From Trumpster to dumpster
On June 17, president Donald Trump organized a public gathering to honor the Prevents task force for its efforts and to appreciate it for its findings after one year of work. The PREVENTS task force (President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End the National Tragedy of Suicide), was formed on March 5, 2019 to find new creative ideas to help reduce the veteran suicide rate in our country. I sincerely hope the new ideas of the task force turn out to be very successful. Nothing would please me more, since the vet suicide rate has been an ongoing tragedy for years now.
But my issue is not with the task force. It is with the unbelievable hypocrisy of Mr. Trump. The gathering by Trump was set up to appeal to the religious right by having a veteran talk about how Jesus Christ saved his life after an unsuccessful suicide attempt. Then, in closing, Robert Wilkie, the Secretary of Veteran Affairs, also brought up Jesus Christ in his final words. Once again, it came off as another staged performance for Trump’s base.
But I think Trump forgot one minor detail. That there are many religious-right enthusiasts who are no longer turning away from the truth about Donald Trump. They are well-aware and disgusted with the devious Russian plan to pay big money to Taliban fighters who kill American soldiers. And the same Christian right is also well aware that the president had that exact information in February, but did absolutely nothing about it.
In fact, he had six, count them, six private phone calls with Vladimir Puten during the spring months. I wonder what they could have talked about. Don’t you?
And when the newspapers broke the news about the diabolical Russian scheme last week, people across the country were outraged. But Trump still hasn’t said a word about it. The president of our United States not saying a word about it to at least let our active military believe he cares about them. Nothing! Hard to believe. And now, after further investigation, it appears that a number of Taliban fighters were actually paid money after a few of our soldiers were killed. That makes me furious.
So, Mr. Trump, go on believing that the good people of the religious right will still support you no matter what you do or don’t do. Go on believing that they will vote for you in November even though you have clearly betrayed and abandoned our troops. It appears to me that your number is up. On November 3 I look forward to saying, “Good riddance to bad rubbish.”
Voices of people of color must be heard!
The New York State Governor has asked New York communities to “address any racial bias and disproportionate policing of communities of color” as a key element of his Executive Order 203 which tasks local governments, together with police and community representatives, to re-imagine police departments to address the “particular needs of communities served.”
In New Paltz, that was kicked off by three meetings of the town board and selection — by the town board — of community groups to prepare the governor’s mandated plan. These include up to 22 stakeholders that that are predominately white and have no demonstrable experience with anti-racism work. To the contrary, there is only one stakeholder seat planned for people of color and that is to be shared by two different groups!?
The New Paltz Town Board dissolved the Civilian Review Committee and has assumed that role as well. They dissolved this committee when it found against a police officer accused of brutality of a young black man.
No meaningful community input can be orchestrated, controlled and defined solely by a town board with non-diverse groups selected to guarantee the board’s control of the outcome.
The New Paltz Town Board’s proposal of predominantly white and privileged stakeholder groups is tone deaf and demonstrates a failure to deal with tasks outlined by Executive Order 203 — not a competent beginning.
Building trust in New Paltz — be it with the town board or the police — must start with the inclusion of at least ten groups which are not on the town board’s hand-picked list. These are, but are not limited to: Black Lives Matter of New Paltz, Black Lives Matter — SUNY New Paltz, Sisters of Sojourner Truth, Black Student Union — SUNY New Paltz, Latino Student Union — SUNY New Paltz, Faculty of Color Network, New Paltz Spanish-Speaking Immigrant Group, Racial Equity Initiative Advisory Committee of the New Paltz Board of Education (REIAC), Equity Allies and Youth for Unity — New Paltz High School.
The understanding and experiences of the above-named group members provide a unique perspective on policing as they are most affected by any racial bias.
Voices of people of color must be heard.
The failure of the town board to recuse itself and appoint an interim independent police commission clearly bespeaks their intent to dictate to citizens rather than to listen and serve the whole community.
We are making these facts known publicly because private communications with the New Paltz Town Board have been pushed aside. This is not the coordination and rebuilding of trust mandated by the New York governor.
No meaningful change around the complex and difficult issues of policing can be negotiated in New Paltz without the inclusion of real stakeholders of color in the community, an independent police commission, and a town board that is appropriately responsive.
Edgar Rodriguez, on behalf of Concerned Parents of New Paltz
Public hearing continues in Saugerties for a cell tower
The Town of Saugerties Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) will hold a CONTINUED Public Hearing at 7 p.m. on August 3 for the purpose of discussing and getting public input on an application by Tarpon Towers II, LLC and Cell-co Partnership D/B/A Verizon Wireless to install a 120-foot tall cell tower and related antennae at the Mt. Marion Fire House on Kings Highway.
The August 3 meeting will be held remotely. Login information will be provided on the Town of Saugerties website. If you prefer to call in to the hearing, that number will also be provided. Written comments will be also be included in the record and may be sent by July 24 to the ZBA at Town Hall, 4 High Street, Saugerties, NY 12477 or by email by July 29 to email@example.com.
