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Letters to the Editor

We welcome your opinion on any subject of interest pertaining to the Hudson Valley.

This column may include "Opinion" pieces, submitted by public officials, and "Letters", submitted by citizens. These letters are presented as opinions only, not as news or confirmed facts.

The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of www.MidHudsonNews.com or anyone associated with this website.

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Astorino privatizing Westchester County Airport

Two term County Executive Rob Astorino’s big message is that he has not raised taxes in Westchester County.  But what is questionable about this message is the method.  Last November, Astorino announced a proposal to develop and privatize Westchester County Airport with Oaktree management, a company who specializes in distressed properties.

This proposal was announced without seeking out bids from other companies, without a master plan published, and without a public hearing.  This proposal was done with no input from the public, particularly the residents around the airport who may have concerns about what an expanded airport would do to their property values and their quality of life with increased road traffic, flight patterns and noise pollution.

What kind of shape is Westchester County in financially that Astorino would even consider doing this?  The only other privatized airport in the country is in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Stewart Airport in Newburgh got out of the privatized business.  The only reason that Astorino pursued such a proposal is to be able to factor the money from the deal into the county budget.  This money from Oaktree management company would be offered over the course of a 40 year lease.

This attempted deal seems to have been Astorino’s attempt to move forward on required airport restorations after other attempts have failed.  He may be trying to garner funds for the county in this manner because other county properties such as Sprain Ridge pool, Playland Amusement Park and other county parks have their much needed repairs deferred or the property closed altogether.

Is this how Astorino keeps from raising Westchester taxes?  By trying to privately broker deals with companies who will then assume control of a county property and then be at liberty to expand and use the airport in ways that benefit their bottom line but not the needs and interests of Westchester residents?  What is happening in Astorino’s budget that he is resorting to attempting such deals to bring in cash?

What will he try to sell next year to make up for any budget shortfalls?
These are questions you should ask next time you hear “he has never raised taxes.” The answer to that question is that Astorino is relying on one-off schemes to make up for a lack of sound prudent financial management over the past two terms.

Bettina Mayer
Member of Croton in Action, Croton on Hudson
(March 21)

 

Wants Faso to oppose Trump security cuts

     Recognizing how difficult it is for Americans to agree in this age of polarized public discussion, one topic we should all agree on is the responsibility of the federal government to provide for the nation's defense.  However, the Trump plan to cut the budgets of the Coast Guard, TSA, and FEMA sounds preposterous.

     According to an article in the NY Times (3/10/17) Mr. Trump and his White House aides want to shift $5 billion from those 3 agencies to partially fund the Mexican border wall. The $1.7 billion cut to just the Coast Guard budget would severely impact its abilities to intercept smugglers, monitor Russian submarines, and conduct search-and-rescue mission along US coastlines. Does Mr. Trump seriously intend to place these programs in jeopardy, resulting in higher levels of smuggling and reduced scrutiny of Russian spy ships?

     I call upon all of our representatives in Congress, especially my Congressman, John Faso, to speak up publicly and forcibly to oppose those cuts in national security just to allow Mr. Trump keep a campaign promise to build a wall.

Bill McCabe
LaGrangeville
(March 10)

 

Faso won’t hold town hall

At the Feb 21 “networking” breakfast at Miss Monticello Diner, Representative John Faso was asked by an attendee when he would consider hosting a town hall so that more of his constituents could interact with him. Faso responded, “I’ve seen around the country, the way the town halls have been conducted—they’re not productive, and no one believes they’re productive.”

It is alarming that our so-called representative regards the civic participation of millions of deeply concerned Americans as “unproductive.” It is troubling that he openly erases his constituents—and millions of other citizens—by lumping us into his fictional “no one.” Does Faso live in a parallel universe? 

Town halls produce dialogue. Town halls produce accountability on the part of our legislators. Town halls produce a much-needed piercing of political obfuscation. Town halls are open to citizens of all political persuasions. I wonder if Faso characterized the 2009 town halls attended by Tea Party activists as “unproductive.”

You know what’s unproductive? A “representative” who will only meet with constituents in micro-managed and “pay-to-have-a-say” settings. That’s productive for his wealthy donors, but not so much for the rest of us.

Michelle Sutton
Highland
(February 27)

 

Faso not defending environment

I am perplexed by Congressman John Faso’s portrayal of himself as a defender of the environment. Mr. Faso’s congressional webpage states, “I am proud to fight for the natural resources of our area in order to leave a better world for our children and grandchildren.

Mr. Faso voted to overturn the Stream Protection Rule in a misguided attempt to restore jobs in the coal industry at the expense of our waterways. This was a surprising vote since Mr. Faso has said that he also supports New York farmers:  Agriculture and farming are the economic backbone of Upstate New York.
Seeing as Mr. Faso also serves on the House Committee on Agriculture, it is disturbing that he would be so insensitive to the need for clean water. Mr. Faso also voted to eliminate transparency in payments made by energy resource extractors to governments as well as supported the REINS Act, a measure subjecting regulations made by bodies such as the EPA to congressional approval. Furthermore, Mr. Faso has declined to take a position on the Pilgrim Pipeline, perhaps the most vital environmental concern for our district. Because Mr. Faso formerly served as a consultant for the Constitution Pipeline in Delaware County, I am not optimistic about his commitment to the environment on this issue.

New York’s natural beauty and the land that supports the state’s farmers are a gift to us all. I hope that Mr. Faso will act in deed rather than empty words to ensure the preservation of our resources for generations to come.

