I have been following with fascination and horror the articles
in The Phoenicia Times and The Woodstock Times regarding efforts
by Crossroads Ventures and Dean Gitter to get approval to build
a behemoth in Belleayre that will denude
over 500 acres, lower water levels in neighboring areas and add
indeterminate amounts of pollution to the soil. Most amazing is
how Town Supervisor Bob Cross Jr. has not lost his job for his
inappropriate behavior, in part due to his advocacy of Crossroads.
Mr. Cross has shouted down or silenced with his gavel residents
at town meetings who wished to speak up against Crossroads -a
clear violation of his responsibility to the community and to
the democratic process. The Phoenicia Times has indicated that
Bob Cross Jr.'s wife works for Dean Gitter or one of Mr.
Gitter's businesses. With such a clear conflict of interest,
Mr. Cross should have excused himself from any discussion, advocacy
or chairing any meeting that concerned Crossroads. In addition,
Mr. Cross has spent taxpayer monies mailing out a letter lambasting
a former political rival. I understand many of the charges are
misleading or simply wrong, but even if this were not the case,
his action is totally inappropriate and an abuse of his position.
As stated, I'm surprised Mr. Cross has not been dismissed
on grounds of inappropriate behavior towards taxpayers at town
meetings, conflict of interest with regards to Crossroads, and
misuse of public funds.
Big Indian, NY
The Onteora School Board chose to enact the Large Parcel Bill
that was meant to correct wide swings in tax assessment. Instead
it created larger swings in assessment. Some people in Olive received
tax bills that were 60 to 120% higher than last year. Next year,
when the Large Parcel Bill is amended or rejected, other towns
will experience shock waves of tax spikes and valleys.
The only way to fairly equalize assessments would be to have a
current re-assessment of all six of the towns within the Onteora
School District. About half of them, including Olive and Shandaken,
have not had recent evaluations. The Onteora School District,
and any other school district, already possesses the legal right
to re-assess towns within the school tax district. If the District
has entered the business of tax assessment, it should go all the
way: Each house, no matter where it is, should be assessed using
the same formula. That is the only fair way to "equalize"
taxes. Since the District already had that legal right, why did
they choose to hurt Olive and benefit Woodstock and Shandaken
by enacting the Large Parcel Bill? They already had the ability
to equalize taxes and never did it.
The following is a letter to Senator Bonacic...
I read your "News and Views" news letter regularly and
find it quite interesting and informational. However, I don't
recall any item or article in which you celebrate the "Large
Parcel" legislation but I do understand that you were one
of two sponsors. I believe the other was Kevin Cahill. Am I correct
Let me see if I have this fairly interpreted;
NY City owns a very large reservoir in the
Town of Olive and Town of Hurley. This reservoir sits on
property that is taxed by the Onteora School District. The Town
of Olive residents have traditionaly paid a lower [school] tax
than surrounding town residents due to the tax "contribution"
by NYC. The Towns of Woodstock and Shandaken now pay a lesser
tax than they did in prior years because the "Large
Parcel" adjustment allows these two towns to benefit from
the large NYC tax which is derived from land in Olive and Hurley
that cannot be developed or used to generate taxes. The Onteora
School Board opted to impliment the Large Parcel Act which caused
my school tax for the current year to soar 68.75%. The next
thing one knows is that the County Legislature will decide to
spread the NYC Real Estate tax among the other [poor] towns [like
Kingston, Marble- town or Rosendale].
If you had anything to do with this bit of craziness; thank you
so much. If you did not, I would appreciate your denial or to
what extent you participated.
My comment on the Large Parcel thing is that I/we do not think
a School Board should have the authority to "juggle"
the tax liability(s) and make life more pleasant for those who
live outside the town [and] conversely more miserable for us who
live] where the large parcel resides. As I/we see it, NYC will
continue to be assessed the same tax but the Onteora School Board
in it's wisdom can spread that portion a little more equitably
[as in Socialism].
Please tell me what I am missing and/or that I "doth
protest too loudly".
Are you running for re-election in 2004 ?? We are already "sharpening
up our horns" for the Olive Onteora School Board members.
They make Benedict Arnold look like a Patriot. Or... secede from
the Onteora School District and form our own.
Glenn T. Anderson
On Thursday night September 9, our County Legislature, passed
by a significant margin, a memorializing resolution, that requests
our Federal legislators to implement Congressional Bill HR1322.
