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.
More complicated, indeed
Funny thing about caring about what the Bible says: When one is combatting slavery or fighting for civil rights and social justice, the Bible is viewed as a source of higher truth by most people. However, if one is speaking against sexual immorality or abortion, the Bible becomes irrelevant to many of these same folks. With this in view, since it is easier to ask a question than to answer one, the following is the first of what might be a few responses to Stephen Massardo’s letter “More complicated than that,” in which he challenged both me and John Butz on our view that abortion was murder because it involved the deliberate killing of human life in the womb. This letter responds to the question: “Should Americans care what the Bible says, since we don’t live in a theocracy…yet?” gleaned from Stephen’s letter.
The reason for Stephen’s question was my use of Gen. 9:6: “If anyone takes a human life that person’s life will be taken by human hands, because man is made in the image of God.” My letter explained the significance of humans being created in God’s image and how, because of this, through the influence of Christianity, human life was viewed as uniquely sacred and worthy of protection – even in the womb – by the civilization it helped to form. It should be noted that Stephen did not include the “because man is made in the image of God” part of my quote when citing the verse or my explanation of its significance. Instead, he pointed to Numbers 5:16-22 – in an effort to undermine the Genesis quote – because he thought they contradicted each other regarding the value of human life. In doing so, Stephen ignored the fact that it was the Judeo-Christian and not merely the Judaic Biblical view I was promoting. Nor did he allow for the possibility that his assumption of contradiction could be wrong because it was based upon an inadequate understanding of what is known as “salvation history.” (More about that in another letter.)
While one may deny the divine origins of the Bible, it explains the source of life as well as its purpose and meaning. It also has inspired the greatest art, literature and music of Western civilization as well as influenced its systems of government, jurisprudence and healthcare while greatly benefitting the societies that have honored its moral tenets. With this in mind, had England’s William Wilberforce and other abolitionists living in the “non-theocracies” of England and America taken Stephen’s advice about not caring what the Bible says, the slave trade would still exist throughout the world. Had Martin Luther King, Jr. and many who heard him stopped caring about what the Bible said after slavery was ended, civil rights legislation would have been more difficult to pass in America. And in his fight for India’s independence from the British Empire, Gandhi believed that his nonviolent protests against England’s oppressive colonial rule would succeed because the English people cared about what the Bible said about justice and freedom.
In closing, since understanding the Bible is “more complicated” than Stephen’s letter suggests, perhaps Stephen should learn more about what it says and truly seek to understand the implications of its views. Light in the Bible indicates insight and understanding that leads to wisdom. Psalm 119, an ode of one who delights in and lives by the law of God that came through Moses, includes the verse, “The entrance of your words brings light.” Similarly, the gospel according to John states that through Jesus of Nazareth, the “word became flesh and dwelt among us” and brought light, grace and truth that penetrated the hearts of people living in a world that was in great darkness. With this in mind, instead of asserting “We really shouldn’t care what the Bible says,” perhaps Stephen should rather consider what the world would be like if the Bible’s light had never entered it and what this world would become if that light was ever extinguished.
Disappointed with Elting Library
As New Paltz residents and taxpaying supporters of the Elting Library, we are writing to express our disappointment with how the Library has treated Puja Thomson. Rather than just admit that there was inconsistency between the messages on the signs posted at the Library parking lot (no overnight parking – which she didn’t do) and that on the website (violators will be towed after one warning – which she didn’t get) – and making the dubious argument that parking lot signs have precedence over website information, the Library could have graciously offered an apology and even some reimbursement toward Puja’s $270 towing costs. Instead, the director and Board have deflected the issue, brought in a lawyer and not taken responsibility. It seems that they intend to take remedial action to avoid this from happening to some other unsuspecting resident in the future, which is good to hear, but doesn’t address Puja’s experience.
Libraries uphold literacy, which includes clear and accurate communication. They are often at the heart of their communities; what has happened here is not an expression of this.
