Last week’s article on the Democratic Barn Dance contained an error. In a photo and a subsequent quote, a woman who accompanied attendee Paul Whittaker was identified as his wife, and a Republican. According to Whittaker, the woman is his mother, and her party affiliation was not discussed.
ART IS NOT EXPENDABLE My name is Joe Sinnott, a 1945 graduate of Saugerties High School and a professional illustrator for the past 60 years. At 83 years old, I am still working for Marvel Comics, Stan Lee and King Features Syndicate, and drawing Spider-Man for the Sunday newspapers. I feel that I am a good example of how important the art program is in the Saugerties School District. During the years that I attended, I took Representation 1 and 2, and Design 1 and 2, because it was my goal to someday make art my career in life. I was the art editor for the Saugerties Sawyer yearbook and was fortunate to be able to draw subjects of my choice for the yearbook and our school newspaper — The Ulsterette. My teacher, Ms. Spaulding, deserves much credit for encouraging me in my work and ambitions. After serving in WWII, through her encouragement, and my desire to do something in commercial art, I attended The School of Visual Arts in NYC. I know that today it’s much harder to get into art schools and colleges, and that it is a necessity to have high school art credits to apply to these schools. The creativity starts in the early years, and I have lectured for the children at Riccardi, Cahill, Grant D. Morse and Saugerties High School. Many Saugerties children have attended some of my lectures.
Of the many successful art students that graduated SHS, one example is Caitlyn Cox, a very talented 2009 SHS graduate, who is currently attending Ringling Art School in Florida. She illustrated two of my granddaughter’s novels and is on her way to becoming a big success in her field. I’d like to stress to the Saugerties School Board that art is not just a fun subject, but that it is a career choice for many, and without it, many talents will be wasted. I hope that they will consider reinstating the art program as soon as soon as possible.
EDUCATION FAIL YEAH! Saugerties school sports are saved. So what if 23, more or less, teaching positions were cut. Who cares if ACADEMIC classes are gone? YEAH, we have sports. Give me an S, an A, Y, oops, can’t spell Sawyers.
Jo Galante Cicale
TO FIX SOCIAL SECURITY, HAVE WEALTHY PAY FAIR SHARE
On the news this evening yet another “expert” said the only way to fix Social Security is to cut benefits. These people are so myopic they can see only one solution - cut benefits. What will it take to make these people realize that is not the solution?
Unfortunately, no one is looking at the problems with Social Security from the correct perspective. The Social Security and Medicare trust funds have been raided so many times by the government and the money has never been replaced! In fact, the trust funds became “petty cash” whenever money was needed for whatever purpose and it was not “politically correct” to get it from any other source. The government needs to stop raiding the trust funds!
But aside from that, we should keep in mind that the maximum amount of FICA taxable income is $106,800. Those who make more than that only pay taxes on that amount. That number hasn’t changed since 1990. The total FICA tax collected is 7.65 percent (6.2 percent tax on wages, 1.45 Medicare tax).
What about raising the cap, or better yet, removing the cap for both wages and Medicare now?
Right now the maximum contribution made to the Social Security trust fund from wages is $6621.60 per year. People in the high wage brackets can pay that from the first paycheck of the year (or at least in the first month of the year) and not pay another dime in FICA tax on wages for the balance of the entire year. But they sure file for Social Security when they retire!
The wage cap of $106,800 was good for 1990, however, it is far out of date in today’s financial picture. There are many, many people who make well over that amount today. Leaving the tax rate the same if the cap was raised to $500,000, a total of $31,000 per year would go into the SS trust fund. That’s a difference of $24,378.40. If the cap was raised to $1,000,000, a total of $62,000 per year would go into the SS trust fund — a difference of $55,378.40. Multiply that by the number of people in these wage brackets and the trust fund would soon be in a far healthier place.
I’ve tried to point this out to both senators and house members but no one listens! Heaven forbid the wealthy be asked to pay their fair share! Who would contribute to the political campaigns?
Time for us to begin making some noise and make the legislators look at the whole picture instead of continuing their myopic viewpoints and focusing their “fix” on the lower and middle class!
Reverend Blanche Duffy
SPEAK OUT AGAINST BARCLAY HEIGHTS DEVELOPMENT
I read with dismay the article concerning the Highland Cliffs building project planned for Barclay Heights. This project, which would add another 60 apartments at the end of Lamb Avenue, caused an uproar not too long ago with area residents who have had enough of the overbuilding and resulting overcrowding in the Barclay Heights area.
The most recent and quietly planned meeting was held by the Saugerties Planning Board on July 20, a meeting so quiet that the reporter didn’t know about it.
