Saugerties Times letters (10/3-10/9)

A question of integrity        

It was quite a surprise to hear that last month, while vacationing on Cape Cod, the Town Supervisor charged Saugerties close to $500 for mileage reimbursement to attend a meeting in Kingston, then to drive back to Cape Cod the same day. The meeting was not critical and the outcome would have been the same whether he attended or not. If this were an anomaly or an isolated incident of policy misinterpretation or wasteful spending, I wouldn’t be worrying about it. But it’s not. It’s more than that. It’s wrong.
I believe the Town Supervisor should refund the town for his travels and work with me and the other board members to eliminate policy loopholes and strengthen clear penalties for intentional breach of the public trust.

Paul Andreassen, Town Councilman
Candidate for Town Supervisor
Saugerties

Four did not abstain

In a recent letter to the editor, Mr. Andreassen is once again is trying to reinvent history.  On June 12, 2019 the Town Board voted 4-0 in favor of awarding a contract to Legacy Buildings for replacement of the roof on the Kiwanis Ice Rink. Mr. Andreassen, who is a Town Board Member and Liaison to the Parks and Recreation Department abstained from voting on the award for the project. The Kiwanis Ice Rink is one of the most prominent recreation assets in the Town of Saugerties Parks and Recreation inventory.  The original roof fabric had a 15 year prescribed useful life. The 2018-2019 ice season represented the roofs 18th year of service, three years past the manufacturer’s specifications. By the end of 2018, the need for the roof replacement project had reached a critical stage. Vertical and horizontal stress tears had become obvious and the tears had “zippered” past the repair tape that was purchased to manage the problem. A series of leaks had also developed as a result of the stress tears.

In January 2019, the Town Board authorized Praetorius and Conrad to seek bids for the roof replacement project. The roof replacement project is a significant upgrade to the current structure. It will have steel walls, be fully insulated and the roof fabric will be a made of PVC mesh membrane. The PVC mesh membrane is significantly more robust than the current fabric membrane that has served us successfully for 18 years. The new PVC mesh membrane has a 21 year prescribed life and is much more resistant to UV rays which made the current fabric fail. The new structure will also become current with the (IBC) International Building Code. Once the new structure is complete and the building becomes recognized as IBC compliant the potential uses for the facility will expand to include an occupancy load beyond the current load which is restricted to about 300. The new occupancy load will be increased to in excess of 1000.

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Through recreation fees, parking revenue, pledges by Kiwanis, pledges by others, grants from Senator Amedore and former Assemblyman Lopez, 70% of the $1.3 million dollar budget for the project has been secured. The balance of costs associated with the project will be assessed against Ice Rink revenues over the next few years. The use of Ice Rink revenues to pay for improvements to the facility is nothing new. Ice Rink revenues have paid for many past improvements including the rink’s current roof, the concrete floor, the Zamboni and more. As a result of becoming fully insulated, a significant savings in energy will also be realized and the opportunity to operate a year round facility will exist.  The combination of being able to host in excess of 1000 people and operating a year round facility will greatly enhance the ability for the Ice Rink to grow revenue well in excess of $350,000.

As a Town Board Member and Liaison to Parks and Recreation, Mr. Andreassen has had more than an ample opportunity to add his expertise to the direction of this project. His decision not to participate was his right, but his arguments as to why are not sincere. He had access to all of the same information that the rest of the Town Board did and more.  Mr. Andreassen privately consulted with many of the professionals who were helping the Town Board with this project. He chose not to report or disclose much of that dialog with most of his fellow town board members, the Parks and Recreations Committee or the Parks and Recreation Superintendent.

Legacy Buildings contract requires major completion of the roof project by November 16, 2019 or they become subject to financial penalties. I encourage any interested party to drive by the Ice Rink. It is visually clear the roof has functionally failed after 18 years of use. We would not have been able to have an ice season under the current structure this year. Thankfully with the timely courage of a majority of the Town Board, we hope to salvage most of the 2019-2020 ice season and the users of the rink will not be interrupted again for the next 25 years.

Fred Costello Jr.
Supervisor, Town of Saugerties

I will serve everyone

When I launched my campaign I announced that I would seek all endorsements and that I would serve everyone. My message and beliefs remain the same going into the November election. I registered in the Independence Party the day I turned 18 and I haven’t changed my enrollment since. I believe there are good people that come from each side of the aisle and that we all need to work together for the common good. I am 25 years old and I love this Town. For the past eight years I’ve dedicated countless hours with the fire service and volunteered for more than I can remember at fundraisers and building projects.

