On Tuesday evening, Dec. 21, 2010, the organizations of Catholic Charities and Agri-Business Child Development suffered a major fire and a huge setback to the renovation of the former St. Peter’s School on Adams Street in Kingston. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the City of Kingston and Ulster Hose Fire Departments. The firefighters tirelessly attempted to extinguish a very stubborn and persistent fire that took more than 40 hours to be put out completely. I also want to thank the Kingston Police Department, Department of Public Works, and Water Department, on the scene throughout the entire ordeal. What a tremendous group effort. It is very assuring to know how well all of the agencies can work together for the community. A special thank you to the Salvation Army on the scene with hot beverages and snacks for all involved or displaced by the fire.
The fire is a big obstacle to our plan of open a fantastic new Community Center in Downtown Kingston in early 2011. Catholic Charities is committed to this project. We hope and pray that the building can be restored and the new renovations can be completed in a timely manner.
Thank you again.
Thomas J. Kelly
Ulster County Regional Director
Catholic Charities Community Services
Push for a hard cap
During his campaign and again during his State of the State address, Governor Cuomo asked the legislature to enact a property tax cap. A 2 percent cap is proposed to control the growth of the property tax. Predictably the unions are against even the mention of the word “cap.”
We know the unions control our legislature and we know our legislators will wiggle and spin words to give the appearance of supporting the governor’s request while not alienating the unions.
What we as taxpayers want is a property tax cap that is absolute, a one-line statement that says “Be it resolved that property taxes in New York State are capped at a rate not to exceed 2 percent per year.” What we don’t want is the above statement with a provision that “a taxing entity can exceed the 2 percent restriction by a vote of taxpayers in the affected taxing jurisdiction.” That provision will totally make a mockery out of a tax cap and will guarantee out of control spending will continue as it is now.
What to do? Immediately contact your legislator and tell him/her you demand a simple and absolute 2 percent property tax cap, no ifs, ands, or buts. The union lobby has already begun their pressure, we must as taxpayers counter with ours.
Ronald E. Dietl
Throw out the box
As I watched Race to Nowhere on a recent Tuesday night at the Rosendale Theatre, I was struck by how the upper-middle class parents portrayed in the film are so obedient to the school system, even when their children are unhappy and falling apart. I got the impression that it was the blind leading the blind — parents blindly marching to the bureaucratic drum, and teaching their children to do the same. I was also struck by the notion that these upper-middle class parents are generally thought to be “well educated” themselves. How can well-educated people, who obviously love and care for their children very much, be so disempowered as to think they have no choice, and no voice?
During the panel discussion afterwards, Vanessa Van Burek, one of the founders of the Hudson Valley Sudbury School, said she thought it was because of fear — parents are afraid that if their children don’t do everything the school system says they must, and get into a good college, then they will fail to achieve their potential, and it will be the parents’ fault. And, as shown in the movie, children mimic those fears — they believe that if they fail to meet the expectations of others it is their fault, and their chance for a good life is gone forever. This is a blatant lie. I loved the section of the movie where photos of highly successful people, along with their college experience, were shown; Bill Gates was at the top with two years of college, and most of the others had no college experience at all.
I find the lack of trust in our innate human desire to learn and thrive appalling, but I understand how it exists. Parents, for the most part, and myself included, were raised in a school system that is based on the belief that if children are not made to learn what adults think they need to learn, then children will fail to be successful adults. This belief is widely accepted, even though we somehow learn to walk and talk without having to take classes. It defies simple logic that once those basics are out of the way, that we would suddenly cease to have the motivation and the capability to pursue any real learning on our own.
It is cliché, but most people agree that being able to think outside the box is an important skill to have in today’s world. Isn’t it time that we as parents demonstrated to our children that life doesn’t have to fit in the box to be good? Those of us whose children attend Sudbury schools are well aware that children thrive outside the box. There is a one very concrete way that we can all give our children something better than we had; we can stop unintentionally perpetuating lies and fear. I am not blaming anyone, things are as they are, and the system cannot be changed overnight. But our hearts and thoughts are more nimble. We can start by questioning some of the beliefs that we picked up along the way. We can put quality of life, right now, higher on our list of priorities, for ourselves and for our children. Sometimes it is enough just to open a window and breathe in the fresh air. It’s the first step to realizing there’s a big beautiful world out there, outside of the box.
Attn: Youth Theater alums
I wanted to invite all Youth Theater alums, parents, and interested people to come to a benefit this Friday at BSP for the not-for-profit Woodstock Youth Theater, now Stages in the Arts. Jeff Krolick and Joanna Morton Gary are generously giving their time to benefit this venerable organization. Their show includes everything from 1940s Big Band music to today’s Top 40. An added bonus will be a sneak preview of Youth Theater’s next production, a song and dance number from Give My Regards to Broadway. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, and include a complimentary Italian dinner. Call (845) 338-8700 for reservations. Support this local arts organization that has impacted the lives of so many of the area young people during its more than 27 years.