Recently in the local papers the big story has been on youth crime in the South Clinton Street area and a city crime summit meeting has been called to curb youth crime being held on July 13 at 4:30 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club.
Seems to me a lot of blame is being focused on the children instead of where the blame really should be directed — towards their parents.
Hillary Clinton wrote a book years ago called It Takes a Village [to raise a child]. Yes that’s true but it also takes parents who take responsibility for their children in raising and teaching children values and the “basics” of interacting with their neighbors, from saying “please” and “thank you” to respecting their elders to appreciating and respecting other people’s property.
One way to cut down on the crime is simple and it worked back in my hometown. A curfew was passed by the city council and that after 8 p.m. any child under the age of 16 caught out at night was picked up and taken back to the parents’ house and then the parent was fined $100 per violation. If the parent did not pay the fine it was added to their property taxes just like unpaid water bills are now in Kingston.
Now I maybe wrong but I think there is already a curfew law on the books in Kingston for youth that is not enforced, so it should not be a hard to implement.
You have to hit these parents in the pocketbook in order to get any results and in retrospect, the fines pay for the hiring of a part-time officer to patrol the streets looking for the at-risk youth offenders.
Obviously, this law does not apply if the youths are out with their parents and not breaking any laws or causing crime. Only if they are unsupervised and causing problems.
You’d be surprised in a couple of months the huge difference in the number of youth out on our streets at night and how quickly the crime percentage declines.
It is sad that a city has to resort to this level to step in and parent other people’s kids. We already pay millions of dollars through our taxes for places to help with “at-risk youth,” such as the Boys and Girls Clubs the Hodge Center and the YWCA, among others.
This of course is only one example of how to fix this growing problem and something has to be done during the day as well. Unfortunately our police department has been cut back to the bone and they don’t have the time or the manpower to respond to these calls from angry homeowners whose neighborhoods are being held hostage and are left with absolutely no re-course.
This cutbacks in our police force has left us with crime problems all over the city from the increasing numbers of prostitutes up and down Broadway, to the ongoing gang violence and drug-selling throughout the Midtown area, but until we get our new mayor, police chief and Common Council, these issues will unfortunately not get addressed due to lack of any leadership in the current administration.
Trillions on war
During his speech on Afghanistan June 22, President Obama revealed that “Over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war.” He knew this was a deceptive understatement, as did anyone who kept close watch on the Bush-Obama wars these past 10 years.
Few Americans, however, have closely followed Washington’s 21st-century wars of choice, so a trillion probably sounds right. But that amount is way off base. After all, the annual cost of air conditioning alone for the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq amounts to $20.2 billion a year.
The latest objective estimate for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, made public June 29, is between $3.7 trillion and $4.4 trillion, according to the research project “Costs of War” by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. The university assembled a team of economists, anthropologists, political scientists, legal experts, and a physician to do this analysis, which included future costs for veterans care and interest on war debts to be paid over the next few decades.
The medical costs are huge. “While we know how many U.S. soldiers have died in the wars (just over 6,000),” the report pointed out, “what is startling is what we don’t know about the levels of injury and illness in those who have returned from the wars. New disability claims continue to pour into the VA, with 550,000 just through last fall.”
It’s impossible to precisely predict the interest costs on these wars. In 2010, $400 billion of our tax money went toward paying off past war debts as far back as the Korean War of the early 1950s. We’ll pay war debts indefinitely because Washington is always borrowing to plan for or start new wars. So far, the U.S.-led NATO war for regime change in Libya is costing American taxpayers about a billion.
The Brown University figures may underestimates. The respected Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard Professor Linda Bilmes told a Congressional committee in 2008 that the combined cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars would be between $5 and $7 trillion, based on the hidden as well as known costs of the wars, including the war debts our grandchildren will still be paying off.
Assuming Obama is re-elected, the Bush-Obama wars — including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, plus the drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia, plus any new wars in Obama’s final years — will certainly top $5 trillion is real costs. (Keep in mind, one trillion is a thousand billion, and a billion is a thousand million.)
