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Albany Corruption: Skelos and Serino

Although troubling, it was unsurprising to see another corruption scandal rock the halls of Albany. This time, it was Long Island's Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos: he faces charges of bribery, extortion and misuse of public position, among others. Perhaps more troubling is just how much time, money, and attention Mr. Skelos placed on the Hudson Valley during the 2014 elections, choosing current State Senator Sue Serino to run and funding her campaign with special interest money along with $10,300 of his own. The most troubling part of all? It took days for Sue Serino to ask for his resignation - which only came after mounting political pressure. The move was disingenuous, as she joined her colleagues anyway in blocking a vote to force Skelos out on the Senate floor. How can we expect true representation from Serino when she is so beholden to her downstate campaign donors?

Brian Kelly
Red Hook
(May 19)


Family of the Year awards dinner


On April 23, Family Services hosted the 28th annual Family of The Year Awards Dinner which recognizes those individuals who have made significant contributions to the community and whose ideals reflect those of Family Services.

Harold and Elayne received the Lifetime Achievement Award for their tireless dedication to improving their community. Since their 1956 arrival in the Hudson Valley, they have been strong supporters of the arts, education and more.  Their combined efforts and leadership have served and led many organizations – including but not limited to Poughkeepsie City Schools, Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum, Mill Street Loft, Arts Mid-Hudson and the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill.

Bill and Jane Austin & Family received the Quality of Life Award for their work to improve the lives of those around them. Their value of community is clearly evident through their commitment to and efforts on behalf of many organizations and non-profit human service agencies.

Over 300 local community leaders attended the event, recognizing the positive impact Family Services has on our community. We extend our heartfelt thanks to Presenting Sponsor, Health Quest; Platinum Sponsor, NFP and Gold Sponsors, Central Hudson, Marshall & Sterling Insurance, MidHudson Regional Hospital of Westchester Medical Center and Rhinebeck Bank. We thank Media Sponsor, IHeart Radio and the many businesses, organizations and individuals who supported the Family of the year Awards Dinner through sponsorship, gifts and in kind donations.

Thank you to all who enable Family Services to continue its legacy of more than 135 years of providing hope, improving lives and strengthening community to over 9000 individuals each year. On behalf of the Board of Directors, we salute you.

Paul Haering, Board Chair
Family Services
(May 11)


No Stewart’s gas station in Wiccopee

Attention East Fishkill residents, Fishkill residents, and aquifer - watershed advocates, Stewart’s Shop wants to build a gas station in the Historic Hamlet of Wiccopee. Contrary to rumors this is NOT a done deal. They have NOT purchased the property to date.

We are asking for your help to tell the town, AGAIN, that we do not want nor need a gas station in this Historically sensitive and environmentally critical area. Stewart’s wants to put thousands of gallons of gas on top of a major aquifer that residents in East Fishkill and Fishkill depend on for water, water that IBM/Global Foundries depend on for manufacturing, and feet away from Bloomer Brook, a tributary of the Fishkill Creek Watershed.

The idea of a gas station here flies smack in the face of any pretense that East Fishkill cares for Historic preservation, wetlands protections, and aquifer and water protection. It is a terribly inappropriate site for this project.

Be a supporter by visiting www.wiccopee.org to contact our elected officials and tell them NO to this project. There will be a public hearing, check website for date. PLEASE ATTEND! Stewart’s has a pattern of items appearing late on board agendas and sometimes suddenly removed. Visit www.wiccopee.org for updates and news. Sign up for email alerts. There’s a list of “things you can do to help”.

Ten years ago you told them NO, please help us tell them AGAIN – NO STEWART’S GAS STATION in Historic Wiccopee Hamlet.

Ann Bell
Wiccopee Hamlet, East Fishkill
(May 11)


Violence against women

Everyone has the human right to live free from violence. Yet violence against women and girls is one of the world’s most pervasive human rights violations, with one in three women worldwide experiencing it in her lifetime. That is millions of women every year.

