Saugerties Times letters (9/26-10/2)

Criminal justice forum

The Saugerties Democratic Committee is hosting an educational forum ‘Get Smart on Crime: Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform’ on Thursday, October 10, at the Saugerties Senior Center from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. Our panelists, Democratic nominee for District Attorney Dave Clegg, Ulster County Sheriff Juan Figueroa, and Democratic nominee for Comptroller March Gallagher, will discuss the vision, practice and cost of criminal justice reform in Ulster County. 

Cheryl Roberts, executive director of the Greenburger Center for Social and Criminal Justice, and Rashida Tyler, cofounder of the Kingston Tenants Union and State Board member of Citizen Action of NY, are the moderators. While there will be an audience question-and-answer period, the public is urged to submit questions prior to the event at SaugertiesDems@gmail.com. All are welcome to what will be a lively, informative and interactive evening. 

Christine Dinsmore
Saugerties

No primary blues 

While having much in common with the rank and file members of the major parties, I find little to like about their party’s insiders. Since I do not belong to a party I count on the rank and file members of each party to select their most qualified candidate. Unfortunately, this year with the resignation of both the County Executive and the Comptroller there wasn’t time for primaries and so the party insiders made the choice. 

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Adhering to the insider creed of government of the connected, by the connected, and for the connected, the Democratic committee chose their most connected candidate over their most competent one. They chose March Gallagher as their candidate for comptroller, with little if any financial experience over Lisa Cutten a Certified Public Accountant with years of governmental accounting experience 

Fortunately, the Republican party realizing the danger of electing another ineffective Comptroller decided to place the good of the public over party and offered their line to Lisa Cutten, as did the Conservative and Independence parties. 

Personally I’m hoping that all those rank and file Democrats who didn’t get their say in choosing their candidate for Comptroller, join me in voting for Cutten in November. 

Thomas Kadgen
Shokan

Tax by tariff — look who pays

This is a very simplistic view of “tax by tariff.”

Before Donald Trump placed tariffs on foreign goods, a U.S. company might buy a product from China for, let’s say, $1000. This company then sells the product to an American for $1000 plus a 30% profit. Cost of the product to the consumer, $1300.

After Donald Trump set his tariffs, this company buys the same product from China for $1000 plus a 25% tax is paid to the U.S. Government and passed on to the consumer. Then again, the company takes 30% for its profit. Now the American consumer pays $1550 for the product.

Question: Who paid the tax? Donald Trump says, China paid the tax.

Trump also said, on February 24, 2016, “I love the poorly educated.”

William Hayes
Saugerties

Climate change — let’s stop all the hot air

Let’s require or see elected officials pledge to use only Public transportation. Sorry politicians – your private cars, jets, helicopters and limos are not Public transportation because the Public pays for them.

William F. Berardi
Kingston

No need for a climate change walkout in Saugerties

Citizens across the country and around the world conducted walk outs on September 20 to protest against governments’ inaction on climate change. I want to give a shout out to the Saugerties town government for its actions to address the climate crisis.

The town appointed a Climate Smart Task Force last year. This year, the town adopted a Climate Action Plan for Government Operations that sets goals and defined ways for the town to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions. The town converted to LED lighting, installed EV charging stations, added an electric and  a hybrid car to its vehicle fleet, conducted energy audits on three buildings, achieved NYS Clean Energy Community designation, completed a Renewable Energy Feasibility Study, established a Food Waste Composting Program, and completed a Greenhouse Gas Inventory of government operations.

All of the above actions, and more, were part of the town’s participation in the NYS Climate Smart Communities Program. Because of the town’s many climate smart actions, Saugerties is poised to become a certified NYS Climate Smart Community.

As coordinator of the town-appointed Climate Smart Task Force, I can attest to the Saugerties town government’s commitment to address the climate crisis.

Mary O’Donnell
Saugerties

Vanishing birds

Where have all the birds gone? The natural world has turned silent. Not since late June have I enjoyed the common entertainment of the flight and song of sparrows, finches, flycatchers, robins, cardinals, waxwings, barn and marsh swallows, redwing blackbirds, bluejays, chickadees, house wrens, Carolina wrens, hawks, thrushes, catbirds, even crows; only silence in the trees, shrubs, meadows and lawns. Have any of your readers noticed their universal absence? Have we moved from Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring to a Saugerties Silent Summer?

