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Friday, July 3, 2020

Letters

Roscoe joins BLM protests

To the editor:
Page 2 of the June 16th Democrat printed in large type read “Roscoe joins BLM protests.” I did not recognize any Roscoe residents in the picture, and the column next to the picture stated, “residents in neighboring hamlets and villages have taken to the streets”.
To say the least, I was disappointed. I believe the full name of the organization is “Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation.” The Co-Founder Patrisse Cullors stated, “We are trained Marxists.”
In Russia Marxism led to Communism which is a system of complete government control and which has never succeeded in any country that tried it.
I have been a resident and an annual voter in Roscoe for the last 30 years, and I hope that “Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation” never comes to Roscoe again.
I hope that the Democrat uses better judgement in the future.


Editor's note: Here at the Democrat, we have a responsibility to cover events happening in our communities. We can confirm there were local Roscoe residents in attedance at this demonstration who were motivated less by political ideology than by a sense of injustice toward the adversity faced by Americans of color.


Gerald McMurrer
Roscoe

Hulk Slams Sullivan Internet

To the editor:
During a recent interview, Jimmy Kimmel had asked Callicoon resident (and The Hulk) Mark Ruffalo why he wasn't taking the interview from home. He was blunt. “I'm here because our internet sucks,” he said. “How can we not have internet in rural New York at this point?” Great question.
In 2015, Governor Cuomo announced a new broadband program that would bring high-speed internet to all corners of the state. It would open up new opportunities for small businesses looking to grow, it would give students new ways to learn through technology, and yes, we might finally be able to stream a movie without waiting for it to buffer for an hour.
Unfortunately, these promises haven't come to fruition in large parts of Sullivan County. We've seen Charter Communications' bottom line continue to grow while many here are left with substandard internet services. People are often quoted thousands of dollars by Charter to run cable lines out to their homes. This is despite the fact that they could see decades of revenue increases from that infrastructure buildout.
We need to face the fact that profit-driven companies facing practically no competition do not have our communities' best interests in mind. This is where municipal broadband programs (MBPs) come in. MBPs come in all shapes and sizes, but the general concept is that communities own and operate their own networks. Countless examples across the country, including in rural areas, show they can work.
An investment in broadband is an investment in our entire community. It has the potential to expand our tax base, revitalize our economy, and reshape our rural areas. COVID-19 has forever changed the way we work and communicate with one another, and we need to be prepared for the future. That's why I'll be introducing a bill to give our municipalities the tools they need to create these types of projects.
We can no longer sit by and watch as other states create innovative new ways to provide services to their residents. Instead of giving handouts to multi-national, multi-billion dollar corporations, let's take that money and reinvest it here at home — and make our internet not suck.


Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther
Forestburgh

It's a two-way street

To the editor:
As the late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, “You are entitled to your own opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”
Samara Ferris' letter in the June 26, 2020 edition of the Democrat is a case in point. It starts right off with a mistruth - made all the more disturbing because Ms. Ferris claims she FOILed this info and should have her facts straight. I did not call the Emergency Meeting to which she refers - that was District 4 Legislator and Public Safety Committee Chairman Nicholas Salomone.
Makes me wonder what other inaccuracies she provided to the Department of State, though to this date I have not been contacted by the State on these accusations (nor has our counsel or clerk disagreed with our procedure).
Selectively telling the truth is almost as bad as peddling mistruths, and unfortunately that's what Ms. Ferris' next point does. It's true that I have in the past texted fellow legislators about upcoming meetings and discussion items, but it is also true (yet unmentioned by her) that legislators receive agenda packets via email at least 24 hours in advance of every meeting. I cannot and will not be held responsible for their decision to not open emails or engage in the legislative process. Communication is a two-way street.
As for the monies spent on feeding our hardworking crew at the Emergency Operations Center (as much as 15-hour days during the height of this crisis), it should be noted Ms. Ferris is begrudging sandwiches, pizza and the occasional lasagna (as opposed to “unlimited”) for the very people who were on the front lines and coordinating the distribution of free meals, medical supplies and badly needed masks Countywide during a pandemic - plus the constant, sometimes overwhelming, requests for information and other forms of assistance.
This expense equated to approximately $65 per day for 15 people over the entire span - or $4.33 per person per day. That said, I made it clear to the EOC that this continued kind of expense was unsustainable, and it was halted in April.
I will also note that I personally donated nearly $7,000 to supply food pantries throughout the County, along with bringing free food to our nurses at Catskill Regional Medical Center. Can Ms. Ferris say the same amidst her judgmentalism? (And by the way, calling me a misogynist and sexist is not what I'd call “brevity.”)
Finally, yes, I do read the Democrat - every issue, twice a week, for the past 35 years.
I anticipate this will be the last time I respond to Ms. Ferris. I neither have further time nor further interest in dealing with the mistruths she represents.


