Kingston Times letters (7/13-20)

Gentrification’s not inevitable

Kingston’s economic revitalization is well under way and increasingly there are concerns being brought to the public discourse about gentrification. This was evidenced most recently by the article written by Jesse Smith about uptown property prices. Unfortunately, the danger of rising property and rental prices is not limited to Uptown. It is encouraging that the alarm has begun to be rung loudly enough for everyone to hear, but now is the time to act. There is not a surplus of time between now and peak gentrification.

There is both cause to hope and good news, however. There are policies that have been found effective to combat market forces and promote the healthy growth of communities while protecting existing residents. A comprehensive battery of policy will be necessary to stem the tide of displacement. I’d like to submit these nine policies as a sort of “Anti-Gentrification Plan” that could be implemented by the city to protect longtime residents of all walks of life from being priced out of their community….because they will need protecting.

• A local law prohibiting income-source discrimination. Limiting the locations where people can live exacerbates existing patterns of residential segregation by income and increases the need for large, unpopular affordable housing projects.

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• Amend the charter to include grounds for revocation of permits for landlords found guilty of discrimination or other behavior in violation of fair housing statues, as a violation of site plan. Without statutory authority in the code to regulate landlords, abuses are almost impossible to fight locally.

• Utilize the newly formed land bank to increase the stock of affordable housing and eliminate blight.

• Reduce or freeze property taxes to protect long-time residents. Major cities have used tax programs to retain longtime homeowners in at-risk neighborhoods. This would especially help seniors on fixed incomes remain in their homes through a period of rising assessments.

• Create a stabilization voucher using the Community Development Block Grant, to be awarded to longtime residents of low-income communities to help them stay when gentrification poses a risk.

• Widespread liberalization of residential zoning; this includes removing density restrictions in single-family zones and abolishing lot size requirements. This would promote the development of income-integrated neighborhoods, instead of having large pockets of poverty and wealth isolated from each other.

• City-wide inclusionary zoning provisions: 20 percent mandatory set-aside for affordable housing for projects of 10 units or more for people making 50 percent of area median income or above, on-site. Restrict the in-lieu-of buyout to no more than 50 percent of required units.

• Institute a luxury property tax for properties over a certain price.

• A form based code for the three main districts; Uptown, Midtown and the Rondout. Mixed-use districts create walkable, integrated and cohesive neighborhoods.

Gentrification is not a mandatory consequence of investment and growth. Policy can remedy problems, if there is the will to do so. I urge our city leaders to act to protect our residents before it is too late.

Cassandra Burke
Kingston

 

The art of being human

As human persons, we are imperfect and our institutions all too often reflect that imperfection. We daily experience the “evil which men and our government commits” and it has become the practice of our media and politicians to highlight the consequences of these acts of evil and imperfections. However, when we open our eyes and attention, we are witnessing the goodness expressed by individuals and institutions to the call to serve one another. As for a “compass” we have a “Declaration of Independence,” a “Constitution and Bill of Rights” and the “Law of Love: Love your Creator, your neighbor and self.”

What is necessary is to bring to the public square the understanding that our freedoms come from God and not from government, and that when we respond to our spiritual values over material values we reflect our true exceptionalism and our commitment to the art of being human.

Paul Jankiewicz, Ph.D.
Ulster Park

 

Rabbit pellet policy

I mentioned to a few close associates when Mr. Tuey announced his departure, that the city’s books should be audited immediately to protect not only Mr. Tuey but his replacement as well. Now that he has been given a 19 percent raise and increased medical coverage, it is even more critical for the council to request an outside audit. It was also recently announced [the city has] a $5 million slush fund. I have to question the legitimacy of this as well as the jeopardy the city has now been place in with our three unions, in light of these developments. Our rank-and-file employees have gave back, as well as, accepted small 1 percent pay increases for quite a few years now, under the premise of limited money available for raises, and suddenly the “keeper of the funds” gets a 19 percent-plus salary increase. What are they hiding or afraid the next comptroller will find? It was once said that President Carter went from the gold standard to the peanut standard with 18 percent interest rates. Well, it looks like today in Kingston we are going from a sane fiscal/monetary policy to a rabbit pellet policy with 19 percent salary increases, and with a frozen sales tax levy, sure to come a 19 property tax increase. Granny, lock and bar the door, the tax collector will be a-knocking.

