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Letters to the Editor
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19th District candidates

Recently the name carpet bagger has been used to describe Sean Eldridge as he makes a bid for Congress in NY’s 19th district.  Eldridge only recently moved to the 19th district. 

As a native New Yorker, I am puzzled as to why this is an issue.  After all, New York has a long history of welcoming people, including politicians, to the state from all over the country and the world. It is one of the strengths of this state which has contributed to its stellar place in the history of the US.   Does anybody remember the campaigns of Bobby Kennedy and, more recently, Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg (from Boston of all places) and Bill deBlasio who was born in NY but raised in Cambridge, Mass. 

In addition to the local issues facing the Hudson Valley, members of Congress must also deal with national issues like the economy, immigration reform, extending benefits for the unemployed, cuts to the food stamp program, whether or not to raise the minimum wage, the national debt, and the unsettled situation in the Middle East.  The list goes on and on.  Isn’t it better to concentrate on the candidates’ stands on these issues than to be distracted by the issue of where a candidate was born and raised?  Shouldn’t Gibson be required to answer why his Republican party has obstructed votes on these issues?  Shouldn’t Eldridge be required to articulate how his election might change the grid lock in Congress? 

I urge all my fellow voters in the 19th district to pay attention to what the candidates say on these important issues and not be distracted by the trivia which frequently emerges in a close race.

Al Ragucci
Rhinebeck
(July 19)

 

"Educate United Water"

One resonant theme of the NYS Public Service Commission proceedings in Albany regarding United Water and Rockland County, is "Outreach and Education". The arrogant French-controlled utility lives in the same existential self-deception bemoaned by Sartre. United Water's Jersey middle-management operatives tell us that our opposition to desalination and rate-increases are a mere product of our own lack of edification on the topic of water. Infuriatingly, United Water even seeks to charge us rate-payers money, in the form of surcharge, to so "educate" us.

Yet look at their individual credentials. Discarded expatriates. Third-rate intellects. Industry hacks. Small-market toadies. And they want to teach us?

I have a better idea. Today Rockland County citizens launch our own "Outreach and Education" initiative - called "Educate United Water". This initiative teaches United Water management the difference between ethical and unethical. Safe versus unsafe. Charge versus overcharge. Fact versus fiction. Transparency versus concealment. "Educate United Water" teaches United Water to stop ripping off its customers with arcane schemes. To stop abusing rate-payers. To stop delivering inferior product. Moreover, the "Educate United Water" initiative will now instruct United Water in the manifold benefits, to them, of a hasty departure from the County of Rockland.

John J. Tormey III, Esq.
New York
(July 16)

 

What is Boehner doing?   

No to bank and Wall Street Reform; no to consumer protections; no to a Jobs Bill; no to investing in infrastructure; no to helping our kids get an affordable college education; no to universal health care; no to equal pay for our women for equal work; no to feeding our hungry; no to saving our environment; no to Immigration Reform, all of which hurt the Hudson Valley and our country.  The “House of No” obstructs anything that might serve the interests of the people who fought and daily strive to make this country stand for something better.

What is House Speaker Boehner doing?  By joining the Tea Party on the extreme right, who now control the Republicans Party, the Party of the 1%, he has sold us out!   Boehner lacks the “courage,” to lead the House on any issue that might serve Middle and Working Class Americans.  He is about “Politics,” doing whatever the Billionaire Koch brothers or “trickster” Karl Rove command, obstruct everything Obama and the Senate agrees on, bring a law-suite against the president for doing what he can to remedy the problems the House won’t address.

What happened to the Republican Party?  It used to be about American values, Christians caring about their countryman?  Boehner and the “Tea” curmudgeons are about the rich, who pull their strings and hope Americans will swallow media talking points hook, line and sinker. “Impeach the President!” He’s too Presidential!  No! Boehner needs to go!  He sold out “Republicans” and all America.

Randolph Hurst
Slate Hill, NY
(July 16)

 

Smith for Congress

My name is Scott Smith and I am seeking your support as an independent candidate for U.S. Congress, representing New York’s 18th district.  To appear on the ballot I must obtain over 3,500 signatures of registered voters within the district, and for that I need your help.  Please visit www.SendMrSmith2014.com/petitions for more information. 

The state of our current climate of politics compels me to run.  I am confident that many of you throughout the district share my frustrations and dissatisfaction.  I do not believe there has ever been a time in our history where both parties have so blatantly broken the public trust, abused our common sense, and insulted our intelligence. 