Robert A. Doherty
Monticello

We must do more

To the editor:
The Sullivan County Democratic Committee recognizes that despite its best efforts, persons of color or those experiencing poverty have not always been treated with the fairness and insight they deserve.
As a Committee, our goal must be to foster an inclusive culture that sparks community pride, emphasizes kindness and respect and ensures that all persons are valued and supported. However in this time, it is imperative that we directly and specifically support the call and efforts of the Black Lives Matter movement to ensure that the voices of persons of color are not only heard, but echoed by all of us.
We must commit to addressing systemic racism throughout our society and bring positive changes to all levels of society and government. We must solve the income and wealth inequality gaps that lead to systemic poverty throughout communities of color.
These conditions lead to poor health, and early mortality for those condemned to live within them. They lead to crime, despair and disproportionate policing and incarceration. Together, these conditions create a vortex that can be impossible to escape.
What can we do? As a group, we condemn any and all instances of bigotry and discrimination, based upon ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and specifically race. Period. However, while showing kindness, respect and support are positive, we must do more. We must demand more of ourselves and the Governments that represent us.
The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks are only the latest in a long list of sad reminders of the work we must accomplish. Their deaths may rightfully disgust us, but they must also inspire us to do more…to do better.
We must demand of our local governments, state governments and federal governments to embrace and implement diversity training, community outreach and support programs to increase employment and educational opportunities.
We must demand that our Governments re-examine the traditional models of policing, and provide more support for social and economic programs that will bring lasting improvements to poor communities and limit the interactions with police going forward.
While we must avoid demonizing police agencies, we must also demand that all Police agencies have the training, and oversight necessary to prevent another George Floyd murder.
We cannot by ourselves undo centuries of our history or address the underlying conditions that disadvantage so many of our neighbors, but we also cannot support symbols of a racist past such as confederate statues and flags to remain in places of honor. These symbols of hate are rightfully left in history books, and not in our Town Squares and Parks.
Together, we must reshape our institutional culture around an ethic of equity and declare that hate can have no home here.


Anne Hart
Secretary

Thank you to our community!

To the editor:
On behalf of the Board of Trustees of the Western Sullivan Public Library, I want to thank the public for their overwhelming support.
With a nearly ten-fold turnout increase from past elections, we are pleased that voters chose to approve our budget. The dedicated staff and volunteers work hard to make the library a valuable asset to our community with resources for personal enrichment, career advancement and lifelong education.
Now that pandemic-related restrictions are easing, a limited library reopening has begun. Check www.wsplonine.org for curbside pickup options, movie streaming, plus terrific online programming and classes.
Thank you again for participating in our election!


