How many times a year does this happen? A police officer sees a car ahead, speeding and swerving down the road. He pulls him over, expecting God only knows what from the citizen behind the wheel. The driver pulls over, the officer gets out and cautiously walks to the driver’s window. The officer smells something peculiar -- definitely not Old Spice -- but a smoky aroma definitely not from Marlboro Lights, either. What do you know -- it smells just like marijuana. The officer decides to have a look around and, upon closer inspection, finds marijuana in the vehicle. Let’s turn this into a math problem so we can apply a real-world situation to make our learning more meaningful:
Speeding + Marijuana = X
X = Big Trouble
This makes sense, but in New Paltz, this isn’t necessarily the case. I mean, if it were you or I driving the car, it would be plausible and the answer most assuredly would be “Big Trouble.”
Let’s factor in who was behind the wheel and then we’ll show our work New Paltz Style:
Driver (Speeding + Marijuana) = X
Driver: Don Kerr, President of the New Paltz Board of Education
Speeding: yes (60 mph in a 45 mph zone)
X = Peanuts: $300 fine + 5 points
Here’s the work:
DA Holley Carnright (did we really elect him?) drops the drug charges.
Outcome: Welcome back to the New Paltz School Board, Mr. President! In our New Paltz spirit of acceptance and helping out our fellow man, let’s put this behind us. The community and the kids will swallow this pill. Hey, I know we preach “no drugs” and support the DARE program, but we all make mistakes. It’s time for a group hug!
Much of our community has been dumbfounded over the irresponsible “leadership” the board has asked us to accept. We’ve been asking ourselves, “What are they thinking over there?” Obviously, we’ve simply been asking the wrong question, because they aren’t thinking at all. The correct question is, “What are they smoking over there?”
Thanks, Don, for finally giving us a straight answer.
And thanks to the New Paltz School Board for being so consistent. I know I can always count on you to make the wrong decision.
Vote to be done with them
Well gang, much has happened since we last spoke. BP has maybe capped the oil spill -- and New Jersey has maybe capped some of its budgets. And the people of New Jersey (in the first poll on their new budget cap) said the whole cap thing was a pretty useless piece of---legislation (also that other piece of thing).
And, after 20 or so years of fumbling around with property tax reform, Albany fumbled again. Surprise! To paraphrase Lyndon Johnson -- they can’t find their butts with both hands.
Our quality of life is ever more imperiled by the increasingly large money gap between the productive -- you -- and the parasitic -- the uber-rich hierarchies dominating finance, education, industry and politics.
We’re not talking about the people who actually do the work; we’re talking about the big bosses who just cash in on it. They make the rules and they don’t pay their share in taxes for a civil society and good public services. Ergo property taxes escalate ruinously. Considering that all these hierarchies continue to fail spectacularly -- big oil, big banks, big companies -- it boggles the mind that the big bosses continue to reap all the monetary rewards.
The Albany pols decided not to pass needed tax reform because the uber-rich might leave Park Avenue for Pascagoula. As if! And the “have-a-lots” and their political henchmen are again blaming the rest of us for the dismal economy -- workers, elderly on medicare, families getting an assist with their medical bills, teachers, nurses, firefighter’s unions.
If only we all give up our services, social security, living wages, medical care and, oh yes, if we continue to pay devastating property taxes, all will be well with the super-rich hierarchies and therefore -- by extension -- the politicians they own.
There you have it -- the bible according to Albany.
If you have a lot (the billionaires in the National Racing Association got $25 million of taxpayer money for goodness sake?!!) Albany will make sure you get more...and if you have a little, (middle class families) they’ll make sure you have less when they’re done with you.
Or we COULD vote to be done with them...all of them.
Thank you, New Paltz The New Paltz Fire Department would like to extend our gratitude to the community for its support of our pancake breakfast earlier this month; your patronage is greatly appreciated. While a majority of the operating costs for our dedicated, all-volunteer fire department are incorporated in New Paltz’s taxes, unfortunately there are some provisions not included in our budget -- despite their critical importance. The membership must resort to fundraising and/or community outreach in order to make up for the deficiency of necessary capital. We hope you will join us for our next pancake breakfast, which will be held at the New Paltz Community Center on August 15, with the doors opening at 7:30 a.m. and closing at noon.
In addition, we would like to recognize New Paltz Town Supervisor Toni Hokanson -- as well as many of our current, past and life members -- for all of their assistance. Ms. Hokanson and others went above and beyond in volunteering their time and effort. Praise is also owed to those who were kind enough to provide donations. Thank you, your generous benevolence does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.
