The views and opinions expressed in our letters section are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Hudson Valley One. You can submit a letter to the editor here.
Attempts at mob rule
After the attempted takeover of the Capital Building on January 6, we are now comparing which was worse — that or the riots this past summer — or which was justified. The answer is neither. They were both attempts at mob rule.
I understand the suspicions some have about the last election, as there were many rule changes on how to vote during the campaign. Rioting and threatening Congress is not the answer, nor is it justified. Excusing the riots this summer due to past mistreatment and discrimination is also wrong for a number of reasons. Many of the participants and some of the leaders were white, many of the victims who had their businesses destroyed were black, the retired police officer in St. Louis who was killed trying to protect a friend’s business was black, two young black men were killed in the so-called autonomous zone in Seattle and to my knowledge the killer was never found, there were also victims of gunfire including children in their homes, many of the protesters were there only to loot. They brought a gang and a van or SUVs to cart away the loot. These attacks were planned and not spontaneous. The victims were punished for crimes others committed in the past.
Both January 6 and this summer’s riots could be called insurrections though neither had much chance of success. All they did was further divide us and to quote Ben Franklin who said: “Gentlemen we must hang together or surely we shall hang separately.” Instead of trying to calm the waters President-elect Biden, Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer are pouring gas on the fire. Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer said even though President Trump had less than two weeks left, he must be impeached because he was so dangerous that they couldn’t even be a debate the charges in the House before voting. Now that the House voted, the Speaker hasn’t walked the papers over to the Senate to start the trial and it looks like he’ll be out of office before she delivers them. President Biden, who should be the leader of the Democrats, only questions can we do impeachment in the morning and Senate business in the afternoon. Then, to add to the split, he plays the race card saying if it had been BLM attacking the Capitol, it would have been handled with force ignoring the fact when BLM and Antifoam attacked the White House this summer that no excessive force was used. The difference in the way the attacks were handled was the Secret Service was prepared for violence, given the record of the BLM and Antifoam protesters this summer, while it seems the Capitol Police thought the Trump protestors would act the same as previous rallies.
President Biden says he wants to unite and one of the first things he does is to divide us along racial lines. His lack of leadership is troubling.
“Old men are bastards,” was the title of a poem I wrote after coming back from the Vietnam war. I use the Bible story of Abraham taking his son Isaac to the top of the mountain to make a sacrifice to God. Abraham bound his son and was holding a knife above him when he saw a ram caught in a bush and decided to sacrifice it, instead. Robert McNamara and his fellow politicians took fifty-eight thousand soldiers up the mountain, and never looked for the Ram. Since Vietnam, it feels like there has been a vast number of United States conflicts that are supplying the 22 soldiers who self-sacrifice every day on that mountain.
I’m an old man now, and today’s politicians continue to behave like bastards. Their hands still are reaching for corporations to fund their elections. The good intentions of those who entered politics soon get dragged into a backroom deal, where they find out their primary job was not governing a democracy but being the mouths to generate financial opportunities for their wealthy donors. I can hear you saying to yourself, this has been going on since the first caveman stole an extra rib from the mastodon he and his buddies killed. That is true, but there are no more mastodons left, and there will soon be no animals left to harvest, no water to drink and no place to get out of the storms. Man’s greed has not been tamed.
Is politicians’ neglect of morality for money any part of why there was just an insurrection in the White House? My response is yes and add to that, my own take is that most of the perpetrators are emotionally starving men, stuck in immaturity. They are men uninitiated by love and support that is needed to become men who will stand for morality and decency. Power starved men, with violence their only access to power. The sadness carried by these men is only deepened by what they will do to be recognized by the criminals they confuse as leaders.
Between politicians being governed by corporations and our military being used to protect the investments of our most wealthy, there is a moral schism. What filled the schism on January 6 were armed men awakened to the cost of being used as human capital by ineffective politicians who send them to capitally funded wars abroad and into our streets to stop those oppressed by the lack of government leadership. If we mix that, with a full portion of racism, we may have a formula that helps to explain our 2021 insurrection.
The people who fund our democracy are watching the foundations built by our ancestors be desiccated by morally immature men with hate, rage and greed as their only compass settings. We stand and watch our inept politicians ignore, the humanity they need to buy, to keep our democracy and its people alive.