This is a human rights crisis of epidemic proportions. Violence knows no national or cultural barriers and comes in many forms, occurring everywhere from Egypt to India to California in the form of rape, acid attacks and murder.

Part of the solution to this epidemic is the bipartisan International Violence Against Woman Act (IVAWA), a bill that would make ending gender-based violence a top US diplomatic and foreign assistance priority by improving and better coordinating the efforts and programs that already exist across the US agencies that do work overseas.

Representatives Chris Gibson has demonstrated that he cares just as much as I do about ending this global epidemic by co-sponsoring IVAWA in the House of Representatives. I urge all of Rep. Gibson’s constituents to thank him for his support and urge him to push for passage of this bill.

Nicholas Crocitto
Legislative Coordinator, Amnesty International, Mid-Hudson Valley Chapter
New Paltz, NY
(May 11)


Right to vote in Blooming Grove

The recent attempt by the current Supervisor in the Town of Blooming Grove to deny voters the opportunity to vote for local officials including town clerk, tax collector and highway supervisor is an outrage. Mr. Fromaget says his motive was to "save money". Does he really think voters are that stupid?

Voters will have their chance to respond to this arrogance with their ballots in September.

Maybe Mr. Fromaget should explain to veterans and their families why he tried to take the right to vote away from Blooming Grove residents,

Larry Delarose
(May 11)


Critical of Skoufis

The dictionary describes an extremist as “a person who holds extreme or fanatical political views, especially one who resorts to or advocates extreme action.” This definition matches Assemblyman James Skoufis and his current harmful actions to the detriment of New York women and children.       

Assemblyman Skoufis is the regions leading proponent of the WEP candidate pledge, an effort to block passage of critical legislation. Among the current bills the Assemblyman is blocking is legislation requiring equal pay for women. He is also standing in the way of enacting bills ending workplace related discrimination, including against pregnant women.  Assemblyman Skoufis is even denying passage of increased protections to combat sexual harassment and domestic violence.
It is hard to understand why any politician would willingly prevent passage of these critical measures. In Assemblyman Skoufis’ case it is to ensure the passage of extreme abortion legislation that would compromise the health of New York women and children.

This legislation includes allowing non-doctors to perform abortions, allowing late-term and partial birth abortions right up to the moment of birth, and removing criminal penalties for those who illegally perform abortions and hurt women.

In our era of great achievement and modernization it’s unfathomable that Mr. Skoufis is advocating for a reduced standard of care for women, creating serious health and safety consequences.

These tenets of extremism that the Assemblyman is seeking to make law in New York go beyond all sense of human decency. Across most of the modern world the plans Mr. Skoufis endorses are rejected as beyond the norm of acceptability.

As energy is being exerted to pass such extreme measures, working women across New York are earning just 77 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. Little girls, like my daughters and granddaughters, across New York State are rightfully told to work hard and dream big; because there is no barrier they cannot break. Yet my Assemblyman seeks to hinder that reality so he can play extremist politics. 

I cannot help but feel unrivaled disappointment in how my Assemblyman is using his elected position. Mr. Skoufis is not representing the women in my community or in New York State by blocking legislation critical to us solely as a means to achieve dangerous extremes.  

All residents of New York, especially in Mr. Skoufis’ district, deserve better. It is time we demand he stop putting his extremist interests before those of all women and children.

Faye Anson
(March 24)


State budget and TAP

The finish line for the state budget is voted on April 1st.  In order to meet that deadline, the NY Senate and Assembly will probably advance their own budget plans and then conference to work out their differences while they negotiate with the Governor. Just within these next few weeks!

There is a severe problem with the Governor's budget plan. He will not include money for TAP (Tuition Assistance Program) unless the legislature approves college financial aid for undocumented immigrants and tax credits for students attending private and parochial schools. This means TAP could potentially be eliminated ($1 billion in aid for over 300,000 New York college student recipients)! To eliminate TAP is to make higher education even more unaffordable and unaccessible, which will hurt New York.

