Kingston Times letters (8/3-10)

911 over a cheeseburger?

Have you heard that famous YouTube of someone calling 9-1-1 to report Burger King for not serving them a western cheeseburger?

Here in Kingston, we have an equivalent police report, in the form of an alleged dog nip. A city inspector named Jill Gagliardi walked into my home without warning, and without introducing herself, striding past two loudly yapping little dogs. She claims she was nipped by one of them. At the time, she pulled up her pants leg and showed me and two other witnesses that she was not hurt.

Then I received a criminal summons for “Harboring a Dangerous Dog.”

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In last week’s Kingston Times, the city’s lawyer handling the case, Daniel Gartenstein, said, “The city made a very, very reasonable offer to resolve this matter.” He added, “I don’t look to euthanize dogs, I don’t look to confiscate dogs. All we want is the owner to make reasonable assurances that it won’t happen again.”

Mr. Gartenstein, thanks for promising not to kill or confiscate my friends. That should be reassuring to our neighbors who have dogs, and who are wondering what’s going on here. But did my lawyer miss an email? There was no request made for any “reasonable assurances.” I was offered a standard deal where, if I was a good boy for six months, the charges would be dropped.

Who even went to the police? According to one source in law enforcement familiar with the case, “Gagliardi did not file or ask to have complaint filed. She filed an ‘incident’ report as required by job and [Gartenstein] handled the rest.”

This really is the equivalent of someone summoning the URGENT Task Force over a missing pickle, only the person calling is the city’s lawyer. Everyone is asking the same thing: don’t they have more important things to do?

Nobody has missed the irony of a safety inspector who cannot handle fluffy little dogs. Using the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), I checked if inspectors are trained to handle dogs, or taught any entry protocols. No agency, from the fire department to state’s office that trains inspectors, has such guidelines. Should we also keep them away from hot pots and cactus plants?

Per state law, inspectors are, however, required to be “clearly identified.” Given that, you would think that they might wear an ID tag, or a uniform, or maybe just say hello before walking in.

One last. You told this newspaper there was “absolutely nothing interesting” about my case; that it was typical. In a face-to-face meeting, Mayor Steve Noble said nothing like this had never happened before. Which is it?

If this whole episode seems a few fries short of a Happy Meal, that’s because it is. But don’t worry, I’m not going to call 9-1-1. They have more important things to do.

Eric Francis Coppolino
Kingston

 

New vision is what mall needs

I appreciate and respect Mr. Hull’s opinions of and experience in purchasing and reviving malls. However in the instance of the Hudson Valley Mall, the vision laid out is surprisingly limited and definitely obsolete. The plan to simply ‘reinvent and reintroduce’ a renovated retail and restaurant destination will fail, as times have moved on from the mall model of consumer shopping. No manner of unveiling or repackaging will change this fact, and Mr. Hull seems to be relying on past successes (or maybe failures) to predicate a fantasy resurgence manifest in a reborn Hudson Valley Mall.

It won’t happen.

The property and its basic premise are obsolete, and will become ever more so as time passes. The only hope it has for survival is a complete, “way out of the box” rethinking. Mixed uses, indoor sports, housing types, town offices, satellite campuses, “maker spaces,” year-round indoor food growing gardens, alternative medicine health clinics, conference centers, alternative energy production centers — you name it, the Hudson Valley Mall could become something completely new — and even exciting. But retail? No.

Think about the empty, yawning anchor spaces there: Macy’s and JC Penney — what retailer operating in this Internet economy would be possibly be interested enough to even pay the utility bill? The answer is “none.” The trend is also undeniable up and down Ulster Avenue — gone are Montgomery Ward’s, Sports Authority, Gander Mountain, Ruby Tuesday, Laz-E-Boy, Talbot’s, Office Depot, etc.

The writing is on the wall, in large day-glow graffiti lettering: big box retail and malls as we knew them over the last half century are in their last gasps. Let’s have a public forum “design charrette” for the Hudson Valley Mall and together vision an entirely new life for our mall on the hill, “post retail” and retooled for a vibrant future.

Brad Will
Kingston

 

In Jonah’s corner

I read with some amusement the article in the July 30 Kingston Times about the showdown between a Kingston building inspector and a 13-pound dachshund. The dog’s owner, Eric Coppolino, is now accused of harboring a dangerous dog. Apparently the city never read its own ordinance, which defines a dangerous dog as one which “ … attacks without provocation.”

