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.
Time travel with Carol Johnson
Many thanks to Carol Johnson for her monthly compilations of fascinating local history, and to Hudson Valley One for bringing these articles to us. What a pleasure it is to envision our area not so long ago in time, but seemingly a very different world. The topics are so down-to-Earth: the harvests of apples and grapes, the prices obtained at market, the baseball games between rival towns New Paltz and Gardiner, the completion of a new paved road to Highland, the manufacture of bricks in New Paltz (where a number of “colored” men worked alongside white men), the excursion of girls from the “Normal School” to Mohonk in 12 carriages on a holiday. It’s easy to picture the crowd of “baseball enthusiasts” sitting around Johnston’s Garage to hear the broadcast of the Yankees/Giants World Series over the “radiophone.”
I know it’s a temptation to romanticize the past, and often inaccurate, but these articles are a pleasant diversion from the news of our own time that bombards us with such intensity, and I really appreciate this opportunity for a bit of lighthearted time-travel each month.
Free and fair elections
Vote like the American experiment in representative democracy and the rule of law depend on it — because they do. ‘No’ to lawless autocracy and racist demagoguery; ‘Yes’ to free and fair elections and the liberal notion, now 235 years old, that we the people are capable of choosing our own leaders for the betterment of all.
A bad word
“Wokeness” is the worst word since “deflowering.”
Killing trees in Saugerties
I am aghast that the Village Board is even considering cutting down living green trees so that we can see a Christmas tree installed temporarily for only ten days once a year. The Christmas tree is large enough to be seen through the leafless street trees. We need more street trees in the village, not less. Perhaps the Christmas tree could be placed on an island in the middle of the intersection of Main and Market Streets where a stone monument once stood. This would be a good visible celebratory location for such a temporary installation.
former advisor to the Saugerties Tree Commission
You too could live in a democracy!
Every vote matters.
Not as long as we have the Electoral College.
It’s past time to abolish it and evolve into a real Democracy.
In support of Michelle Hinchey
I heartily support reelecting Michelle Hinchey to the New York State Senate. In her first term she has accomplished so much on our behalf, such as working on solutions to our housing crisis, getting illegal guns off our streets, addressing climate change by building a green economy, protecting women’s reproductive rights and holding local utility companies accountable to us ratepayers. By contrast, despite having a few more terms in the Senate, her opponent has not upheld and championed the values of the people of this region as Michelle has, working hard day in and day out.
Michelle’s natural leadership skills, her passion for public service (learned at a very young age) and her ability to work across the aisle all bode well for our district, and are a good harbinger for our democracy. In this election season, when democracy itself is on the line, it is imperative that we reelect Michelle, retaining a Democratic majority in the Senate, and prevent the forces that would undo the very foundation that makes New York a leader on so many fronts.
Family of New Paltz & the Turkey Trot
Most everyone has heard of Family and knows of a program or two, but it’s a safe bet you don’t know half of the services they provide. They are the safety net for people in our community in a time of need. With an incredibly dedicated and talented staff, they provide dozens of services, from crisis intervention, homeless and domestic violence services to the new Food Recovery Program, so excess food from retail stores and restaurants goes to people instead of into dumpsters.
The Turkey Trot is one of our major fundraisers, and it’s great fun to boot. Unable to gather in person the past two years, we are now back to our in-person event, meeting at Water Street Market and covering a level loop on the Rail Trail and closed Plains Road.
Register and join the fun, while helping your community. Here’s the link: https://runsignup.com/Race/NY/NewPaltz/FamilyofNewPaltzTurkeyTrot, and check out our Facebook page to learn about our sponsors. Thanks.
Sherrill May Silver
Invest in our great community
For a couple years my family needed to move away from Ulster County. From our temporary new home, we searched towns near and far for our next new home. In every town we visited the library. There are many fine libraries out there, yet the one we most longed to come home to was here in Gardiner, and we did.
The Gardiner Library is a home base for so very many reasons. Here I learned to knit, became a literacy tutor and made dear new friends. My children learned some of their first words at story time – go, go, go! – and met their first little friends, too.
When the pandemic shuttered everyone at home, we picked up books and movies and craft kits at the pickup window and rejoiced when the doors opened again. This summer my littlest one was able to receive early intervention services thanks to meeting in the children’s section of the Library. Not to mention all the books, oh so many books we’ve been able to read and the shows and movies we stream on Kanopy! We have even borrowed museum passes!
The Library makes our community bigger and more beautiful and needs your help this Election Day. Please vote Yes on Proposition 414. Please invest in our great community.
I said, “How could it come to this? I’m really worried about living. How could it come to this? Yeah, I really want to know about this.”
Someone asked me where I stood on the Roe versus Wade debate, and I replied that it depends on how deep the water was. But seriously…On Tuesday, November 8, Election Day, we “deeply” need to care about a woman’s right to choose: It’s their body, it’s their healthcare and most importantly, a woman’s voice matters! Democracy and our freedoms are on the line and in jeopardy of not being there for us. So, kick some Republican ass and don’t go gently into the midterms.
“What it comes down to is that they assert their right to control reproduction, and they assert their right over people’s bodies. All totalitarianisms, no matter what they say their aims are, no matter what’s on the flag, they all have in common the rollback of women’s rights.” – Margaret Atwood.