I am asking the residents of Barclay Heights to make every attempt to attend the next meeting planned for the third Tuesday of August. It’s possible that after that, a public hearing will be held, giving residents their last chance to speak about the project which will increase traffic in the area, possibly impact real estate values on Lamb Avenue, Birchwood Drive and Redwood Road and the area in general.
Please attend the meeting in August. Meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. at the Senior Center in Saugerties. Bring a neighbor or friend to these very important meetings.
Ulster County Legislator, District 4
LIBRARY BUDGET UPDATE The Saugerties Public Library is pleased to announce that there will be no increase in taxes for the first year in the renovated and expanded library on Washington Avenue. On September 2, registered voters of the town of Saugerties will be asked to vote on the library’s 2011 operating budget, and to elect three trustees to the board.
Due to diligent work on the part of the board and the director, Jessica Gonzalez, there will be absolutely no increase in taxes for the operating budget. This is quite a feat considering that the library will be more than tripling its physical space and adding many new programs and services when it opens in February of 2011.
Since May, 2008, when the community voted overwhelmingly to finance the renovation and expansion of the Saugerties Public Library, the board has worked towards opening a state of the art facility that is also affordable to maintain. All construction done at the library was planned with sustainability and energy efficiency in mind. Geothermal wells, energy efficient lighting, and green building materials will combine to make heating and electrical costs more affordable when the library reopens.
By stationing the library at the Saugerties Town Hall for the past year, taxpayers have won on all fronts. The money originally planned for renting a space instead went to make improvements at the Town Hall. In addition, the library used town employees to do much of the moving, which again saved the library, and the taxpayer, money.
The Saugerties Public Library Board of Trustees is painfully aware that the public has reached a saturation point tax-wise. For that reason, they are presenting a budget that includes no increases either in pay or benefits for workers. The number of new staff members will only increase by 1.5 permanent positions in 2011. This will mean that the current staff will be greatly increasing its workload at no increase in pay. This can only be done through their dedication and hard work under the leadership of director Gonzalez.
Please remember to vote at the library’s temporary location at the Saugerties Town Hall on Thursday, September 2 from 4-8 p.m.
Board of Trustees
Saugerties Public Library
WAY TO GO, HEIN
As a former employee of the Ulster County Tourism Office, I would like to congratulate Ulster County executive Mike Hein on his expansion of tourism in Ulster County.
I was employed with the county’s Office of Tourism starting in March 2000 until May 2004. During my first few months in the office, I presented an idea to then director, Peter Carofano, on establishing an “Ulster County Day” in which the Tourism Office would work with local tourism-related businesses and attractions to provide local residents with discounts to various museums, attractions and restaurants within the county. As a new employee to the office, I understood the importance of promoting the beauty of the area to out-of-towners, but what about promoting and encouraging local residents to enjoy what was in our own backyard? Unfortunately, my idea fell on very deaf ears and it was only a few months after I presented my idea that Dutchess County started “Dutchess County Day” and mirrored my exact idea.
When an individual lives in one area for their entire life, they begin to take for granted the beauty of their surroundings and the cultural opportunities that are available. I was one of those individuals and now that I live outside of New York State, I do miss the beauty of the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains and the cultural opportunities that are available.
Encouraging local residents to embrace the beauty of their home and to take advantage of what Ulster County has to offer seems to me a no brainer. There is a reason why so many people from outside of our area are traveling to Ulster County!
Kara Aiello Rudnick
END APARTHEID IN GAZA I participated in the demonstration by Hudson Valley Boycott Divestment Sanctions last Saturday on the Woodstock Village Green because though Israel has many great accomplishments to its credit, its treatment of the Palestinian people is not one of them. Though Palestinians fight back occasionally, they are essentially powerless (no F-16s, no Blackhawk helicopters, no missiles). The power is with Israel.
In Israel’s endless pursuit of land and resources, it has become an apartheid state with very definite separation and treatment of Palestinians. Its attacks on fishing boats and ships off the coast of Gaza certainly involve the fine large natural gas reserves off Gaza’s coast, which should belong to the Palestinian people. One of its tools for theft of Palestinian land and resources is its encouragement of settlements that are of course legal under Israeli law but illegal under international law. As US citizens and taxpayers we support all this with diplomatic protection of Israel against UN resolutions and with $8 – 14 million per day. The Israeli government cloaks itself with the PR of security, peace and democracy much like the US government hides its terrible treatment of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The non-violent resistance of the Palestinians and the good work of Israeli peace and justice groups have not been effective enough. These groups are under attack so many people who support human rights, justice and international law are supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) of Israel. Participants hope that as this movement continues to gain strength it will focus attention on these injustices and the financial bite will help support peaceful change — as it did in South Africa.
