Letter to Editor - September 30, 2010
September 30, 2010 03:22 PM | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hinchey proud of wasteful spending Most congressmen who engage in the “earmarks” game dodge discussion of their propriety but not Congressman Hinchey. Hinchey kicked off his campaign by bragging about diverting hundreds of millions of tax dollars to hundreds of obscure, unjustified, and wasteful pork barrel items such as grape genetic research, potato cyst quarantine, and gifts of millions of dollars to a Latina girls club in New York City. You may have heard of the infamous pork barrel “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska. Well, Hinchey has funded two strong competitors to it: a walkway over the Hudson River in Highland and a waterfront promenade in downtown Kingston.

Responsible congressmen shun these pork barrel earmarks, opting instead for lower taxes so the people can decide how best to spend their hard earned money and how best to recover from the ravages already inflicted upon them by the out of control spending of Hinchey and other liberals. It is certain that, in these difficult times when folks are struggling with escalating property taxes, few would choose to spend their money on a walkway over the Hudson River.

Hinchey actually boasted that, if re-elected, he could become chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and would therefore be able to deliver increased levels of wasteful pork, i.e., he would have vastly more power to rip off struggling taxpayers here and throughout the country, diverting their money in ways calculated to get himself and his political allies re-elected yet again.

Hinchey has given us fair warning of his intentions; now it’s up to us to heed his warning and put a stop to the financial hemorrhaging by voting him out.

Jim O’Reilly


Government spending puts people to work I hear a lot of people who are unsure if investments in infrastructure across the country are effective. They must not drive around Ulster County - bridges are being repaired, roads are being re-paved, and upgrades in power generation are keeping unemployment in check in Ulster County. There are other reasons to things are starting to look up too – solar panel manufacturing jobs are being created and parking lots at Tech City are looking full for the first time since the mid-90s.

Stimulus is not meant to be the end all be all, but spending a dollar in the county generates more than two dollars in economic activity in the local economy. Some think a better solution is to stick “Had

Enough?” political signs on the side of the road. Well, we have not “had enough” targeted investments in our national infrastructure, we have not “had enough” focus on the middle class and we have not “had enough” investment in our schools. However, the silent majority has “had enough” of so-called Tea Party Patriots who vow to fight to add $700 billion to our nation’s debt in order to give the wealthy a tax cut and want to elect naysayers instead of roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Vic Work


Proposed apartments would undermine

Barclay Heights character
Barclay Heights is a magnificent established neighborhood. It has been improved over the years by the people of moderate means who have tended the neighborhood. They’ve raised children. New families have moved in. It is unique, friendly, safe, and traffic is very, very careful as it moves through the neighborhood. It’s better than a Norman Rockwell painting: it’s real. Kids play all over, people walk the streets, are out and about, front yards are well kept and the scene of much family activity. I suggest you would be hard pressed to find any neighborhood anywhere that has all that going for it.

A housing unit as proposed [65-unit rental building on Skyline Drive] could just destroy that neighborhood, changing density, commitment, and the long term residency and ownership of that neighborhood. That would be a social (and I daresay, financial) disaster, a real loss of something very precious, built and maintained over many, many years.

The wonderful nature of Barclay Heights deserves recognition and protection from any development not in complete keeping with its character. More power to the Barclay Height residents: they know what they have built they must be successful in protecting their homes.

Gerald Berke


Ricks has the qualifications

It doesn’t matter what political party you belong to. When it comes to our Town Court, we should insist that our judge candidates are proficient in the law and have proven capabilities to manage court operations in the largest town in Ulster County. That’s why I am enthusiastically supporting the exceptionally qualified and experienced Wendy Ricks for re-election as town justice on Election Day and encourage others in our community to do the same.

Chris Kelly


GOP chair steamed about health insurance for town justice

Last year, the Saugerties Republican Committee showed how the closed, secretive nature of the Town Board under Greg Helsmoortel has led to several mistakes that have hurt taxpayers. Another questionable act has been uncovered.

Prior to 2007, Saugerties Town Justices (considered a part-time position) did not receive health insurance. That changed a few years ago when Supervisor Helsmoortel decided, on his own without a public vote, to allow town justice Wendy Ricks to receive health insurance. In response to a FOIL request, Ricks is the only Town Justice on record as that has ever received health insurance.

According to the Town, it costs taxpayers $1,479 per month, or $17,748 per year, to provide Ricks’ health coverage. Helsmoortel’s decision to break precedent is particularly maddening considering the large tax increase passed by the town last year. Helsmoortel was also on the radio recently talking about the town facing large increases in health premiums and potentially laying off employees.

Helsmoortel’s actions are typical of the political dictatorship in charge of our town. Decisions to break tradition and provide Ricks’ health insurance are made in secret, behind closed doors. Rather than look out for the interests of taxpayers, Helsmoortel and his cronies on the Town Board only care about protecting their power and rewarding their political friends.

Things will only change when Helsmoortel and his crew are voted out of office, starting this November and once again next November.

Joe Roberti

Chair, Saugerties Republican Committee

Maurice Obama or Barack Hinchey The great Yogi Berra once wryly observed “When you come to a fork in the road take it.” That thought comes to mind as we approach perhaps the most important election in a generation. It is a rare American that does not admit to at least some foreboding about the nation’s future. The past two-plus years have been a whir of government intervention and expansion involving mind boggling amounts of money. There remains however, a great unease at the government’s continuing record levels of spending and debt. There is an intuitive understanding that it simply cannot last. The question many people have is what is there to show for this immense debt? In the midst of the worst economic recovery of the post WWll-era the Democrats have given us the Kafkaesque “recovery summer” tour of Joe Biden.