Current Pentagon spending of around $700 billion a year represents a huge increase since 2001, when it totaled about $380 billion. But that’s only half the story. Double the Pentagon’s $700 billion for a true estimate of the amount of money the U.S. spent on war-related issues last year, and will keep doing. That’s $1.4 trillion a year for the United States — more money spent for “national security” than the rest of world’s nations combined.
Here’s how to get the true cost. Instead of just the Pentagon budget, it is essential to consider Washington’s other related federal budgets. That includes the costs of America’s 16 different intelligence services, the percentage of the annual national debt to pay for past war expenses, Homeland Security, nuclear weapons, additional annual spending requests for Iraq and Afghan wars, military retiree pay and healthcare for vets, NASA, the FBI portion of its war-related military work), etc.
It’s fruitful to contemplate where our $5 trillion Bush-Obama war funding might have been invested instead. Such funding could have paid for a swift transition from fossil fuels to a solar-wind energy system for the entire U.S., with enough left to overhaul America’s decaying and outdated civil infrastructure, among other projects. That kind of money could have created jobs for all our people. Instead, we’re throwing it away on unnecessary wars against small, poor countries and getting nothing for it but more debts, cutbacks and worries.
Jack A. Smith
Nurses should get their contract
HealthAlliance and Mr. Lundquist say they are all for their nurses and patients. Benedictine nurses voted for NYSNA (New York State Nurses Association) for their bargaining agent by a two-thirds majority well over two and half years ago. During that time NYSNA and the Benedictine negotiating nurses have been going to negotiating meetings to negotiate their fist contract. These nurses have spent well over 1,000 hours of their own time (without any monetary compensation) to try to achieve this goal.
NYSNA is a professional organization and these are dedicated nurses who are all about the best and safest care for their patients. The nurses are not asking for anything outlandish in this contract yet. HealthAlliance has done everything to misrepresent to union and delay the contract to try to make Benedictine nurses unhappy with NYSNA.
Having a contract allows nurses to have job security, prevents HealthAlliance making promises and then taking them away, and gives nurses a venue to voice their concerns about patient care, practice and safety. Yes, there are union dues that amount to approximately 6 percent of your wages; this is a small monetary cost for all the union can do for Benedictine nurses.
If HealthAlliance and Mr. Lundquist truly care about their nurses, do what is right and finish the contract and let the nurses decide if they want NYSNA to represent them.
Julia Motti, RN
DEIS deficiencies at Williams Lake
The Sierra Club is neither for nor against development of the Williams Lake property in Rosendale. We are against the development as proposed so far. Despite its 6,000 pages, with appendices, the (HRVR) Hudson River Valley Resorts‘ Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), is surprisingly deficient on a number of aspects of their proposed development. It is urgent for the public, whether against or for the development, so far, to be informed of these deficiencies and omissions.
Any cost-cutting measures that HRVR might take may prove disastrous and very costly in the future for the occupants of the development, for the citizens of Rosendale, and for the public of our area. These deficiencies are suspect, primarily because of HRVR’s ridiculous denial that the land underlying the Williams Lake property is karst despite the testimony of the nationally renowned hydrogeologist Dr. Ralph Ewers, who was hired by the Town of Rosendale. We are concerned as to what other denials HRVR might have included in their DEIS. Fortunately, the omissions and deficiencies in their DEIS are, thankfully, documented by the volunteer concerned citizens of Save The Lakes on their website savethelakes.us.
The Sierra Club, another volunteer group including about 700 here in Ulster County, has supported financially the scientific investigation of the availability to this karst system of the necessary water for the size of the proposed development, 130 hotel units, several additional resort facilities, and 160 individual homes proposed to replace the former modest hotel of 57 rooms distributed among five small one and two-story buildings. The Sierra Club has supported the work of hydrogeologist Paul Rubin of Hydroquest to investigate the karst/water relationship to HRVR’s proposed much larger development.
Rubin has done field work from the property of attorney Edward Williams who owns a small parcel on the lake, and from the public right of way on Binnewater Road (16.5 feet on either side from the center line of the road). The Sierra Club has been denied access for our hydrogeologist to HRVR property to date, despite our having made several requests during the past year, and despite Rubin’s public request at the recent DEC public hearing.