Barry Benepe
Saugerties

Bail reform’s flaws

A bipartisan group of professional prosecutors, including Cy Vance (New York County), Eric Gonzalez (Kings County) and David Soares (Albany County) — all Democrats — share Mike Kavanagh’s concerns that the bail reform legislation, if not changed, will pose a serious threat to both victims’ rights and public safety. Why do they feel this way? Because they have actual experience as prosecutors, experience that enables them to see beyond political rhetoric to the practical reality prosecutors and law enforcement are confronted with every day.

Imagine this. An 89-year-old woman sleeping soundly in her home is awakened in the early morning hours by a strange man sitting on her bed staring at her. When she gasps, he moves closer and strokes her hair, whispering something in her ear so close she can feel his beard on her face. Before finally leaving, the man steals some of her clothing from her closet and then flees through the same door he broke to enter her home. The woman calls 911 and law enforcement quickly apprehends the man near her home, wearing the very clothing he stole.

This is not a random hypothetical derived to fit a narrative. Rather, it is an allegation that happened on Monday morning here in Ulster County. The man was charged with burglary in the second degree and the judge set bail in the amount of $50,000. If this same scenario occurs next year after the bail reform law goes into effect, the presiding judge will have no choice but to immediately release the defendant, regardless of how strong the evidence is and how much prison time he could potentially serve.

And for a moment, imagine how terrifying it would be for our victim and how disheartening for her family to learn that this individual, who only hours before had broken into our home, is a free man out and about in their community; a free man who knows where the victim lives, knows that she is an eyewitness, and knows that she has already cooperated with law enforcement.

Why do we ask the law-abiding public to assume the risk attendant to such an offender’s release when we have legitimate and valid public safety concerns? Let’s be clear. Mike Kavanagh and other experienced prosecutors support responsible bail reform, but that reform, to be fair and effective, must take into account victims’ rights and public safety. This bill has many strong points, but it also has profound flaws that ought to be addressed before it goes into effect on January 1, 2020.

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Richard Croce, chairman,
Committee to Elect Mike Kavanagh
New Paltz

Construction processes

I’m Paul Andreassen, Saugerties Town Councilman, and I’m running for Town Supervisor. There was marginal planning and little budgeting for the ice arena. Relying on grants, projected revenues and recreation fees from future development to fund a project is not realistic. When the lack of budgeting for improvements or expenditures is questionable everyone should be concerned. Costly improvements that put the town in any debt or fiscal stress warrants additional scrutiny not less.

Arguably, over the last two decades, town boards could have planned better for infrastructure and capital improvement projects. Let’s correct that trend.

In general, all commercial construction projects go before the Planning Board and, if necessary, the Zoning Board of Appeals. Some might argue that this should apply to the Town as well. As an example of what it takes to develop a project in the Town of Saugerties, Anthony Montano spent a year in front of the planning board. No one seemed to care how many thousands it cost him in design and re-design or meeting after meeting to get through the process.

The zoning board of appeals, of which good people such as Patti Kelly, Jeannie Goldberg, Joe Mayone and Henry Rua are members, grilled the Verizon cell tower consultants requesting a variance wanting to site a tower in the Mt. Marion area. Nobody gets through these boards without questions, discussion, debate, revisions and SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) compliance. The ice arena never went through such review.

The Town Board, responsible for the taxpayer’s money, approved $1.3 million for the ice arena in one night. The approval process was expedited without a hearing, debate, discussion, consultants describing in detail the plans, specifications or contract language and without the town’s accountant explaining, in public, what this project entails or how it would be paid for.

Incidentally, I abstained from the vote for multiple reasons but requested a clerk of the works be assigned to the project. Some members of the recreation committee and members of the town board seemed to think it would be an added expense to an already expensive project. Lisa Greco on the recreation committee and Mike MacIsaac on the town board agreed that a project of this size and scope should have an independent overseer.

Going back a few years, in the spring of 2017, before running for the town board, I offered to chair a committee of like-minded professionals to research the feasibility of a permanent structure to house the ice arena and its ancillary spaces that could be used year-round. I never received a response from the Town Board. Last month I open the paper to see the headlines of a month’s delay. That does not bode well for those who were beating the ‘time is of the essence’ drum.

