The Saugerties Breakfast Club

coffee SQOn any given morning when you visit the McDonald’s in Barclay Heights or the bagel store or the diner, you will find the same people having their morning cup of coffee or tea and enjoying one of the lovely breakfast specials. I have lovingly nicknamed this gathering of mostly retired and older but very astute people the “Breakfast Club.” The Breakfast Club talks about anything and everything… and believe me some days the conversations get pretty intense. Think a cross between “Jeopardy,” “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader.” Over the past few weeks, the hot topics were the gun show at the Kiwanis rink, is the U.S. government a democracy and the recent release of Bowe Bergdahl and the incarceration of Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi.


Kiwanis gun show

The gun show is a touchy subject for many residents. To settle some of the concerns of Breakfast Club members over the gun show, I called David Petronis, the event promoter. David and his wife Cathy were gracious enough to take my call on the way to another gun show they were promoting.

Here are some facts that may relieve some anxiety for those who fear the gun show. Mr. Petronis has been organizing gun shows since 1983. In the three decades he has been hosting shows, no firearms have ever been used to attack anyone. Gun shows attract law-abiding gun owners and sportsmen. They are not criminal conventions. After the Newtown shootings, Mr. Petronis organized a firearms event in Saratoga, which met some resistance. A local poll was held and the results were similar to the one recently done on the Saugerties Times website: An overwhelming majority supported it.


I asked Mr. Petronis, “Why did you choose Saugerties?”

He stated: “I didn’t even know about the Kiwanis Saugerties location until I called the Hudson Valley Development Corporation and they suggested the location and gave the contact info to the Kiwanis rink.”

I personally look forward to the Saugerties “ARMS FAIR & Sportsman’s Expo” and I look forward to any event that promotes one of my hobbies and attracts people who want to spend money and enjoy all our town has to offer.

Another lively debate brewed over this question: Is our form of government a democracy? I thought many people would know the answer but several did not. Our form of government is a constitutional republic, which actually sets a higher standard than a democracy. In a democracy, majority rules and the group with more votes wins. A constitutional republic, on the other hand, protects the rights of the minority.

The examples used by one wise Breakfast Club member were gun control and same-sex partnerships. In a democracy, if the majority did not want firearms, firearms would be abolished as a whole. But in a constitutional republic, if the majority wanted firearms and the minority did not want firearms, the minority’s rights would be protected. And the same scenario was used in same-sex partnership. For me, this analogy made total sense. I am a competitive shooter and I have several immediate family members who are gay and lesbian. I just want to be allowed to shoot responsibly and not be judged. Gays and lesbians want that same freedom. Go figure, only the Breakfast Club could use gun control and same sex partnerships in a political comparison and make sense to me.

I would like to give Councilwoman Leeanne Thornton credit for saying, “The Kiwanis arena is a public space available to any organization which wants to rent it.” This shows she has a clear understanding of the basis of a constitutional government and understands the rights of private individuals or groups.


Bergdahl exchange

The Breakfast Club was also talking about the release of Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier who was held in captivity by the Taliban for five years and released in exchange for five Taliban terrorists. The situation puzzled everyone in The Breakfast Club and there was a true concern of the butterfly effect that will have in the days, weeks, months and year to come. Bergdahl deserted his unit and was captured by the Taliban. Several members of Bergdahl’s unit were killed searching for this deserter. So why would President Obama break U.S. policy by negotiating with terrorists? Why would Obama trade a deserter whose actions caused the death of several servicemen for five terrorists who have been dubbed the “Dream Team” of the Taliban by several news sources?

From my perspective, any serviceman captured for any reason deserves a reasonable effort be made toward securing his or her release. But at what cost? Some may call me paranoid but I believe releasing the Taliban Dream Team will not end well. The Breakfast Club, too, was confused by President Obama’s decision.


Wrong turn

In another incident, Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi accidentally drove into the Mexican border lane with all his belongings in the car, including legally purchased firearms in the US. Tahmooressi has spent several months in a Mexican jail for making a wrong turn. So the question came up: Why would Obama negotiate with terrorists, but not be willing to call his Mexican counterpart to release a decorated Marine for making a wrong turn? The conclusion of the Breakfast Club was that the world is upside down and there is something wrong with Obama’s thought process.

In hanging out with the club, it is refreshing to see how many people are aware of what’s happening outside Saugerties and how these forces affect us. These are troubled but interesting times we live in and only time will tell the outcome of the actions of today. The Breakfast Club is definitely a plethora of knowledge and wisdom.