Borders on shameful
Recently I attended a forum wherein Dr. Paul Padalino gave an excellent review in some detail of the 2017-18 Kingston City School District budget. Sparsely attended by only a few non-board members, one might think that the figures highlighted were in the thousands rather than the estimated multi-millions of dollars. From a voting bloc estimated at 20,000-plus eligible citizens, recent voting response to a school board action attracted less that 5,000 voters. Some 3,600 pro votes outnumbered 600 nay votes by roughly six to one. Perhaps 15,000 residents of the district were just too busy to bother to learn what was involved and to vote!
Also on the ballot will be Proposition 2, approved by a unanimous vote by the seven board members voting. It concerns selling their present headquarters at 61 Crown St, to help finance the more than $4 million needed to renovate the Meagher Elementary School located off of Foxhall Avenue. Abandoned and unsalable at almost any price for the last five years, its condition is bad, its location is remote and its hoped-for financing from other sources comes with many iffy strings attached. Forget history! Forget pride! As I was told, a yes vote for this project shows the board has financial integrity!
About 61 Crown St.: Still standing as a bastion against ignorance since the 1890s, the historic building was built as School No. 11. For subsequent decades, known as School No. 7, it housed over 5,000 first- through eighth-grade students who received their excellent elementary education there. Now known as the Cioni Building, it has for years housed the Kingston school district administrative office members as well as being the meeting place for the board of education. Its historic legacy is being preserved by the very presence of these administrators. To disregard that legacy in the name of “progress” or “fiscal integrity” borders on shameful to me. Like none other, the Cioni Building stands as a great reminder of Kingstonians’ pride in our past efforts in educating our children. Its location could not be better; its appearance gives everyone a sense of the solidarity of our educational system.
Free copies of the proposed budget and referendums are available at 61 Crown St. I urge everyone to become informed and to make your vote count on May 16. Silence or apathy does not bode well for our future.
They do know better
The Ulster County Conservatives were going to come out and support our district attorney, Holley Carnright, and our sheriff, Paul VanBlarcum, in their fight to stop the ill-conceived change in the state’s youthful offender laws. Unfortunately, the ambitions of an overreaching governor and his allies in the state Assembly have sacrificed the safety of everyone to pander to select groups.
These changes were added to the state budget with the Assembly Democrat majority stating they would not bring the budget to the floor without it. The Independent Democratic Caucus in the Senate went likewise. This assured it was a “done deal.” The people who know better were ignored. The state prosecutors and sheriffs’ associations were both vocally opposed to this.
In New York at the age of 16 you can take a test and obtain a permit to drive tons of steel on our roads. Take another test and obtain insurance and you get a license to do so by yourself. If you can do that and obtain employment you should be able to know right from wrong. We all have children and have compassion in our hearts but when it comes to public safety versus compassion, safety should come first. The Conservative Party Executive Committee is mostly retired law enforcement from local, county, state and federal levels. We do know better.
Ed Gaddy, chairman
Ulster County Conservative Party
Thanks, John Faso
We would like to thank Representative Faso for meeting with mental health providers who live and work in New York’s 19th Congressional District on April 13 to discuss the complex and critical issue of maintaining affordable mental health services.
We discussed a number of issues including: parity (keeping mental health benefits equal to medical coverage with regard to insurance coverage and reimbursement) as well as the cost effectiveness of preventive mental health services. We shared an impact statement that this group compiled for Mr. Faso. Ellen Pendagar, CEO for the Mental Health Association in Ulster County, shared how studies have repeatedly shown that maintaining robust mental health services reduces significant costs to the taxpayers down the line. When services are cut, we see increases in emergency room visits, hospitalizations, late stage medical conditions, increases in incarceration, homelessness, foster care and more.
We were encouraged to hear Congressman Faso state that he is a proponent of parity. He also shared that he has a strong interest in school-based services that have a mental health component. Cheryl Qamar, former deputy commissioner of mental health in Ulster County, explained how school-based services are an excellent delivery system as they improve access and remove the stigma of going to a therapist or counselor to get support. Additionally, school-based mental health services augment needed supports for the whole family as well as reduce the burden to schools.
In closing, we invited Mr. Faso to continue in a bipartisan dialogue with us as there are many more issues to unpack and resolve. Therese Bimka, LCSW pointed to the profound polarization within our nation and community, suggesting we can model how to stay engaged in conversation across the aisle.
Congressman Faso indicated support for continued dialogue. We look forward to continuing this critical dialogue on the difficult issues we face as a community.
Cindy Dern, LCSW; Rev. Therese Bimka, LCSW; Cynthia Muenz, LCSW; Cheryl Qamar, LCSW; Ellen Pendegar, CEO of MHA; Martha Steuding, MH
Pondering Barry O
Former president Obama’s greatest achievements — A $19 trillion dollar debt, a Middle East in total chaos and carnage, the unimpeded death and destruction advanced by Assad, Putin and sooner than later, Kim Jong Un, tons of money, cover, and support for The Mad Mullahs of Iran, satanical usage of the Justice Dept., State Dept., and the IRS to name a few, race riots and police assassinations too numerous to list, the popularity of sanctuary cities, release of recidivist terrorists from Gitmo and elsewhere, millions permanently out of work, on food stamps while the Obama administration claimed the jobless rate was going down, a health care plan that was unaffordable and unsustainable. It goes on and on. If anyone ever criticized Barry, they were branded “Racist.” He led from behind, his behind.
Last I looked, the democracy was still standing even though practices like free speech and Judeo-Christian religions were in serious trouble. Perhaps President Trump could address and fix some of these items if given the chance. Doubtful!
The DemocRats won’t stop until there’s a recall of some sort and Hillary or Bernie or Lizzie Warren takes the reins of power. We need another good community organizer who can read a teleprompter to lead us. Yes, the same folks who gave us Nancy Pelosi, Susan Rice, Loretta Lynch, John Kerry, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Al Sharpton, Keith Ellison, ad nauseum, want to come back to power. Maybe in 2020?
Not too many people get to be billionaires in this country without having a great deal of intelligence, drive, vision, focus and fortitude. President Donald Trump did!
In 2015 there were approximately 27 deaths by drug overdose in Ulster County; as well as 337 overdose calls to EMS and 268 incidents when Narcan was administered. (A drug that counteracts the deadly effects of opioids.) Last year at least 26 people died by overdose. (Ulster Coalition Against Narcotics)
Over 50 percent of Ulster County High School seniors report that they have tried an illicit drug, 58 percent report that they have tried marijuana. (NYS Youth Development Survey)
Over the last three years the drug arrests for 16 to 21 year olds in Ulster County has increased dramatically. We now hold the dubious distinction of being the county with the highest rate of youthful drug arrests in New York State outside of New York City. (NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services)
Prevention hasn’t worked. Parents are basically on their own when it comes to protecting their children from drugs. Some key warning signs for adolescent drug use are: changing friends, falling grades, losing interest in previously favored activities, unreasonable demands for privacy and overly guarded cell phone and Internet use.
However, these signs typically indicate that the teen has gone beyond experimenting with drugs and is using on a regular basis. There is a desperate need to help parents detect drug use in their children before it gets to that point.
Follicle drug screening may be the answer. It analyzes hair and can detect prior drug use for three months. However, it’s a little pricy and you’re going to have an argument about doing it with your teen, especially if he or she has experimented with something. However, both the price and the argument are worth it when one considers the cost and pain of addiction.