We are so fortunate to have a leader like Tim Rogers
I am writing to recognize Mayor Tim Rogers’s efforts on behalf of New Paltz to address our Village’s desperate need to repair and upgrade our water and sewer infrastructure. I also want to take this opportunity to thank him for the tireless work that he, the Village trustees and the Village staff put forth in response to the recent water quality crisis. As a result of Tim’s decisive actions, including outreach to all available local and state resources, the source of the contamination was promptly identified and remedied. More importantly, contamination dangers were mitigated through alternate temporary water sources insuring the health and safety of everyone in the Village (including the College). It was reassuring to know that we can rely on Tim’s decisive leadership during such a crisis.
Tim has devoted substantial time and energy seeking to obtain grant funding necessary to repair and improve our long-neglected water and sewer infrastructure. We are so fortunate to have a leader like Tim dedicated to improving our community, and he is deserving of our thanks and gratitude.
A plan for pedestrian safety in New Paltz
For pedestrian safety in New Paltz, provide reflective arm bands, head bands and leg bands. It’s a modest investment by the Village, Town and College. Have them in many places. Give them away like candy on Halloween.
If only there was a “social” DNA road map showing us how we’ve made our communities, countries, and nations. Then in the future we could invent prescriptions of social behavior that would help us stop going to war, feed the starving, make vaccinations for viruses and stop electing leaders that promote social disaster for wealth and power.
As a combat Marine on the battlefield of Vietnam, and as a psychotherapist working in a hospital for 25 years with abuse victims, I can say I learned that fear can dominate all other human emotions. So my question is how is fear being used to infect culture and society today? Let’s look at two present examples. Fear that American democracy will soon end. And fear the coronavirus is becoming a pandemic. When fear is sparked in individuals or in our country, what follows instantly is an adrenaline response. Some call it fight or flight. Over time adrenaline wears off and we seek to allay our fears in order to make rational decisions about dealing with what caused the fear. Often our first response is to look for someone we trust. Someone who will tell us the truth and someone who will offer us facts. If recently you have looked to our government to provide this information, you have quickly found out that our leadership is more interested in stimulating a continuous flow of fear, which intentionally makes informed decisions impossible.
Historians have proven governments can embrace truth, can foster trust in those providing facts and can prolong human life. Examples are when our government faced smallpox, polio, malaria. Historians have also analyzed how governments have used fear-based rhetoric to spawn wars and frighten the populous enough to allow holocausts.
On February 27, 2020 I believe both our political parties are using extreme fear rhetoric in seeking the power of election. Hatred and fear is broadcast 24/7. Add to that the fear of the coronavirus pandemic. Strangely COVID 19 is forcing all of us to see each other as human beings with the same vulnerabilities. COVID 19 has stepped over every border wall, ocean boundary and wealth separation. COVID 19 sees every human as a host. Whether we like it or not we are being identified as equal common denominators. Microbiology may be bringing a necessary but painful message that all humans are created equal. Today we are challenged to insist on real trust, truth and facts from our government. If we don’t, this tiny bug may steal our future as a species. It is becoming our job as citizens to rediscover the importance of morality in our leadership.
The leadership of New Paltz — Village and Town — is elected with scant discussion of their skills for managing the infrastructure of this wonderful place on earth. Mistakes have been made. Attention must be paid!
Having a water system that places heating oil upstream of drinking water is dumb. Pumping drinking water into the ancient water distribution system containing heating oil borders on criminal negligence. We need experienced engineers to review this.
Forty-plus years of pumping raw sewage into the Wallkill River that flows into the Hudson, a potential magnificent resource, is illegal. We do it!
Allowing methane (natural gas) to waft up into the atmosphere where it is vastly more damaging as a greenhouse gas, is an absurd dereliction, yet our capture system has been broken for decades.
What do mayors and town supervisors do? Clearly, they are not engineers.
The climate pandemic
We’re frustrated that our administration’s coronavirus focus is on the stock market and upcoming elections. Shouldn’t we be focusing instead on the sickness and death that is resulting?
Five years ago, WHO (World Health Organization), predicted climate change would cause approximately a quarter of a million deaths globally per year by 2050!