The major political parties have long dominated our politics and our governance from the edges and from there they continually claw at the middle doing greater and greater damage to our country.  To them it is an acceptable price to pay as long as it serves their ends, which are re-election and power.  Today’s politicians have become particularly skilled at one thing, dividing us.  On any number of issues they have sought to split us into groups.  These divisions do nothing to serve us, or the good of our country, only them.  We are constantly corralled by their efforts into opposing factions on all manner of issues.  Every election season the politicians push us farther apart.  This will inevitably lead to a point where we will be so divided that we no longer see each other for what we are, Americans, all of us.  We must correct this before the divide becomes insurmountable.

The ugly fact of the matter is that there is an “us” and a “them.”  The “us” is you and me, and the “them” is Washington, DC.  That must change. The people that serve in government must come from and live in the world that we live in, not the fantasyland that the politicians of the day inhabit.  We must begin to fill the middle and drag the edges back in.  Let that effort begin today. 

I am moved to act because I fear that decades from now our children will still be fighting the same arguments amongst each other, and all the while the Republican and Democratic parties will laugh at us as they continue to happily share the spoils of power.

If you have been seeking an alternative to the status quo, a choice other than Republican or Democrat, then I humbly offer you such an alternative.  Now is the time to take action. 

As a candidate, as your neighbor, and as your fellow American, I make the following commitment to you:

   I do not run to serve government.

   I do not run to serve party.

   I do not run to serve special interests.

   I do not run to serve myself at the trough of government excess.

   I run to serve you, my neighbors, the people of the 18th district, and the good of our country.

Scott Smith
Goshen
(July 3)

 

THE COUNTY IS NOT THE BULLY

For people who are asking the question why the County Executive’s Office has expended effort and legal funds in pushing for early lease negotiations with the Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) to concede its Kingston-Ashokan section to a higher economic and social use, the recent report on the condition of the U&D corridor, conducted by an independent engineering firm, should be one more answer.

The now-public report, with its devastating photographs, documents not only CMRR’s inability to live up to the requirements of rehabilitating a mile of track each year of the lease (which would be approximately 23 miles versus a documented only 4.7), but more disturbingly the deterioration that has and continues to occur to the publicly owned asset under the CMRR’s (lack of adequate) stewardship. .

In the same nearly 25-year timeframe that the CMRR has let large portions of the corridor deteriorate substantially due to inadequacies such as overgrown drainage ditches and inadequate maintenance of culverts, trails throughout the county have not only been maintained but have been developed and expanded--- demonstrating citizenry enthusiasm, documented economic development (e.g. $24 million in additional economic activity from the Walkway), and the attraction of state and federal funding to the area for alternative transportation infrastructure (over $9 million in grants for the Kingston Greenline, Catskill Mountain Rail Trail, and Kingston Complete Streets before construction has even started).

A reputable independent economic study projects over 34,000 active tourists and 100,000 local users annually for the conversion of the Kingston-Ashokan section of the corridor versus the railroad’s documented only 3,000 tourists and 1,000 local users.  Why is this even being debated?  The railroad’s insistence on clinging to its marginal Kingston operation until the last dog dies, while letting the corridor continue to deteriorate, represents the sacrifice of a public good serving the many, for the self-focused interest of a few. (It may be additionally noted that key CMRR officials and many of its most active supporters are neither Kingston, nor even Ulster County, residents).

The County Executive’s Office is not the bully in this scenario. Rather it is doing its job of representing the residents of Kingston and the County in protecting and most expediently accessing a valuable public resource for both high levels of recreational/health-oriented uses by its citizens, and for dynamic economic development along the corridor, and, by extension, throughout the entire county.

William Sheldon
Woodstock
(July 3)

 

Praises Amparo

As a resident of Dutchess County, I am happy to see that Dutchess County Legislator, Francena Amparo, has been organizing health and wellness fairs in the Wappingers Falls community.  Since elected into office, she has been committed to taking a more proactive approach to wellness for her constituents.

 Recently, the State Health Commissioner and dozens of local professional businesses gathered at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park to sign an important pledge. It promotes healthy eating at home, healthy behaviors, and encourages health care providers to provide quality preventative care, among other resolutions. This pledge is a serious commitment in the first step in having a healthier County.  I am glad the County is joining in as a whole to make health and wellness a priority in the County.

It is about time people wake up and realize our current health predicament.  With this inspiring and ambitious push from Legislator Amparo and the other elected officials, Dutchess County is well on its way to improving the health of its citizens and the County’s ranking.

