Approaching 70, I‘m a lot closer to needing geriatric care than most of you who will be reading this letter. That being said, I am vehemently opposed to Ulster County continuing to own and/or operate the Golden Hill Nursing facility for the following reasons.
Increased property taxes. The operating costs for Golden Hill will continue to outpace its revenues, which will leave homeowners to make up the difference. County Executive Hein’s numbers people, Art Smith and Marshall Beckman, are projecting double-digit property tax increases if the county opts to retain ownership.
The water and sewage system within the building are in serious disrepair, which in turn compromises the safety of the residents. Only a government-run institution could get away with allowing its facility to deteriorate to this degree.
Either the county will have to do a complete renovation or build a whole new facility. After what happened with the jail, having the county take on another major construction project is alarming.
The emphasis for geriatric care is being redirected from nursing homes to home-based services. This allows the elderly to remain in their own homes.
Paradoxically, because property taxes are used to make up for budgetary shortfalls, the elderly homeowners on retirement incomes will be called upon to subsidize the operating costs of Golden Hill. If the county decides to keep its nursing home, it is going to be a hell of a lot harder for the elderly, on fixed incomes, to keep theirs.
Thomas P. Kadgen
Stairs are city’s responsibility
As much as I agree with the basic philosophy Dan Barton expressed in last week’s editorial, I take exception to his example. The steps down to the parking lot where the old parking garage once stood are potentially lethal, especially during winter. Last year I called more than six mornings after 9 a.m. to inform DPW that they were a safety issue due to ice. Many of the offices and businesses Uptown open at 9. I got tired of hearing how many feet of sidewalks the DPW has to deal with, how few workers there are, and that they would try to get someone over as soon as they could. I avoid parking in that lot as much as possible.
Since the garage was demolished because the structure had become unsafe (due to lack of proper maintenance in my opinion) I know at least five people who have slipped on the ice on those very steep, unwieldy cement slabs. Thankfully, none were seriously injured. Those steps were designed to be covered steps down to the covered parking garage. I doubt that the design would be approved today —covered or not. Odds are if the city continues to be negligent in maintaining those stairs someone will be seriously injured, not just badly bruised.
As a property owner, I pay taxes. The social contract implied is that I and the rest of the city will be provided with services and that municipal properties will be maintained for the safety and welfare of all. As a property owner I am required to shovel and maintain the sidewalks, if I don’t I can be cited and fined. Failure to maintain my property could lead to my being sued. Because the city is self-insured, I have been told that they can not be sued unless there is written notification of a specific safety issue before the accident occurs.
Yes, there are fewer DPW workers this year. Their union wouldn’t make concessions during these hard economic times and the mayor did what he had to do. No, the mayor is not solely responsible for the lack an end of the day inspection of the stairs that would mean someone would throw salt on the stairs if needed. Or a start of the day inspection to ensure the people who work and frequent Uptown can have proper footing up those long hard steps.
There are many things we as individuals need to take responsibility for. I agree it is time to stop expecting government to solve all problems for all people. Maintaining those stairs is the city’s responsibility, not ours.
If someone falls down those unsafe stairs, perhaps a good lawyer can now argue that the city was notified of a chronic, serious safety hazard and the poor soul who slips at the top with slow reflexes will be able to receive proper compensation.
Kingston Catholic a great school
As Catholic Schools Week comes to an end, I would like to reflect on how great it is to go to a school where so many parents get involved to create great things. At Kingston Catholic School we have a wonderful, dedicated group of parents who make up the KCS Family Organization. This group works with our teachers, principal, and pastor to organize and plan events and opportunities that enrich our education. Some of the exciting things they have made possible include: the annual school bazaar, pancake breakfast, Winterfest, dances, assemblies, field trips and over 25 after school programs.
