Letters to the Editor (9/8 – 9/15)

Which side are you on?

I am writing in support of local labor leader, Sam Fratto’s letter outlining the importance of unions in benefitting all American workers whether they are members or not. Reasonable work hours, safe working conditions, time off for sickness, births, deaths, vacation, health benefits, pensions are all the result of union strength and presence in the work force. Do you think your employer would ever have voluntarily improved working conditions for you? It is solely because of the labor movement that Americans began to earn living wages and rightfully-earned benefits.

Ulster County faces an important primary on September 13 for the Independence Party line. I ask you to vote for Michael Harkavy who has long been a friend of middle-class working families. If you are enrolled in the Independence Party I hope you exercise your right to choose a candidate since the party bosses tried to make this important decision for you by-passing the democratic process practiced by other parties such as the Democrats.

Michael Harkavy will continue the tradition outlined by Fratto in his letter of protecting the rights of workers to earn enough money to support their families and themselves. Corporations can afford those wages and it’s time for workers to stand up for their rights!

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It is also time for politicians at all levels to stand on the side of America and insist on levies and/or other penalties for outsourcing jobs where workers in other countries are exploited in stark contrast to everything our country stands for. Corporations should be reminded that patriotism begins at home. Michael Harkavy understands this and lives it and will work for you.

Jo Galante Cicale

Saugerties

Town Board has the wrong priorities

I am honored to be nominated by the Independence, Conservative and Republican Parties for Saugerties Town Supervisor. I believe in: open government, consistent adherence to municipal laws, controlled spending, long-term planning, protecting our natural resources, and treating all people equally and fairly.

With local primaries coming up, it’s important to have information to make informed choices. You have the right to know where your candidates stand.

We have to get local government back on track and focus on the things that really matter: lower property taxes, fair property tax assessments, streamlined economic development process, financial accountability, and ensuring a safe community.

People are telling me that they are concerned about being able to continue to live in Saugerties because taxes are rising and their salaries are not. Seniors on fixed incomes have been hit hard. In the last 10 years (since the current supervisor has been in office) taxes have doubled, rising an average of 9.7 percent per year. That’s three times the rate of inflation! The Town’s bond rating has also been lowered – driving up interest rates, and making it more expensive for our community to borrow when necessary.

We want a government that conducts business openly at public meetings. On Aug. 26 at 8:30 a.m., the Town Board held an unannounced meeting in their offices on High Street. At this meeting they took a re-vote on a controversial PILOT agreement between the town and the developer of a low-income housing project. Members of the public were not given advance notice of the meeting, and there was no opportunity for public input or participation. This meeting was a clear violation of the open meetings law.

We want a government that takes public votes on expenditures, and is accountable for our money. Over $12,500 in funds for OPUS 40 were disbursed without a Town Board vote.

Instead of focusing on what really matters, the town has wasted our money on “discretionary spending” projects, then flip-flopped and backed out when public opinion was a resounding – No! Local government needs to be in touch with our community, people don’t want to see their tax dollars paying for community “extras” when they have no “extras” at home.

People are under-employed and need quality jobs commensurate with their education and experience. Parents aren’t able to spend time with their families because they are working two (sometimes three) jobs to make ends meet. One out of every 10 people needs a job.

We’re concerned about rising school taxes, and we are aware that inflated property tax assessments affect the state equalization rate and reduce state school aid to our community – thereby increasing the local share.

People have concerns about safety, crime, drug sales, speed enforcement in neighborhoods where children play, and the coordination of emergency services. When people come to the board with a problem they want to feel respected and listened to.

These are the things people are telling me. Well, I hear you, and I feel the same way. The Town Board should be focusing on government business and solving the real problems facing our community; instead of spending the majority of board meeting time talking about chicken BBQs, car shows, bed races, and sculpture parks.

They should be held accountable for violations of municipal law. There is no excuse for, private meetings, late budgets, excessive overtime and cost overruns for building expenses. People shouldn’t have to put in a FOIL request and pay 25 cents a page to get a copy of the Town Budget. Town Board meeting minutes should be available on-line as soon as they are approved. The microphones shouldn’t be off at pre-board meetings, our community has a right to hear what is being discussed.

If you are happy with things exactly as they are – keep voting for the same people.

But- if you think we need to get back on track with solving the problems that really matter – please consider voting for me. Please also support my running mates: Pam Riggins and Joe Roberti Sr. (write-in candidate) for Town Board and Doug Myer for highway superintendent.

We want to work for you, and get Saugerties back on track.

Kelly Myers

Saugerties

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