Outraged by the Kingstonian PILOT
I’m an Esopus resident who owns two brick-and-mortar businesses in New Paltz and served on the New Paltz Town Planning Board for over six years. This letter is co-authored with Maresa Volante who lives in Kingston and owns a bakery in Kingston near the proposed Kingstonian project. We also own a sweets shop together in NYC.
As business owners who have opened multiple businesses that employ a combined total of 50+ local workers and have never asked for any tax abatements, we are strongly against and outraged by the Kingstonian PILOT.
New Paltz has already passed a statement of opposition and Hurley and Rosendale also have this pressing issue on upcoming agendas. This PILOT will have countywide implications, as well as particular negatives for any taxing entity in the Kingston City School District.
Despite the Kingston school board’s strong vote against it due to the egregious negative fiscal impacts it will create for their school budget for many decades, impacting children/students and taxpayers in the district, for many decades, and as the district faces an estimated $14M in cuts (as in, ~140 teachers/staff eliminations), the Ulster County IDA has approved these harmful tax breaks.
This is the wrong PILOT for the wrong project at the wrong time. The process has not been transparent and we cannot stay silent when so many are financially hurting in our county and this project could greatly increase the wealth of a short list of investors. Not only are they asking for a PILOT with very significant property tax breaks, they are set to get millions in state REDC/DRI economic development grant monies and they will be clearly set to exploit the fact that the project is in a federal opportunity zone which will lead to even more millions in profits for these investors.
Let’s put a microscope on this project, as the consequences are significant and do not move us toward an equitable economy. We cannot keep doing economic development like this, if we do, we are in deep trouble.
Ulster County Legislator Manna Jo Greene noted in her no vote against the PILOT that this project is not green, not at all. Given climate change we needed to stop building construction as is proposed for the Kingstonian decades ago. And the last thing we need is a parking lot in a center, it goes against all contemporary green guidance and climate smart planning. Please also note that the climate exemplar net-zero impact Zero Place in New Paltz, which includes considerable public benefits was constructed without an expensive PILOT, ergo not on the backs of property taxpayers in a pandemic economy in a county where a majority of households needed over 30 percent of their monthly income to keep roofs over their heads even before Covid hit.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
We should write to President Biden that in signing a nuclear pact with Iran or North Korea, he must not repeat the fatal flaw of the first Iran deal: It imposed a waiting period for the inspection of suspected sites. This would have allowed them to move the materials for making a nuclear weapon — such as enriched uranium — to a second site during the waiting period for the first site; then when the second site comes under suspicion, it will have a waiting period during which the material can be moved to a third site; and so on.
As the scientist and philosopher Teilhard de Chardin reminded us, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
In the trials and chaos of today’s politics, economy, health and culture, we are witnessing the return to a culture of family and neighbor. From the mid 19th century through the mid 20th century immigration brought us the melting pot of a culture of a spiritual base of love of family and neighbor. From the middle of the 20th century until now, our culture has focused on material values. Today we are witnessing the necessity of attending to the needs and connection of family and neighbor and the ability of connecting with each other through technology, if not physical connect.
As we witness our dependency on technological communications, we need to insure that its use not be dictated by a few billionaires and companies, but that it be required to offer unrestricted access to all persons or we will lose our ability to communicate and our renewed valuing and serving of family, friends and neighbor.
A waste of money
I received a birthday card from Mike Martucci, our new senator in the NY State Senate, replacing Jen Metzger. I do not want a birthday card from Mike or Jen (who never wasted money on birthday cards to voters). It is a wasteful, needless, opportunistic use of taxpayer money. He is abusing his mailing privileges. There are 307,790 residents and 208,911 registered voters in District 41. If he is campaigning for my vote using money that is desperately necessary for real work, he can just cross me off his list. I called him at his office, saying so. My birthday is in January. So your turn is coming. This tactic to solicit good-will from me and get my vote only angered me. Perhaps you may want to call him at (845) 344-3311 before you get your birthday card to tell him to put the money to better use than currying favor in such an obvious campaigning ploy.