This legislation is entitled "The Emergency Retiree Health
Benefits Protection Act" and would require companies to restore
the medical benefits that were in effect when their employees
retired. This legislation would insert a requirement in the ERISA
regulations that now only protects pensions, but excludes health
benefits. The memorializing resolution was originally submitted
by County Legislator James Maloney (R-I-C) and was approved on
a bi-partisan basis (28 yes, 4 against and 1 abstention). The
winning margin is important, in that it demonstrates, that our
county legislators acknowledge that thousands of our retirees
and surviving spouses, in this area, both Republicans and Democrats,
are being adversely impacted by the health care costs that are
being shifted on them increasingly each year. For those whose
pension income is not adequate, it is difficult to absorb this
new burden, when they had the right to assume that their health
care costs would be covered after retirement. This is particularly
onerous on surviving spouses, whose pensions may be half of what
their deceased spouse received. Additionally, IBM pensions have
had no significant cost of living adjustments in the past 20 years
and the buying power of the dollar has depreciated by almost 50
percent. As an aside, the present CEO of IBM, is projected to
receive a pension of over 8 million dollars annually. This particular
pension should be adequate to handle any health premium cost shifts.
This clearly is not a partisan issue, but responds to the plight
of our residents, some of whom may eventually be forced to utilize
our over burdened Medicaid system. The Democratic Minority Leader,
David Donaldson, had also submitted a like resolution and a merged
resolution was enacted. The actions by of all of the Democrats
and the large majority of the Republicans who supported this resolution
are commendable and Ulster voters should acknowledge their efforts.
We will now request that our U.S. Senators submit legislation
like HR1322, in the U.S. Senate.
Addition Federal legislation will also be necessary to restrict
the perverse ability of corporations to reduce payments of health
benefits and create imaginary revenue. The Wall Street Journal
recently published a detailed article on this subject and referred
to this phenomena as a corporate "Cookie Jar" and is
used when they wish too enhance the appearance of their earning
reports. Accounting games are also played by corporations with
the employee pension funds that are in reserve for retiree pensions
and create what is called "Vapor Profits." In fact,
in the past four annual reports, IBM's profits contained almost
five billion dollars in "Vapor Profits" which represented
17 percent of their reported profits.
The spiraling health care costs in the U.S. will ultimately require
a national effort to optimize our inefficient system and the bi-partisan
effort demonstrated last week by our county legislators, is a
Benefits Restoration Inc.
New York State Director
The Onteora administration and board of education are facing two
very big issues - death and taxes.
Taxes - the large parcel vote. I have heard each member of the
Onteora board of education state they believe the large parcel
legislation should not be forced on school districts. If this
is the case, why did the majority vote yes? Why did the Onteora
BOE put themselves in the position of redistribution of the tax
base. If they believed the legislators put them in this position
and this is not their responsibility, they should have voted no.
Death - Kevin J. O'Connor. Where does the Onteora board of education
draw the line between the safety of our children and protecting
the school district from admitting to negligence and wrongdoing?
This is a question I believe each board member needs to ask themselves.
I thought a board of education's responsibility was the safety
and education of our children. If the board and administration
believe their job is protecting the school district, I wonder
how they sleep at night. How are we teaching our children to take
responsibility for their actions if the adults they look up to,
don't do the same? I have heard each member speak of the safety
of our children many times at meetings and in the local newspaper.
In death and taxes, their words don't support their actions.
The Onteora board of education and administration need to be reminded
of the diatric goals listed on the agenda of each meeting, which
are: Increase community input, awareness and support of district
issues through effective communication. Formulate a budget and
governance structure based on effective use of resources and district
needs that the community can support. Foster a safe, respectful
and healthy school culture. Maybe we should request each board
member and administrator write these goals ten times each.
If the philosophy and policy of this board of education is not
standing up for what they believe (redistribution of taxes is
not their responsibility) and protecting the school district from
admitting to negligence and wrongdoing (Kevin's death) I ask the
parents of Onteora children, is this a board you want watching
out for the safety of your children? I would not. I want a new
board and a new policy.
It appears that censorship of the news is what occurs when attempts
to force seasoned public access television producers to change
the content of their show fails. Intimidation, coercion and physical
force have been used to control local television producers who
choose to be independent. Reports on credible stories that relate
to oil/gas corporation price fixing have been suppressed along
with reports on the U.S. defense industry contracts tied to organized
It is my opinion that the duty of a so-called free nation live
up to claims of freedom, and not just give it lip-service. The
agent provocateurs and saboteurs of the free press and television
act with malice and premeditation.
