This is to thank the Saugerties Volunteer Fire Department for rescuing my cat from inside one of my basement rafters, where some contractors had inadvertently walled him off. I arrived home from work on Monday, May 14, to find that the contractors had left for the day, having closed off one of the rafters in my basement during their work remodeling my bathroom upstairs. Unknown to them, my cat had crawled into that rafter to hide when he heard them coming into the basement. I called them immediately, several times, but I got voice mail. At that point, I tried to remove the piece of wood myself, but did not have the tools or the know-how to do it. Meanwhile, my poor cat was literally walled up in the rafter, crying piteously.
At that point I called the Saugerties Fire Department and spoke with Dave, who indicated he would be off from work approximately an hour later and would come over at that time, but an hour seemed forever to me. He heard my distress and called back a few minutes later to say that he had contacted Chris, who happened to be available. Chris was there in a few minutes, figured out what needed to be done, and got the piece of wood off the rafter. (My cat finally emerged three hours later…!)
I am so aware that our volunteer fire department has better things to do, takes enormous risks to help people whose houses are afire, and are willing to be called out to do this at any time of the day or night, in any weather. I am all the more grateful that they took the time to help a little dopey cat who was definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time. Thank you, thank you, thank you, and God bless.
Town Board disses hero
On April 18, 2012 the Saugerties Town Board voted to name the Town Hall after former town supervisor Helsmoortel who lost the 2011 election in large part due to his unyielding attitude over Dickinson Keep [an affordable housing project in Glasco supported by Helsmoortel]. At his last town board meeting he walked out rather than addressing questions from the public. It ended with a spirited senior citizen standing up and declaring, “You’re fired!” And a few days later it came to pass.
The April 18 motion vote was unanimous however at the next town board meeting on May 2, the November 2001 minutes were presented to the town board by Joe Roberti Sr. Those minutes showed that in November 2001 the town board had voted to name the town hall after Colonel Roger Donlon, Saugerties’ own hometown hero, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the Vietnam War. (The minutes stated that there were two opposing votes in 2001, one of which was from Helsmoortel.)
Okay, so a mistake was made. So what do we do when we make a mistake? We fix it! But the majority of this town board is only capable of trying to prove they are right even when they are wrong! Now two weeks later at the May 16 meeting, councilman Leighton, knowing that Colonel Donlon comes to his home town every year around Memorial Day, calls Colonel Donlon and arranges a meeting with himself and councilman Costello. Leighton reports with a touch of triumph in his voice that they learned that Colonel Donlon didn’t even know the town hall had been named after him in 2001 and of course since he didn’t know it he wouldn’t mind it if the town hall was named something else.
Leighton’s and Costello’s actions were thoughtless, shameless and arrogant. Their presumptive behavior would have been as hilarious as any episode with Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton, had it not been for the fact this time our military hero was the object of their self-centeredness. Leighton and Costello were both proud of the outcome of their actions. Part two of this pathetic performance takes place when councilwoman Thornton produces a letter from Marie Post stating she did not remember the meeting or the vote. First of all, Leanne, it doesn’t matter what Marie Post thinks or remembers ten and a half years after the fact. Furthermore, Marie is a town employee; you are her boss and your action of getting a letter from her attempting to justify your negligence suggests strong-arming and abuse of your authority toward one who holds a job appointed the by town board.
In part three, Costello tries a distraction tactic and tries to convince all present that all would be well and good if only they could find something to dedicate to all veterans. According to Costello that would be pleasing to Colonel Donlon and of course it would please most of the community. But how does that justify you and the others breaking the law? And how does that justify your insensitive communication, either explicit or implicit, to Colonel Donlon that the town hall should not have his name? This current town board did not engage in due diligence before rushing to name our town hall or they would have learned that it already was officially named. There could be one easy way out of this which no one has mentioned yet. Helsmootel could refuse this disputed honor and accept the alternative suggested supervisor Myers and councilman Bruno which is to have the police wing named after him. Now that would take some humility which is an attribute omitted in Helsmoortel’s training of “Team Saugerties.”
