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.
New Energy Opportunities for Saugerties
New energy opportunities are coming to Saugerties in the form of Community Choice Aggregation (CCA). CCA is a process by which municipalities can join forces in buying electrical power. As a result of this collective buying, rates are stabilized at or below current prices, AND that electricity will be derived from totally renewable sources. If that were not enough, individuals participating in the program will also have an opportunity to be a part of community solar, which means their power consumption is a share of a local solar project (such as the one recently erected on the town transfer station) and guarantees a monetary credit of 10% on their electric bill! These advantages come with no cost to the municipality or its residents. And no contracts must be signed binding the individual to the program; one can opt out at any time.
The Town of Saugerties is moving ahead with implementing this program. Significant public outreach and education will be coming before a final agreement is made with suppliers. Town residents will receive informational letters and have many opportunities and avenues of communication. These efforts are aimed at assuring residents are well informed before they need choose whether to participate or not.
While the Town of Saugerties is preparing to offer its residents these opportunities, the Village of Saugerties has not taken the steps necessary to offer the same to village residents. At this point, as it is with the town, these initial steps do not commit the municipality to a program until a final power agreement is brought forward, at which point they can choose to accept, or not, without penalty. Basically these initial steps are to allow for outreach to and education of their constituents.
This issue has been before the village board numerous times since last December. So far they have not implemented those initial steps. This I can’t quite understand, since at this point the measures they need to take do not commit the village, nor its residents, to any eventual program and nor do they incur any costs. The only purpose at this point in these measures is to enable the education of residents as to the nature of the program and the advantages that they may derive from CCA.
The time to act soon will pass in coordinating CCA efforts with the town as plans for outreach are now being made. As a village resident it is my sincere hope that the village board will get “on board” so that village residents will have the same opportunities as the town’s. If you feel the same, you might want to reach out to the trustee(s) and ask what they are waiting for. The time has come to act before we lose a golden and sunny opportunity.
Overpolicing in New Paltz breaks town budget!
Your recent article, “Puzzled over police reform process,” brought my attention to a concern about the level of policing and its cost to New Paltz. The article included a picture with signs, one of which claimed “New Paltz is overpoliced.” The picture was one of many signs displayed at a police protest of Quakers, Women in Black and Black Lives Matter et cetera on the cold afternoon of January 23. We must ask ourselves: What would drive people to take that action on that cold afternoon?
The pictures of the protest were published by this newspaper on February 3, but the signs did not capture that the New Paltz police budget is breaking the town budget. We have an ongoing and increasing expense of at least $2.9 million plus fringe benefits. We also have an unknown amount that we pay in taxes for policing by the county, state and federal governments. This amount is far more of the New Paltz budget than highway maintenance, the Fire Department, the library, youth services, ambulance service, public health and the rail trail combined. This information and more below is found in the website of New Paltz United for a Responsible Budget (www.npresponsiblebudget.org). Counting the SUNY New Paltz Police Department and New Paltz Police Department, we have 32.5 police per 10,000 residents, the second-highest ratio in Ulster County. In addition, you have police patrolling in town by New York State Police, Ulster County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Ulster County Probation Department and off-duty New York State correctional officers in our bars acting as bouncers.
The town service debt service payments will further increase for years to come with the building of a new police department, the purchase of two new police cruisers and more bullets. At a time when crime is down, what do we get for this?
The website of NPU4RB also points out that only 2.5 percent of arrests in New Paltz are for violent crimes, or 97.5 percent of arrests were for nonviolent acts. Violent crime for New Paltz is not a major problem. Major crime, as reported to the FBI, declined 45 percent between 2010 and 2018, while the number of officers in New Paltz remained unchanged; the budget rose 15 percent. In fact, the largest single type of incident that New Paltz police are assigned to do is checking on private properties when owners are absent. The NPU4RB website demonstrates in a graph that from 2019 to 2020 there were 4,272 such police calls. The website also indicates that 40 percent of all arrests are associated with the Village late-night bar scene, where New Paltz police effectively act as a heavily subsidized security force, along with the checking of private properties.