Kishara Sonlin
Beacon
(July 3)

 

Supports Newburgh casino

Last week, Mayor Kennedy stood in front of a boarded up building and an overgrown lot to make the claim that the City of Newburgh needs a casino more than any other contender in the Hudson Valley/Catskills region. Today I write to backup that claim.

As a Newburgh native, who served both on the City Council and as Mayor from 1980 -1991, I have watched my city slowly decline over the course of the last 30 years. The Newburgh I grew up in was prosperous, a great place to raise a family. That Newburgh no longer exists. Now 28% of residents live below the poverty level and the city’s unemployment rate of 7.00% is one of the highest in the state. Hudson Valley Casino and Resort can help turn this around.

Hudson Valley Casino and Resort would provide Newburgh with the economic boost it needs. The casino is projected to bring 2,400 construction jobs and over 2,800 permanent jobs. These jobs could help reduce our unemployment rate, lower our percentage of people in poverty and raise overall morale in a city that has been beaten down. There is no better way to reduce poverty and crime than to give people good-paying, legal jobs.

In addition, money paid to the city through a revenue sharing agreement with the town will go toward local law enforcement and public safety programs and property tax revenue for the Newburgh Enlarged City School District can be put toward after school programs, keeping our kids off the street.

It is my belief that the money Hudson Valley Casino and Resort will bring to Newburgh is unprecedented in its potential to help turn our city around. In fact, this casino would be the most significant economic development project Newburgh and the region has ever seen, and it cannot come quickly enough.

Donald R. Presutti
Former Mayor of the City of Newburgh
New Windsor
(July 3)

 

Supports Serino

Congratulations to NYS Senate candidate Sue Serino for receiving the endorsements of the Republican, Independence and Conservative Parties.

Sue Serino is currently doing an outstanding job as a Dutchess County legislator, after having previously served with distinction on the Hyde Park town board. 

Sue Serino will be an outstanding NYS Senator who thinks independently and stands by her principles.    In particular, principles like: . . . sticking up for the taxpayer; . . . thinking smaller government is better government; . . . and defending the US Constitution. 

In addition, Sue’s victory in November will help preserve the slim Republican majority in the NYS Senate, . . . and prevent New York State from falling totally under the control of folks like Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver and Mayor Bill DiBlasio.

The future of New York State is very much at stake in this Senate race.

So, I strongly encourage all my friends and neighbors in Dutchess and Putnam counties to get behind Sue Serino’s campaign and vote for her for NYS Senate.

Bob Horton
East Fishkill
(June 23)

 

Eldridge and GMOs

Our area is clearly on the right track toward local and organic farming, with more emphasis on homegrown food. This movement is both to help our economy and to make sure our health remains sufficient, both physically and environmentally.

Local congressional candidate Sean Eldridge claims that supporting local farms is one of his main issues. I was astounded at the hypocrisy and blatant disregard for his so-called beliefs when I learned that Sean Eldridge has shown with his financial disclosures owns stock in all five of the top publicly traded GMO companies. Genetically modified organisms and engineering companies are corporate entities solely geared towards profit. Which it seems, is something they have in common with Eldridge.

Eldridge and his husband own stocks and/or bonds in some top GMO companies, which net them somewhere between half a million dollars and $1.5 million. That means that they are making a profit through these companies privately, while condemning corporate agriculture in public. If that isn’t two-faced, I don’t know what is.

Eldridge, supposedly devoted to getting big money out of politics, is big money. He is so blinded by his investments that his actions completely contradict his words. He certainly does not have the resolution to represent us in congress.

It is clear that we need to be moving toward local farming and away from corporate agriculture that doesn’t help our district’s economy, environment, or social fabric. It is also clear that we need to move away from genetic modifications that harm public health but help billionaires like Sean Eldridge. 

Israel Markevitz
Saugerties
(June 16)

 

Gibson record

Congressman Chris Gibson has represented the people of New York’s 19th district since the 2010 midterm elections that brought dozens of Tea Party activists into the U.S. House of Representatives.

While Chris Gibson himself is not a Tea Party activist, a new website launched last week called “TheRealChrisGibson.com” shows that Gibson may just be a typical politician who says what he thinks us folks back home want to hear, while voting very differently when he's in Washington.

