Against a Saugerties casino
This is a follow-up to your article “Stacking the Deck.”
If there is one very strong reason why I am voting NO on Proposition One (the casino referendum), it is because of NIMBY (Not in my Backyard). I am not opposed to gambling, and sometimes even see a function for casinos in other states (e.g. entertainment), but I am opposed to a casino here in Saugerties and to my mind, this would be a very distinct possibility if the Proposition One is approved. Just look at a map– where do you think developers will want to build a casino if one of the other two locations chosen is in Sullivan County? Not in Ellenville– it is too close to Monticello or Liberty (plus it has other negatives like a long drive on a two-lane highway). That leaves, you guessed it, the Winston Farm.
But, in addition to my NIMBY rationale / “paranoia,” I am opposed to casinos based on economic reasons. We voters should recognize that casinos are not the answer to Albany’s money problems. All casinos do is kick the ball down the block and add to the social ills draining our tax dollars away.
Interestingly, within the past week, the Conservative Party and Ed Cox, the head of the state Republican Party, have come out against Proposition One and urging its defeat. Mr. Cox says: “I won’t vote for the casino referendum. This is not real economic development.”
Vote No to Proposition One.
Where will the money go?
The New York State Constitution prohibits Casino gambling. Many interests want that to change because of the massive profit there is to be made by the casino owners and the taxes that governments hope can be extracted, no matter what deleterious effects gambling and casinos will have on our communities. Remember in the long-term existing local businesses will be hurt, new independent businesses discouraged, and only low-wage jobs provided by casinos operating in their own self-interest.
At the same time did you know that a ban on campaign contributions to legislators from the casino industry was eliminated from the legislation! Yes, the governor who campaigned on finance reform is inviting contributions (which amount to bribes) to legislators who will decide on placement and regulation of casinos by their owners!
Citizens of the state, you will be asked to vote in a referendum worded with biased and unsubstantiated claims to allow this to happen. We must not be fooled … we must not let this change in the Constitution be made; we must vote down this misleading referendum. Vote no on Proposition One this November!
Myers and Helsmoortel: two lessons in hubris
september 2011: Saugerties was in an uproar about Dickinson Keep. Greg Helsmoortel served as town supervisor and was steamrolling through this privately owned proposed tax-payer funded rental project in spite of numerous pleas and petitions to withdraw the town’s support as an advocate for state funding and the pilot (payment in lieu of taxes) which would place heavy burdens on Saugerties tax payers. I was at the helm with several other dedicated workers who organized against this project. Ultimately we resorted to addressing the New York State Commissioner of Housing who was quite surprised to learn that so many Saugertesians were against it. Subsequently state funding for this project was not approved. At that same time Kelly Myers was campaigning for town supervisor, found the people in southern Saugerties in a desperate state over this issue and reported that Helsmoortel had held an unannounced morning meeting with the Town Board just before the arrival of Hurricane Irene and his departure for vacation. Much political hay was made over that meeting and contributed greatly to Myers winning the 2011 election.
september 2013: Members of the Comprehensive Plan town and village committees worked many dedicated hours to fine tune the plan. A public hearing was scheduled for Sept. 12, announced and publicized on the Town’s website. On Sept. 11, in preparing for this hearing, I visited the town website and found the announcement had been removed with no further information. The Town Clerk’s office confirmed the date for the hearing as Sept. 12 but after some investigation reported that Sept. 12 was a backup date and that the public hearing had already been held on Sept. 4. When I pointed this out to Kelly Myers she took the political opportunity to call me “confused.” In checking the newspapers I discovered Sept. 4 was announced but with no mention of canceling the Sept. 12 public hearing. I learned that other members of other boards within the town must be “confused” as they knew nothing about Sept. 4 and had planned to attend on Sept. 12. Did Myers do a “bait and switch” with the public? The answer became apparent when she ignored requests by several town residents to rectify her wrong doing and moved for final approval of the document.
conclusion: Hubris was recognized by the ancient Greeks as an overestimation of one’s own competence, accomplishments or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power. After Helsmoortel served 11 years, he apparently thought he no longer needed approval of his constituents. For Myers less than 2 years were sufficient.
recommendation: As town supervisor, I will make certain that this does not happen by practicing humility, the antidote to hubis. Unlike Helsmoortel and Myers, I do not envision myself as the “ruler” of Saugerties. As a leader I envision bringing forth the best that is within people. That is my training, my experience and part of what I will bring for the residents of Saugerties to flourish again.