Colonel Donlon, please recognize that their behaviors are not representative of this town which respects, appreciates and honors you and your service and that of other veterans and current members of the military. None on this town board or Helsmoortel served in the military but I’m sure you could tell that immediately.
Thoughts on hospital problems
Over the past few weeks a lot of controversy has surfaced concerning the future of one of our local hospitals. I am of the belief that the reimbursement rate is not the sole cause of the financial problems currently being experienced by the Health Alliance. First of all the economy in Ulster County is weak and no significant changes have occurred since the departure of IBM in 1994. The impact of that departure is just now being felt full force. IBM’s departure alone took away from us nearly 9000 jobs and the resulting impact caused us to lose probably another 5000 at least, over the term of IBM’s departure.
Keeping that in mind, a catastrophic event with no real recovery leaves us in a situation where we are presently. Quite simply if you don’t have a job you more than likely don’t have health insurance. If you don’t have a job you probably can’t afford to pay your mortgage. And an important note to think about if you are in this situation you stand the same chance of getting sick compared to those who have jobs and no mortgages! So what we have now in Ulster County is a very large Medicare population. About 14 percent of the county’s population receive Medicaid, many of them are senior citizens and of course those unable to find jobs that offer health insurance. Without a solution to just these issues the Federal reimbursement rate almost becomes moot. Even if the rate is included in the NYC area, which it definitely should be, we are simply putting a band-aid on a gushing wound.
Dutchess County is and always has been economically stronger than Ulster County. Dutchess has two existing IBM facilities and a host of other companies that employ many more than on this side of the river. Our population makes it much more difficult for doctors to maintain their practices and consequently we are seeing the departure of many in the health field leaving Ulster County for more affordable opportunities. With the reimbursement rate being higher in Dutchess along with the rail that provides easy access to the New York City area, we are seeing physicians developing areas providing specialized medicine including up to date surgical procedures and centers. With an aging population and no immediate hope in site for a rebound in the economy, the reimbursement rate is critical at this point in order to keep one of these facilities open.
I tend to look at things as a bigger picture. Unless we improve the economy, the higher rate, if obtained will only be a band aid approach to a broader solution.
Ulster County Legislator, District 2
Tyner a true Democrat
The Democratic Party disappoints Democrats. Their chosen local candidate for Congress, Julian Schreibman, is fuzzy on hydro-fracking, the biggest threat to the health and economic well-being of New York. His dismissive statement that there is little space between himself and President Obama on this issue disappoints any informed person in our congressional district.
Rather than the bold policy statements warranted by America today—people without jobs, homes, health care—a country at war, Julian’s position postings are vague, with nostalgia for an America circa 1950. No word about the 600 billion dollar military budget creating enemies around the world. What about a financial sector stealing our national wealth or the threat to democracy as the super rich buy congressional collusion? Maurice Hinchey has spent his career fighting against these harms and their inexorable destruction of our environment.
Joel Tyner is also running in the Democratic Primary on June 26. Joel is an authentic Democrat who has served five terms as a county legislator. He is smart as a whip and strong on the vital issues. He addresses the grotesque economic inequality. He will not remain silent while the Republican corporate coup steamrollers our democracy, climate, public schools, our kids’ future.
We need Joel’s experience and boldness to represent us in Washington. If you are a Democrat, go to JoelforCongress.org and then mark your calendar to vote in the Primary on June 26 or go online to Board of Elections and print an absentee ballot. Not a registered Democrat? See https://vimeo.com/40543510. Catch the Team Tyner spirit!
Stop fracking, vote Tyner
Last week at General Assemblies of both 99%Occupy organizations in Kingston and Saugerties it was passed by consensus to support candidate Joel Tyner for Congress in the 19th District of New York. His stances are well known on all the issues, including being 100 percent against fracking, where he mirrors Maurice Hinchey’s beliefs as demonstrated by Congressman Hinchey’s interview and actions in the documentary Gasland. He does not have any reservation about his stance. Any chance of fouling the drinking water of New York must be avoided. Waiting for more information, which would likely come from Halliburton, or a compromised government agency, makes no sense.