Roe Roe Roe your boat, excitedly to the polls…Merrily, verily, merrily, verily…On a big blue wave we will vote.
Finally: Thank you, Rebecca B. Wilk; your well-crafted words/opinions ring true. You fight the good fight, and you are doing the right thing here on the Hudson Valley One letters page. We need to save our country, even if we must include saving the Republican voters.
Where are the voters?
The midterm elections are upon us and it’s time for 81 million voters who supported Joe Biden and 74 million who did not to decide “where they are” regarding America’s direction. Will the Democrats maintain majority rule in both the House and Senate, or will they lose one or both Houses? The following song is my commentary on the approaching midterm elections and should be sung to the tune of the theme song from the great but short-lived TV sitcom Car 54 Where Are You?
There is chaos at the border
But half the country doesn’t know
‘Cos the media won’t report it
Since they root for their guy Joe
Pessimism is on the rise
Will Joe’s America survive?
Hey, America’s voters where are you?
Inflation’s holding steady
But that steady’s eight percent
And people have to choose
To pay for gas or pay the rent
Neil still speaks of “45”
While the country takes a dive
Hey, America’s voters where are you?
There are homeless in the streets
Violent crime is everywhere
The way that Neil is silent
It seems he doesn’t care
But his silence is no joke
Nor are DAs who are woke
Hey, America’s voters where are you?
School test scores are much lower
And teachers’ unions want more pay
It seems that if they could
They’d teach from home most every day
They blame COVID for their woes
While Joe attacks their MAGA foes
Hey, America’s voters where are you?
Old Chuck Todd asked Kamala
If the borders are secure
When she told him that they were
He asked her if she’s really sure
Two million immigrants are rare
But Dems blame DT for the tear
Hey, America’s voters where are you?
Joe yells “Democracy is threatened”
Because of those with MAGA ties
But says 87,000 tax agents
Will be helpful gals and guys
Joe said “I want the agents there
So everyone pays their fair share”
Hey, America’s voters where are you?
Joe gave a recent speech
And it didn’t go too well
He looked like he was standing
At the very gates of Hell
Joe said divisiveness must go
Then called MAGA voters our worst foe
Joe, America’s voters can hear you!
Some reading this here song
Are still glad that Joe got in
‘Cos they thought a vote for Trump
Would have been a great big sin
Though their candidate has won
The country’s coming quite undone
Hey, America’s voters where are you?
The midterms are now here
A time to make your choice be known
Are you happy with our leader?
Then let your happiness be shown
But if you think Joe’s been so wrong
Then let your voice be loud and strong
Joe Rogan says “Vote Republican”
Common sense is sorely lacking in the one-party control from Albany to Washington, DC. I am hopeful with the impressive candidates that are running to bring common sense back. Colin Schmitt for Congress is currently an assemblyman who has the track record of supporting our police, firefighters and first responders and has been outspoken in making sure inflation is brought under control by looking at the root causes such as not controlling our own energy production. Dorey Houle for State Senate is a mom of five who understands that enhancing education and school safety should be top priorities, our children should not be left behind and parents should be encouraged to be involved in their children’s education; she also knows the challenges of New York families and wants to be sent to Albany to ensure no more families are forced to move away because they can no longer afford to live in our great state. New York State Assembly candidate Lisa LaBue is a mother and grandmother who has the opportunity to bring a new voice to Albany: one of a single mother who has also been a business-owner and will fight for our families and children because she knows the path we are on now does not set them up for success; we need her because she will fight for us, not New York corruption.
The Hudson Valley also needs more representation in the New York State Supreme Court, and Rich Guertin, John Sarcone, Linda Murray, John Cypher, Joseph Farca and Michael Grace are those voices we deserve. And of course, Lee Zeldin for governor!
Back “green” rhetoric with action
Bids have been awarded for construction to begin at some future date to add approximately 2,300 square feet to the historic Eames House at the top of Comeau Drive in Woodstock. Our Town employees deserve a modern facility to work in, of course. But they also deserve an energy-efficient environment as well.
What is Net Zero Energy and why should it be applied to this new municipal construct in Woodstock? Net Zero Energy (NZE), also known as Zero Energy Building (ZEB), “is a building with net zero energy consumption, meaning the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is equal to the amount of renewable energy created on-site” (Wikipedia). Technologies such as heat pumps, high-efficiency windows, insulation and solar panels are used to contribute less overall greenhouse gas to the atmosphere during operations than similar non-NZE buildings. Another key to achieving NZE is utilizing passive solar heat gain and shading, combined with thermal mass to stabilize temperature variations throughout the day. and in most climates are superinsulated. All the technologies to create ZEB are readily available off the shelf.
There are tools for designers to determine how a building will perform, including determining the optimal orientation of the building for full passive and active solar gain (roof panels). The models lead to a cost/benefit analysis and even a life cycle assessment of the building’s energy performance. Many energy-saving features are also incorporated, making it feasible to power the whole building using roof-mounted solar panels, provided the building is oriented for solar gain – in our climate this means facing south. This is key.
