Don’t start vast projects with half vast ideas
BECOME PARTICIPANTS IN DEMOCRACY
Party loyalty is deeply ingrained in the American psyche. We learn early on that one party shares our family’s values and one doesn’t. As we mature, we make our own assessments about what is important, and sometimes we even change parties.
The existence of two political parties is always represented as part of our Constitution, a vital safeguard for our democracy. We believe in their importance without question.
The thought that both parties serve the same corporate interests may cross our minds, but it is simply too upsetting. We are wedded to a naive concept that since candidates oppose each other during elections, at least one party must serve the interests of the people.
Nixon once scoffed at Americans’ simplistic view of politics. On one of his famous tapes he is heard saying “They are like the child in the family.” No need to worry about Americans catching on to his war aims in Vietnam. No reason to give the people any say at all.
Maybe naive citizens don’t deserve much of a voice in what goes on around them. Another point of view is that we simply have to grow up, forget our faith in political parties doing all the work, and become participants in our own democracy.
The corporations that rule us are not like parents. Incapable of love, they will work us to death, destroy our environment, deny medical treatment, all for a few cents of profit. Perhaps It’s time for us all to come of age.
PANTRY FOOD DELIVERY SUCCESSFUL...AGAIN
The January food delivery for the Good Neighbor Food Pantry brought another 5000 pounds of much needed food to the pantry for the month. Although this amount of food was less than what is needed and less than what was ordered and hoped for, the volunteers rallied around what arrived, got it to the Woodstock Reformed Church and got it delivered and put away in a very short amount of time. That’s because the volunteers are real “pros.” Everyone has a job. Everyone shows up on time that can possibly get there, and everyone works toward one goal: getting the food put away. Volunteers this time included Mike Lourenso, Judy Fox, Lisa Calcagno, Bobbie Blitzer, Catherine Hazard, Ed, Jim Hanson, Steve Grenadier, Al Abrams, Bruce Abrams, Hatti Iles, Barry Greco, and Mark Kessler. Thank you to all the volunteers who join the pantry each month.
In spite of the huge amount of food that arrived, the shipment was 1000 pounds underweight. That leaves the pantry with some severe food shortages. Foods most critically in need include cereal, soup, canned milk, and tuna fish.
If you want to donate food to help make up the difference, drop it off anytime at 31 Tannery Brook or send a check to Good Neighbor Food Pantry, c/o Woodstock Reformed Church, 16 Tinker Street, Woodstock, NY, 12498. Thank you in advance for your donations of food and money to help us supply the needed items for the month of January. The next food shipment will arrive on the 15th of February.
Good Neighbor Food Pantry
LIFESPRING ADULT LEARNING
Woodstock and surrounding area retired, semi-retired and other adults are invited to join the Lifespring Saugerties Adult Learning Community for the spring semester. Classes are held at the United Methodist Church, which is handicapped-accessible, on the corner of Post and Washington in the Village of Saugerties. Classes start April 12, meeting weekly on Tuesdays for six weeks.
The membership fee is $40 for the spring semester. (Those who registered last fall, at a fee of $60 have paid in full for two semesters.) The schedule offers a total of 13 courses to choose from, including the hot topic, Climate Change and War: Twin Dangers Facing the Next Generation. Go to www.lifespringsaugerties.com for the complete catalog, or call 845 246-2800 Ext. 452 to request a printed catalog. Registration deadline is March 1.
Lifespring is a Town of Saugerties volunteer-run organization, supported by membership fees and volunteers who perform all necessary functions. There are many ways that Lifespring members help make the program successful, from serving on the curriculum committee, running AV equipment, being a class manager, or in short-term volunteer capacities. If you are seeking a way to share your energy, skills, and interests, we will welcome you and put you to work!
Course instructors are not paid, but volunteer to teach because they have strong interests that they love to share. If you are interested in teaching, please contact Lifespring as above.