One example the website shows is that Gibson voted 32 times for the government shutdown last fall. Yet just days into what would be a 16-day shutdown, costing over $24 billion by some estimates, Gibson went on TV and told a local reporter that he believed "the shutdown should never have happened" in the first place. How can he say that when he voted for it?!

 Gibson also voted against a bill that would have stopped public subsidies for big oil companies. Gibson voted against it even though he said he wanted to close corporate tax loopholes that cost taxpayers money. You can watch the video yourself! That bill would have stopped major oil companies from getting tax breaks for domestic oil and natural gas production in what was one of the most profitable years for Big Oil. Why would Chris Gibson say he wanted to stop giving tax payer money to oil companies, and then vote to cut them a huge tax break?

Voters deserve someone who stands by his word. Chris Gibson is going to have to answer for what he's actually done, not just what he said he'd do in Congress.

Linda Sakai Garcia
New Paltz,
(June 16)

 

Struggling Urban Centers Need the Hudson Valley Casino & Resort
by Judy Kennedy, Mayor of the City of Newburgh

 

Now that we’re well out of the starting gate and the competition is underway, there is only one horse worth betting on in the race to build a casino in our region. Hudson Valley Casino & Resort, the proposal to build an all-new entertainment and gaming facility on undeveloped land on Route 17K near the intersection of I-84 and the New York State Thruway in the Town of Newburgh, is the only plan which will help the City of Newburgh in the way supporters of Proposition 1 intended.

Hudson Valley Casino & Resort is the best business proposition for New York State, Orange County, and all the residents of the Newburgh Enlarged City School District (NECSD). This project will benefit people on both sides of the Hudson River because of its proximity to Poughkeepsie, Beacon, Newburgh, and Middletown –allowing it draw a workforce from chronically underemployed communities.

Of the dozens of proposed casinos, this is the only one in the boundaries of the NECSD – the most struggling school district in the entire region. Every property owner in this school district should be writing a letter of support because if this casino project is chosen, the influx of new revenue will allow us to significantly reduce school property taxes while increasing educational quality. This includes all of the City of Newburgh and a large portion of New Windsor and the Town of Newburgh. Any taxpayer in these communities will feel the benefit of the Hudson Valley Casino & Resort.

The City of Newburgh is, by HUD definition, an economically distressed community with high unemployment and poverty rates. There are nearly 8,000 students in the NECSD alone who are designated “economically disadvantaged” by the State of New York, and the City and Town of Newburgh have over 10,000 residents living below the federal poverty line. Voters passed the casino referendum to help jumpstart the economy of areas just like ours. If the economy of the City of Newburgh can be turned around, it will have a high positive impact on the entire county and region.

The Hudson Valley Casino & Resort will directly employ 2,400 people in construction, and be home to over 2,800 permanent, well-paying jobs with benefits. This includes entry-level, unskilled positions with opportunities for growth, all the way up through senior management roles. Residents of the City and Town of Newburgh, the Town of New Windsor as well as our sister communities like Middletown, Poughkeepsie, and Beacon will have access to significant new job opportunities.

The City of Newburgh, the Town of Newburgh, and Hudson Valley Casino & Resort have just completed a historic trilateral agreement that will benefit all three entities, as well as Orange County and New York State. Both the Town and Hudson Valley Casino & Resort have agreed to a yearly revenue-sharing agreement, with each contributing 15% of the Host Fee to the City of Newburgh. The total cash contribution of both entities will be over $2 million per year, paid directly to the City of Newburgh. This is exactly the kind of regional impact that the casino referendum was designed to accomplish.

The Town of Newburgh’s contribution will go toward the City’s efforts in crime reduction public safety and law enforcement. The contribution from the Hudson Valley Casino & Resort will go to the city’s general fund, bringing additional resources for economic development and infrastructure projects, and helping to keep taxes low as we move the city forward.  In addition, Hudson Valley Casino & Resort has agreed to provide for a shuttle service to transport workers from the city to the Casino, making quality of life that much better.

At the same time, because the Newburgh location for this casino is far north of Route 17, this project, unlike many others will be able to compliment, not compete with, a casino in the Catskills.

Given these facts, and the deep amount of effort that Hudson Valley Casino & Resort has shown in developing relationships here in the City of Newburgh, I have put it all on them to win the license for a casino in our region. I am asking all residents, businesses, and other organizations within the NECSD district to do the same. Please join me in writing a letter of support for this development at hudsonvalleycasinoresort.com/support. It’s the best plan to keep our taxes low and make our city safer and stronger.

(June 2)

 

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