The current design of the Comeau addition, controversial in its uncomplementing design to the existing historic building aside, is also oriented to face east and not south. Large windows are facing wooded forest and the pitch of the shed roofs does not allow for solar rooftop panels. Before the ground is broken on this important project, Woodstock’s Town Board should tap the brakes and review the design for its energy use and viability as a prime candidate for Net Zero Building.
Let’s send a message to future generations that we backed up the “green” rhetoric with action to build it right.
Commentary on life
First lesson in squirrel preschool: Remember where you store your nuts!
What is the worst product jingle stuck in your head? Help! Mine is Pepto-Bismol.
If you want to keep your actual natural lips, stay away from pistachios with sea salt and vinegar.
Need some sinus-knockers, à la nasal cleansing? Try consuming those wasabi peas!
If you are satisfied with the message you left, press 1. If you are dissatisfied with your blood relatives, press and hold 2: You are not alone.
Just declassified all my diaries and I am naming names! You no-shows line up!
You can’t worry yourself over those newbie germs hiding in your showerhead. Breathe…
Ta-ta, I am off to argue with Medicare regarding their alleged broad coverage (as a woman, it’s insulting).
Myrna S. Hilton
In a fog
What is it that causes individuals to have their heads in a cloud and not see the obvious?
Myths & conspiracies
Inflation affects all of us. Food and gas costs more. Anywhere you want to go and anything you want to do is more expensive. We all know this, and that’s why we hate inflation. But blaming inflation on the current president is a knee-jerk reaction that most uninformed people tend to do. When will they ever really learn?
Here’s the truth! In our present situation, inflation is the result of three years of dealing with the deadly coronavirus pandemic, along with the effects of the Russian-initiated war on Ukraine. It’s not simply an isolated United States problem. No. Europe has worse inflation than we do. South America is dealing with horrible inflation also. It’s happening all over the world.
But the Republican Party is notorious for using the media to manipulate the truth. You’ll never hear a Republican blame this inflation on the world’s challenges. No, no. They will seize the moment to blame it all on President Biden and the Democrats. That’s their political game. But it is not even close to the truth. It’s a myth!
Another spin on reality is how the Republican Party always acts so righteous about the “out-of-control” crime in our country. Yet they turn right around and act so protective of the Second Amendment and the right for all of us in our nation to have the right to carry arms. But the gun thing is totally out of control. Don’t you see what happens when you connect the dots? More guns equal more crime.
The GOP folks know damn well that less guns on the streets will lead to less crime. But they will never admit this fact in public. This manipulation of the American people should be exposed for what it is: nothing less than a conspiracy to keep society in fear and the Republicans in power. It’s disgusting.
How many times will we continue to watch on TV the latest mass-murdering of students in our schools? It’s an ongoing tragedy. Even if both parties agreed to ban all assault weapons tomorrow, there would still be crime and killings. This is sadly true. But at least we’d be on our way toward less crime and a healthier society. Unfortunately, though, the Republicans continue to persist with their stance and the semi-automatic weapons continue to kill our own.
I don’t want to hear any Republicans ramble on about stopping crime. Those Republicans who vote against banning those weapons of war should be seen as crime accomplices. They are no better than the drug pushers in the street. The pushers give people the dope. Then there are overdoses. The Republicans make it easy to buy guns. Then there are more dead people in the streets.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see what’s really going on. Then again, none are so blind as those who will not see. Are you one of those? If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention!
Vote Yes on Proposition 414
Remember when Gardiner had no Library? Perhaps few Gardinerites do. They can’t remember when you couldn’t get:
• Free tutoring
• Free conversational language classes
• Free access to places like the Mohonk Preserve and Storm King Mountain
• Free access to over a million e-book and e-audiobook titles
• Free writing workshops
• Free opportunities to learn, practice and play music.
Doubling as Gardiner’s community center, the Library also responds to local and national concerns: A pollinator garden was recently established, as was a recycling station that accepts items not taken by our Transfer Station.
The Gardiner Library thankfully exists, but is no longer a spring chicken! As its systems age, it requires a capital reserve to stay in business. For that, and the fact that inflation has whittled away the value of its modest budget, we ask that you vote Yes on Proposition 414 on November 8. You’ll find it on the back of the ballot.
Vote Yes on November 8 for Gardiner’s future
Gardiner’s Community Preservation Plan is enlightened thinking. It seeks to raise funds for the future preservation of the Town’s most treasured assets: its scenic open spaces, natural resources, rich farmlands and small-town character.
In my 30 years as a residential real estate broker, I have never experienced a Real Estate Transfer Tax as a deterrent to buyers. This low 1.25 percent tax paid on the price of a property above the current median value of $320,000 is not only tax-deductible to the buyer, it’s an incentive to those who can afford properties above the median and are seeking a beautiful community like ours that values local preservation. At the same time, the exemption protects more affordable properties in the housing market. And there’s no cost to the seller! This is a win/win proposition.
For more detailed information on this important ballot initiative, Local Law 1, go to voteyesgardiner.org.
Take action on climate change
Scientists fear we may be heading for a Sixth Extinction: a major period of profound species loss across the globe. This has largely been driven by land use and land cover change (alongside our copious use of aquatic species), and will be made worse by increasing climate change. Right here in Gardiner, we’ve experienced major recent flooding and storm damages that could have been even worse without our land resources and the services (e.g., water control and habitat) they provide. However, while the situation appears bleak, we do have solutions that can work in our favor – if we act, decisively and quickly, together.