The ZBA is required to determine whether the zoning law applies to projects located on the lands of a governmental entity, in this case the fire department. The ZBA must consider the “balance of interests” between the town and the fire department in accord with factors established by the New York State Court of Appeals in the case of Matter of Monroe vs. City of Rochester, 72 N.Y. 2d 338. The ZBA will also consider the appropriateness of use and area variances should it be determined that the proposed action is subject to the zoning law. We will post on the ZBA website the nine factors set forth in the Monroe case that will be discussed during the August 3 meeting.
Jeanne Goldberg, Chair
Patti Kelly, Vice-Chair
Saugerties Zoning Board of Appeals
Open mouth, insert foot
At a previous Woodstock town board meeting there was a discussion among the board members about how an individual can submit an application to the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). During the discussion, board member Laura Ricci said that an applicant could apply directly to the ZBA. [Town supervisor Bill] McKenna, responding in what appeared to be a condescending manner, replied, “Laura, you were on the planning board and should have known the only way an applicant can get to the ZBA is a referral from the planning board or the zoning enforcement officer (ZEO).”
Bill, first, a supervisor should never discredit anyone at a town-board meeting. Second, you were on the ZBA and should have known that an applicant may apply directly to the ZBA without having to get a referral from the zoning enforcement officer or the planning board.
Reject the pipeline Plan B
The 600-mile Atlantic Coast pipeline, which would have crossed the Appalachian Trail, has been cancelled. With that and the Williams pipeline’s demise, maybe we’re getting the message across. But hear us, governor Cuomo, we’re not letting up.
With its Williams pipeline rejected, corporate utility National Grid is still planning to sneak more climate-destroying fracked gas into New York via Williams “Plan B:” upgraded compressor stations, more liquefied natural gas facilities and speeded up improvements to the existing Iroquois pipeline.
Governor Cuomo and the Public Service Commission must reject these plans for new fracked gas infrastructure. We need to transition to renewable resources and away from fossil fuels without delay. Instead of using gas for heating, hot water and cooking, as we mostly do now, electrify these services statewide with efficient technologies like induction stoves and heat pumps that will plug into New York’s increasingly renewable electric grid.
Governor Cuomo must not fall for increasing the supply of fracked gas, by any method. He must reject National Grid’s proposal and prohibit any new infrastructure to deliver fossil fuels. The future is clean, renewably-sourced electricity. Stopping Plan B is one step toward that goal.
Richard K. Lieberman
Rebutting anti-Semitic views
Like Trump, Fred Nagel and Jane Toby (in their separate letters to the editor) count on the power of repetition to bend reality to their anti-Semitic views of Israel and its “Palestinian problem.”
Both pin their arguments on equating black lives in America with the plight of the Palestinians on a biased and inaccurate platform. Unfortunately, they are blinded to the facts that:
1. Due to the hatred of Jews fanned by the Middle East Arab leaders, Israel ended up having to fight for its survival when it was formally created in 1948. As a result of that war, Israel ended up with geographic land boundaries that it never sought, i.e., Gaza and the West Bank.
2. Israel was prepared and did actually hand over some of that land as a result of the Oslo accords. The entire two areas would have been completely under Palestinian control had not Yasser Arafat reneged on the negotiated accords.
3. The Palestinians since then have for more than 20 years embarked on systematic terrorism to win what had been given by negotiation (and abrogated unilaterally by them).
4. This terrorism is sponsored and supported by the leadership in Gaza and the West Bank through encouraging Palestinians (of all ages) to commit acts of terrorism, honoring those terrorists and rewarding the families of terrorists killed committing their vicious acts by providing them with support payments. That money, received from Israel and other sources, was meant to aid all Palestinians but ends up being diverted to fund terrorism. No wonder that Palestinians might have underfunded medical facilities and substandard schools.
Thus, it is because of this unrelenting state-sponsored terrorism by Palestinians of all ages that Israeli’s have to live with the constant and daily threat of Palestinian attacks and Israel’s police serve an important (but fatiguing) role in preventing Palestinian terrorist damage.
Please, J. Toby and F. Nagel, et. al., tell the truth, starting with the very real need for self-preservation on the part of Israelis made necessary by insanely hate driven acts of terrorism by Palestinian against Jews.
What happened to Iyad Halak was a tragic accident that Israel immediately owned up to. The violence that happens to Israelis is Palestinian state-Sponsored terrorism.
Congrats, Onteora grads!
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Onteora school district for organizing such a wonderful graduation caravan for the Class of 2020 through our Onteora communities. Special thanks go out to all those involved including: superintendent Victoria McLaren, principal Lance Edelman, the staff at Onteora, School Resource Officer Tom Sharon, Ulster County sheriff’s department, WDST, NYC DEP, and all the local police, fire departments and volunteer organizations who helped make this day so very special.