However, a recent study, co-authored by Sir Andrew Haines (ex-director of London’s School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), states that the WHO was far too conservative. He believes that half-a-million people will die annually from food shortages alone by 2050, and that over a hundred million will fall into extreme poverty by 2030!
Malnutrition, poverty, malaria and other tropical diseases and extreme stress will certainly result. If we wish to prepare for a real pandemic, let’s elect people who are serious about climate change.
Dan and Ann Guenther
Living in the darkness of hatred and intolerance
Now that many of the Baby Boomers are migrating towards the other side of the generational divide, there seems to be a growing resentment towards the younger Millennial generation.
To paraphrase an old story, there once was a Millennial who lived with his parents until he was 30. He didn’t have much, he never went to college, never owned a house and never had a family. He did some carpentry work before he began to wander the countryside. He simply went about helping people and showing them how much they are loved. Soon his message of the power of love went viral, drawing the attention of the downtrodden and the ire of the elders of the times. Feeling threatened, the elders persecuted and crucified the young non-conformist, leaving him to be buried in a donated tomb. This story was found in Martin Luther King’s “The Drum Major Instinct” sermon.
This does not mean to imply that every Millennial is endowed with divine grace or that every Boomer is a philistine. Rather, it is to point out that this resentment is nothing new. Hopefully, this time the sparks of our current generational friction will light a candle of compassion and understanding to counter the darkness of hatred and intolerance enveloping our times.
An accurate census count is vital for Ulster County
Residents will soon receive forms for completing the 2020 US Census, most likely via email. We should all understand the importance of an accurate Census count to our quality of life in our communities. Ulster County’s population was dramatically under reported in the 2010 Census, so residents were hit with under funding for an array of grants and services: maintenance of our roads, support for police and fire services, Head Start and public schools funding, small businesses, wildlife, housing and Section 8, family services, health care and Medicaid.
Property taxes, too, are directly affected by Census numbers. Underfunded services inevitably will be plugged by local tax bills. Where else will the money come from?
It’s critical that all of us complete the 2020 Census questionnaire and make sure our neighbors, friends and families do so. Let’s be sure that our second homeowner neighbors get the message, too. They spend time here because they, too, love Ulster’s outdoors, its communities, its people. Must second homeowners spend the majority of their time here in order to designate Ulster County as their households for the census? Not necessarily. They might envision spending even more time here in the next ten years. They might even plan to retire here before 2030. Those second homeowners are fully entitled to choose Ulster if they can anticipate spending greater amounts of time here and want to help enhance the quality of life here. If your neighbors are renters in New York City and own a home in Ulster County, choosing Ulster for their primary home for the 2020 Census has the most direct impact on our school and property taxes.
Using Census data for grants and reimbursements, New York City benefits from its high-density demographics. Ulster County does not.
The best means of publicizing the importance of a complete population and housing count for the 2020 Census is neighborhood by neighborhood. Spring is coming soon. Let’s get out and talk over the fence, knock on a few doors and give Ulster County a boost that comes only once every ten years.
We can give up meat and dairy
I love to see Dan and Ann Guenther’s weekly letters on climate action. The climate crisis is upon us and we need passionate advocates like them. But I want to take one exception to a claim in their letter of last week stating that grass-fed beef is better than feedlot beef for the environment. Study after study has shown that this isn’t true; they’re both bad in their own ways.
A recent article in Carbon Brief quotes one such study: “A report released by the Food Climate Research Network at the University of Oxford find that cattle fed on grass release more greenhouse gas emissions than they are able to offset through soil carbon sequestration. This means that grass-fed beef is in no way a climate solution, says the lead author of the report.”
Search for “greenhouse gas emissions grass-fed beef” and you’ll come up with numerous well-designed studies bearing this out.
You can still have meaty meals made from today’s amazing meat substitutes, if that’s your jam. Their environmental footprint of these products is a fraction of that of their animal counterparts. And that includes dairy as well. From a recent New York Times report comparing the environmental impact of a Beyond® Burger vs. a beef burger:
“Beyond Burger generated 90 percent less greenhouse gas emissions, required 46 percent less energy and had far less impact on water and land use than the beef burger. ‘My view is that replacing animal products with better alternatives may be the only pragmatic way to reverse climate change,’ said Mr. Anhang with the World Bank.”
