airway (which I then did, and there
was no one around to help me.) But I had to think of the old
freedom song from the Civil Rights Movement, which I sang
side by side with Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965, which says,
"We are not afraid - we shall overcome, some day!"
and I had to remind myself that even if we are afraid, the
best antidote to fear is to step out bravely and believe that
we are not.
So I am no longer worried about tomorrow or the next day.
There is more than enough to think about for today. I am thankful
just to be alive, to see the sky and the birds and flowers
and trees, and to see my family and all of my friends and
brothers and sisters.
And I hope to see you, too - any Saturday evening dinner here
at our Woodcrest Community in Rifton NY.
Again, thank you all.
Johann Christoph Arnold
Gotta love those Belleayre Resort billboards on Rt. 28. Seems
the developers have a taste for architecture that emulates
Mayan temples. It would be enough to make one want to head
for the hills...if we weren't already in the hills.
Before their demise the Mayans allegedly sacrificed humans
to their gods. Dean Gitter and company seem intent on sacrificing
the pristine heart of the Catskills. Let's hope all parties
come to their senses long before anything like that gets built.
And what's with that roof? Green roofs make sense in cities,
where they may help keep air quality problems and temperatures
in check, but proposing one for a site surrounded by thousands
of square miles of trees seems silly. What's the developers'
real goal here? Perhaps "greenwashing" to distract
our attention from the herbicides needed to make such a resort's
golf courses uniformly green?
A better model for development in the Catskills would be the
booming eco-tourism of Costa Rica, where small-scale resorts
provide close contact to the natural world while respecting
local community life.
I would like you to print a correction to a statement that
I included earlier this year in a letter that you published.
I stated that Kenneth Umhey drove an overloaded gravel truck
onto the Fawn Hill bridge in Woodland Valley some years ago,
causing its collapse.
Ken has pointed out to me, categorically, that it was not
his truck, but one driven by Art Umhay.
Mea culpa and thank you,
Woodland Valley, NY
This heat wave is nearly intolerable. Countless numbers of
people will suffer severely with heat exhaustion and many
will die. Heat exhaustion is a result of loss of water and
imbalance of the chemicals vital to keeping the body in balance.
There is a severe loss of one of these chemicals, called electrolytes,
sodium. Along with the water, tremendous amounts of sodium
are lost as a component of sweat. Prevention of heat exhaustion
depends on the body getting enough salt as well as water.
Early stages of exhaustion can be taken care of orally by
drinking salt containing fluids. It can be prevented by eating
and drinking food and beverages containing salt. If the exhaustion
is severe and one collapses the sodium is given intravenously.
Why there isn't more emphasis on the role of the salt replacement
is mystery to me as it is very well known and is taught wherever
prevention and treatment of the condition is taught. Yes,
we know there is a lot of salt in a great deal of foods we
eat, especially in prepared foods, canned foods such as tomato
juice etc., but many people aware of this read the labels
and shy away from salt in order not to get too much. People
on low sodium diets keep their salt level down. These people
are especially subject to the effects of hot weather and must
have salt replacement. So they and the rest of us must get
the sodium back into our bodies along with the water, or the
heat will makes us feel lousy and/or flatten us out completely.
It is very easy to find out the sodium content of foods and
beverages these days as the amount is on the labels.