Chris Peacock

Let's take a look

To the editor:
I read with great interest a letter published in the June 23, 2020 edition of the Sullivan County Democrat titled, “Defund the Police” by Hudson Williams-Eynon of Narrowsburg, NY. As he so eloquently stated, “This is a national issue, and a local one.” I would like to first address that aspect of his letter. More specifically, since he sent his letter to this publication, which is considered by many as Sullivan County's hometown newspaper, let's look at defunding of the police locally.
Sullivan County as a whole is serviced by the New York State Police and the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office. The Town of Fallsburg Police Department, and the respective police departments in the villages of Liberty, Monticello and Woodridge professionally and adequately patrol their own localities.
Since many areas of Sullivan County fall outside the aforementioned municipalities, the State Police and the Sheriff's Office are tasked with policing the remaining 910 square miles, including Narrowsburg.
While it is true that we provide and are provided invaluable assistance and backup from the Lumberland, Bethel and Highland constabulary, the NYS Department of Conservation, NYC Department of Environmental Conservation, NYS Forest Rangers and the National Park Service, there are often many times when the patrols from the aforementioned agencies are stretched extremely thin.
So, what exactly does defund the police mean? For some, it is simply a catchy slogan to utter, but more out of convenience than practicality. For others, however, it is a sword to be wielded as a punitive measure, aimed at punishing police departments by slashing their respective budgets. The money saved by not paying for police services, these individuals argue, could then be allocated to different social service agencies staffed by social workers, medical staff or other trained specialists.
These specialists could then devote needed time and resources to problems such as mental health issues or domestic situations, for example, and alleviate the police from having to respond.
Currently, the police are forced to respond to these so-called extra duties, again as the basis of the defund argument and echoed by Mr. Williams-Eynon, because “social services have been gutted.”
First, has anyone asked the social workers if they would be willing to go out at 2 a.m. and attempt to mediate a domestic situation or try to counsel a subject suffering from mental illness? What, if upon arriving, that social worker realizes that this isn't a disturbance as originally reported, but rather a situation involving domestic violence? How about the person suffering from mental illness that suddenly becomes combative? These situations can be some of the most dangerous and unpredictable that members of law enforcement must deal with every day and ones that social workers are ill-equipped to handle.
Overall, this social experiment collapses in the face of the reality of everyday police work wrought with the uncertainties and difficult and complex decisions that in the end, would neither help the victims or the community, especially a rural one, as a whole.
Hopefully you'll never need a police officer. However, when you pick up the phone and call for help, it would be nice if there was one to respond if he or she hadn't already been “defunded,” especially in our rural county.
I also disagree with Mr. Williams-Eynon's assertion that police departments are “accountable to no elected official.” While Sheriff Michael Schiff is elected by the citizens of Sullivan County, every other police chief was appointed by the elected legislative bodies in their respective areas and the Superintendent of State Police was appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Democratic-controlled New York State Senate.
Even the head of the embattled New York City Police Department was selected and appointed by, you guessed it - Mayor De Blasio. Governor Cuomo and Mayor DeBlasio can change the leadership of the police departments under their purview in a heartbeat.
Lastly, I would like to address Mr. Williams-Eynon's assertion that police unions are inherently evil since they “sabotage review boards, ignore legal action and defend tooth and claw even the worst cops.” It was President John F. Kennedy who stated 50 years ago, “Our labor unions are not narrow, self-seeking groups. They have raised wages, shortened hours and provided supplemental benefits. Through collective bargaining and grievance procedures, they have brought justice and democracy to the shop floor.”
In the para-military world of law enforcement, working conditions lagged behind those of our industrial counterparts by nearly half a century. That being said, a police union has an obligation to provide mutual aid and protection to our members. This concept is embedded in every American's right to representation under the 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which includes legal aid, defender's services or legal protection plans including insurance. At what point do we, as police officers, give up and leave our constitutional rights at the door?
Must we and are we, as police officers, held to a higher standard? Absolutely! I don't think it's a secret but none of us want to work with “bad cops” either. However, it's up to the management of the respective police departments to investigate instances of malfeasance, prepare charges if necessary and initiate disciplinary procedures. If the charges warrant termination, then that is the most likely result as the union, at least in the example of the State Police, is powerless to overturn the Superintendent's final decision.
The condemnation of the murder of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis has been immediate and all-encompassing among the cops and the police labor community throughout the United States. What we all witnessed on that video was absolutely appalling and morally reprehensible.
There was no justification for self-defense and no police officer that I know of was ever trained in the tactics used on Mr. Floyd. Calls for police reform have reverberated throughout the nation; however, the calls to defund the police and abolish the police unions are not the answer - better training and stricter hiring standards are.


Thomas H. Mungeer

Memorial Day ‘Ghost Parade'

To the editor:
This Memorial Service and Parade was held by the Veterans, not the Town of Fremont or Parade Committee.
Since the parade, we have lost one main member of our committee because a person or parties were taking it out on the member for allowing the parade. This should never happen because someone was going off half-cocked.
The person or parties should check who is in charge and if they had permission.
The Memorial Parade is not for the living - it is for us to pay our respect to the fallen heroes!!!
This will never change. We owe our fallen heroes for all the freedoms that they were killed for.
Plus, we owe all our disabled veterans a big ‘thank you.'


Tony Wayne
Fremont Center

Can you believe it?