Laraine Mai, Mary Ottaway, Jim Ottaway, Mary Cotton-Miller, David Miller, Angela Balletto, Kathleen Ellis, Paul Ellis, Jo Gangemi, Fred Mayo, Orelle Feher, Mary Long
This is a short letter in support of Puja Thomson, who represents all that is community-minded in our town. We are surprised that the Library did not take the simple step of acknowledging there had been a discrepancy between the written signs and info on the website. Changing the parking information after the fact is fine, but a more gracious and understanding response is what we would expect from the Library: a quintessential community organization.
The fact is that the towing charge can be a meaningful amount of money for some of our residents. And just as importantly, being treated with respect and understanding, rather than as an opponent, would build and strengthen the ties that create our community.
Jonathan Perl & Virginia Dorris
Respect our town’s uniqueness
I am writing in response to a letter from a group of Woodstock residents expressing their concerns over the proposed Terramor project in the Town of Saugerties. I share their concerns, however; it behooves people new to the area to assure they have their key facts in hand.
They remarked how this project – which is before the Town of Saugerties Board (hint) – is ten miles away from the center of town, implying it’s not within our township. The Village of Saugerties, which is within the Town, is ten miles away. However, Saugerties is one of the largest towns in Ulster County and the proposed project is well within its borders; this is why the Saugerties Town officials are reviewing it. Indeed, my home is just a couple of miles from the proposed development site.
I know this appears to be nitpicking, but it is a pet peeve which emerged when a once-nearby restaurant touted itself as a Woodstock eatery, as though Saugerties were not worthy. We thus became “Saugerstock”: a name that continues to rankle me to this day.
And, while I’m on the subject of this silly rant, I wish to point out that there is no downtown Saugerties! We have two main streets: Main Street and Partition, where most of our commerce is located. Just refer to them by their names and leave it at that.
Eye-rolling will be avoided if you correctly refer to our lovely Town and look on a map and define its borders and respecting our Town’s uniqueness.
Thank-you to our Woodstock neighbors for sharing our concerns about the overdevelopment of our Town and the entire region. I hope the Saugerties Town Board calls for a breather and a full environmental review of this project. A moratorium on development is, IMHO, overdue.
Jo Galante Cicale
Hammering it out
Never negotiate with terrorists – unless they also happen to be close friends.
A fraud evolution
There is a “Gospel of Idiocy” with the apostles of stupidity following the Republicans, with their cultlike nature, are messaging to the MAGA minions that “Democrats nearly always win – or at least they cheat to win and that they’ll attempt to steal the election.” Can you believe this Republican nonsense? “Democrats cheating” has been raised more than 5,000 times across America by conservative radio so far this year.
November’s midterm elections are still months away, but to many conservative commentators, the fix is already in. Democrats have cheated before, they say, and they will cheat again. Funny how whenever a Democrat wins an election, there is cheating and it is rigged. Whenever the GOP wins, it is fair and not rigged; such is life in the MAGA Bizarro World. These are the sheep and Kool-Aid drinkers. They just keep repeating and repeating and repeating the fraud bullshit.
Direct evidence to counter Democratic fraud has been given. The 2020 election results have been audited numerous times by both public and private entities. Detailed reports have been published showing how the audits took place and the results of the audits. No evidence of any wrongdoing or hanky-panky was found to reflect the outcome of the national election or even down-ballot Republican losses.
There were over 60 court cases filed after the election. More than half of them proceeded to the point where evidence was presented to a judge. In every single case, the judge ruled that the evidence presented had no merit and in no way proved fraud. There comes a point when you must admit that there is no evidence supporting your beliefs.
The far right insist the Dems can’t run the country, balance the budget, solve inflation, effectively manage the armed forces or even go so far as to select a galvanizing and unifying presidential candidate, but are somehow capable of pulling the biggest “Danny Ocean’s Eleven” heist of all time, and even make it more convincing by having so many down-ballot Democratic candidates get demolished? Ingenious!
Trump and his chums have repeated a litany of unfounded claims of fraud, but have offered no real evidence. The only ones who were publicized being caught cheating in the last national election were Trump supporters. So, I guess that means that we can’t trust the elections that the GOP wins either…right? In reality, these cases underscored that suspected fraud is both generally detected and exceptionally rare.
