What particularly offended me (in reading about the Planning Board's decision) was seeing Mr. Hinchey's "smiling face" on the front page of the Saugerties Times. Where were you, Mr. Hinchey, during all the discussions and planning events? Laying low? Did you ever consider, or care about, what your constituents felt? Oh ... but now you rise, smiling, front page center, along with your partners. And yes, you're all smiling - "as if you've won a great victory." For the moment you may feel as though "you've won," but in truth, you've lost. You've lost things that you are obviously unaware of, and for this, I am sorry for you. You have lost out on caring; the essence of community; you've lost integrity; you've lost the opportunity to do "small things with great love;" you've lost out on our natural resources, and how our resources affect, and contribute to, a community; and perhaps most significantly, you've lost our respect. (Although I doubt you care - you're all smiling.) What is it exactly, that you're smiling about? What have you accomplished?
To the Saugerties Citizens for Smart Development, my heart-felt "thank you." Thank you for your efforts; for your professionalism; for your revised plans; and for your belief that things could be different. Thank you for caring about me, and other "concerned citizens," and what we value. You fought an honorable, worthy battle, and you have not lost. In the greater scheme of life, you've won.
And to the Saugerties citizens who never "showed up" or voiced an opinion - when a huge monstrosity is built by The Partitions Street Project, and you are not welcomed there, and your view of a pristine watershed is blocked, your neighbor's historic house is "rocked off its foundation," and your community is alienated from its resources, remember this the next time you vote. That is, if you vote.
School Board needs new ideas My name is Timothy Scott Jr. and I am seeking a seat on the Saugerties School Board. I am a lifelong resident of Saugerties and have spent my entire education in the Saugerties school system. I am addressing the School Board candidacy with that perspective. I have a very good understanding of government and governing bodies (which is what the BOE really is).
We are seeing the devastating consequence of what an inefficient system and rising costs are having on our community. Some financial forecasts predict these problems will continue through 2013 with less money available each year. Taxpayers are mad and they have every right to be. Many have no where else to turn except to sell their home. Something has got to give. They want something done now. If elected, there are important things that I would like to accomplish.
I would like to help establish a better working relationship between the Board of Education and the community that it serves. It is clear there is a disconnect between the community and the board and the board and the administration. In this environment it is unlikely for any solutions to happen. It is most important to keep the discussion open to new and innovative ideas of problem-solving no matter where they come from.
I would launch a more aggressive line-by-line scrutiny of the budget from the top down not from the bottom up where are current board is looking for cuts. There is a need to re-examine items for their purpose, participation and costs of personnel. Prioritize needs beginning with academics as the highest and the very last for cuts. Cuts should be taken off the top. To date there has been no concession on their behalf. Administration should be consolidated and salaries and performance should be evaluated. A teacher salary freeze should be considered. Teachers could pay into their insurances like most employers require. This is the time for everyone, not just the taxpayers, to tighten their belts.
I would look for more ways to capitalize on our facilities and investments. For example utilizing the music facilities at the high school for performances with paid attendances and making it available at a cost to other organizations.
Analyze and correct buildings and use for energy efficiency. Develop strict policies that minimize utilities when rooms or facilities are not in use. The schools energy bills are enormous and their costs are rising and if implemented the savings will be significant.
This district can continue to provide a quality education for every student. We can do this by making sure that academics and curriculum come first. If anything is to be cut academics should be the absolute last.
I feel that the current BOE is not on the right track. This community wants the best education within the reach of their hard-earned money. The future of our community is in the balance. I will do my best to restore the quality of education while keeping the community and their financial future in mind.
I want to be a positive element in this transition and would appreciate your vote.
Timothy Scott Jr.
Vote for Heidcamp
I have known George Heidcamp for many years. He is a Saugerties-born, honest, smart and caring man who cares very much for our community, our children and schools.
He did great on the School Board to further the education of our children and to conserve and spend wisely our resources.
George together with Jim Steinhilber voted against the huge school budget that will increase our school taxes by an incredible 21.1 percent.
I urge you to vote for George and Jim.
No on the school budget Within a few days New York State voters will go to the polls to vote on school budgets and members of their respective boards of education. What a privilege to be able to do this, yet all too often many choose to simply complaining about the ever-increasing taxes and won't get off their posteriors and go vote. Get up, stand tall, and vote on May 18.