Lifespring Membership Coordinator
The recent disclosures that the CIA secretly imported and secretly employed almost 2000 Nazi war criminals after World War II, and the lack of widespread outrage on the part of the public after this horrible news appeared in the papers, is another disaster of our so called ‘democracy.’ The fact that that sort of official behavior was, and still is uncensured and unpunished is grotesque. The CIA’s behavior flew in the face of President Truman’s specific instructions re: the immigration of Germans to this country at that time. The horrendous activities of those criminals was hidden from public view, until recently, and silence continues to ring out from the highest levels of this government. That makes those ‘high levels’ complicit, part of the scheming. This kind of secrecy is fascist, an outrageous insult to every American on the home front at that time and now. The millions of us who fought in that war have been called “the Greatest Generation”, and to us, this criminal conspiracy is the Greatest Betrayal imaginable. When the war ended, we GI’s were constantly hunting for Nazis to bring them to trial, at the continued risk of our lives, and for what? We fought Fascism overseas and now I see fascism here at home. This is not what we fought for, this is not what “a grateful Nation” provides to those who served. Does anyone remember the Bataan death march? Are the pictures of the Holocaust and the victims who survived only reminders of an unreal distant time and place? Is the “Greatest Generation” phrase a fond and foggy nostalgic wish?
Is shopping the opiate of the American people? Does the public really not give a damn about what the government does, overtly and secretly, in our name? How many will read this and feel unhappy about these events but do nothing about it? How many others will say we have to do anything to defend our ‘open, transparent, greatest, democratic government ever on earth’? Agreeing to everything the government decrees, or hides, assures the destruction of what is left. Inaction by the ‘liberals’ and reckless, non caring activities by others are spelling the end of the American Dream.
MACHISMO IMAGE WILL RETURN
With Jared L. Loughner as the new point person for the NRA, the cultural iconography of the machismo gun slinging American has once again been unmasked for what it really is — paranoia, resentment and feelings of inadequacy all hidden behind a pompous grin. But in a very short time the public will be done with this picture. Very soon the cameras will turn away from the terrible images of suffering and death and the image of perhaps a handsome movie star holding a Winchester rifle over his head will once again be what people conjure up when they think of guns. James Bond will slip a full magazine into his Walther PPK, John Wayne will load his six shooter and Dirty Harry will blandly joke “Make my day.” The aperture through which we have been seeing this event is about to close but the cycle is about to repeat. The illusion of supremacy, sustained by its primary cultural symbol, the handgun is a narcotic we return to time and again. For as long as possible let us try not forget this brief glimpse at reality.
A PROPER VENUE
Paul Smart’s column about George Ballantine recalled his visit with George 25 years ago when they made a tour in his vintage Cadillac convertible of his seven ponds. George made an impression on Paul which he fondly recalled. One misapprehension in Paul’s recent column was that the work in George’s current exhibit at the Emerson evolved over 30 years. The fact is that all the 31 works in the show were painted in the last two years, while George and I have been friends for more than 30 years, dating from my years of living in Andes from 1979 to 1984.
George will be 89 in April and is a big Taurus with an appetite for life, a vivid character. He used to walk down Main Street in the Village of Andes in the morning singing, sometimes, “…all the monkeys are not in the zoo…”, so some locals weren’t amused. I only recently learned he had studied voice at Julliard for opera. I did know he went to the Art Students League after WWII on the GI Bill, and he had some of his old paintings in his small cottage. They were dark and of the 1950s. I enjoyed friendship with George, returning to visit with him whenever I painted the landscape around Andes, which I love.
In the past couple of years, as he meditated on his mortality and growing infirmity, he returned to painting with a vigor and freshness which bowled me over. He was churning out oil sketches on paper of the Andes landscape in piles and folios, and they were really good. I framed a group for him and a number of them sold. Then he ordered boxes of canvases and the next time I visited he had a set of beautiful winter oils on canvas.
I took it on myself to find him a venue for a proper exhibition so he could see his work as a body of achievement and not a pile of canvases gathering dust in his small cottage. We had a great opening reception at the Emerson last Saturday, and George felt like he was in a museum. Friends and local artists attended including a Mr. Sanford from Halcottesville, a fellow WWII veteran, who hadn’t seen George in 60 years. He even sold a small painting. Now, for me, getting the show together for George was the goal…but, of course, he wants to sell some paintings!