For the GOP, and election deniers, every accusation is an admission that it’s only fraud in the states they lost. If the Dems keep the Senate and House of Reps, they’ll scream fraud. If Republicans capture both, then everything is okey-dokey.
It doesn’t agree with “The Lie” narrative, and let’s face it: All the sheep that bought into this untruthful portrayal can’t see the forest for the trees (all the while it was hiding in plain sight!). Their belief is that you can cheat on just parts of the ballot – you know, the part that they lost!
Maybe the clown-car GOP could put out a press release announcing that no politician/political party will be cheating this election to assuage their constituents’ fears, since they’re still marinating in false voting claims and electoral conspiracy theories. Telling Republicans their votes haven’t counted for diddly-squat due to rampant fraud, then asking them to go cast a ballot, seems a bit counterintuitive for a “Get out the vote” campaign.
Of course, talk radio is not news; it is news entertainment, like WWE not being real wrestling. Right or left doesn’t matter. Facts don’t matter. Only audience size and market shares smatter.
Well, if right-wing pundits are telling their listeners that the elections can’t be trusted, I would hope righties would all stay home and boycott all elections going forward. That would solve a lot of problems in this country.
But seriously…every person in America deserves a voice and representation in our democracy; these are essential for a vibrant society and for Americans to thrive. That is why there is nothing more sacred than the vote of the American people. Voting must be fair and honest. There can be no barriers. So, it must be fair and equal for all.
Local hero saves dog’s life
On Friday, June 11 around 7 p.m., I was walking past Keegan Ales when a pit bull on a leash lunged at my chihuahua/pug mix, Moxie, and locked its jaws around her throat. I could not pry the dog’s jaws off and screamed at the pit bull’s owner to get her dog off my dog, but she did nothing.
The situation was desperate, but then suddenly a person passed through the crowd, pushed her arm against the pit bull’s jaws and it let go. I picked up Moxie, who was bleeding copiously, and wrapped my sweater tightly around her throat to stanch the blood. I had to get my dog to a vet, and fast, so I was very thankful when a woman standing next to me offered to drive me to the Kingston Animal Hospital. I later discovered it was she who, driving home from her job in Uptown Kingston, had seen my dog in the jaws of the pit bull, pulled over and gotten the pit bull off – at the risk of injury to herself. Her name is Darleen Hall, and she is a true hero.
Darleen drove me to the Kingston Animal Hospital, but it was closed, as were all other emergency veterinary services in the area. When she dropped me off at my home in Midtown Kingston, Moxie ran into the house, though it was clear her throat, mouth and jaw were severely injured. I subsequently drove her to VCR Flannery Animal Hospital in Newburgh, and upon picking her up the next morning, learned her eye socket, a rib and – most seriously – her jaw were fractured.
The broken jaw needed immediate attention from a surgeon, and I spent most of the day in the car on my phone searching for one, calling animal hospitals from Albany to New York City. None had a surgeon available. Fortunately, the last referral on my list, Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Asbury Park, responded they would be able to treat her that day, so I drove to the Jersey Shore. Moxie was there for two days. The vet taped the jaw, explaining that the hope was the bone would eventually heal by itself.
A week later, I took her to the Kingston Animal Hospital to repair the tape, which had gotten tattered, and discovered the jawbones weren’t attached at all. Dr. Arnold Rugg sedated my dog and drilled a hole in the two bones and wired them together. Although he said it could be months until the jaw is fully healed, Moxie is almost back to normal, lapping up platefuls of gruel, taking walks and as always, craving affection. I’m so grateful for the care she received from Dr. Rugg. The cost was also reasonable, compared to the many thousands of dollars I was charged by the two other hospitals. But isn’t a life priceless?
Again, I want to thank the Kingston Animal Hospital and especially Darleen Hall, who saved Moxie’s life. I will be forever grateful.
Woodstock seniors need OFA Cafés
Woodstock has the highest percentage of seniors in Ulster County. We have been asking for the “cafés” and “Lunch and Learn” programs that Office for the Aging provides for more than three years now.