A frequently cited report by the UN tells us that animal agriculture causes more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined. The truth is that few of us can give up driving, or even flying. But we can give up meat and dairy, with so many readily available alternatives. Anything else is simply rationalization.
Is the coronavirus the newest bird flu?
Remember the bird flu? People freaked out because those seriously ill went to hospitals and some died. In New York City, pesticides were sprayed over parks where people were. After public health staffers went to the most affected section of the City and took as many blood samples as possible, it was found that many people were mildly infected with the bird flu, but were not sick enough to even see a doctor. Although you can find news reports about whether birds or mosquitoes have been infected with the bird flu this year, who cares?
Is the Wuhan coronavirus (COV-19) the newest bird flu? We have discovered that it can be transmitted from one person to another, including when the infected person has no symptoms. That may make the infection impossible to contain. I calculate that the death rate in China, based on available data, is below 3%, but there is no count of infected but not very sick. China has a high rate of men smoking and a lousy primary care system. And there are no mentions of whether most of those dying are older people with serious health problems.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates that there have been at least 32 million people infected, 310,000 hospitalizations and 18,000 deaths during the 2019-2020 influenza season so far. Are you worried about the flu?
Now that there is an epidemic in Italy, a developed country, or perhaps the epidemic in South Korea, it is time for epidemiologists to do studies to determine whether we need to worry if people who are infected come into our country.
But no matter the results, keep on washing your hands, staying home if you feel sick and eating plenty of fruits or vegetables. We older people have weaker immune systems and need you younger people to not infect us, whether with the flu or the Wuhan coronavirus.
Andi Weiss Bartczak
A riveting performance
Black History Month was observed at the Jewish Congregation Community Center in New Paltz on February 27. Susan Stessin-Cohn presented “Hidden Heritage,” the story of the Reverend James Murphy. Born into slavery as the illegitimate child of Jane, the biracial slave of David Johnston, James Murphy was condemned to a life of secrecy during an age when being of African descent meant a life of persecution and discrimination.
This presentation by our New Paltz historian was riveting. There was a diverse audience of more than 50 people. Many were motivated to pursue more information on this important aspect of American history. The program was sponsored By Ulster Savings Bank.
Nancy my dear
Surprised by the absence of anti-Trump letters in the New Paltz Times last week, POTUS Trump was moved to extend an olive branch to Speaker Nancy Pelosi: And this despite the fact that Nancy, members of the media and far too many Democrats were blaming him for allowing the coronavirus to become a pandemic. The President hoped his gesture would be a baby step towards encouraging the Speaker to work with him to accomplish great things for the country before the 2020 elections. The “olive branch” offered was the following singing telegram sent through Republican Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy sang the telegram’s conciliatory song, on behalf of POTUS Trump, to Speaker Pelosi before the entire House to the tune of the Beatles’ “Martha, my Dear.”
Nancy my dear
though I’ve caused you so much aggravation
You…have prayed for me
Nancy my dear…thanks for praying!
…Nancy, my dear
Hang your head down you silly girl
look what you’ve do-o-ne
You sure…placed yourself in the midst of it
when you threw a big…his-sy fit…
with…the whole world watching
All the po-olls…should astound you
take a go-od look; you’re bound to see
that you and me…should fi-nal-ly
Nancy my dear
we should really pass new legislation
please…just work with me
Nancy my dear; we can do it!
..Nancy my dear
Hold your head up you silly girl
If you work with me we can get things done
and who knows…you may have some fun…
with the whole world…watching
Nancy my Dear
Adam Schiff will only cause you heart-ache
please…just work with me
Nancy my dear, listen…to me
…Nancy my dear
Hold my hand now you silly girl
let’s get…something do-o-ne
Let’s attempt a meeting of our minds
our country has so many kinds…
of different people
Nancy my dear
You can end some of your consternation
If…you’ll work with me
Nancy my dear…you can do it
…Nancy, my dear
Fact vs. opinion # 51
FACT: Privatization has been pushed by the Republicans for some time now. They want to get out from under the strictures of being responsible for retrieving citizen monies and managing their ‘retirement’ fund or ‘safety net’ allotment. By ridding the government from all of these obligations, the government is, therefore, under no political obligation whatsoever to invest itself in the day-to-day care concerns of managing financial affairs of its citizens (Social Security) and instead concentrate on its business and profitability aspects.