I just paid my property taxes for Highland. The local government encloses the list of Ulster Country Budget Appropriations and Revenues. Every year I am stunned by how little is spent on education. There have been many studies, showing that when more is spent on education, expenses such as police/public safety and economic assistance go down. How about taking $2M from general government, and $4M from economic assistance, to pump into education. Enriched educational programs, with more counseling to finish high school, and get training beyond high school (college or technical) will go a long, long way towards lowering other line items in the Ulster County budget. It will also make for happier young citizens in more ways than one.
From Hudson Valley One: “McKenna said the town government adopted a very tight budget  in order to avoid a tax increase. ‘But the downside is we’re going to have less funds, and we’re just going to have to be really careful and prudent.’”
Yet in the same article McKenna said, “On the near horizon is the $2-million renovation of the town offices on Comeau Drive,” a renovation which would have required bids for the project (rather than just handing the project to the Walkers) if the minions on the town board had required a request for proposal.
Believe in your selfie
Does it count as a selfie if it’s just your foot?
In truth we trust
Please dear reader don’t bare your fangs, for there is only one card to play — On January 20, 2021 at high noon… a combination of class, grace and civility returned with global applause to the White House. There will be no ‘Traitor to the cause’, ‘Quisling’, ‘Coward’ or ‘Sour Grapes’ in the Oval Office… There can be no unity without accountability. The TRUTH has returned with the imperative to kick ass!
Mea culpa Republican Party and #45 enablers/followers, own the carnage you left behind — say it loud to this immoral, saboteur of democracy; “bleep you Donald Trump and goodbye lunatic!” What the hell do you have to lose?
A positive force in our community
Kudos to Neal Smoller, Village Apothecary, for offering Covid vaccines. Signed up on his website yesterday and received vaccine today. Wow! Have heard nightmares of lack of appointments in NY state. We were given a five-minute time slot, Entered on time to a uniquely uplifting Woodstock experience — room full of people, socially distanced and masked. Neal in the middle administering vaccines every two minutes, ringing a bell and cheers every time. Thank you Neal for being such a positive force in our community! Science will prevail.
Chloe Dresser and Andrew Peck
Christmas Eve thank you
The Woodstock Christmas Eve Committee would like to express their appreciation for all the volunteers who make the Christmas Eve celebration a reality every year. This year all their work “behind the scenes” was not able to be put on display due to the Covid virus restrictions, but much of the preparations were already in place.
The amount of cooperation with different areas of the town departments, the community and the “man hours” dedicated to bringing “Santa” to Woodstock by volunteers makes the arrival special. The planning process requires volunteers at every stage of the process and includes everything from the float construction to the purchasing of the stockings and the assembly and distribution of the food and cheer baskets. The number of volunteers involved is vital to the success of the evening and we cannot thank them enough for all their help. Hope to see everyone on the green in 2021.
Christmas Eve Committee
January 25, 2021, U.S. Courts of Appeals of the DC Circuit will hear a landmark case against the FCC over their maximum exposure guidelines being outdated and being based only on a thermal mechanism. Children’s Health Defense an organization, founded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Esq. and Environmental Health Trust, founded by co-Nobel Prize Laureate Dr. Devra Davis, as some of the petitioners in that lawsuit, have submitted 11,000 pages of evidence to support the non-thermal mechanism of harm from exposure to low levels electromagnetic radiation (EMR). The FCC, a captured agency of the telecom industry it was supposed to be regulating, was documented so by Harvard School of Law/Ethics Department, in a report published in 2015 titled “Captured Agency.” The problem is the FCC has been keeping their maximum permissible exposure (mpe) guidelines high for the benefit of industry profits and to the detriment of the public’s health. The US has the highest mpe’s in the world at 600-1,000 microwatts per centimeter squared. Russia’s is ten microwatts per centimeter squared as is China, Poland, Austria and more. Industry has been conning the public with the purported safety of wireless devices because they are within the FCC guidelines, much the same way the tobacco industry asserted the safety of cigarettes supported by the American Medical Association.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency stated officially in 2001 that the FCC guidelines “do not protect human beings from all mechanisms of harm” and the Department of Interior officially stated in 2014 the FCC guidelines are “based on the thermal principle nearly 30 years out of date and not applicable today.”