All the other towns in the county have these programs. OFA is wanting to provide lunches and seminars, but can’t because our Community Center doesn’t have a commercial dishwasher. Our Community Center kitchen needs this to be in compliance with the Health Department regulations. Now that we have the OFA’s attention, we cannot find or purchase this dishwasher.
Please e-mail our Town Board members asking them to get the needed dishwasher ASAP. Woodstock seniors deserve and need this program. Tell our supervisor and Town Board members to appropriate money for this dishwasher and installation. Their e-mail is email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Linda & Terence Lover
My change of heart
Readers have asked me, “What have I against the Republican Party?” Surprising enough, I was a Republican since the days of Eisenhower. I loved the man, loved how he comported himself, particularly how he handled himself in the role as supreme Allied commander in World War II. It was because of him that I joined the GOP. In fact, I probably would still be in the party except for one thing, politically, that changed my opinion completely. Let me explain.
Once Barack Obama finished his eight years as POTUS in 2017, the Democratic Party put up Hillary Clinton as the nominee for POTUS. I immediately felt that was the wrong decision, politically, to make at the time. After eight years of a black POTUS, to run Hillary Clinton, a woman, was a flashpoint for the Midwest and the Southern states. The evangelicals, Baptists, Methodists, Disciples of Christ viewed this as unacceptable. Unacceptable in the sense that here in white America, we have two minority members, a Black first in the Oval Office and a woman as a possible second POTUS. Unacceptable also, as Hillary carried a great deal of notoriety, true or not, with her stemming back to the days when she was the wife of Bill Clinton, the 42nd POTUS.
These two historical events, Barack Obama and then Hillary Clinton, consequently gave rise to Donald Trump. The evangelicals viewed these two historical events as threatening, and I felt immediately and still do, is where the Democrats lost the office of the POTUS.
One of Trump’s statements when running for office or shortly after becoming POTUS was his statement, “the deconstruction of the administrative state.” I had some background to the history of Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s and the hatreds the GOP had and has for these liberal innovations of the New Deal! His statement, “the deconstruction of the administrative state” meant one thing to me: All liberal, socialistic New Deal innovations were going to go by the wayside. From that point on, I submitted letter after letter to the New Paltz Times initially and then the Hudson Valley One newspaper, alerting the readers what was going to happen.
Finally, June of 2019, I left the GOP and enrolled in the Democratic Party for one reason only: They are more inclined to protecting my benefits, which I paid into, more so than the GOP. Subsequently, June 22 of that year, I wrote senator Warren Grassley explaining the reasons I was leaving the party after 59 years. (This letter is included in the final chapter of a book I have coming off the press.)
No one loved the GOP more than Yours Truly. My heroes were Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, G. H. Bush, Reagan. But with the advent of “Der Führer” I left the party. Today, I support the AARP and the National Committee for the Preservation of Social Security and Medicare. They have my interests at heart, not the tap-dancing politicians.
I’m not trying to change your mind if you are a member of the GOP and a Trump fan. I set forth the facts for the reader. Fact: Trump tried to pass a Payroll Executive Tax Cut. This would have eliminated FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act). This meant no contributions, yours and employers, would be taken out of your paycheck. Without FICA, there is no Social Security nor is there any Medicare and Medicaid contributions taken out. But for us “ole” relics, drawing benefits now, we have 12 years until 2034, when our Social Security benefits will be reduced by about 20 percent a month. As my age of 83, this would make me 95 at that time, if I’m here.
But for someone at age 69, in 12 years they would be 81 and their Social Security benefits would be reduced by 20 percent; that will hurt at that age. And our children will not have it as good as we do now.
Last week I listed five attacks the GOP have tried regarding our benefits. Next week I will give some more history to this background.
Testimony by Pat Cipollone
I listened to the January 6 Committee and the testimony of Pat Cipollone. It was infuriating to listen to this man. First, it took him 18 months to tell his story of how out-of-control Trump was. Second, he was the impeachment manager for Trump during the first impeachment. Surely, he must have seen, after the events leading up to January 6, that this man should have been impeached during the second impeachment. Who would want this clown to have a chance at the reins of power again? But Pat Cipollone remained silent during the second impeachment.
