Letters: The Junior League’s perspective; Albany’s foibles; bomb trains

ktx hudsonfultonstampThe Junior League’s perspective

The Junior League of Kingston is a women’s volunteer organization, and does not take a political stance on any issue; its membership, which continually strives to do positive work in the community, is saddened to be portrayed so negatively through comments found on social media, political websites and through other modes of communication.

In the summer of 2014, the City of Kingston Environmental Program Operations specialist/project manager applied for a collective grant for upgrades at Forsyth Park which included Kingston Kinderland II. In December 2014, there was a joint announcement by the City of Kingston, Junior League of Kingston, and park project stakeholders announcing that the Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation was awarding a grant for upgrades to the park in the amount of $304,354. The Junior League of Kingston’s major project, Kingston Kinderland II, was to receive $70,000. Per resolution 54 of 2015, the City of Kingston Common Council designated the Environmental Program operations specialist/project manager as the authorized representative for the project and grant.

On March 19, 2015, two representatives from the Junior League of Kingston met with the City of Kingston Environmental Program operations specialist/project manager and the superintendent of Parks & Recreation. During this brief meeting, the Junior League of Kingston was instructed to track the number of volunteers as their labor comprised the match component of the grant.

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Also during that same meeting, the Junior League representatives asked when the money would be received and were informed that any expenses incurred after the announced award date were reimbursable if the receipts were submitted. The League representatives were also told that the City of Kingston could not release any money until a contract was signed by the state agency and the City of Kingston.

In the weeks following, no other meetings were held between the designated Parks & Recreation employees despite numerous follow-up attempts that were made by the League. The League was repeatedly told that despite the lack of a contract and need to wait on the state, expenses after the announced date were reimbursable. Because the Junior League of Kingston was not the grant applicant, it would have been highly inappropriate for the League, as one of several recipients, to reach out to the state directly.

The active all-volunteer build of Kingston Kinderland II began on April 22, 2015 irrespective of the grant status; shortly thereafter, the issue was then escalated to the Mayor and current administration.

Since that time, the Director of Economic Development and Strategic Partnerships has been reassigned to the grant compliance.

Subsequently, the League has been educated about the intricacies associated with the procurement process with the city purchaser and that it should have been complying with the Women and Minority Business Enterprise requirement. The League should have been tracking not only the number of volunteers who participated in the build, but also their specific hours and the nature of the work they endeavored. Because the League was unaware that tracking these details was necessary, the volunteer sign-up tent located at Kingston Kinderland during the active build was not equipped to capture this information.

In the six weeks since the grant management was reassigned, the City of Kingston has moved the process along very swiftly. The League is working with the current administration to resolve this matter as efficiently and effectively as possible. As a result of this unfortunate situation, the League is short funds that are required to pay for some of the materials used for the playground; other fundraising efforts were stopped once the overall fundraising goal was reached, of which the grant monies played an integral part. The League remains grateful to the vendors who agreed to hold invoices until this issue is resolved. Accordingly, the League’s view of the grant administration is limited to its interest in a course correction that results in the committed disbursement of funds for Kingston Kinderland II. The League is awaiting receipt of funds from another outstanding grant that will pay for specific aspects of the project. Once that grant is received, the finishing touches will be put on Kingston Kinderland II.

The Junior League of Kingston stands united in the process of resolving this grant issue and will continue to work with the appropriate City of Kingston Officials to do so. The League thanks the community for its continued support throughout this entire process.

Junior League of Kingston Executive Board (Beth Hanigan, Kristy Nissen, MaryKate Mathews, Dara Edwards and Elenie Loizou), Kingston

Ridiculous in New Paltz

The New Paltz Town Board’s and supervisor’s references to the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency being likened to the Mafia is so far from the truth as to be ridiculous.  The truth is that in 1984 when then-assemblyman Maurice Hinchey convinced the state Legislature to authorize the UCRRA as a public authority it was because the Mafia families out of New York City were controlling Ulster County’s solid-waste hauling and disposal industry (see Hinchey’s 1984 report “Organized Crime’s Involvement in the Waste Hauling Industry”). At that time, yes, the Mafia controlled, and was moving in the direction of making millions on the backs of the taxpayers of Ulster County, establishing illegal dumps, allowing roadside dumping, minimizing recycling, disregarding the needs for composting and generally not complying with state Department of Environmental Conservation regulations. The world of waste management was out of control and destined to create a very unhealthy, but highly profitable, industry for guess who? The Mafia. Thank God for Hinchey for seeing this for what it was, and having the foresight and good judgment to create the UCRRA Public Authority run by five unpaid dedicated citizens appointed by the Ulster County Legislature. Those of us who learn nothing from history are destined to repeat its mistakes.

Charles Landi, UCCRA board member, Kingston

Fifty shades of dumb

New York State is a first-class state with a third-rate government. Its legislative output this session amounted to schlock, the kind of knock-off goods hawked by shady sidewalk vendors and sold too dear for the junk it is.

“Get your honest-to-goodness real Chanel bag here.” Really?

There was no real property tax relief, certainly no reform of the horrendous chaotic school tax and no attempt to curb mandates or take Medicaid off the property tax (New York State is unique in still shifting a big chunk of this burden).

Local governments and schools will continue to groan under state mandates that effectively avoid state responsibility, tax exemptions to favorite corporations (not you, small business!) and tax-draining religious bloc holdings will grow.

Giant real estate interests will continue to enjoy favored big-donor status, and you will continue to plan your retirement anywhere but here — what a waste of our beautiful state.

These politicos who are ruining New York State do not rise to the level of evil — they’re punks and small-time crooks (most of us could have scored bigger graft in the 20 or so years some of these guys have been on the take). But they are petty thieves in numbers that are cumulatively devastating.

Some are quite charming, even if “ethically challenged.” Though a couple of politicos — and you have to give Bill de Blasio credit for finally yelling “ouch” after being repeatedly stabbed in the back (and front) — are really nasty guys, motivated by spite and venom.

And we are not alone in the shabby treatment we suffer from our “public servants.”

New York City and its millions of hardworking people who fuel the state’s economic engine are disdained and imperiously denied sensible, important legislation for no good reason except as an abuse of power by the junk brokers in Albany.

The media is even lending credence to state government’s disgraceful lack of ethics by creating bogus categories of governance as if they had some equivalence or legitimacy “mission” motivated to describe New York City. And mayor’s mojo, as opposed to “transactional” politics to describe Albany. What a load of bull crap!

Albany’s typical “transaction” is to horse-trade favors and tax breaks in return for jobs for cronies and payola for the legislators. Do not dignify how the state government operates by giving it a high falutin’ name.

“Transactional” my ass!

So what makes it all go away? We do. We do not vote — given half the chance — for an incumbent; and no, we don’t worry that if our legislator — who has been in his/her gerrymandered leather seat for the last 25 years while all this “transactional” schlock was going down — is unseated, the sky will fall. The sky has already fallen, kiddo.

Of course, if instead of the expensive postcards from your public servants taking “credit” (the gall) for all the junk legislation this year, you get an apology, an acknowledgement, a mea culpa from your legislator that the mess isn’t all the fault of the other guy, the other party, the other legislative house but that he/she has been asleep at the switch while the state was driven off the rails, then it might be feasible to reward the candor and the promise to do better.

Failing that unlikely event, you must finally throw them out. You saw the perp walks. You counted the expensive legislative overtime. You saw the amazing attempt to justify the lack of any semblance of decency — “Preet Bharara ate our homework.” You saw the lack of any real ethics legislation. You witnessed the whole sordid operation.

And of course you heard the lies about the big deal property tax relief they scored for you.

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