As a climate scientist, I often get the question, “What can I do to address climate change?” While changing to an LED light bulb or driving a fuel-efficient car reflects good values, these don’t seem to have enough impact. Engaging in our democracy, while crucial to combating climate change, can also sometimes feel unsatisfying, particularly when policymaking can be opaque and it’s unclear what the real benefits are. However, on November 8, Gardiner will be introducing an important measure that really can help address biodiversity loss and climate change, and your vote will help it pass.
On the ballot is Local Law 1 to enact and finance the Gardiner Community Preservation Fund (CPF). This will be supported by a one-time and relatively small real-estate transfer tax on new higher-end real estate sales. The charge of this fund is to help conserve open space in Gardiner – “wild” and farm lands – at the discretion of the people of Gardiner. To help guide this process, Gardiner embarked on a years-long effort to construct a Natural Resource Inventory, which maps in great detail the ecosystems and biodiversity across all of Gardiner for every parcel of land. This data-driven approach alongside the CPF will empower willing, volunteer landowners in their decisions to keep their portions of their lands “forever wild.” This will alleviate the pressures of development to help at-risk species and sustain and buffer our ecosystem services, including clean water, carbon sequestration, flood control and wildlife habitat. This cannot only accrue long-term benefits to the landowners themselves, but will also serve neighbors and friends across the Town (and beyond), providing both local ecosystem services and contributing to national efforts to fight climate change.
Local efforts like this may feel inconsequential, but they are in fact critical: Over 70 percent of forested land (and most land in general) in New York State is under private ownership. Private landowners – including many in Gardiner – have a huge role to play in tackling our biodiversity and climate crisis. It is true that not everyone may have land they can protect with a conservation easement. However, everyone stands to gain from this effort because of the environmental and biodiversity benefits it could provide. For those that do have land of high conservation value (which you can now look up on our Natural Resource Inventory), enacting and engaging with the CPF provides a real chance at doing something meaningful towards solving these urgent problems. Voting “Yes” for the Gardiner Community Preservation Fund (CPF) on November 8 can be an important and impactful step.
Sonali Shukla McDermid
Tiffin Take-Out Project
The United States has a robust plastics industry. Virgin plastics (plastics never used before) are produced from fossil fuels, the same stuff we drive our cars with. In the United States, the fossil fuel industry gets subsidies. Because of subsidies, virgin plastics are artificially cheap. Thus, virgin plastics are more profitable than recycled plastics. Most plastics have carbon backbone polymers that make them strong and resistant to biodegrading. A single-use plastic cup or takeout container will be here on Earth 200 years from now, doing who knows what damage.
When we hear about plastic pollution in the oceans, we expect to see plastics floating in the seas. But plastics break down to very tiny particles, and most of the time, the oceans look pristine blue and the waves are crashing. We don’t see the millions of particles that are present in that water. Microplastics drift down to the bottom. They are in the air we breathe and the water we drink. Who wants to eat and drink plastics, and who wants them to wind up in their bloodstream?
I recently joined a small local group, CCAPP, or Citizens Concerned about Plastic Pollution. I have found that when I am active in trying to do something about the climate change crisis, I feel less anxiety and less worry. I am part of a group of people and we support each other. I no longer want to wait for a broken government that maybe will implement changes, and one day may make laws to protect me and my water, my air, my soil, my animals.
CCAPP has started an action called the Tiffin Take-Out Project, for which we purchased 100 tiffin boxes to sell at wholesale cost. These are three-tiered, reusable stainless steel takeout containers that hold 54 fluid ounces.
Here’s how it works: Instead of getting a plastic container each time you order takeout, you indicate that you want to use a tiffin box. Participating restaurants use tiffin boxes supplied through the Tiffin Take-Out Project. The restaurant puts the food in a tiffin, and when you come to pick up your food, you give them an empty tiffin box, while they give you a filled one. This system has been used in India for centuries, and today is also widely used in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. With this system, the restaurant has not had any additional cost in providing you with a container, and you have saved the environment from another piece of plastic garbage. Good ecological practice paired with financial benefits for the business!
A couple of weeks ago, Bob Siracusano from Sawyer Motors very generously bought 50 tiffin boxes from us. These are now available for free to any and all restaurants who are interested in this project.
Although heavily promoted by the plastic manufacturers, plastic “recycling” is largely a hoax because, even if some plastics are technically recyclable, 95 percent of the time plastics simply do not get recycled. Recycling programs are expensive, and they are funded by taxpayers.
We need to start working very hard at keeping plastics out of this little planet Earth. Basically, there is no space to put all the plastic garbage we produce. Hopefully, our Tiffin Project can make a difference. I urge everyone to consider participating in this program!
SUNY: low-hanging fruit of economic development
I spoke at last week’s press conference with professors, students, UUP president Fred Kowal and New York State Assembly candidate Sarahana Shrestha in support of increasing SUNY funding in the upcoming state budget.
My quote for the press release: “Investing in SUNY is the low-hanging fruit of economic development. Albany works hard figuring out ways to fuel prosperity for individuals and communities across New York State. But the puzzle is less complicated when we consider how impactful it is to invest in an existing institution like SUNY and its economic engine.”
