Letters (January 15-22)

mailChaos in county government

Recently, I was asked by a reporter from Saugerties Times about cooperation amongst elected officials in government, to which I replied: “I am pleased to see a coordinated effort on the county and local levels amongst elected officials towards trying to bring economic development into Saugerties and Ulster County. Infrastructural improvements are arriving soon on Kings Highway in the form of more natural gas hook-ups. The recent appointment on the IDA Board from the Saugerties area has been a vocal advocate for more natural gas hook-ups on Kings Highway since his appointment last summer, and Central Hudson has responded, as they have announced that more hook-ups for natural gas will be provided along the Kings Highway Corridor. This will allow commercial tracts to truly be more ‘shovel ready’ which will further facilitate for the potential of new businesses to set up shop in Saugerties. Recently, a county legislator drafted a comprehensive resolution which outlined a specific policy for broad band internet and fiber optic cable expansion across Ulster County. Within the Ulster County Legislature, this proposal was met with overwhelming bi-partisan support from members of both parties. Hopefully this level of cooperation and coordinated efforts will continue in 2015 which is an election year within the legislature.”

Recently, there was a vote for renewal of the leadership positions in the Ulster County Legislature that many legislators across both political parties felt was unnecessary. The Ulster County Governmental Charter calls for the re-nomination of party leaders and the chair of the legislature on an annual basis rather than every other year (the general election cycle). Unfortunately, the current system of re-nominating the leadership positions forces the legislature to disband as a government entity, which dissolves all of the committees within the legislature. With no committees in place, resolutions are voted on without the normal levels of deliberation, review and debate. In place of the traditional committee format, all resolutions are voted on through a quick and hasty process where the legislature meets as a whole to vote on each resolution. Without the deliberative processes that are present within the traditional committee format, resolutions can be put up by the executive branch of government without the same level of review by the legislative branch. County Executive Mike Hein and his staff do an outstanding job of vetting contracts and facilitating budgetary processes within the Ulster County government, but such work should still be reviewed by the legislature. As legislators, this is what we are elected to do along with setting policy and drafting law within Ulster County. Consequently, this current process does not allow us to do our jobs, and the leadership vote causes internal rifts and tensions within the legislature. Setting good policy is more important than politics, and the residents of Ulster County deserve cooperation and not rancor among elected officials. I will always protect the constituents of District 2 in Saugerties and Malden as well as I can from such chaos in county government.

Chris Allen
Ulster County Legislature


Pipeline offers no benefits

The Pilgrim Pipeline is a terrible idea. It would bring no fiscal benefit to towns it would cross, no benefit to an American population that needs to reduce, not enable, dependence on fossil fuels. It would not replace “bomb trains” or the barges that now carry crude oil from Albany to Edison NJ. It would just encourage lifting more oil, faster.


Oil pipelines leak more per unit moved/year than trains or barges, as the cargo is not compartmentalized and leaks may go long undetected. For example, in Michigan in 2010 a pipeline carrying diluted bitumen from tar sands spewed at least 2,800 tonnes (about a million gallons) into the Kalamazoo River. An alarm had rung in Edmonton 17 hours before the spill was found, but was disregarded. Cleanup is not over. In September 2013 near Tioga ND, a pipe of Bakken crude leaked at least 2,800 tonnes into a wheat field over days before discovery.

It’s rare to see a proposal with no benefits to the public; this is one. Any number divided by zero = infinity, which expresses the risk : benefit ratio of this project. Readers who agree should petition the Saugerties Town Board to pass a resolution against having the pipeline go through our town. Many communities in NY and NJ have done this already. At the Town Board meeting on Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. there will be a chance to speak in favor of such a resolution.

For further information go to stoppilgrimpipeline.com.

A postscript for people who own land near the Thruway on either side:

PP promoters picture it closely tracking the New York State Thruway for most of its run. To use Thruway land for a pipeline requires permission from NYSDOT and NYSTA, not necessarily forthcoming. Even if all the authorities signed off , the line would still have to cross private land in many places. There is no case here for eminent domain taking. Contractors trying scout a route have been telling landowners near the Thruway that the company “must survey” private lands that could be on the route. They pretend that getting permission to enter is a formality, not a legal requirement. This is deceptive and can be intimidating. They must by law have permission. Without it, they are trespassers.

There is no legal obligation to accommodate these pipeline surveyors. Anyone who gets a request from them should refuse it in writing to the company and send a copy to the town offices. If you granted permission earlier and now regret that, it can be rescinded. Write (return receipt requested) to Pilgrim Pipeline POB 10874 Newburgh NY 12552 to refuse or rescind.

Stephen and Lizbeth Shafer