Kingston Times letters (10/20-26)

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Notice

Next week’s edition (Oct. 27) will be the last in which letters critical of a candidate standing for election on Nov. 8 will be printed, so as to allow a response in the Nov. 3 edition. Letters supporting a candidate and not criticizing his or her opponent will be accepted for the Nov. 3 edition.

 

Convinced by Faso

I was not convinced that John Faso was a congressional candidate that I could support. I therefore carefully researched Mr. Faso’s background and believe him to be in my opinion very well qualified. I believe he completely overpowered Ms. Teachout during last week’s debate. Ms. Teachout is nothing more than a “talking head” trying to break into politics. A lovely lady that knows little about us, I applaud her for wanting to clean up the Hudson. But the bigger issues in our area are jobs, property taxes, drug addiction and keeping our families safe. She couldn’t make it in her quest for governor and it is my opinion she is not best choice for the 19th Congressional District. John Faso understands the problems in our area and after meeting and listening to Mr. Faso and his deep concern for our future, I feel he is the only candidate that is qualified to represent the needs of the 19th Congressional District.

Nan Kelley
Port Ewen

 

Leave the signs alone

Someone in the Town of Rosendale is doing a great job of proving my point that politically active Democrats are almost all a bunch of criminals. On October 13, I put up five Trump signs and by 7 a.m. the next morning, three of them were cut down and stolen. I know it must have been a Democrat because a Clinton sign appeared about five feet from where I put the Trump sign.

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Why do they feel they must resort to such dirty criminal politics? Especially when this year there is no reason. The establishment Republicans in Washington are handing over the election to corrupt, lying Clinton by committing political suicide with their efforts to get Trump off the ballot and keep him out of the White House.

Apparently in Rosendale Republicans are not allowed to have freedom of speech! Unfortunately, shortly after Clinton wins the election she will strip away all of our Constitutional rights and only the elite insiders will have freedom of speech. Stop the stealing of Republican signs!

Quite frankly, we will be better off with a womanizing pervert who will support and defend our Constitution than a corrupt, criminal liar who should be tried for accessory to murder and treason!

Attilio A. Contini
Bloomington

 

An open letter about Family Court

Dear Mr. Younkin: We write to you as concerned citizens and taxpayers residing in the County of Ulster. On Nov. 8, voters in the county will be asked to approve moving its family court to a location outside of the county seat, Kingston. We believe the ballot referendum language and purpose are flawed, and based on faulty, incomplete data. We also have reason to believe that your office has not been provided with the basic level of information required to render a balanced opinion on the significant matter of court relocation, renovation, and modernization.

The letters sent to the county from both your office (“UCS”) and the Third Judicial District clearly state expectations and timelines related to addressing the shortcomings of current family court facilities.

The County Legislature and County Executive for reasons unknown were slow in responding to mandated action from the UCS. Once action was taken in the form of hiring professional consultants to study the matter and issue recommendations, upon review of the resulting documents it is our opinion that their findings were hastily assembled, lacked breadth and focus, and arrived at conclusions that are not in the public’s best interest.

A summary of the findings, in chronological order, and our comments on the county’s response, interpretation, and ‘spin’ is as follows:

The county commissioned C&S Architects, Engineers, and Landscape Architect, PLLC in 2015 to prepare a Facility Location Study (“Study”), which in addition to evaluating a renovation and addition to the existing facility (more on this option later), briefly considers four specific sites for family court relocation within the City of Kingston: the Mental Health Building, Woolworth Building, 300 Flatbush Avenue, and the old jail. The first two were generally dismissed as unattractive candidates for relocation, and the latter two were each deemed to be “not … a viable option.” A fifth candidate site was floated and deemed to be the most viable: the County-owned Business Resource Center (“BRC”), located in the Town of Ulster.

