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Friday, September 25, 2020


Character v. Policy

To the editor:
Whatever anyone thinks of Joe Biden's policies, he's widely regarded as a good and decent man, even from across the aisle - former Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, and staunch Trump supporter, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, to name just two.
Whatever anyone thinks of Donald Trump's policies, I haven't heard much about him being good and decent. His habit of writing checks with his mouth that get cashed by picking someone else's pocket, however, is notorious.
It's difficult locating the money Mexico paid for his wall he's now having taxpayers fund. His businesses were caught employing undocumented workers for years -- only to fire them when reporting revealed it - despite his railing against illegal immigration. And Public records show he's stiffed working families by refusing to pay what he owed to hundreds of people who worked for him, giving new voice to his 2016 primary-election night victory speech: “No matter who you are, we're going to protect your job”.
It's no surprise then that public records also show he's been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over three decades.
Who then can really say? Is he just a bad businessman, a scofflaw, or too cheap to pay his bills?
The extent that his habit has indelibly stained his legacy, however, is exceeded only by its virulence: first, by insisting COVID-19 is a hoax; then insisting it'd be gone this past spring; and, finally, applauding himself for a job well done.
Hundreds of thousands of sickened and dead Americans later have now had their pockets picked clean.

Dave Colavito
Rock Hill

Ashley and Tyler

To the editor:
Have a very important poem
Deep within my heart
My grandaughter's getting married
Tho we're so far darn apart
Young and quite beautiful
Smart as she can be
Mom and Dad a wee bit sad
But proud of their Ashley
Dear Democrat, you're first in line
to relieve my beating heart
to share my many happy thoughts
From you I will never part
Luck and Happiness
Wishes for the couple
Ash and Tyler, just wait
We're all real excited and delighted
Real soon will come
that big date.

Catherine LoBosco

Save Our Stages!

To the editor:
I write not only as the Producer of the Forestburgh Playhouse and Tavern, but also on behalf of all the live stage venues in Sullivan County and the surrounding region.
The pandemic has devastated the live theater industry and put actors, technicians, musicians and others out of work. There are now two crucial bi-partisan bills pending in Congress which will provide urgently needed assistance.
I write today to urge everyone to call or write to their federal Senators and House members to ask them to pass S. 4258/ H.R.7806, the Save Our Stages Act and S. 3814/H. R7481, the RESTART Act.
These bipartisan and noncontroversial bills will help to ensure the survival of independent theater and music venues across the nation and here in Sullivan County and surrounding area.
Stages are experiencing upwards of 90% revenue loss and will be closed well into 2021 due to safety concerns posed by large indoor gatherings. Many report that they are in danger of having to close their doors forever which would not only be a travesty, but would also take a toll on our local economies.
Independent theater and music venues are economic multipliers, community builders, as well as beloved institutions. A Chicago study estimated that $1 spent at a small venue resulted in $12 of economic activities for neighboring restaurants, hotels, and retail shops.
These venues closing permanently would also impact the entire music and theater economy and ecosystem in America - artists, talent agents, stagehands, security, catering, artist managers, tour bus industry, production, radio/social media/tv/print advertising, record companies, and many others.
Please call and/or write to your representatives in Congress and urge them to pass S. 4258/ H.R.7806, the Save Our Stages Act and S. 3814/H.R.7481, the RESTART Act. Doing so would ensure that independent venues such as the Forestburgh Playhouse and Tavern receive the financial assistance needed to be able to reopen our doors when it is safe to do so.

Franklin Trapp
Proprietor, Forestburgh Tavern

Millennium Pipeline cheating ways

To the editor:
In December 2015, with great fanfare, Millennium Pipeline announced its Eastern System Upgrade. They boasted that they would be spending $275,000,000 on the project, which would consist of a new compressor station in the Town of Highland, a second compressor in the Town of Hancock and an additional pipeline in Orange County.
Their previous upgrade, in 2008, had inexplicably been granted extended tax breaks from the Sullivan County IDA, despite creating zero permanent jobs. With great pride, Millennium declared that it would not be seeking tax breaks this time.
Millennium's spokeswoman, Michelle Smith-Hook, showed up at local events with big checks for local charities. Well, not exactly. The checks were large in size, not in amount—big cardboard blow-ups that a group could crowd around for a photo-op. Town leaders' pet charities were targeted by Millennium and money was gladly accepted.
Millennium granted the financially strapped town and school a one-time “gift” that filled public coffers and mollified disgruntled taxpayers. Shortly after, the Highland Lake Fire Department was given money to purchase an ATV.
Now, however, Millennium has finally revealed their true intentions. No longer in need of any community support, they are suing the town over their property tax assessment. They laughably claim that their facility is only valued at $27,600,000, not the $86,326,200 determined by Highland's town assessor.
A reduction in value that large would rob Highland and the county of $772,032.37. Whatever monies Millennium “gifted” to the town and local charities are negligible by comparison.
Next time Millennium comes around with a “big” check, everyone should be able to see it for what it really is: a public relations photo-op designed to burnish the reputation of a company that admittedly emits known toxins, carcinogens and endocrine disruptors into the air. It's an integral part of a larger strategy to cheat us out of their tax obligations.