Our latest letter to Tim Allred, Project Manager of HRVR, mailed June 10th, 2011, states: “We are writing in response to the message you left on Ms. Steele’s voice mail last week regarding [having] a meeting to discuss our request that Mr. Paul Rubin be allowed access to the Williams Lake property in order to verify the information presented in your DEIS. We do not see what purpose might be served by a meeting to discuss this request, which we have made several times without benefit of a definitive response from you. Mr. Rubin is a highly renowned hydrologist whose scientific work has been validated many times. He would like to field check his conclusions regarding the watershed boundaries of Williams Lake. Since your project is highly dependent upon the viability of Williams Lake as a water source, we should think you would welcome any scientific information regarding the availability of water from this source, particularly since Mr. Rubin is offering to do this work at no cost to you. Please let us know, as soon as possible, in writing, whether you intend to allow Mr. Rubin site access for his field studies. If not, please explain your reasons why.”
We have had no response to date to this letter or any of our previous requests for site access to our consulting hydrologist. If the developers are so confident in the accuracy of their studies, why do they continue to refuse site access to independent experts?
Chair, Mid-Hudson Group Atlantic Chapter Sierra Club
I am anxiously awaiting a logical explanation from the DEC and from Governor Cuomo of their recent decision to ban hydrofracking in the New York City watershed areas and in the Syracuse watershed areas but to allow hydrofracking in the rest of New York State. It is common knowledge that all people live in a watershed and that every person gets his or her drinking water and water for all other necessities from a watershed, so I need to have it explained to me, scientifically, why they deem it mandatory to protect those citizens living within the aforementioned watersheds from the myriad negative side effects caused by the hydrofracking process but unnecessary to protect any of the rest of the millions of citizens living outside of those two watersheds? This is wrong! This is totally, unarguably wrong! Hydrofracking is either safe or it isn’t safe. There can be no ifs, ands, buts or maybes about it. How long do you think I’ll have to wait to receive a scientifically based answer to my question of their outrageous decision? I won’t hold my breath until that happens, that’s for sure! If you agree with me, I sincerely hope you will take the time to contact all our elected officials, telling them that they simply have to consider, first and foremost, the health, safety and welfare of the citizens who voted for them. Such concerns must rank way above the profiteering greed of the oil industry and the mega-bucks sway they seem to hold over almost every politician.
Mary Phillips Burke
I have to laugh at the way the Daily Freeman reports the so-called “news.” Their reporters take a story and if the reporter agrees with it, it gets printed. If the reporter has a different view, the story gets “tweaked.”
A few Sundays ago, the story “Uptown Asbestos Work Progressing” was reported. That was probably the only actual reality in the whole article. Let’s get real. Three architecture firms advising on this project adamantly claimed there was no asbestos in the first place. Now, what person in their right mind who knows anything about building (and I would suppose that to include architects) would believe that anything built in the early 1970s didn’t have asbestos.
Our elected officials claim that business in Uptown is progressing as normal. That couldn’t be any further from the truth but did the reporter happen to ask us, the building and business owners suffering through this charade? Business is definitely off — where the complaint about no parking has always been with us, it has now become a mantra. Between the machinery, the workers, the dust, the scary plastic sheeting (asbestos abatement) and the general noise level, you can bet your bottom dollar that business is off.
And again, I must reiterate, it is not some businesses who are against this project. Ninety percent of the square footage under the canopy — building owners and businesses alike — are adamantly opposed. I will repeat that for those that have missed it in the past — adamantly opposed — to this overhang.
We are sick with frustration and fury that we are not listened to. Again, the reporter takes the word of our elected officials when they say that the monies cannot be used for demolition. The facts are (if the reporters cared to investigate) that some of the money can only be used for the streetscapes and the canopies but some of the money (RUPCO) could be used for demolition. The elected officials just choose not to.
The horror of this whole thing is — look at the new structure. It is so ugly that the old one would be preferable. Where Uptown Kingston could help our county to flourish, our elected officials are scrambling to keep us a far from the public view as possible ... maybe they just want us all to fold and quietly slink away. Maybe a ghost town would make the city so much easier to manage. Maybe my vision of what we could be is just that … a fantasy of what will never be. Or maybe we need to elect real business people who are visionary and at the same time will follow the suggestions from the experts and most importantly, the people who are living it.