We question why the study would even conduct a cursory review of sites it determined to be nonviable to begin with; further, we question why the county disregarded the consultant’s advice that “preference should be given to properties within the City of Kingston.” As your office is well aware, 94 percent of New York State’s family courts are situated within their respective county seats, and we strongly advocate and agree with the consultant on this point that Ulster County’s family court remain in the City of Kingston. The fact is there are a number of sites in Kingston that could — and still should — be studied: the city-owned former municipal parking garage parcel on North Front Street, two additional city-owned lots on North Front Street, a “green site” at Kingston Plaza on Schwenk Drive, the Kingston City School District-owned Cioni Building on Green and Crown Streets, and the Daily Freeman building on Hurley Avenue, to name just a few potential sites. All present superior locations to the BRC, and all are potentially more viable than the few options presented in the study. The county failed to conduct an in-depth, exhaustive analysis of these and other favorable sites for a new family courthouse facility. Regarding the existing family court location on Lucas Avenue, the study downplays and only briefly examines its viability. A review of the raw area of the parcel demonstrates that it allows for measures to improve the facility in a number of ways: security, accessibility, multiple, designated entrances, and phased improvements — these areas could all be studied with much greater scrutiny and detail. The cost of purchasing the property, completing required interior renovations, constructing a 10,000-square-foot addition, and preserving/expanding on-site parking, could potentially cost millions of dollars less than a wholesale move out of Kingston to the BRC. Whether the solution is found at its present home or at a new location within Kingston, the benefits of keeping family court in the county seat are convincing: symbolism, fiscal responsibility, convenience of representation and accessibility, and the health and vitality of Kingston businesses all being significant factors that the aforementioned study, the June 1, 2016 Project Budget Summary and the undated financial analysis of moving family court to the Business Resource Center universally and completely disregard. Moving family court — and 300-400 of its daily users — out of Kingston will remove between $750,000 and $1,500,000 annually from local businesses and dining establishments (and sales taxes generated and collected), eclipsing the anticipated “$14.2 million in savings provided to taxpayers over the second 20 years”; it will dislocate or otherwise negatively impact over three dozen attorneys’ offices from the centralized convenience of the county court, County Office Building, and court magistrates’ chambers; it will create additional traffic, pollution and wasted commuting time to an out-of-town commercial strip for most of its users.

Finally, we want to bring attention to the cost assumptions presented in the study and the Summary. While the BRC renovation is estimated at $305 per square foot, other candidate locations are estimated at $626/s.f., $894/s.f., and even $958/s.f. Simple research of recently completed, award-winning courthouse and law enforcement facilities projects challenges these figures, with an average of $304/s.f. documented for at least eight state-of-the-art similar or larger new and renovated facilities. We have reason to believe a new — or renovated — facility in Ulster County would not cost more than this established average construction cost, even when factoring in prevailing wages.

We respectfully urge your office to grant the time, determination, and due diligence to allow a fully vetted process that carefully studies the next steps and best solutions for this critical public service.

Brad Will,
former alderman, City of Kingston

County Legislator David Donaldson

County Legislator Jennifer Schwartz Berky

County Legislator John Parete

Joseph Donaldson,
chair, Kingston Democratic Committee

(Editor’s note: The preceding is an open letter to Ronald P. Younkin, Esq., executive director of the New York State Unified Court System dated Oct. 14, 2016.)

 

McGinty: I’m well-qualified 

Many of your readers may be wondering about recent news stories regarding my qualifications for Surrogate’s Court judge. Much of the news is about an evaluation process I voluntarily participated in and the finding that I am not qualified for the job.

From the first, I have committed myself to open and honest communication in my campaign — and that’s how I intend to handle this issue, too.

In 2005, a client gave me his $100,000 check to use in his real estate closing. I deposited it into my attorney escrow account and my bank confirmed five days later that it had cleared. Relying on that information, I used those funds for his purchase. A few days later, my bank told me that my client’s check had been dishonored and that the attorney escrow account checks I had written had bounced. Since situations such as these are automatically reported to the committee on professional standards, they immediately began an audit of my attorney escrow account.