Congressman Maurice Hinchey has been contacted regarding violations
of U.S. Constitutional rights by agents of the U.S. military,
a few police officers and war profiteers. War is not a solution.
On September 9 the Ulster County Legislature, by a 27-3 margin,
took the historic and responsible step in calling for a full and
thorough review of the Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park. In supporting
the environmental review process known as adjudication (where
lawyers for the project sponsor and lawyers for concerned citizens/activists
argue a case before a judge selected by the Department of Environmental
Conservation), Ulster County is showing we care about safe drinking
water for our citizens and for the citizens of New York State.
The Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park would potentially impact
1,960 acres of property, occupying 573 acres and 85 acres of impervious
surfaces. It is slated for two 18-hole golf courses, two large
resort hotel complexes with a total of 400 lodging units, 351
time-share units with 832 bedrooms in 98 additional buildings,
clubhouses, restaurants, conference facilities, retail stores,
recreational facilities, activity centers, a luxury housing development,
maintenance buildings, offices and storage areas, sewage treatment
facilities, access roads, parking lots, and provisional stone-crushing
mills and an on-site cement plant to be used during the 8 year
construction phase. Nearly a square mile is slated for development,
almost all of which would be clear-cut and a considerable amount
of land blasted to make way for this resort. The development site
is within the New York City Watershed and Catskill Park. There
are 9 million people, including 60 upstate communities like Marlbough
and New Paltz, in New York State who get their drinking water
from the New York City Watershed.
It is not my position to place a value on all of these issues
individually. The Department of Environmental Conservation, working
with the developer, municipal agencies and advocates, will review
this case. In fact it is my hope that the process will yield a
scaled back and environmentally sustainable project. I will say
that it is our place as community leaders, elected officials,
advocates and citizens to ask for the highest review possible
and for the fullest examination of facts before approvals for
a project of this magnitude are made. It is the responsible position
for the Legislature to call for full adjudication.
However, there are rumors that the developer is upset with the
legislature calling for this environmental review. There are more
rumors that legislators are considering backing away from supporting
the most thorough review for fear of angering the developer or
somehow scaring off future developers from coming to Ulster County.
It is unfortunate that some would risk public health, the lives
of our families and loved ones, simply because we are scared of
angering developers. I think residents will tell you that people
are still building in Ulster County.
Very simply the Ulster County Legislature took a proactive and
responsible position, calling for the highest possible environmental
review. You will read more about this issue over the next few
weeks. It is my hope that our County government will continue
to look to protect public health, protect our families, while
at the same time look to spur sustainable economic development.
Our citizens deserve nothing less.
Hector S. Rodriguez, Legislator
New Paltz, NY
The Onteora Townships Taxpayers Association greatly appreciates
the time and hard work of Jeremy Wilber and the Woodstock Town
Board for their appearances before the Onteora School Board. Their
efforts helped bring about a fairer distribution of tax responsibility
in the school district. Thank you.
Joe Doan, president
Sam Mercer, vice-president
The article in the September 2 editionabout the bear being "moved
away" was very interesting, but made one major mistake.
It describes the incident that happened and the larger issue of
the bear and people encounters. But it does not offer any solutions!
It should be common knowledge now what needs to be done to protect
both people and bears. But like our political process, ignorance
still seems to abound. Please do not just write articles detailing
bear problems, but also give us some concrete solutions. Your
article stated, "the problem was simple. A growing bear population
on the one hand, and a growing human population on the other.
The result is a marked increase in bear/human interactions. And
a marked increase in the lack of knowledge of what to do when
one encounters a bear." So, please tell us vividly, boldly
and simply (as obviously many people still don't know) what to
do to prevent these incidents. Not leave out food, bear proof
garbage cans etc. Unless we continually educate people on what
to do, the bears will suffer and ultimately so will we. We are
all connected, whether it's obvious or not. Its ultimately not
the bears who are the problem, but us. One solution offered was
extending the hunting season. Is this the most enlightened way
to deal with this? Just kill them? We can do better. We must do
Mount Vernon, NY
Hello and Welcome to Tax Answer Fone brought to you by New York
State, Your Local School District and Your Town Goverment!
If you know the name of the Tax you are interested in paying,
please Press the "I Want to Pay that Tax Too!" button
now! If you would like to browse through our selection of Taxes
press the "You think your Tax Is High...You Should See Mine!"
button now. For information on proposed and new creative taxes
and fees, press the "Now, Were Gonna Stick It To You Good!"
button now. If you would like to hear our most creative tax pick
of the week, please Press the "FU!" button now.