In response to telecom disinformation, the Swiss government convened a group of the country’s expert electromagnetic specialists called “Berenis,” to review the scientific literature over the past ten years and present a quarterly report on the question of biological hazards regarding EMR. This past January, Berenis published its peer-reviewed report and found the research available from 2010 to 2020 documents exposure to a “low dose” of non-ionizing EMR may cause “severe health effects” in the young and elderly and in people with immune deficiencies or diseases.
Now that the world is in the grips of a pandemic virus, our immunity should be of grave importance. We should not tolerate this cozy relationship between the telecom industry and the FCC. Please support Children’s Health Defense (childrenshealthdefense.org) and Environmental Trust (ehtrust.org) however you can.
Legislature candidate claims his is a “far superior platform”
The Covid-19 pandemic illuminates the need for healthcare to be a top priority of governmental entities! Our nation’s inability to handle the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrates the lack of infrastructure within our healthcare system and the lack of coordination within government. While in the Ulster County Legislature, I served on the Healthcare/Social Services Committee for four years and was vice-chairman for two, and I maintained that healthcare should be the top priority!
With the recent polarization and turmoil within the United States government, an association to ideological viewpoints has unfortunately replaced a substantive understanding of the issues and solutions that should draw voters into politics. Because of this, buzzwords and phrases like “progressive” and “populist” are used by political insiders and the media to delineate between differing points of polarity across politics.
The term “movement(s)” are tacked onto these aforementioned buzzwords in a boiled-down attempt to grasp the attention of voters and garner their allegiance. In fact, campaign workshops are organized whereby aspiring politicians learn how to use propaganda and talking points as a means to sway voters into voting for a candidate based upon an identification with a political ideology with no regard for the truth.
On a local level, the results from my 2019 Democratic Party primary for Ulster County Legislature in District 2, Saugerties and Malden, are the best example of this insidious phenomenon. Out of nearly 40 countywide candidates for Ulster County Legislature, I was the only candidate who actually presented a detailed, legitimate and feasible platform. After hearing other candidates present their platforms across the county, I was dismayed by the lack of specificity and understanding that was presented by many candidates!
In my race, I lost the Democratic primary by eleven votes unofficially and twelve votes officially to a candidate who had no understanding of how county government operates and an extremely unprofessional record in 18 months of disservice on the Saugerties Town Board.
Strategically, the 2019 Democratic primary was a race that I could have won very easily, but I had spent too much time winning the Independence Party primary to order to ensure that I would be victorious in the general election.
Since its inception in 2011, I remain the only Democrat to be elected to the Ulster County Legislature in District 2. The district was a Republican-leaning district when I got elected in 2013, and now it is a purple district. Up until now, winning the Independence Party line via a write-in campaign was the only way to ensure victory in November, which is a feat I accomplished twice and very nearly three times. I am one of only two county legislative candidates to accomplish this feat in the last two decades.
During the general election, I presented a clear understanding of county government and a detailed platform that was far superior to anything that was presented across the county. At the League of Women’s Voters debate, I clearly stood out as being the top candidate out of the five for Districts 1 and 2; Saugerties.
Unfortunately, I became the victim of a dirty campaign that was run against me. As a candidate for county legislature, I have never needed to rely on my supporters to spread lies about my opponents, phone in false complaints about them to local entities, steal their campaign signs, threaten them on the phone with blackmail or extortion if they did not stop campaigning, or receive illegal funding for my campaign.
Despite such despicable tactics being perpetrated upon me, I have the guts to stand up to such corruption within the Democratic Party, and I will be presenting a detailed platform to the voters in District 2 that is far superior to the platform that was presented in last week’s edition of Hudson Valley One, which was laughable at best. In 2022, I will bring professionalism, intelligence, accuracy, diligence and the truth back into the county legislature!
Response to Dubois improvement project
Dear Mr. Bettez,
I have been following news media coverage of the Dubois improvement project during the past year. I attended, watched and listened to the virtual public information meeting on October 7, 2020; and I have read the Draft Project Scoping Report/Final Design Report, dated November 2020. Previously, I e-mailed you and Kristie Di Cocco of Alta Planning for a copy of the results of the bog turtle survey.
I have the following concerns about Chapter 3, “Social, Economic and Environmental Considerations,” and Appendix B, “Environmental,” of the Draft Project Scoping Report/Final Design Report.