And third, he had the temerity to make a comment during his sworn deposition (after 18 months) that Mike Pence should be given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Really? Pence did what he was supposed to do; where is the Profile in Courage? Pence worshipped the orange clown for four years, and it wasn’t until Dan Quayle (of all people) told him he had no other role than to preside at and certify the vote. Spineless Pence kept trying to see if there was any wiggle room. Pence is no hero. Liz Chaney is, but not Pence.
And Cipollone? He’s part of the privileged white elitist lawyers and members of the Federalist Society in Washington. He needed to try to stay out of the fray, because of course he wouldn’t want his colleagues of privileged lawyers criticizing him for stepping forward. He only stepped out when he was subpoenaed. Yup, needs a job, because he has to support his ten kids in Washington, DC and their legacy and his. Guess he supports Amy Comey “What’s her name”?
Cipollone is a clown, just like the man he served. He should have quit instead of whining about quitting. The latter is about the only thing that boy wonder Jared Kushner got right.
Something to ponder
Why is it that year after year after year, drivers in Woodstock have to notify the Town supervisor that eastbound vehicles on Mill Hill Road can’t been seen by drivers entering town from Route 375 because of the height of the plants in the triangle before anything is done to correct the problem?
Physics doesn’t negotiate
Irwin Sperber of New Paltz gets it right in his letter in the July 13 issue of HV1 when he says, about proposed development in Gardiner, “The real problem is an inconvenient truth: The accelerating pace of land development in …rural communities, as well as the incursion into forests and wetlands …have a cumulative and catastrophic events on ecosystems locally as well as globally.” This is exactly my point about the proposed development of a much larger property, the 800-acre Winston Farm, in Saugerties. All by itself it would be a tragedy for those who value the beauty, the forests and wetlands and the life they support, local history and miscellaneous other “aesthetic” concerns. And it could be a catastrophe for residents of Saugerties whose wells would be poisoned should the aquifer become contaminated as a result.
But as one of uncountable numbers of small parcels of green and forested places around the world, mitigating the climate emergency depends on not developing them. Development of the kind proposed for Winston Farm would turn a carbon sink into a carbon emitter, exactly the wrong direction to be going in. Physics doesn’t negotiate, as Bill McKibben reminds us. We can’t keep nibbling around the edges. The edges add up. Let’s stop fooling ourselves about what we’re doing, or what we’re willing to allow “developers” to get away with.
Climate and land
Local governments must understand “in their guts” that the climate crisis is here and not somewhere else. The global economy is not changing at any useful pace and is still based on an increasingly archaic paradigm that growth is the only way toward stability and a good quality of life. Our national government is stymied by greed and foolishness. However, locally, there is more opportunity for action, but there is still much outdated thinking and action.
I sincerely believe that New York State and all its localities will survive in this crisis only if every square foot of agricultural land is placed in agricultural trust, and housing and industrial development placed where the ground has already been tampered with by industry or development and where it is possible to provide easy public transportation to work areas and homes. Energy needs will affect the distribution systems. Grow local, distribute local and buy local will be necessities, not just simple words for a minority of the concerned.
Too many master plans have been paid for that are easily adjusted to meet private development needs.
Our local government leaders and civil servants must do better than our national government.
I repeat all agricultural land must be saved and the water it and communities require. Planning is required for real survival.
I am not a farmer. I live in a village. I rely on the food supply and the water in the ground. I am grateful for what I have, but am very wary about the future. New York is not on fire yet, but the West and Midwest are, as are Italy, Spain, Portugal, Sicily, Greece, etc. Yes, they are hot places to begin with, but things are changing everywhere. The problems are not going away and we are not exempt.
Mary Ann Mays
Clear and present danger
On Saturday afternoon I was involved in a pretty serious accident at the intersection of Route 212 and Glasco Turnpike near the Red Onion Restaurant. You may have heard about it. This corner is notorious for accidents.
Three cars were involved, me being the luckiest as my car received the least impact of the collision. There were no fatalities thank goodness. There were emergency vehicles at the scene, fire trucks and many police. One woman may have been hurt or understandably shaken up and was on a stretcher and taken away by ambulance.
