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.
Fair pay for home care
We have a crisis in New York State. I’m not talking about the pandemic. I’m talking about the home-care worker crisis, which intersects with the pandemic and the economic crises. New York State has a severe and worsening shortage of home-care workers, also known as home health aides or personal care assistants. These essential workers have enormous influence over the quality of life of those they care for, helping with activities of daily living such as bathing, meal preparation, getting to medical appointments and helping with medications – care that is vital for older adults and people with disabilities to remain independent in their homes and part of their communities. Speaking as a registered nurse with professional experience in home-based long-term care, care workers are indispensable to maintaining the health of people with multiple chronic health issues and preventing trips to the ER and hospitalizations. Currently, 24 percent of New York’s home-care consumers are unable to access any home-care services. Without these essential workers, people find themselves with few options, often resulting in placement in a nursing home, often undesired and always more expensive.
A recent CUNY study found that by 2028, there will be 981,900 job openings in New York State for home health and personal care aides. 64,000 of these jobs will be in the Hudson Valley, where the median annual income for home-care workers, mostly women and people of color, is $18,400 – barely above the poverty line (for a family of two). To be clear, no one should be paid poverty-level wages, least of all those who provide care, one of the most fundamental needs for individuals and communities to survive and thrive. Raising wages is a crucial step in addressing these intersecting injustices.
We can lift these essential workers up and turn this work into a viable profession that pays a living wage. The Fair Pay for Home Care Act, if included in the state budget, would raise wages for care workers across the state. In the Hudson Valley, wages would be raised from $12.50 to $18.75 per hour. Increasing wages will allow care workers to remain in fulfilling roles providing care that is essential to ensuring that people can remain in their homes Moreover, according to a report released by CUNY School for Labor and Urban Studies, increasing wages for home-care workers will eliminate the shortage in less than five years, create 20,000 additional home-care jobs per year for the next decade and, with the increased sales and income tax collections and savings from public benefits, total $7.6 billion in returns for our state. The Fair Pay for Home Care Act would significantly contribute to the economic recovery and long-term economic development of New York State.
The care crisis is a worsening public health crisis. There is a solution to this looming disaster. The budget is being finalized over the next week. Call your state senator and your assembly member today and tell them to support the Fair Pay for Home Care Act.
Six years, lower taxes
Village of New Paltz property taxes are lower than what they were when our administration took office on June 1, 2015. From FY 16/17 through FY 20/21, we lowered the tax rate once and kept it flat four times. We have penciled in another zero percent change for the FY 21/22 tentative budget that would start June 1, 2021.
The Village Board of Trustees has set a public hearing for March 24 for this proposed zero percent tax increase budget. The tentative budget is available for review at www.villageofnewpaltz.org.
Currently, all Village debt is accounted for in two 20-year serial bonds and two one-year bond anticipation notes (BANs) that are bid on by institutional investors. Borrowing at lower rates has helped this proposed budget, but so has aggressively paying down debt over the last several years.
For example, the Village’s $650,000 Mill Brook Preserve purchase was completely paid off by October 2020 after it was acquired in July 2015. We purchased two fire trucks in 2016 and 2019 for a total of $1.16 million. We plan to pay $100,000 for the most recently purchased truck in the fall 2021 to bring the remaining balance down to $300,000.
There is no payment amount or timing flexibility with serial bonds. We have to make agreed-upon principal and interest payments annually. In contrast, we have flexibility when paying bond anticipation notes. Focusing on paying off BANs as quickly as possible when revenues are available has proven to be one of the most important strategies for managing our budgets and keeping the Village tax rate flat.
Mayor Tim Rogers
Do the math and opt for safety
Dear Mayor Rogers and New Paltz Village Board members: I am writing to highlight the lack of safety of our local streets and for those who live, walk and ride on them. As a daily walker around our village, I see, first-hand, the dangers that are present and seem to be going unnoticed. If they are noticed, I wonder why so little is done to fix them.
Using Google, I was able to trace the following information from each company’s website:
• The width of a FedEx truck is 93.5 inches (three inches short of eight feet).