To have the New Paltz Town Board establish itself at the lead agency to conduct the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) presents a conflict of interest. Such an agency is likely to complete the determining Federal Environmental Approval Worksheet (FEAW) to meet its expectations and goals. Its conclusion that the project “does not … have a significant environmental impact” and is therefore “excluded from the requirement for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or Environmental Assessment (EA)” can be seen to conform to those expectations rather than to a scientific and objective completion of the worksheet and review.
Even though the lead agency claims that “[i]t is anticipated that the project will not have an adverse impact on the environment, based on criteria outlined in the Short Environment Assessment Form located in Appendix B,” the results on the form in Appendix B as completed by the lead agency report that: (1) the proposed improvement site does contain wetlands, (2) does physically alter or encroach on those wetlands, and (3) does contain species of animals, e.g, sedge wren, Indiana bat and bog turtle, listed by the State or federal government as threatened or endangered.
I have a number of concerns, but will focus on one as illustrative: the section of the report about the bog turtle survey.
Here the report tells us that the habitat assessment was completed by OSPA Engineering Services. No information about the firm is provided, not its credentials or qualifications, no evidence that the firm would be neutral, objective and independent-of-influence, nor what scientific method and analysis it used. We learn that the study consisted of a “site walkover” that took place “between the hours of 8 and 10 a.m.” on a single day. The individual researcher(s) is/are not identified by name, title, number or qualifications. We are only told that the purpose of the study “was to determine if suitable bog turtle habitat was present.” The report makes the observation that “[n]o bog turtles were observed during the site visit,” as if the turtles were expected to organize a parade or rally to greet the researchers. Quite remarkably, the study reports that “tussock sedge (CArex stricta)” and “red maple (Acer rubrum)” were present and are “known associates of suitable bog turtle habitat,” but then it concludes that “the presence of either of these species is not the sole indicator of suitable habitat” and “concluded that the project site does not contain suitable habitat for the bog turtle.”
As I read and studied the report, I began to feel that the “improvement” purpose of this project would benefit the recreational and leisure activities of hikers and bicyclists and not the natural vegetation and animals of the area, in fact it could easily pose a danger to them and in the long run to the environment and residents more widely. In view of the findings cited above, I think the board should reconsider its January 7, 2021 decision to approve the design.
Gary D Comstock
Poetry and Prayer
words come together
in amazing grace
like a convergence of roads
from different directions
the meeting of heaven
heaven and Earth
heart and hope
our dreams and our plans
forever and now
we forge a new union
with our better angels
with malice toward none
and charity for all
our words are true
and our truth is our poetry
and that is our prayer
a prayer of poetry
a poem of prayers
Fighting back against scam phone calls
I work in a government office and we get telemarketing and “scam” calls regularly. You know the ones: offers to extend your car warrantee, threatening calls from the IRS, offers of technical support, intimidating calls that your electric is about to be shut off, etc. I have won SOOOOO many cruises!
Today, as I was eating lunch at my desk, I got a call with a recording that my Amazon account had suspicious activity…Clearly a scam…but it annoyed me so much that something inside me snapped and I decided to fight back!
The recording claimed something to the effect that someone had used the credit card on my Amazon account and purchased an iPhone X for $310, Amazon had temporarily put a hold on my entire account and while they investigated this purchase. Amazon was trying to reach me and if I did not make and/or authorize this purchase I should press “1” to speak to an authorized Amazon Fraud Agent.
Clearly this was a scam of some sort. No one sells a new iPhone X for $310! What the heck? I pressed “1.”
I was instantly connected to a very cordial man with an accent who identified himself as James with Amazon Fraud Prevention and gave me his employee ID. That, of course, was another dead giveaway. When did you ever call any customer service number and have someone answer the phone right away!
Without even asking my name…James knew that I was calling because an iPhone X had been charged on my account but was being shipped to an address in South Carolina. Their records indicated I had never used that address before and that is why Amazon flagged my account. Did I make that purchase or know that address?
I thought I could safely play along for a little while without sharing any personal information…It went something like this…
Me: (doing my best “helpless old woman” voice) Why no, this is so alarming…What is that address again?” Wait, wait…maybe that is my nephew… let me look up his address…where is my address book… (I stalled).
James: (patiently) Does your nephew have access to your Amazon account and credit card?