I believe, and I think Jonah the dog would agree with me, that a building inspector who barges into a private space without introduction, permission or advance notice is definitely a “provocation.” In general, dachshunds bond strongly with their owners, and are quick to react to a perceived threat — to the best of their ability. Jonah, being short and aged, couldn’t react to the “danger” as much as he would have liked to, but he did his best to protect his owner and his space. To date the city has not provided any photographic or medical proof that the “attack” ever took place … and I know Jill Gagliardi, the building inspector, never goes far without her camera.

I do not usually agree with Eric Coppolino but in this case I agree totally that all building inspectors (and for that matter, police, firefighters, mail carriers, oil delivery personnel and meter readers and any other profession that might cause alarm to a dog) be taught a protocol for defusing the situation. (First item — don’t enter a space until greeted and invited in by the owner.) In this case, this entire brouhaha at the taxpayers’ expense could have been forestalled by distributing a postcard in the area to be inspected: “On April … the Building and Safety Division will be conducting inspections in the building at … North Front Street. Please confine all animals and be on the premises to admit the inspector.”

It seems that every week another business leaves Uptown Kingston — I hear the clock shop is the latest. It would behoove the city to not persecute, or prosecute, the remaining tenants. Hey Jonah Dachshund, I owe you a soup bone. I’d have bitten the inspector too … but like you, I have no teeth.

Lei Isaacs
Kingston

 

Support net neutrality

The FCC (federal communications commission) is considering removal of protection of the internet as a public utility. Often called net neutrality (referred to as restoring internet freedom by the FCC), the internet is currently protected by Title II. If the FCC eliminates this protection, the new rules would favor big corporations over free access. Besides higher costs for us, it will be harder or impossible for independent voices to be heard, for mobilization of grassroots movements. This would seriously impact our access to an open internet and our freedom of speech! If this is as troublesome to you as it is to me, please make a comment to the FCC before September 1 of this year. Comments can be very simple. The main point is that you want the FCC to maintain Title II protection of the internet. Send your comment to the FCC via internet by using fcc.gov/ecfs/filings/express, choose express comment (proceedings number 17-108) and fill out the form. Let your Congress people know how you feel. Encourage others to comment. You can get more information now on sites like Save the Internet, but if this protection is removed, that freedom may no longer be available!

Amy Kletter
New Paltz

 

No women need apply

With reference to Mikhail Horowitz’s Almanac Weekly article, “Glowin’ in the Wind,” I’d like to add another nugget from the Golden Age of New Paltz.

It was the perfect job with good pay, prestige, and, most importantly, the small work load allowing time to paint. I took my resume — Master’s Degree from Tyler School of Fine Art, Study in Europe and at the Art Students League, one-woman shows, and prizes from museums — to Professor Feldman, the chair of the art department at New Paltz in the late ‘50’s.  He said, “We don’t hire women to teach studio art classes. Men need to support families. Try elementary school.”

I was so shocked, I just walked out without saying a word. That was the end of my dreams. I worked full time teaching art in elementary school. No time to do my own work — painting — for 20 some years.

Years later after the Guerilla Girls, and women’s lib marches, New Paltz was forced to hire a woman. Immediately, I ran over to meet her. She was a beautiful black woman. We laughed through our tears.

She knew she had been hired to fill their quota. Black woman? Done. She told me, the sexual harassment was so intense that she was leaving. They had her on the books. “That’s all they wanted,” she said.

So Mikhail was right. It was much like the Greek Golden age. Incestuous men and no women allowed.

Gladys Brodsky Plate
Woodstock

 

All the way to Glenford

It makes perfect sense to me to support the Catskill Mountain Railroad’s proposal to extend rail operations to the Glenford Dike at the Ashokan Reservoir. There are magnificent views here, making it a logical destination for the railroad. Historic research indicates this area was originally designed to accommodate both the railroad and a pedestrian trail.

The new trail easement with the DEP allows for the tracks to remain. Extending rail operations one mile from Basin Road through West Hurley to the Glenford Dike is mutually beneficial for rail and trail supporters. Hikers and cyclists could take the train from Kingston to the Ashokan Trail, avoid the long uphill stretch along Route 28, and be ready to enjoy the flat rail trail. Train riders would have a scenic destination and eventually the opportunity to experience a reservoir sunset on a dinner train!

This rail extension to the Glenford Dike would be a great move for tourism in Ulster County. I wholeheartedly support it.

Meg Carey
Glenford

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