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.
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Molinaro does not represent us
Representative Molinaro had a town hall recently in Saugerties to meet his constituents. Many of whom peppered him with questions about Social Security and the debt ceiling. While most of his answers were noncommittal and vague, he did make one bold declaration on the subject of taxes: He is firmly opposed to any new revenue from taxation saying Washington has a spending, not an earning problem. Unfortunately, two things can be true at the same time and yet Representative Molinaro clings to the Republican narrative that job creators need tax breaks to innovate and provide employment. This is just the disproven Trickle Down philosophy in a new form. It is empirically proven that the rich are getting richer while we have not raised the Federal minimum wage since 2009. Citizens across a wide range of the political spectrum see the injustice when a billionaire pays less in taxes than a school teacher. Corporations are bailed out and given tax breaks, shielding themselves and their shareholders from their civic responsibility of supporting the labor and wellbeing of the larger community. There is an inequity in the system where politicians protect the donor class instead of engaging in true public service. I call on Representative Molinaro and all politicians to do what’s right and make the 1% pay their fair share.
We read to know we’re not alone
Let’s turn an old school bus into a mobile library, fill it with banned books, drive to conservative areas and give them to the kids… We could call it “Banned on the Run” [their parents might get it]. The book isn’t advocating anything other than acceptance of reality. Regressive types treat it as forcing reality, which is preposterous. Books can have varied impacts; to make you think, laugh, cry, feel good, feel bad, agree, disagree, feel angry, etc. All deserve a place in a free society.
Yes, parents have the right to monitor what their kids read. However, they should not have the authority to control what other kids can read. Of course, overprotecting them is a sign of indoctrination…Book banners are afraid of thinking. Different thoughts are the source of healthy discussions. When we ban books in schools before we ban assault guns, we admit we are more afraid of our children learning than we are of them dying.
Banning ideas and authors is not a ‘culture war’ — it’s fascism. Fight the fascists who want to ban books. Why don’t they want our kids to read these books? Censoring books is an injustice because it censors our right to learn and become educated about other ideas. Rather than protecting kids from “dirty” ideas, you are blinding them from important ideals. Controversial books can ultimately boost our intelligence.
BUT wait. Not the scourge of ideas! Children should be indoctrinated into a single facet society, knowing exactly where they stand and how far up the social hierarchy they reside, who they can step on and who steps on them. We can’t have these IDEAS polluting children’s minds, I mean who knows what could happen — they might just think for themselves!
Support bookstores like our Golden Notebook in Woodstock and Inquiring Minds Bookstore in Saugerties that sell and promote banned books! Support the effort to defend our first amendment right to read! Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning. Silly Nazis, books are for reading, not banning and certainly NOT for burning.
Resurrecting a bad idea
The recommendation by the Ulster County Association of Town Supervisors and Mayors to the County Charter Revision Commission to return Ulster County to the 50-years-ago Board of Supervisors type government and eliminate the County Legislature is regressive and not suited to Ulster’s current environment.
I see no good reason to do this except one extremely pretzel like contortions to justify a return to a 50-years-ago scenario and to further concentrate power in the hands of a few Ulster communities and persons.
In their proposal, each town supervisor, village mayor, the Mayor of the City of Kingston and alderman-at-large (whoever or whatever that is or means) would have a seat on an ‘exhumed’ and revived Board of Supervisors. However, there would not be equal voice from each town and village. That’s because each of these persons would be assigned a weighted vote based on the population of the entity they represent. That’s not ‘one person, one vote’ and not representative. That’s malarkey. The assigned weights would allow municipalities with larger populations to run the show. This would be in opposition to the current legislative representation based on equal populations in each legislative district and each district have one legislator. One municipality should not have more to say than another. Making comparisons to the US Constitution is not germane in this case, although Congresspersons also overlap municipalities. Instead, look to New York State where State legislators do overlap the communities they represent.
So, the larger entities such as City of Kingston, Town of Ulster, Village of New Paltz and a few others would call the shots given the weighted nature of voting. Today, parts of each of these may be split amongst different legislative districts, but it is still based on total population in each district. Weighted voting gives too much power to a few entities to control not just their local government (which they should) but to use their ‘weight’ and control the county.
There was a concern expressed with lack of communication between ‘locals’ and their legislator. Really? You do have a phone, don’t you. Pick it up and call your legislator and insist that they attend your local meetings in a forum that is conducive to discussion. You want to see them. And if all else fails, don’t support that representative in the next election and let your town or village constituents know that they should not support him or her in the next legislative election either. Communication goes both ways, and it sounds like some supervisors and mayors just want to sit and be catered to because they are more important, smarter, all knowing and so on ad nauseum?
And how about the workload? Many towns and villages and certainly the Mayor of Kingston have a full-time job already running their town, village or city. Does anyone really think that they will have time to attend meetings in Kingston in the newly named Board of Supervisors’ Chamber? Of course not. Add on top of that there are the many committees of the current legislature. Two full-time jobs will mean both would be done poorly. The whole scenario begs inefficiency.