Me: Well…No, you are right, he doesn’t. How could this happen. I wonder if someone stole my whole identity. I get so confused. You know there are so many scams out there, I hear about them all the time… not that I doubt you but…what did you say your employee number was?
James: (Rattled off the number again) If you want to confirm you are talking to an authorized Amazon Fraud Prevention Agent, I can give you a number to call me back.
Me: Oh, I don’t think I need to do that, you sound so polite and honest, and I feel like I can trust you…so what can I do now? Should I change my password or cancel my credit card…
James: I can fix your account so this doesn’t happen to you ever again. Would you like me to do that for you?
Me: What a wonderful service, it gives me such piece of mind. You know the world needs more companies like this that really care about retired people like me on a fixed income. I guess not every big corporation is out trying to rip people off. And you…you are so nice, I will have to write a letter to your supervisors to let them know how helpful this all has been.
James: That is so kind of you, but we are just doing our job…looking out for good customers like you.
Me: This is so refreshing to get this level of customer service. Your mother must be so proud to know you are helping people like this. Maybe I can write a letter to her, too, and let her know what a fine upstanding son she has. (I thought this might be a little over the top and give me away, but James didn’t seem to suspect a thing.)
James: You are so kind, but that is not necessary. Now, for me to cancel this order and update the protections on your account so it never happens again, I will need to remote into your computer…
AHHHH…There it is…
Me: I’m not sure how to do any of that…usually my grandkids have to help me on this computer. It is their old one. I just use it to do the skype or the facetime or whatever they call it.
James: Don’t worry, I will talk you through it (and began telling me where to find the information he needed to log into my computer).
I played along for a while as he cooed words of encouragement. Told him I had to put the phone down as I pretended to turn on my computer. Pretended to wait for it to boot up. Pretended I had trouble typing in my password. Pretended that I didn’t see what he was asking me to open. I did this for a few minutes while I ate my lunch. I kept telling James how helpful and patient he was. I’m sure he thought it was his lucky day and he had sucker on the phone– hook, line and sinker.
When I decided I had wasted enough of my lunch time, I changed my tone.
Me: You know, James, come to think of it…this is starting to sound like a scam…
James: (horrified). A SCAM…why would you say that!
Me: Well, first of all, Amazon doesn’t call customers like this….
James: We do now. Let me explain…This is a new service Amazon offers to insure your account security…I can give you a number to call me back to confirm I am calling from the Amazon Fraud Prevention office. Your account security is our highest priority. (The SOB didn’t give up!)
Me: Secondly, you are calling a government office. We don’t even have an Amazon account. Don’t bother to deny it any longer I KNOW this is a scam, you are a thief ripping people off and should be ashamed.
James: You don’t have an Amazon account? Why didn’t you say so…Why did you do all that…
Me: James, people like you are a plague on society and I just thought it would be fun to mess with you while our consumer fraud office traced the call…
James: F#(% Y@&! (and hung up).
Of course, that bit about consumer fraud tracing the call is not true but whatever – I hope he is looking over his shoulder tonight!
I guess, in truth, he really was an Amazon “Fraud” Agent or should I say a “Fraudulent Amazon Agent.” LOL. Wow, that was surprising satisfying. I may have to do that kind of thing more often!
Scenic Hudson policies contribute to environmental collapse
Erin Quinn’s fluffy propaganda piece last week about the ascension of Seth McKee to the executive position of the Scenic Hudson Land Trust along with Raul Aguirre’s appointment to the position of Policy, Advocacy and Science is just another example of how a semantic twisting of words turns ugly reality into a glowing effusive explosion of preening adjectives of achievement and praise.
The sad truth is that Scenic Hudson’s criteria for acquisition of endangered Hudson Valley green space in order to preserve its natural “uniqueness” (in the doublespeak of professed land conservancies) is based less on the numbers of actual species uniqueness, ecological value or natural contributions to society than on obvious potentialities as a magnet for trail recreation and self-serving advertisements.
On Scenic Hudson’s some 45 properties, the misguided liberal and permissive policies of dog walking has transformed what was original untouched natural areas into “canine-corrupted ecosystems” of declining biodiversity, trail compaction and erosion, forest fragmentation, ecological disturbance, and environmental compromise and degradation.