• The width of a fire truck is eight to nine feet.
• The width of an average SUV is 69 to 79 inches (6 feet 5 inches).
• The width of a Dodge Ram truck is 82.1 inches (6.84 feet).
• The width of an ambulance is 8.17 feet.
What is the width of a street in the Village of New Paltz? The width of Millrock Road is 30 feet, measuring from curb edge-to-edge. The street is old, part of the original Village of New Paltz, so it’s unlikely that our government will widen the street. But is it really wide enough for today’s living? And should we care?
Let’s do the math to see how safe this street actually is. Currently, we have parking allowed on both sides of the street (except for driveways and one fire hydrant in the middle of the street. The average car is six to 6.5 feet wide; the average SUV is 5.7 to 6.5 feet wide. Most folks park within six and 12 inches away from the curb. In the wintertime, at least one to two feet of snow collects, restricting parking even further from the curb. With cars/trucks/SUVS parked on both sides, the roadway width is now reduced to approximately 15 feet.
I have watched an oncoming car stop and wait at a driveway site, allowing the other car coming down to pass. We have come to accept that as the “new normal.” So, it’s clear that two FedEx trucks, or even two SUVs or two Dodge trucks, cannot pass each other on the street. Again, not a typical scenario, but one that bears thinking about – especially since with COVID, many more folks are accepting more frequent deliveries from online retailers.
What is frightening to contemplate is if an ambulance or firetruck is rushing down the street to help someone, especially on a day when both sides of the street are lined with cars/SUVs, and if there is snow, they have about three feet of clearance on each side to get through without anyone coming. You might think that’s sufficient, but hopefully they don’t drive away with your car mirror, or hit someone getting out of their vehicle without looking to see if it’s safe.
I have asked the mayor to consider alternate-side-of-the-street parking to increase the safety of the street. There are a handful of streets in our village that have that designation. I suggest that those landlords renting out rooms/apartments be required to offer parking to their tenants or not be allowed to offer rentals. Do the math.
Brush fire in Woodstock
I’d like to extend heartfelt thanks to the members of the Woodstock Fire Department and the Police Department who responded so quickly and so well to put out the brush fire caused by a sparking power line on Hickory Hollow Road during the high winds last Friday night (March 12). It was frightening to see how quickly the dry grass and brush of our meadow caught fire, even with the snow barely melted. The fire company did an excellent job of dousing the flames and carefully raking through the lingering embers. A crew from Central Hudson arrived later that night to put a sleeve on the damaged power line. Without the swift response of all these professionals (many of them volunteers!), there could have been real damage done to nearby homes and the environment.
This underscores for me the importance of the residential brush fire ban instituted by NYSDEC Commissioner Basil Seggos for the two months from March 16 to May 14. Please comply!
Free roaming cats
Did you know cats can start reproducing at just four months old and can have up to four litters a year? Cast Aside to Survive is a nonprofit focused on spaying and neutering community cats. Every one sterilization prevents at least 200 homeless cat births. Cast Aside to Survive works to end the cycle through their humane trap, neuter and return program, but they need your support. To donate, volunteer or if you need assistance with feral, free-roaming or stray cats, visit www.castasidetosurvive.org.
The whole truth
All I want is the truth.
— John Lennon from “Gimme Some Truth”
During his first address to the nation, POTUS Joe Biden mentioned that one of the consequences of the present pandemic is the loss of jobs for many Americans. He then asserted that one of the most difficult things for a father to do was to march up to their children’s room to inform them (as his father once had to do with Joe in Scranton) that he had lost his job. Biden, during his speech, also claimed — citing a woman’s response to a question in this regard — that what the American people want more than anything from their leaders is “the truth.” However, POTUS Joe failed to mention that when he revoked the permit for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, it meant the loss of jobs for many American workers. Consequently, as a result of these job losses, quite a few fathers (and mothers?) were forced to march up to their children’s rooms to inform them they had lost their jobs. I wonder if POTUS Biden’s failure to mention this fact serves the cause of presenting “the truth” to the American people. Perhaps, POTUS Biden thinks that any job losses due to his policy decisions are less difficult to live with for those (and their children) who have suffered such losses than jobs lost due to the pandemic? In any event, apparently, POTUS Biden thought that “the truth” about the Keystone XL pipeline job losses was not important enough to mention during his first address to the nation. Maybe the reason for this is that our great truth telling, unifying POTUS, Joe Biden, is simply more comfortable presenting the nation with self-serving truth rather than the whole truth.
