Letters: DA’s holiday message; Donaldson rebuts; mayor’s overpaid

ktx sq lomo 1923 Abraham Lincoln 3-cent stampA holiday message from the DA

Events have occurred in recent months that have brought a heightened focus on law enforcement in our county. I would like to offer some observations. I suggest that an intelligent, vigorous, interest in how we, as a society, police ourselves is an important and welcome exercise. When done properly it allows for renewed understanding of the impressions, accurate or otherwise, people have. And, hopefully, with this discussion a better learning of important issues and, where change is needed, the impetus for change. I, for one, welcome this discussion.

However, I opine that as a society we should be able to have an intelligent conversation regarding these important issues with respect and civility. Although feelings are very deep on these subjects, it is important to have an honest discussion without exaggeration or bastardization of facts.

Of course I cannot speak for all people in law enforcement across this country, but I can and do speak for the men and women in Ulster County who serve and protect you. Across the board, these people, our law enforcement officers and prosecutors are good, honest, deeply committed people, many of whom I am proud to consider my friends.


The work that we do is not easy. Citizens of the United States enjoy more civil rights than in any other country in the world. We enjoy more civil rights in New York State than any other state in the union. I, for one, would have it no other way. But the reality is there are savage, dangerous criminals who live amongst us. For example, in Ulster County we have four pending homicide indictments. Over the past years during my term in office we have seen gang executions, sexual serial predators and untold domestic violence. As a nation we have been attacked by terrorists. As a world community we witness appalling atrocities. These are facts.

We rely on our law enforcement personnel to protect us and yet we all cherish our personal freedoms and liberties. Where is the balance? Is it OK to monitor a terrorist’s cell phone to stop him from planting a bomb on the subway? Is it OK to search the cell records of two individuals to arrest them for placing shrapnel bombs on Boylston Street in Boston on April 15, 2013?

In 1995 the City of New York had 1,182 murders. Last year New York City experienced 335 murders. In years past the New York City police, consistent with the laws of New York, had an aggressive stop-and-frisk policy to try and get illegal handguns out of the hands of criminals. Today, New York City has changed that policy.

These are complicated issues which I view as vitally important to us and which help define us as a society. I welcome these discussions but ask only that we engage in intelligent civil behavior and above all I ask that you respect the men and women who may not be perfect, but who put their lives on the line to protect your way of life.

Holley Carnright, Kingston

(Editor’s note: The above was posted on the district attorney’s Facebook page last Tuesday night.)

Letter was misleading

William Sheldon’s Dec. 11 letter was misleading at best. Claiming I was the chairman of the Railroad Advisory Committee for many years while deviously working hand-in-glove for the Catskill Mountain Railroad and then claiming I recently resuscitated the Railroad Advisory Committee and assumed chairmanship is contradictory.

The last chairman of the Railroad Advisory Committee quit when he and members learned through the press that the County initiated an early end to CMRR’s lease. They got the Kingston to Phoenicia trail only plan the same way. I was not on that committee. The Legislature recreated the long-standing Railroad Advisory Committee in 2014. I was appointed to serve and chair a few months ago.

Sheldon claims the “experts” state a rail with trail is unworkable. His “experts” work at the pleasure of the executive and were commissioned after the Kingston-to-Phoenicia trail-only plan was created with trail-only advocates. Since, there has been a push to shut down the CMRR through the weight of government and lawsuits. “Trail” people, like Kathy Nolan and Chris White, the deputy county planner, further attempt to disrupt Railroad Advisory Committee meetings. White, an “expert” that serves at the executive’s pleasure, has no previous municipal planning experience and his work record prior shows mostly political appointments.

Last year, the “experts” dismissed a Kingston rail with trail. Now that is the new plan. In reality, there is no successful two-mile historic railroad. A few more miles and a connection to the main line are needed, or it is unsustainable.

A corridor study for the Ulster County Transportation Council by Alta Planning and Design in July 2006 was the last done without preconceived solutions. It paints a different picture.

There are 4 comments

  1. CP

    Thank you, Mr. Donaldson, for the much-needed fact-check. It sickens me to see the trail-only partisans circling like vultures over the CMRR “waiting for it to die” so that they can rip it to pieces. It must tear them up that the railroad continues to show more and more signs of life and renewed strength; that wasn’t in their script.

    I am sure that any new UNBIASED corridor studies, especially in the light of CMRR’s successes this fall and winter, will show that keeping the rails in place and expanding the railroad is the way to go. Mr. Hein appears to be getting the message: CMRR’s success is speaking loudly. I would suggest that a “next right move” on the part of the county (and city) would be to visibly and actively support the railroad next year and to see how it rebuilds itself and helps the economy of Kingston and Ulster County. I believe they will not be disappointed in the results.

  2. Bill B

    David Donaldson – If you actually replied to emails from people living in your district, you might have a better idea of how best to serve your constituents!

  3. citizen k

    2006 transportation plan: http://ulstercountyny.gov/sites/default/files/documents/rail_exec.pdf
    It is interesting, it is positive but it says nothing about the feasibility… not in this document.
    On the other hand, this is the first time I have seen any reference to this document… that there was already long consideration for a trail… 2006…this has been around for 8 years… 5 06 when the hubbub started..
    Does anyone else have a reading on this document?

  4. CP

    I think this is important, and needs to be said and repeated until it registers: CMRR’s events and operations – and that of any future operator, if not CMRR – depend on creating and maintaining a REGIONAL, not just local, attraction. That is what will bring new and much-needed money into the area. The railroad’s through operation, from Kingston to Phoenicia, in addition to the intermediate attraction of the reservoir, could highlight the historic districts of Kingston. create a bus connection to Woodstock, and help rejuvenate Phoenicia, which has the potential to be a very attractive destination. Even Kingston to the reservoir alone would yield significant results; there would be a destination, not just an out-and-back ride. Yes, adding a trail would be a bonus, but substituting trail for rail would yield little if anything of significant value in the long run except a maintenance drain on taxpayers for a little-used trail.

    May everyone enjoy a wonderful holiday season, and may we work together in 2015 to give the railroad the support that its latest series of events shows that it deserves. Let’s help it realize its potential benefits for the city, county and region.

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