Saugerties Times letters (11/17-23)

No Trump

I repudiate Trump. We all need to stand and send a strong message against fascism. We are in very dangerous waters. We shouldn’t be discussing how to unite behind him but rather to shout from the rooftops that he will not prevail as a President for hate and bigotry. Look at the larger picture; Fascism is rearing all across the globe. And now it’s here. Denounce Trump.

Jo Galante
Saugerties

 

Saugerties philanthropists

I wanted to illuminate the philanthropy of two Saugerties-based businessmen who have continuously donated their financial resources, time and efforts towards enriching and empowering the lives of the elderly, the needy, the Saugerties School System and local youth.

On Thursday, November 3, Brendan Amodio, the owner and proprietor of  Mirabella’s Restaurant and Bar on Partition Street provided and prepared a four course meal of hot cooked food for 300 people (who were mostly seniors) at the annual awards dinner for Ulster County Community Action. For the Awards Dinner, which was held at the Kingston Community Center on Broadway, Mr. Amodio provided and arranged for all of the food in addition to the labor involved with the preparation and cooking of these meals. Mr. Amodio only charged Ulster County Community Action $3 per meal for a four course dinner of mashed potatoes, turkey with gravy, steamed broccoli and carrots along with desert and coffee. As one of the four legislative representatives on the Executive Board of Ulster County Community Action, I am well aware of the tight budget with which Ulster County Community Action provides assistance to the needy around Ulster County with its weatherization program, food bank pantry, Early Childhood Head Start Program, the facilitation of the New York State Heating Energy Assistance Program, HEAP, and the funding of enrollment fees for children in area youth sports leagues. In addition to this act of philanthropy, Mr. Amodio has also donated the funds for the scoreboard at the Saugerties Boys and Girls Club and towards other charitable causes.

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On Saturday, November 19 at 7 p.m. in the Saugerties High School Auditorium, Bob and Larry Siracusano, the owners and proprietors of Sawyer Motors in Saugerties and Catskill are promoting and sponsoring an evening of music with Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. with proceeds benefiting the Saugerties High School Marching Band and music program. Tickets are $25 and available at both Sawyer Motors’ locations. The Siracusano’s continually donate so much to the Saugerties Community and School System through the philanthropy associated with their Sawyer Motors Car Show and the Christmas Bike Program which provides well over 100 bikes to needy children around Saugerties. In addition, the Siracusano’s donate money to many other needy causes around Saugerties and other surrounding communities.

Chris Allen
Ulster County Legislature, Saugerties and Malden 

 

Join Saugerties Democrats

What Donald Trump will try to do with his new found power remains to be seen. There is no doubt millions of Americans will resist many aspects of his program. One method to resist is to become active in our progressive Saugerties Democratic Committee. In the wake of this election we are assuming the national Democratic Party will also become a progressive Party in line with its Party Platform which addresses the needs of the middle class. The SDC next meets at the Senior Center on November 22 at 7 p.m. Please join us to discuss what has happened and to plan for the future.

On Election Day, I served as a Poll Watcher, sitting for hours watching my neighbors vote. The results showed that almost as many persons voted for Donald as voted for Hillary in Election Districts 5, 9, 15 and 16 in Blue Mountain. Donald, like Bernie Sanders (my candidate) touched a cord with millions of Americans. There were many reasons. To me the most dominant reason was the decades of capital flight after World War II when corporate America abandoned hundreds of communities and took their manufacturing facilities to foreign lands. The result was economic harm to those communities and millions of people who lost middle class, often unionized, well paying jobs.

This was not the fault of Democrats or Republicans alone; it was the doing of corporate America aided by NAFTA and other trade deals approved by both political parties.  Insufficient laws were passed by Congress to limit the exportation of jobs and the undoing of the middle class.

I am dubious that Donald, a corporate capitalist himself who exports jobs overseas, will be able and willing to promote changes in the law that reverse this trend. If he can, to that extent I Am With Him. In recent history the Democratic Party stood with working men and women (remember Roosevelt?). That Party will either re-capture its mission, or it will find itself replaced by a party whose spiritual leader is progressive, like Bernie Sanders.

Lanny E. Walter, Chair
Saugerties Democratic party

 

Budget concerns

Saugerties should be concerned with proposed fiscal year 2017 budget.

I am one of a handful of residents who were present when Supervisor Helsmoortel was given unanimous support from our town council members to exceed the 2% tax cap for 2017. I’m certain many more residents are concerned than were aware of/able to attend the public hearings.  I have taken the time to review the “wishlist” proposed budget and wish to share the following calculations.  Proposed general fund expenditures of 8,694,399 include 6,821,899 raised by property taxes an increase  of 5.25% over 2016, but there are a few categories that are standout contributors to this increase. Employee hospital/medical/dental accounts for 12.6% (1,099,256) of the budget, up 23.4% from the current 2016 budget of 890,745. (My private sector employer has been increasing my required insurance premium as costs rise: now I pay about 37% of the premium!) Police expenditures account for 28.5% of the total proposed 2017 budget is 2,478,438, up 5.32% (125,270) over 2016 budget of 2,353,168. The personnel portion of the police budget is 2,129,138 which is 85.9% of the total police budget an increase of 7.09% for personnel (141,045) from 2016 budget of 1,988,093 (Mind you the new Contractual Benefit Agreement recently reached with the Police has a wage increase of 2.01%). The police personnel budget includes a 5.6% raise for its department head to 86,381 (from 81,800). To chief’s credit the non-personnel 14.1% (349,300) contribution to the proposed budget decreased 4.32% (15,775) from 2016 budget of 365,075.  Of note, overtime budget of 225,000 is >9% of the total proposed police budget (10.56% of the personnel budget) up 9.7 percent from 2016.  Is this really the ‘barebones’ budget.  What is the explanation for the amount of overtime expenditures? Is there a plan to mitigate this expense? I can appreciate that some of the total budget expenses are mandated by contracts or legislative entities (some raises, retirement contributions, workers comp) and some due to aging infrastructure (road maintenance, sewer and water districts). I also appreciate some budget entities were able to cost-contain themselves by balancing costs with revenues such as the ice rink and the transfer station.   Most of us are dealing with having to make tough choices and tightening the belt, so to speak. However, there needs to be a stronger sense of fiscal responsibility on behalf of our elected officials. Hiring freezes, wage freezes for non-bargaining personnel, austerity measures, clamping down on overtime expenditures in all departments, more benefit cost-sharing and decrease in non-essential spending (such as societies and clubs) could help trim $300,000 and  keep us close to the 2% tax cap. I say let Saugerties grow gracefully and within its means, not grow recklessly.

Michelle Numssen
Saugerties

There is one comment

  1. JP

    Jo Galante and Larry Walters, you are the reason Americans are fed up! The man has not even served one day in office, but you already are starting the hate Posts! E Pluribus Unum, “we are all in together” is on every dollar bill in your pocket. Give he man a chance. Do you know why the country is divided, because people react before giving others a chance to prove otherwise. Isn’t that what liberals propose? For us all to be tolerant? Well I think you should practice what you preach!

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