How would you like to have someone stop you on the street and collect 22 percent of the money in your pocket? Imagine what could happen if the proposed budget passes.
In some respect, I cannot fault any one group for such a blood-letting, but a great choking cloud departing legacy of our former superintendent. His mess and an armor-clad union using students as pawns on their chessboard of "Taxpayers-Be-Damned" greed plus an insensitive Democratic Party controlling our state has brought our community to fiscal fear.
I do respect our current board members who voted not to present such a double-digit budget increase to the voters. They did what they were elected to do: provide resources for education yet protect the solvency of those who pay the bill. I urge the reelection of George Heidcamp and James Steinhilber. They had the cuts to stand up for the taxpayer. We surely do not need more greed sympathizers or anyone as a member who doesn't even pay taxes. Defeat those potential wannabe spenders!
It is well said, "Death and Taxes are certainties in life," but show me where it says we have to tax ourselves to death. Cut, cut the budget! Our wallets can bleed no more! Vote no on the Saugerties school budget!
Our schools are failing Was Mike MacIsaac the only member of the BOE during his previous three-year term? If so, let's blame him for everything that is wrong with this school district. If not, let's move on...
Nearly everyone on the current BOE was sitting there when the last two major accounting errors were made; but let's just move on...
Placing blame is not helping to solve the problem. Our school district is in serious trouble. We should all welcome any new blood, new ideas, new points of view. These are three-year terms for a reason. I, myself considered running for the board last year and again this year, but I decided not to strap myself to a sinking ship for three years because I might want to abandon ship before then.
I am a parent, a tax payer, and a homeowner -- one of the alleged 33 percent of reassessments that went up (for the third time in the eight years that I've lived here). I do not look forward to paying any more taxes; but I want my kids to have the best education they possibly can. I wish that we were talking about ways to better our education, like: more enrichment in the elementary schools, foreign language in the elementary schools, orchestra in the Jr. and Sr. High schools, more electives in the High School, etc., but we aren't. We are talking about how to just scrape by with the bare minimum. Our school district has no apparent vision for the future, and the direction we are currently heading is: down.
This is the Board of Education, not the board of least taxation! A community is only as good as its school district. Good schools bring businesses and families to the community. Our children are our future. Let's all work together to educate our children so they will be ready for the future.
MacIsaac responds Hello, my name is Michael MacIsaac and I am running for school board. I was surprised to read two letters to the editor last week that attacked my past service on the board. While I was on the board, I worked hard to serve the community to the best of my ability, to take each issue on its own merit, and to not play politics or partisanship. I feel I must respond.
To Mr. Fowler, yes I voted for Mr. Rhau and Mr. Dziadik. Yes, Mr. Rhau made mistakes, but he did accomplish a lot for our district. His administration brought us stability in management which we hadn't had for many years. His administration and the board succeeded in implementing a badly needed capital project that upgraded our facilities (where previous efforts had failed), brought us full-day kindergarten, oversaw the district while standardized test scores improved, and led to make improvements in other programs.
To clarify an inaccuracy, I was not on the subcommittee that agreed on Rhau's contract. I was a new board member then, and yes, now I know that I should have scrutinized it more carefully and asked more questions. When the issue of questionable cell phone use did arise, I was one of the board members that pushed for a more restrictive policy, which passed. Toward the end of Mr. Rhau's tenure he came to the board to discuss a possible contract extension. I calculated every dollar that was in his current contract, in his proposed contract, and brought these facts to fellow board members and to the superintendent. In the end I believe this saved the district from unnecessary expenses. By this time I had learned my lesson.
Furthermore, Mr. Fowler, your claim that my actions regarding redistricting benefited my family is completely unfounded. Whether you wrote the letter yourself or it was fed to you by someone, you shouldn't get personal in your accusations and you should get your facts straight. If redistricting would have benefited my family, why wouldn't I just have voted "yes" the first time? So this accusation doesn't make sense. I was leaning toward voting "yes" the first time because I believed it was the best choice for the district. I voted "no" because Mr. Ham, Mr. Shultis and other family members of children being redistricted from Riccardi to Mt. Marion asked a lot of good questions. I did not hear a lot of good answers from the administration so I voted "no." My vote turned out to be the deciding vote and the measure was defeated. I was then asked to chair a redistricting subcommittee to propose an alternative. Although I worked very hard with two other committee members to come up with a new proposal and led many public meetings, we deadlocked and could not agree on an alternative. The board then agreed to put the same proposal back on the agenda (and it was many more than two weeks later so again, check your facts). This time I voted "yes" because I felt that it was still the best choice for the community, and that other possible alternatives had been investigated.
