Letters (Aug. 23-30)

Casinos have changed

The casino towns grew up, deservedly so, with a bad reputation. Towns like “Sin City” were built on illegal gambling, bootlegging, racketeering, and prostitution. The casinos themselves were flagrant shows of excess that were surrounded by the dregs that supported them. These are the casinos we love to hate.

Now switch to today.

There are casinos in at least 42 states. California alone has 48 casinos. In addition, many states use gambling (Lotto, scratch-offs, etc) to help pay for education. Today’s casinos are not the sin houses of yesterday. They are clean, fun places that cater more to seniors than to hoodlums.

Today’s casinos are being built to enhance and promote tourism across the country. For places with a long established attraction, like Niagara Falls or the Poconos, they are providing a new vibrancy and expand the overall attraction. For places that are just starting to get serious about making themselves a tourist destination, like Bethlehem, PA, the casinos are becoming a base where additional venues can be established or expanded.


The new casinos are creating hotels for visitors in areas that could not previously support a lot of overnight vacationers. They have shopping, both high-end and discount retail outlets. They have restaurants and food courts. They are revitalizing old industrial areas and turning them into creative arts centers. They are drawing world-famous entertainment. The seniors come by the busloads.

The truth is, the casinos are an attraction to get people into a town. Most people I know spend much more of their time (and money) exploring the local towns and attractions than they actually spend inside the casino, even when they are staying there.

I believe we have to act smartly, but we should not throw away the opportunity to use an effective tool that the rest of the country is using to help make themselves a “Vacation Destination,” as opposed to “A Neat Place to Stop By On Your Way Through.”

Mark Hoffstatter


Pro-casino views rest on fallacies

You have fallen into the trap of thinking casinos are “free” money. Well, I hate to tell you there is no such thing as a free lunch. Yes, NY needs revenue but it will “barely” come from casinos.

I admit that casinos will create building jobs in five to seven places (the number that will be allowed in NY State if the legislation passes). Once each casino is up and running it will attract people because it is a new venue – like the new girl in town. But very quickly the local casino will face competition as another casino comes on-line and thus the “older” one is no longer young and dewy eyed. People (except locals) will desert that “old” casino and travel to the next newest and dewiest casino. And so on.

That is why older casinos across the U.S. are facing rough financial times (and some are even bankrupt.)

One more thing, to clear up a misconception, No Saugerties Casino members are a mixed bunch, i.e. we are not ideologically pure. Some are not opposed to gambling, some even see a function for casinos. But to a man/woman, ALL ARE OPPOSED TO a casino here in Saugerties. This would be a very distinct possibility if the amendment is approved. We also keep up with the news and the research. Casinos are not the answer to New York’s money problems. All they do is kick the ball down the block and add to the social ills draining our tax dollars away.

Susan Puretz


The difference between tolerance and encouragement

Mr Charles Aiello is right (letter, Aug 16) that we are surrounded by gambling, and that we do not expect government to stop alcohol use (legal in most jurisdictions) or pot-smoking (illegal in most of USA). He does not extend his argument, as he might have, to cigarette-smoking (legal) or alcohol abuse or illicit drug use or prescription drug abuse, all of which also surround us. On these latter practices most of us have a different view of government than we do on alcohol use as opposed to abuse. Most readers, even “libertarians,” would hold that we expect government not to actually encourage such practices, not to claim that their spread if they are legal will bring benefit to society or to propose, if they are illegal, to adapt the law and “regulate” them for tax revenue. Persons who agree with that statement yet say government should foster casino gambling in our state underestimate gravely how devastating gambling addiction and problem gambling are.

A likely outcome of “up to seven” commercial casinos allowed in the state starting in 2014 would be the creation of scores of thousands of gambling addicts. They would outnumber hirees at the new casinos by at least four or five to one. Every gambling addict hurts the life of about ten persons around him or her.

The tax revenues Mr. Aiello reckons on would be a net loss to the taxpaying residents of the state against the quantifiable socio-economic costs of increased access to casino gambling like judicial administration and abused dollars (money diverted without leading to criminal charges). The size of these costs is kept from public view by the gambling industry. Moreover, these quantifiable social costs of legalized gambling do not even include incalculable other types of damage like suicide, divorce, family debasement, business betrayal.

Whether opening a state to increased casino gambling be evaluated by careful econometrics or in more abstract terms of family and social welfare, it is a ruinous plan. Opposition to the proposed amendment of the state Constitution is not a sign of sleepiness, naïveté or Puritanism. It comes from individuals and groups who believe that government should “do things for its people, not to its people.”

Stephen Q. Shafer, MD, MPH


DWI story benefited no one

As a reader of a community newspaper, I applaud your coverage of local news, but I am appalled that you chose to report the story of Mrs. Hinchey as a sensational, jingoistic, journalistic coup, and print with the article an unflattering photo.

Why not report news-worthy events or feature articles that highlight achievements and successes?

Certainly there is plenty of positive, controversial, and interesting events in our community. The story of Mrs. Hinchey gives no information that benefits anyone. Please reconsider your policies and only print articles that support, inform, and educate our community in ways that increase the common good.