To the editor:
At his ill-fated Tulsa rally Donald Trump called for reduced coronavirus testing (so his “numbers” wouldn't look as bad). Later he announced that he was only kidding.
Even if one could believe Trump, in the wake of over 120 thousand deaths, much of which is due to his stupidity, is that something to joke about?


Marshall Rubin
Youngsville

Response to Doherty letter

To the editor:
Mr. Doherty, I apologize if I chose brevity in my last message, and at your request would be happy to remedy the burden of proof right now.
Mr. Doherty's Accomplishments
• Mr. Doherty called an “Emergency” meeting this past January, offering up the EMS department as a gift to Schiff, without first consulting any EMS personnel. Not only was this unconscionable, it was also not in accordance with the Open Meetings Law.
• The Department of State was contacted about your surreptitious maneuver and delivered an opinion—public record which can be found on the Open Meetings Law section of the DOS website—stating in part, “the Court in Previdi vs Hirsch suggested that it would be unreasonable to conduct meetings on short notice, unless there is some necessity to do so. If there was no urgency associated with the issue considered during the January 22, 2020 meeting, in my view, it should not have been held.
• If that doesn't sound like you have something to hide or owe something to someone, then I believe that you might have a very high threshold for what qualifies as “something to hide.”
• We know for a fact that you have not attempted to inform the other legislators of the agenda in advance, whether a vote would be occurring with much notice, or even letting them know before the very last minute via TEXT MESSAGE which you yourself admitted to ON VIDEO, of a meeting, without letting the public know in advance either. Is this a way to lead? Things have become so bad and you have locked so many people out of the loop that even a fellow Republican (and great man and representative) Joe Perrello had to write a letter to the editor in the Democrat telling you to start informing other legislators of what is going on. Or, perhaps you don't actually read the Democrat and only peruse it when an unimportant young woman as myself writes a short article about you that hurts your feelings?
• May we also consider the $2,405 that was spent with TAXPAYER money on lunches and breakfasts for the small and non-permanent staff of the Emergency Operations Center at White Lake from the dates of 3/13/20-4/21/20? People are hungry, out of work, suffering from this pandemic, while amazing organizations have come in to fill the needs of our community such as SALT, many caring neighbors, and even businesses such as Early Bird Cookery which have been donating meals; and while the county laid off dozens of employees, WE the taxpayers are paying for unlimited lasagna and meatloaf for a few employees who refuse to use their own dollar to buy lunch or to bring lunch like many other county employees do (who DON'T get to spend thousands of our dollars on piles of pizza because they don't feel like packing lunch)? All of this—UNDER YOUR WATCH.
I would love to list more but believe I've taken up enough of the newspaper's space and enough of the readers' time. If you would like a more thorough list, or a copy of the DOS report or P Card Emergency Operations taxpayer lunch fund report, please feel free to use your American right to FOIL, which, I appreciate the suggestion in your last message….but I suppose I beat you to it.


Samara Ferris
Wurtsboro

Join hands and work together

To the editor:
On Sunday, June 7th Mr.Willy's was honored to prepare some nourishment during the Protest, “Black Lives Matter” in the parking lot of Carmines and the Gym on Rt. 42 Monticello, NY. Although there were only approximately 80 to 100 people in attendance, it was a behaved crowd, who took to the podium to present their thoughts, and feelings.
I saw comfort, understanding, meaningful thoughts, comments, and prayers, from the Clergy.
This event was under the heading of Community Unity. This was an organization that was formed years ago working to help the Federation and other important needs. Community Unity has been dormant for a number of years. However, I felt I would like to send some thoughts to be considered moving forward. Community Unity was promoting Unity through multi culture, diverse times, for all ethnicities.
Update What Community Means — Community = A group of people that care about each other, unity in Faith, unity in Example, Harmony, Friendship, Cooperation,
Tolerants, Strength, Friendly, Good Neighbors, Respectful, and there when your neighbor needs assistance,
Promote wholesome events, activities, communication, and a common goal.
Leadership
Despite our best intentions, despite our pursuit of flawless leadership, despite our efforts to be open and humble - we can sometimes fail.
Circumstances can change, resources can change, strategies don't always play out as anticipated. There are times we just mess up, no one is exempt from failure.
Poor judgement can lead to serious problems, which our Country recently experienced with Mr. Floyd. As leaders, your interactions with constituents are of the utmost importance. If you are genuinely open to what people have to say, listen to their opinion and concerns.
Black Lives Matter - All Lives Matter - We Are All One Under God. We are in this together, so let's join hands and work together. The road you follow is your choice, your destination.
We all should pursue the same goal, Happiness, Good Health, Caring for each other.
I believe every Community needs a goal, and a purpose to function and strengthen your Community.
Law Enforcement - We cannot survive or live without it.
Unfortunately a bad egg can show up, however, this does not mean all the eggs are bad. Sad as it is this can happen in any business, group, or wherever people work and play. Then it needs to be addressed, not overlooked.
Our law enforcement put their lives on the line every day, we need to support them, thank them, and pray that all the men and women watching out for us and our safety continue in safe conditions, without them we are in deep trouble.
My thoughts and prayers for Mr. Floyd and all others who lost their lives through human error or misjudgment, may their souls rest in peace.
Most of all some suggestions:
Make your family your security base with support and love, be honest with people and help when you can.
Challenges strengthens your mind and soul.
Make today everything it could be, always do your best.
Be proud who you are, you can can make a difference.
Life is as beautiful as you make it.
All lives matter, God bless.


