Letters to the Editor – 9/29 to 10/5

Wooden Nickels

Insecure individuals often appear losel because they are afraid to ask questions or give answers.

Howard Harris



How now? Rosebuds in autumn?

Anyone who has ever been a child knows that getting punished for behaving badly ought to be balanced with a little extra pat on the back for doing something right. In this spirit, Woodstockers of all political stripes deserve an exuberant high five in their nominated choices for supervisor. In these fractious times, we can at least all come together and celebrate the return to local government of a sense of humor.

Hunh, you ask?

Most Woodstockers have by now seen the ubiquitous t-shirts put out by the Lorin Rose team declaring him “Not the loosest cannon is town!” And all were genuinely amused when Jeremy Wilber concluded his remarks at a pre-primary event with the sound bite that he could promise us “translucence” but not necessarily “transparency” in government, lest he risk being confused with Jay Wenk, a contender for re-election to the Town Board.


It is hard to overstate the importance of bringing real humor back to an electorate so numbed by years of leadership whose sense of humor never seemed to reach higher than the inside joke, typically at the expense of some well-meaning outsider who naively thought a little constructive criticism couldn’t hurt, especially among adults after all.

Having taught us to smile again, the jousting jesters must now show us who is best suited to lead us out of Humpty Dumpty’s kingdom and back toward the light. We see merit in the words of the good-humored Wilber, who knows the path well, but we cannot forget that it is he who handpicked and mentored the maker of our misery. So perhaps it is time to trade-in the slick and follow the joker who preaches back-to-basics common sense. The most successful jesters used their freedom of opinion quite skillfully, and gave wise and trusted counsel when it was needed most.

Joe Nicholson



Everyday Shandaken Life

At Cabane Studios, here in Phoenicia, I saw a show called “small details: life in the catskills” by George Neher, who is a local policeman. It was photographs taken with a Holga 120S, a plastic box camera made in China. The edges of the prints tend to be vignetted. (That means they’re slightly darkened.) The camera uses real film; it’s not digital. The Holga is quite close to the Brownie camera I used as a kid. It was designed for Chinese workers in 1981, but later adopted by American artists fascinated by the camera’s quirky limitations. Neher uses square film, to make 20” x 20” prints.

“small details” depicts everyday Shandaken life: a red gate, a sprinkler, a magnolia bush, a coiled green hose, the last four letters of the Phoenicia Pharmacy sign, a back porch, a shack, a windshield covered with ice. At first I didn’t recognize any of the places, and wondered if it was Tennessee. The photos might have been taken by an ambling 10 year old boy, whistling as he walked through backyards. Neher reports his daily sights with understated affection. It’s the best cop art I’ve ever seen. (The show will be up till October 9.)




Devastating Fracking

I am a long-time homeowner in Delaware County, New York. I am also a Ph.D. economist and have been conducting economic analyses and developing economic models for 35 years for public and private clients.

The gas industry spends millions of dollars on PR, advertising, lobbying and political contributions in order to make a lot of money for themselves from the production of shale gas. The industry representatives are misleading the public when they claim that hydrofracking will bring great economic prosperity to upstate New York.

While gas drilling may produce limited short-term job gains, it’s very likely to be devastating to communities in the intermediate to long-term. It’s likely to cause declines in our important existing industries such as agriculture, tourism, wine making, hunting, fishing and river recreation. There’ll be huge costs to the region, including the costs to maintain and repair over-used infrastructure, costs of environmental degradation, costs to human health, increased demands on social services and first responders, and the costs associated with declines in other industries. Homeowners can expect trouble refinancing and insuring properties on or near gas drilling, as banks and insurance carriers avoid the risks associated with gas drilling. The predictable results will be reduced property values and reduced tax revenues.

Every new, unbiased academic study published on hydrofracking confirms negative impacts, including negative health impacts, negative environmental impacts, and negative economic impacts. In reality, the only parties likely to benefit from gas drilling in the long run are the gas companies and a very few lucky and large landowners. If we allow horizontal hydrofracking in New York, our water, air and land may become contaminated, our population may suffer failing health, our landscape will become industrial, our communities may be “thrown away,” and our economy is likely to experience a long- term bust.

Jannette M. Barth



For more letters, see print edition