Saugerties Times letters (3/16-23)

Trump’s policies are cruel, inconsistent, overreaching

In early February I wrote to Representative Faso to express my concern about Trump’s executive order of January 27 which, among other things, imposed immediate restrictions on accepting refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries. On February 24, I received a reply from Faso in which he wrote; “After careful review of the current executive order regarding immigration policy, I believe that the order was neither

well-crafted nor well-implemented…we have to balance our security with the need to protect the rights of U.S. citizens and people who are subject to valid immigration proceedings, including lawful permanent residents.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has since reversed its policy upholding the order’s ban on re-entry of permanent legal residents (green card holders), but has issued new guidelines for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to execute, which greatly expands the population of undocumented immigrants subject to arrest and deportation, and allows deportation without a hearing before an immigration judge.


The result has been widespread confusion and fear among immigrants , as noted in “Roundup Panic” by Jesse Smith (Saugerties Times, 2 March 2017), quoting Marco Ochoa, a Kingston landlord: “You can feel the fear. People are afraid their kids will go to school one day and never see them again, they’re afraid they’ll go to work in the morning and not be able to get home at night.”

Trump’s recent revised executive order includes a proposal by Kelly, Homeland Security Secretary, allowing immigration officers to detain adults traveling with their children to turn the children over to the Department of Health and Human Services while their parents undergo the Court  procedures regarding  deportation orders. Such a proposal is unnecessarily cruel and can only serve to sow more fear and uncertainty among immigrant communities.

Trump’s policies on immigration are cruel, inconsistent and overreaching. It is crucial that Faso and other members of Congress reject these and take firm and immediate steps to promote fair, rational, and compassionate immigration policies

Elizabeth Shafer


Preventable ski deaths

While on the chair lift at Hunter Mountain on the morning of March 6, I saw a fallen skier sliding down the double-black-diamond slope “Racer’s Edge” who could not stop. He eventually came to a stop as the slope flattened out. Later I skied that slope and found it to be very icy. Due to the steepness and the ice it was difficult to “get an edge”, thus easy to get out of control.
The next day I learned that a young man had died on that slope after hitting trees. What a shame — a 20 years old with his life in front of him, snuffed out. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
I believe this is the second death this year at Hunter and the third in the Hudson Valley. Could anything have been done to prevent these deaths? Were all three deaths the results of skiers losing control and hitting trees? Cannot the owners of the ski slopes put fences or some type of ‘insulation’ around trees? Yes, it would be an added expense and more maintenance, but saving a single life would be worth every penny.
We as a nation have made great strides with automobile safety — according to Wikipedia, deaths were 11.3 per 100,000 drivers in 2015, down from a high of 22.7 in 1979. New York State and the DEC have addressed hiking and climbing deaths, especially at Kaaterskill Falls. I believe it is time to address preventable deaths on the ski slopes. Ski area owners, elected officials, citizens, please consider this point of view.

Michael MacIsaac


‘Facts’ wrong

This is an open response to the letter Bob Aiello wrote in the 3-9-2017 issue of the Saugerties Times, which was the same letter that was in the January 5 issue of the Saugerties Times.

Bob, your letter had the two main facts all wrong. Your tax increase percentage was off by 2% and there was no property tax refund from the governor this year (that program did not include a refund for 2017). Also, you suggest we escrow the money for the increase in health insurance, retirement benefits and union employee contracts, so where do you suggest we get that money to “just” escrow?

Greg Helsmoortel, Supervisor
Town of Saugerties


To Robert Schnell

Hi Bob. As you’ve probably heard, I’ve retired from full-time police service. However, retirement wound not truly be complete without having thanked you.

During the mid-seventies, you served on the Village of Saugerties board where you were instrumental in getting me started in my career. You believed in me, trusted me and took a chance on me, and that made it special. I was grateful then, I still am and I always will be.

I’ve enjoyed a long and wonderful career, and it started with you. Thank you, and I hope I have not let you down.