Ahava cosmetics, which are among the products we are boycotting, are made in an illegal settlement on stolen Palestinian land with stolen Palestinian resources with cheap Palestinian labor (cheap because of the oppression and control of the Palestinian economy by Israel) and should be boycotted. We are complicit in so many ways in the injustices by our governments. This is one way to say no.
Please go to www.hudsonvalleybds.org for more information. This information is very hard for people who love Israel to look at with an open mind and is frequently forced into the two extreme sides of support Israel right or wrong or you are an anti-Semitic terrorist trying to destroy Israel. There is a vast gray area between these two extremes that we must explore not only for ourselves but to protect Israel.
TANTILLO FOR COMPTROLLER The election season is approaching and I’m especially looking forward to supporting Fawn Tantillo this fall for Ulster County comptroller. This is a fairly new position in Ulster County, but a very important one. Fawn wants to be your watchdog and I know she would be great at it.
She is not only intimately familiar with Ulster County government, but also the people who work and live here. Her resume is long and laudable helping people in both the public and the private sector.
I hope you will join me in supporting her, not just because she’s my mother, but because she’s the best candidate for this position.
THE THREE SOURCES OF ENERGY
I have often sat reading some screed on this or that topic that involves “energy” and its glories and hazards. Nuclear energy, Marcellus shale drilling, solar collectors, wind farms, bicycling and even “eating locally” to save fossil fuel. While I applaud all the awareness-building and good intentions that “fuel” much of this writing and speaking and experimenting, I often cringe when I see well-intentioned types spouting so called scientific “facts” that are clearly ridiculous to bolster their points. While this practice might bolster, at least temporarily, excitement and even right action by the intended audience, it inevitably leads to confusion and “detours” from effective action.
I would like to provide a basic outline of sound information about energy that might be of help in deeply thinking through your passions to effective action.
For us here on earth, there are only three primary sources of energy: The sun, radioactive decay of elements in the minerals composing the earth and, to a lesser degree, gravity. OK, OK, for the purists among you, there is a fourth, rather trivial source from material such as meteors and cosmic rays raining continuously into the top of the atmosphere which does have a small, but detectable, addition to atmospheric energy.
All other so called “sources” of energy are really derived [or secondary] from these three. As an example, wind energy is derived from solar energy as sunlight heats part of the atmosphere while other parts are cooling, thus drawing warmer air up and drawing cooler air in near the ground. Tidal energy is derived from the changing gravitational attraction of the moon [mostly] and sun as the earth and moon rotate plus a small component from wind pushing the ocean waves around. Even the energy in fossil fuels, such as extracted oils, is really stored solar energy from photosynthesis many years ago.
I could go on and on about the complex ways these primary sources result in one or the other derived “sources,” but one particularly intense issue seems to illustrate the confusion well. “Geothermal” energy, which many see as good energy, is primarily derived from the exact same source as nuclear energy, which the same people see as somehow bad. And interestingly, there is another set of people who see them exactly the opposite. Nuclear is a good, non-polluting source [ignoring the “waste” issue] while geothermal is too diffuse and so is a waste of time. Both are primarily derived from the natural radioactive decay of certain elements in the earth. They are just delivered in different ways.
Which brings me to a different point. Usually the discussions around energy are not really, despite the words used, about the energy itself but about the way it is handled by humans. Thus, the nuclear debate is rarely about nuclear energy per se, but about how it is handled, both in its usable form and in the “side effects” such as waste handling. Similar debates about the complexities of tapping wind or tidal energy are appearing now as well.
Another aspect that is starting to get more attention in the various debates is the so-called “hidden” parts of the issues. For example, whether or not it is cheaper to eat locally grown foods than distantly grown ones. It is not hard to show that in some situations the energy [and fuel] used per carrot or tomato delivered is actually less for them grown in Chile than in New Jersey or North Carolina. That does not make them taste better or worse or more or less nutritious either way or better for neighboring farmers. It simply confuses the discussion if provably false “facts” are thrown in willy-nilly.
A second example of so-called “hidden” costs is the environmental effects of producing the raw materials needed to capture and distribute direct solar energy [much less the derived solar energy in wind]. The mining and transportation of silicon, iron ore, copper and the petroleum products, etc. used to set up such a system is hard to calculate, much less to integrate, into such a discussion but have no less a real impact on the environment.
Keeping these basic facts in you mind while advocating for this or that way of saving our planet and its environment can only help you to be more secure in your advocacy and thus taken more seriously in your arguments. Please try to advocate from a grounded place and you will have a stronger effect.