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Monday, September 16, 2019


Accountability saves taxpayers

To the editor:
Many Democrat readers will be disappointed in its 9/6 editorial which questioned the cost of live-streaming Industrial Development Agency meetings.
Some will remember it was the Democrat's fine reporting that exposed the IDA's award of $88,000 in abatements from hard-earned taxpayer money to a thriving medical practice for machines and to move over a couple blocks in Monticello.
If taxpayers had had access to the deliberations of the IDA BEFORE it gave away all that money to Middletown Medical, the outrage may have been avoided. Scrutiny of the IDA is necessary. Transparence and accountability may cost a few bucks now but the saving to taxpayers is worth it.

Bill Duncan

Mistaken identity

To the editor:
I was excited to read about the caterpillars that have been making silken communal nests on trees across our region this summer, since my family has been wondering what they are for months. However, loathe though I am to contradict a professional, further research suggests that they are not in fact forest tent caterpillars.
According to David L. Wagner's useful Caterpillars of Eastern North America, despite its name, the forest tent caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria) does not spin a tent. Mr. Prentis likely was thinking of the eastern tent caterpillar (M. americanum), which does.
However, even that identification would be incorrect. As Wagner writes, the nests of eastern tent caterpillars are small and confined to crotches between two or more branches. Moreover, they are present only in the spring.
It turns out that tent caterpillars are sometimes confused with the fall webworm (Hyphantria cunea), which makes its nest in July and August. According to New York's Department of Environmental Conservation, “A fall webworm tent always begins at the tips of branches and gradually extends down the branch toward the trunk,” which describes to a T the nests seen in our area.
“The webs are more numerous in open locations, such as along roadsides,” notes a fact sheet from Cornell University's Insect Diagnostic Laboratory, which describes “conspicuous webs” enclosing entire branches or groups of branches that are “especially noticeable during late summer and early fall.”

Rebekah Creshkoff

Support your local library

To the editor:
What is one of the busiest places in each of our communities? The answer for most of us is our local library. Whether it's Ethelbert B. Crawford in Monticello, Mamakating in Wurtsboro, or Fallsburg, attendance is soaring. These buildings not only house books and DVDs, but also are community centers for our villages and towns. According to the American Library Association in a 2016 report, 1.4 billion visits were made to libraries across the country, that's 2,644 per minute. 113 million people attended public library programs, a number greater than attendance at MLB, NFL, and NBA games combined, and 16.5 million more than in 2013.
Locally we can thank our legislators like Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther and Senator Jen Metzger who have been instrumental in funneling money for state construction grants to libraries throughout the Ramapo Catskill Library System (RCLS). Parking lots have been repaved, roofs repaired, and additions made. Daniel Pierce, Liberty, and Ethelbert B Crawford will all be able to install generators.
Those same libraries and others will help with voter registration and assisting patrons complete the upcoming 2020 census to insure all people are counted. And for so many of our friends and neighbors, libraries provide Internet access and computer use they don't have at home.
All of these libraries are part of RCLS, which provides such services as delivery, technology, inter-library loan, training, and help and assistance with many aspects of day-to-day activities.
And as much as our libraries have grown, the amount of state aid to system libraries has remained static. Even though libraries are under the umbrella of State Department of Education, when education budgets increase, aid to system libraries does not. Our local legislators understand the value of libraries; community members appreciate the services libraries provide. We hope to partner with Governor Cuomo in ensuring that all libraries/community centers can be fully funded in continuing to serve their communities.
We are understandably proud of what our libraries do for our communities. We thank our thousands of library users for their support. Please help us in spreading the word of the part we play in providing equality of access for all people.

Lynn Skolnick

The facts of the matter in Mamakating

To the editor:
The September 10, 2019 news article “Snow removal contract raises doubts and tension” included various misstatements of fact that need to be corrected for an accurate understanding of Sullivan County's resumption of snow and ice control in the Town of Mamakating.
Firstly, the County Division of Public Works (DPW) is not taking over snow removal efforts on 32 Town roads. The County is resuming winter maintenance duties on 32 miles of existing County roads, specifically County Routes 55 (Mountaindale Road), 56 (Masten Lake Road), 61 (Burlingham Road), 62 (Winterton Road), 63 (Cambell Road), 64 (Spruce Road), 65 (Upper Road), 66 (Hamilton Road), 162 (Yankee Lake Road), 163 (Pine Kill Road), 166 (Mt. Prosper Road), 166A (Masten Lake Crossover), 171 (Mamakating Road) and 172 (Wurtsboro Mountain Road).
The Mamakating Highway Department will continue to service all Town roads. The County DPW will not be providing road maintenance on those highways.
Contrary to what was stated in the article, the decrease in the State rate of reimbursement to the County did not affect this situation. Via a resolution in May, the Mamakating Town Board chose to return the winter maintenance of the County routes to the County DPW. Subsequently, the Town of Mamakating sought an increase in that rate, to which the County did not agree, as the rate it pays to local towns - $6,185.13 per mile - is currently one of the higher Statewide and has not decreased, despite the State's own rate reduction.
Though this requires a significant reallocation of our resources, the County is capable of providing this service in the Town of Mamakating, similar to recent successful resumptions of County winter maintenance in the towns of Forestburgh, Fremont and Thompson. The County DPW will also continue to work collaboratively with the Mamakating Highway Department as needs arise.
The Town Board is welcome anytime to again discuss the matter with the County Legislature. In the meantime, town residents, businesses and property owners can be assured that the crews of the Sullivan County Division of Public Works will promptly and reliably endeavor to keep their County roads safely maintained for the entire winter to come and thereafter.

Edward McAndrew

Collection Clarifications

To the editor:
I would like to respond to the article from the Democrat printed on Friday, September 6, 2019 entitled “Collection confusion: Bethel tax collector retiring but still running”. I want to make a few clarifications and supply real facts:
1) The three Bethel residents mentioned in the article all sent their tax payments in on time by the March 31st, 2019 deadline as required. The tax collector stated that they were received after that date. One paid on 3/13, one paid on 3/22 and one paid on 3/31. I have copies of their checks sent. They did not receive their checks back from our tax collector for over 60 days later which caused them to pay additional penalties and fees.
2) Our Bethel tax collector was allocated $2,500 for a clerk in the 2019 budget, not $1,500 as stated in the article. The clerk worked Tuesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. to collect taxes but could only accept checks. (No cash). The tax collector herself only worked Saturday's at Town Hall to collect taxes from 2:30 - 5:30 p.m. So the Tax Collector herself worked three hours a week to collect taxes and got paid $23,000 a year in salary and an additional $25,000 a year for family health insurance. Also, collecting cash only on Saturday's was not legal (As stated by the State Comptroller's office) and an inconvenience to all our taxpayers.
3) The tax collector never offered to pay the cash back as she mentions. The town board wanted her to but she refused.
4) The part mentioning my wife was just a low blow. Dina has worked as a loyal town employee for over 20 years, and her integrity is indisputable. We are a small office, and we have always worked together to help the taxpayers. She had been assisting the tax collector in collecting taxes when the tax collector was not in the office which was often the case. Any monies collected were date stamped, carefully accounted for, and secured until the arrival of the tax collector. And Nancy Buck is a highly respected County Treasurer who did not deserve to be mentioned by the tax collector in the article in that fashion. She and her staff do an amazing job at what they do, in spite of the lack of cooperation of our tax collector over the years.
5) In conclusion, there was also an issue this past January 2019, in which $1,000 was unaccounted for in the Tax Collector's office for and still is.

Daniel Sturm

Elect Reeves Sullivan County Clerk

To the editor:
Our current County Clerk Dan Briggs has decided to retire after many years of faithful service to the people of Sullivan County. Our next County Clerk should be a person with the same work ethic, ability and customer service philosophy.
We believe the best person for that job is Russell Reeves. Russell Reeves is the current Deputy County Clerk under Dan Briggs and has served with integrity and distinction. He is overseeing the modernization of the clerk's office including the new e-filing program for important documents. He has successfully petitioned the state to bring the notary public examination to Sullivan County so that residents no longer have to drive to Newburgh.
But most important, Russell Reeves is the candidate with the proper temperament to lead the county employees who work in that office. When a leader sets the tone for a cohesive work environment, the public will benefit from the resulting excellence in customer service. Russell has a proven track record in doing just that. Please join us in supporting Russell Reeves for Sullivan County Clerk.

Anthony Cellini and Robert Hoose

Failure to understand

To the editor:
A recent article in the Democrat portrays Planned Parenthood as a struggling provider of many health services in a poor area who no longer receives federal funding. Senator Jen Metzger awarded them a $13,000 grant to help fund their center in Monticello.
Planned Parenthood described its many services in the article, when in fact one of their largest services is abortion. Its healthcare services are minimal, such as STI and HIV tests, contraception and pregnancy tests. When a woman goes to PP for a pregnancy test and finds she is pregnant, unless she wants an abortion, they do not provide any prenatal care.
A few blocks away from Planned Parenthood is Hudson River Healthcare. They provide full healthcare services including prenatal care and perinatal care, along with all the healthcare services an individual needs.
Planned Parenthood president, Cecil Richards repeatedly downplays its commitment to abortion. When she met with Ivanka Trump to discuss PP's future, Ivanka suggested split into two financially distinct groups, one of which offered no abortion, allowing it to receive government money without compromising taxpayers' consciences. Richards refused, calling it naive and saying that Trump failed to understand how central abortion is to Planned Parenthood's mission.

Dorothy McMurrer

School Days

To the editor:
Back to school all you drivers
Some think you're real cool
Children perhaps yours will be trotting to school
Life years so different not better but worse
Accidents galore lives gone just a hearse
It you're in a hurry go take a train
Get rid of those wheels
There's lots more to gain
Plenty of buses all over you'll see
Waiting for children I know that was me
Stay back and wait can't go ahead or back up and leave
Take the other way instead
School days are here
You've got a long time
Just go slow and be careful
Protecting yours and mine.

Catherine LoBosco


To the editor:
Amazing how two readers can have such different takeaways from the same Mueller document. You can have your Bill Barr sycophantic “Trump can do no wrong” view or you can find Mueller's view of how a campaign blatantly sought Russian help and lied repeatedly about it. And no I don't buy the Devin Nunes debunked “worse than Watergate” conspiracy theories. You don't have to take my view but what about the views of 450 former Federal prosecutors, both Republican and Democrat, who wrote their joint opinion this May of Trump's clear obstruction of the Russian investigation worthy of indictment if he were not president. 450! No Farce!
I will continue to point out Trump's erratic, self centered and child-like attacks that are so dangerous to our democracy, our standing in the world and that give him a 60+% disapproval rating.
This is Not “hate” just dissent. Trump still thinks it's OK to take election help from Russia and history shows he's not prepared to handle his self created problems. But now he can't just declare bankruptcy and stiff creditors as he did in his business failures.
These views will continue because our democracy's at stake whether or not this “Farce” writer continues to take her written “dear leader” view of a guy that simply will not tell the truth (over 12 thousand documented lies or distortions since taking office), repeatedly takes the side of corrupt dictators over our own intelligence officials and traditional allies, constantly whines that strong women are “nasty” and pick on him, has a shamefully insecure obsession with Obama and proves, almost daily, he doesn't care about anyone or anything but himself.
Thanks for the opportunity to expand on this risk assessment.

Bill Lucas

Improve the Electoral College For Sullivan County & Hudson Valley Voters

To the editor:
With the presidential election looming, the State Legislature should consider legislation improving the Electoral College. Whether you live in Forestburgh, Liberty, or Wurtsboro, your vote for president and the Country's future should matter, not just the votes of New York City voters.
However, under New York's Electoral College Winner take all system, the presidential candidate who wins the popular votes wins the state's entire electoral college vote. As a result, New York is written off by presidential candidates from both major parties, since conventional wisdom holds that New York City or downstate will safely deliver the state to the Democratic Presidential Candidate. This defeats the very purpose for which the Electoral College was created, a government representative of all the people.
How can we change this? To start eliminating college will only make matters worse, completely evaporating the influence of voters outside the big cities. Instead, to make the Electoral College work for all New Yorkers the State should adopt a model similar to that in States like Virginia, Maine and New Hampshire, that award electors based on the congressional districts won by a presidential candidate.
This would force major parties and their candidates to spend time and resources campaigning in New York to win as many congressional districts as possible, and likewise govern in a matter that will serve and win the support of voters in our state, whether they live in upstate or downstate, a Sullivan County family farm or on 5th Avenue.

Kevin Gomez, Esq.

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