Fortunately an earlier motion to approve a chiller, for an additional $500,000, was pulled from the agenda when I wrote an email to the board with concerns to identify where the funding would come from, potential permissive referendum requirements, segmentation of a capital project and our own procurement policy requirements. We are not supposed to conduct the Town’s business in a vacuum.

The ice arena project is approved. Majority rules. I remain skeptical of the process and only hope that the town did not make a mistake in approving this so hastily. Watch for delays, overruns, additional charges, hidden costs, problems with site conditions and the loss of revenue. I live and pay taxes here too.

If I am elected supervisor, all Town construction projects will go through a rigorous planning process and will be transparent.

Paul Andreassen, Town Councilman
Malden on Hudson

Prostate cancer awareness

September is the month that the American Cancer Society designates to call attention and awareness to prostate cancer. In the Unites States, the number of new cases of prostate cancer computes to 109.5 per 100,000 men per year, while the number of deaths is around 19.2 per 100,000 men per year. This data is based upon all reported cases and deaths between 2012-2016. Approximately 11.6 percent of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lifetime. In 2016, there were an estimated 3,110,403 men living with prostate cancer within the United States. Prostate cancer runs in my family, and my father passed away from it. With my grandfather having had a less virulent form of prostate cancer, it is known to run in my family, so I get a routine PSA blood test every 12-18 months to screen for increases in my PSA blood levels which can be an indicator for the presence of prostate cancer. 

My father had only been to the doctor once in six years prior to being diagnosed with prostate cancer, so this routine blood screening would have detected elevated PSA levels in his blood that could have led to earlier treatment. Instead, my father waited until he had severe symptoms before he went to the urologist. His PSA count was 125; anything over 15 is considered to be a positive correlative indicator for the presence of prostate cancer. 

There are numerous treatment options available for prostate cancer and there are various forms of prostate cancer which are more or less virulent with corresponding chances of spreading to other parts of the body. Modern radiation treatments like Cyber-knife or radio-static surgery can be used to precisely direct radiation beams at the cancerous tumor on the prostate gland. Natural herbal and dietary supplements have been shown to be effective in warding off an enlargement of the prostate gland and lessening the potential of prostate cancer growing within the body. Saw Palmetto Berries, Lypocene, Selenium, Pumpkin Seed Oil and Beta Steroles are supplements which have been shown to have these aforementioned affects on the prostate gland, and I have been taking some of them for a number of years. If it is known that someone has a history of prostate cancer in their family, get a yearly or near-annual screening test for PSA levels and take supplements as a precautionary measure.

Chris Allen
Saugerties

Sailin’ Around thanks

On Saturday September 14, the Saugerties Chamber of Commerce held its 10th annual street art gala & auction. This years theme was sailboats and the Sailin’ Around Saugerties Auction was held at Saugerties Performing Arts Factory (SPAF). We thank Erica and Josh Price, and the staff at SPAF for once again doing an incredible job.

The 35 auctioned and one raffled boat brought in $21,440. We also had a mini sailboat raffle and $200 was raised for the Saugerties High School Technology Department. The mini sailboats were constructed by Aidan Jurofcik and Mark Danza from the Tech Department and were painted by children at the Saugerties Summer Recreation Program at Cantine Field.

An additional auction was held for the Saugerties Animal Shelter. $1525 was raised.

The proceeds from this year’s auction will be divided between the participating artist, the Saugerties Animal Shelter, and a $1000 scholarship awarded to a graduating Saugerties High School Senior, and the Saugerties Chamber of Commerce to fund various community events.

Many thanks to the following who made this year’s event both fun and a great success: our participating artists and sponsors, Jenna and Ann from Sawyer Savings Bank, Barbara Bravo, Marjorie Block, Jeannine Mayer, Stella and Joel Jurofcik, Marissa Dixon and Albert Genthner, Gail Alison-Post, Richard Walker and Jamie Fine, Bob Siracusano and Ray Tucker (auctioneers extraordinaire), Eric Sasso from Sawyer Motors, the SHS Key Club, Rich Forbes and DPW, Mayor Bill Murphy & the Village Trustees, Supervisor Fred Costello and Deputy Supervisor Leanne Thornton and the Town Board, Chief Sinagra and the Police Department.

Hope to see you next year.

Mark Smith, Saugerties Chamber of Commerce Chair
Peggy Schwartz, Saugerties Chamber of Commerce Vice Chair

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