Mayor Tim Rogers
Still a chance to save our iconic Library
We need clarity, transparency and real community input before we seal the fate of our Woodstock Library. For too many years, money allotted to maintaining the Library building was not spent on fixing the structure nor ending its mold problem, but in preparing to have the Library torn down and replaced. Several local architects and designers offered plans to renovate and add to the existing structure, but were ignored by the Board and their ideas were never brought to a public vote.
When we recently had a vote on whether we should move the Woodstock Library to an industrial building on a site located in Bearsville, those of us who disapproved of closing our Town Library and moving its contents elsewhere posted signs saying: “Vote No – Save the Library.” The Library Board responded with signs which read “Vote Yes – Save the Library,” which caused major voter confusion because only one group actually meant to leave the Library where it is.
Other questions remain: Why does the Board want to move our Library out of Town? Most Town libraries are nestled in the midst of the Towns they serve. And why did they agree to pay a million dollars more than the commercially stated value to purchase this industrial building?
Meanwhile, the mold problem at the Library has been fixed. We had been told this was not possible to do. I guess once the Board figured that they had permission to move elsewhere, it made good financial sense to keep this valuable building in good shape.
Library Lovers of Woodstock is a group of local residents who are trying to put the brakes on this rush to end the Woodstock Library as we know it: an intrinsic part of our Town for over 100 years, walking distance from the elementary school and most Town residents, many of whom really depend on being able to get to the Library on foot. Jen Stewart, a good lawyer who understands both library and real estate law, has been hired; so, before anything happens which can never be undone, maybe we still have a chance to save our iconic Library, renovated and added to and by local architects, designers and builders in its current location. That is what I’d like to see, and I think many Woodstockers feel the same way.
For more information on the GoFundMe campaign to help pay for Jen Stewart’s legal fees, please contact HERA: (845) 706-4439, email@example.com.
Antonia (Toni) Weidenbacher
New Paltz High School walking path
I am a senior at New Paltz High School and I live in the Town of New Paltz. One of my favorite things about this Town is its walkability. I love being able to access all the different areas of the Town without needing a car. However, despite being a perfectly reasonable walking distance, you see very few people walking into Town from the New Paltz High School. That is because the only way to get into Town is to walk along the very busy bypass road. Even with the bypass’ six-foot shoulder, the cars and trucks zooming past at 45+ miles per hour make walking into Town with my friends to visit shops or see a movie an unsafe option; we are left with having to choose between taking a car or the bus, when we could be spending time walking and getting exercise outdoors.
There needs to be a safe path made for walking and biking from the high school into Town. Even though I will have graduated by the time a project like that is completed, I believe that it is important for the health and safety of future students.
Caleb Kinfun Lai
Attacks on benefits
Many persons believe that Donald Trump is the savior of this republic. In all actuality, he is the shield for the Republican Party, the GOP, to unleash hell upon our benefits and the accepted scheme of things since the days of FDR’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.
The GOP has hated the New Deal’s and Great Society’s social innovations into the heretofore business world of pre-Hoover. They had no alternative but to accept these innovations, particularly when Hoover was running for his nomination for second term as POTUS against FDR. Hoover’s first term showed he did nothing to alleviate the suffering of millions of people out of work and those not physically able to work.
FDR promised to address these problems. The GOP was forced either to accept FDR and his innovations of the federal government into the social fabric of the country or nominate Hoover for a second term. Either way, if they nominated Hoover and he lost, they would lose their seats in the midterm elections; he was questionable. And if they supported FDR and did not support him, they would be booted out as well in the midterm elections.
Therefore, the Senate Republicans (81 percent) along with the House Democrats (87 percent) endorsed FDR’s programs once in office. The New Deal ushered in a number of innovations heretofore unheard-of in American society. The Social Security Act of 1935 was just one of them. The New Deal brought the federal government into the everyday lives of the public with unheard-of programs. The Republicans have hated these since the beginning of the New Deal, knowing full well that once the door was open, the emphasis was not going to be Hoover’s mantra of “business and business only.” Instead, it was a reach of the federal government into the lives of millions of Americans for generations to come.
And Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society in 1965 and the 89th Congress passed the amendments to the Social Security Act of 1933. Johnson’s Great Society was a continuation of this previous innovation for the benefit of all Americans. (Information is from page 132 of the author’s book, My Journey.)
“So how does this bode for those seniors collecting their benefits they have paid into for years?” It does not bode well at all. The Republicans know that with both Chambers of Congress controlled by the GOP, and if Trump is elected again for a second term, he will demolish these programs piece by piece. “So, how does this happen?” I say piece by piece: a little bit each time, so as not to upset the proletariat (“common folk”). Let’s look at some of the schemes the GOP has put forth, some of which have been mentioned previously in these letters.
1. Privatization. Here, FICA is eliminated, and it is your money to save for old age – that is, if you do that. There is always money needed for a new roof, college education for the grandkid et cetera. By the way, Donald tried to pass a Payroll Executive Tax, which effectively would eliminate FICA: no funding for Social Security. (Actually, it was deferred, with payments postponed until a later date.)