Feature 1: You have chosen to browse through our selection of
Taxes. Beginning Tuesday enjoy our special Double Feature! See
the wildly talked about "The Tax Collector Always Rings Twice"
starring James Gandolfini as the Tax Collector. (After coping
with pain over their right eyebrows for months, the Legislature's
resident neurolgist orders an MRI.) Find out if this cures the
sounds of cash registers ringing in their heads! Or does the legislature
just want a group vacation in Bali????? Showtime at 7:30 a.m.!
Arrive on time! Due to the surprise ending, no one is admitted
after the movie begins.
Feature 2: "Dinner with the Auctioneer." Mario Cuomo
comes out of retirement to star in this foot stompin flick which
follows at 6 p.m. Once again, we see the Tax Collector in the
classroom of a creative writing class writing drafts of new taxes
and fees. What is it that he is holding under his other arm? Could
it be the films from his first MRI that showed there was nothing
wrong with the sponge of a brain that resides in his head? Will
it be a sponge forever? Will the Tax Collector learn Wang Fung
Ho Hiya! and kick the crap out of all these stupid property owners
that can't pay their taxes? Or will he finally be fixed and star
with Jackie Chan in her next movie "The Billion Dollar Tax
Bill"? Hang on to your seats folks - this one is an Oscar
Thank you for calling Tax Answer Fone! A taxpayer funded service.
Big Indian, NY
I take with great pleasure this opportunity to address the upcoming
election for Ulster County Surrogate. I've been a practicing attorney
for almost 30 years and have practiced in Ulster County since
1978. Almost 18 of those years have been with the District Attorney's
office. My recent resignation with that office now allows me to
put my full faith and support behind Judge Paul Gruner for Surrogate
Court Judge. Judge Gruner's position as Public Defender coincided
basically with my position as Senior Assistant D.A. As adversaries
over the years I have interacted with Judge Gruner on thousands
of criminal cases that included dozens of trials and hearings.
His respect for the Court, the attorneys, the parties and the
juries is beyond reproach. His demeanor in court is incomparable.
His devotion to the law is more than admirable.
As most voters realize, the person elected to the Surrogate Court
position will be required not only to sit as Surrogate, but will
have enormous responsibilities in Ulster County Court where the
vast majority of criminal cases are tried. Criminial trials are
probably the most demanding of any work for a trial attorney.
It requires an intimate knowledge of the Penal Law, Criminal Procedure,
and I believe, most importantly a working knowledge of the Rules
of Evidence. Out of all of the judges and attorneys in Kingston
over the last two decades that I have worked with, I dare say
that there are only four of them who may have spent more time
in court with Paul Gruner than I have. Throughout those years
I also observed Judge Gruner maintaining a private civil practice.
Simply stated, Judge Gruner excels in possessing the necessary
requirements that are expected for the next Ulster County Surrogate.
It is easy to say that a candidate for Judge is fair and compassionate.
There are dozens of attorneys, including without hesitation Judge
Work, who fit that requirement. It is, however completely different
to say that a candidate is not only fair and compassionate, but
possesses decades of various legal experience, would have complete
command of the law and Rules of Evidence and has had the years
of trial experience that is a prerequisite for the position of
being a trial judge.
Judge Gruner, to say the least, is equal to the best jurists that
I have encountered in 30 years. Variety of experience is what
is required for a judge to stand out above the rest. I urge you
to vote for Judge Paul Gruner.
Michael J. Miranda
Mount Pleasant, NY
We appeal to all the citizens of Ulster County, including Democrats
like ourselves, to vote for Republican Paul Gruner on November
2 for the position of Surrogate Judge.
Voting for judges should have nothing to do with political party
affiliation. Mary Work, Judge Gruner's Democratic challenger,
has been ensconced in the family court for the past 15 years and
has faced no opposition or scrutinization on the basis of merit
over the past two decades. Her tenure has been solely the result
of partisan politics, as have many family court judges.
Family court is the only court in the country that ignores the
laws of the land and relies upon the discretion of one fallible
person, a judge, rather than the rule of law. This is the case
with Mary Work and other family court judges who have become all
too powerful and self-serving, backed by nothing more than an
entrenched political party machinery that keeps them in office
and helps them avoid the scrutiny of their constituents.