To Mrs. Price: do you remember when I questioned the administration at a public board meeting about abiding by the decision of your lawsuit? If you don't, please ask your husband. I clearly remember him sending me an e-mail thanking me. We discussed the common employer that we had in IBM. Honestly, your allegations simply confuse me.
Voters of Saugerties, please don't just get your facts solely from letters written to the editors (sometimes inaccurate). See and hear the candidates first-hand at a meeting organized by the League of Women Voters on Monday, May 10 at 7 p.m. at Cahill School. I will be there (will all of the other candidates?). Also, remember to vote on May 18. Thank you.
Heidcamp and Steinhilber balance interests of students, taxpayers School taxes are, for most of us, one of the largest bills we have to pay. I have long argued that the entire public education structure is broken and in need of reform. This need for reform has become even more apparent as we face a 21.1% increase in our Saugerties school taxes. This effrontery comes from an education establishment that views the taxpayer as a bottomless source of revenue. I take a backseat to no one in caring about providing our children with a quality education. But I am just as concerned with people being taxed out of their homes. For this reason it is important that we have people on the Saugerties School Board that reflect the taxpayers perspective. Re-electing two dedicated and hard working Conservatives, George Heidcamp and Jim Steinhilber will be a step in the right direction. They voted against the massive budget increase. These gentleman will provide seasoned judgment and the taxpayers perspective. This will be necessary when the new board begins negotiating teacher contracts. The teachers union, powerful as it is, does not need even more influence on the school board. I urge you to tell your friends and neighbors to re-elect George Heidcamp and Jim Steinhilber. These candidates meet the criteria that will best help the community, the student and the beleaguered taxpayer.
Mark H. Knaust
Chairman, Saugerties Conservative Party
Re-elect Heidcamp and Steinhilber I am a current member of the Saugerties School Board serving my third term in office and I would like to express my opinion about board president, George Heidcamp, candidate for Saugerties School Board. I have known George personally for many years, and have served three years with him as a board member. He has proven to be one of the most honest and hardworking individuals I've ever known. George is a unique individual with leadership quality. He is a mover and shaker: is a good communicator, does his homework and gets the job done. We would be hard-pressed to find a better candidate, and it will be my honor to continue working with him on the School Board.
I would also like to express my opinion about Jim Steinhilber, also a candidate for school board. I have worked with Jim as a board member for the past three years and can truly say that he is a very hard-working, dedicated individual who really cares about this community and proves it over and over again with his quiet but diligent work on its behalf.
I ask all those who have supported me and trusted my judgment to please vote for George Heidcamp and Jim Steinhilber, these two men have proven to be assets to the Board of Education. Please vote on Tuesday, May 18. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. You can find these two candidates on the ballot: Heidcamp at #4, and Steinhilber at #6.
Heidcamp looks at both sides In the 1980s, for many years I was a member and president of the Saugerties Board of Education. This is what I look for in a prospective board member. A board member is there to fight on two fronts: the best education possible for our students and to represent the town of Saugerties taxpayer. Everyone wants the best education possible for our children, but we also do not want to see someone lose their home because of school taxes either. It is a very tough decision to balance the two. Many homes in Saugerties are facing major tax reassessments already and listed on the internet are 29 mortgage foreclosures in Saugerties during the first quarter of 2010. More than one person has told me they are going to try to move out of Saugerties because of the taxes. Yet at the same time, Saugerties Central School has encountered some major expenses outside of its control and is facing a major decrease in state aid.
I know George Heidcamp has lost many hours of sleep agonizing over the decision to spend more educational funds and raise taxes or reduce the educational program and reduce the tax increase. We need someone like George who looks at both sides and is not pre-committed to either side. We do not need someone who is heavily committed to education or someone heavily committed to the lowest possible tax rate.