New Paltz Fire Department, Inc.
Taking one for the team? Before writing this letter, I did reach out to Don Kerr directly to speak with him regarding the news of the past two weeks. For Don, the matter is closed and he has nothing more to say. For Don Kerr, the private citizen, I am happy for him. For Don Kerr, the current school board president, I am outraged.
In the district handbook, on page 226 it states: “The Board of Education, recognizing that students are often influenced by teachers and other members of a school’s staff, impresses upon staff members the importance of maintaining a high level of professionalism appropriate to their position, which, in turn, shall set a positive example for students.”
Don should set a positive example and resign from the board, that would be my definition of taking one for the team. He had the right to “vigorously contest” the charges and restore his good name. He states he would rather have fought toward his complete exoneration in the case. That is what he should have done. He could have declined the nomination and allowed the process to play out. Had he not accepted the nomination, there would not have even been a story here. The fact of the matter is he has failed as a role model as a school board member and now as the school board president.
Lastly, we teach our kids to be leaders and not followers. We teach our kids to take ownership for their actions. I have not once heard anyone say the glass pipe, .9 grams of weed, pot seeds, stems and roaches that were in his moving vehicle were not his. We have a zero-tolerance policy for our students and should expect the same from our school board, regardless of whose name is on the school board’s nameplate.
Please join me in attending the next school board meeting on August 18 at 7 p.m.
Do as I say, not as I do Do as I say, not as I do, seems to be the message that Don Kerr (President of the New Paltz School Board) is sending to everyone. Even though he is the one enforcing the idea of the D.A.R.E. program, which tells kids to never use drugs or they will get in trouble, he seems to think he is an exception. Is he trying to tell us that if we grow up and get an important job (in his case the President of the New Paltz School Board) we too, can smoke whatever kind of drug we want? I don’t remember hearing that in my fifth-grade D.A.R.E. classes.
Smoking marijuana is one thing to do, but another thing is driving 60 mph in a 45 mph zone. As for Don, God only knows what was going through his mind.
I may only be twelve, but I know enough to know when someone forgets their brain at home. That applies for not just Don Kerr, but also for Holley Carnright, who is proudly the one who dropped the drug charges. Because of this, we warmly welcome back Don Kerr to the New Paltz School Board... president, yet again. Whooo Hoooo. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if the D.A.R.E. program was all but forgotten about.
Just think where an average person would end up if they were caught doing these acts. Do you think they would still have their job? Do you think the drug charges would be dropped? And finally, do you think that they would be charged a mere $300?
I hope that when I grow up, I can be just like you, Don Kerr! And I also hope that I’ll have a friend as good as you Holley!
Alexandra Jacone, age 12
New Paltz Student
Spreading of the disease of anger and hatred
The strangest photo came to my mobile phone the other day: the image of a table festooned with the scathing image of the President with a Hitler-moustache and brash anti-Obama slogans on cardboard. The sender wrote, “Look what’s set up in front of the Post Office.”
I responded, “In GARDINER?!”
Later, I had reason to pass through Gardiner hamlet and indeed there was the table in front of the Post Office. My partner later registered our complaint with the Postmaster, who apparently could not chase the rude protestors away because the front yard of the Post Office is not under Federal control; it is a leased building.
I learned this morning we were not the only complaintants. Others registered their concern with the property owner who cited the First Amendment and expressed his support of free speech. Others simply avoided the Post Office. One woman stopped at a local shop and asked the shopkeeper if she would mail her letter, afraid and embarrassed to even walk by the table on her way to the post box. Another woman came to tears in the Village Market at the thought that she lived in a town with such people as these.
But they were not Gardiner residents making a political statement. Turns out the visitors are not even New York State residents. They were provocateurs from Pennsylvania. And their message was not political, it was hate-filled propaganda and nothing more. One Gardiner man compared the group’s message and methods to the Klu Klux Klan.
I’m a staunch supporter of our right to freedom of expression, but we all agree that freedom of speech ends at such as calling FIRE in a crowded theatre. Difficult as it may be to actually define it, there is a line we may not cross. These visiting racist demonstrators came to a small Hudson River Valley town and set up shop at its center to stir up emotions for no purpose but the spreading of the disease of anger and hatred. Thankfully, no one rose to their bait. But it is a shame when this kind of malevolence causes residents to avoid their mailboxes for fear of coming close to the message of these unwelcome visitors, lest the they become infected.