I am shaken up witnessing what could have been a fatal accident save for higher grace. I am extremely grateful for myself, my dog and for the others, including a little baby, surviving this impact unharmed. A miracle.
This has been going on for years; and now, with the influx of so many new people unfamiliar with the area, this intersection and stretch of land is more dangerous than ever!
I shudder to think what will happen should the new Terramor Glamping Resort’s (located near the South Peak Vet) proposal go through as is adding abundant traffic onto this already compromised section of road where speeding, poor visibility and accidents are a daily occurrence. People are quite upset. Frightening!
It’s a process
I’m writing in response to Peter Koch’s letter about Bearsville. More than he, I would like the site work to be finished, but it is all a process. By the end of this year the final piece of the jigsaw will be in place.
Since we started working at Bearsville three years ago on Labor Day, the car lot has been an endless source of concern and risk for visitors and the people who work here. The potholes, the problem of clearing snow, the falls and twisted ankles, the damaged car suspensions.
As part of our Site Plan Review in 2021, we agreed with the Town of Woodstock that we would rectify these problems whilst also creating the necessary parking that a site of this size has to legally provide. We also happily undertook to provide the right number and location of parking spots for those with limited mobility, who face real problems with a gravel car lot. We worked with professional engineers, known to the town, to address all highway and environmental issues before the work began this spring.
Yes, I know that for a few months it has looked as though Russia has bombed the place, and yes, fresh blacktop looks out of place in the country. BUT Bearsville is not only a treasure that we are doing our best to polish and make available to everyone again, it is also a place where people mostly arrive by car and need a safe and convenient place to park. It’s a process. It needs patience and understanding and, please a little personal generosity of spirit. I will gladly show anyone who contacts me what we are doing and what the end-game is. My email is Lizzie@bearsvillecenter.com.
The landscaping will start in August. First the shrubs and then the trees. We are working with local conservationists and tree experts to plant native landscaping and trees and assimilate the space back into its surroundings again. Please ask those experts for their opinion on what we are doing. I am a trained environmentalist (Lancaster University in the north of England in the 1970’s) and those of you who have seen what we have done so far with the theater and other buildings will know that we are being thorough in our approach to polishing this diamond, acting in a way that will preserve it all for many years to come.
With regard to the park, we have created an expanded area for sitting outside. Why? Because all of us who, during COVID, have wanted to enjoy time together outside, can now do so in comfort and safety. We fenced the park so that those people would be safe and undisturbed from cars driving around. It’s a beautiful space — come and see it. The gates are open. To ensure that our neighbors are not disturbed by any music outside, we have installed 24 personal speakers so that music can be enjoyed but not transmitted beyond our boundaries. The trees, the stream, the areas for quiet contemplation, are all wonderful.
Come and see the restaurants along the Sawkill — The Bear and The Bear Cantina. Come and enjoy the bluestone fireplace outside The Tinker Street Tavern and Nancy’s Ice Cream. Come and enjoy the live music we are putting on in a way that does not disturb our neighbors.
And finally, I’m not The Man. My hands are not heavy, I do not have too much money. I am a working-class woman who took $10 from my grandmother in 1992 and built an organic baby food company over 16 years in order to support organic farming and child health.
I have also pledged never to take a cent from Bearsville. It has cost everything I have and will undoubtedly lose money for the next five years, but it is a jewel on the edge of Woodstock that is undergoing this transformation simply because my life was altered forever by first hearing the protest songs of Bob Dylan, and then inspired by the raw energy and passion of Janis Joplin who took her difficult circumstances and made herself into something magnificent.
Bearsville is my tribute to them and an offering to my adopted home of Woodstock, where I have lived quietly for ten years.
The Catskills are breathtaking, which is why Albert Grossman chose to move out of NYC and build his musical Utopia here. With the support of the town, Bearsville is rising again to be the inspirational Jewel of the Catskills that he always wanted it to be. Please give me a break and have a little more patience. And come and see the place.