Don Tucker


Aiello in the running

In the September 19, 2013 issue of Saugerties Times, Legislator Allen, before he became one, was wallpapered over the front page of the paper the headline saying “Here, There and Everywhere.” The issue concerned Chris Allen and Legislator Robert Aiello and the election. The paper offered a somewhat biased appraisal of Allen working so hard compared to Legislator Aiello. A Village Trustee said to the reporter, “I’m shocked.” “You’re the fourth person to ask about Chris Allen today.” Hackett was recently working with Allen trying to solve a residents issue with water. Hackett told the Times that “the candidate had been a frequent participant to Village Board meetings. Hackett, a Republican Committeeman, was crediting Allen and at one point saying “Bob Aiello has a tough road ahead of him.”

A Republican Committeemen should be talking about and helping a Republican candidate. Odd situation this was. Hackett, taking another shot at Aiello said “I have never seen Aiello attend a Village board meeting or ask a Village Trustee how he could help. Hackett apparently didn’t know that Aiello had approached Trustee Vince Buono concerning how a County Official could help a Village Official if needed giving a solid impression that two officials from two different towns could work together. “I’ve been a County Legislator for nearly 20 years and I have never seen Hackett attend a Legislature meeting; mainly because his work as Trustee has to do with the Village not the County so I wouldn’t expect to see him there.  But when 1200 people came to a public meeting about gun control and amendment issues Hackett was nowhere to be found.

Hackett also apparently doesn’t know that Legislature approached both Boone and Mayor Murphy, Buono on more than one occasion and Murphy on the opening day of the Farmer’s Market. Murphy didn’t say much to me  except “if I ever need help from the County I have a good working relationship with the County Executive.” “If I need you for something, let you know.” Aiello’s last words to Murphy concerned the traffic light at Partition St. and Main St. “I told the Mayor, “that’s a dangerous situation and I am concerned someone will get hurt badly as I have see a woman already hit by a car.

Right now I’m planning to run for a town seat. It’s where I live, worked, and grew up. I belong to no political party so I will run as an independent.

Robert Aiello


These will be the uninsured

Aside from the 14 million more people who will be uninsured next year if the new health care law is enacted, President Trump’s plan will be harmful to the very people who turned out in force to put him in the White House: older (ages 50-64), middle income, middle class Americans.

According to the proposed legislation, insurance companies will be allowed to charge older Americans significantly steeper premiums than younger Americans (26 and over). Outside the top 1% (which includes our representatives in the House and Senate; their salaries start at $174,000 per year, plus expenses), these costs will add mightily to the many other burdens shouldered by older Americans in the middle class income bracket ($25,000 to $75,000). It is this segment of our population, almost 65 million in any given year, who most frequently care for aging parents, spending over $5,500 annually in unreimbursed, out of pocket expenses related to that caregiving. Almost half the people who care for a family member report that they have used up most or all their savings. The health care savings accounts in President Trump’s bill are only useful when one has extra money to put aside. Where would these millions of Americans find extra income to fund those accounts? And the $4000 tax credit is unlikely to soften the blow of a premium five times greater than that which the younger people are paying.

Secretary Tom Price, who assures us that he “truly believes no American will be financially harmed” by the President’s plan, promises the lower premiums and the $2,000 tax credit will “encourage” younger, healthier people to buy insurance, ultimately creating a large enough pool to lower some premiums. Except for the fact that over 44 million Americans ages 20-30 are struggling to pay off more than $1.3 trillion of student loan debt, it might not be an unreasonable expectation. Consider also the reality that the average hourly wage for young college graduates is about $17 an hour, and it is easy to see why so many young people still live at home and how unlikely it is that they will be rushing to spend their few extra dollars to buy health insurance.

Speaker Paul Ryan is conning Americans. The American Medical Association, AARP, and many other serious policy groups are loudly denouncing this legislation. They should be heeded. This slap dash plan will only benefit insurers and high income earners and harm those people who put their faith in President Trump’s grandiose promises.

Deidre J. Byrne