A 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 St. 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.
Ulster County District Attorney
The noisy neighbor
I am the so called noisy inconsiderate neighbor who plays his music three to four times a week with the garage door wide open. For the past year I have been bashed by my neighbors in the new papers and at town board meetings and to other neighbors. I have sat back and tried not to bash them back. I have tried to take the higher road but the bashing keeps continuing. So I’m writing to express the truth on the situation. It is and has always been that my country band 90 Proof practices once a week from 6–8:30 p.m. Never going over the 8:30 p.m. mark. The garage door is always closed as well as insulated. The Town Board did not ignore the proposed noise ordinance in fact they came and took decibel readings on practice nights even having the band crank up the volume as loud as it could go. We were still under the proposed decibel level. I would invite anybody during practice nights to come and see for themselves. The truth is also that these neighbors that bash me have never come and spoken to me about their issues. They simply call the cops or bash me in the press. It’s not fair that my three children have to witness this. We are doing nothing wrong and I am asking for those neighbors to please leave us be. All we want is the right to enjoy our lives!
High school television studio success
Thank you for the article about the high school broadcast studio and the computer video production program in last week’s issue. Nothing we have been involved with has ever required such a team effort or resulted in a daily feeling of accomplishment after the broadcast, similar to an ensemble production. We are grateful to Nigel Redman and Paul VanSchaack for providing their technical and engineering expertise to the project on Saturdays and during summers for several years to make the project possible. Their knowledge of the necessary electrical engineering and resourcefulness in acquiring thousands of dollars of equipment was, and still is, invaluable. We will continue our efforts to advance our CVP program, with the ultimate goal of bringing educational access channel 20 to the residents of Saugerties.
Many thanks to everyone who has supported the program and its fundraising efforts. CVP students who record, edit and produce DVDs of school and community events receive half the profits in the form of scholarships at graduation while the other half goes to improving the CVP program. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue to provide entrepreneurship opportunities for the students of Saugerties!
Jackie Hayes and Scott Wickham
Saugerties High School
Business Education Department
Casino gambling a local problem
In the buildup to the passage of Prop One, the casino amendment, last fall, upstate casinos were hailed as “destination resorts.” Gamblers would come from afar, then return home taking with them the costs of addicted and problem gambling. Mr. Emanuel L. Pearlman, chairman of Empire Resorts, which will building a casino at the old Concord hotel site, gives the game away. Commenting on casino saturation in the Northeast, he said his business model “relied on the 1.8 million adults who live within the 60 miles of the Concord, and not a huge stream of business from New York City.” (The New York Times, 12/19, p.3 )
This was never a secret. Casinos attract mostly locals. Exposure to new casinos will create new addicted and habituated gamblers with costs to themselves and society that will dwarf tax revenues.
Board member, Coalition Against Gambling in NY