Paradoxically, the safety and well-being of the community is compromised when too much money is spent on policing and little spent on youth, the elderly, mental health, prevention of suicide, addiction, overdose, Teen Seen, New Paltz Community Center, New Paltz Field of Dreams, Family of New Paltz, immigrant services, Moriello Pool et cetera. Depending on how you define violence, there is a great need to divest some money from the New Paltz police budget and reinvest the savings in addressing human needs in our New Paltz community.
For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (845) 255-9652.
Know your enemy
The enemy of my enemy is me.
1/6 is the new 9/11
Dear President Biden, Vice President Harris, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Delgado:
Donald Trump, the demagogue American never dreamed of, has far more brilliance than I credited him with when he declared his candidacy for the presidency. Honing his MO over decades, from the most powerful office in the world he brought it to bear on a world of relative innocence that has now vanished forever. In the words of George Will, 1/6 is our new 9/11. We are changed and we must never forget. When set next to Mr. Trump’s capacity for subterfuge, fiction pales.
I can only hope and pray that the courage, meticulousness, persistence, ideals and integrity of the House managers will provide for the American people over the long haul of history, and that their message will triumph over the craven hypocrisy of the 43 Republican senators who voted to acquit Mr. Trump while sitting in the very chamber that Mr. Trump’s platoons defiled.
President Biden and Vice President Harris, you stepped away in a public sense from the impeachment fray to shield your important political laundry list from involvement. I do not criticize you for this. I am certain you see Mr. Trump for the domestic enemy he is and approved of the charge the House brought against the former president.
Speaker Pelosi, I remain grateful for your leadership. You greenlighted the impeachment and assembled the managers. You had no choice. To have turned away from your awful decision would have meant our American villain’s absolute escape. To risk the acquittal that we have now witnessed was your own appointment with destiny. I am proud to be a Democrat and proud that the Democratic House managers created a lattice of facts for Americans to ponder and for history to elaborate.
Majority Leader Schumer, thank you for your powerful words after the acquittal was handed down: “January 6 will live as a day of infamy in the history of the United States of America. The failure to convict Donald Trump will live as a vote of infamy in the history of the United States Senate…The most despicable act that any president has ever committed – and the majority of Republicans cannot summon the courage or the morality to condemn it!” Yes! Minority Leader McConnell attempted to say something similar, somehow, in some way – and nullified it both with his vote and the pretzel logic with which he attempted to explain this vote away. We are familiar with Mr. McConnell’s hypocrisy. His proclaimed love for our Republic is a nullity. He awaits his American Dante. He awaits his eventual consignment to the lowest circles of Hell.
Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Delgado, thank you for your leadership as well, for your support of the impeachment process and, in Senator Gillibrand’s case, your vote to convict. More visible leadership, in this circumstance, fell to the voices and the hands of your colleagues. But given the latitude with which malefactors in our society feel free to act, history will call on you sooner than you think to act publicly and decisively to protect our flawed yet great American experiment.
We see in all of Mr. Trump’s actions a cruel and unrepentant sadism. I pray that the Republican senators’ refusal to put principle over ambition, nation over party and patriotism over self-interest will prove their undoing. With no internal compass, they feed like stray dogs at the back door of a cruel master who will kick them when whim and perfidy sing their venomous duet in his ear. It will now fall to local jurisdictions – the Southern District, New York State, Fulton County, Georgia, and others to come – to bring Mr. Trump’s to the scales of American justice. May justice be bestowed upon the American people.
Our Comeau addition
In May 2019, the Commission of Civic Design (CCD) was asked [by the Town Board] to conduct a “courtesy review” of the Walkers’ design for an addition to the existing two-story Comeau building. The CCD accepted this assignment in good faith that their reviews and recommendations would be taken seriously. It fully agreed that the town offices are in need of improvements and upgrades. The design showed 2,000 square feet of new construction, 2,500 square feet of remodeling and an 800-square-foot renovation of the supervisor’s cottage.
The CCD had two design reviews with Walker Architects. The first review was on 6/10/19, when the CCD brought up the need to widen the narrow single-loaded hallway and to study alternative roof forms other than interior-facing shed roofs and questioned the choice of windows, which did not relate to or complement the Comeau building.
The second review on 9/23/19 showed some changes in the design, but the submitted overall plan and form remained similar to the original, which resulted in the CCD requesting “future design reviews, because there remain serious design issues.”