2. Trust Act. This would create a Social Security committee and set up a fast-track process that could bypass Congressional dialogue that could easily lead to benefit cuts.
3. Reach Act. Funds allocated by Medicare for person’s medical expenses will be subject to corporate middlemen who allocate a defined portion of each senior’s medical expenses. What they don’t pay for these expenses, they keep for themselves.
4. BBA (Balanced Budget Amendment). In order to address the federal budget, a percentage of benefit money (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) will undergo cuts.
5. Fix the Debt. Corporate CEOs have their sights on slashing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, what they call “entitlement programs.”
6. Business Roundtable. CEOs, a powerful group leading the charge for deep cuts in our benefits – average retirement for these men is $14.5 million.
7. COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment). The elimination or cutting the cost-of-living adjustments to our benefits.
The above information is from two sources, both of which I belong to and support. Those sources are the AARP and NCPSSM. I do not get this information from any political party. These two organizations are the ones that give this “ole” prune information needed to understand what the GOP is doing to get out of the benefit state – the state I have paid into for all my life. Also, Number 8:
8. Rescue America. Senator Rick Scott has pushed forth an amendment that carefully looks at our benefits every five years to see if the cost is worth the financing them for another five years. “Wow!” You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see where that is going. The trillion-dollar deficit is looked at and “Gee whiz, guys, we better cancel, not renew these benefits, to get the deficit under control.” Bullshit.
This is just one more “tinkering” that these cowboys are doing in order to get out from under FDR’s innovations for all seniors, circa 1930s. The culprit is, as Mike Lofgren states in his book The Party Is Over, “The GOP cares, over and above every other item on its political agenda, about the rich contributors who keep them in office. This is why tax increase on the wealthy have become an absolute Republican taboo.”
There it is. If the rich boys paid their fair share of taxes, our benefits would not be in jeopardy. “Wake up, boys and girls.” “There is much at stake here.” Support the AARP and the NCPSSM.
In support of Sue Serino
Now retired, I was a large animal veterinarian who served the farms in Columbia, Dutchess, Green and Berkshire counties for 41 years. My work week was usually 60 to 70 hours, but my farmers worked harder and longer than me. Farmers are resilient. They are used to working around uncontrollable weather, adapting to changing prices and adjusting to supply chain challenges and changing tastes. Still, they always persevere because they love the work they do, and farmers know how important it is to our communities. However, the future of New York farming is on the line thanks to bad policies coming out of Albany that will reduce the overtime threshold and drive up costs not only for farmers, but for all New Yorkers who are already struggling to cope with the high price of groceries.
I’ll be voting for senator Sue Serino in this year’s election because she’s the only candidate in this race who truly listened to the farming community and vocally opposed this change. While some politicians stayed silent, Sue was relentless in giving voice to the farmers’ concerns. Albany wants you to believe that because they gave farmers a tax credit to account for this massive policy shift, that costs will not rise, but Sue understands that this is only a temporary fix and one we cannot count on to truly keep costs down.
These days, too many are struggling to make ends meet. We need leaders like Sue who understand how policies passed in Albany will impact us here at home and who are not afraid to speak out for us. That’s why I am voting for Sue for State Senate, and I hope you will too.
George J. Beneke, DVM
Vote for Jen Metzger
Jen Metzger will be a County executive for the whole community. She will work collaboratively with all parties involved to bring the best approaches and responses for Ulster County. She has decades of experience and has delivered results in state and local governments.
Jen comes from a place of inclusion and fairness. I have seen how her energy and temperament have brought young people to work for campaigns, and her vitality energizes the rest of the people around her. She will make Ulster County a fairer and more thriving place to live.
Just a few of Jen’s many accomplishments while working both locally and at the state level on behalf of Ulster County:
• She has protected our water supply.
• She helped keep taxes down with a permanent property tax cap statewide.
• A longtime champion of the environment, she co-sponsored the most robust climate protection law in the country.
• She is pro-choice and pro-women, having co-sponsored the bill making Roe v. Wade law in New York.
• She works successfully and collaboratively.
It is clear that Jen Metzger is the better, more capable candidate for County executive. Please vote for Jen on November 8. Ulster County deserves the best.
The Medicare Disadvantage plans
We are now full-blown into the Medicare Enrollment Period (October 15-December 7). The inundation of ads promoting Medicare Advantage plans has also arrived. The deceptive promises of dental, vision and hearing coverage abounds as well. In reality, the Advantage plan coverage for these three special costs can be weak, almost useless. Be wary, for it is certainly not a blanket coverage. In fact, on the Medicare.gov website, alongside dental, vision and hearing there is this: “There may be limits on how much the plan will provide.” Unfortunately, many Advantage policyholders realize these limits too late – just when they need a major service, such as a root canal.
Perhaps worse, the Advantage plans often arbitrarily deny needed care affecting tens of thousands of seniors (“Medicare Advantage plans often deny needed care, federal report finds,” New York Times, April 29, 2022).
Do not be fooled. If you’re still considering an Advantage plan, use the medicare.gov website and scrutinize the Advantage plan coverage details. You will see that the better choice is Original Medicare with a Medigap and Drug plan.