The commencement speeches by salutatorian Ellery Loheide and Valedictorian Emily Salem were compassionate and truly inspiring. I was impressed by the wisdom and the gratitude they so eloquently expressed for their families, friends and communities. They learned well at Onteora.
We waited and watched from the hamlet of West Shokan near the end of the two-hour caravan tour. I’ve never seen teenagers in a car for so long look so happy as they passed by. These young graduates were waving wildly, smiling and proud, to all the people lining our roadways who countered with shouts and signs to cheer them on. Congratulations graduates and thank you for giving your community so much hope and love.
850 Route 28 needs study
We are two of the founders and former staff of the Hudson Valley Sudbury School, a non-profit, K-12 school, located at 84 Zena Road in Kingston. We are extremely concerned that the 850 Route 28 project will interfere with the operation of the school, specifically the blasting that will occur for two to three years, according to the summary of sound studies from the March 2020 application document. While the school is located 2.2 miles from the project site by road, it is only one mile away as the crow flies through the school’s property and state land.
According to Dana Lodico, the noise consultant who spoke at the June 15 Town of Kingston planning-board meeting, there was no analysis of blasting vibration in the noise report. She went on to say that “Vibration from blasting can be a pretty big issue for very long distances.” She made other comments about the noise studies, the gist of which was that they were either inaccurate or that the mitigation measures were overstated.
Our school is about to enter its 17th year and continues to serve a large student population. It is a well-respected part of the community. We are horrified to think that the school could be adversely impacted for up to three years by the noise and vibrations generated by blasting. This continuous blasting could seriously affect our students’ ability to focus on their education. The blasting could impact the school’s enrollment and endanger the long-term viability of the school. The vibrations from the blasting could also adversely affect the integrity of the building’s basement and foundation.
It is clear that the sound studies are inadequate and incomplete and do not take into account the effect the project will have on neighboring properties and businesses. We anticipate that the next review will include updated, accurate information on the noise generated by this project and a realistic analysis of the impacts that the blasting will have on the surrounding area.
Jeffery A. Collins
Love your hair, love yourself
Every haircut is a gesture of hope.
Thanks for your support
I need to thank the entire Onteora community for supporting our budget. Your support shows how much Onteora values the education provided to students. Covid 19 has created hardships for our community, and many people are making sacrifices in their lives. I appreciate that it is a priority to continue to provide the best possible education and support for our young people.
I also want to thank everyone who participated in our graduation caravan. Our seniors missed out on so much that is typically part of their final year, but the support that they felt during the caravan through our district was incredibly special. It was moving to see so many families and community members lining the route showing support and love and cheering for our students, as well as sirens, lights, signs and banners! That was an experience that they will never forget.
I need to especially thank our town supervisors for their partnership through this closure and their support of our caravan. We also appreciate the many local fire departments and police departments for ensuring that the route was safe and being so supportive along the way. Thank you to Radio Woodstock for providing the air time so that our ceremony could be shared with the entire community and students could hear their name read during the ceremony. There are many others that I could individually thank, but the list would include our entire community.
Onteora Superintendent of Schools
Cruella Devos strikes again! Hide the puppies! The education secretary lashed out at “fear-mongering” adults that were “making excuses” for not opening schools as the U.S. has witnessed growth in new Covid 19 cases nationwide. I truly hope schools can open and there are plans which can be doable.
I am just leery of what the reasoning behind the president’s and Devos’ insistence is. I am praying we can all work our way back to at least some sort of normal existence by fall. I Just don’t think the current administration cares if it is safe or not.
Major-league baseball can’t protect their multi-million-dollar investments from the coronavirus. What makes you think overcrowded school systems with unruly kids and underpaid teachers can do it?
A school’s success will be dependent on workable and safe strategies. I for one cannot see millions of kids being put back in school until they have a safe and good vaccine.
The New Paltz Times legacy
In your July 1 issue of Hudson Valley One, Genia Wickwire’s “Moving forward” laid out factors in the future decision of the Hudson Valley One staff to retain your new regional paper or to return to four weekly town papers. I very much appreciate all you’ve done during the pandemic to keep the local news coming to readers first online and for the past weeks in Hudson Valley One. I realize that economic factors will play a significant role in your decision.
While getting news from Woodstock, Saugerties and Kingston has been educational for me, I champion the importance of town papers and, as a long-time New Paltz resident, the irreplaceable value of the New Paltz Times. The depth of coverage of local issues over the long history of the Huguenot Herald — now New Paltz Times — has played a major role is fostering grassroots democracy here. News stories reported details of meetings of town and other governing boards, providing highlights of both residents’ and officials’ viewpoints. This created a well-informed public, often becoming eager to join in participatory initiatives and activism.
Under the excellent editorial leadership of Debbie Alexsa, thorough reporting was encouraged. Who couldn’t appreciate the in-depth stories of staff members like Erin Quinn, accompanied by the expressive photos of Lauren Thomas. This reporting, week after week, built a network of people who became familiar with each other and their varied ideas.