In 1995, Judge Mary Work, based upon false accusations, authorized
two child abuse investigators to go to the Woodstock Elementary
School to interrogate my son in the presence of the school principal,
in an effort to determine if I was guilty of child abuse. As a
prominent member of the Woodstock community at the time, I was
appalled that this investigation took place, let alone the fact
that it was done AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE. My eleven-year-old son vehemently
denied the charges, and they were immediately dropped. If he hadn't
spoken up - for any reason - my name would have been held in a
computer bank of suspected child abusers until he turned 21 years
of age. Over these past five years, I have interviewed and met
many men and women whose children were too young to testify to
their innocence, as well as those whose children were too intimidated
to say anything at all in their parent's defense. This is just
one outrageous example of the injustice and absurd proceedings
that are often daily routine occurrences in our county's family
court at 16 Lucas Avenue in Kingston.
In the course of the past five years, I have hosted and produced
a cable TV show for the sole purpose of bringing attention to
the extraordinary abuse in the family courts of the Hudson Valley
and Catskills. My friend, John Heard, joins me in these efforts
and in support of Paul Gruner. We both welcome any change to the
long-standing status quo of horrific mistreatment in these kangaroo
courts. (Hearing Examiner John Beisel, a Republican, is a relatively
recent addition to this court; he has been consistently fair and
diligent and we can only hope that he will continue to work in
Both John and I feel compelled to speak out at this critical time
to alert our fellow citizens: this is not a time to vote partisan
politics. Voting for judges should have nothing to do with party
affiliation, but rather should be determined by competence and
judgment. Mr. Gruner is an excellent, well respected Ulster County
attorney. He currently sits on the Surrogate Court, having been
appointed by Governor Pataki, and I urge all of you to support
him by voting Republican on November 2, regardless of your party
The tyranny of family court is finally coming to light through
my efforts, John Heard's participation in this cause, and the
voices of many others who have risked losing their children by
speaking out. In this spirit, we both hope that Judge Paul Gruner
will usher in an era of change in the Surrogate Court. Family
Court Judge Mary Work is part of a tapestry of entrenched judges
from Albany to New York City. We all have seen what happens when
someone is in power for too long. Join John and I in making this
necessary change by electing someone of high standards to the
Surrogate Court bench. Every citizen should spend a morning or
afternoon observing the injustice in the Ulster County Family
Court and learn firsthand about what we have stated here.
West Hurley, NY
We need a change in this country. George W. Bush has given this
country four years of unsuccessful policies. His policies have
lost millions of jobs, caused many people to loose their health
insurance and most of those that do have health insurance have
seen their cost continue to escalate. He has socked seniors with
the largest increase ever in their Medicare monthly payments and
even worse he started a war with no end in site. Who knows what
else he'll do in the next four years if he's elected.
Bush started the war in Iraq to get rid of Saddam Hussein and
to save this country and the world from terrorist's attacks. You
have to ask yourself why is this country footing most of the bill.
Why are so many America troops dying in Iraq to save the world
from terrorists and so few from other countries? Why don't other
countries like France and Germany have more soldiers on the ground
to help us? Why, because George W Bush decided to go it alone.
Now there's some talk about starting the draft again because some
say we need more troops in Iraq. Who knows what Mr. Bush will
do next if he gets re-elected?
I don't think Bush has done anything to make things better
for me and this country and that's why I'm voting
for change by voting for John Kerry and John Edwards.
The following was sent to the town board recently...
Please accept my resignation as Town Historian of Shandaken, effective
immediately. Appointed under Supervisor Neal Grant, I have enjoyed
the privilege of fostering and preserving a part of the history
created by generations of my ancestors and their fellow Shandakenites.
The recent Shandaken Bicentennial Celebration, 1804-2004 was the
result of hard teamwork. My assistant Town Historians June LaMarca
and Maureen Nagy deserve SPECIAL accolades for their dedication
throughout the two-plus years of planning and implementation.
Although my historical interests are now directed toward the Capital
District area of New York State I will continue to follow the
course for Shandaken's historical efforts: securing, preserving
and disseminating its richest asset, the Town's history.
To this end I recommend Maureen Nagy as Shandaken Town Historian
following my tenure. Maureen had proven to be a dedicated, resourceful
and thorough assistant historian, qualities absolutely necessary
for the position of Town Historian. It is my sincere hope that
politics will not play any part in this appointment, but that
qualification will be the deciding factor.
Best wishes to the Town of Shandaken and all its peoples.
Historically and very truly yours,
Charles J. Zimmerman