George Billard

Who is the villain?

To the editor:
It was interesting to read last Friday's edition, where the Millennium Compressor station which never applied for or received any tax reductions from the IDA (though it's clear they could have) being positioned as a community villain as they argue for a less onerous tax assessment, while the new Eldred Preserve dodged 10 years of badly needed school and property taxes is positioned as a community champion.
The Eldred Preserve's attitude that “no expense is too great” for this project is a slap in the face to their neighbors as the only expense too great is paying any taxes to the community in which it resides.

Chuck Petersheim

Open letter to Sull Co. Legislature

To the editor:
It has come to our attention through the county's August 13, 2020 press release “Legislature Approves Care Center Transfer” that the Sullivan County legislature has plans for the Sullivan County Public Health Services certified home health agency (home visiting service by the public health nurses, therapists and aides) to be managed by an outside entity and leased out, with the possible intention to sell the agency.
In a sentence almost buried in the text of the press release about the Local Development Corporation, we were very dismayed to read: “In order to ensure local residents in need will have priority access to the Care Center, the Sullivan County Certified Home Health Agency (CHHA) will also be transferred to the third-party operator.”
We represent the Sullivan County Health Services Advisory Board (HSAB), a board mandated by New York State Public Health Law, section 357 to provide professional advice and consultation to the county health director, which in this case, is Nancy McGraw, Public Health Director at Sullivan County Public Health Services. We are disturbed about this decision by the Legislature on multiple levels:
• The decision was made without prior consultation with our public health services which currently operates the public certified home health agency. The Director could have given you information on the numerous, costly and substantial implications of this somewhat spontaneous decision.
• The decision was also made without public knowledge or comment (which may violate sunshine rules).
• And, last but certainly not least, under New York Public Health Law article 36, the agency cannot be leased.
Our board looks forward to having a dialogue with our legislators in the very near future to appropriately reverse this decision.

Bruce Ellsweig, M.D., Chair
Members of the Sullivan County Health Services Advisory Board: Sam Avrett, MPH; Jennifer Candela, LCSW; Larysa Dyrszka, MD; Dr. M. Cecilia Escarra; Joan Patterson, RN, MSN, CBN; Patrina Phillip-King, MD; Christopher Roman, MD; Carol Ryan, RN, MPH


To the editor:
We appreciate that Highland columnist Paula Campbell wrote about the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway (UDSB) in her Aug. 18 article and offer these clarifications.
Gov. FD Roosevelt did not sign legislation designating NY Route 97 as the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway in 1932. The highway was constructed then but the state designation occurred in 2002 under Gov. Pataki's pen based on a successful local nomination of an Enhancement Concept corridor management plan to the NYS Scenic Byways Advisory Committee.
UDSB is not “overseen by the State of New York” however; it is actually a 501(c)(3) organization administered by a volunteer committee of representatives from each participating municipality along the route. The designation comes with no state funding source so all monies to support UDSB activities must be contributed or raised.
The column incorrectly stated that “the UDSB has just initiated ‘The Kate Project'… which will be headed by The Delaware Company.” The fact is, fellow non-profit The Delaware Company is the originator and sponsor of this multi-phase project to commemorate the local history of the Delaware & Hudson Canal.
Executive Director and Town of Highland Co-Historian Debra Conway simply applied for and was awarded a $10,000 UDSB 2020 Vista Enhancement grant to assist with selectively clearing vegetation to enable development of a half-mile extension of a riverside path along Rt. 97 from the Roebling Bridge's Towpath Trail to the Eagle Observation Blind Access in Minisink Ford.
We are pleased to support this historical interpretation and recreational improvement, and look forward with excitement to The Delaware Company's announcements providing further details on the Kate Project's goals and progress.