Whether covering the community-wide movement to defeat Walmart in the mid-1990s, years of environmental activism, or long-term organizing for social justice priorities, the New Paltz Times played a crucial role in providing information and uplifting voices that have enabled New Paltz to sustain engaged, grassroots participation in shaping its history. Thank you!
In a time of increasing loss of local newspapers, and a time of when an active democracy is so vital for our collective future, I urge the Hudson Valley One staff to find creative ways to bring back the weekly town papers. I’m sure many of your readers will join me in doing what we can to make that decision possible.
Masks key to safer schools
I have two elementary school-age kids in the Kingston school district. There are families who, for various reasons, do not practice social distancing or regularly wear masks. Masks and social distancing are the two most important things we can do to stop the spread of Covid 19. They must be mandatory, even if they go against what some students are used to or, as with some families, what resources they have available.
Should there be a return to in-person classes, the school district must provide masks for those who do not have them, educate students about the importance of masks before they start arriving at school and make sure that all children, faculty and staff use them properly. Anything less will be irresponsible.
The pipes are a callin’
Last week’s great news was about fossil fuel pipelines in the US.
First, the Atlantic Coast pipeline, traveling through Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina, was cancelled! Duke Energy and Dominion Energy apologized to their financial supporters who had invested billions of dollars and years of effort. They stated that fighting the litigation and negative public opinion made the project no longer economically viable.
But the bigger news was about the Dakota Access pipeline. Despite hard-fought battles, involving native tribes, environmentalists and a few New Paltz residents who made the trek, the pipeline was completed and operational. However, last week, a federal court judge shut down the pipeline because the Army Corps of Engineers had glossed over the dire consequences of a spill. He also required the Corps to do a full environmental impact statement. This could take years.
Finally, there has been grumbling by fossil-fuel companies, in part, because of the pandemic, that fracking operations around the country are no longer as cost-effective, and they’re reconsidering starting any new fossil-fuel infrastructure.
Thanks to all who have demonstrated and taken companies to court. This seems to be having a profound effect, and the call to build pipes may be ending.
Dan and Ann Guenther
We are your neighbors
Once again there was a letter to the editor in Hudson Valley One that attacked the library while, at the same time, calling for the library board of directors to work with the group that has been attacking them for over three years.
It is time to end the Woodstock Library wars. Our meetings are all open to the public, and the public is always given a chance to speak. Our finances are public and can be viewed on our website. Our rationale for building a new building instead of attempting to renovate the old building is explained on the library’s capital campaign website — newlibrarywoodstock.org.
We members of the library board of directors are your neighbors, and are working hard to do what they believe is best for Woodstock and the library. We are open and honest people, elected by the voters, who want what is best for our community. If you have questions, ask us. If you have suggestions, give them to us in person. If you have criticisms, tell us directly instead of via letters to the editor or billboards.
We all want the same thing — a great library that provides the best possible service to Woodstock. Let us stop the attacks and the back and forth via letters to the editor and work together to achieve this goal.
Jeff Collins, Member
Woodstock Library Board
Engineering students impress
It has been tough working in the local government business this year. Not too many bright spots. However, this spring’s independent study course (EGM 495) for SUNY New Paltz’s engineering students was undoubtedly a bright spot. Their three-person team with students from each of SUNY New Paltz’s engineering disciplines (electrical, mechanical and computer engineering) examined the feasibility of renewable energy and storage equipment at our village wastewater treatment plant (WWTP.)
The goal of this study: Can solar and/or batteries at this facility reduce the cost of providing this vital municipal service?
Our WWTP is one of the top two energy users that our village pays for (the drinking water plant is the other). Focusing on reducing this electrical cost is a high ‘bang-for-your-buck’ way of reducing the cost of living, working, studying and enjoying our community. This months-long study (in a semester full of challenges) also scored points in the NYS Climate Smart Community program for the village.
The students reviewed, compiled and charted three years of power bills. They toured, inspected, sketched, photographed and poured over aerial maps, old pump curves, specification sheets and spent time with the operators, technicians and engineering mentors for the project. They sought out solar developers, vendors, manufactures and battery experts to apply these concepts at our plant. They identified a specific piece of electrical equipment that requires the most energy at the WWTP, known as lift pumps. These lift pumps use more than a third of the electricity consumed at the WWTP.
The students developed several options for solar-installation locations and determined the costs, advantages and disadvantages. The students recommended an option that includes a combination of 290 solar panels and a four-hour duration battery storage unit that could reduce the WWTP’s average monthly electricity bill by about half. The initial cost is still significant especially during these challenging times, but this study is sure to result in further work and eventual implementation of these technologies in our community for our benefit and a healthier planet.