Engineered by amateur “office” environmental planners, Scenic Hudson has produced a plethora of tainted parklands complete with the ugly sight of blue-and-green doggy poop bags, doggy-poop bag-dispensing stations, and the cumulative environmental effect of dogs rampaging through sensitive natural habitats, which destroy delicate and endangered wildflower communities and wildlife nesting habitats. It contributes to a growing environmental catastrophe on the last remnants of Hudson Valley flora and fauna.
The pernicious influence of dogs is a strong vector of deer-tick transmission and poison-ivy infestation. It disrupts leaf litter, which encourages the spread of invasive plant species. Dogs also harass deer and other animals living in the forest. The unmitigated disruption by dogs of birds nesting in the forest is a primary deterrent to their successful population recruitment. The presence of dogs in an undisturbed natural habitat is a disaster that just compounds the effect of human pressure already overwhelming vulnerable Hudson River ecologies.
Further, the oxymoron usage of the term “preserve” to describe Scenic Hudson properties is a contradiction in itself. Far from being “preserves,” Scenic Hudson has transformed islands of environmentally pressured natural areas along the riparian corridor of the Hudson into recreation infrastructures trails of parking lots, picnic benches, portapotties, information kiosks and blatantly self-serving interpretive trail signs that only reinforce and increase, not diminish, the human footprint.
Wildlife preserves are not for people but for the salvation of dwindling environmental biodiversity and not for the hordes of insensitive and ignorant dog walkers, hikers, and trail runners who trample the last orchid in their paths. This is not conservation, and actually betrays the sacred trust of land stewardship and philosophy of preservationist ecologists, such as Aldo Leopold (the godfather of American ecology and wildlife management), who said in his Sand County Almanac, that “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
Scenic Hudson’s laissez- faire environmental protections of vulnerable Hudson River natural areas has become co-opted by the recreation industry, the tourist dollar, and the dog-walking imperium. This is the “tip of the spear” of environmental collapse and mankind’s subjugation of Mother Earth.
It is time for us to see the world as it is and not as it could be under the guise of self-professed environmental stewards. Scenic Hudson as the so-called monarch of Hudson River land preservation is really an emperor with no clothes.
Open letter to UCIDA board members
Using your agency’s “long-term economic vitality for Ulster County” lens, do you have suggestions for local governments and school districts? How will we fund services since you have expanded Ulster County Industrial Development Agency (UCIDA) policy to grant payment-in-lieu-of-tax programs (PILOTs) to for-profit housing and mixed-use projects, without consent from local governments or school districts who may object?
In the Village of New Paltz, we rely primarily on property tax revenue to pay for things like snow plowing, fire trucks, salaries and benefits, including health insurance, for our staff. Should we anticipate raising property taxes for existing residents who do not enjoy tax abatements from PILOTs? We haven’t raised taxes in four years and haven’t raised water or sewer rates in eight years.
I appreciated that during your January 20, 2021 meeting, Chair James Malcolm and board member Rick Jones shared concerns about the Property Tax Cap formula and Ulster County Government’s inequitable Sales Tax Sharing Agreement. You implied that you cannot consider these problems when deciding on whether to grant PILOTs. I must respectfully disagree with you on this extremely critical point.
Your agency’s goals and policies make it clear that the agency must remain mindful of the “economic well-being of both Ulster County residents and domicile businesses.” You are not handcuffed to exclusively propping up businesses while dismissing or outright ignoring the unintended consequences from PILOTs.
I previously served on the Town of New Paltz Planning Board and we denied a project precisely because the for-profit housing applicant sought a significant PILOT. Our board’s May 12, 2014 resolution stated the following: “…the findings statement concludes that the Project, if given a PILOT would have significant adverse environmental impact on community character and population distribution, due to the adverse effect on community services, and the resulting adverse consequences on services provided to the New Paltz School District and the Town of New Paltz, the jurisdictions primarily impacted by the Project and by the PILOT.”
Subsequently, the applicant sued and the judge sided with New Paltz’s determination because of the adverse impacts from PILOTs.
Please uphold your stated mission of general prosperity and well-being for Ulster County residents. We implore you to revise your policies and include local jurisdictions so as not to risk harming your neighbors.
Mayor Tim Rogers
Here’s to a new day
I’ve been doing my best not to go down the deep dark hole with the absurdists who continue to support Trump and his “alternative facts.”