Medicare was improved this year by placing a $35 monthly cap on insulin and permitting Medicare to negotiate prices with drug companies. We can thank the Democrats for these improvements, but be warned: The Republicans have vowed to roll back these changes should they get the chance – yet another reason to vote for Democrats in the midterms.
Zeroes & ones
The computer and the Internet have become toll-free superhighways that war stewards travel at supersonic speed. In addition, the refinement of surveillance has advanced assassination killings to even the bathrooms and bedrooms of anyone they choose.
A megalomaniac or psychopath with the proper surveillance equipment and a team of frightened followers can parallel the powers of the armies who fought in our past World Wars. American survivors swore after World War II, “Such wars should never happen again.” But in reality, we’ve entered a panoply of terror wars with less noise and selective killings. These wars are blatantly sponsored by the world’s wealthy, making fast cash by reaching into every mind and bank account, using the media and fear as effective weapons to make us pay.
Our civilization was created by building trust with truths. These values contradict the impulse to accumulate vast wealth. Unless paid for, human life and health are thrown into the ever-expanding garbage heap with all our other natural resources. Civil society is like a book that seldom is opened.
It’s becoming critical that all of us humans reevaluate what civilization actually means. Animals follow the laws of nature, and humans step over all other animals and the gods we’ve made, who were to help us create what we call civil society. The new god in charge is the motherboard.
If you fight on a battlefield, it changes your mind and soul. If you can’t feel the sword hitting the bone or have your rifle’s recoil jam your shoulder; if the drone’s death flash on the screen replaces the lifelong battlefield image of the splattered blood made by your bullets; if you’re too far away to smell the rotting flesh of those you’ve bombed; if you cannot hear the death cries or the last words of the wounded calling for their mothers; if the photos of those you killed are suppressed by those who ordered the bombs – then you might believe you’ve escaped moral responsibility.
Today’s soldiers’ battlefields are screens where life and death are digital flashes. But ground combat soldiers have no choice but to role-reverse with those they kill. They see themselves in the dead. This translates into moral memory that generals and politicians never earn. Our leaders have no role-reverse with their enemy or the troops they sent to kill those the pols named enemies.
Robert McNamara is an example of a man in his elder years who may have awoken to his responsibility for the 58,000 dead soldiers he lied to about Vietnam. He became aware that only God knows how many of his troops and enemies he killed for politics and money.
We can have all the apps, write code and have the fanciest computer made and not understand how to say “I am sorry” or know the power of forgiveness. Our animal nature, which focuses on bringing and preserving life in this world, is being ignored. The computer’s zeros and ones are nothing more than zeros and ones. All humans are made of one zero and one 1 and an infinite of other numbers. Until we understand our emotions and instincts hold true meaning, there will be little hope that we can keep our children’s lives from being spent.
More misinformation from Rebecca
In response to Rebecca Wilk’s letter of 10-19-22, to understand her point of view, it doesn’t require a face-to-face meeting with her. Her writings, IF spelled out clearly, explain what her views are. I never met Joe Biden but, thanks to his many calamitous decisions and significant, countless gaffes and lies, it’s easy to see his philosophies and where he is coming from.
And, Rebecca wants us to believe that Biden is competent. I think Rebecca is stranded on an island, all by herself, with that comical assessment. Then, in comparing Biden to Trump, Rebecca quickly glides into a Neil Jarmel-like TDS tirade about how Republicans and conservatives are repressive and inhumane, how they’ve become a neofascist cult, and how they intend to overthrow democracy and the rule of law in our country. It’s no coincidence that these talking points sound an awful lot like the fear-mongering sermons regurgitated on CNN, MSNBC, and “everyone’s favorite,” The View.
Rebecca has wrongly assumed that my concern for human life only refers to UNBORN human life. Immigrant people of brown skin or any other color have always been welcomed and are still welcomed in the United States by me and just about everyone else through our “legal immigration processes!” The Democrats and their extended and trusted party wing in the lame stream media would have us believe that the vast majority of illegals are here to seek asylum. The reality is the opposite. Very few of them meet the standards required for successful and legitimate asylum. That’s because most of them are not coming from countries and environments where they’re about to be done in by thugs and gang members. They are coming here for free food, clothing and lodging, free health care, free education, free cell phones, etc. and all because they can get away with it, thanks to Biden’s lawless red carpet. The number of known illegal entries since Biden took office is anywhere from 3.6 million to 4.9 million (from liberal to conservative counts). More alarming are the 900,000 “gotaways” which is said to be a low estimate. Most alarming are the foreign terrorists on our watch lists. From 2017 through 2020, there were just 26 terrorists caught. In 2021 alone, there were 98. And, no-one knows how many terrorists got away, possibly more than were caught. Since they are very smart and patient, terrorist cells will likely take awhile to set up. So, the obvious follow-up comment is: it’s not IF we experience another catastrophic terrorist attack, it’s simply a matter of WHEN.
Rebecca comments that many more rapes are committed by “white men” than by illegals. Since there are a vast number of “white men” compared to male illegals, it’s obvious that more rapes are committed by “white men.” Notice that Rebecca only refers to “white men” and not ALL United Sates men guilty of rape, which gives us a glimpse into her “white supremacy” train of thought.