Not only do our parents go above and beyond, so do our teachers. As our school operates with a budget with income that is limited to tuition, fundraising and donations, many of our teachers volunteer their time after school, during the evenings and on some weekends to make these exciting events possible. For example, Mrs. Mino and Mrs. O’Neill stay after school for National Junior Honor Society; Mrs. Geskie volunteers to facilitate student council; Mrs. Vines coaches our Math Olympiads and Mrs. Hopson and Mrs. Balcanoff run our Musical Theater Program. Every teacher and staff member gives of their free time to chaperone events and run our after school Home Work Help program. These educators are not only teaching us about math, science, and religion, they are showing us the importance of giving back to our community and expecting nothing in return.
Our pastor, Father Burke, and our principal, Mrs. Albert, are always there to support the students, parents and teachers. Their guidance helps to make KCS a wonderful place to grow and learn. This school is so special and in the 10 years that I have been here it just keeps getting better. One of the most special things about our school is the opportunity for the school community to attend Mass together each week.
I will be graduating from Kingston Catholic this June, and I can’t believe how time flies. I have learned so much at KCS and have enjoyed every minute of my Catholic education. Thank you to every person who has helped make this possible!
Student Council Secretary
Kingston Catholic School
Better cell-phone service vital for rural areas
A recent newspaper article on “cell-phone service dead spots” is both a timely and a pertinent. It raises the awareness of how we have come to depend on superior communication standards and how this augments emergency service response. People have come to expect rapid highly trained emergency service providers even in remote areas. The reality is explained in the article; service is “market-driven.”
We must find a balance, wherein “markets” and “needs” are both addressed.
The airways are highly regulated by the Federal Communications Commission because they are essential to national security. So too they must serve the safety of individuals regardless of “market.” Local, state and federal governments must legislate to insure that a percentage of the enormous profits in the communication industry are dedicated to underserved geographic areas, regardless of profit margin.
There is growing interest on the part of public safety legislators in the Hudson Valley to explore the need of a regional approach to emergency communications. As legislators we must mandate levels of service that will protect our residents based on “the public good.”
Planning and zoning boards must realize that communications are essential basic services and act accordingly. Working together, we can provide better public safety service.
Ulster County Legislature Law Enforcement
and Public Safety Committee
Where were the red flags
Does anybody else in the City of Kingston think it’s odd that a police lieutenant making over $770,000 in three years should have set off some sort of red flag with the city, the police department or the School district?
At just under $257,000 a year that’s more then our mayor, our police chief or our school superintendent make a year, yet it went unnoticed and unchallenged by all three. The biggest question is who should be held accountable at the end of the day?
According to the local news Matthews will be off-duty and unpaid for one month and then he goes back on the payroll? Where the term double dipping takes on yet another evolution and in this case the taxpayers are again taken to the cleaners.
It remains to be seen which of the three stooges will stand up and take responsibility for Matthews’ actions or the aftermath of who puts more blame on whom.
Mayor Sottile is at the top of the ladder and everything in the city is run under his administration, Police Chief Keller is one of the mayor’s department heads and answers to Sottile — not that that means very much, not too long ago another department head (superintendent of the DPW) got away scot-free after allegations of sexual harassment were charged against him with a lawsuit filed against the City and a trial due in April. Does Sottile hold any of his department heads responsible, and has he ever fired or replaced any top department heads in his ten-year term?
If Police Chief Keller really didn’t know anything, then is he too far out of the loop not knowing what is going on in his own precinct and therefore should he save face and resign?
After all, this was his right hand man the guy who most people thought would be the next police chief of Kingston?
And where does the responsibility start and stop with the school district and the superintendent looking over worksheets and pay stubs? Hopefully, all the answers will come out in the end, but for now it’s the $770,000 question for all us taxpayers to pay and figure out who is most to blame, and hopefully to fix, so this type of mismanagement doesn’t happen again.