Vote NY face masks available
I bought face masks before the election in order to get out the vote and raise money for the food pantry of Family of New Paltz. I still have large face masks to sell. They would be good for people with large heads or beards.
On the mask is Vote NY and the dates of early voting and Election Day. They would make great mementos of the past election. They are made of navy-blue soft cotton, cut down from the eyes so that you can see better downwards. I am charging $10 or more, with the proceeds going to the food pantry of Family of New Paltz.
If you are interested in buying one or more, please call me at (845) 255-4371.
Andi Weiss Bartczak
Thanks for the page-two shout-out
I am truly grateful to Hudson Valley One for publishing the news that the YMCA and Bike-Friendly Kingston are going to start bike-repair clinics starting on March 24 (Briefly Noted, March 3 edition). With more people biking now, keeping a bike safe and running is very important. And if you lack the funds to access one of our fine bike shops, the community bike clinics can be a great way to make sure your bike is safe, compliant with state law and working properly. Thanks again Hudson Valley One for the shout-out!
Bicycle Program Manager
YMCA of Kingston and Ulster County
A refrigerator is essentially a tiny art gallery.
Woodstock’s Zoning Law, Section 260-109, Powers and Duties, states that “The Commission for Civic Design (CCD) shall: Consider the historical and architectural value and significance of the building or structure before it for review and such structure’s relationship to the surrounding area, as well as to any other factors which the Commission for Civic Design deems pertinent to the benefit of the town and to the historic or cultural significance of the structure or building.”
Considering that “The CCD was and still remains very uncomfortable with the proposed design in terms of plan and form” and considering that, as noted in Hudson Valley One, “the town government [Woodstock] adopted a very tight budget  in order to avoid a tax increase,” why then, when “we’re going to have less funds and we have to be really careful and prudent,” is the town thinking about moving ahead with the Comeau addition project?
Reduce garbage now
I never met Dan Guenther, but I admired his and Ann’s letters – the way personal action plus public action create a better world.
In tribute to his efforts, I submit the following suggestions:
Pass NYS Bill S1185A, co-sponsored by Michelle Hinchey. It would hold producers responsible for the costs of disposing of wasteful packaging costs instead of burdening government and taxpayers.
Eliminate plastic laundry detergent bottles by using TruEarth Eco-strips or NaturOli Soapberries instead.
Put calorie counts and cancer warnings on alcoholic beverages.
Use Pennsylvania premium wood drying racks instead of electric clothes dryers.
Try powdered milk instead of the plastic bottles of liquid.
Buy from companies like Loop that sell you the contents of products like hand lotion after selling you durable, reusable containers for using them.
Support those folks in government that show the way like Michelle Hinchey does and Jen Metzger did.
Raise the deposit price to ten cents a container and add beverages that don’t fizz to the list of bottles requiring deposit.
A better world is ours for the taking. Take it easy, but take it.
End plastic pollution
It is no secret that the fossil fuel industry is shrinking. This is certainly a change to celebrate, as it reflects the rise of sustainable and reusable energy. But the oil and gas giants will not go away quietly. If they have their way, they will not go at all. It is looking like our government is on track to enable them to continue to reap in profits while they wreak havoc on the planet. How? Plastics.
The industry has quietly but steadily been churning out plastic, utilizing the byproducts of fossil fuels, particularly ethylene: a waste product of fracking, to the tune of 380 million tons of plastic each year. That is equal to the weight of all the human beings on Earth! By 2050, this amount will increase fourfold if nothing is done to stop the current trajectory. In 2019, 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases were emitted in the production of plastic.
