Wildlife is having a harder and harder time hanging onto any decent habitat, thanks to humans’ appetite for land-grabbing, use of toxins on soil and plants, and ill-thought-out destruction of natural landscape.
I discovered one example of the latter last week when I found a long stretch of Old King’s Highway, between Mt. Marion and Railroad Ave., had been denuded of the lush, tall stands of cattails, orange lilies, and other wild plants that run alongside the road. The plants made a pretty backdrop and screened the ugly railroad line, so I’ve always been glad they were mostly left alone for the decades I’ve lived here. There had been regular mowing of the strip of grass and weeds right beside the roadway, but it never went too far back, only a few feet in from the road.
What is most disturbing about this ruination, however, is the fact that red-wing blackbirds have used the cattails as a prime nesting site year after year. I have seen them every spring and summer, darting in and out of the dense foliage, and been glad they had this haven. But no more. I am sick to think how many nests may have been destroyed. Such actions should never be taken without reference to wildlife’s needs.
When I asked the Ulster County Public Works Dept. why they had slashed everything away, I was told that someone (wouldn’t say who) had complained about “visibility.” I have driven there for ages, and there was no visibility problem caused by the plants. Unless some drivers were too impatient or lazy to make an effort to look both ways before entering OKH, this is an absurd reason to destroy the foliage. And anyway, why should anyone have the clout to get such a horrible thing done without UCPWD consulting the general public?
This was a wanton act. I grieve for the loss of habitat for red-wings and many other animals that live along Old King’s Highway. The high speeds used by motorists there have caused countless animal deaths in the road. Now, even the land beyond the road is not safe, either. Will humans ever learn to share this planet with their non-human brethren? I fear not.
Support Teachout in primary
I’m supporting Zephyr Teachout for governor in the Democratic primary for governor (Sept. 9).
I’ve had it with Andrew Cuomo. Last year when he set up the Moreland Commission to investigate corruption in state government, he promised the commission could look at everything and everybody, himself included. As reported in an in-depth New York Times article, he then interfered with the commission’s work whenever it came near him and his backers and then prematurely closed it down. He then had the nerve to say — “I can’t interfere with the commission — it’s mine,” as if he is some New York incarnation of Louis the XIV. The idea of him being scrutinized doesn’t pass “the laugh test” he says. Does he think we are so stupid we don’t remember the promises he made? High-handed contempt and swagger is his style. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York is investigating.
I’m going to vote for a candidate who is not a back-room Albany operator, who offers a fresh vision for Democrats. She unequivocally opposes fracking, supports an increase in the minimum wage, increased funding for education, small business development, campaign finance reform , and is not in the pocket of big money and gambling interests. Voters should take good look at her. She’s impressive.
Defy the gerrymanders
I am a resident of Ulster County and of the former 22nd Congressional district, the district that elected Maurice Hinchey for ten terms starting in 1992. The 22nd is a district that supported President Obama over Mitt Romney by a margin of 52 to 46 percent a mere two years ago. But in 2012, in a textbook case of gerrymandering (redrawing a voting district to favor one party), the usual blue-leaning Ulster County was absorbed into the sprawling and traditionally Republican 19th Congressional district. In one legislative swoop, the new NY-19 now includes, in addition to Ulster County, all of Delaware, Greene, Columbia, Otsego, Schoharie and Sullivan counties and parts of Broome, Dutchess, Rensselaer and Montgomery counties. The net effect has been to basically disenfranchise the majority of voters right here in Ulster. Instead of voters getting the chance to choose their own elected officials, the elected officials have effectively managed to choose their own voters, by maneuvering the district lines to their advantage. Representative Chris Gibson has been the benefactor of this voter manipulation, and for this reason, I have struggled for the last two years to recognize Mr. Gibson’s legitimacy as my representative.
All this became painfully clear two weeks ago when the self-described “centrist Republican,” who stakes his claim to “reaching across the aisle,” joined his Republican colleagues by voting to support HR 694, authorizing a lawsuit against the President Of the United States. Mr. Gibson chose to spend the waning hours of the congressional session before the summer hiatus wasting both Congress’s time and taxpayers’ money. He has clearly demonstrated that he cares more about scoring political points than he does about the myriad of problems facing this nation and this Congress.
It is indeed ironic that Chris Gibson, the outsider who has been imposed upon Ulster County, accuses his opponent Sean Eldridge of being a carpetbagger. When election time rolls around in November, Ulster County voters should ask themselves: Just who is the carpetbagger?
Beneficiaries of minimum wage increase
Donna Greco, as usual, confuses facts with her rant. She differs with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on the effects of raising the minimum wage. She says “those who benefit most…are students from middle- and upper-class families who work summer jobs.” For more of her rant, read her letter of July 31, 2014; it’s not worth quoting. The CBO says that “Real Income,” which includes price rises, still is considerably increased for low income families with the $10.10 minimum proposed by President Obama. (See https://www.cbo.gov/publication/44995)
The increases would go to those below the “federal poverty level” ($23,850 for family of four, raising many to above that), the most to those between $23,850 and $70,000 (for four), and the rest to families up to $140,000 (family of four again). They didn’t say anything about rich college students earning summer money for gas for the cars their parents bought for them (perhaps Ms. Greco can supply us with the source).
Meyer A. Rothberg
Life under occupation
It’s difficult to comprehend what’s occurring in Gaza. The corporate media continues to spin facts with propaganda making words or reason senseless. The result is confusion and horror for any of us who are watching. Are we supporting and funding war crimes that we’ll have to answer for while our Department of State becomes irrelevant and laughable throughout the world?
Who are the people of Gaza and why don’t we feel compassion for their slaughter?
Please watch the film “Gaza Strip” by James Longley on Saugerties Public Access Channel 23. The schedule will be posted on the station’s bulletin board throughout the week. It’s a documentary that was made in 2001 while Gaza was still occupied by Israel. It depicts the daily lives of Palestinians living under siege. I think you’ll come away from it knowing a little better who these people are and how the occupation tortures them.
The film is also available on Vimeo.com. Search for “Gaza Strip.”
Crack a window
Every summer we hear of numerous fatalities involving children in hot cars. According to KidsandCars.org, 17 children have died from heatstroke in cars this year.
During the summer months, I urge the town of Saugerties to erect signage at town offices and facilities warning the public of the dangers of leaving children unattended in hot cars. For example, temporary signs could be placed in parking areas at Town Hall and at the entrances of the Cantine Memorial Complex. I further urge the town to work with our local business community to erect similar signs.
By raising awareness our community can do its part to ensure that such a tragedy does not happen in Saugerties.
Joe Roberti Jr.
A note of thanks
Our heartfelt thanks to: Carl and Tracey of the Diaz ambulance service for their prompt response and competent, gentle care; the nurses, doctors and staff at Kingston hospital, especially ER nurse Chrissie and third-floor nurse Maddie; our dear and darling friends and family for giving us rides, food, support, much-needed advice, and hope.
Anita and Spider Barbour