Making Strides Against Breast Cancer
I am proud to have been one of the approximately 10,000 people actively participating in the recent Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event at Woodbury Common. We worked hard to raise funds to battle breast cancer, and also to send a loud and clear message to our leaders in Albany and Washington, D.C., that we need their support to help people with cancer and those who may develop cancer.
I volunteer for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), which is the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society. My role at the event was to collect signatures on a letter that we will deliver to the governor asking him to allocate more of the funds gathered with New York State’s cigarette tax to help people quit smoking and to prevent others from starting. Funding for the Tobacco Control Program has been cut in half in recent years, making it difficult to provide quality support to many who may become addicted or are currently addicted to this deadly habit. The letter and message received enthusiastic support. I even heard from a smoker who signed the letter because she really needed all the help she could get to quit smoking. I hope the governor listens to the thoughts of the people who signed the letter.
Please help us bring our important messages to our government leaders. Please go to www.acscan.org and join our fight.
Cornwall Library vote
The library of today forms a much different role than the one of borrowing books to read and returning them. Not only have technology advances required the use of computers and microfilm readers, but programs of education continue where the classroom left off. These programs give young people the opportunity to learn in an exciting environment with visual aids provided by experts in the field of study. Adults can enrich their knowledge with speakers and teachers in any number of subjects. The library index of our Cornwall Local has been a great help to those doing genealogical research as well as research in topics relating to business, school, sports, etc. The Book Store is a bargain ad the Community Room is in constant use.
You might find programs such as these in other places, but you will surely pay a sum for the privilege. The library allows all children and adults the advantage of enhancing their wisdom free of charge. I am willing to pay my share so that others who may not have the chance to enjoy what our public library has to offer can do so.
Please vote YES for the Cornwall Library referendum on November 18, so the necessary improvements can be made for the benefit of the increased usage our library continues to have.
Kiryas Joel annexation a local issue?
Some claim that the Village of Kiryas Joel annexation movement is a local issue. Yet I am confident that certain officials from the towns of Blooming Grove, Chester, Highland, Newburgh, Tuxedo and Warwick will beg to differ.
Look at what happened in Rockland County and also look at the current financial state of their County government. Our Sullivan County neighbors in the Village of Bloomingburg are in a similar fight trying to preserve their beautiful and quaint little village. High density housing, unless the residents are financially self-sustaining and not dependent on any public assistance, is an expense to all of us. This is clearly a county-issue because we all will pay. I therefore applaud the efforts of the grassroots United Monroe organization. Their fight is our fight too as this could very well happen in your backyard.
Orange County is claiming a huge deficit, just how large the deficit remains to be seen. What kind of deficit will Orange County government encounter if Kiryas Joel were to double in population?
Elected officials need to stand up and fight for all of us. Do not sell us out for votes by turning a blind eye or a deaf ear. Legislation needs to be enacted in Albany to ensure that the rules are being followed by all. In spite of all the election year rhetoric, I believe that this annexation in its part, will be counterproductive to all the promises being made to make New York once again the Empire State.
Blooming Grove budget
The proposed 2015 budget for the Town of Blooming Grove projects a tax increase on town residents of almost four per cent and nothing to show for it. A prime example is the budget for the town's recreation program. The projected expenditures (which are usually paid by fees charged by the program) for 2015 are the same as in 2014. No commitment to new programming or expansion of existing programs or staff. In fact the Town Supervisor is rumored to be attempting to reduce the amount of indoor space currently available for programming.
In contrast, the Town of Wallkill recently celebrated the opening of a new indoor facility in their town to accommodate more indoor winter programming. Instead of trying to "pinch pennies" by cutting existing facilities the town board members in Wallkill completed a plan to increase their indoor space and the opportunities for young people to have more recreation available to them in the winter months.
It's time the residents of Blooming Grove demanded more from their elected officials than just raising taxes every year and then sitting on their hands and doing nothing to enhance services to the public. Next year we need to concentrate on electing people to the town board who will show some leadership and initiative. You hire accountants to keep the books and pay the bills. You elect public officials to provide leadership to help the community grow and prosper.
Dutchess County Airport
Dutchess County Airport (DCA) is an asset and a key transportation resource with considerable economic benefit to Dutchess County. While the airport has operated at a deficit for many years, there are very positive signs that it has turned the corner.
Last month, the County Legislature voted on a resolution 2014202 authorizing the County to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) to hire an outside vendor to manage the airport. As a 3-year member of the Airport Advisory Committee, whose purpose is to analyze and evaluate the future use and development of the DCA to assist the County Legislature in its decision-making process, I am concerned that the County is rushing this process without input from both the Committee and those citizens who live near the airport.
A feasibility study conducted in 2013 did not include the increase in revenues from gas sales at the airport. And the financial numbers used in the study were not up to date. Allowing a private Fixed Base Operator (FBO) to operate our airport could have very negative effects on its operation. Using other nearby airports as examples, anytime a monopoly exists, the users are not well served. Prices rise and service falls.
Selling the airport is not a viable option. According to the 1947 deed signed with U.S. War Assets Administrator, selling the airport outright requires a vote by Congress permitting us to do so. It would require us to pay back millions in FAA grant money since Airport Improvement Program funds require an airport to remain so for 20 years from receipt.
It is important to remember that many other modes of transportation used in Dutchess County require subsidies; rail, roads and buses to name a few. What is important to note is the airport’s trend for self-sustainability in the short term. Fuel loads have increased because of competitive pricing. Hangar space should be expanded and can be done with private investment, but only with the addition of municipal water to the field. An investment in the water system would lead to an increase in economic activity more quickly than any other single issue and has already been approved by the state through a consolidation funding application.
