Letters (April 24-May 1)

mailParanoid new columnists

Santos Lopez (April 10) says he loves Saugerties and so do I. We started visiting more than 40 years ago and bought our home in 1982. I and Naomi, my wife of 51 years, have watched it grow and develop with pleasure. But not so with the quality of social/political commentary as found in the letters to the editor and, recently, in monthly columns such as Mr. Lopez’s and Donna Greco’s.

After a coy distinction between his “friends who are also gun owners and members of the Saugerties Land Owners Association” and “a couple…who are only up here on weekends from New York City,” Mr. Santos says he will step back and make an “objective” consideration of the limitations placed on the Second Amendment by the Safe Act. As a columnist, he doesn’t need to be objective although honesty might strengthen the presentation of his opinions. However, he chooses instead to go on a rant against Gov. Cuomo and President Obama! And ends with an insistence that we all should have guns to protect us from our government which he refers to as a “tyrannical leadership!” If this is not enough, he goes on to say that “the phone number for healthcare.gov…translates to 1-800-F1UCK​-YO, coincidental? I think not.” Very elegant, very thoughtful, Mr. Santos. A bit paranoid, Mr. Santos.

And then, in the next issue (April 17) Donna Greco occupies 3/4 of a page to present another semi-paranoid rant against the government takeover of our rights! Stating that the Comprehensive Plan(sic) Committee “makes decisions that affect you and your private property” (not true; the Committee studies an issue and submits its findings to the Town Board for consideration), she then goes on a rant against the “smart water meters,” offering selected “facts” about increased water bills and totally undocumented assertions about their impact on our health.


​And if anyone is worried about the RF danger in smart water meters, the really bad news is that cell phones are many, many times more dangerous (although studies suggest that only very long term use may, in very few cases, cause brain cancer.

​She then warns us about “a “huge ‘affordable’ housing project,” a “high-rise building that will soo​n be blocking your view,” built by a “rich developer…with ties to one of your elected officials.” SCURRILOUS! I’ll give her this: unlike Mr. Santos, she doesn’t suggest we get guns to keep our elected officials from stamping on our rights; she just suggests we attend town meetings, speak out, and vote. No problem with that; we liberals should do the same. (Yes, I’m a liberal; worse yet, I grew up in NYC!)

I hold the editorial staff of the Saugerties Times responsible for the solicitation and publication of this low level of opinionating. At the very least, fact-checking is in order. At the mid-level, quality and balance must be effected.

​At best, such columns should not be published at all.​

Meyer Rothberg


Corruption must be investigated

A huge influx of money into Albany preceded the Nov. 2013 referendum on Prop 1, the casino expansion amendment. From 2005 to 2013 gambling interests spent more than $59 million in lobbying and political contributions, according to Common Cause New York. Gov. Cuomo received $1 million. The Amendment passed the Legislature in successive sessions with no serious debate, no public hearings, and then its altered “rosy language” was approved by the public. The extent of problem gambling associated with casinos was continually minimized. civil society organizations like Coalition Against Gambling in New York (CAGNY) and Interfaith Impacts of New York spoke out against Prop 1, which nevertheless passed.

On July 2, 2013, after a series of federal indictments of legislators, Gov. Cuomo personally appointed the Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, under the Moreland Act and Executive Law Section 63(8), to probe systemic corruption and the appearance of such corruption in state government, political campaigns and elections in New York State. Cuomo subsequently was reportedly keeping tabs on the commission, getting frequent updates, and discouraging subpoenas to supporters (i.e. the Real Estate Board of NY whose members gave Cuomo almost $5 million since 2011). In December the commission issued a preliminary report, pointing to a culture of corruption in Albany, with wide-spread «pay-to-play,» a dysfunctional electoral system and misuse of campaign contributions. It alluded to actions that were technically legal but ethically wrong that should be addressed. On March 31, 2014, Gov. Cuomo prematurely disbanded the commission in a budget deal with the Legislature. (The Commission was to run until Jan. 2015, with the possibility of extension.) Cuomo›s action earned him severe criticism from Preet Bharara, Southern District US Attorney, good government groups and some commission members.

Coalition Against Gambling in New York [CAGNY] had hopes that the commission would shine a bright light on the influence of money in setting public policy on casino gambling. Let the public take note of the governor›s shameful action, perpetuating the business-as-usual ethical torpor in Albany. We call upon the U.S. Attorney to rescue the commission and extend its important work .

Stephen Q. Shafer and Arnie Lieber
Coalition Against Gambling in New York


The shortest books ever

Our lives are so busy trying to keep up with such trouble spots as the Ukraine, Syria and the State Department of Education that we hardly have time to check the internet for pictures of Baby George — let alone read a whole big book.

So, as a public service, I am bringing to your attention the shortest books currently available in remainder bins and also available for your kindle or in microfiche (one frame). You can read these books in no time at all…That is not a figure of speech. I really mean no time.

My favorite shortest books of all time are:

The Wit and Wisdom of Sheldon Silver; Pearson Education Corporation — Pro Bono Work for Children; Job Creation by IBM and the IDAs; GE — Taxes Paid in 2014; Property Tax Relief in the Budget; Jokes and Happy Times with the Governor; Cleaning Up Albany with the Moreland Commission; How to Succeed in Albany Without Kissing Up; Standardized Testing Success Stories; The Assembly Real Property Tax Committee — 20 Years of Accomplishments; Reasons to Raise Legislators’ Salaries; Memorable Moments from the Senate Finance Committee Hearings; Jolly Sayings and Aphorisms from Dean Skelos; Reasons Why Incumbents Should be Re-elected; Closing the Wealth Gap — Albany Style; Much Ado About Nothing — Campaign Finance Reforms Enacted; Advantages of Fracking and Gambling Your Way to Health and Wealth.

I know the many creative people who read this paper could make dozens of additions to this list of shortest books ever. So, create away.

Gioia Shebar