We have rules in place to keep the Comeau property pristine. Why not an addition that complements the Comeau building?
Some bones to pick/food for thought
Now the media is focusing on Governor Cuomo’s supposed deceitful reporting of nursing home deaths. How quickly humans forget the good and begin to shred a soul a moment later. I really get tired of endless criticizing of people’s actions. I was disgusted, weary of the pathetic, immature, high-school-level, bullying tweets of our former president. Just one week of positive, praise, good news on all media to lift spirits would be welcomed by millions. “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” as Eliza Doolittle sings in the musical My Fair Lady.
Whether you are for or against the governor, I give him an A+ for how he took us through the months and months of mounting, horrifying deaths due to the virus. Remember? Every day we had clear information, directions, strength, focus, hard facts, encouragement and yes, even at times great empathy. We needed that badly, starkly missing from our former president.
I wish there was some element of censorship these days, some semblance of good taste. Our former president is appearing on TV shows still stating he won the election. He should be censored. That one, repeated, outrageous lie has done great harm. It’s appalling that millions believed him. I am reminded of Jim Jones, Hitler and other famous perpetrators of lies and manipulators of people’s minds.
The media has the power for great good, but it does not live up to its potential; most are reduced to a visual, glorified rag like the Examiner, rather than good journalism and positive works.
A TV station showed the luxurious interior of our nation’s new Air Force One. Not only is this outrageous with our staggering debt, but to throw this in the face of millions of suffering, sick, hungry human beings that have known great losses humanwise, economically and socially, is the epitome of poor taste. We spend willy-nilly $5 billion on two new Air Force Ones, yet Congress bickers, denies, falters at assisting the American people during extreme, harsh, frightening times.
One famous revolution began with a queen declaring, “Let them eat cake.” Is history repeating itself? Gorgeous gilded carriages, silks, jewels, wealth, finery in abundance, while a populace starved. Has Congress read their history lately?
Our Constitution, one of the greatest documents ever written, is copied the world over. Our country, way of life has been great. Growing pains occur at many stages of our lives; same with a country, government. We’re having our own. Change is painful. It does begin with ourselves.
Farewell to Rush
Sadly, Rush Limbaugh passed away February 17 after about a year fighting lung cancer. What I liked, listening to him, was his reminders that we are a nation governed by laws, not by people. He pointed out policies and legislation that conformed to or violated the Constitution and our rights. He had great insight and interpreted news in ways that didn’t occur to most of us. He promoted liberty. Leftists hated him for this. There’s a lot more to be said, but I came across what were considered some of his best quotes (compiled by John Hawkins), and I thought that would be nice to share:
“For government to give, it must first take away.”
“The people that make this country work, the people who pay on their mortgages, the people getting up and going to work, striving in this recession to not participate in it, they’re not the enemy. They’re the people that hire you. They’re the people that are going to give you a job.”
“Now, what is the left’s worldview in general? What is it? If you had to attach not a philosophy but an attitude to a leftist worldview, it’s one of pessimism and darkness, sadness. They’re never happy, are they? They’re always angry about something. No matter what they get, they’re always angry.”
“Liberals always exempt themselves from the rules that they impose on others.” (Isn’t this so true of Pelosi, Newsom, Cuomo, mayors of San Francisco, Philadelphia, Austin and Denver et al?)
“Bigot: A person who wins an argument with a liberal.”
“Liberals measure compassion by how many people are given welfare. Conservatives measure compassion by how many people no longer need it.”
“Conservatism is an active intellectual pursuit; it requires constant vigilance. It has nothing to do with feelings. Liberalism is the most gutless choice you can make. You just see suffering and say, ‘Oh, I feel so horrible!’”
“I’m not opposed to the protection of animals. But the best way to do that is to make sure some human being owns them.”
“Morality is not defined and cannot be defined by individual choice.”
“No nation has ever taxed itself into prosperity.”
“End results that work that don’t involve government threaten liberals.”
“Let me tell you who we conservatives are: We love people. When we look out over the United States of America, when we are anywhere, when we see a group of people, such as this or anywhere, we see Americans. We see human beings. We don’t see groups. We don’t see victims.”
“In a country of children where the option is Santa Claus or work, what wins?”