I am not convinced that bringing in an FBO will significantly improve the financial status of the airport nor do I believe that privatization is the proper response, especially when the County has not proven that outsourcing equates to improved financial outcomes hence the Stadium and the Loop Transit System. Additionally, outsourcing will make it more difficult for residents to obtain timely resolutions to issues that arise.
The feasibility report is a wonderful tool to add to the Airport Master Plan, the Airport Business Plan and the DPW Ten-Year Special Report. We must not solely rely on the feasibility study which is why, moving forward, I ask the legislature to become fully informed on the consequences of outsourcing the airport and consider hiring an independent aviation attorney as a checks and balance to the executive branch similar to when we go over our yearly budget reviews.
Dutchess County Legislator - Dist. 14
Enough is Enough
The unbelievable saga of the Orange County Government Center continues with no real end in sight. We have lost count of the number of endless debates, studies and plans that our Legislature has undertaken since it was “temporarily” closed over 3 years ago. In fact, the Legislature has voted to rebuild and expand the building but, not surprisingly, has not followed through.
Now our Legislature has yet another new plan. They want to sell the building. Life does not happen in vacuum as the Legislature seems to believe that it does. Their ineffective decision-making and complete disregard for their respectful and gracious host community has caused the Village of Goshen to suffer far too much.
So as you yet again debate the fate of the Government Center, we would remind you and any potential buyer to carefully review the zoning laws of the Village of Goshen, which you can find in our Village Code on our website at http://www.villageofgoshen-ny.gov. It is in an Office/Business zone. We suggest that the zoning laws be incorporated into any potential RFP so that any prospective buyer understands what can or cannot be built on the land. There will be no housing, no mixed use and no use that will compete with our already struggling downtown businesses.
We are gravely concerned that the proposed RFP will only result in additional significant delays and more stumbling blocks. Bidders will have months to submit their bids and then there will undoubtedly be a lengthy review process by consultants and experts. All of this will need to occur before the Legislature even begins their own review. This will certainly be followed by even more debate while the Village of Goshen continues to suffer. There is no guarantee that any of the bids will present a viable use of the building which will only serve to bring us back to square one. Enough is enough.
Now is the time for our Legislature to show the residents of the Village and all residents of Orange County that it has the ability to follow through and to stop sending the message that they simply vote for sake of voting. Rebuilding and expanding the building provides the best alternative to predominately preserve the architecture of the building while providing the additional space that is needed to consolidate the County Government under one roof, including additional courtrooms as mandated by the Office of Court Administration. Stop the endless debating and grandstanding. Show us that you can actually lead.
Edward Char, Deputy Mayor, Village of Goshen and Kyle Roddey, Mayor, Village of Goshen
Oil Trains: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Railroad workers call them "bomb trains" and they pass through our towns and villages every day. Trains carry Bakken crude oil from North Dakota and other hazardous chemicals over the rail lines located along the Hudson River using DOT-111 tanker cars notably passing through New Windsor, Cornwall, Highlands, and Stony Point. Compared to several other leading types of crude oil, Bakken crude oil is volatile, highly flammable, toxic and corrosive. As someone who spent his career helping to mitigate the impact of disasters, I’m concerned with the danger of this crude oil leaking or igniting and causing destruction in the event of a train derailment. It is a reality that can’t be ignored, especially when there is evidence of such instances occurring. Over this past year alone there were four derailments in the US and Canada resulting in loss of life, explosion or oil spills.
What can be done to make sure such a disaster never occurs in our community? The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has pressed the owners of DOT-111 cars, including oil companies, to retrofit existing cars with additional safety features. But this may not be enough because even with improvements to these train cars, the chance of a spill and explosion during a derailment is still very high. If elected to the NY State Assembly, I will push for the following solutions:
1. Sponsor legislation banning all non-retrofitted DOT-111 tanker cars carrying Bakken crude oil from New York railroads traveling through heavy residential areas.
2. Advocate for a new train tanker car that is designed from the ground up to avoid exploding or rupturing during a derailment. Oil companies who profit from shipping their product through this region should share in the cost of a new tanker car design that will address the underlying safety issues.
3. Utilize existing technology that can provide information on the contents of each rail car as it enters a town and make that information available to local fire departments immediately when responding to a train derailment.
4. Provide state funding for creating town/village disaster mitigation plans and enhanced training of fire departments on train derailment response.
Taken together, these modest proposals would safeguard our community against an unfortunate event. Unlike career politicians who simply complain about a problem, I believe in understanding the issues and creating common sense solutions.
Candidate for New York State Assembly
Dutchess County Jail Workgroup
We are concerned that the meetings of the Special Populations Workgroup established by the County Executive to plan for the new jail remain closed to the public. This is the most critical workgroup to provide a foundation for reducing recidivism and ultimately the number of individuals housed at the jail. No credible explanation has been provided for closing the meetings.
Since 2008, the number of social workers at the jail has been reduced from three to one. People in the transitions program receive significantly less counseling. Allocating only $150,000 of the projected savings from bringing the offenders back to Dutchess County to programs suggests a lack of genuine commitment to reform.
We believe that during this planning time, every effort should be made to find effective treatments for people with mental illness and/or substance abuse issues, and to reduce the steadily increasing length of stay, which has cost taxpayers millions without any quantifiable increase in public safety. If programs are working, expand them. If new programs are needed, start them. Review the entire process from arrest to sentencing and work with the police and the courts to keep low-risk offenders out of jail in the first place.
The size might be smaller and the configuration of a new jail facility might be different if such a plan is followed, resulting in both more enlightened treatment of offenders and a significant saving for Dutchess County taxpayers. Open meetings and public involvement are critical.
President, Dutchess Democratic Women’s Caucus
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