This exhibition, “Inspired Landscapes”, is a two man show for George Ballantine and Robert Selkowitz, me, and it is the largest show of my work in the area in five years. I included three of my oils and 21 plein air pastels of Catskill Mountain scenes. As I live in Ashokan, and George lives in Andes, the show is a representation of the natural beauty of the proposed Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway for Route 28.
This show is a treat and I urge everyone to see it. It is up through February 27. The show is in the East Conference room at the back of the Emerson Country Store on Route 28 in Mount Tremper and is open every day 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. I’d be happy to act as a docent, just call me at 845-657-6982 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange to meet at the show.
To step outside this human mind
A thought out of context, a verse out of rhyme
Sunrise on the tide pool sets a spark in me
Like a gentle breath across an ember of memory
The wind sighs in the marsh grass
The gulls seem to call me by name
And here I am again seeing it for the first time
As the weight of consciousness falls away
The threads of my childhood are no longer a shroud
I breathe deeply the aroma of the slack tide and soar with these sea birds
Out across the mud flats toward the harbor
Oh mother it is the ocean
Then the magic is gone just as fast as it came
I’m cold and I’m hungry and I can not remain
LIAR OR INCOMPETENT
Joe Nicholson, in his last weeks letter to the Editor is so far out of the realm of the truth that I cannot just ignore the slings and arrows as I usually do. Direct quotes from Mr. Nicholson’s letter of January 13, 2011 are in italics.
Mr. Nicholson wrote last week,
“Let’s remember, folks, that these two so-called leaders eked out an election victory for a second term by blaming their first-term ineffectiveness on fellow board members whom they claimed were uncooperative. Voters bought it, and handed them a majority voting block strong enough to pass resolutions fixing any number of beneficial and long overdue problems, from municipal government quarters to zoning law revisions and tangible economic stimulus measures”
I was not up for re-election as he asserts in the above paragraph. I was in the middle of my current term and I was not on the ballot. If Mr. Nicholson can’t get it right, he shouldn’t write it.
According to Deputy Dawg Rosenblum at the time, our streets were an unsafe danger zone run by roving gangs of violent, drug-addled 10-year-olds. And when Richardson went before them in the fall with hat in hand for his struggling INDIE program, they offered smiles instead of money, preferring instead to pork over enormous funds for the purchase of a vintage walkway through the woods to be transplanted from Coney Island to the Comeau.
Mr. Nicholson tied two unrelated issues together to create a false image. The trails on the Comeau are the responsibility of the Town. Mr. Richardson’s Indie program is not the responsibility of the Town. Once again, he tries to make things look different than they are.
I worked with David Corbett on the trails before there was a Comeau Task Force, to try to get the town to address those trails that were dangerous to walk on and were destroying the stream bank and undermining the trees. The investment in the recycled Coney island boardwalk wood was not a whim, it is a type of wood that will outlast the common woods usually used, by many, many years. What is happening now should be applauded by everyone who has ever walked those trails, not vilified because this Town Board, who made it happen, is not liked by Mr. Nicholson.
“Instead of “getting things done” they dithered and carped, and handed us a higher tax bill.”
We were able to keep any increases small compared to county-wide financial problems that are manifesting in other towns as well. As for “dithering and carping”…nonsense. Discussion and investigation are important elements in decision making.
“this crack team of so-called leaders has declined to take so much as a simple and inexpensive three-hour online course about how to go about preparing for its long-term stewardship, and has turned its back on offers of free expertise from volunteers, and has even shunned scholarship money offered with no strings attached for the education of our youth on land conservation issues.”
I find this amazing since Mr. Nicholson has no idea as to what I have done, who I have spoken to and what I know. There was one statement Mr. Nicholson made at a Town Board meeting quite a while ago where he announced to the Woodstock Land Conservancy leadership who were making a presentation, that he would pay for some conservation seminar. I did follow up with Kevin Smith, the chair of the WLC, who informed me that the WLC was not involved in any such endeavor.
“Our democracy may not be perfect, but it still allows us to correct past mistakes every few years. Let’s hope we voters can stay focused on the facts as we approach another election”
Now it is obvious what Mr. Nicholson has been ranting about…it’s this year’s election and I will be running for re-election to the Town Board and I am obviously not his choice of candidate.
Mr. Nicholson and I have never even spoken with each other, so I have no idea why he writes as he does.