“The world’s biggest problem is the unequal distribution of capitalism. If there were capitalism everywhere, you wouldn’t have food shortages.”
“Progress is not striving for economic justice or fairness, but economic growth.”
“You know why there’s a Second Amendment? In case the government fails to follow the first one.”
Farewell, Rush. You will be remembered as a great American and patriot.
Thoughts about shoveling
I read Terence Ward’s point of view on snow removal for sidewalks and would have to agree with the points made. I have lived in the Village of New Paltz for about five years and am slightly younger (66) than Dan Guenther. I am no longer going to shovel my sidewalk! I’d like to live a bit longer.
The issue of shoveling two or three times is what I experience every time it snows. I live on North Manheim. The past mega-storm, I shoveled three times because the plows shove all the snow from the street back up onto my sidewalk. My dog-sitter’s son now shovels for me, but I did try to hire someone in the beginning. I gave up trying. They either don’t call back or call back and say they are not taking on any new clients. What’s a senior to do! Last year, I had the flu; I ended up paying someone two times a total of $80 to shovel because of the plow situation. I realize there isn’t an easy solution, but it is a crime that homeowners must shovel not once, but twice or three times.
Another common issue: the inconsistency of who shovels and who does not. I walk my dog, and it seems some people don’t realize their driveway is part of their property. They shovel right up to the apron and stop and don’t shovel that portion! Often there is ice (how about putting a bit of salt or sand?). Then there’s those absentee owners who live in Kansas or California; they never shovel, nor the residents. I end up walking in the street – not the best option, but try walking through snow and ice with your dog.
I also want to add a commentary about going through the pandemic. I live alone and have gone through the mourning process alone, losing a brother a little over a year ago and then my sister’s husband last April. I couldn’t attend the funeral in Pennsylvania because of COVID-19 restrictions at the time. I try to have faith, but lately it’s hard. And then there’s the snow. I try to think positive. Spring will come, and I have an appointment in March for my first vaccine shot.
Double up, New Paltz
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced February 5, 2021 that Ulster County had its first case of the Coronavirus UK variant, B.1.1.7. This variant is much more contagious and poses a greater risk to health. At the time of announcement, the state reported 59 cases throughout the state, but health officials recognize this number to be far greater. Since that initial announcement, an additional case has been discovered in Ulster County. This specific variant is on track to be the predominant strain in the US within a few weeks. In response to a potential increased spread of the virus, particularly its mutations, health officials are recommending wearing two masks to better protect and help curtail the spread of the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) last week issued guidance on doubling up on masks. With these contagious mutations, I’d like to recommend that surgical masks be worn, under the cloth masks most of us wear, doubled up, particularly within a confined space, such as an office or vehicle with passengers outside your household. These blue surgical masks are widely available at our local pharmacies and supermarkets.
How to properly wear two masks can be seen in this video: www.washingtonpost.com/video/c/embed/02ebc2d0-d278-451c-892c-d59d9dc89866.
Although infection rates are in decline and vaccinations are being administered, now is not the time to lower our guard. This extra precautionary step, combined with social distancing, hand-washing et cetera will help keep the numbers down and lessen the spread of the virus. Both the Village and Town of New Paltz are offering employees these extra masks free of charge, as an option, supplied by Ulster County’s Department of Health.
Trustee, Village of New Paltz
A piece of history
Kudos to Hudson Valley One for highlighting the accomplishments of the Town of Saugerties Historic Preservation Commission (February 17, 2021). The Commission has recently discussed placing the Asbury Agricultural Historic District on the calendar for a public hearing, which will make it the first such district since the preservation law was adopted in 2005.
Town Board member Leeanne Thornton has also stressed the historic importance of the former Staples Brickyard at Bristol Beach Town Park. This site not only contains its original brick roads and former steel kilns, but is already under the town’s protection. Its designation as a historic site would make it eligible for state and federal preservation funds, which would help it finance the badly needed access road. One could envisage this as a location for the only museum devoted to brickmaking, once one of the most dominant industries in the Hudson Valley.
The Preservation Commission not only documents our history, but looks ahead to shaping our future in the public interest.