The writer is the Conservative nominee and an independent candidate for town supervisor
The failed leaders of the past
Greg Helsmoortel was Saugerties supervisor for 12 years. During that time, property taxes doubled. A state audit found Helsmoortel awarded no-bid contracts. Over a five-year period, a $768,000 fund surplus was turned into a deficit. At the same time, Helsmoortel tried to buy a carousel for four times more than it was worth and wanted the town to purchase Opus 40.
It gets worse. Helsmoortel left office with $400,000 in unpaid county bills. He was quoted as saying he didn’t pay the charges out of “protest.” The real reason– to manipulate the town finances so he could boast about “flat” budgets. This strategy ended up costing taxpayers dearly. Last year, the county demanded payment and the town exceed the tax cap.
Wait, there’s more! Helsmoortel tried to ram through the Dickinson’s Keep taxpayer subsidized housing project over the objections of Glasco and Barclay Heights residents.
Helsmoortel hopes voters have amnesia about his horrible record. He’s banking on a political boss with a vendetta and spoiler with no chance of winning to do his dirty work. But there’s too much at stake for taxpayers to let this happen.
As the campaign season unfolds, Saugerties residents will learn about the great job Supervisor Kelly Myers has done in turning around town finances. She proposed $400,000 in spending cuts rejected by Bruce Leighton and the Town Board majority. Kelly kept her promise to rescind the Dickinson’s Keep tax agreement and has worked hard to promote economic development.
Not only does Kelly deserve a second term, she deserves a Town Board majority to help her reform town government. I urge Saugerties voters to re-elect Jimmy Bruno and elect Bill Schirmer to the Town Board. Bill is a small business owner with a strong record of community service. We cannot afford to trust the failed leaders of the past to lead us to a prosperous future!
Chair, Saugerties Republican Committee
Aiello: out of touch, vicious, inaccurate
Mr. Aiello, your latest attacks on me are vicious and inaccurate. The intent behind writing letters on behalf of a political candidate is to point out how that candidate is superior to the opponent. Your letter merely proves that you are superior at spreading lies about aspiring public servants. I did not write that letter to co-opt your attempt to capitalize on the absence of a pedestrian crosswalk on Main, but rather to clear the names of Mayor Murphy, Alex Wade and the Village Board. It was brought up at a recent Village Board meeting that you would not know what the Village Board has done about the pedestrian crosswalk signal, because you have never been to a Village Board Meeting in at least 11 years and perhaps in your 18 years as an Ulster County legislator. I have been to seven Village Board meetings since June. Your slanderous comments are disrespectful to me, Mayor Murphy, the Village Board and yourself too! Many voters whom I interacted with tell me that you are a very nice man, but that they no longer vote for you. Your slanderous comments are jeopardizing their false perception of you and the façade that you gave built up over the 18 years that you have been in office. If the term “smoke and mirrors” ever applied to a singular politician, it applies to you! You have never attended a Village Board meeting, and you rarely ever attend Town Board meetings unless there is a singular issue on which you can perpetrate your façade on the populous of Saugerties. I challenge you to find one county legislator in the history of Ulster County who had a worst attendance record than you! Your attendance record has been dismal before, during and after your battle with cancer.
You are so out of touch with the voters that you cannot even remember our conversation that I initiated with you in October 2011 to inform you that I voted for you via absentee ballot when I worked as an election inspector. Yes Mr. Aiello, I have voted in every election since 2009 when I moved back to New York to care for my father who is dying from kidney, prostate and bone cancer, and I have voted in nearly all of the School Board Elections that I can recall. The biggest mistake I ever made was in voting for you, and the majority of voters feel that way too! I am employed by SPAF in booking musical events, and I will be working on one or two campaigns next year. I used to negotiate contracts for professional football players which is something that you are not qualified to do just as I am not qualified to be a barber. Your “dude” reference makes fun of my curly hair. Ask some of my future female constituents, this is in now. Mr. Aiello, the ’90s are calling, you are out of touch as a legislator and a barber, and the voters want their votes back!