I feel that one of the keys to becoming a successful board member is to listen and gather data on both sides of an issue. There are good people in the school administration to explain the situation to you. The key is to give the time and effort to find out what is going on and listen. I have never seen anyone who gives more hours to his being a member of the Board of Education than George Heidcamp. George listens to the Saugerties Central School administration and listens to the Saugerties taxpayers. I have made my decision and I will vote to re-elect George Heidcamp on May 18, 2010.
John R. Harris
The unkindest cuts
I attend Board of Education meetings regularly and I have never heard the words, "How can we make our children's education better?" nor "Let's be proactive, how can we solve these problems without taking away from our children's education?" Is there grant-writing being done? No! Are they creatively trying to help this community out of this crisis? No! Their response to any problem is cut!
Well that's not my idea of how to educate our children. They cut teachers mid-term, cut ISS, cut Driver's Ed, cut dean positions... now at a BOE meeting in March our President of the Board ,Mr. Heidcamp declared, "I can only support an austerity budget." Which means a budget with no sports, no music, no art, no electives, no advanced placement, no full-time kindergarten, no social worker, no librarians . . .
What are we as a community if we're not nurturing and helping the next generation to do better and be better? How can that happen under a board that only knows one response - cut!
In contempt The following is a response to the numerous letters you've elected to print in recent months written by George Heidcamp, Saugerties Board of Education president.
You're welcome, George! I never dreamed that when I stood before the BOE back in February and accused the body of incompetence that you would be so taken with my flippant charge as to make it a staple of the public persecution complex you've played out in endless, defensive, finger-pointing letters to this and other publications. It's an interesting political tactic; spinning the negative sentiment of one angry parent into what readers might by now assume to be a legion of like-minded residents just hating on you. I get a good laugh every time you employ it.
In retrospect, however, I regret my now-infamous word choice. "Incompetent" merely suggests that the BOE made some bad decisions and accidentally overlooked a seven figure public funding discrepancy two years in a row. Honest mistakes, I'm sure. No, I view the damage inflicted on our public schools by this BOE to be more disturbing than just the current financial mess and those ugly mid-term layoffs.
It is my opinion that the current BOE has consistently wielded its powers in virtual contempt of public education in Saugerties by acting as anti-tax activists whose decisions run contrary to the collective interests of our children. Year after year we have seen the BOE put forth threadbare budgets, making cut after cut to school programs, services and staff. Year after year the BOE has neglected even to include contingency lines in those thin budgets (which in other communities now provides a cumulative cushion against state funding cuts). And now, should a massive tax increase fail to pass at the ballot box, you, as BOE president, stand to preside over the greatest systemic setbacks ever to our schools. Good thing you're sticking to the negative campaign tactics, because other than your heroic lawsuit of the state for the money they owed us a while back, you've got precious little to stand on.
Please set the record straight about your great achievements. What, if anything, have you actually done for the kids of Saugerties? Has this BOE created anything positive and lasting? From where I sit, I see nothing but the return of some stingy, roosting chickens.
The right stuff
The following information comes from a publication of the New York State School Boards Association.
The power to pursue excellence is in the hands of the Board of Education. The decisions made by the School Board affect virtually every important aspect of local schools, from boundaries to bus schedules, curriculum to clubs, funding to field trips. The School Board sets the priorities and adopts the budget that determine how millions in federal, state and local tax dollars are spent. It sets goals for student achievement and evaluates progress toward those goals. The School Board decides how school boundaries are drawn and whether schools are constructed or closed. It sets the policies that determine which courses and programs are offered and what texts, tools and technology are purchased. The School Board, as the community's representatives and fiscal stewards, ensures the district education program is in compliance with the New York State laws and regulations.
We have everything to gain - or lose. Everyone, not just parents, has a stake in the success of public schools. When schools are strong and students succeed, everyone benefits. Good schools are good business - they attract employers, strengthen the local economy and enhance property values. Good schools ensure our students will be prepared to keep our nation competitive in a global economy. They keep the American Dream alive with an opportunity for every child to receive a world-class education. Good schools keep the quality of life in a community high by producing citizens who pay taxes and obey the law. They teach students from all backgrounds how to live and participate in our democracy.
With respect to board trustee selection, the right person makes a difference. What are the candidates vision and goals for high academic achievement for all students? Does the candidate inspire parents and other stakeholders to have confidence in the local public schools? Does he or she understand that the School Board's role is about the bigger picture - setting the direction for the district, and providing oversight and accountability - rather than day-to-day management? Does the candidate focus on one issue (taxes) or discuss a broad range of school district concerns? Will he or she enhance the mix of skills and backgrounds on the board and help represent the diversity of the community or is he or she a member of a political power group? And, does the candidate have the commitment to do what is right for all children, even in the face of opposition?