I want to further my community involvement as a town councilman. When I am elected I will work to ensure your tax dollars are spent wisely and that we continue to promote our vibrant tourism industry, jobs and fight to keep landfills out and protect our air, water, and soil. Without these three we become a desert. I will represent you honestly and ask the tough questions that need to be asked while setting goals and making sure we achieve them.

I look forward to working with the entire town to keep Saugerties green, productive, lucrative, safe and an affordable place to live for generations to come. I was raised here and I hope to raise my own family here one day. Thank you for your support.

Michael Ivino
Candidate for Saugerties Town Council

Roskos for town board

Nicole Roskos is running for the Saugerties Town Board. I know Nicole through our working on the current campaign to get out the vote here in Saugerties. Her dedication and hard work ethic convinced me she would make a great member of the Board. She is passionate about saving Saugerties from threats of pollution and wasteful energy consumption (being on the same page as Fred Costello running for Town Supervisor). She has successfully organized community movements in her past and I believe she would continue these efforts for the betterment of Saugerties as we move into the big changes of the future.

Oh, and she’s also a fine painter, gardener and mother.

Steve Charney
Saugerties

Smart on crime forum

The Saugerties Democratic Committee invites the public to an educational forum, Get Smart on Crime: Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform, on Thursday, October 10, at 7:00 PM at the Saugerties Senior Center. Dave Clegg, Juan Figueroa and March Gallagher will discuss the vision, practice and cost of criminal justice reform in Ulster County. Cheryl Roberts, the 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. All welcome. 

Christine Dinsmore
Saugerties

Cutten for Comptroller

The office of Ulster County Comptroller should be of interest to every taxpayer.

The Comptroller is the steward of our taxpayer money, empowered by our County charter to find and expose waste, abuse, and fraud.  People may not be aware that we have more than 350 million dollars of public funds flowing through Ulster County each year!

As taxpayers, we should demand accountability of our elected officials and not just blindly trust the government to spend wisely. Financial audits provide clarity on financial health.  Internal audits ensure compliance with rules and regulations, evaluate program efficiencies and effectiveness, and identify fraud, waste, and abuses.  The Comptroller is the chief auditing officer for the County and as such examines, audits and verifies all books, records, and transactions for all of the administrative units, offices and, officials paid from County funds.

Don’t we want to know that those tax dollars are being spent wisely and that the money is not being wasted or stolen?

Don’t we want to know that there are no “back-room” deals costing us taxpayer money?

Considering that we do, shouldn’t we select someone with proven auditing expertise and integrity on the job?

It is critical that the person who fills this position understands municipal finance and auditing, has a clear vision for delivering real accountability in Ulster County, AND has all of the skills and will to get the job done regardless of politics.

To paraphrase JFK, this is not about a Republican candidate or a Democratic candidate.  This is about the *right* candidate who has a proven ability to do the job.

Lisa Cutten is the only candidate that meets these requirements.  She is a CPA with many years of experience in finance and auditing Ulster County and other local governments.  I urge everyone to give her the chance to protect our interests here in Ulster County and vote Lisa Cutten for Comptroller on Election Day November 5th.

Tom Hickey
Kingston

It’s a crime

The Chairman of the Committee to Elect Mike Kavganagh submitted a letter to the editor in Ulster Publishing’s newspapers on 9/26/19: “Bail Reform’s Flaws.” The author, Richard Croce, proposes that there are bipartisan concerns about the legislation on bail reform passed by the New York Senate and Assembly and signed by the Governor.  Perhaps there are…perhaps. Look at his argument.

His second paragraph begins with “Imagine…” Always be on the alert with paragraphs that begin with “imagine…” He goes on to describe a scene in which an 89-year-old woman’s home is invaded by an intruder who likes and steals her clothing. (Should we imagine he especially likes her underwear? Probably.) He uses the devices of literary fiction, describing how the man “moves closer and strokes her, whispering something in her ear so close she can feel his beard on her face.” (Should we imagine he is whispering, “Vote for Mike Kavganagh”?) And so on.

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His third paragraph delivers the big reveal: “It’s not a random hypothetical derived to fit a narrative.” It’s all true! It happened! (Even the whispering and the beard?) The judge sets a bail of $50,000.

