The un-making of America
I recently called Senator John Cornyn (R-TX). I asked an aide to remind him that millions of us are distressed over the GOP flock’s baaing down before King Donald, and need his party’s assistance to prevent Trump and his Trojan Horse, “Make America Great Again,” from un-making America, along with the rest of the world.
I never heard back from Cornyn’s office, natch. As I’ve watched an unregulated Trump spin ever more lies, ever more out of control, I’ve despaired of hearing from or being heard by his GOPols, or his groupies. The silence of the D.C. lambs speaks for itself, deafeningly. Trump’s dialing-for-dollar televangelists preach the Gospel of Fear and Backwardness to their flock — who, making a Sermon on the Mount out of a molehill, threaten themselves with phantasmagorias of grotesque gender mutations pouring through wide-open floodgates, and threaten us with shutting the gates to basic human rights; hear the imagined cries of the unborn and turn a deaf ear to the all-too-real cries of the living. Trump’s good ol’ boys and girls elected him to avenge their perceived slights and vanquish their perceived enemies, and vindictively hail, or fail to recognize, the damage their evil mastermind causes. Trump’s 1% measures 0% in milk-of-human-kindness content.
Now, with Dems filling House seats, it’s an auspicious time to stop numbly watching Halloween 45 and rise up from our house seats. I’m 70-something, and don’t want to go out with this still going on. I don’t want to abandon my child and her generation to this environment — or to the toxic waste dump Trump leaves of it.
The Electoral College enabled Trump and disabled us, sending us careening down the hole with the Orange Rabbit. He went to the corridors of power and we went to the dogs. Let’s join forces to turn that upside down — right side up.
Proud to serve with Joe Maloney
The recent decision by the county ethics board against Legislator Joe Maloney is nothing short of retaliation for his diligence in pointing out corrupt like behavior. Through Joe’s extensive research he has brought to light the massive amount of donations to the County Executive from those getting contracts and those getting tax pilots worth millions of dollars. There is no proof in a pay for play scheme but it certainly has an unhealthy smell.
The County Board of Ethics has all members appointed by the County Executive. They were handed complaints against Legislator Joe Maloney that were drawn up by the county attorney that serves at the pleasure of the County Executive. The complaints were then carried through by a hand picked attorney. The complaints and findings have played out in the press. Meanwhile the Ethics Board has not released complaints filed against two other legislators from people other than the Executive. (I know these complaints exist because I was copied by the complainants.)
The board did things procedurally that are beyond questionable and are unacceptable. It is also questionable if they have the legal right to impose the kinds of punishment that they presume in this decision when it comes to an elected office and that’s without taking into consideration the numerous conflicts by members of the board itself such as significant donations by members of the board to the county executive as well as close relationships that would warrant them to recuse themselves from such hearings.
In regard to the facts, Joe Maloney voted on a contract that was negotiated by the county executive and the CSEA Union and was unanimously supported by the 23 member legislature for the approximately 1000 employees. The fact that a legislator with a relative in the CSEA Union may vote on CSEA contracts is an exception for a conflict of interest under state law since they do not negotiate or take part in the negotiations seemed to be ignored by the Board. During my 26 years on the legislature I witnessed various legislators with CSEA relatives voting on these routine contracts repeatedly with no impunity. It is part of their fiduciary responsibility. Like Joe Maloney, they did not take part in the negotiation of the contract nor had any say in its particulars. This was ignored by the board’s findings.
Prior to the bogus Ethics Board’s findings, Joe and I put forth a resolution to change the way the Ethics Board was chosen which would have had an impact on these members. Rather than the Executive appointing all members, we called for more elected officials taking part in the appointment process to assure a more fair approach. The resolution passed the legislature but was vetoed by the County Executive. The Ethics Board brought this resolution as part of its charges but decided not to add it to the final report, perhaps realizing their findings would smell to much like the retaliation it actually was.
I can honestly say in my tenure with the Ulster County Legislature I have not worked with a freshman legislator with more energy, work ethic or dedication to bring about honest and transparent government than Joe Maloney. For that work the county executive has accused him of being misogynistic for questioning a female department head for including raises to employees that were not in the budget, he was called a clown for openly questioning a policy many disagreed with and now the county ethics board has been used to further the attack his integrity.
Have we not seen enough bullying and intimidation tactics at all other levels of government? We must stand and say not in my back yard. I am proud to stand with Joe Maloney.
David Donaldson, City of Kingston Legislator Kingston
Don’t investigate Maloney
What is going on at the County government level?
We read about the County Executive’s office and the Comptroller’s office hacking each other’s computer systems. Should not the Comptroller have access to all county documents?
Then we read that the Executive is challenging a legal override of his veto of term limits. Should the people of Ulster County decide this or just one person?
Now we read about alleged ethics violations of Legislator Joseph Maloney. Huh? He is the one legislator in many years asking tough questions about the business as usual that appears to include ethics violations. Why is the board investigating Joe Maloney and not the ethics violations he has exposed? Legislator David Donaldson’s letter specifies the details. See above.
Observations on short term rentals
The issue of “short-term rentals” in our area looks set to culminate with Woodstock and Shandaken passing new rules, regulations, fees and/or taxes. As a full-time resident on the border of both towns who has used AirBnB, VRBO, and Trusted Housesitter as both guest and host, I’d like to offer observations for board members before they make the process punitive to home-owners.
It’s been suggested in media reports that absentee landlords are voraciously buying up properties to profit from weekend rentals, whereby young groups of party animals litter, make noise and trespass. Unfortunately, bad landlords and/or tenants are not a new phenomenon. To suggest that all whole-house rentals fall into this category, however, or that the long-term rental market is irreparably damaged as a result, is a fallacy. Home-owners have been renting out their properties since time immemorial. The likes of AirBnB or VRBO simply make the process more visible — and if they make it more prevalent, is that a bad thing? If a second home-owner can pay for their Catskill properties with the occasional rental when not on premises, and renters spend locally, then that is surely a benefit. Plus, the major rental platforms have serious vetting processes, where fear of a bad review keeps almost all hosts and guests behaving impeccably.
In 2016, we were able to finance an amazing year of global backpacking travel by renting out our house for seasonal and weekend rentals; we met others on our travels doing likewise. We did not have any noted issues back home with neighbors, damage, nor garbage. Our son got to see the world; our house got to be occupied; and maybe some more people fell in love with the Catskills in the process.
Lack of low-to-moderate income rentals in our community is a genuine issue. Sadly, the furor over Woodstock Commons indicated that some of the biggest hurdles come from our own permanent residents. So, to our towns and county: please focus on creating housing opportunities for those who can’t purchase. Use the rulebook to punish bad landlords for quality-of-life concerns: Woodstock’s recent Noise Ordinance makes sense. And you are welcome to require registration from short-term rental hosts. Just please reflect on the positives and don’t throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater
Corrupt, media-driven politicians
The selective indignation and hypocrisy of our political leaders in Congress is an outrage. Driven by a corrupt media they pass a resolution condemning an ally for the brutal murder of an opposition journalist. Yet they remain silent in passing resolutions condemning the mayors of cities which allow the brutal killings of innocent inner-city citizens where young people are being burned alive in barrels. They remain silent when our government supports regimes which fund terrorist organizations, and drug- and sex-trafficking cartels which destroy the lives of persons in our own and other countries. They remain silent in the slaughtering and dismembering of millions of innocent unborn infants whose body parts are sold for scientific research. We, the citizens, are responsible for electing these cowardly, corrupt media-driven politicians whose selective indignation and hypocrisy ignores the fundamental constitutional and civil right of every person to life.
Paul Jankiewicz, Ph.D.