Letters (March 12-19)

mailCounty-wide consolidation

In last week’s issue, village Trustee and Republican Committeeman Don Hackett was quoted in a heated article concerning merging the village and town governments. Debates and comments were peppered into the article voicing pros and cons about the seemingly controversial move in which Hackett said, “The only time the town officials want to do something is if it benefits the town.”

When school taxes go uncollected, the county, by law, pays those uncollected funds by April 1, the deadline to be able to put a budget in place. One year that I remember, total uncollected school taxes amounted to 37 million dollars of which we had to bond one million dollars into the budget, as a first payment. That year Saugerties had an uncollected total of 2.5 million dollars.

Villages historically preferred autonomy but since then costs have obviously escalated to this merger mania. My suggestion would be this: Since the county is the central part of government and provides all services to all county residents, perhaps town and village governments may be better off operating under a central county government if any real savings are to be realized. That would reduce the amount of governments from three to one. People like Trustee Hackett, however, would need to calm down and not worry so much about control. Besides, it’s healthier.


Robert Aiello


Missed opportunity to reduce emissions

A veto was done a couple weeks back right here in Ulster County. Since I’ve been in the energy business for 20-plus years, I find it sad as to the incoherent facts that this was done by. I’ll explain.

1) LPG = Propane, is a manufactured gas that is produced through the process of refining for other fuels such as gasoline, diesel, fuel oil, methane, butane, #4 oil, #6 oil and kerosene. The only time you can equate natural gas with propane is only lately as to the storage capacity of LPG from the pipeline from Texas to Selkirk, NY.

2) Propane produces less carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, particulate matter, and nitrogen oxide emissions than gasoline or diesel.

So, the veto that had been signed was coerced by a group of people that neck tied the executive into signing it. I also support things that are good for the environment. I don’t support people stopping good ideas using wrong information. I think the county has missed an opportunity to start reducing emissions right now.

Congrats to [Legislature Chairman] John Parete and a group of others in seeing the true environmental and financial direction for a large share of county-owned vehicles.

Bob Gallagher
High Falls


Failure to launch

Thanks to Saugerties Economic Development Committee Chair Beth Murphy for providing an update on the town website (2/26/15, Saugerties Times). I contacted Beth in early January and I appreciate her response. However, her letter had many inaccuracies.

Beth blamed the prior supervisor for the website fiasco and for not following the procurement policy. But vouchers cannot be paid without the approval of the entire Town Board, which is controlled by Democratic Party-endorsed members. The current policy was updated after an audit found the current supervisor (Mr. Helsmoortel) was not property bidding out certain contracts (5/31/12 saugertiesx.com). I wonder if the current contract for web services was awarded per current procurement guidelines.

I find it ironic that the Democratic-controlled Town Board approved a contract for Collins Communications, which is run by a former state Republican bigwig. Collins was paid in three installments, the last paid by in 2014. Why would Mr. Helsmoortel and the Town Board pay for a website that can’t be used?

In closing, I’m happy to report that some good may come as a result of recent letters. Late last year, the Empire Center for Public Policy gave the town website an “F” grade. The current web manager told me he spoke to the Empire Center and mentioned he will be adding more information to the town website. I truly appreciate his efforts.

Joe Roberti Jr.


ACA opposition defies explanation

Is there anyone, anywhere who believes that establishing universal health care is not a noble effort? Can anyone say that attempts to prevent treatable disease for everyone is a bad thing?

Why is it that some people in leadership positions continue to bad-mouth the Affordable Care Act when it is perfectly clear (Gallup data, Meet The Press, 3/8/15) that this law is: (1) lowering the uninsured rate throughout the country, (2) in the aggregate, making health insurance more affordable and, (3) slowing the rate of cost-increase?

Egberto Willies, in his Daily Kos story, writes “When will political malpractice stop being rewarded?” According to Willies, politicians in the state of Texas refer to the ACA (Obamacare) as a train wreck. This is inconsistent with the truth. “By lying to their constituents their political malpractice is leaving millions of Texans uninsured” and this will result in the deaths of large numbers of Texas citizens.

What kind of people are willing to spend trillions of dollars for war (killing people) yet, refuse to provide health care for their own less affluent citizens?

William Hayes