According to NYSSBA: "Every child enrolled in our school district is a reason for us to vote in school board elections. The overall quality of our local schools, both now and in the future, rests with decisions made by the board of education. You want the best and the brightest of your fellow citizens in charge."
William R. Hayes
Vote yes, show you care
As we go to cast our votes on May 18 we need to keep two things in mind.
First, we must take a moment to reflect on the work of our current Board of Education. We need to ask ourselves, "Does this board have a statement of a vision for our district, a vision that moves us forward so that our students have a quality education that gives them the variety of skills needed to compete? Do our present board members have the capacity to find creative solutions to our current problems; solutions that ensure our students' educational needs are met?"
Next, we must ask ourselves what our priorities are for our children. As parents we ask our children daily to sacrifice ("You can't play until your homework is done"), to be disciplined ("I know you'd like to stay up and watch that movie, but you have school tomorrow"), and to think about their future ("The work you put in today will give you more opportunities when you are older"). But are we also willing to sacrifice, be disciplined, and think about their future?
If we want a board with vision and creative solutions, then we must make sure to vote such people in. If we want to model for our children that which we strive to teach them every day, then we must sacrifice today for their tomorrow and vote for the budget proposal on May 18 (even at a 21 percent tax levy increase). We must not damage our children's education with the cuts that would come with an austerity budget.
How we prepare our children for the future reflects who we are as a community. I believe we, in Saugerties, are a community of people with vision who care deeply about our children. We need to show that depth of caring and vision as we cast our votes on May 18. We need to vote to pass this budget.
MacIsaac and Davies have demonstrated dedication to our schools I was disheartened, yet not surprised at the political mudslinging which was splattered in the letters to the editor last week. Unfortunately, negative opinions come loud and long during election times.
I'd like to let you know about the dedication I have seen from Mr. MacIsaac, a man I know as an interested and involved parent of two students at Grant D. Morse Elementary. Mr. MacIsaac has offered his time to assist in assembling the new playground at Grant D. Morse. Additionally he collaborated with another parent and offered our fourth, fifth, and sixth graders an enriching engineering experience. On multiple days during Engineers' Week they helped inspire our students to challenge themselves in the areas of math, science and teamwork. He kicked off the event with a an engaging and motivating four-minute video which set the tone for the hour-long bridge building competition. The opportunity to see him engage with the students was proof to me that he is a man who values education. I have attended numerous Board of Education meetings during the past few years and he was in attendance at many. His knowledge of the process and the "chutzpah" he was credited for having is just what we need to help ensure that our children are getting a quality, diverse education in our district.
While I'm giving kudos, I'd like to mention Mr. Bob Davies, who is also running for a seat on the Saugerties Board of Education. Mr. Davies has devoted countless hours to the students, programs and events in the Saugerties School District. As an active PTA member and father of two daughters he is always involved in one way or another. Whether it is the countless hours he spends taking photos for the school year book, assisting with Mustang Bowl or the Dodge Bowl, chaperoning school dances or assisting with playground construction, he is someone you can always count on to get the job done. His dedication to our community also reaches into the fire fighting and search-and-rescue realms. The events of the past year or so have made many Saugerties citizens stand up and take notice that we need to regain control of the direction our schools are taking. Mr. Davies has been attending the Board of Education meetings, he is aware of the issues and needs of our students, the community and the tax payers. We are fortunate to have him willing to serve as a member of the Saugerties Board of Education.
In my opinion these men have fully demonstrated their commitment to the children of this district through their time and volunteering. They will most certainly receive my vote in the school board election. I encourage you to join me in supporting Mike MacIssac and Bob Davies when you go to the polls on May 18.