Jason Eckardt
Kerhonkson
(February 27)

 

Faso

While the Republican Administration attacks America’s free press and judicial system, elevates billionaire ideologue cronies to the nation’s highest positions of power, and signs cruel, unconstitutional executive orders like the Muslim ban, this is what our District 19 representative John Faso has been up to:

  • Voted for which would allow guns in school zones
  • Voted to allow people with serious mental illness to be able to purchase guns
  • Voted to repeal a rule requiring energy companies to disclose payments to foreign governments 
  • Voted to repeal a rule requiring some federal contractors to report labor violations
  • Voted to repeal the Stream Protection Rule
  • Voted for a budget resolution to repeal the Affordable Care Act 
  • Gained national media attention after being quoted in The Washington Post saying he had "no problem" with defunding Planned Parenthood 

Faced large protests against his support of ACA repeal

John Faso has voted in alignment with his Republican Party president’s position 92% of the time. In interviews, he talks in circles, never standing for anything. That’s because his allegiance is to his wealthy, arch-conservative donors, not to constituents. He does not represent the working and middle class people of our district, and that’s why we voters must make sure he’s a single-term legislator.

Zach Feuer
Hudson
Founding Member, Listen to Us, John Faso
(February 17)

 

Bullies

Are you a person who stands up to bullies, and doesn’t take abuse? If so, your neighbors in the Hudson Valley need your help.

The Hudson Valley is under attack from “Corporate Bully #1”, the Gas/Oil (fossil fuel) industry. We face the Pilgrim Pipeline, barges full of oil in the Hudson River, the CPV methane-powered electric plant in Minisink, and the Spectra Atlantic Bridge pipeline in Westchester.

More than just “bullies”, gas and oil companies are criminal organizations.

In addition to poisoning our land, air, and water, the fossil fuel industry bribes and pays off public officials to obtain permits and favorable laws. It takes citizens' property by eminent domain and threats of eminent domain. The “public service” agencies that are supposed to regulate the industry are staffed by former (and future) industry employees.  One outrageous example: Maggie Suter, an official at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) led the review process for two gas pipeline projects by Spectra Energy, while her husband, Phil Suter, was a paid consultant for Spectra Energy.

The fossil fuel industry only cares about profit; it does not care about the harm it does to you, your friends and family, the Hudson Valley, or the human race.

Local environmental groups are fighting against these projects, but more concerned “bully fighters” are needed to speak out and take action. With your help, the Hudson Valley and New York State may be able to escape domination by fossil fuel industry greed.

Charles Davenport
Wappingers Falls
(February 17)

 

Town Hall with Our Congressperson on February 24th in Kingston

To combat overwhelming unpopularity some congresspersons are looking to have discussions with small groups of eight to ten people at a time instead of meeting with large groups. Is this why our own congressperson will not confirm to appear at a town hall meeting on February 24th in Kingston? As of noon on February 13th, our congressperson’s office staff in Kingston does not know if he will attend.

Based on the population of our district it would take about 70,000 meetings to speak with all the people in NYS Congressional District 19. Assuming our congressperson does this over a two-year term, it would require about 95 meetings a day, every single day. And that is just each of us meeting with our congressperson once over the entire term of two years. There is a reason town hall meetings and representatives supposedly exist; scalability.

It is fair and reasonable to expect our representative to speak with us together in large groups as requested. It is tradition. Already there is significant interest (over 700 people) in the Facebook event for the upcoming town hall hosted by Citizen Action of the Hudson Valley. Many of us are concerned about our Liberty, upholding our Constitution, the possible loss of healthcare, plus the continued attempts by some lawmakers to privatize Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. I know I am. Faso wrote a 2004 NYTimes Op-Ed about privatizing Social Security, “…such a system could be a boon to Wall Street.”. Why is Faso seeking to represent Wall Street instead of the Hudson Valley? Is it really possible to represent both?

These concepts, issues and programs have considerable impact on our families and friends. Many of those affected by such a change, especially the elderly, may not have the resources to overcome such a drastic shift in Social Security policy for instance. Most of us know at least one person who is struggling no matter how hard they work and how much they have sacrificed. I do.

I want a local non-partisan discussion on these matters to hear what other residents are concerned about, as the two major parties and our national news media are failing to hold our representatives accountable. We need to reject Faso if he tells us lies, we should applaud him if he tells the truth and we need to call him out if he uses doublespeak. I am not interested in lobbying Faso in small divided, thus possibly conquered groups. I suppose this may make sense for a former professional lobbyist like Faso, but I am not a lobbyist. I am a concerned resident and voter in the Hudson Valley.

Gary Pennock
Stone Ridge
(February 17)

 

LegoLand Approval:  Nothing Short of Tyranny

As a 74-year taxpaying resident of Goshen, I recently decided to rebuild my grandparent’s cabin on our land.  In applying for our building permit, great effort went into assuring that not only did we remain within the original footprint (to the foot) but that we respected and adhered to every single existing town rule and regulation.  A short time thereafter, I learned of Merlin’s proposal to blow it all up. 

The LegoLand decision making process is cruel, unreasonable, and arbitrary in its use of power and control over the process.  In other words it’s tyrannical.  Tyranny exists when the will of a few politicians supersedes the will of the community.  Tyranny exists when past precedent is ignored on the refusal to allow high density housing on the exact same site (less than one year ago). Tyranny exists when a long-standing planning board member is forced out because of his wife’s perceived stance on the project. Tyranny exists when it doesn’t matter that an existing zoning law explicitly states “no amusement parks”.  Tyranny exists when one of the wealthiest corporations in the world receives millions of tax pay dollars to research a project that will net them huge profits.  Tyranny exists when that same wealthy corporation refuses to pay full taxes in proposing a token yearly school/town “gift”. 

Let us call this Legoland process what it is; nothing short of tyranny

Michael Feldstein
Goshen
(February 17)

 

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