OPINION: I believe that the government divesting itself out of the Social Security enterprise is a catastrophe waiting for individuals who will henceforth never receive these monthly checks attainable at a certain age. The present Congress is far removed from the pain and anguish of the Great Depression of the 1930s. FDR saw what was happening and moved to get the government involved in rectifying the situation so millions of citizens would have some allotment of money entitled to them at a certain age, inasmuch as it was taken out of their paychecks during their working years.
So how does this privatization effect the average person today if it happens? Simple. The money you earn is yours; you do not pay into FICA (Social Security and Medicare, both employee and employer pay); money is not taken from you and your employer and invested by the government; then paid out on a monthly basis to you upon attaining a certain age. Since it is yours, you do what you want with it! Now, just how many people are going to take this money and invest it accordingly or bank it in a 401K account or similar type of savings? I would venture to say, not many, although I have no figures to support my belief; they will find some way to spend it. And for those who do invest it on the advice of a person, broker, hedge-fund manager, everything is rosy until there is a ‘societal glitch’ and the stock market goes haywire with the money invested.
A case in point. When I had my business, I did quite well for a number of years to the extent that I invested $10,000 in a high-risk fund of 24% percent; it did very well until George W. Bush came into office and 9/11 and Iraq. Gone. I was not an experienced investor like most of the citizens who are going to be forced to manage their own affairs. (Even men who were experienced investors, lost millions in the great Crash of the Depression, with numerous suicides.) and that is what is going to happen with privatization. You are on your own.
But with Social Security, one has a certain amount of money coming in every month from a lifetime of work. For me personally, they started taking out Social Security when I was 16 years old; that was 56 years of paying into this; Medicare was 41 years paid into. I had no choice; it was taken. But now I am drawing these payments and reaping the benefits of Medicare as well. One cannot rely on the capitalistic system for any type of security, not the every day average citizen anyway. More about social security to come.
Frank McCourt and Tom Losee
“There should be a medal for people who survive miserable childhoods and become teachers.” That’s from the prologue of the last book of Frank McCourt’s trilogy about his life in Ireland and New York City. He goes on to say, “…. and I should be the first in line for the medal.”
Well, Frank — if you were first in line for that medal, then I should be the second. When I read Angela’s Ashes, I thought I was reading the story of my life. You with your deep poverty in Ireland and me going through the same struggles of “going hungry” poverty in downtown Poughkeepsie and Highland. Both of us going through all this about the same time.
We both eventually became teachers. I taught in Kingston while you were in New York City.
I wish we could have had some time together to share our similar lives; but it was not to be.
Thank you for supporting live professional theatre in the Hudson Valley
It has been such a gift to share with our community one of the most sensitively written stories of family dysfunction, abuse and love — Bo-Nita — written by Elizabeth Heffron, directed by Sumner Wallace and starring one of the most gifted actors of our time, Terri Weagant.
Terri has shared with our community what it means to embody SEVEN characters with love and empathy.
A special gift to this Denizen production was seeing the playwright Elizabeth Heffron, who flew in from Seattle to spend Thursday night with our Denizen audience, as she fielded questions about her process and insights into this profound piece.
I am so excited to share with you our next play If I Needed Someone, a world premiere written by Tony nominated and Broadway playwright, Neil LaBute. We are humbled and excited to share this timely play about two young people that meet at a party and have a few drinks. The play begins as they find themselves at the young woman’s apartment.
This powerful story will lead to difficult and timely discussions for our audience that will challenge and inspire us. The Denizen’s next production begins rehearsal March 10 and opens April 1.
Thank you for supporting live professional theatre in the Hudson Valley in order to help raise empathy in our world.
Harry Lipstein, Founder & Producing