Single-use plastic comprises 42 percent of plastics in use today. And there is no safe way to dispose of them. Most of us have seen the hideous pictures of the floating islands of plastic trash in the oceans. Those are literally the tip of the plastic iceberg. According to a Pew research report, at least 12 million tons end up in our oceans every year.
Only 35 percent of plastics are recycled in the US. What doesn’t get incinerated or buried in our landfills is shipped to the poorer countries of Asia and Africa (since China banned their import in 2018). There is no infrastructure to safely dispose of this plastic. Instead, most of it accumulates into plastic mountains, flows into waterways or is openly incinerated. Yet this does not stem the tide of more plastic garbage imports. At 28,000 metric tons per month, there is no possible way to keep up with it.
We must rethink our use of plastics. We must extend producer responsibility. We must stop shipping our hazardous plastic waste to poor countries. Here are some ways you can help:
1. Tell your representatives to support the “Break Free from Plastics” bills in Congress: HR 5845 in the House & S 3263 in the Senate. The goal is to prevent plastic pollution from entering the human food chain through a variety of actions and to improve responsibility of the producers of plastics in dealing with its safe design, reuse, collection and disposal.
2. Urge President Biden to end plastic pollution. A coalition of 550 organizations has recommended eight executive actions which are outlined on the BeyondPlastics.org website.
3. Urge Governor Cuomo to abandon his plan in the current budget proposal to allow heavy-duty plastic bags to be reintroduced in New York, bypassing the plastic bag ban currently in effect.
4. Get involved with Beyondplastics.org. The mission of this important organization is to end plastic pollution by being a catalyst for change. More information about these and other actions can be found on their website.
Break on through
Well, dear friends, Trump built his wall after all! And he continues to fortify it with the help of his elected GOP stooges, even though more than seven in ten Americans, a clear majority of the American people, support the Democratic Party’s $1.9T Coronavirus relief package.
You name it, the Republican Party is against it. COVID relief? No. Putting checks into the pockets of American families and into their bank accounts? No. Helping jumpstart small businesses that were hurt this past year? No. Getting kids back into school safely? No. Reducing student debt? That too, No. Voting rights? Shit, they want to make it harder… Reducing child poverty? Are you kidding? No way! Climate action? Nope. Getting more people healthcare? Never!
This Republican congress is opposed to everything that they don’t put out there. I guess, they’re for nothing but themselves… Stop talking about Dr. Seuss or Mistah Potato Head and the ridiculous imagined culture war; instead, start helping your country. Also, most Americans don’t give a damn that the bill passed through a budgetary process of reconciliation with no GOP bipartisanship.
Hey, Republican congress, remember that wall you’ve built with brickloads of crap (to “not” legislate and to block the “will of the people”)? Well, the majority of citizens who support what this new bill offers are driving right through it!
Good Neighbor Food Pantry needs a new home
The Good Neighbor Food Pantry of Woodstock must now find a new home. We will only be able to afford to stay at the Woodstock Reformed Church (WRC) until next March (through very generous local anonymous donors who helped us cover the more-than-four-times-our-current-rent increase of over $8,000).
This forces us to find a new home, and so we appeal to the public. If anyone knows of or hears of a place in town we can rent, lease or, better yet, a landowner who is willing to donate a small piece of land to us, please contact me at PO Box 619, Woodstock NY 12498. We want to have a small piece of land we can drop a 700-square-foot Brad’s Barn on, add electric, a half-bathroom and divide it into a storage and a distribution room.
Our pantry is a 501 (c) (3) charity, all-volunteer organization that feeds over 30,000 people a year regardless of their age, creed, color or living circumstances. We feed the homeless, unemployed, underemployed, poor, working poor, elderly, infirm, sick and those who are affected by the horror of COVID-19 without exception.
We have been delivering boxes of food to those in need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with the wonderful kindness of Woodstock supervisor Bill McKenna and some of the Woodstock town employees and other volunteers.