Despite the many ongoing accusatory letters about my involvement in the cell tower, I am still proud of being part of bringing cell service to Woodstock in my previous capacity as Vice Chair of the Planning Board. Remember what it was like not to have any cell service in town?
So what I ask you to do is email email@example.com or call me if you have questions.
There is too much political hate, blame and targeting in this town right now. The recent event in Arizona was fanned by hateful and often undocumented rhetoric and it has firmed my conviction that unless there is respectful dialog in our town, from any source, I won’t be a part of it.
Woodstock Town Board
CULTURE OF WARFARE
The front page picture of the sneering, head-shaven gunman who committed the atrocities in Tuscon, Arizona, presumably satisfies our desire to “understand” his wanton killing spree...he is a madman! Such mental illness, we comfort ourselves by saying, is, and always will be, present in a small percentage of the population.
Combine an unstable individual with the proliferation of handguns (including those guns with an ever more sophisticated killing power — high capacity clips no less), and an ever-increasing inflammatory rhetoric, and we can pretend that we have our answers to this tragedy. Calling for a more stringent policy for obtaining guns (at least ones that fire fewer bullets at a time), and saying that we should try to understand rather than demonize people that don’t agree with us, we are soon able to relegate this massacre to the back pages. Until the next one.
What isn’t mentioned as a major causative factor is the culture of warfare in America. Our country’s perpetual and multiple wars, coupled with the development of the “finest” of weaponry to be used by ourselves and our allies, gives us the pretense that we are “solving” our problems.
To this delusional end military spending is close to $700 billion annually, more money spent on our armed forces than the rest of the world combined. The United States has more than 400,000 troops stationed abroad and at sea, occupying almost 800 installations in more than 40 countries. The Pentagon has divided up the planet into “unified commands,” the Pacific, Asia-Pacific, Central (for the greater Middle East), European, African, Southern, Northern and, what else, Space Command.
Is it presumptuous to ask if this reliance on war, the weapons of war, and the stationing of the military around the world is such a pervasive part of our existence that it contributes in no small way to the domestic violence in our country? Then, in times of stress, our military and political leaders will invoke God, asking for a special blessing for the United States of America...just to cover all our bases.
SORRY TO SEE YOU GO
Upon my arrival in Woodstock some time ago, the only herb I knew about was
Horsetail silica which heals broken bones. Danielle Parker who for 14 years was the helpful Vitamin Lady at Woodstock’s Sunflower was the person I turned to and trusted to impart valuable information about herbs and vitamins, which most definitely corrected and healed many of the physical problems I have had over the years.
Nor only did Danielle Parker in her 14 years at the store assist and aid me, many other customers benefited from her knowledge as well. Sorry to see you leave and the best of luck Danielle.
SWASTIKAS NOW It’s Monday night and I’ve just returned from a talk by Jeff Halper, coordinator for the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, at The Inquiring Mind bookstore in Saugerties. Jeff, who moved to Israel from Minnesota forty years ago and served in the Israeli military, gave a brilliant in depth analysis of the situation in Israel today and as well, its significance on a global level. I had the pleasure of spending part of the weekend with Jeff, which was both intellectually stimulating and inspiring.
On Saturday, when he arrived in Woodstock, we stopped at the library. Pia Alexander, who works there, told me something that shocked her a short while before. A few days earlier she put a flyer on the library bulletin board advertising Jeff’s talk, and next to that a few pages on the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) role in American politics.
Warren Boroson, who seems to feel a passionate need to defend Israel against any criticism, has written many letters accusing people, including myself, of being Jew-haters, self-hating Jews, Nazis and other nasty and unwarranted epithets, had just left the library.
Strangely, Pia had seen him earlier with what looked like the paper on AIPAC crumpled in his hand. She then went out to the bulletin board and noticed the paper on AIPAC had indeed been torn down, but more shocking were the Nazi swastikas drawn on the flyer advertising Jeff’s talk.
I don’t mind political disagreement but the use of swastikas, which represent hatred and prejudice, “on any building or other real property, public or private, owned by any person, firm or corporation or any public agency or instrumentality, without express permission of the owner or operator of such building or real property” is illegal under NY law.