Tee cells that fight political virus
If we could only look at our world from a Gaia perspective, like the first men in space did, when they looked down at the whole Earth in a single view. Then we could imagine the world as the single community it is. Instead, we look through the lens of politics, seeing only fragments of the world, planting our hope for change, our most precious commodity, on a political institution that is unable to enliven our needs. We in America see our survival not as becoming one community, but to segregate ourselves from other nations, coveting what we have and know. In doing this, we sort out only wealthy nations to exchange with. To do this effectively, politicians use untruths in an attempt to erode the democratic foundations our nation was built upon.
The interruption of the pandemic has forced our people and our leadership to make daily decisions involving life and death. We are struggling to awaken to the concept all is one. COVID-19 has delivered this message on the wings of death. Our unwillingness to see the world as one community will be the ignorance that makes the human race go extinct. It is astounding that individuals, towns, villages, states, countries, nations, the entire world somehow find a way to believe it is not happening to them, and refuse to join in a global community that would actually distribute the concentrated wealth and save us from the world pandemic.
I like using the metaphor that money and confusion mated, birthing raucous children who become emotionally adolescent politicians. The emotionally adolescent politicians hire armies of well-funded attorneys who bend and twist the laws with their interpretive minds, making sure that the wealthy-and-poor caste system remains intact.
The tools for developing personal character in our education and religious institutions have been lost. Teaching the value of having a moral compass is forgotten, leaving power and money the only compass settings left on the dial – or should I say screen.
There are mass events being born in black communities, on Russian streets and at DC’s Capitol Building. Rioters have grabbed the tail of the political snake while its head is snapping at them. Somewhere in our DNA, when domination reaches a point, violent crowd control gets ignored. Perhaps it’s part of nature’s attempt to keep our species alive. The people protesting domination must think they are Earth’s T-cells, circling a virus and trying to expel it.
Trust takes time and listening to enough truths to be able to judge. In our digital world, split-second decisions are made with button clicks and pushing the Send key. No time to debate options, argue, contemplate, ask for advice or do research; one tap of our finger and we are in all the way.
“All is one” confuses the explorer, the individualist as well as the wealthy. Coronavirus holds no confusion; humans are what it desires, regardless of its color, size, age or wealth. It’s alive because all is one.
Barriers to entry
Maybe the Town of New Paltz is known for its “strict barriers to entry” (2/17/21) because our local news outlets keep quoting people who say it is! And by the way, 144 Main Street is in the Village, not the Town!
Actually, both the Town and Village have adopted welcoming new zoning, specifically aimed at increasing the amount of development. And under Planning Board chair Paul Brown, the Town Planning Board significantly streamlined its application process. Barriers removed!
The new Town Gateway Zoning doubles, and in some cases triples the amount of development in the zone.
The “strict barrier” myth persists because people read it in one place and pass it on. The truth is, applicants erect their own barriers by failing to submit materials on time. For example, TransHudson took years to submit its tree inventory. Now it will appear before the Town ZBA on March 10 to ask for a variance not to double the amount of buildable space. More delay. Go figure.
Want to get through the planning process as fast as possible? Comply with zoning, as Zero Place did. Projects like Zero Place, which don’t ask for tax breaks, waivers or variances, get approved relatively quickly.
The Kempner Corporation has supported many local nonprofits, and I think they’ll continue to be good neighbors. I don’t know if the new Village zoning can be applied to an existing building, but if so, maybe add another story to 144 Main Street? Given the housing crisis in our community, that would help erase one very real “barrier to entry.”
He chose to be a horrible person
“Just another dead doper. And a dirtbag.” – Rush Limbaugh on Jerry Garcia’s death.
Not often one writes one’s own obit…Limbaugh can’t be forgotten fast enough, right? And yes, I believe the world will be better. He and his co-conspirators tore so many families apart, and he left behind a legacy of hate, division, confusion and chaos. The guy devoted his life to getting rich off a continual stream of lies, hatred and conspiracy theories, which then paved the way for so much worse spreading poison. He brought horrible political nonsense and ugly activism out of his millions of listeners who hung off every hate-filled, toxin-laced, vitriolic word he ever said. The model for an entire industry of faux outrage, plus truly one of the worst public figures in modern American media history.
Ironically, his words came forth from the lungs that failed him. May all of Limbaugh’s words die with him as we celebrate knowing there is one less violent extremist wackadoodle who speaks in people’s ears.