On Wednesday, Jan. 21, I attended the regularly scheduled Saugerties Town Board meeting. Prior to the meeting I took the opportunity to review the agenda which is placed online for the public to review in advance of the meeting.
Upon arriving at the meeting I received a copy of the board’s published agenda for the meeting which matched the agenda I had viewed online. I also found upwards of 40 people there to make known their thoughts on the Pilgrim Pipeline and to ask the Town Board to issue a resolution opposing the pipeline. It was at least the second time that I had witnessed that request being placed before the board. After being advised that a decision on the pipeline would not be made in haste many left the meeting. Only a few members of the public remained to watch the rest of the board’s actions. Within a few minutes I witnessed the board’s rapid proposal and passage of at least four resolutions which were not listed on any agenda made available to the public. Those proposals added new staff, created of a new advisory board for a new program (a.k.a. a new program to spend tax payers’ money) and amended a local law.
At the conclusion of the meeting I approached board members who showed me handwritten notes added to their agenda and they said that all of the Town Board had agreed beforehand to consider those handwritten motions therefore they were justified in passing those resolutions. None of the resolutions constituted an emergency for the town. But, what about the public? They were not given a chance to air their views on any of those motions which were passed into resolutions. Board members also said that none of the resolutions were detrimental to the residents of the town. But who gives them the right to deprive the public of their point of view and to present additional information which the board may not have? And finally who gave the Town Board approval to violate article 103e of New York State Open Meetings law?
With 15 years of experience as the town supervisor one would think that Greg Helsmoortel would have known better. As the leader of the Town Board he has a responsibility to make sure the open government laws are adhered to and to avoid violation of public trust by dismissing the right of the people to participate in town government decisions. Did he think that no one would notice? Did he count on what lawmakers like to call public apathy? How did he know that all the other board members were okay with bringing forth the “secret” items? Did he ask them in an e-mail? Did he text them? Did he call them on the phone? He certainly didn’t ask them publicly, I was there!
I am writing in regards to veterans’ exemptions on their homeowners’ taxes. As a father of a son soon to be deployed overseas and the son of a man who spent over six years in the jungles of Burma (Myanmar) during WWII, I am totally in favor of an exemption for our veterans.
The only problem I have with it is I do not see a clause anywhere in what I am reading in the papers which gives any consideration for those who served or are serving in the clandestine services of our country. The only recognition these brave men and women receive if they are KIA is a flag at a small ceremony given to their family (that is classified by the way) and in some cases, a star on a wall in Langley, Virginia.
Unfortunately these men and women have to sign a nondisclosure agreement with the United States Government, meaning should they ever discuss what they did for our country they can be prosecuted and risk forfeiting of the pensions they have earned in addition to loss of rank and/or title.
I think that members of the silent services deserve the same recognition as all veterans. Unfortunately that is not going to happen.
The dangers of oil pipelines
On Jan. 21, I attended a presentation about passing a resolution against the Pilgrim Pipeline at a town of Saugerties board meeting. Fellow attendees spoke eloquently about the different categories of concern for the pipeline project. It was a long list, including issues of finance, ecology, cost/benefit, future deterioration, health concerns, negative affect on local real estate values, proposed lack of actual inspectors, the growing urgency to create policies for switching to renewable energy sources and stop contributing to global warming with fossil fuels, and more.
One participant described the latest pipeline spill, which happened on 01/17/15 in Glendive, Montana, as a foreshadowing of things to come to the Hudson Valley if the Pilgrim Pipeline Company has its way. In one hour, 50,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the Yellowstone River. Crude oil from the leak was detected as far away as Sidney Montana, 60 miles downstream. It took authorities three days to warn residents to stop drinking the water because benzene, a carcinogen, had been detected at levels three times above the allowable standard.
Friends and neighbors, the best way to prevent this scenario from happening here is to block the Pilgrim Pipeline’s plans now before they really get started. I want to thank Rosendale, New Paltz town and village, Kingston, Marbletown, Plattekill, Rhinebeck, Rochester, and Woodstock for passing resolutions opposing the project. The next two steps are pressuring the Thruway Authority to deny access to Pilgrim, and supporting Ulster County legislators as they consider their resolution on Feb 17.
Kudos to the curmudgeon
My wife and I were lucky enough to take a day off and drive up to Saugerties recently. I use any excuse I can to make the trip from Nyack.
While having coffee at Tango I started to browse through your Jan. 22 issue, landing on the piece “Words of wisdom” in Curmudgeon Corner by Rod Selway.
I appreciate his wisdom, humor and lack of tact. Bravo. I look forward to his next contribution in Saugerties Times.