At any rate, we don’t need swastikas drawn on our library bulletin board or anywhere else. I hope whoever did that will think twice before repeating such behavior.
According to the NY State Division of Criminal Justice Services Laws of New York, Chapter 49, Section 240.31 paragraph 3 of the penal law: “A person is guilty of aggravated harassment in the first degree when with intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm another person, because of a belief or perception regarding such person’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct, he or she: 3. Etches, paints, draws upon or otherwise places a swastika, commonly exhibited as the emblem of Nazi Germany, on any building or other real property, public or private, owned by any person, firm or corporation or any public agency or instrumentality, without express permission of the owner or operator of such building or real property.”
TALK ABOUT IT ON THE FORUM
I would like to introduce to the people of Woodstock a brand new discussion forum for Woodstock public affairs. It is called The Woodstock Forum. All are invited to participate. Participation is free. The website address is at the end of this letter. Just visit the forum, sign up, and start discussing the issues of our town. If you are internet-shy, here is how to participate: Go to the forum website. On the right side, you will see a button labeled “Apply for Membership.” Click it, fill in your email, choose a username and password, and you are all set to participate. You do not need to know how to write a blog, or be on facebook, or anything like that. If you do not have an email account, you can set up a free one. There is not enough space right here to describe how to do that, but the librarians at the Woodstock Library can help you, and the library will afford you access to a computer with internet connection during library hours.
I set up this forum so that we, the people of Woodstock, can have discussions (as opposed to TV shows, letters, and announcements at town board meetings) about issues that concern us. All of the other means of expression are great, but in terms of having a discussion in real time, they are not very efficient, and a website forum is. My hope and expectation is that participants will not only write stand-alone comments, but also place links to external documents such as to Woodstock Times articles and letters published online, to other news articles and relevant organizational websites, which will enrich further our forum discussions.
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES
As I see it, we lost the last election, because we didn’t bother to tell the truth.
1. The death panel was not going to kill Grandma.
2. Obama is not “the most pro-abortion president ever to occupy the White House.” In fact, his health care law does not allow federal dollars to pay for elective abortions.
3. Obama does not want to “take away our second amendment rights and ban arms to the people.” In fact he said: “We can reconcile those two realities by making sure the Second Amendment is respected and that people are able to lawfully own guns, but that we also start cracking down on the kinds of abuses of firearms that we see on the streets...by banning the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic weapons, etc.”
4. The Republicans claim to be fiscally conservative. But truth is that their eight years of control left us the largest deficit in our history. That’s simply not fiscally conservative.
5. They are against Big Government and freedom for the people, yet they are for our gigantic military and prison systems — two of the largest money gobbling businesses, mostly funded by the government.
6. They want to remove our large illegal immigrant population, yet they, and the businesses that they work for, are the ones that invited immigrants in to work for minimum, and less than minimum wages.
7. They say that they are for “the American People,” yet they work for big businesses, that often take their companies overseas, and “the American Peoples” jobs with them.
8. They want no taxes on the super rich and less insurance benefits for workers, and all this under the guise of less government.
My point is that Democrats never bothered to correct the lies and come out with the truth. It was the worst campaign I’ve ever seen. So now, Obama is forced to represent the people’s votes, and I’m not optimistic about the next session. We will see him take positions that will be very hard to swallow, like the one we’ve already seen: extending tax cuts for the super wealthy, that at present, are still running our country. My dreams of bringing more equality to the middle and lower classes are fading.
By sitting back, I believe that We, the People, lost the last election. By not getting the truth out, we now have to pay the consequences. We don’t own the media, but we still have the internet and local papers like this one, and we just didn’t use them enough. As I see it, the most practical way of using my own personal resources are to get more local, continue to speak out against hydrofracking, and continue to fight for my own backyard. How about you?
The Youth and Family Council would again like to thank Star Nigro for another successful event. Last Friday night, 17 year old Lucas Handwerker captivated the audience with his intimate charm and demonstrations of mental wonders. He kept us entertained and left us mesmerized.
Our next event, Woodstock Out Town/Stone Soup will sponsor the Youth and Family Council at noon, February 5, with a theme of Young Woodstockers, Your Dreams Can Come True.
Question: How can youth and adults connect to create a vibrant community? Go to Facebook.com/Young Woodstock.