John Pizzolato

Social media is wrong: the law is the law

To the editor:
Last month the driver of a vehicle that killed Devin Zeininger and Justin Finkel as they walked along a Sullivan County Road was formally charged following a month-long Grand Jury investigation with one count of Reckless Driving, a misdemeanor, and two violations, Failure to Exercise Due Care and Speeding, in relation to the deaths of the two teenagers.
I understand the anguish and frustration the families of these boys are experiencing about this case. Thanks in large part to irresponsible and inaccurate reports across social media, some think that it's Sullivan County's infamous “Good Ole' Boys Club” that saved the driver from a felony charge.
They couldn't be more wrong.
The truth is that I have remained faithful to the oath to uphold the law, without fear or favor toward anyone, that I took when I became your Acting District Attorney. I honored the commitment I made to the families of these victims to present this case to a grand jury for its consideration despite what they and I all understood was a difficult legal landscape even in light of the facts uncovered during this investigation.
It isn't politics or personal relationships that stand in the way of a homicide charge; it's New York's own laws. Right now the law doesn't properly support pedestrian victims of vehicular crashes.
As a mother and a lifelong member of this community, I have personal feelings about some aspects of this case that, as a prosecutor, I must set aside to honor my legal and moral obligations as Acting District Attorney to seek justice within the bounds of the law. My job isn't to simply secure charges for assailants; it's to also secure convictions that will hold up under legal scrutiny.
Our appellate courts have made it nearly impossible to hold those who kill others as a result of distracted or dangerous driving criminally responsible. There is, quite simply, not one criminal law on the books that was specifically written in contemplation of facts like those that led to these tragic deaths.
The reality is that scores of families throughout our State have been further traumatized following a loved one's death by the fact that New York doesn't have laws in place to properly address pedestrian fatalities where a driver isn't impaired in some way.
As a zealous advocate for victims, I am committed to helping correct the omissions in the law by supporting the Vehicular Violence Accountability Act. The Act, announced late last year by New York State Senator Timothy M. Kennedy, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., and New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, was drafted to strengthen the voice of vehicular violence victims.
The Act introduces a new article in the State's Penal Law entitled “Vehicular Violence,” which establishes new crimes: “Death by Vehicle,” a class A misdemeanor, and “Serious Physical Injury by Vehicle,” a class B misdemeanor. These offenses would escalate to a class E felony and class A misdemeanor, respectively, when there are aggravating factors, such as recent vehicular convictions, speeding more than 20 miles above the speed limit, or committing more than one moving violation at a time.
In short, the Act, if passed into law, would fundamentally change the landscape of criminal law by holding accountable those who irresponsibly cause needless injuries and loss of life.
I grieve along with the rest of Sullivan County at the loss of these two boys, and it's that grief that fuels my commitment to foster positive change. I am asking all of you to join me in advocating for changes to the law that will more strongly support the rights of victims like Devin and Justin.

Meagan K. Galligan

Get outside the echo chamber

To the editor:
Watching the political conventions to me meant taping FOX and ABC coverage each night. My assessment is that each followed the same script. Most of the folks leaned in an obvious direction with a few token others to keep it fair.
The striking difference was the interpretations of the speeches. As striking was which speakers were selected to be heard from and which were background wallpaper during a group discussion.
We interact with many people. We have golf friends and church friends. There are the dog park and boating friends, the gym and friends from the association. If there have been political discussions, I've been oblivious. Sometimes I may glean inclinations by a bumper sticker, hat or T-shirt.
I shared my observations. Sal said, “Why you wasting time watching ABC; it is all lies.” Later running into Marty, I hear, “Why you wasting time watching FOX; it is all lies.”
But they both listened when I shared some facts they were unaware of. I was not merely an echo chamber, nor a closed door but an American talking to another American. How are you going to talk, discuss and behave in November and December? Do your research and support your team, but after. Please no sour grapes, accusations, allegations.
That would play right into Putin's and Xi's plans. Whether those dictators influence our opinions and divisiveness through the media or just see the American people as suckers should anger all of us.
Join your friends again (virtually if necessary) and let your words not be an echo or your mind a closed door. I guess I'll be a patriot and support and hope for the best, meaning if my guy doesn't get in, I know 45-55% of my fellow citizens can't be totally wrong. I'll give him two years before I throw in my support or work to get the bum out.

Richard Stein

Metzger champions households

To the editor:
Talk, talk, talk. We're accustomed to politicians who deliver the rhetorical flourishes during the elections campaigns—witness the florid, ominous verbiage we're hearing from the GOP candidate for NY State Senate district 42—but we're surprised and pleased when our elected officials bring to office a long record of achievements and expertise in a field … and then work to act on their knowledge and promises.
Prior to her election in 2018, Senator Jen Metzger (D-Rosendale) was well-known as a founder of Citizens for Local Power, which fought utilities companies successfully to keep electric rates fair for customers. Since becoming a senator, she has continued to advocate for the interests of private citizens over the utilities' profits. In the wake of tropical storm Isaias, she has urged Central Hudson to reimburse customers for losses suffered during power shutoffs.
Most significant have been her efforts during the COVID crisis. She co-sponsored and passed senate bill S8113A, which forbids utilities and municipalities from shutting off gas, electric, water, and phone services through March 31, 2021 and lets customers set up deferred payment plans without financial penalties.
Consistency and integrity. We can trust that Senator Metzger's oversight of public utilities and defense of the public good will persist.

Tom Denton

For speedy service

To the editor:
A reader recently wrote in to complain that a card mailed at the Rock Hill post office didn't arrive at the recipient's Rock Hill home until 16 days later. Although the writer linked the delay to recent cuts in mail service, such a prolonged time lag is actually nothing new.
To ensure that a letter going to an address in the same town arrives promptly, simply hand it to the clerk behind the counter at the post office and point out that it's local mail. The clerk will set it aside for the driver on that route, and it will arrive the very next day.
Unfortunately, this step won't help with mail-in ballots. Personally, I intend to go to the polls on Election Day.

Rebekah Creshkoff

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