Dr. Rhoney Stanley


Editor Will Dendis replies: Thank you for the compliment regarding the majority of our coverage. We have a different view of our report on Mrs. Hinchey’s sentencing. First off, the reason we print information about local crime and courts is (1.) Readers are interested; (2.) the police make up a huge portion of the local government budget, so devoting a page to their work is in keeping with our mission to report on local government. The argument could be (and has been) made that we shouldn’t report on local crimes. There are valid reasons not to. But we do, and in so doing, we didn’t think we should omit a news item about a congressman’s wife being sentenced to two months in jail for driving drunk. When we learned of the sentence, we had a different reaction that the reader above. We thought reporting it would do something to dispel the notion of some that those with money and/or power get to play by different rules. Cynical readers probably assumed, prior to sentencing, that a congressman’s wife would probably get off with a slap on the wrist. That proved not to be the case.


Accidentally on purpose

It is amusing and somewhat ironic that in an article by Hugh Reynolds (8/16/12 Saugerties Times) where he discusses the goof by Mitt Romney in introducing Paul Ryan as the next president of the United States, he himself makes the same kind of goof by referring to Mitt Romney as George Romney.

It might have been tongue-in-cheek on his part but I don’t think so. Also, zero kudos to both the Saugerties Times and Ulster Publishing for not catching that one. Somebody’s got to read this stuff before ink hits paper.


Ernie Mortuzans


Art tour went well

The 10th Annual Saugerties Artists’ Studio Tour, August 11 and 12, was a huge success. Attendance and spirits were high surpassing all previous tours. We, the artists who proudly call Saugerties home, have much to be grateful for. This showcase event is evidence of what can be achieved when artists, with support from the community, local government, businesses and the press can achieve.

On behalf of myself and all the artists who participated in the tour, we would like to thank: Supervisor Kelly Myers for her support, the Town Board members, Kiwanis Club of Saugerties, Saugerties Area Chamber of Commerce, Mery Rosado of Café Mezzaluna, Will Dendis and the Saugerties Times, Julie O’Connor of the Almanac and Sharyn Flanagan, the Saugerties Post-Star, the Daily Freeman “Preview”, Ann Gibbons and Tania Barricklo, Doug Short and Cable TV Channel YNN, WKZE Radio especially Rita Ryan, Polly M. Law – webmistress, Art Along The Hudson, Lighthouse TV23, Marge Block and The Saugerties Historical Society, Ulster County Tourism and The Dutchess County Arts Council. Also, our tour map advertisers and Saugerties village businesses that graciously allowed us to show our work in their windows and their help to distribute tour maps. Special thanks to: Tad and Pat Richards of Opus 40 for hosting a fabulous Gallery Show and Artists’ Reception, and our families, friends and supporters, who are too numerous to mention who help us make the tour an outstanding celebration of the arts. We couldn’t have done it without your help.

Barbara Bravo
Tour coordinator
Saugerties Artists Studio Tour


Lighthouse festival success

A huge thanks to everyone who helped to make this year’s 17th annual Between the Tides Festival one of our most successful fundraisers. We were fortunate to have a sunny, breezy afternoon on the river for the occasion. It was great to see so many people come out in support of the Saugerties Lighthouse and to celebrate with us. The live music was superb, thanks to the talents of local musicians who generously volunteered to perform: RV Henninger, Josh Tyler & Carl Mateo, Rich Hines & the Hillbilly Drifters, Pocatello, Daniel Wall, and Earl &Mimi Pardini & Friends. We are truly appreciative of the local merchants and restaurants who contributed to our feast: Café Mezzaluna, Diamond Mills, Dutch Ale House, Hudson Valley Dessert Company, Land & Sea Grill Steakhouse, Lucky Chocolates, McDonald’s, Miss Lucy’s Kitchen, Mother Earth Storehouse, New World Home Cooking, Partition Street Wine Shop, Ristorante Emiliani, and Stewart’s.

A special thanks to Story Farms for fresh corn-on-the-cob and Zach Swart of Zeke’s BBQ for the delicious pig roast. Saugerties Marina assisted with getting food and musicians to and from the Lighthouse. The festival went very smoothly, thanks to the hard work of our volunteers: Ivar Evers, Steve Crodelle, Laurie & Tom Rankin, Tyler Patti, Jim Kricker, Patrick Wadden, Marlena Marallo, Kate Shuter, Roger Benn, and Anna Berkheiser. Scout Thornton kept the pace lively by acting as our Master of Ceremonies with wonderful assistance from Anna Berkheiser. Finally, our keeper, Patrick Landewe, who helped out everywhere. All the proceeds from the event go towards the on-going preservation of the Saugerties Lighthouse, a restored historic landmark on the Hudson River. As exemplified by the outpouring of local support at this year’s fundraiser, the Lighthouse is truly an icon for our community.

Alex Wade, Jack Washburn, Christine Seward, Tom Bauer, Dick Duncan, Chris Evers, and Dock Shuter
The Board of Directors of the Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy