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Sunday, March 24, 2019


Missing Purse

To the editor:
Last week I had a busy day with many errands in Monticello. I carried my beautiful, Italian leather purse with me and locked my car with the attached electronic key each time I went to a store. Finally I loaded the last packages into my car and returned the shopping cart to Dollar Tree like a “Good Girl” - just as my mother taught me - got into my car and drove home. A few days later I went to grab my purse but it wasn't there! How could that be?! I looked all over the car but couldn't find it anywhere. No purse, no credit cards, no cash! No shopping. I revisited all the stores and asked if they had my purse - No. Did they have video of the parking lot? No.
Over the weekend we took the car apart and searched through everything. No purse. We also searched my house; maybe I'd absent-mindedly brought it inside? At age 76 such things are possible. No purse. I notified the Monticello police. But I kept wondering, how could anyone have stolen the purse when there was only one 30-second window of opportunity to snatch it out of the car: when I returned the shopping cart. Well, days later, just as I finished reporting the missing credit cards, the Monticello police called. They've got the purse! It's soaking wet, they reported, has no cash in it, but several credit cards. I'm thrilled that I'll get the purse back - It's an especially nice one - I mean it was an especially nice one.
Warning for all: Be aware of who might be watching as you load the car and don't leave it unlocked for even 30 seconds! It's crazy - but that's life today.

Joan Rosenfelt
Pond Eddy

A New Deal

To the editor:
I agree that engaging with viewpoints different from your own is critical to learning. That's how I found out we have far more in common than not. I have even changed my mind when presented with new information (it‘s a good thing). Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but facts are facts. Urgency regarding climate change will hopefully get bipartisan real quick now that the heartland's gotten whacked.
The Green New Deal (GND) would localize and green our grids providing permanent jobs and increasing resiliency. If NG rigs provided local jobs they wouldn't need man camps.
The first tenet of the GND would guarantee a living wage and a decent life for every American, at least read it, what's not to like? Specifically?
I recently learned of a case that hasn't got a lot of attention: Juliana v. United States. Filed in 2015, it accuses our government of colluding with the fossil fuel industry to deprive youth of their rights to life, liberty, and property and failing to protect our public resources. Every president since Carter has known about climate change and failed to act. Suddenly Republican urgency to stack the courts makes sense, no matter the cost.
If immigration was an emergency why did Republicans wait until Democrats regained control of the House to declare it so? It's a valuable wedge issue like abortion, so we fight amongst ourselves like rubes. How stupid are we? Decency and civility have gone by the wayside, escalated under Trump who is vile in every way a person can be, who's done more to divide us than anyone has ever seen before. His behavior is disgraceful, his abhorrent post mortem feud with McCain demonstrates there is no bottom.
We can do better, I hope, by electing someone with the courage to face reality, confront the status quo and be financed by the people, not super PACs.

Jennifer Young

Failed to Impress

To the editor:
The front page article crediting Dr. (The Messiah) Morgano of the Eldred School District with some sort of budget miracle because he forgot about the $40 million gas compressor coming online failed to impress. If anything, it goes to show how untalented this group is - that of the 5 board members and the Superintendent, no one thought that this new tax revenue should be considered before making their budget announcement last month.
At least the Morgano Miracle Budget - the one that claimed in one swoop to solve all the district's problems for 10 years (a claim reported in the Democrat) - is no longer being quoted or discussed as accurate.
Most sad, however, is not one dollar of new tax revenue from home building, business startups or gas compressors is being used to improve the declining academics of the School. Think what they could have done with that money if they would have been good stewards of the school's finances over the last decade. Think about the future opportunities for the community's children this business investment could have made, if the Board would have been more caring or talented.
There are, however, two new jobs being offered for ‘security', ones I'm sure will be offered to well-connected locals, jobs I'm sure that will be benefit-laden- jobs that will continue to perpetuate the rumor that the school really isn't a school anymore, but really just a place to work, supported -like socialism - by the rest of the community. A place where results don't matter, but the influence to win a position does.