Save our air, water and soil
Why won’t the chicken cross the road? The Halliburton truck carrying radioactive and toxic wastewater from a fracked well hit a pipeline and overturned, spilling its contents on the road and surrounding countryside including downstream into a river and near an elementary school.
If the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) starts to issue permits to allow High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF) in New York State the above and worse could happen many times over. It’s the efforts of each of you reading this letter to take easy actions as outlined below. Your collective activity makes a difference.
New Yorkers Against Fracking is a new coalition of over one hundred consumer advocacy, food, environmental, health care, religious and political groups, many grassroots, who are committed to banning this unconventional form of drilling for natural gas. Go to nyagainstfracking.org which contains information about their coalition as well as facts and reports about the dangers of fracking to our air, water, soil, public health, environment, economy and communities.
1. Become informed about fracking and share that knowledge with friends, family, co-workers, gym buddies, club members and those you meet taking a train or plane, getting a haircut or waiting in line at the bank. You would be surprised at how much misinformation is out there. Prepare a small “rap” or elevator speech to highlight your concerns. Start to converse. It becomes easier over time and you do improve.
2. Go to nyagainstfracking.org and hit the link on Action. Then the link on Resources. Under toolkit there are tips and tactics for outreach and engagement. There will be a petition and endorsement forms to print. Fill a petition with half a dozen names and/or get at least five endorsements. The more the better as these demonstrate that the movement to ban fracking is backed by a broad diversity of individuals, organizations and institutions.
New Yorkers AgainstFracking is becoming the biggest grassroots effort for what is considered the environmental crisis of our times. Every voice is needed. Remember democracy is not a spectator sport.
Saugerties Historic Homes Tour
On May 12 we all had the opportunity to learn about and view six historic homes and a church in the hamlet called Flatbush which runs down route 32 from Glasco to the Town of Ulster. The tour was organized by the Historic Preservation Commission of Saugerties. Under the guidance of Susan Puretz, an enthusiastic and capable team selected and researched the history of these properties. After months of meetings, viewing, writing, calling and organizing volunteers, what we experienced was a smoothly run event complete with knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides and homeowners with stories about the past. Magnificent views, snacks, an upbeat bus driver, and fabulous weather rounded out a very rich experience. What a great way to immerse oneself in the history of our area.
Thanks to the commission for sponsoring the tour and congratulations to the committee that thought of everything, and worked tirelessly and passionately to create a dynamic event: Renate Belville, Susan Davis, Rich Davis, Renata Corcoran, Jeanne Goldberg, Myles Putman, Michael Sullivan Smith and Rob Sweeney. Thanks to many other volunteers who added expertise and guidance. Special thanks to Susan Puretz for taking on this major undertaking in conjunction with her other major undertaking, Lifespring: Saugerties Adult Learning Community.
Congratulations and much appreciation to all of you for your very hard work. I had a wonderful time.
Fundamentally the same
Q: What’s the difference between The Taliban Headquarters and Rifton?
A: One’s a home to a fanatical bearded cleric with his own remote hilltop compound. The women members of his sect are required to wear simple long, plain, dresses and head coverings to protect their modesty. They are absolutists who adhere to rigid, often hateful, Bronze Age customs, ethics, and morals, and insist that civil and religious law ought to be one and the same. The other one is in Afghanistan.
Yard sale success
We had a great day at the Yard Sale held on Saturday, May 19! It was a huge success, thanks to all who donated items, attended and volunteered to help. The amount of good and some new items was unbelievable! Everyone who came found something. This sale was the best ever and the Shelter Renovations Project can move forward. I want to thank the staff members of the Transfer Station and the Animal Shelter, and friends and members of my family for their cooperation in set-up and clean-up operations for the sale, also their patience and helpfulness in storing donated items being dropped off the past few months. Special thanks to the Blue Kats organization for the loan of their tables and special recognition to the “Famous Church Bakers” for holding a bake sale and donating the entire proceeds to the shelter. I had a perfect day, saw and visited with old friends, had some laughs. Thank you for the publicity on the part of the media. We are so fortunate to have the free publicity in the newspapers and on TV. To my friends, my family and the community, again thank you. I am truly blessed. God bless you all.