Rebecca H. Mulford
Solutions, not mudslinging I am writing this letter because I am appalled by the letters in your paper last week trashing Mike MacIsaac who is running for the School Board. Was this mudslinging a way for the current board members to try to blame Mr. MacIsaac for the situation the school district is in so they don't have to take responsibility themselves? After all, these financial miscalculations occurred when George Heidcamp was a sitting member of the Board of Education. Mike MacIsaac was not. Mr. Heidcamp was in a leadership position - first as vice president and then as president of the BOE - when $1.6 million was "miscalculated" causing the biggest fiscal crisis in the school's history. If the last administration and this current School Board had not been asleep at the wheel, we would not be in danger of losing programs, electives, sports, extra curricular activities, art, instrumental music, library, full-day kindergarten, AP and honors classes, and 70 school district employees including teachers, social workers and assistants.
As a taxpayer and a parent, I would like to see George Heidcamp and Tom Ham outline solutions and strategies for dealing with these catastrophic cuts should we end up with an austerity budget, rather than writing negative letters to the editor about new comers running for the BOE. When asked about a plan to deal with the possibility of early dismissal at the high school, George Heidcamp's comment was the parents need to step up. As a working mom, I find that comment lacks understanding of most families' realities. In today's world, most adults need to work to make ends meet. Most are not able to be home at one o'clock in the afternoon to "step up." I hope that people in this community will not allow those catastrophic cuts to become reality and will come out to vote for our kids' futures on May 18.
A league of our own Our neighboring school districts have had to make cuts, hand out pink slips and dip into reserves to keep their tax levy in the low single digits. In Saugerties, we have found ourselves in a league of our own.
We are facing a 21 percent tax levy increase in order to maintain programming at the 2009-10 level. Or, an austerity budget of 12 percent that will decimate our school system and community. You might ask how could these figures possibly be correct but they are correct. It was a mixture of accounting errors, poor decision-making and cuts in state aid. In other words the perfect storm.
When we go to the polls on May 18 many of us will go, knowing that we cannot afford a 21 percent increase in our tax levy. But many of us will go, knowing that our children and our community cannot be "educated" at the austerity level. The purposed austerity budget cuts are much too deep and the loss of a child's potential is not even calculable.
We finally built a beautiful track in Saugerties with a football and lacrosse field inside it. Will a Saugerties track star ever compete at the state level and be seen by a potential college scout ? No, not in the austerity budget. And neither will a wrestler or a soccer player or a baseball player or a basketball player or a volleyball player. Hundreds of kids participate in sports at Saugerties High School, to lose sports is huge.
Will a child ever grow up to become a music teacher and replace the teacher that taught her? No, probably not in Saugerties because there will be no instrumental music in the elementary schools. What becomes of the beautiful new music wing we just built at the High School if advanced music is cut? What about the advanced classes, art and technology classes that are at risk? We just built a new technology wing. What about the students who should be inside it learning a 21st century curriculum? They'll be in study hall or an early release.
What about the kids who will never have an acting experience or write for the school paper or join a foreign language club? And when Saugerties graduates apply to colleges with their bare minimum high school educations... Well I suppose we will be filling the ranks at the two-year colleges and then maybe some will go on and some won't. And some won't even make it to graduation because they preferred the electives rather than the 3Rs.
If you are thinking about selling your home good luck marketing it. Because taxes through the roof and school district down the drain doesn't appeal to many. What we can all do to help -- write to senators Gillibrand and Schumer, Congressman Hinchey and every other elected official. We need public school funding and property tax reform. Become educated with respect to the crisis in our school district. Attend a Board of Education meeting. Go the "Meet the Candidates" night, six people are running for the Board of Education. Vote for the people that you believe are qualified to sit on a Board of Education and whose goal it is to make education the number one priority.
So, you can see when we go to the polls in Saugerties on May 18 many of us will go knowing that we will make personal sacrifices in an attempt to maintain the quality of our school district, our community and ultimately society. Because we are all worth it!
Amy L DiCesare
Free speech for all I recently attended an event in New Paltz where our congressman, Maurice Hinchey, ranted against the recent Supreme Court decision of Citizens United, which upheld the right for political free speech in our country. Hinchey claimed that things being said on the right, and he cited Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, had to be stopped because they "threatened" our country. I am appalled that the man who is supposed to be representing me in Congress is opposed to freedom of speech in general, and political free speech in particular! Meanwhile, I shortly after received a four-page, four-color mailer from Hinchey parroting all of the Pelosi talking points about Obamacare - and this was paid for with tax dollars. So, free speech is not ok with him, unless it's used to spread the liberal propaganda and is paid for with our hard earned money? People on both sides of the issue should be appalled at any government representative who denounces free speech at the same time he uses it to his political advantage. That's why I'm supporting George Phillips for Congress in November to make Mr. Hinchey's political career history!
