Letters (October 15-22)

mail-letter-sqThe roots of teen suicide and violence

It is with profound grief that I am writing this letter. This past week, I attended the funeral of a bright, and apparently well adjusted 15-year-old who committed suicide. When adolescents are tragically violent against themselves or others, it naturally causes people to wonder how this could happen, and sadly there are often no adequate answers, only supposition. Parents now worry that their children, who appear okay, will do the same thing. We as a society can no longer address these questions posthumously with a few counselors brought into the community to help put the pieces back together. There could never be enough of us to meet the growing demand. We’ll never be able to remove all the guns, ropes, pills, or other weapons of destruction.

It is for this reason that I would like to address the bigger issue of mental health education. I believe it is time to institute mandatory education curriculum to teach emotional intelligence in schools, K-12. We live in a world of extreme stress and alienation, which is impacting all generations. There is no downside to EQ, Emotional Intelligence. Our children need to know how to access their emotional intelligence and master it — to understand their emotions, how to relate to them, and how to live with them. After all, they will have them all of their lives. This is essential at all ages of development, and it is particularly imperative when children hit the rough patches of puberty. The emotional roller coasters brought on by hormone upheaval, as we have seen time and again, can be deadly as the youngsters take desperate and drastic measures in reaction to their feelings. We need to teach them the tools and give them creative and rote experience to recognize, identify, and manage their emotional states.

As a traumatologist and psychotherapist, I see the effects of poor psychological education, and emotional dysregulation everyday. Violence, victimization, bullying, drug use, sexual acting out, self-mutilating behaviors, murder and suicide, are issues that are being addressed separately in communities around the country. All of these need to be addressed together first at the core level — and the place to start is with emotional intelligence education.


We grieve as a community for our children and for our country. Let’s enact some real change to address this now.

Noelle Damon


Won’t get fooled again

Following their election to office, I sent e-mails to the Town Board and Chris Allen thanking both Helsmoortel and Allen for working together with our Conservative-backed candidates, Bill Schirmer and Jim Bruno. It was a relief to see a supervisor working harmoniously with our candidates and in a transparent way. Unfortunately, that level of transparency seems to have changed somewhat since then.

In addition, I gave credit to newly-elected county legislator Chris Allen for attending Town and School Board meetings, an act mostly lacking in past legislators. (In all fairness to those past legislators, being unemployed and living with his mother afforded Allen the extra time to attend all those meetings.)

Since then, and particularly during the past year, Allen’s attendance at meetings dropped considerably. I guess the novelty’s worn off. I subsequently began monitoring Allen’s voting record and seemingly strange behavior and began to see a person much different from the one he presented at the start of his political career, a much more peculiar one.

I had a concern about Chris Allen’s behavior which became especially evident when he heard that a female candidate would be running against him, especially on the Conservative line. Every time I “ran into him,” he pounded his chest, King Kong-style, and bragged about how great he is, how loved he is by everyone and how he is going to “kick [our] female candidate’s butt.” Then he bragged about how he was going to “take out” Senator George Amedore next, referring to him as a “baboon,” calling him incompetent, etc., and stating that he is the only candidate that could beat him. I actually got tired of hearing the man’s rants.

Then, the next thing I knew, he was being arrested for assaulting a female teacher in the presence of students and other witnesses. Finally, after the League of Women Voters debate between himself and Conservative candidate Angie Minew, Allen immediately followed up with a posting to his Facebook page, writing that his opponent (Minew) was “totally out of it…unqualified, uneducated and uniformed,” and writing that he wondered why she would make an attempt to run for public office.

In view of the above, I have totally changed my opinion about Chris Allen from the one I had 19 months ago. Now that I’ve seen a little more of him, this my opinion:

The “war on women” exists right here in Ulster County and is being waged by none other than local misogynist Chris Allen. First there was his arrest for assaulting a woman and now he’s verbally assaulting his opponent….another woman, of course. His comments on Facebook were unprovoked, nasty, untrue and indicative of the arrogant and obnoxious facets of his personality. He obviously has an issue with women….one has to wonder what’s next….and wonder even more about what has yet to be uncovered from his past.

Chris Allen obviously had me fooled but he’s not fooling me now and voters would be wise not to allow him to fool them into voting for him again.

George Heidcamp
Chairman, Saugerties Conservative Party


Allen’s attendance

In my 22 months of service within the Ulster County Legislature, my attendance record is 100 percent for monthly meetings and 95 percent for committee meetings. I am one of only three legislators who sit on three committees instead of two, and I am one of only two legislators in the 48-year history of the Legislature to make it onto the Ways and Means Committee within one year. The committee meetings that I missed were due to illness and legislative conferences that I attended. Once, when I stepped out of the chambers for six minutes to speak with a woman who had told the legislature about a personal tragedy, I missed three quick votes which were all unanimous votes anyway. My attendance record is among the best within the entire legislature.

In addition, I have attended 40-45 Village Board meetings, 20-25 Town Board meetings, five School Board meetings, and a Zoning Board meeting. I have also attended 20 public forum meetings and press conferences in Saugerties, Lake Katrine, Kingston and New Paltz on issues related to: the county budget, utility rates, the power grid, flooding and FEMA, education, Common Core, the Esopus Creek, the closing of the Social Security Office, wages, solar energy and the expansion of fiber optic cable/high speed internet. I have also attended other public events: the groundbreaking of the Veterans’ Monument, the groundbreaking of the UCCC Sophie Finn satellite-campus, the re-opening of the Mt. Marion Bridge, ribbon-cutting ceremonies for Saugerties-based businesses, farmers markets and sports franchises, numerous Veterans Day and Memorial Day events, fundraisers for veterans in Saugerties, Kingston and New Paltz and candlelight vigils for the victims of 9/11.

It is unfortunate that my opponent and her minions have spread vicious lies about my attendance record, voting record and personal life in a pathetic attempt to propel a candidate who embarrassed herself at the debate on Tuesday, Oct. 6 that was sponsored by the League of Women’s Voters. I would strongly urge all residents of Saugerties and Malden to tune into Saugerties Lighthouse TV-23 on Time Warner Cable and watch the debate between myself and my opponent, and you will see for yourselves.

In response to Joe Roberti’s slanderous opinion piece: On June 3, 2014, another legislator and I slipped on a freshly mopped floor in the hallway at 8:40 p.m. after an Economic Development meeting. There were two other legislators who witnessed us slip on the wet floor, and New York State Law requires that all cases of this nature are reported to Worker’s Compensation. For the stretched ligaments in my knee, I had six physical therapy sessions, an MRI and one doctor’s visit. I did not sue the county.

In 2009, then-Legislator Joe Roberti had an attendance record of 75 percent for monthly meetings, 50 percent for committee meetings and 8 percent for public hearings. On Roberti’s watch, there were also $32,000 in lost/un-cashed checks within the Health Department and an expansion of the Ulster County Jail which caused the largest property tax increase in county history.

Chris Allen
Ulster County Legislature