George Washington wrote, “It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself.” So, we are devoted to writing and reading Letters to the Editor in the Saugerties Times, which is such an important communications link in our community.
It was exciting to read recently that a state Assemblyman from Westchester County, Tom Abinanti, was quoted as saying, “Fair taxation should be the hallmark of Westchester County.” Yes! Wow! I expect my neighbors may have shuddered, as they heard a gleeful cheer piercing the walls of our home. I know he was referring to property taxes, and I’m taking the liberty of applying his phrase to another cause, but thank you, Assemblyman Tom! Just to hear that phrase from a responsible politician fills this citizen with unbounded joy. Yes, fair taxation, in the form of the Fair Tax national consumption tax should be not only our “hallmark,” but also the simple, uncomplicated way to handle our tax responsibilities. It replaces Federal Income Tax. Now that the oppressive midnight deadline for filing our income taxes is behind us, please take a moment to imagine a way of life without federal income tax forms, in which there is no direct tax on any income of any kind; not on salaries, or payrolls, or dividends, or interest, or estates—none. The same amount of money is supplied to the national treasury by the citizenry, as we spend what we have earned at the point of retail sale…and…we have a lot more to spend, because the IRS hasn’t snatched part of it from our salaries. Also, realize that all your hours of preparation (over 600 billion nationwide) and in many cases the expenses incurred for preparation (billions of dollars) will be unnecessary under the Fair Tax. I hope last Monday was a lovely day for everyone. That’s all it should be. Not a dreaded federal tax deadline, but just another stress-free, beautiful April day. So, General Washington, let this be another attempt to service “the highest ambition.”
Numbers for consideration
Over the past two years there has been talk in Saugerties regarding school district consolidation of our four elementary schools. As of March, 2011, the Saugerties Central School District Enrollment is 2,977 students. The Junior and Senior High enrollment is 1,469 students. Cahill, Morse, Riccardi, and Mt. Marion Elementary Schools have a total student enrollment of 1459. A total of 49 students are served out of district.
If you review the student enrollment history of the SSD, you will find in the years 1972-73, Saugerties had a total student enrollment of 4,752. Keep in mind the SSD served 4,752 students prior to the 1991 building addition at the Cahill Elementary School.
From 1973 to March 2011, the Saugerties School District has experienced a 37 percent reduction in its student enrollment that equates to 1,775 students. I hope this information will be helpful to Saugerties residents and their future discussions regarding consolidation within the School District.
Our new hero, State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, began this week with an announcement that if The Delaware River Basin commission, (a federal agency which regulates gas drilling in the Delaware River), doesn’t commit to a full study of long trusted companies like Halliburton’s proposed plans to drill baby drill in our backyards, within 30 days, he will sue the federal government.
This announcement comes one year after we all watched the oil and gas companies destroy the Gulf on TV every day for months. A year later, it appears that We, the People are paying attention to the safety of our air and drinking water before it’s destroyed, not after. With the help of Josh Fox’s documentary Gasland, we in NYS have had access to information about what the oil and gas companies are planning before it comes to us. Time is of the essence, since the moratorium expires at the end of June, and the trucks and equipment are standing by. Water from the Delaware River does come to Ulster County and it looks like it will go to the Catskill Watershed and down to the city. I hope you’ll bear with me, as I become educated on this topic, but what we don’t want to do, is to learn about it after we’ve been over-exposed, which is what oil and gas companies seem to prefer.
Ulster County residents showed up in Albany a week ago, and plan another demonstration on May 2, to let our legislators know that we want to protect our water before it is contaminated with carcinogenic toxins, which were found in states like PA, where hydrofracking has already begun. Many organizations are coming together for this cause, and you can find them online. One is: frackfreecatskills.org. Please stay tuned, as these volunteer groups are somewhat understaffed, and doing their best. Meanwhile, I implore you to get involved and support and applaud Eric Schneiderman with a call of gratitude to him, and more importantly, a call to your local radio and TV stations asking for more coverage on this crucial life threatening topic.