Stop and go
I’m writing to suggest that we remove most or all of the stop signs on Henry W. Dubois Drive. The signage on this short road is both inconsistent and unnecessary.
Recent studies have debunked the myth that stop signs increase safety. In general, these studies have found that unwarranted stop signs can make the roads more dangerous for both drivers and pedestrians and can also cost thousands of dollars in fuel (and even more in lost time, if you’d like to put a cost to that). It should also be obvious to everyone that they also cause hundreds or thousands of gallons of fuel to be dumped into the environment.
One good link I found on this subject comes from http://www.troymi.gov/TrafficEngineering/Multiway.htm. Here are its findings (edited by me), in brief:
1. Multi-way stops do not control speeds.
2. Stop compliance is poor...This is based on the drivers’ feeling that the signs have no traffic control purpose. There is little reason to yield the right-of-way because there are usually no vehicles on the minor street.
3. Before-after studies show multi-way stop signs do not reduce speeds on residential streets.
4. Unwarranted multi-way stops increased speed some distance from intersections. The studies hypothesize that motorists are making up the time they lost at the “unnecessary” stop sign.
5. Multi-way stop signs have high operating costs based on vehicle operating costs, vehicular travel times, fuel consumption and increased vehicle emissions.
6. Safety of pedestrians is decreased, especially small children. It seems that pedestrians expect vehicles to stop at the stop signs but many drivers have gotten in the habit of running the “unnecessary” stop sign.
In addition, there were points made about increased noise and the difficulty of enforcing compliance. And, according to one study cited, multi-way stops degrade air quality and increase CO, HC and Nox. All the starting and stopping at the intersection is bad for air quality.
Interestingly, some studies found that speed decreases when the stop signs were removed (see #4).
So in a nutshell, these signs are wasting fuel, wasting time, increasing toxins and increasing frustration...but not increasing safety and possibly making the road a bit more dangerous!
I should also note that there are a few suggestions from researches about maintaining safety without resorting to stop signs. Some of these, such as cutting back trees that reduce visibility around corners, seem quite doable along this road. Others, such as roundabouts, are either impractical, overly expensive or currently unnecessary.
But the simple solution is to remove the stop signs on Henry W. Dubois Drive and to put up signs on that road reminding drivers to be drive safely. We should either maintain the stop signs on the roads leading to Henry W., such as Duzine, or consider changing them to yield signs. These changes would cost virtually nothing and would help the community in many ways.
Making a difference
In today’s world with everyone rushing around and trying to get ahead for themselves, it’s refreshing to hear of younger people doing something good to help others. It gives us a sense of hope for our future. This year at the Ulster County Fair you will see two extraordinary young ladies doing just that -- trying to make a difference in the world today. Meghan Gibbons and Cece Campala will be showing in the gymkhana on Saturday, August 7 and will be riding wearing the colors for ovarian cancer in honor of Beth Davies, New Paltz High School guidance counselor who passed away just as the girls were starting their high school years. They want to raise awareness for this cause and help others know there are people who you may not even really know that make a lasting impact on our lives. Beth always encouraged students to follow their hearts and that’s what these two are doing. They will have information to hand out to anyone who asks, so look for them -- they’ll be the ones in teal. If you would like to make a difference, please contact: Doris T. Blaha, Oncology Support program of Benedictine Hospital, 105 Mary’s Avenue, Kingston, NY 12401; or call 339-2071, ext. 100.
Baseless hate messages on the streets of Gardiner
A group of people were demonstrating in front of the Gardiner Post Office demanding that we impeach President Obama. The USA permits freedom of speech within certain limits and their demonstration did not exceed those legal limits.
Nonetheless, they are offensive to those who believe our elected officials should be treated with respect. Public officials are bound to take actions which displease some people. Tolerance for different points of view is part of living in a democracy. President Obama has committed no impeachable offense. His actions have all been within the acceptable domain of American public service.
Their call for unjustified action is without understanding. It is disrespectful and unpatriotic. Everyone would be better off if they read some civics lessons at home rather than carrying baseless hate messages onto the streets of Gardiner.