“Renewable Energy Production and Storage Review and Feasibility Study at the Wastewater Treatment Plant for the Village of New Paltz” was completed in May 2020 and presented to the village board of trustees in June. The full report: https://tinyurl.com/yatsdcoc
The SUNY New Paltz engineering team consisted of Zachary Johnson (Mechanical Engineering, ’20), Nikki Maher (Computer Engineering, ’21), and Nolan West (Electrical Engineering, ’21). The course was led by Dr. Kevin Shanley of SUNY New Paltz Engineering Department. Chris Jaeger of Environmental Consultants, Inc., and Thomas T (Ted) Nitza, Jr., P.E. of Walden Environmental Engineering PLLC served as mentors and technical resources for the students.
This is another great example of how SUNY New Paltz and the village work together in meaningful ways. Thank you and congratulations!
Mayor Tim Rogers
Let’s defund our military
Police violence is probably the most obvious state-sanctioned, in-your-face violence — particularly if your face is black or brown. Defunding the police is a good beginning — but just scratches the surface. Martin Luther King reminded us that the largest purveyor of violence in the world is the US military.
Military violence causes unspeakable suffering for all living creatures — human and otherwise in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, the Congo, Kashmir and Palestine. It’s the violence of guns, bombs, napalm, land mines, tanks, jet fighters, Cruise missiles, submarines, battleships, Apache helicopters and ultimately nuclear bombs which cause horrifying death, suffering, sickness and starvation for millions around the globe. It also causes devastating environmental contamination from substances like depleted uranium and agent orange in Vietnam.
So yes, let’s start with defunding racist police violence. But we must move on to address the real threats to life on this planet. Let’s defund our military (ideally, all militaries). And while we’re at it, let’s defund all the violent enterprises — like mining, logging and oil drilling. Defund all activities that hurt Mother Earth, we humans, and all the helpless and voiceless creatures on this planet.
Our tax dollars for military spending are bankrupting us financially and morally. It’s why we can’t afford universal free healthcare, good housing, decent public transportation and free education. Maybe if Americans had programs like these, we wouldn’t need to live in a police state. Defunding our military and instituting programs to help and support people — that would truly make America great.
The Palenville dump
I was heartened to read that state attorney general Letitia James has filed a lawsuit against Joseph and Rachel Karolys for persistent and flagrant violations of New York solid-waste and water-pollutions laws at their three separate dump sites in the Town of Saugerties. It has taken more than a year for this to come about, but it has, largely because of local community uproar and persistence, along with some help from one or more big NGOs.
At the same time I am saddened that criminal charges and just such a lawsuit were never filed against another illegal C&D (construction and demolition) dump in Palenville, just a few miles from Saugerties in the Town of Catskill. That dump’s owner polluted a water source, causing severe health anomalies and violent illnesses in at least two families whose properties abutted the dump property.
One family, a single mother with two children, has been desperately fighting virtually alone, screaming in the wilderness to get some redress for her and her children’s chronic and debilitating illnesses.
There has been zero response from officials except to mock this woman. Palenville bigwigs are apparently related to and friendly with the dump owner there. This brave woman was forced to abandon the home she owned and loved — it was no longer habitable — and to seek rental housing elsewhere.
Perhaps now that attorney general Letitia James has been made aware of the scope of the dangers to human health from such dumps, she will look at the mountains of evidence collected by the Palenville-Catskill victims and take similar action.
That would gladden me.
The blame game
Most scientists agree that social distancing is necessary when combating communicable illnesses, and it has proven to be an effective practice in combating the coronavirus. However, the isolation experienced from staying at home had an unexpected and unintended consequence for many people. They gained weight. In some cases, this gain has been so great that some people have actually become POS (persons of size). The following parody (to the tune of the Eydie Gorme hit “Blame it on the Bossa Nova” is a lament written by a friend who is on the edge of entering person-of-size status. The title of the song is “Blame it on the Isolation.”
I was on the scale when I first had proof
that my weight had gone really through the ro-of
I began to break out in a real sweat
my eyes filled with tears; my soul felt such regret
Blame it on the I-so-la-tion the extra weight I hold
I’ve gained some 30 pounds or more the whole truth be told
I did nearly everything they asked of me
I stayed at home and watched my new TV
blame it on the i-so-la-tion.
My clothes don’t fit
(Now, was it the moon?)
No, no, the i-so-la-tion
(caused me to over eat?)
No, no, the i-so-la-tion
(What made me write this tune?)
Yeah, yeah, the i-so-la-tion
(can’t see my feet!)
Blame it on the isolation the extra weight I hold
I’ve gained some 30 pounds or more the whole truth be told
The isolation…made me…feel so very bad
And so I over-ate more than a tad
I blame it on the i-so-la-tion…
my clothes don’t fit
Now I’d like to say my weight’s gone away
but it seems my weight is here to sta-ay
and if you ask me why I’ll have to state
I’m gonna tell the truth; I won’t hes-i-tate
Blame it on the i-so-la-tion; I feel like hell
blame it on the i-so-la-tion; I don’t look so well
I did nearly everything they asked of me
I stayed at home and watched my new TV
blame it on the i-so-la-tion…
My clothes don’t fit
(Now, was it the moon?)