What is the real reason for a proposed switch? I know more and so I want to run the world? I want a larger salary than I have now? It’s certainly not better representation. So, leave it be — returning to a 50-years-ago scenario is just regressive.
Town of Rochester
A non-partisan group that works
I attend the monthly Ulster County Association of Town Supervisors and Mayors meetings. We used to meet in a diner off exit 19 but now we meet at the Rondout Municipal Center, where the towns of Marbletown and Rosendale have their offices. These are well attended with supervisors and mayors from Ulster County’s 23 towns and villages plus the City of Kingston’s mayor.
This is an excellent group where we share ideas and compare notes. In between meetings members regularly circulate emails where a member might ask something like, I need X, how has anyone else handled this in your town or village? Then a bunch of us offer suggestions to help. The group includes members who have served their municipalities for many years and officials who are more recently elected.
Current president and Town of Rochester Supervisor Mike Baden and our long-time serving previous president, Supervisor Jim Quigley, from the Town of Ulster deserve praise for all their work keeping us focused.
I’m especially appreciative of the group because our discussions always feel apolitical. Members may be passionate about different issues but do not get bogged down in anything partisan. It’s refreshing, while the rest of the world may be frustrating, to be amongst several individuals who put serving their communities first. I actually have no idea what the registered political parties are for many of the other supervisors or mayors.
The Association has been discussing the county’s sales tax sharing agreement consistently for the last eight years while I have attended meetings, but also for years before that. Several Association members can comment on what has been said historically and by whom on this topic over the years.
The county’s current five-year agreement that took effect in March 2021 includes the towns and villages receiving a larger share of any sales tax revenues received by the county in excess of the 2020 budgeted amount of $128,561,331. The local share collected by the county in 2021 was $154,871,457 so the “excess” was $26,310,126. That meant the 23 towns and villages share of this overage was $ 1,548,715, to augment $4,646,144 we received.
For 2022, the share of sales tax collected by the county as reported by the State Comptroller’s Office was $165,100,000. That means the 23 towns and villages would receive approximately $6.6million and share these funds based upon assessed property values. Kingston would receive 11.5% of $165.1million ($18.9million) and the County would retain the remaining ~84.5% ($139.5million.)
Mayor Tim Rogers
Let’s get our priorities straight!
I attended House Representative Molinaro’s Town Hall yesterday (March 15) to listen to an hour’s worth of artfully non-committal responses to a number of questions that his constituents wanted clear positions on. The only one we got was around the issue of raising taxes on the wealthy. Here Mr. Molinaro takes a crystal clear position: he’s 100% against it. Why? Because in his opinion, “the government doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem.” I suddenly found myself in the unanticipated position of agreeing with him. Indeed the government does have a spending problem: spending far too much on things like “defense” industry contractors who make and sell the weapons and munitions that keep monstrous wars going around the world, supporting the colossally destructive fossil fuel industry with billions of dollars of tax breaks every year, and bailing out rich investors in risky speculative “banks” like Silicon Valley Bank, for example. I’m all for deep cuts (or total elimination) in spending in those areas and putting those billions to work not just keeping the safety net but improving it, implementing serious programs to get the climate and environmental emergency under some semblance of control and putting dollars into helping ordinary people who need relief from across-the-board inflation, for example. There may well be plenty of cash on hand if the wrong things are defunded in favor of the right things. Let’s get our priorities straight! Then it will be clear that the real problem with the rich and the mega-rich is that all that money buys all the power. That’s what keeps the whole circus going.
Make up your mind
Recently, in “the article” in Hudson Valley One regarding my relationship with McKenna, he said I faulted him for not acting quickly enough on illegal dumping in Shady. His response was that he was “waiting for the property owner to come up with a satisfactory plan for removing contaminated soil and debris.”
Yet months ago, when he was accused of “dragging his feet,” he said, “I’m the one that got it to court. I’m the one that got the convictions. I’m the one that set up the capital (fund) and I’m the one that went looking for the funding.”
Hudson Valley One ’s staff report that the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) was purely a California problem is probably misplaced. The bank played an outsized role in the clean energy economy, which is important to New York and the Hudson Valley. The bank was embedded in Silicon Valley and built a business supporting startups and clean energy projects that other banks wouldn’t handle. SVB’s website claims the bank had over 1,500 technology customers with $3.2 billion in loans focused on clean energy and storage. The bank claims it was involved in 62% of all community solar financing completed through March 31, 2022. SVB was the climate bank.
New York’s new climate law (CLCPA) strongly emphasizes community solar, and the loss of a dependable source of financing will slow community solar implementation. Although the bank’s deposits have been guaranteed by FDIC, it’s not so easy for the bank’s customers to replace the financial relationships they had. It will take time for installers to establish new banking relationships and new sources of credit.