Chuck Petersheim

Come together

To the editor:
There is no reason to demonize people with a different point of view and both sides are demonizing the other. We have painted ourselves into corners, we think you are with us or you are against us. There is no middle ground, in fact if you are in the middle you are derided and roadkill.
Until people stop talking at each other and start talking with each other there will be no coming together. There are people who think that using abortion as a birth control device is morally repugnant. Others think that a woman has the right to choose what she should do with her body. Some believe that climate change is destroying the planet and will ultimately destroy us. Others believe that if we move too fast it will destroy jobs and lead to poverty for many working people.
The federal government has failed to deal with the southern border since 1986. Now 12 million illegal immigrants inhabit our country and we have no consensus on how to deal with it. Everyone thinks we need to have a secure border, we just have different ideas of how to accomplish that. Some think that young children brought to this country by their parents should be allowed to stay; others think that that is just rewarding the parents who brought them and they all should be deported.
Some people think taxes are too high and damage job creation, others think that taxes pay for helping those less fortunate or for public projects that help everyone. If you can't bear the thought of speaking to a neighbor with different views then I seriously endorse Dr. Maidenbaum's idea of watching a competing network of news for an hour or two per week, not to disgust you but to expose you to the other point of view.
We need to get out of our corners and explore more of the world, we need to stop demonizing others and try and understand others. This will probably not change anyone's mind but perhaps we can slowly respect the opinions of others.

Bill Godfrey
High View

Republican/Conservative candidate for Sullivan County Legislature District 3

To the editor:
My name is Mike Brooks, the Republican and Conservative candidate for the Sullivan County Legislature from District 3, encompassing the towns of Neversink and Rockland, as well as a small piece of Liberty.
My family and I have lived in the Grahamsville area since 1972. I am passionate about civic duty and public service and have dedicated nearly 30 years of my life serving my community. I served on the Neversink Planning Board for more than seven years. I served twelve years on the Tri-Valley School Board, the last four as President. I am in my fourth year on the Neversink Town Board. I have coached boys little league baseball and girls softball.
I graduated from the Tri-Valley Central School and the State University at New Paltz, earning a B.A. in Communications and Media Management. Since 1981 I have worked with technology in various industries, including cable and satellite television, information technology, and telecommunications, and have experienced firsthand the acceleration of technological change in our lives, our businesses, and our government.
For six years, my wife Donna and I owned and operated Brooks' Chestnut Woods, a family restaurant in Grahamsville, receiving the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce Pride of Sullivan Award for the town of Neversink in 2007.
I am thankful and fortunate to have had the confidence and trust of the voters in the Town of Neversink and those of the towns that make up the Tri-Valley Central School District. Whenever I have asked for support, you have entrusted me with it, and I never take that for granted. Now I ask the voters of District 3 to support me in my bid to represent you on the Sullivan County Legislature. I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can between now and November.

Mike Brooks

Over the Hill

To the editor:
For the past several years those traveling through the hamlet of Hurleyville in the Town of Fallsburg and the Columbia Hill neighborhood in the Town of Thompson have seen the numerous blue roadside signs asking “What the Hill is Going On?” referencing the proposed Gan Eden development. A recent “going-on” is the completion of the yearlong litigation brought by the Gan Eden developer against the Town of Thompson. The litigation contested the constitutionality of density levels as stipulated in the multi-family zoning ordinance. It also contested the imposition of parks and recreation fees on new developments in another code section. Nine of the eleven complaints in the suits (12/17 and amended in 2/18) were dismissed by the judge in October 2018.
In January 2019 the Town of Thompson and Gan Eden agreed to a Consent to Order Settlement in which the remaining two complaints were dismissed with prejudice. In exchange, the Town committed to expedite the project's approval process. The Town's Planning Board is directed to review the developer's latest site plan application promptly and diligently with set timelines. The developer has agreed to adhere to the Town's zoning code by planning to construct 535 townhouse type units. They previously planned a mix of 147 townhouses and 388 garden apartments. They lacked the sufficient buildable acreage under the Town's allowed density levels for property in an SR Suburban Residential zone. The developer also agreed to pay the parks and recreation fees, $1250/unit, due when building permits are issued.
To their credit, the Town has so far done their due diligence in reviewing this transformative mega-sized project and it is hoped that they will continue to do so as there remain many troubling issues to address. A hydrogeological consultant, retained by the Town, has already indicated that the 72 hour on-site well testing done in the fall of 2016 failed to follow established protocols. This called into question whether the development has a sufficient supply of potable groundwater to proceed. Some homeowners' wells were adversely affected during that testing. A question has also been raised about whether there will be enough capacity and pressure for firefighting purposes.
The developer plans to construct a questionable “package plant” wastewater treatment system to service the development. Of late, the Town of Thompson stepped in to take over the failed water and/or sewer systems of at least four other existing developments; Emerald Green, Melody Lake, Dillon Farms, Harris Woods. Another, Sackett Lake, looms on the horizon. The cost to rectify them is many, many millions of dollars. Even the NYS DEC is beginning to question the wisdom of allowing private developments to plan, build and operate their own wastewater treatment plants. As the saying goes, those who don't learn from history are condemned to repeat it.
Gan Eden and the Town of Thompson both maintain in the consent agreement that the development will meet the urgent need for rental housing in the Town due to recent and anticipated growth including the influx of new workers. A skeptic might question if this is really who the future residents will be and, if so, why build such a large complex for workers at a site that is not served by public transportation?
There are numerous other concerns to this proposed development including increased traffic, using perilously located entrances, storm water runoff, potentially flooding adjacent Hurleyville downhill areas, light and noise pollution, not to mention having to live near a multiyear construction zone.
While it's understood that the Town has to abide by the consent agreement, they are still required to conduct the Planning Board review of the application in a thorough and comprehensive fashion. Anything less would be a disservice to the surrounding communities. Also, despite the ill advised zoning changes made well over a decade ago at the developer's behest, the inherent character of our area remains rural not suburban.

Roger Betters & Donna Nestler

Not surprised

To the editor:
Not surprised by another letter from Jennifer Young, responding to someone who replied to her first letter. However, it's clear she really doesn't care what any Trump supporters think and didn't truly want to understand a point of view that differs from hers.
Her personal response to my letter addressing her questions:
“Stop drinking the Kool Aid. I have given up trying to appeal to morality”.
There cannot be a real conversation when that is the response.
Have to shake my head at the people who always resort to claiming to be morally superior when the opposite is true.

Denise Connolly

Choose REAL Dairy Products

To the editor:
As a dairy farmer with three generations working together on our farm in Callicoon, I'm very proud to be part of the population that feeds families in my community and beyond.
March 14 is National Ag Day, a time to recognize the important role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products. Our family farm is dedicated to producing wholesome, nutritious milk. To do so means taking excellent care of our cows -ensuring they have a healthy diet, plenty of fresh water, and clean, comfortable living conditions -no small feat during this challenging winter! There are no snow days or delays for farmers, and harsh weather makes routine tasks harder -but farming isn't just a job, it's our passion and way of life.
You may have heard dairy farmers are facing tough times right now. Want to support us? The best, most helpful thing you can do is choose REAL dairy products at the supermarket—milk, cheese, yogurt, or your family's favorite dairy food. Warm up with hot chocolate made with real milk, creamy soups or grilled cheese. Whichever dairy product you choose, you'll know that what you're providing for your family is delicious and nutritious. It's a win-win situation for us all!
Be part of the revolution -choose REAL DAIRY PRODUCTS! Learn more at

Linda Kays

Smallwoodians show good citizenship

To the editor:
Over a year ago, upon accepting an offer to become this paper's Smallwood/Mongaup Valley columnist, I made a commitment to write about a variety of things that would be relevant and informative to the diverse cross-section of Smallwood residents. My intention has always been to connect Smallwood to the broader world and vice versa by writing about everything from food, music, art, sports, and the local school district to quality of life issues, obituaries, the dog park and Forest Reserve, weddings, graduations, pancake breakfasts, the firehouse, and the Smallwood Civic Association. My March 8th published column included only one short paragraph because the Democrat believes the remaining content submitted did not constitute appropriate “Community Column” content. While I disagree with the paper, I understand its editorial position that its news reporters (and not community columnists) will report on Town, Zoning, and Planning Board meetings and public hearings. Below is the remainder of my column containing information that was not reported in a Democrat news article about the Town of Bethel's recent public hearing regarding the Bethel Motor Speedway's application to increase its days and hours of operation.
As it does each year, the Town of Bethel held a public hearing on the renewal of a permit that allows the Bethel Motor Speedway to operate. Only this is year, in the minds of many, including those who operate the racetrack near Horseshoe Lake and others who live close enough to experience the sounds and smells of the auto racing, much was at stake. In addition to continuing its weekend hours, ownership was asking for a significant increase in the Speedway's hours and days of operations.
On February 27th the Town held an orderly public hearing in which many people commented in favor or against the increased hours. More people testified against the new hours than in favor. The most heartfelt and emotional testimony was delivered by those living closest to the racetrack. These folks, who also delivered a petition with close forty signatures, described the devastating effect the track's Saturday night races has on the quality of their lives and ability to use and enjoy their homes and property. Nevertheless, in an interesting but unspoken act of community unity, no one suggested the Speedway be shuttered, and most opposed to the increased usage acknowledged that the track was both here to stay, and a meaningful component of the Town's economic and social fabric.
Credit Smallwoodians with good citizenship. Many either attended the hearing and/or gave testimony on the 27th. Others wrote letters in advance that became part of the public record the Town Board is responsible to review before making its decision. Leah Maidenbaum testified as a mother and the owner of the Kauneonga Lake ice cream shop, Sticky Fingers. G.I.S. (Graphic Information System mapping) analyst and New School For Social Research Assistant Professor, Stephen Metts, presented a detailed and specialized map. Among other things, Metts informed Town Board members that 77% of the homes in Bethel are situated within 4 miles of the Speedway.
He went on to state what many Smallwoodians already know. He lives 4 miles from the track and hears the racing loud and clear. My wife, attorney Gail Rubenfeld, made a professional appearance representing multiple clients from Smallwood. She took neither a pro nor con position about the existence of the Speedway but testified that based upon her reading of the Town Code (law), the Speedway was a “non-conforming use.” Her analysis, she stated, illustrated that the Speedway's request for additional hours and days of operation was clearly an expansion.
She went on to say that the Board did not have the legal authority to approve the permit because the Code does not allow for the expansion or enlargement of a non-conforming use.
The Town had no attorney present at the hearing and during the Board's post-hearing comments prior to its vote, there was no discussion as to the legal ramifications of Gail's comments. The Board, while walking a deliberate and careful line, instead praised the Speedway and ultimately sided 5-0 against the increased usage, citing quality of life and “environmental” issues. In the days following the hearing, Supervisor Sturm publicly stated, upon reviewing the issue, he believes the Speedway is a “permitted” use. Stay tuned folks. This could get interesting (and complicated).