Mark your calendars -- it’s cool to be green
Mark your calendars for a visit to the Ulster County Fair Tuesday to Sunday Aug. 3-8 and be sure to look for the Climate Action Coalition (CAC) booth. As we swelter in the results of global warming, we will be ready with New Paltz GreenWorks and the New Paltz Bicycle Pedestrian Committee to help slow it down. Our theme is: “It’s cool to be green” and we are ready to show you how to help cool the planet by lowering your carbon footprint. Bring the kids; we know how to make it fun for all ages.
There will be information about hydraulic fracturing (fracking), recycling/reusing, getting around without a car (biking, walking and taking county buses especially the UCAT Loop Bus) and other ways to save the planet. Learn about the fair at www.ulstercountyfair.com, GreenWorks at www.npgreenworks.org and the Bike/Ped Committee at www.townofnewpaltz.org under committees.
Our coalition meets every Thursday at New Paltz Village Hall, 25 Plattekill Avenue, from 5 to 7 p.m. Join us and be part of our efforts. Or call 255-0130. See you at the fair!
Climate Action Coalition
Request seems disingenuous
It is quite obvious that we need a hotel in New Paltz at the price point that the proposed Hampton Inn can provide. It is equally obvious that we cannot afford to give up any taxes that should be collected in order for this project to come to fruition.
That is why I applaud our Town Board members Kitty Brown, David Lewis and Jeff Logan for questioning the proposition that this project be granted county IDA bonds and construction tax exemptions. Because I see the need for this hotel (and perhaps even more hotels) in New Paltz, I have watched this process closely. I was undecided about the height variance requested by the Hampton Inn, but in the end chose to support it because of the location, the green design components and the early promise by the developers to forgo any requests for property tax exemptions. That is why, at this point, this request for IDA bonds -- which includes eligibility for property tax abatements -- seems very disingenuous. Is there still time to prevent this from happening? Will there be a public hearing on this issue? I hope so.
Endorsement for statewide Complete Streets initiative
The New York State Legislature is currently stalled in its deliberations concerning the passage of Complete Streets legislation. At its meeting of July 20, 2010, as part of its vision for a more bikeable and walkable New Paltz, the New Paltz Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee passed the following resolution:
WHEREAS the New Paltz Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee embraces a policy of equity for all users of streets and roads, which includes pedestrians, bicyclists, children, and people of differing physical abilities, and
WHEREAS easy and safe access to the street by the aforementioned stakeholders is the greatest and most efficient avenue toward a strengthened community, and
WHEREAS any movement toward human-powered transportation, whether on foot or on bicycle, is a movement away from the climate-changing use of motor vehicles, and
WHEREAS, historically, motor-vehicle traffic has been supported through hidden financial subsidies since the introduction of car and trucks in the early 20th Century, paid for by sales and property taxes, to the diminishment of allocation for pedestrians and bicyclists, and
WHEREAS the Ulster County legislature put our county in the forefront of local governments nationwide in embracing a Complete Streets policy, and
WHEREAS our committee supports the Complete Streets policy promulgated by Ulster County,
BE IT RESOLVED that the New Paltz Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee contact Senator John Bonacic, Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, Senate President Malcolm A. Smith, Senate Minority Leader Dean G. Skelos, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb to urge the Senate and Assembly to pass the current Complete Streets legislation and send it to Governor Paterson for signature, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the New Paltz Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee recommend to the New Paltz Town Board and New Paltz Village Board to enact their own resolutions for forwarding to the same elected leaders.
on behalf of the
New Paltz Bicycle & Pedestrian Committee
The poetry of Rich Rizzi
Just a quick note to thank you for publishing the Rich O’Corozine feature on Rich Rizzi (Thursday, July 22). I moved away from New Paltz a year ago for work and haven’t seen Rizzi for two years, but he continues to be one of the things I liked and miss most about the town. I believe I have referred to him in the past as one of the town’s great buried treasures. I’m back for a short visit and am so happy to see this piece that I have to send in my two cents.