What turned out to be a Republican-dominated Ulster County Reapportionment Commission voted Wednesday night, July 13 to reject all but a tiny handful of public comments and approve the original “draft” map of new legislative districts it released in April. In so doing, it completes a deft exercise in Republican gerrymandering. It splits the Town of Gardiner into two separate legislative districts and severely limits the electability of any Democrat from the district that represents three-fourths of the town. In fact, it is likely that Gardiner will, for the next decade, be represented by one legislator from New Paltz and another from Shawangunk.
The Commission surgically excised approximately one-fourth of Gardiner (current Election District 3 — everything both west of the Wallkill River and north of Route 44/55) with the largest number of Democratic voters, from the rest of the town and assigned it to the legislative district of the already heavily Democratic New Paltz. The remaining three quarters of the town’s voters will be grouped in a district with a very large part of Republican-dominated Shawangunk.
This move is classic gerrymandering — merging select portions of communities dominated by one party together to dilute the power of that party elsewhere. Republicans have become experts at this type of “choose-your-own-voters” tactic that gives them an edge in other parts of the country. Now we have it right here in Ulster County.
How did what was supposed to be a non-partisan Reapportionment Commission in a majority Democratic Ulster County result in a highly partisan Republican body? The devil, it turns out, was in the appointment of the Commissioners. For whatever reason — we suspect naivety or simply lack of attention on the part of Democratic officials — the Democratic Commissioners ended up being weak personalities. In contrast, Minority Leader Ken Ronk (R-Shawangunk) chose uber-dominant lawyer and up-and-coming Republican star, Sarah DeStefano, as First Vice Chair of the Commission. The rest is history. The adopted map heavily favors Shawangunk Republicans in future county legislative races in the newly created hybrid District 16.
In response to what appeared in April to be an attempt to weaken real democracy in Gardiner to favor Republicans (an electoral minority in town) approximately 25 Gardiner residents, led by Gardiner Town Supervisor Marybeth Majestic, showed up to the Commission’s public hearing in Modena in May.
We pleaded with the Commission not to split our town in two. We argued that making our residents, for the first time, go to two different legislators to help us with town issues was unnecessary, inconvenient and potentially very ineffective in terms of impact.
We argued that the interests of Gardiner, defined largely by agriculture- and tourism-related economies, differ greatly from the interests of folks in New Paltz, (dominated by a large educational institution) and from Shawangunk (dominated by two large correctional institutions).
We were sure these arguments would be persuasive to any fair-minded Commissioner in a body that is supposed to take township boundaries, culture and community character into account when drawing district boundaries.
We turned out to be quite wrong, as our comments ultimately fell on deaf ears. In Wednesday’s meeting, Republican Commissioner DeStefano first used procedural technicalities to eliminate from consideration a “Compromise Map” drawn up by a technical expert from the County Planning Department that met all technical requirements and addressed the concerns of citizens from all over southern Ulster County who felt aggrieved by the draft (note: the Commission, contrary to its legal charter, included no one from the southern part of the county and, as a result, the original and current draft created many more divisions across southern Ulster than necessary).
Because of DeStefano’s procedural maneuvering and constant badgering of the other Commissioners, the Compromise Map was not even considered. Instead, the Commission chose between what appeared to be a map that kept Gardiner whole but had other obvious flaws, and the original draft that split the town in two. The Commission voted to submit as final essentially the same gerrymandered map that they submitted in April, prior to any public comment. Gardiner will now be split between the New Paltz and Shawangunk districts.
In arguing against anything but the Commission’s original draft map, DeStefano claimed that any map revisions that came as the result of public comment from Gardiner would constitute gerrymandering, presumably since what the Commissioners did was, by definition, not gerrymandering. It’s a laughable argument and one that reflects the Republican tendency (modeled habitually by Trump) to project its own nefarious motives and actions onto others. Another Republican Commissioner argued that Gardiner’s public comments should be disregarded as suspect because both the County Executive and the Chair of the County Legislature reside in Gardiner and, therefore, we must be acting based purely on their political interests, another absurd claim.
