I used to work with a renowned emergency management expert. He had a habit of coming to the scene of serious incidents and making decisions or recommendations that were almost as volatile as the scene itself. The leaders of the police and fire departments would be arguing and refusing to cooperate and general pandemonium would be on the verge of breaking out. They would be calling this “expert” every name in the book. And then this “expert” would offer a compromise solution and all present would feel a great sense of relief and agree to the “new plan” knowing their efforts had contributed to this wise decision and the expert was not bossing them around. And the expert was extolled across the land.
Magicians work their magic by distracting the observer with a planned diversion. Once the audience’s attention is drawn to the new activity, the magician is free to pull the rabbit from the hat. Not all magicians are in the theater, some move freely among us in positions known as “elected officials.”
We are witnessing a “serious financial emergency incident” in Kingston regarding the collection of sales tax and the economic stability of Ulster County and the city and towns therein. There is teeth-gnashing, hand-wringing, press conferences and general hue and cry. Our leaders are going to protect us at any cost. Our leaders will not let any evil befall us. They bravely set forth to fight dragons (and windmills?). Our leaders — a Democrat governor, a Democrat assemblyman and a Democrat county executive — are all on stage wrestling with Ulster County sales tax. (Wrestling is entertainment, not sport, is it not ?) Does anyone doubt our governor will allow our assemblyman to rain on our county executive’s parade of prosperity and growth in our Hudson Valley? Maybe it is really Greek theater we are witnessing, replete with drama, comedy and a little incest.
And where, you might ask, is the wabbit? The county executive, via county legislators, tried to create a police efficiency commission in time to present his budget for next year. Such commissions in the past were code language for “Let’s eliminate the Ulster County sheriff’s road patrol.” The police efficiency commission was created, but it may not have recommendations in time to coincide with the executive’s budget presentation, sooooo now we have a financial crisis that may affect funding of … ? You guessed it! The Ulster County sheriff’s road patrol.
You have to watch the magician very closely, (albeit from afar may give a better view of the sleight of hand).
Jack Hayes, Gardiner
Approve the tax
Everyone in Ulster County will benefit immediately if the 1 percent sales tax extension is approved now. Our jobs and many of the county services that we depend upon absolutely require this extension. Failure to approve the additional 1 percent tax will mean even more job losses for our county residents that we cannot afford after just emerging from a devastating recession. Kingston Mayor Gallo states that the failure to approve this extension “portends financial ruin.” County Executive Michael Hein speaks of the loss of many vital services to our residents without the additional 1 percent.
Assemblyman Kevin Cahill does not seem to be in touch with his constituents on this one. Please end this “Sales Tax Crisis” now and approve this 1 percent extension.
Michael Cimorelli, President-elect, CSEA Unit 8950, Glasco
Saturday was a special adventure for our seven-year-old grandson. No holding Papa’s hand, standing as far back as possible, as a Metro-North train screeched into the station. No boarding and barreling down the tracks. Instead, the little train pulled up and stopped. He eagerly hurried up the boarding walk and into a real red caboose — just like the ones he heard about at the end of the freight trains. After pictures in the caboose, he came out and stood by the railing of the open car behind the engine. Senior citizens, other adults, families with little children and “tweens” and the group with mentally challenged adults boarded. The train made a refreshing breeze as we rolled along Kingston Plaza. The smoke from the engine wafted back. At Washington Avenue our bell clanged and the cars stopped as we trundled by. The whole world waited for us! People must have thought, “What a unique place to visit!”
Out in the country, the whistle blew long wavering blasts — just as this Grandma told about hearing in the distance at her grandparents’ house, as she put her foot on the stairs to go to bed. (A chill ran down grandma’s spine, remembering the excitement of conquering her fear.) We went through a “forest” and across a small bridge — just tracks, no railing, looking down, down to a small stream — a breath-holding moment. Then we were stopped in the field where the corn comes from.
The senior citizen conductor handed out lollipops and said, “All the work, laying of tracks and building the bridges, is done by volunteers. This is the end of the ride today. Next time, you may ride farther.” How often are you a part of a work in progress?
Coming back we passed the “station” and rode through a tunnel under the road where the sounds of the train echoed and magnified. We saw the mysterious hidden back-land that was interesting to see from the train but too scary to walk there. All of this took place in 45 minutes and a few miles. It was believable to dream big about a ride all the way to the Phoenicia end. Our grandson was enthralled, but the person with the biggest smile? The mentally challenged young man in a wheelchair.
Martha Pearson, Kingston