Why did Allen abstain?
On Dec. 17, the Ulster County Legislature adopted a resolution (No. 411) that approved a contract for the company that administers Worker’s Compensation claims for the county.
Legislator Chris Allen abstained from this vote. I believe abstentions require an explanation and none was listed in the minutes for the meeting.
Allen should publicly respond to this letter and provide the reason he abstained from this vote. I believe his constituents in Legislative District 2, myself included, are entitled to a response.
Joe Roberti, Jr.
Internet infrastructure key for economic development
Last Thursday, I attended a rally in Kingston that was put on by the Communication Workers of America, CWA, in front of Verizon headquarters. The rally called attention to the corporate policies of Verizon that do not provide for the installation of high-speed internet (FIOS) or fiber-optic cable in Ulster County and Upstate New York. And while the decision to install FIOS and fiber-optic cable ultimately rests with the executives at Verizon, the linemen-members of the CWA are adversely affected by such policies. Many of Verizon’s linemen reside in the Albany area, and because Verizon is only installing FIOS and fiber-optic cable in Downstate New York, these linemen are being sent 2-5 hours from where they reside in order to install such technology. These policies by Verizon have an adverse effect on the technological infrastructure around the Albany area, Ulster County and the rest of Upstate New York. With inferior technology available in these areas, potential developers and corporate investors may end up developing in other areas that have more modernized informational technology. A comparative analysis between the recent development around Knoxville, TN and the Albany area demonstrates how modernized high-speed internet and fiber-optic cable can facilitate more economic development. Knoxville had over 11,000 new jobs come into their area after the installation of such technology helped attract companies like Google and Volkswagen. Meanwhile, the Albany area has comparatively seen much less economic development than what arrived in Knoxville after the installation of high-speed internet and fiber-optic cable.
Currently, Verizon is the number one most profitable company in New York State and with such a large segment of the New York-based telephone industry being held by Verizon, a continued presence in New York is guaranteed. Consequently, Verizon could very easily embark on a policy which brings FIOS and fiber-optic cable into Ulster County, the Albany area and other parts of Upstate New York. Life is a two-way street, yet Verizon seems to be utilizing an exclusive path of one-way streets on the way to the bank which comes at the expense of the infrastructure and economic prosperity of Ulster County and Upstate New York.
As an aside note, I appreciate the compliments about my letters that I have received from hundreds of voters in recent months. In the last 28 months, I have written about a plethora of topics ranging from economic development, infrastructural improvements, the jobs market, commuting distances to work, high property taxes, the world of politics, Lyme disease, various issues related to our health care system, the excessive costs of prescription drugs, the opiate-based drug epidemic, the cleanliness of the Esopus Creek, our educational system and common core. Voters appreciate well written letters that adequately explain issues and problems along with well constructed solutions, and they can easily spot poorly written letters that contain no real issues, no real solutions and no actual vision for improvements. The difference between such letters separates hard-working elected officials who know what they are talking about from pretender-contenders who do not…
Ulster County Legislature
Minew on Minew
I’m writing this letter in support of Angie Minew. Yes she is my wife and of course I will always support her but I thought hearing it from me first-hand would be good for the people of Saugerties. First let me start by saying that I still haven’t figured out how she does all she does, but she does! Not only does she own her own daycare business in the local area putting in countless hours but she’s also on the Saugerties School Board, BOCES School Board, coaches soccer, softball and flag football. Recently she stepped up to fight a nonsense noise ordinance that was trying to be passed by our town officials. Banning my band to practice our music once a week for two hours in our own home. I’m happy to say that she won that fight with the help of our supporters and myself and the band are still able to practice. On top of all that she always puts her family first. As busy as she is myself and our three children never go without. She makes sure that never happens. She also is a very out-of-the-box thinker, making projects and coming up with ideas for not only our children but the rest of the daycare kids as well. Just recently she took time out of her busy schedule to paint a dinosaur mural on her five-year-old niece’s bedroom wall in Port Ewen (who by the way absolutely loves dinosaurs). She painted until 2 a.m. for two days so it was done when her niece got home that Sunday afternoon. That’s what Angie Minew is all about. Making this world a better place for everyone around her. That heart and dedication is something I believe she will bring to Saugerties as our new county legislator. Minew really can do it!
Main/Partition signs boggle the mind
After hearing the police chief state “So they have the signs that say ‘no left turn,’ ‘no right turn’ but they’re not legal signs because there was no filing with the (state) for the Department of State to put them there” at the Village Board meeting this past Monday as he also commented “The state says they have to be there because they have the (temporary) traffic lights on the road and there’s a liability to them if somebody hits those.” What? Maybe I’m wrong to try to understand that logic but if you hit the temporary traffic light who is liable, NYS or Saugerties? Either way it’s the taxpayers money all because the “paperwork” wasn’t filed correctly? The old it wasn’t me, I didn’t do it, I don’t know, not my job and my personal favorite we will learn from this and move on.
The chief also added the signs are “unenforceable in a court of law” I wondered where the “public safety” concerns went? If they are not legal then why wouldn’t “we” make sure they were done legally to protect the community? Have phone calls been made to discuss this or are we simply saying, nah we can skip this round of “public safety” concern? If pedestrians and motorists require signs “purchased by local businesses” to remind them of pedestrian laws that are on your NYS drivers test are legal but signs paid for by NYS are illegal seems odd just to protect a “technicality”?