But, a recent letter to Hudson Valley One just can’t be ignored. This foolish writer cited people “assembling at the Capitol, breaking a few windows,….throwing some papers around,” etc. etc.
I bet this writer is also one of “those people” who mocked the BLM protests and chants BLUE LIVES MATTER.
Well, I guess Blue Lives Matter except when they don’t. Insurrections didn’t assemble; they rioted at the sacred halls of our Capitol chanting kill Pelosi, hang Pence and get them. They beat police with the American flag. They threw police officers down a flight of steps while beating and kicking them. They threw fire extinguishers at others. One officer was tased by these thugs and had a heart attack, blessedly surviving to go home to his wife and four children.
One police officer was murdered! Another was nearly crushed to death screaming for his life while rioters refused to help. Four other people were killed.
But, what’s a few white supremacists and right wingers trying to overthrow a democracy. Apparently to this right wing author, it’s all fine.
An insurrection is not to be taken lightly. We must crush these domestic fascists and those in Congress, along with the feckless trump — must be held accountable for this attempted coup. This is not Orwellian. This is our 2021 reality.
Here’s to a new day. Here’s to integrity. Speak up and call out the liars, the corrupt people who are still emerging from the swamp. And, remember there is no unifying or reconciliation with fascists. That message must be made extremely clear.
The Kingstonian PILOT is a travesty
The approval of the Kingstonian PILOT is a travesty. Mayor Steve Noble and Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, please hit reset and take a fresh, authentic look at your assessments of the (short and long term) benefits and harms of this very large and very long and very significant and consequential tax giveaway. Look at the variety of cogent arguments against and concerning ramifications of approval that your own engagement processes and investigations into it did not unearth, glossed over, or minimized. Please update your perspectives, analysis and responses to this PILOT, and instead of ignoring and dismissing critical information and concerns, incorporate the missing negatives that many have brought to you with respect to this project and the immense tax break it was just granted. Please reassess the promises made about economic (direct and indirect) ripple effects that are unfounded, are PR promises not real fiscal realities, and in truth will threaten the viability of existing small businesses and exacerbate the already every day increasing cost of living for people in Kingston/Ulster County. Please respond to these real concerns with empathy, a willingness to listen, and a commitment to act on the true realities here. Please stop this while you still can. If there is political will for it, there is still time for a better path forward.
Rollback of rollbacks
If ever the phrase “whack-a-mole” was appropriate, now is the time. Obama had made a number of executive decisions which Trump, during his four years, rolled back. In his first days of office, President Biden rolled back many of those rollbacks:
• He rejoined the Paris agreement!; (the agreement stipulated that a country could not officially pull out until one day after the new head-of–state was ensconced);
• He revoked the Keystone XL Pipeline’s permit which Obama had denied in 2015 on environmental grounds. Trump granted the permit two years later;
• California increased car efficiency standards (requiring higher miles-per-gallon). Trump overrode it, and Biden reinstated it;
• There are numerous Trump attempts to allow more gas drilling on public lands. (Trump shrunk two national monuments significantly so that fossil fuel companies could “have at it.”) Biden is in the process of reestablishing those monuments); and
• Trump not only opened the precious Alaska Preserve to drilling, but in his final days, he encouraged fossil fuel companies to buy leases! However, Biden is planning to stop the onslaught!
So, more importantly than all the progress he has made in his first few days in office, Biden has shown a total commitment to litigating climate change and practicing environmental justice.
Dan and Ann Guenther
People’s Place is extraordinary
Every one of us should know that People’s Place is an amazing resource for our community, especially during this past year of struggles through the pandemic. Christine Hein and her staff have worked with great commitment to feed, clothe and provide basic necessities to those in need. Still, I was (admittedly) shocked and thrilled beyond words, to find that they had held onto some jewelry which I carelessly left in the pocket of a donated garment. After searching for a long time, I gave up hope. As a last resort, I contacted People’s Place and miraculously there it was. The pieces were family heirlooms that had great sentimental value. What a wonderful and positive turn of events in these dark times, thanks to the extraordinary staff at People’s Place. Please don’t forget to support their good work by donating generously and helping them to take care of people in our community every day. Any one of us — family, friends, or neighbors — could be the ones in need at any time. Believe it.