The Commission’s map is an outrage and an affront to the very idea of nonpartisanship and the notion that public comment should be seriously considered and, where possible, incorporated into government decision-making — a point made repeatedly on Wednesday by Gardiner Supervisor Majestic.
At the end of Wednesday’s hearing, DeStefano was smirking at her carefully engineered victory, and Gardiner residents were livid. In a monumental understatement, Town of Rochester Supervisor Mike Baden, who has followed the Commission closely and attended all its meetings, told the Commissioners that they did a grave disservice to the citizens of Gardiner. If left unchanged, it will be a disservice that will undercut (“small-d”) democracy in our town for at least the next decade.
We urge the County Legislature to change the Charter, if necessary, scrap the highly partisan product of the Reapportionment Commission, and approve revisions that direct a new, truly non-partisan Reapportionment Commission to start from scratch and produce a County Legislative District map that is fair to all Ulster County communities.
Tom Kruglinski, Glenn McNitt, Samuel Cristler, Janet Kern, Hatti Langford, Lindy Weaver, Peter D.G. Brown, Wolf Scandinaro, Lisa Minetto
A serious investigative reporter is needed
The lawsuit which the Woodstock Library Lovers have filed against the Library Board and the Town of Woodstock brings up questions that a serious investigative reporter might pursue. Why, for example, did both the Town and the Library Board deny in a legal document that the plan for the building represents a “change of use” from the former owner’s, Miller Howard, a financial office with 35 employees. In the building plan the Library circulated before the bonding vote, they showed seats for 97 people with a community room upstairs holding 60 more people. Is not converting as office building to a public library an obvious change of use? A “change of use” designation for a zoning district legally requires a full Environmental Impact Study.
Another question. Arsenic and lead were found on the property in a 2012 testing. When retested recently in 2022, the lead was declared to be below “the NY state threshold.”
More fodder for that investigative reporter. For example, what is the NY State threshold for lead? And where on the property did the Library’s investigative firm investigate? The suit filed against the Town and the Library is concerned with issues of public safety. I hope to see more Hudson Valley One coverage of this serious lawsuit.
Reading that State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill was defeated in his primary was a surprise. I cannot remember a time without him, and found him to be a pleasant politician. Now Mr. Cahill will have that hard decision: retire really well-off, or become a lobbyist and get much wealthier.
This lurch to the left by my former Democratic party, now unrecognizable, is dangerous. New York is a state in serious financial trouble. If high taxpaying jobs continue to sneak out of the state, as they have been, will the tourists really flock to Times Square when they are likely unwilling to be as brave as William Tell’s son and let Dad shoot a shrunken apple from his head? Will more radical politicians hasten their departure? I think so. Even an oncologist I recently met said he’d be retiring and leaving New York, just not for Florida!
My Daily News subscription assures me that I get a lefty-pitcher on the mound every day. Even those fake journalists are not making it sound like a stroll in the park (Central) is something I want to risk, and I was in one or more of all five boroughs almost every work day in the 1970’s and 1980’s. (Reminder: Son of Sam days!)
The median family income in the U.S. is somewhere around 60K. (Median is a better yardstick than average: it is the middle of the total). Readers of HV1 likely are above median earners; the subscription, while a good deal, is still a luxury for half of America, currently being bled dry by everything inflation, especially rent, property and school tax, sales tax, energy costs, green energy subsidies and supporting our growing mass of young retirees.
We need to want wealthy retirees to stick around. They pay far more than their fair share. As for voting on Kevin’s seat: consider trying the other old party. The Devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.
Commentary on Life
We regret to interrupt this commercial with another, but just know in the deep of your whatever that Mike Huckabee is sleeping sounder.
Is that the garbage truck again, or is it thunder.
Why would anyone ever take a medication with the side effect of “fatal bleeding?”
Here’s to the boobs/over bubblies on the Weather Channel: IP currents, falling seawalls, erosion, bikini and lifeguard shortage…just have a safe summer!
Lately little respect is being shown to paragraphs and girls and women! For shame…
Start your future plans ’cause now thanks to the James Webb telescope we can imagine other real estate.
Ta-ta! I am off to my teeny-tiny-test-kitchen.