The audit found errors in my record-keeping. In the preceding 10 years and hundreds of real estate closings, I had both overpaid and underpaid my clients, resulting in a shortfall in my escrow account. I never profited from these errors. More than once I had forgotten to pay my own legal fee from the monies I held in escrow. That was determined to be a “co-mingling” of my fees with client monies. Another time I mistakenly used an escrow check for office expenses, purchasing two rolls of postage stamps.

The final ruling was that I had committed professional misconduct due to poor bookkeeping, but that my errors were unintentional.

That was a very painful chapter in my life. Doing my very best for my clients has always been important to me and it was deeply disturbing to realize that I had failed them in my bookkeeping practices. However, like other challenges in my life, it has made me more humble, wise and compassionate. My disciplinary record has been public knowledge for over 10 years. It is part of who I am. But it does not define who I am.

I believe that I am well-qualified to serve as your Surrogate Court judge. I will continue to run a transparent campaign that shows voters who I am as a person, a lawyer and a judge.

Sara W. McGinty
Rosendale

 

It’s about the 1 percent

The recent barrage of negative TV ads put out by John Faso’s campaign against Zephyr Teachout takes an out-of-context quote and uses it to mislead viewers. Zephyr Teachout has been incredibly clear in this campaign — she wants to lower property taxes, not raise them. She knows that families are getting squeezed, and thinks that lowering property taxes is vitally important to building a strong, local economy. Ms. Teachout supports tax reform, such as the circuit breaker, that would provide crucial relief for families that need it most.

But let’s get to the root of the problem. When the 1 percent continue to get tax breaks through their intensive lobbying efforts, the rest of us have to make up the difference by paying more in property tax. When Mr. Faso was in the state Assembly, property taxes went up 43 percent because of lobbying by special interests. If Mr. Faso represents the 1 percent, Ms. Teachout represents the rest of us.

Linda R. Sakai
New Paltz

 

Don’t ignore Law of Love

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared that health classes will have to teach about mental health. What he has not included in the mandate is the understanding, as Teilhard de Chardin pointed out, that, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience — we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” It is the spiritual which embraces our activities and offers us a solid self-concept which allows us to withstand the many assaults on our person. It is the spiritual which gifts us with worth and dignity. Those who learn to love and serve themselves and others build the foundation for a productive and healthy life. What the governor and so many of our mental health professionals and systems, often for reasons of political correctness, shy away from is the core of personal and mental health is predicated on the Law of Love. When this is ignored, the road to a strong mental health is a rocky and tortured road to travel.

Paul Jankiewicz, Ph.D.
Ulster Park

 

Dangerous Donald

During the debate on Sept. 26 between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump I observed some of their personal and political values. Hillary Clinton admitted to an error in judgment concerning her emails. She regretted the episode and apologized.

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Donald Trump stated that it is “smart” business to avoid paying taxes in part or in full. His refusal to publicize his federal tax return should be questioned. What information is he protecting from public view? And why is he hiding the information that the voting public should know?

Furthermore, for what are the federal taxes used? To name a few: Social Security, aid to the disabled, education, building and protecting the water supply, building roads and highways, medical care of the elderly, veterans care and much more. Let us not forget the military, whose budget takes up 60 percent of the federal budget.

Donald Trump said it is “smart” to avoid paying taxes. He implied that if we were smart, we would do the same. When one earns $600 million a year, a few hundred thousand is a “drop in the bucket.”

Donald Trump said he would work to create jobs. To accomplish this worthy goal he would encourage the manufacturing community to develop factories in the U.S. How would he do this? Cutting their taxes would really not improve the economy. For the remaining 90 percent, it would mean an increase in taxes. Paying taxes is difficult for 90 percent of us, but the remaining 10 percent find it unpleasant.

As a “smart” businessman, on what terms would he deal with the countries of the world? Has he shown that he has the necessary skills in diplomacy? His speeches and discussion at the debate shows that he is greatly lacking in the ability.

For all these reasons, I greatly fear that were he elected, the well-being and safety of our country and the rest of the world would be in great danger.