Bill Sipos
Forestburgh

Defund the Police

To the editor:
Police face a crisis. Rioting and looting have erupted in major American cities over the past several weeks, with the police unable or unwilling to stop it. Meanwhile, they have unleashed a militarized brutality against crowds of protesters who posed no threat.
Rioters have displayed in the past two weeks a rage born of years of pent up frustration. Many people are frightened. But as the images of burned police cars and smashed store windows have faded, the protests have continued to grow. From its first chaotic beginnings, the wave of protests have begun to focus around what seems an extraordinary demand:
Defund the police.
The people who stand behind the police face a choice. Continue to unquestioningly support police actions, no matter how brutal and unjust. Or accept that change is coming, has been too long in coming. Say that black lives matter, that your neighbors' lives matter.
Change won't be easy. Policing has grown deep into the fabric of American life. Cops have taken on the burden of dealing with all the ugliest aspects of our lives. Drug addiction, homelessness, domestic violence - as social services have been gutted, police departments have expanded. In many American cities and towns, the police are a small army. Yet while a few go above and beyond, many more are out of their depth. Trained to be warriors on a battlefield, their acting like soldiers causes more problems than it solves. American lives are the cost.
We need to redirect our tax dollars.
Crime has fallen across America for the past three decades, regardless of the amount of police employed. Still, police budgets have continued to grow. In many American cities, the police departments have become an ungovernable paramilitary force, wielding hundreds of millions of dollars of surplus military weaponry and accountable to no elected official.
The police have shown that they will not change on their own. While politicians both Democrat and Republican have nibbled around the edges of minor reform, police unions have dug in. For decades, they have fought any attempt at elected oversight. They sabotage review boards, ignore legal action, and defend with tooth and claw even the worst cops. Police budgets include hundreds of millions of dollars to settle civil rights and brutality lawsuits. And the killer of Eric Garner still walks free. So does the killer of Tamir Rice.
We are wasting money and much worse, destroying lives. The firsthand accounts of injustice and bias given by black Americans and other people of color are backed up by a wealth of statistics. Public safety is not upheld by putting reckless, violent police into troubled neighborhoods. The problems that police confront every day could be better and more responsibly handled by those who are trained to do so. We are not safer for allowing the issues which police cannot deal with - poverty, addiction, homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault - to fester at the point of a gun.
Minneapolis has voted to dismantle and rebuild its police department to ensure public safety for all of its citizens. Camden, NJ, has already done so and the city - once one of the most dangerous in America - is now safer than ever before.
Americans cannot call ourselves a moral people if we continue to allow police departments to stand in the way of justice. The cost is too high. We need to take funding away from the police and put it towards real solutions to our problems. This is a national issue, and a local one. Black lives matter, because all of our lives matter. It's time to defund the police.




Hudson Williams-Eynon
Narrowsburg

Thank you Senator Metzger's office!

To the editor:
I am very distrustful of government in general. However, Senator Metzger's office was wonderful.
I lost my job like so many others, and I couldn't get through to the Department of Labor (Their phone and website didn't work). Mathew at Senator Metzger's office was so nice and helpful.
I cannot say enough about Senator Metzger and her staff. They made sure I got ALL my unemployment insurance.


Jon Kopel
South Fallsburg




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