Mary Lou Paturel
In John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s Inaugural Speech 50 years ago, he said “Let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that, here on earth, God’s work must truly be our own.”
In that positive spirit, I encourage any person who has concerns regarding the recent cutting of 1000 trees, approximately, at Cooper Lake, to contact Judith Hansen, City of Kingston Water Superintendent, at PO Box 1537, Kingston, NY 12402 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 845-331-0175, or fax 845-340-9209.
It is unclear as to how many more thousand trees are going to be cut; why; the effect on this beautiful environment and where the money is going.
NO FEAR FOR INCUMBENTS
Recently the Woodstock town board adopted changes to its ethics law based on recommendations from the state Comptroller’s Office. Some would find it strange that anyone would look to Albany on guidance about ethics.
Governor Andrew Cuomo in his inauguration speech said, “People all across the state, when you mention state government they are literally shaking their heads. Worse than no confidence, what they’re saying is, is no trust. The words ‘government in Albany’ have become a national punch line. And the joke is on us.”
In Albany, ethics legislation is designed to protect the incumbents and disparage their opponents. The Governor continues, “Number two is going to be cleaning up Albany and restoring trust…you have nothing without trust. Any relationship is only as good as the level of trust, and we have lost the trust. And we are not going to get it back until we clean up Albany and there’s real transparency and real disclosure and real accountability and real ethics enforcement.”
Woodstock changed the ethics law to allow town board members, town employees, and elected political party officials to serve on the ethics committee. Surely favored incumbents never need to fear ethical violations with a committee composed of their political supporters.
It was reported that deputy supervisor Terrie Rosenblum said, “Rosenblum observed that the provision in question was authorized by the state comptroller for adoption by all New York municipalities.” No doubt, the joke is on us!
In last week’s letters page (Woodstock Times, January 13), Jay Wenk wrote “After the Town’s referendum to have an Easement for the Comeau, after spending a lot of money to defend it against lawsuits from the people who were inexplicably invited to the signing of the document, after getting nothing done in 14 out of the 18 months given for putting together a Committee, it is imperative for our citizens to make sure that all that time and money and energy are not wasted.”
Had Jay re-read the easement before writing (I’m assuming he has previously read it), he would have been reminded that there is no use of the word Committee in the Deed of Conservation Easement, and he would have also noted that the word Stewardship does not exist in any of the pages of the Deed of Conservation Easement.
Of course Jay is, like the rest of us, is entitled to his opinion on the formation of a stewardship committee. To imply or state that a Committee is legally required by the Deed of Conservation Easement, is simply not true, and to do so in a letter to the editor published in this newspaper, serves only to mis-lead and mis-inform the reader.
The First Amendment to the Deed of Conservation Easement, signed by the Town of Woodstock supervisor and the WLC president on Nov 16, 2009, does not include, require or imply that a “Stewardship Committee” be formed. In paragraph 5.04 Stewardship Plan, the lawyers who wrote the amendment, provided for the failure of the Town of Woodstock and Woodstock Land Conservancy to formulate a Stewardship Plan within 18 months from the signing of the First Amendment to the Deed of Conservation Easement. For those readers unfamiliar with the amendment —
“5.04 Stewardship Plan
Specific uses of, activities on and maintenance of, the Property shall be governed by standards, specific procedures and directives, and other guidance set forth in a Stewardship Plan for the Property. The first version of said Stewardship Plan shall be written and implemented by the Grantor within eighteen (18) months after the date of recordation of the First Amendment with the Office of the Ulster County Clerk. Failure to complete and implement the Stewardship Plan within the specified period shall in no way restrict, impair, invalidate, or terminate the Deed of Conservation Easement or alter purposes for which said Deed of Conservation Easement is established. The terms of the Stewardship Plan and any modifications and/or amendments thereto shall not violate the terms and conditions of the Original Deed and shall be consistent with the Purposes of the Original Deed.”
Clearly both the Town of Woodstock and Woodstock Land Conservancy made provision for the possibility of a stewardship plan not being in place after 18 months. They also made sure that the Stewardship Plan could not be hijacked in anyway by those wishing to use the Stewardship Plan to act against the Deed of Conservation Easement.