Rosalind Stark
Kingston

 

New leadership needed

Corruption is as rampant in Albany as in Washington, D.C. which is why we need new leadership from top to bottom. I fully support Jack Hayes for Assembly District 103 representative. Jack is a career public servant, from his time in the Navy, through his many years with the state police, and on to serve as Gardiner town supervisor and Ulster County legislator. Jack fully supports term limits for all public offices and ethics reform that is sorely needed. Please vote for Jack Hayes on Row C on Nov. 8.

William Barrett
Gardiner

 

Hoping for Hillary’s better qualities

I do not like Hillary Clinton. More accurately, I am not thrilled about her candidacy. It has nothing to do with her gender. I actually supported her in the primaries eight years ago. I would enthusiastically support someone like Elizabeth Warren today, and I definitely think it is high time for women to achieve the heights of political power.

I certainly appreciate many of Hillary’s policies and interests, but I am extremely disappointed with her stance on Monsanto, fracking and more warmongering, as well as her apparent cozying up to big oil, big pharma, corporatism in general and Wall Street.

The email “scandal” and the Wikileaks being spun this way and that by her haters do not interest me very much (they don’t exactly help. I suppose). At the same time, I find her opponent much too fascistic, much too sexist, much too hateful and frankly much too ignorant to want to see him in office. I appreciate that he has brought so much of the shadow of American life up into the light of consciousness where eventually it can be overcome, but if he wins this election I fear he will wreak so much havoc and destruction, fear and hatred that it will be too late.

I find Gary Johnson rather pathetic (as well as being known to have various dangerous and rather sick ideas), and although I like Jill Stein in many ways and appreciate her stances I don’t think she’s nearly prepared for what will happen day after day if she were in the White House.

I wish Bernie Sanders were running, but am at least grateful that he, too, has brought much into the light of consciousness of this nation, but in a positive and hopeful way. So as it is, I am going to be voting for Clinton, and hoping that her better qualities win out.

But here’s my point: The election is not over on Nov. 9. We cannot just back off and passively “wish” and “hope” that she won’t follow her worst instincts. We have to remain awake and vigilant and hold her accountable. I’m not sure she quite grasps the power of the social media and the Internet in modern society. I suspect she still thinks she will be able to act covertly, and that the corporate media will be all she has to worry about. God knows, all they care about is ratings. They’ve become an utter disgrace.

That’s why I say that we have to continue watching, listening, and spreading all possible news, so that she has to work in the open and do the right thing. This, of course, does not mean spreading unfounded accusations, lies, spin, hatefulness, or fantastic imaginary foolishness. We too have to be held accountable.

Dr. Andrew Cort
Woodstock

 

Vote for Matera

I urge Ulster County voters to elect Peter Matera as our next Surrogate’s Court judge. As an Ulster County lawyer for more than 50 years, I have observed many attorneys develop professionally. Peter Matera, in his 30 years as an attorney in Ulster County, has not only demonstrated professional ability, but also integrity, character and independence as well as a reputation for fairness, lack of bias, courtesy and patience. They are the characteristics on the basis of which he was the only candidate for Ulster County Surrogate Court judge rated qualified by the Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commission for the Third Judicial District, which includes Ulster County. The 15 members of that commission are appointed by the chief judge of the Court of Appeals, the presiding justices of the four Appellate Divisions and the New York State and local Bar Associations. It is comprised of both lawyers and non-lawyers.

The candidacy of Peter Matera for Ulster County surrogate judge also received the enthusiastic endorsement of former Supreme Court justice Michael Kavanagh, former Surrogate Court judge Joseph Traficanti Jr., former County Court judge Michael Bruhn and former Kingston City Court judge Ted Feeney. As Ulster County district attorney, Michael Kavanagh appointed Peter Matera as an assistant district attorney and described him as one of his best appointments. As an assistant district attorney, Peter Matera has demonstrated the characteristics which garnered him the qualified rating of the Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commission. That rating and the endorsement of the former judges make Peter Matera the best choice for Ulster County surrogate.

Michael Catalinotto
Saugerties

 

Ponder this

The most stunning fall leaves I’ve ever seen — and all this beauty during a drought and an election.

A gift? Any thoughts?

Jill Paperno
Glenford

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