Letters (4/11-4/18)

mailLeif is good

Thank you for last week’s article by Ashley Drewes “A Day in the Leif” describing the mutually beneficial relationship between a local man’s delivery service and the numerous village businesses he serves in return for “a food product or beverage.” Walking to make his deliveries dissipates his back pain from a car accident. He helps business people managing shops alone who would have to close to run the necessary errand. He says the people in Saugerties are “unbelievably awesome … because they follow three basic rules. If it’s not yours don’t touch it. Don’t kill anybody. And don’t be a big jerk.” It’s a wonderful affirmation of our good town. If you missed it, check page 17 of the April 4 issue. It’s better than antacid after digesting important considerations of the school shooting drill, diminished town credit rating, historic building crisis, robberies, murders, and lengthy heated opinions!

Harriet Tomasko


Intelligence and myopia

After many long years of accumulating experiences I have reached the conclusion that there are just two approaches to an issue: the intelligent and the myopic.

There are two old expressions that apply to Clovelea. One is “ignorance of the law is no excuse” and the other is “possession is nine-tenths of the law.” If you take the myopic position you sympathize with the owner’s property rights and that is his “get out of jail free” card to ignore the “no excuse” option. “Let him alone” is what the nine-tenths means. If you’ve read the law you take the intelligent position and know that “no excuse” means responsibility is the nine-tenths that permits possession. That’s the big picture.


Taxes have to be paid and codes have to be followed. Ignorance of wetland controls, disposal regulations, building permits, and the policies and guidelines of an historic community is no excuse. I am not talking about the owner here. He is assumed to need guidance. The village’s corporate governance is elected to do this. This is about, and will continue to be about, the utter failure of two decades of mayors and trustees of the village of Saugerties to enforce the law, as they permitted Clovelea to grow into an eyesore in our historic community.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse and they possess the blame; theirs is nine-tenths the responsibility. Anyone that doesn’t see this is as myopic and unintelligent as our village officials have proven to be in the case of Clovelea.

As Plato is quoted in Wikipedia:

“What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong. And isn’t this believed by everyone … even among the Persians, and always? … What is fine, no doubt, is everywhere legislated as fine, and what is shameful as shameful; but not the shameful as fine or the fine as shameful.”

Michael Sullivan Smith


Out of many, one

If I understand Ms. Ciarlante correctly, she seems to be afraid that the Saugerties Comprehensive Plan under consideration would give control of our economic future to unelected and unaccountable outside forces without regard to the desires and benefit of the citizens of the town and village of Saugerties. Motivated by her remarks, I read all 60 some odd pages of the Plan, and have come to the exact opposite conclusion.

The Plan, which lays down the principles by which the regulatory agencies of the town and village should be guided, continually stresses and encourages innovative ways to obtain the ongoing participation of members of the community in establishing the rules and regulations that will enable our town and village to prosper. While giving full voice to the rights of business owners, land owners, farmers, and visitors, the Plan wisely considers all the factors necessary to maintaining and preserving the unique character of our region. And rather than laying down the law as to what must be done, the Plan provides reasonable and well-researched recommendations and implementation strategies, based on established best practices and previously accepted plans, to enable the Town Board to carry out its responsibilities with maximum foresight.

No, far more frightening is Ms. Ciarlante’s letter. It seems she does not understand the responsibilities of citizens in a democracy. The freedom to do as one wishes without regard to its effect on others is not the liberty on which our country was founded. The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States – the law of the land – states: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” What makes us a country at all, is that we agree to limit our individual freedoms for the common good (the “general Welfare”). How can we “insure domestic Tranquility” or “establish Justice” if we do not agree to be law-abiding citizens? Planning is essential if we want to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to … our Posterity.”

Those who through ignorance, fear, or selfishness deny the founding principles of our democracy are profoundly un-American, and had they held sway at the founding of our country, we would still be a British colony.

Peter Solow


Don’t be afraid, Gaetana

In response to Gaetana Ciarlante’s letter of last week, the town of Saugerties has had a comprehensive plan since 1999. Communism has not occurred. People still own their own property, including their automobiles. She needs to stop being driven by fear and Glenn Beck. Saugerties is a great place to live and will remain so in the future.

If she’s so concerned about the future of Saugerties, she should volunteer for work on town committees and actually make her decisions based on fact vs. fear. And stop maligning the good citizens who gave two years of their time working on the update to the Comprehensive Plan.

Her continuous spreading of misinformation about our town and its citizen volunteers borders on slander and just isn’t true.

Beth Murphy


A bit of demagoguery

Referring to a letter to the editor by Gaetana Ciarlante (April 4, 2013) summarizing the public meeting on the Village and Town Comprehensive Planning Update Committee I believe referring to the draft document, and by association those of us who serve on the committee, as “promoting communism” is about as disturbing as it gets. I think Ms. Ciarlante is practicing a bit of demagoguery in which the demagogue is a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power!

I don’t need a lecture on patriotism from Ms. Ciarlante and she should be careful or she’ll trip over the very flag she’s wrapped herself in.

For those who believe in what she says I suggest you look into things on your own. Consider the source of your information and then read for yourself. Especially you should read, on line at the town website, the draft version of the Village and Town’s Comprehensive Plan. Certainly if Ms. Ciarlante or any of her supporters think they can do better I suggest you ask your elected representatives on the Village Board and Town Board for a seat at the table (Comprehensive Planning Update Committee) and they can appoint you. Public rants and inappropriate references to communism in a letter to the editor are not going to work. You need to have a practical debate with practical solutions. Thankfully 99 percent of the speakers the night of the meeting did just that. No attacks and no animosity.

The meetings are held every first Tuesday of the month at the small conference room in the Building Inspector’s office at Town Hall, 4 High St. (off Ulster Ave.). The meetings, as are all town and village meetings, open to the public. The meetings are not executive sessions and they are not, or ever will be, conducted behind closed doors.

A comprehensive plan is generally known and accepted as a local government’s guide to community physical, social, and economic development. Comprehensive plans are not meant to serve as land use regulations in themselves; instead, they provide a rational basis for local land-use decisions typically with a ten to twenty-year vision for future planning and community decisions.

Paul Andreassen
The writer is a member of the Town Planning Board, County Planning Board and CPC update committee


Police merger caused town’s money problems

Over the past few months, Bruce Leighton and old Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel have stubbornly refused to acknowledge the negative financial impacts of the village/town police merger. While an operational success, the facts show the merger is a financial disaster for Saugerties taxpayers.


Standard & Poor’s recently reported that Saugerties has at least a $200,000 General Fund deficit. The reason for this clear: poor financial management by Leighton and Helsmoortel. Town officials have stated the police department went over $100,000 over budget last year (isn’t Freddie Costello the police liaison?).

Taxpayers are feeling the negative impact of the merger. Dues to lost revenues and increased spending, the police department increased General Fund property taxes by 7.6 percent and helped push the town over the tax cap. These figures do not include increased personnel costs.

This letter is not meant to disparage the fine work being done by the Police Chief and department members. But, the stubborn refusal of Leighton and Helsmoortel to realize the financial challenges caused by the merger is troubling.

Saugerties taxpayers need new leaders willing to face reality and make the tough financial decisions needed to pull the town out of the financial mess Leighton and Helsmoortel created.

Joe Roberti Jr.
Chair, Saugerties GOP