From a resident I have seen the left/right turns happening as you and I drive straight. Turning off Main St. to Partition St. is almost an impossible turn, even for a local with the myriads of portable lights, traffic cones, and barrels. In a normal day it’s hard enough to get down the streets but now you have an obstacle course up and down Main St. and Partition Streets even for the locals. So I ask two questions- 1) where are the lights that were supposed to be installed at the “end of July at the latest as they are back ordered” which would avoid all of this altogether and 2. Where is the “public safety concern” now? If a few months back we needed all this change in the best interest of “public safety” then what happened to that now? Maybe the concern is lower maybe we are safer?
This project did not occur overnight and as such would have required planning and permits and “paperwork.” This isn’t NYS’s first rodeo.
Imagine how the local businesses feel with all the chaos? Imagine the locals…the chief did mention that “locals are annoyed”! Hmm if a local (you or I) illegally crossed the street we get fined but if we are “annoyed” everyone gets off scot-free? Interesting I thought anyway. Saugerties let’s get “annoyed” and make some changes around here!
One out of three ain’t bad
I taught at Coleman high school in the early 1970s and my children went through public K-12 and then colleges and universities from the ’80s on up to three years ago. From this vantage I can see how one-third of students are meeting standards on the new Common Core-based tests and I am seriously very happy to see those numbers so high.
Not everyone performs to high standards. It’s time to accept that maybe two-thirds represents a demographic that actually wants to know that high performance is based on a standard. Just look at what we get in law enforcement, government and finance when it seems there is no standard of performance, when anyone is free to do anything, untested.
Be happy that as many as one third of all our children are now in a process where they prove they are capable of filling the positions in the future that will have such an impact on the remaining two-thirds that are at least now being taught to believe that standards count.
Michael Sullivan Smith
Artist Tour thanks
The 13th Annual Saugerties Artists’ Studio Tour, August 14-16, was a huge success. Attendance and spirits were high surpassing all previous tours particularly at the artists’ reception at Opus 40 on Friday evening. We, the artists who proudly call Saugerties home, are so grateful for all the support we receive in making the artists’ tour a reality. This showcase event is evidence of what can be achieved when artists, with support from the community, local government, businesses and the press can achieve.
On behalf of myself and all 40 artists who participated in this year’s tour, we would like to thank: Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel and the Saugerties Town Board for their ongoing support, Kiwanis Club of Saugerties, Will Dendis and Saugerties Times, Julie O’Connor of Almanac Weekly, Doug Short and Cable TV Channel YNN, WKZE Radio especially Rita Ryan, Polly M. Law – webmistress and graphic designer, Art Along The Hudson, Lighthouse TV23, Marge Block and the Saugerties Historical Society, Ulster County Tourism, and Arts Mid-Hudson. Also, our tour map advertisers and Saugerties village businesses that graciously allowed us to show our work in their windows and their help to distribute tour maps. Special thanks to: Tad and Pat Richards of Opus 40 for hosting a fabulous gallery show and artists’ reception, and our families, friends and supporters, who are too numerous to mention who help us make the tour an outstanding celebration of the arts. We couldn’t have done it without your help.
Mountain railroad success
Congratulations to the Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) for its successful hosting of the steam locomotive Viscose No. 6 this last weekend in Mount Tremper. Excited observers at the 3 o’clock train Sunday afternoon were cheering and taking pictures all along Rt. 28 between Mount Tremper and Phoenicia. Reports were of several trains during the weekend with 150-200 passengers.
This was the potential of tourist railroad in Ulster County at its best — in many dimensions. The steam locomotive itself was a tangible symbol and celebration of the history of the railroads in our area. It pulled into the station in Phoenicia that is the home of the Empire State Railway Museum where passengers might have easily disembarked to explore the historical past of the railroads, enhancing not only the tourist experience but providing welcome visitors to the museum. Perhaps most importantly the event demonstrated that, with compelling events, railroad enthusiasts will be willing to travel to Shandaken to attend, and that parking and logistics for 200 riders at a time can be accommodated.
This same event however, hosted in Kingston, would have lacked the beautiful scenic backdrop of the Shandaken mountains, would have foregone the synergy with the museum, and the plume of black smoke which was historically picturesque in that setting would have been seen and experienced by many as unwelcomed pollution in a more densely populated urban environment.
With all of the potential advantages of a Shandaken operation demonstrated by this event it is puzzling therefore that the CMRR continues to focus inordinate amounts of resources on maintaining its grip on the Kingston site. The corridor in Kingston is currently empty over 320 days of the year in which it could be highly utilized by residents for a linear park. Kingston as the hub of an emerging world-class trail network including the Ashokan Reservoir trail has enormous potential for economic development associated with biking/active tourist visits and events. The county has offered to help market and promote the Shandaken location.
With only a bit over nine months remaining on its lease, the railroad should work with the county toward a migration to Shandaken. The county, the city and the railroad itself could benefit from a win-win rather than the continued contentious controversy over an ill-suited urban venue which is empty most of the time and blocks the development for higher and better uses.