No, no, the i-solation
(caused me to over eat?)
No, no, the is-o-lation
(What made me write this tune?)
Yeah, yeah, the i-so-la-tion
(can’t see my feet!)
Who should I blame?
(Yeah yeah the I-so-la-tion)
That I’m not the same
(Yeah yeah the I-so-la-tion)
I felt so sad
(Yeah yeah the I-so-la-tion)
I over-ate a tad
(Yeah yeah the i-so-la-tion)
My clothes don’t fit!
HITS supports non-profits
It is, of course, appropriate and important for people to express their concerns about their health and the well-being of their community, as some people in Saugerties have done about the reopening of the HITS horseshow. But it is not appropriate to malign people with misinformation. To that end, this letter is being offered to set the record straight.
In 1994, Family of Woodstock Inc. was given a large portion of the property that the horse show is now located on in Saugerties. In 2003, we arrived at an agreement with Tom Struzierri and Horse Shows in the Sun to rent the property from Family on a long-term basis. As part of the deal, HITS took responsibility to pay Family an annual rental fee, maintain the property, and pay all taxes and costs associated with the land. That continues to be the case up until the present.
HITS and the Struzierri family have been very generous supporters, not only of Family of Woodstock, Inc., but of many of the not-for-profits in the community. When the pandemic hit, I approached Tom to ask if he could provide meals. A few months earlier, he had provided Family with a large number of pre-made meals that were of restaurant quality and could be heated in a microwave. Family has distributed them to people in motels and homeless individuals ever since. He said that the food packets was not available, but as a result of my request, he would start preparing meals through the Diamond Mills kitchen.
Since that time and until the end of Project Resilience, Diamond Mills supplied 500 meals a day, five days a week to Saugerties senior citizens and to be distributed by Family throughout the county. He did not seek reimbursement from the county or credit. It was something that was done because it was needed and the right thing to do.
It is important that we have a public dialogue on critical issues such as how we will recover from the pandemic; however, that conversation should not be infused with misinformation. There is no reason why these discussions cannot be held with mutual respect and focused on the well-being of the community.
Family of Woodstock, Inc.
Pre-primed for failure
I was the chair of the New Paltz citizens’ police oversight committee that was disbanded last year after we disagreed with an internal police finding about an officer’s use of excessive force. We were provided with few tools and no basic definitions of terms like ‘excessive use of force’ to help us. We had to do much of the work of researching regulations and the history of how they were used across New York State.
The police liaison refused to present his own reasoning for coming up with his conclusion, and assumed that he was going to be part of the deliberation, guiding us to where he wanted us to go. I am fully aware that he had his own constraints with having to work with the police union and the gargantuan rules that made it difficult to hold officers accountable. The committee was pre-primed for failure even before we were constituted.
The committee watched the scant video evidence over and over, as some of the police equipment was turned off or was not working. A couple of us tried with some success to get others to shed their bias about how the evidence was framed for us by the liaison.
After several hours of discussion, some of them voted to abstain because they could not justify their pre-assumed assumptions that the liaison had presented to us. Our ten-page report went to town court and as chair of the citizens’ advisory committee I was the only one allowed inside for part of their deliberation. It was as if the town council had viewed a completely different set of evidence than we had. The bias towards believing authority was all too evident.
This tendency to believe and obey authority with scant evidence has a name — the Milgram effect. In 1963, Stanley Milgram conducted his now foundational study on the impact of unquestioning obedience to authority. His findings stunned the world. Most of his participants, mentally healthy Americans, were willing to inflict pain on another person simply because someone they perceive as an authority figure told them it would be okay.
I regularly ask my students if that would be the case today, and almost all of my students routinely deny that today people know better and therefore would not follow authority blindly. We know from subsequent studies that little has changed and in a lab setting most Americans implicitly trust authority. That is a dangerous tendency, as we have seen in countless cases from the torture at Abu Ghraib prison to the psychologists participating in the water-boarding at Guantanamo Bay
No physical evidence like video footage and audio recordings or witness testimony can help objective investigation if a biased group of members believe that those who maintain law and order must naturally be law-abiding and knowledgeable as well. In order for an oversight committee to work, the town has to do better. Committee members must have knowledge about the racist history of the American police force. Members must be given exhaustive training on institutionalized racism and anti-racist work. They must be allowed to freely communicate their findings with the press and the community to keep the officers accountable.
Most of all, they must be truly representative of the groups that are most victimized and harmed in our communities — historically underrepresented people of color, people in poverty, trans people, the homeless. Milgram’s findings are true today as much as when the study was conducted, and we should heed its warnings. The community cannot have an unbiased advisory committee if the institutional framework is law enforcement centered rather than community-welfare-centered.