Elected under the banner of hope and change and admittedly trying circumstances, the president and his party had a unique opportunity to move the country forward. What did they do? Instead of playing the role of a surgeon on the battlefield performing triage on the nation’s wounded economy, the Democrats had other ideas. Giddy at holding all the levers of power in the American government, the Democrats decided to take the nation on an ideological, power-mad bender. In a fit of historic political tone deafness, they rammed through congress, bills, thousands of pages long, they didn’t even read, and whose effects have been to paralyze the nation.

A stimulus bill, that was great if you worked for a public union or a liberal special interest group, but a dud for everybody else. And in an even bigger joke on all of us, the administration now tells us the recession ended in June of ’09. That’s before a nickel of stimulus was even spent. So much for the claim that the stimulus averted a depression.

The healthcare law - where does one begin? This epic clusterfark is the biggest government power grab ever enacted. Already it is having the opposite effect of all its stated claims as insurance premiums are going up. Forget about its additional 16,000 new IRS agents, the most insidious aspect of this bill is the threat it poses to our nation’s preeminent position in medical research and innovation.

Financial regulation anyone? The government did such a bang-up job with Fannie and Freddie that we need more of it.

In childlike, almost romper room fashion they employed a “reset” button to our nations foreign policy. From sucking up to our enemies, to running down our friends, they seem to do the opposite of what every situation calls for.

The president didn’t achieve this all on his own. He had the help of congress and one member in particular. This member’s views are in total accord and sympathy with the president, so much so that their names are interchangeable. I refer of course to our erstwhile assemblyman now congressman Maurice Hinchey. What we have witnessed these past two years is the distilled essence of modern liberalism coming into contact with reality. It is not a pretty sight and it’s little wonder that the nation is in a funk. There was a time when Mr. Hinchey had his finger on the pulse of his constituency. Now, if you go to his government website, you can read his rants against the Bush administration! This is not just out of touch but dangerously so. The nation is in peril and the same old same old is not good enough. We need a change in thinking and leadership and that’s why I’m casting my vote for George Phillips for congress.

Mark H. Knaust


Pro-fracking arguments debunked

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been mandated by Congress to study the effects of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on public health and the environment. The EPA has been collecting public comments (both written and oral) which they will use to design the study. Comments offered by the pro-frackers are often half-truths perpetuated by the oil and gas industry. Below are three examples of statements made by the pro-frackers followed by the missing half which completes a full and true picture. The terms fracking and fracturing (where tons of gallons of water, sand and undisclosed chemicals are forced against rock to release natural gas) are used interchangeably.

There already was an EPA study done in 2004 and it concluded that hydraulic fracturing posed no threat to underground water.

The other half is better explained by ProPublica, an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Documents “... show that the EPA negotiated directly with the gas industry before finalizing those conclusions, and then ignored evidence that fracking might cause exactly the kinds of water problems now being recorded in drilling states.” While the body of the study contained damaging information, the gas industry made sure this was not mentioned in the conclusion of the 2004 study. And because of this study Congress exempted hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act (known as the Halliburton Loophole).

Hydraulic fracking has been going on for 60 years without a problem.

The other half is these fracking operations take place on gas wells, vertical in nature, with pumps capable of meeting the pressure and flow rate demands for this type of geological makeup. Thus the term vertical hydraulic fracking, a process which has been used to successfully extract natural gas for decades. Shale, on the other hand, has a much more intense ecological formation and requires both stronger machinery (especially pumps) and innovative fracturing techniques as this process adds another complicated dimension of exploration horizontally. Thus the term horizontal hydraulic fracturing, a relatively new procedure, allowing drillers to now extract gas that was inaccessible by conventional drilling. Extracting gas out of shale formations has not yet been perfected and may never be perfected. The potential risks (contaminating water, soil and air and possible human-factor uncertainties where procedures this complicated can’t be operated or maintained as intended) far outweigh any perceived revenue. Think Gulf oil spill.

Natural gas burns “cleaner” than coal or oil.

The other part is best explained by professor Robert Howarth of Cornell University. “Although natural gas, when burned, produces only about half of the carbon dioxide emissions of coal, that calculation omits greenhouse gas emissions from the well-drilling, water-trucking, pipeline-laying, and forest-felling that are part of the production of hydraulically fractured natural gas.... giving this fuel about the same greenhouse gas emissions as coal and about 30 percent more than diesel or gasoline.”

In conclusion, all the easy oil and gas has been extracted. What is left are the vast deposits of natural gas under shale formations and the current procedure for extracting this natural gas, horizontal hydraulic fracking, has too many risks. The first part of the solution to our future energy needs requires a more serious effort and commitment to develop renewable energy like solar and wind. (Think: Why is this NOT happening? What is left for the oil and gas industry and their lobbyists if renewables became big business?) And the other part is to reduce our current energy consumption. If every one of us would reduce our energy footprint the sum of all our efforts could stop our rush to use up all the current fossil fuel as we develop renewables. It is up to each of us to do what we can. To start, winterize your house to reduce heating bills and car pool and take public transportation when possible. What else can you start doing today?

Rosalyn Cherry

New Paltz

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