We are looking for a location that is close to the center of Woodstock. We have five freezers and one refrigerator and can pay for our electric and water usage. We were housed in the Woodstock Reformed Church since 1990. Now we must get out by March of 2022. We will be starting a GoFundMe campaign to try and raise the funds to find or build a new home. We appeal to our community to help us, so stay tuned and thank you to all who have helped us over the last 31 years we were at the WRC. We could not have done it without the kindness and generosity of those who helped us all of this time. We are reminded of scripture from Matthew 25:35-46, Matthew 6:24, Proverbs 22:9 and Proverbs 14:31. We have tremendous gratitude to Josh Bode and the WRC, as well as the Woodstock community at large.
President of the Board of Directors
Good Neighbor Food Pantry of Woodstock
Biden and masks
Again we see why the Democrats only want to let President Biden speak when he’s reading off a script or teleprompter. His Neanderthal remark when the governors of Texas and Mississippi lifted state mandates on wearing masks reminded people of Hillary Clinton’s calling Trump followers deplorable. All the governors did was leave the choice up to individuals and businesses and allowed businesses to open. Many businesses have said they will still require masks. I believe this has more to do with fear of lawsuits than a health policy. Personally, I never wear a mask except when I’m in a building or store which requires it – your place, your rules. If you believe masks work and you’re wearing one – you’re protected and I’m not – what are you worried about? I promise not to sneeze or cough near you. Further, in nursing homes, everyone – patients and staff – wear a mask at all times, except when eating. And while they are a small part of the population, they account for almost 50 percent of the fatalities from COVID.
Ever since masks were mandated last spring, the rate of infection didn’t change. There was a slight dip in the summer when we spend more time outdoors and virus infections normally decline. If the masks were working, shouldn’t there have been a sustained decline? The way the CDC reports COVID deaths makes it hard to know the real impact. They report COVID-”related” deaths. Recently, a congressman from Texas was reported to have died from COVID, but if you read further, he had been battling lung cancer for some time.
Since the shutdown, they are saying the education gap between students from low-income families and middle-income families has widened. This is especially true for children of color. Last June, the American Academy of Pediatrics said keeping the schools closed this year that the social isolation would cause a rise in substance abuse, depression, self-mutilation and suicide. Well, this week there was a report that these problems have more than doubled in the past year.
As for Dr. Fauci, I can’t believe anyone listens to him. He’s been wrong from when he said COVID doesn’t transmit from human to human. First masks weren’t necessary and then they were required. And now we need to wear two. And what happened to we need to shut down for a couple of weeks to flatten the curve and then we can return to normal? That was a year ago. Now he’s in love with every microphone and TV camera he sees to quote Shakespeare. Dr. Fauci is “a poor player who frets and struts his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of a sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Time when news covered real news
Listening to allegations directed at Governor Cuomo is like listening to teenagers in a locker room gossip session. From all reports given to date by these women, they are actions that a ninth-grader might pull as he feels his budding interest in girls. Heightened sensitivity today regarding men’s overt actions towards the opposite sex definitely has surfaced. Thankfully, long overdue.
However, I ask: Where was the hue and cry when 25 women came forward accusing Donald Trump of abusive sexual overtones? Where was the hue and cry when we learned of a large payoff to quiet his liaison with Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal? What about his questionable association with deceased pedophile Epstein? Where was the RNC when they allowed a thrice-married Trump to run for president? No hue and cry for a man who will be in court for raping a woman in a department store dressing room? Where were the cries for Trump’s resignation?
We split too many hairs concerning public actions. Governor Cuomo’s supposed offenses are picayune compared to former President Trump’s. There was a time when our news covered news. Good journalism abounded. Private lives were kept private.
I am weary of the noise, violence, salacious material seen daily, nightly on TV. People wonder, Europeans inquire, “Why is America so violent?” If your child has viewed all the above since age two, what do you expect? Whatever happened to censorship?
Today most news stations are The Examiner on public TV reduced to feeding the insatiable need of people to hear other’s mistakes, misfortunes. A very famous man in history invoked, “If you are without sin, then cast the first stone.”