Jonathan Hyman

Trump love?

To the editor:
So the best response to our real national emergency of Trump's tidal wave of lies in the “Over the top“ opinion letter on your website is to throw out the false equivalence of Obama's one time, off-mike benign comment to then Russian president Medvedev? Any examples of Obama publicly throwing his own intelligence experts under the bus to suck up to Putin? I missed word of the Obama Tower Moscow Hotel Deal.
On sanctions, Congress, not Trump, drafted them and Trump delayed and then only reluctantly signed some of them calling them “seriously flawed”. On Trump's Russian lies, they're all on video, but maybe not aired on Fox.
As for Trump's “love”, really? Trump demonstrates daily he loves only Trump. As a virtual life-long New York City resident we knew Trump for the dishonest, narcissistic con man he is. That's why he got absolutely trounced in his OWN district in 2016 and why owners in Trump branded buildings are paying thousands to dump the Trump name off their buildings.
This is your “self-made”, “genius” that lost money running casinos and NYT investigation shows needed over $400 million from daddy to bail him out of all his bad deals. Ask any of the suppliers, banks and employees he has stiffed in his business failures about Trump “love”.
Enough obfuscation of the obvious.

Bill Lucas

My experience with the mayor of Liberty

To the editor:
I have lived in Liberty my whole life. I have seen it in its glory days and I have seen it at its worst. I decided a few years ago to get more involved and try to understand why the Village and Town seemed to be stuck in a rut.
I started with the Village and Town leadership to try to understand why. More importantly, I needed to know how I could help. We talked about the blight that seemed to grip our community from unfinished and boarded up buildings, to abandoned billboards, to a lack of basic lawn maintenance.
As we discussed the many problems that face our community, I thought beautification would be a good place to start. After all, how hard could it be to just clean up? To my surprise it was a little more complicated than I thought. Mayor Ron Stabak stepped up to the challenge and helped us create the Flower the Village Program (hanging baskets), and to his credit he found a way to get tax deductible outside funding and donations without using tax payer funds over the past three years.
Then I looked for the biggest eyesore in the village and set my sight on acquiring it (the Liberty movie theater). After many meetings with developers and engineers it was that we would be upside down in the project unless we had a grant. Once again Mayor Ron Stabak stepped up and helped us apply for the restore grant that we won from the state.
We have since put a new roof on the theater and finished most of the asbestos abatement. I have dealt with Ron on many occasions, he always has been pro Liberty and willing to help further the community in any way he can. I encourage my fellow residents to get involved.
You can make a difference. There is still so much work to be done. I hope this helps the citizens of Liberty better understand Mayor Ron Stabak. An informed electorate is a healthy one.

Bruce Davidson

Credit where credit is earned

To the editor:
Kudos from Vincent Alukonis to the Town of Delaware government for addressing three major infrastructure projects this year!
As reported in the February 19 edition of the Sullivan County Democrat the Town will purchase and overhaul the Callicoon Water Company, relocate the 60-year-old Town Highway Barn in Hortonville( with a new Town Barn and Salt Shed), and replace and relocate Callicoon's sewer plant.
Many thanks go to Supervisor Ed Sykes and Councilmembers Cindy Herbert, Chris Hermann, Al Steppich, and John Gain for securing a thirty year zero-percent interest loan for the water company overhaul, a grant for the new Town Barn, and for purchasing a site for the new sewer plant that is out of the flood plain. We appreciate that our Town government is fiscally wise.

Vincent Alukonis

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