DWI is no minor offense Mr. Reynolds in his column took issue with the "perp walk" given to former Congressman Sweeney. He questioned whether a "minor offender", who is "no threat to anyone" would or should be given such treatment. To begin with, Congressman Sweeney is no minor offender. He is a two-time offender who has driven drunk. Chances are that he had driven multiple times before he was caught and arrested. He also benefited from the best legal defense money could buy to have his felony offense pled down to a misdemeanor.
Mr. Sweeney was previously the Stop-DWI coordinator and should have been well aware of the danger he posed to the public. People are killed every day by people who drink to intoxication, get in their cars and kill someone. This is no "minor threat." Nor his he a minor offender. Sweeney is a dangerous criminal who thinks nothing of getting behind the wheel drunk. The treatment Mr. Sweeney received was minor and the misdemeanor conviction was an insult to justice and all the families impacted by drunk drivers. His "perp walk" was a minor price to pay for the danger he placed on his community.
A satisfied customer
I just had a great experience with my county government. I heard a piece on the radio about the Google Fiber for Communities Program. Google will competitively choose a community to put in place a very high speed broadband, something that would benefit our community enormously. I called County Executive Hein's Office and someone called me back right away. More importantly, he dedicated his staff to making sure that our county applied for this important infrastructure. County Executive Hein and his wonderful staff responded immediately! The county's application was funny and informative - see for yourself www.kingstondigitalcorridor.org/googlefiber. I am so pleased that my "tip" to the County Executive resulted in action. I hope other citizens will follow this example and share their good ideas with County Executive Hein.
Defeated army's flags don't fly
It was an absolute outrage and irresponsible of [Saugerties Times] and Ulster Publishing Company to devote four pages over two issues devoted to the rantings and propaganda of this racist Tea Party supported by multi-million dollar companies.
Right now, Americans for Prosperity (the backer of the right wing Tea Party) and other far right conservatives, are pushing a program to re-segregate schools in Raleigh, North Carolina. They are nothing more than racist thugs.
What is the position of the racist Tea Party on federally-funded veterans' healthcare supported by the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Viet Nam Veterans of America - fundamentally all veterans' organizations? Their healthcare is in fact a form of "socialism" as is Social Security.
Are they for dismantling Social Security? What about libraries and ambulances and other public services fun by governments?
If the Tea Party held a rally in front in front of our Veterans Administration hospitals, what do you think the response of our veterans would be? It seems to me these individuals supported the grave cutbacks to veterans' healthcare enacted by George W. Bush while in the White House, which have been mostly overturned by President Barack Obama.
And treason? The last time I checked the Confederates lost the Civil War. As any militarist will tell you, defeated army's flags don't fly. New York State was always a Union state. I feel bad for Missouri that their wages are so low, that their property values are so low, that unions are practically banned there, but if a person wants to live somewhere like that, they could move there.
These whining crybabies who cry about "libelous statements" can forget about it. Not a court in this country will accept your case. But I challenge you Tea Party racists to take me for court. I am calling your bluff, boy.
Let the record show that we the people - Black and white, women and men, gay and straight, veterans, and all progressive-minded human beings will defend ourselves against any racist aggression from your element.
Member, Paralyzed Veterans of America
Tea Party chases imaginary problems
Thinking about the Tea Party reminds me of a lovely golden retriever my friend Mike had. That dog loved to chase bees and moths and such, and would bark and jump and snatch them off the walls. Thing was, though, those things are too small to reliably spot, so the dog would rely on Mike to point them out. Quite a team.
But then Mike took to pointing out bugs that weren't there. And that sweet dog would go into his great dance and attack the space where than bug was pointed out. And that would last and last and last and Mike kept telling him "get it boy!" Lots of fun.
And thus, the tea party: point at issues that aren't there, cry out that Obama is raising taxes (he isn't! he isn't! he isn't!) and you get the Tea Party, up in arms, barking at something that isn't there. (With Fox taking the role of Mike: get 'em!) These people bark like Mike's dog, salivate like Pavlov's dogs, and have a ball doing it, telling each other ghost stories about frightening tax increases they've seen, and busily topping each other. Lots of fun!