Tribute to Milton Glaser
Many thanks to Woodstock Times (I have yet to be able to wrap my aging mind around Hudson Valley One) and especially to Tad Wise for his elegant and moving tribute to Milton Glaser (“Milton Glaser: Spending Eternity In Woodstock,” July 1).
Many shrinks tell us that nostalgia is but another form of depression, but Tad Wise has proven that nostalgia can be a form of celebration. A celebration for a not-quite-forgotten Woodstock, a Woodstock of the soul, Milton Glaser’s Woodstock.
Well done, Tad Wise for a beautiful tribute to an extraordinary person. And well done, Milton Glaser for a remarkable life well-lived (even though as he was also the much-heralded underground gourmet, Milton Glaser might prefer that his life in art be celebrated and remembered as medium rare).
Support for events Industry
I’m writing on behalf of the Banquet Event Strategic Task Force New York (BEST), which was formed to address the impact of Covid 19 on the events industry in New York City. It has been calculated that the 155,000 professionals employed by the New York City Metro Area events industry and the 2.4 million people employed by the events industry nationwide are in a tenuous place due to the shutdown of business because of Covid 19.
We need governor [Andrew] Cuomo’s help. We greatly appreciate the PPP and EIDL support that many of us have received, and we appreciate our government’s obvious concern for the small businesses of our country. The events industry is one of the industries hardest hit by the pause in business. The large gatherings that make up our industry are in the last phase of openings, our events are planned for months before they happen, and our clients will not schedule events until there is a comfort level about attending events.
Unlike the small businesses that can immediately begin selling goods and services when they can reopen, we will have a lag time of several months before events resume as normal. PPP and EIDL funds, although helpful, were simply not enough because of the amount of time that our companies will have to go without revenues.
A recent poll of the events industry related businesses by BEST found that a sobering 85% of 2020 events have been moved to 2021, shifting the majority of 2020 revenues into 2021. The companies in our industry have business secured for a healthy 2021, but not the resources to pay bills and retain employees until events resume, most likely, until the second quarter of 2021. We need EIDL loans that do not have a cap of $150,000, but instead are tied to gross revenues lost due to COVID-19.
And most imminently, we need a second wave of PPP loans or similar loans, but with flexible terms that conform to our industry’s needs.
We need these loans in amounts that will allow us to remain operable and to keep our employees off the unemployment rolls. Funding now will keep many small businesses in the events industry viable. It will allow our businesses to innovate as we wait for normal business to resume. It will keep over 24 million people in our sector employed. We ask governor Cuomo to please help make this funding available.
Defund police, defund apartheid
During this time of upheaval nationally and worldwide, there has been notable movement to address injustice systemically. One such hopeful movement was the local passage of an anti-racism resolution passed by the Kingston school district on Juneteenth. In this resolution, the district recognizes its role in “addressing social inequities in the world, country and in our own school district” and resolved to support initiatives “that will end systemic racism and provide equal opportunity and equal justice for all.” Bravo!
A far less hopeful sign has been the avoidance of our local representative, Antonio Delgado, to sign HR 2407 “No Way to Treat a Child Act.” With the blessing of our government, Israel continues to automatically prosecute children in military courts. The so-called “democratic state of Israel” maintains two legal systems: civilian rule and military law. Palestinians are subjected to military law.
Currently, Israel is planning to unilaterally annex part of the West Bank. These actions lay the groundwork for Israel to become an apartheid state (as predicted by John Kerry in 2014.) This systemic and widespread abuse is supported with our taxpayer dollars (included in the $3.8 billion we give Israel annually).
Can you vision what we could do in this country to address equal opportunity and equal justice with those monies? Can you imagine what Kingston school district might do with additional funding to realize its commitment to anti-racism?
Please call congressman Delgado’s office 202-225-5614 to let him know you are disappointed in his inconsistencies. He claims concern about the militarization of our country’s police force, yet refuses to acknowledge the ongoing abuse by the Israeli military against children in Palestine. Remind him of the words of Martin Luther King, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Defund the police, defund apartheid.
A tale of two towns
Cheers to the Town of Saugerties, Ulster County, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Catskill Mountainkeeper, other groups and the NYS Attorney General’s office for fighting one owner’s illegal construction and demolition debris (C&D) landfills. People have a right to clean air, soil and water.
Ten miles north another C&D landfill in Palenville, Catskill township, had little local indignation, yet evidence has it, used the same trucking companies, and similar toxic materials were dumped. Also, the same permits were lacking. Why the lack of support for the victims in Palenville? Unlike Saugerties, the landfill in Palenville is on a huge wetlands which extends into Saugerties and purportedly its drinking water source.
Consider the following comparisons between the two owners and their landfills, Saugerties landfill owner (SLO) and Catskill landfill owner (CLO):
1. In Palenville, the CLO started bringing in C&D debris after Sandy. NYC’s mayor wanted the city cleaned up ASAP, understandably. FEMA reported that landfill owners upstate were willing to take the mess, CLO being one. (Saugerties was post-hurricanes.)