The solar vendors state they can quickly adjust, but the bank’s failure is one more obstacle on the drive for clean energy. The recent billing problems with Central Hudson, the hiking of interest rates by the Federal Reserve and continuing inflation are slowing the adoption of community solar.
Kenneth S. Panza
Woodstock Climate Smart
Eve’s gloom and doom
Eve Morgenstern’s “Tame the fossil fuel monster” letter of March 15 greatly exaggerates some aspects of fossil fuels and the necessity to address the changes needed to INTELLIGENTLY and SEAMLESSLY transition from fossil fuels to whatever measures the “green new deal crowd” believes will be the cheaper, more efficient, and PROVEN alternative energy sources. Right now, we are nowhere near having ANY fossil fuel replacements, available for everyone, that have been tested, proven, and, most importantly, ready to be introduced very quickly on a mass produced scale which would be needed to actually begin phasing out fossil fuels.
If Eve’s very dire description of the effects of this fossil fuel monster “that has been plaguing us for decades” was accurate, we’d all be near death by now. In describing the negativity of fossil fuels, Eve makes it sound as if we had other and better options than fossil fuels but just foolishly and carelessly settled for fossil fuels, when the reality was that fossil fuels were all we had which, fortunately, helped us all survive and progress in meeting the needs of our great and growing country. Without fossil fuels, we’d still be reading by candle light, sleeping with five blankets and riding to work on our bicycles.
As I’ve said in prior letters, we all eventually want cleaner, safer, more efficient and healthier energy replacements for fossil fuels. But, let’s do it in a logical, orderly, efficient and clearly healthy fashion. Just as Apple would never dream of introducing their newest and best iPhone, on a mass scale, UNTIL it had its replacement ready, tested and proven as the next and best alternative. Why shouldn’t the same logic and common sense be used in NOT replacing fossil fuels UNTIL the better, tested and proven affordable energy sources are ready and available on a mass scale for every last one of us consumers?
John N. Butz
I had my 15 minutes of fame, but only seven of them were fun.
Whether to listen to weather
“I can gather all the news I need on the weather report” by Paul Simon.
I once attempted to live by this statement like a midwest farmer. But, after going to Nam, I realized that what the government asked of my life was beyond the weather report. I began feeling that the consequences of not paying attention to what those in control were doing were far more urgent than getting wet because I had left my raincoat at home.
I’m convinced. The “boys” in charge will not send me to war now; I’m too old. Anyway, war’s happening here where we all live if you watch, read or listen to the news. So, I returned to Paul Simon’s wisdom because news is a commercial for politicians, the wealthy and corporate leadership. It’s little more than a billboard to harvest the maximum capital before all the world’s resources are gone.
Even the weather report is contaminated with selling and fear. Weather stations understand their audiences get stimulated by using fear of severe weather. This is not unlike murder as the primary theme in TV dramas. When I need to know the road conditions before driving to a doctor’s appointment, the online weather channel shows me the devastation of snow storms in California while I wait to see if Route 208 and Route 32 are passable. I watched a bra, then a dog food commercial, and all the while, down in the lower corner of the screen, a spiraling tornado was forming in the lower east coastal states. All I need is the local weather.
Paul Simon and I are from another era, and the wisdom of then has been kicked into the corner. So instead, I wet my finger, holding it up for the wind and look out the windows at the only weather report I can trust.
Know your congressman
Voters in District 19 are being misrepresented by extreme right-wing Republican Marcus Molinaro. He may come across as respectful and thoughtful, but his voting record over these few months is anything but. You can read a detailed description of each of his votes at molinarovotes.com. He is voting in lock-step with the most radical extreme right-wing of his now anti-government, anti-democracy party. He could dissent from the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boubert. He could make some effort to represent our district. He isn’t doing that. His most recent three votes:
He voted in a full party-line vote for HR 140, which would make it illegal for the government to ask social media platforms to take down dangerous, misleading or foreign content. This bill was his party’s reaction to Twitter and Facebook banning Trump after January 6, 2021, as well as government agencies’ efforts to reduce misinformation about Covid-19. He and his party prefer zero accountability or reliability of social media content. If you don’t believe the government has the potential to improve our lives, the less influence it has the better.
In a largely party-line vote, he voted for a resolution disapproving of Biden’s reinstatement of Clean Water Act regulations, which Trump had overturned. The Trump rules had already been thrown out by a federal judge, citing their “significant environmental harm.” He had already voted in committee for the same resolution. Isn’t that what we want from our representative — weaker protection of water quality?
He voted to prohibit retirement plan managers from taking ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) factors into account when making investment choices. That’s right — managers would be PROHIBITED from considering non-financial issues. Funny how a party that professes to be all about freedom would prohibit investment professionals from making ethical choices.
I urge readers to keep informed about how we are being misrepresented in Congress at molinarovotes.com.