Tea Party Article Even Handed
I want to commend Woodstock Times for its recent article about the Tea Party. That article surprised me, because it was remarkably even-handed and respectful.
I'm not a member of the Tea Party, and I've never attended a Tea Party function. My personal political viewpoint is that I'm opposed to whoever is currently in office.
Predictably, The Times printed two absolutely vile letters ranting against the Tea Party last week. Those letter writers damned themselves with their own tactics.
Screaming "racism" at political opponents has become the standard, vicious tactic of the extreme left. Oppose the far left, and those morons will start screaming "racism!" This is the last refuge of the scoundrels of the far left.
I've read enough on both sides of the Tea Party issue to know that these letters contained numerous lies. One, in particular... that Tea Party members hurled a racial epithet at a black congressman... has been thoroughly rebutted by videotape of the purported event. That congressman has since backed away from his own claims.
These accusations of racism are particularly amusing in Woodstock because (a) this town is just about 100% white, and (b) a large percentage of the extreme leftist population of this town fled New York City precisely to escape the problems of living in proximity to minority communities. Screaming about racism in Woodstock is just plain dumb. Woodstock is a deliberately self-segregated community of white liberals. Is this racist? I don't think so. People have a right to freely associate.
As the word "racism" is now used by the extreme left it means: "Middle class white people have no right to advance their economic and political interests." That's about it. The extreme left encourages every other group to advance its economic and politic interests with a vengeance. The interests of middle class white people often are in conflict with those of black people. This is not racism. It's just a sad fact of life. The interests of varying groups are always in conflict. Our system of government was built in recognition of that reality.
I've got to give Brian Hollander credit. Congratulations on printing an honest, unbiased story about the Tea Party. The letters section of the Times is open to all, for good and bad. Some of the letters, like these race baiting letters, are pure venom. But, it's best to expose that viciousness to the daylight. The race baiting tactics are worn out and boring. When you use those tactics, you are really damning yourself. Beware!
BP - Beyond Petroleum?
The "Deepwater, Horizon" oil rig (where do they come up with these names?) exploded due to untested, paltry safety features, and now we, the living beings of the planet have to suffer the consequences. I think that the executives who benefited financially, should get out on the ocean and work this out, along with the plain working folks who are now trying to solve the problem that the billionaires created by successfully eliminating all regulations that we once had in this country.
The billionaires claim to be smart and seem to be, so let them put on some jeans and get down to it along with their workers. At least, they should be locked in a room, (with comfortable beds, food, etc.) and not come out until the well is capped. They should not go back to their offices to play the market and protect their wealth. I'm serious. If they are so smart, they should spend 24/7 listening to their underlings make their cases for or against domes, and other measures to contain the leak.
We don't even know the consequences of removing so much oil from under the ocean, and how do you like their new idea of injecting chemicals in the ocean, to disperse the oil into smaller pieces? That should make Dow and other chemical companies happy. President Obama said that the spill endangered the "heartbeat of the region's economic life." Has anybody thought about the danger to the "Heartbeat of the planet's survival?"
Sound a bit radical? OK. Maybe it is, but maybe it is not. If you listen to the Native Americans, who paid attention to the earth that they lived in harmony with, they believed that the earth is a living being. Is that so hard to believe, when you watch the trees and plants grow? When you watch the species live off the trees and plants and then die into the earth often to become rock and oil? I do not profess to understand the workings of the planet, what I do profess to know is that species come and go, and we are one of numerous species. Frankly, I fear for my species, although when I observe the leaders of our species taking us down their power hungry road, I sometimes wonder about us. I kind of liked the earth I was born into and wish we could keep it simpler, and stop believing that we can only live in 70 degree temperature, with one car per person living on far too many drugs.
Meanwhile, it seems more and more apparent that we have to be more active in the political arena. We simply must let those that continue to lead us understand that they must pay attention to our needs. With all the money that they spend on advertising and controlling the people's thoughts, we now have the internet and we still have cameras. If they see us out on the streets, like the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) seen on the last episode of the Bill Moyers show last week, they would simply have to pay attention to us. This group of intelligent people has managed to make its voices heard. However, they had to get together and volunteer some time in order to do it. If we continue to be lazy and sit back and watch episodes like the BP disaster, we will be deeper and deeper in the hole, (so to speak). Just a reminder: democracy is not a spectator sport.