Come back, Andy
As a Yankee fan, competitive athlete, and student of sports psychology, I predict — and hope — pitcher Andy Pettitte will be back in pinstripes before pre-season opening day. I say this, knowing absence does, indeed, make the heart grow fonder and believing Andy — thus soon to be climbing the walls, reading/watching the Yankees head for spring training — who knew his family’s wishes when he announced his retirement, Friday, will realize the phenomenal opportunity, as yet, open to him.
When again in later life, for instance, will he be able to bask, full-time, in the limelight, playing the game he loves so much — the game for which he has demonstrated such talent — while getting paid handsomely to do so?
Yogi Berra would furthermore remind Pettitte, “Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half ... physical,” while the late George Bernard Shaw, would say, “You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.”
Put another way, once Pettitte — realizing he still has what it takes — begins thinking positive, ridding his brain of all the trashy self-talk, 2011 can be the best season of his career.
Woerner: Consider this
In following the news coverage regarding the issues surrounding the Kingston Police Department double-dipping probe, I felt it would be prudent to point out a potential solution that may have stopped this from occurring. The Town of Ulster Police Department regulations require that officers seeking outside employment obtain the approval of the chief of police prior to engaging in such employment.
The request for approval is made on a form on which the officer is required to indicate the name and address of the proposed outside employer, the hours and dates the officer proposes to work and the nature of the employment. Any approval given is valid for a period of one year. The policy also provides for an appeal of a denial of approval to the police commission.
This policy is consistent with New York State General Municipal Law 208-d which specifically authorizes police officers to: “engage in extra work for another employer outside his regular hours of duty for not exceeding 20 hours a week provided that such extra work does not interfere or conflict with his regular duties as a member of the force or his availability for emergency duty nor affect his physical condition to the extent that it impairs his ability to efficiently perform such duties and further provided that the type of employment shall first be approved by the appropriate police department or police commissioner.”
I would urge the members of the Common Council of the City of Kingston to consider the adoption of a policy similar to that of the Town of Ulster.
Nicky B. Woerner
Town of Ulster
(Editor’s note: The writer is former supervisor of the Town of Ulster.)
Egyptians, Palestinians deserve justice
Egyptians in the streets of Cairo are depicted by our media as freedom-loving heroes fighting for democracy and self-determination. The Egyptian demonstrators want to rid themselves of the oppressive and brutal Mubarak regime (Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. aid). Next door to Egypt we have the Palestinian people fighting to free themselves from 40 years of Israeli oppression, military occupation, and brutal collective punishment (Israel happens to be the largest recipient of U.S. aid). It is interesting to note that the U.S. government and the U.S. media portray the Egyptians as courageous fighters seeking their human rights, but the Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza who take to the streets demanding human rights from Israel are condemned as troublemakers and terrorists. Both Egypt and Israel are guilty of egregious human rights violations and neither should be bankrolled with U.S. taxpayer dollars. Both the Egyptians in the streets and the Palestinians in the occupied territories deserve not only their human rights, but justice.
If “God,” can you imagine, were not just black but female, and not just black and female, but Polish ... where would that leave a WASPish, male, white “God”? At Barnes & Noble, perhaps, or in bed with Martha Stewart, I’d say.
However, if “God” were the Black Madonna, the patron saint of the Polish Solidarity movement, then, Egypt would not have needed its recent revolution, nor would Ras T. be playing so seldom in public in this white-toast enclave of pure blandishments; furthermore, by now, the White House would have been painted another color, preferably pitch-black, with red polka-dots (don’t forget former statesman Ignace Paderewski), tender is the night, real Red Indians would be pounding tom-toms on our city streets.
Frederick Douglass would kiss me good-night every morning. My cherished black-listed status amongst the papier-mâché intelligentsia and plaster of Paris literati would soar like a fluid bronze vapor above the heads of all Rodin’s famous statues, Balzac and Hugo especially; but would be, primarily, haloed above the still thoughtful head of that notorious “Thinker” who, before getting in bed with his beautiful lover, Gaia herself, takes one last backward look at the impossibly self-knotted gates of hell.