What O’Corozine has captured is what I like most about Rizzi. Now I would probably not say this to Rizzi directly because I have too much respect for him to step on his buzz like this, but when I have seen him read, I have been disappointed. But I think this feature is a perfect example of why -- the poem you have published and those I have heard him read are nothing compared to the poetry of listening to Rizzi just talk. I read the Rizzi quotes from this feature aloud to my wife, emitting the “adds Rizzi” and intervening paragraph of biographical information; and we both found it so alive, so dynamic, so flowing, just like hearing him monologue. Please Rich (Rizzi), if you’re reading this, don’t ever stop doing what you love doing, but PLEASE let someone ALSO record you just talking and publish that. You are correct in that there is no disconnect from a poem on a page and the life we live, the words we speak, every gesticulation that accompanies us -- but, for me, so much of that is conveyed simply in your beatnik flow of everyday conversation. Poetry just flies out of your mouth, man, like so much spittle, unpracticed and accidental. Better yet, please, write or audiorecord your memoir. I would love to listen to that audiobook just to hear that flow. I never tire of hearing your stories, and, more importantly, I love hearing the WAY you tell them. I can hear your voice (not your tone or anything like that but your VOICE, your jazz, your spirit, your soul, your whatever) in your narrative, and it brings me great joy. Amen and thank you, brother!
Christopher Dana Lynn
Former Rifton resident now Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Activists help with U.S. boat to Gaza
News flash! Recently, both the New York Times and the Washington Post blogs carried news of activists raising money for a U.S. boat to sail to Gaza with the next international flotilla. I am proud to report as well that a number of those “activists” live right here in Ulster County and as part of the campaign, are holding a U.S. Boat to Gaza Fundraiser Party complete with music and speakers at the Colony Café this Friday, July 30. The fundraising party at the Colony starts at 7 p.m. and people will hear how the idea for a U.S. boat came about. The headline in the Washington Post read: “World news roundup: U.S. aid boat wants to sail to Gaza as ‘The Audacity of Hope.’” The name comes from the title of Obama’s second book. When asked by a reporter, one of the activists replied, “But if the name is a problem for the administration, it can simply insist publicly that Israel lift the siege: end of problem, end of embarrassment.”
An open letter to Bill Mulcahy
Oh, Bill, Bill, Bill...if nothing else, you do inspire me to learn more about Adobe Photoshop. With apologies to original artist William Merritt Chase (I note you don’t credit your source, Bill), I humbly offer my reply to your “parody collage.”
I also humbly offer this bit of advice -- you might want to learn something about our justice system before you rail against it. All New York town and village courts demand unanimous decisions in criminal misdemeanor cases. This is, in fact, the case in most U.S. jurisdictions. That is one way in which we try to prevent our communities from succumbing to mob rule; if there is even a small chance that the majority of a jury might be wrong, we don’t assume that they are right merely by virtue of being a majority.
Your passion, Bill, is noteworthy. However, I would be far more interested in your opinions if they were supported by knowledge and research, rather than by bias and personal grudges.
J. Robin Ward
Local residents take a fracking vacation
We are currently on vacation in Pennsylvania visiting sites where natural gas-drilling is taking place in a process called hydro-fracking, or fracking. As members of the Climate Action Coalition of New Paltz, we are collecting information to better understand the hazards that may occur if fracking is permitted in New York State, due to begin in the near future.
We were not prepared for the wrenching response, even though we’d read about fracking and seen the movie Gasland. Our first stop was at a fracking site in the middle of Pennsylvania farmland. As we drove uphill on a newly-installed gravel road, we were suddenly overwhelmed by the site of the 60-foot drill rig towering above us, with men climbing about. Below were trucks and machinery all moving noisily about the several-acre site. It was as if we’d landed on another planet.
Later, we toured lush, green state forest lands where fracking has been active for a couple of years. As we drove along newly-widened gravel roads, we encountered dozens of huge trucks loaded with water, pipes, chemicals and machinery, stirring up clouds of dust and nearly forcing us off the road several times. Every few miles, the forest had been opened up and scoured by a several-acre installation of well pipes and compressors -- hardly a wilderness area anymore.
On Thursday, July 22, we attended an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing near Pittsburgh to help them design a study of fracking to be completed in 2012. Fracking is taking place in the Marcellus shale region of the U.S., including Ohio and West Virginia, as well as Pennsylvania and New York where the DEC is in the process of issuing permits.
Twelve-hundred people attended the five-hour hearing that included 153 speakers. As the 150th speaker, Ann cited the concerns of the Climate Action Coalition over the effects of climate change on flooding and droughts. Because fracking uses millions of gallons of fresh water at each site, the negative impacts of fracking could be even greater.
When we return, we hope to use our new-found information to inform the work of the Coalition, in partnership with other groups across the state, to call for a moratorium until the EPA completes its study. Meanwhile, several moratorium bills are before the New York State Legislature, which has thus far declined to vote on the issue. For more information, the public is invited to attend Climate Action Coalition meetings at new Paltz Village Hall each
Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m.
Dan and Ann Guenther