The fourth paragraph claims that next year the new bail reform law would require the judge to release the burglar, regardless of evidence and possible length of sentence. No specific language in the new law is offered to support the claim. We’re expected to believe it is accurate.

The fifth and sixth ask why the assaulted woman and the community should bear the burden of the man’s freedom before trial. Mr. Croce writes, “Let’s be clear. Mike Kavganagh 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…”

Have any specific flaws in the law been detailed in the letter? They have not. For that matter, have any of the “many strong points?” They have not. Serious readers might wish to be educated. Instead, they are left confused and maybe fearful…and maybe a little entertained by the “narrative.” Instead, they are left with the message that Mike Kavganagh wants to have it both ways: he’s for bail reform, he’s against it. Win/win.  Just don’t try to pin him down. Of course, readers are concerned and sympathetic about the ordeal of the woman whose home was violated.

Mr. Croce’s letter is straight out of the very familiar Republican playbook stretching back to Willie Horton and beyond. The core of that playbook is this: skip reasoned arguments backed with factual evidence. Play up lurid stories likely to be scripted for Law and Order. Make people afraid. Blast the opponent as “soft on crime.”

Have you gotten a robo call or push poll yet from Mike Kavganagh’s committee calling his opponent, Dave Clegg, “soft on crime”? You will. Count on it.

Oh, right, bail reform. I forgot we were talking about that. Can’t get the image of the beard out of my mind. Or the stubble, whichever. Maybe that’s the purpose of Mr. Croce’s letter.

Tom Denton
Highland

Trump policies

Most people have found it difficult to clearly identify the Trump Administration’s policies for the Country. Perhaps the following can describe them:

On oil — Let’s use it up as quickly as possible.

On Ukraine — Putin wants it; let him have it.

On truth — “You can fool all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time . . . . . .” ( Abraham Lincoln )

On friendship — What can you do for me?

On the poor — It isn’t Trump’s fault that others didn’t inherit millions from their fathers.

On the sick from other countries who came here for treatment — Go die in your own country.

On tax cuts — Give them to the well-to-do. They have more expensive taste; boats, planes, country club memberships. The less affluent only need food to stay alive.

On the law — Help me out. If you break the law, I’ll pardon you.

On nuclear secrets — Give nuclear to the Saudis. They support my hotels. (We used to electrocute people who gave away nuclear secrets.)

On classified information — Trump gave away Israeli secrets to the Russians and supplied classified photos to the press. Why? He says Article 2 of the Constitution says he can do anything he wants.

On whistleblowers — he says they should be punished. (even though whistle blowing is encouraged by law.)

On the environment — Dow Chemical gave his campaign a million dollars. Dow sells insecticides which cause irreversible brain damage in humans. (Obama eliminated such insecticides through regulations. Trump removed Obama’s regulations )

On pollution — He says California’s air is unhealthy. So, what does he do? He reduces automobile emission standards which will cause more health issues and dirtier air.

On autocrats — (Putin, Duterte, Bin Salman, Kim Jong Un) They’re strong men. They can kill people and nothing happens to them.

On the Ten Commandments — This is Donald Trump’s bucket list. He’s broken most of them.

Doesn’t matter. He has the support of the Evangelicals.

It appears that the main policy of the Trump Administration is to avoid or go around the laws passed by Congress to achieve their goals. By using executive privilege they hide their illegal and illicit practices even though the main job of the Administration, according to the Constitution, is to see that the laws passed by Congress are followed.

William Hayes
Saugerties

There is one comment

  1. Josepha Gutelius

    It seems to me a no-brainer that costly improvements in the million dollar range aka the ice rink, should be given a public hearing. The public deserves a full accounting of expenditures and profit from the ice rink. And also, as a previous letter mentioned, it is a shame how few people in Saugerties bother to vote in local elections. I hope that November proves otherwise.
    Uppermost importance, however, beyond any other issue, are property taxes. Not one candidate for county or town has come up with a plan to reduce property taxes. Not one candidate, so far as I know, has even breathed a word about property taxes. Saugerties’ property taxes are the highest in the region and they are stifling business and residential growth, not to mention the stress and angst caused by constant reassessment as a sneaky means for the town to override the state-mandated 2 percent cap. I have friends in other towns and no one has the relentless tax increases that occur year after year in Saugerties. So, now, before November: who has the voice to come up with a plan to reduce our tax burden?

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