2. The CLO in Palenville is a local good old boy, well respected in his town; his late wife was a long-time employee of Catskill. The SLO is not a local good old boy, nor well respected in his town. The two actually know each other, however, and reportedly contracted with the same trucking companies.
3. When CLO was fined for unpermitted dumping, a cleanup allowed his fine to be reduced significantly, this cleanup involving burying the materials on site. The dust this created added further toxins to already poisoned neighbors. (Heads-up regarding “clean up” dust, Saugerties!) Both CLO and SLO continued illicit dumping.
4. Palenville is in DEC region 4 and Saugerties part of DEC region 3. DEC 4 did minimal toxins testing in Palenville (and nowhere near the wetlands) and law-enforcement and town officials did little to naught to stop the dumping. DEC 3 was diligent regarding testing in Saugerties and the law enforcement and town officials were on top of SLO. One DEC 4 rep in Palenville was a crony of CLO, referring to him by nickname. SLO wasn’t so lucky.
5. The residents near the landfills in Saugerties are more numerous, established and respected. The residents near the landfill in Palenville are fewer, less well off and were gas-lighted by the Catskill good-old-boy network when they spoke out against being poisoned.
6. The Palenville landfill abuts a huge wetlands on the Kaaterskill, part of the Hudson Estuary system, yet solicitation of NGOs were met with minimal concern. Saugerties received a lot of NGO help.
7. One wonders why SLO is righteously castigated as a scoundrel while CLO was able to create a dump with impunity. One wonders why the fighters in Saugerties are seen as righteous, while those in Palenville are seen as lying troublemakers
Does anyone care?
Fact versus opinion
Fact: Joe Biden has clinched the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. He will be running against the incumbent president, Donald Trump. Of the two men, Biden is much more experienced for that high office than Donald Trump. Trump, compared to the previous 44 presidents, has had no experience whatsoever on local, state or national levels, either on legislative, judicial or executive branches of state or national government.
In addition, Trump has had no military experience, whereas 15 presidents had military service and political experience: Washington, Jackson, William Henry Harrison, Pierce, Lincoln, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, B. Harrison, McKinley, T. Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Nixon and G.H.W. Bush. There were three presidents who had no previous political experience but military only: Zachary Taylor, Ulysses Grant and Dwight Eisenhower. The other 26 presidents had a wide range of political experience before assuming this office.
Opinion: Based on experience alone, Trump has no business in the Oval Office. He has never served or represented his country in the categories listed above. He was placed in this office by an electorate that responded to his bombastic, carnival barker, ‘rah, rah’ attitude which appealed to the raw basic prejudices and hatreds underlying the veneer of civilized people. And here he is, our illustrious president, who has upset generations of established protocols for one purpose and one purpose alone: the dismantling of the federal bureaucracy and insertion of his ‘people’ into his scheme of what a government should be, i.e., a ‘dictatorship’.
And no better example of this is his appointment of Samuel M. Saul, as commissioner of Social Security. Saul, a women’s clothing magnate, made his reputation and fortune in this endeavor. Needless to say, he has and had no experience in Social Security. His biggest threat to this program is on two fronts: 1) he is answerable only to Donald Trump, 2) he belongs to an organization in Manhattan that does like this program (my opinion is this institute, organization is comprised of millionaires and billionaires, Republican, who would like nothing better than to butcher this program of Social Security. (I have not been able to ascertain any background of this institute.)
The two reasons are enough to strike fear in the hearts of people 65 to 95 years of age. Saul is the proverbial ‘fox in the henhouse;’ for those of you who have ever lived on a farm and witnessed what a fox can do, you can only imagine.
The only protection seniors, which includes yours truly at age 81, have is to vote for Joe Biden; as seniors drawing benefits, forget your conservative, Republican, independent affiliations and concentrate on what you have and what you can stand to lose with this man and Donald Trump working together. Biden is an experienced politician who will leave our benefits alone. After all, it was FDR’s Democratic administration who passed the Social Security Act of 1935, not the Republicans!
And even if both chambers of Congress go Democratic, Saul is still accountable to Donald Trump and you can believe he will go after these benefits; NCPSSM informed me that there is a 15-20% cut in senior’s monthly benefits if the 2021 budget is passed. This budget has to pass Congress and if Congress is Democratic, there will be negotiations; I don’t for a second believe the Democrats will bargain away or reduce senior benefits, so this is a brake. But they will find other ways to butcher this program.
Defund the police
It’s time to defund the police. The resources that keep people safe and healthy are continuously defunded and it’s time to take the dollars set aside for law enforcement and put them into our communities. That means reinvesting funding into social services, like access to mental-health professionals and addiction specialists to handle crises police are not trained for. It means protecting our right to vote by funding election protections and building the infrastructure to expand voting by mail. Finally, it means investing in taking care of our loved ones, whether that’s expanding access to affordable childcare or eldercare.
I call on our community and our elected leaders to join the movement to ensure safety for our communities.