So, if you want the many failures of Biden/Harris to continue and if you don’t much care whether your children and grandchildren will have to face foreign terrorism on our own soil again, you’ll vote Democratic as a number of writers urged in last week’s HV1. If, however, you want to see hope for a gradual return to the values and laws upon which our great nation was founded, you have the much more reasonable option to vote Republican.
John N. Butz
Doing the right thing this election
There’s more than enough information, even more miss-information, drama and rhetoric to go around this election. It can be overwhelming, fatiguing and confusing — so much so that some folks may opt to not bother voting at all. Republicans are trying to confuse their own base as well as win undecided voters by any and all means possible. There’s confusion and infighting and divisiveness within the party as leaders vie for votes and jockey for their own advancement in this and upcoming elections.
At its simplest this election can be distilled down to White hats versus Black hats. Either you’re for a woman’s right to control her own body or you’re not. You’re either for social programs to help the under privileged or you’re in favor of cutting these programs. You’re either in favor of restricting access to guns of all kinds or you’re in favor of allowing weapons of war to be owned by 18 year olds and others with few measures in place to limit access. You either believe in the framework and sanctity of our election process and leadership or you’re in favor of falsely claiming elections were stolen, physically attacking our government offices and our elected officials in their homes in order to subvert our laws and processes. The differences between our two parties couldn’t be more stark and more divisive. Whereas years ago there may be some gray area between the two parties with some common ground to be found on some issues, this no longer is the case. For better or worse we’re forced to “pick a side.”
You either believe yourself to be a decent, rational and empathetic person who does the right thing — even when no one’s looking — or you believe you get your way by stepping on others, denying fairly won elections and feverishly work to manipulate and undermine the system at the expense of the under privileged.
Doing the right thing this election means showing up to vote and by voting to support and elect our Democratic candidates who need every vote in order to win.
Vote row A all the way
Every election brings a choice. Some people choose not to exercise that choice, simply saying that they don’t vote and reasoning that it doesn’t make a difference. Others reason that they don’t know enough about the candidates and should leave it to others, the wiser and more informed. This letter is to remind all of us, voters and non-voters alike, that this and every election, is a choice whether you help decide the outcome or make others choose for you.
For me a most salient and easily understood economic and health issue is choosing between candidates who will work to assure that social security and Medicare are protected. I will choose to support a more humane and rational Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid program for our millions of aged, blind and disabled family and neighbors. I will choose to support candidates so I am less afraid of the impact of privatizing our health for profit. I will choose to reject that our income security and health needs are not allowed to be cut to 78% within my lifetime, as predicted unless appropriate funding is created. I will not let others decide if my Medicare, our Medicare, is there for me, my children, my grandson and those of my extended family and neighbors. I will vote ROW A all the way.
Searching for balance and open dialogue: Why life-long Blues are seeing Red…and voting Red
Most of us have fervently championed for the bedrock values of our country enshrined in our US Constitution Bill of Rights, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Nuremberg Code, and many are alarmed about our party morphing into groupthink authoritarianism where free speech, including questioning or dissent, is censured and censored in a government, and media-supported persecution campaign against alleged “misinformation and disinformation,” with attacks on opinions, and shared information/resources, gaslighting, shadow-banning, resulting in loss of employment, professional licenses and even home raids and arrests. What happened here — weren’t we the party that was the first to question the government and big business, demand transparency, accountability and that all voices be heard?
Also concerning issue is subversion of the rule of law — the foundation of good governance. A recent example which received no media coverage is NYS DOH’s quarantine camp requirements giving the state the right to detain/remove anyone at any time for any length of time based on suspicion of being a health threat, all with no criteria-essentially without due process. These authorities were never approved by the NYS legislature but DOH quietly codified them into NYS regulations anyway. Uniting NYS brought the matter to court which ruled that the regulations were illegal and not enforceable. Governor Hochul and AG Leticia James immediately filed an appeal. On what grounds? Is this above the rule of law, NYS Constitution, Administrative Procedures Code and Court? (https://unitingnys.com/)
Equally corning under the current Democratic party-controlled state and country, are attacks on medical freedom-with mandates requiring Covid injections for employment, college and likely soon grade school, as Governor Hochul hinted in her recent debate with Lee Zeldin. As the Democrat-controlled NYS Legislature removed the religious exemption in 2019, and medical exemption is virtually nonexistent, parents and students not wanting the Covid shot or boosters at this juncture will be faced with very difficult choices Seeing the writing on the wall, notable numbers of families have already left the state. It seems blatantly hypocritical the party champions “my body, my choice” when it comes to abortion, but not when it involves what we are forced to inject into our own bodies. And are these mandates a Trojan horse for many more mandates to come? Why can’t we discuss this openly together?
And then there is Democrat-introduced Assembly Bill A9963that allows ANY drug, shot or medical procedure/surgery provided to ANY minor of ANY age without ANY parental knowledge or consent, effectively removing parents completely from healthcare decisions for their children. What could be a more powerful attack on parents and families and make children more vulnerable to rapacious drug companies, quacks, and medical service providers? What happens when things go wrong? How can parents make healthcare decisions for their children when they may have no idea what medications they are taking or what procedures have been done? This is patently irresponsible and dangerous.
We urge you to inform yourselves before voting and attempt to restore balance and open, reasoned dialogue within our communities and country.