R. Bruce McLean
Kingston

 

Faso on ‘Setting the Record Straight’

In his recently sent “Constituent Guide,” Congressman Faso outlines his “accomplishments” in recent healthcare legislation. He touts his “Property Tax Reduction Act.” While I agree that the burden of Medicaid costs might better be shared on a different basis, simply shifting the costs from county to state in New York without any well-defined plan to replace cuts does not constitute “relief” or a “tax cut.” The same “healthcare” legislation supported by Faso that allows this tax shift on the one hand, actually cuts Medicaid by $772 billion on the other. States are being left alone to make up the loss in revenue that supports things like nursing homes, drug addiction programs, mental health, birthing services and more. What do you think that will do to our state taxes, or health care options, while the wealthy get nearly $707 billion in tax reductions!

Though he says, “Insurance companies cannot directly deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions,” they are, under state waivers, allowed to eliminate essential benefits thus rendering coverage unavailable.

“No member of Congress is exempt from changes in the law.” That should go without saying. Bragging about it seems odd.

“$138 billion included to cover health-related costs”: that’s inadequate, dwarfed by the $772 billion in cuts he’s fostered in Medicaid alone.

The bill he backs offers “healthcare tax credits” … but on individuals 55-64 years old making $26,000. Only $4,000 comes off estimated premiums of $14,000-$16,000 … that’s unaffordable!

The costs of the House/Senate proposals are draconian compared his claim of “savings.”

Marcus Arthur
Saugerties

 

Where do you stand in your faith?

If President Trump negotiates a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, he’ll be heralded as a great leader and outstanding negotiator. This peace agreement, prophesied in Daniel, will be a deception leading to the last great attack on Israel, the War of Armageddon, the coming of the antichrist, and the coming of Messiah.

Around 9/23/17, an astrological event will occur, which is described in Revelation 12, warning of end-times events. The constellation Virgo (virgin, symbol of Israel) will be entered by Jupiter (the king, Lion of Judah). This event lasts nine months, similar to an infant’s gestation. Then, Virgo will “birth” a child. Some teach the child is Jesus, but it could represent Jesus’ Church. Following that, a dragon constellation appears seeking to devour this child. Revelation states God protects the child, snatching it away to Heaven (the rapture). All the Virgin’s (Israel’s) enemies seek to destroy her. She flees to a wilderness place God prepared, perhaps Petra, Jordan.

Today two rogue nations (North Korea and Iran) opposing USA and Israel are developing atomic weapons. Regardless of your politics, we’re all facing upcoming major world conflicts, globalism, cashless society and climate control. Just as the Star of Bethlehem led to the birthplace of Jesus, the events on 9/23/17 could herald Jesus’ Second Coming. Where do you stand in your faith? All these things will affect our lives.

Pastor Don Moore
Living Word Chapel
West Hurley

 

About the mall tax payback

The school board had no other option and the next shoe to drop will be Ginsberg using that as reason to reevaluate TechCity. No matter what, the Kingston City School District revenue stream has already been seriously impacted and it might go further.

Another reality, the income of city residents has not increased but according to the city property values have increased. Unfortunately, income, not property values, pays taxes.  We are a community that might be property rich but income poor.

May I suggest the board start the next step by acknowledge the above and start the next budget cycle with the mandate that the next year bottom-line expense will be no greater than this year’s expense?

Contract obligations, State mandates, society needs?  Put that aside for the moment.  Examine the things you are currently doing and do an honest cost vs. results analysis.  Examine every line item in the budget using the same microscope with the going in understanding that 78 percent of our current budget is labor and benefits. Bottom line, eliminate expense and achieve the bottom line expense objective.

I’ve done it in the private sector and there is no reason why the education establishment can’t do the same.

Ron Dietl
Kingston

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