It is imperative to act now. Contact your Senator (www.nysenate.gov) and Assemblymember (assembly.state.ny.us/mem/)today and tell them that they must reject the Governor’s budget plan to put TAP at risk. Instead, urge them both to protect TAP awards and approve TAP aid for undocumented immigrants. Let your voice be heard with the issues that matter!

Alexis Polokoff
SUNY New Paltz
(March 24)


Raising the smoking age

Your recent report on Westchester County’s attempt to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21 is exciting news in improving the health of young people within the county.  As a Tobacco Cessation Specialist, this is great progress in the mission of preventing tobacco related diseases and deterring young people from beginning an addiction that can follow them through life. 

A new study funded by the American Cancer Society has found that smoking’s toll on health is even worse than previously thought.  The study identifies five additional diseases attributed to smoking including infection, kidney disease, intestinal disease cause by inadequate blood flow, and heart and lung ailments recently linked to tobacco use.

With new tobacco products being marketed to youth every day, raising the age of smoking will be a powerful deterrent in the mission to prevent young people from starting.  Congratulations to the POW’R Against Tobacco team, American Cancer Society’s Mike Burgess and American Lung Association’s Mike Seilback for their hard work, dedication, and continuous efforts for healthy living.

Leilani Lockett
Program Manager-Center for a Tobacco Free Hudson Valley
White Plains
(March 7)


A wakeup call

You may have heard of the current battle going on in the Town of Monroe over a 507 acre annexation request by the Village of Kiryas Joel.  This land, currently zoned rural-residential as part of the Town of Monroe, if annexed, will be reasoned to accommodate high density, multi-family units. While Monroe is "ground zero" in this situation, please be aware that this proposed annexation will have a tremendous impact on all those living in the Hudson Valley.

The Village of Kiryas Joel will essentially double in size.    There will be a population explosion with a huge migration to the area.  Currently, as reported in Chris McKenna's Times Herald Record article on June 5, 2014, 93% of Kiryas Joel residents receive Medicaid in addition to other social services.  A doubling of those numbers will place a greatly increased financial burden  on all Orange County residents.

The explosion of traffic and congestion that this large increase in population will bring will affect us all as we traverse the county.

County Executive Neuhaus (who received the Kiryas Joel bloc vote in his election), has already launched a study to build a new sewer line  and treatment facility in New Windsor to accommodate the projected large growth in Kiryas Joel.  The cost for this project, estimated at more than 100 million dollars will become another burden for all us Orange County tax payers.

The environmental effects of clear cutting and building high density housing on these 507 acres will upset the natural ecosystem and displace the current wildlife including Timber rattlesnakes, bald eagles, black bears, deer and hawks

In Monroe, we have formed a grassroots organization, United Monroe (unitedmonroe.org) and a non-profit organization, Preserve Hudson Valley (preservehudsonvalley.org).  Please visit these sites as well as United Monroe's Facebook page  ( https://www.facebook.com/UnitedMonroeNY ) for the latest information.  Also, contact your elected officials (including County Executive Neuhaus and County Legislator Paul Ruszkiewicz) and urge them to vocally oppose this annexation.

This is not a "Monroe issue". This proposed annexation , should it be approved, will greatly change our quality of life in the beautiful Hudson Valley and will surely increase the costs to all Orange County tax payers.  Please pay attention to this issue and spread the word.

Gretchen Pollack
(February 26)


Thank you for the snow removal

I have been at my place of business at 990 South Lake Boulevard in Mahopac for almost 20 years now.  I have been in contact with Mr. David Keith of the Putnam County Highway Department since 2005 when I sent a letter complimenting the department and telling him what a good job they were doing.

But I have to tell you that this year we had a snowstorm on Tuesday, January 27 and when I arrived at my shop, there wasn’t even a shovelful of snow to be found in front or around my shop. The highway crew again did a great job in making it possible for customers to Park on Route 6N therefore making it possible for us store owners to continue to do business. Mr. Keith and his crew at the Highway Department have an impeccable record for getting the job done!

Jimmy Dee
(February 26)



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