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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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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)

 

Fossil fuel attack

The Hudson Valley is under attack from the Gas/Oil “fossil fuel” industry. We face the Pilgrim Pipeline, “Bakken Oil” Barges in the Hudson River, the CPV methane-powered electric plant in Wawayanda, and the Spectra Atlantic bridge pipeline in Westchester. If you object to the fossil fuel industry threatening the air you breathe, the water you drink, and your Hudson River, you may want to raise your voice in opposition.

There are three big lies used by the Gas/Oil industry.

The first is: “we” “need the energy”.  Since 2013, the United States has been the world’s leader in the production of oil and methane. (1) On December 18, 2015 Congress lifted a 40 year ban on oil exports.  New pipeline construction is solely for the export of oil and gas, and in the case of Keystone XL, Canadian oil.

The second big lie is that “we need the jobs”. President Trump, using “alternative facts” stated the Keystone project will result in “28,000 jobs”. In its application to the State Department TransCanada, the pipeline’s  builder, stated that 35 full time jobs would be created, along with 1,975 temporary (2 year) construction jobs.(2) With $3.6 trillion dollars of infrastructure repairs needed in this country, does it serve “we the people” to invest in temporary jobs that only benefit a greedy, polluting industry?

Lie #3 is “IT IS SAFE”, generally referring to methane “natural gas”. It is not “safe”. According to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA), in the 20 year period 1996 to 2015, there were 5,676 significant incidents involving gas and oil pipelines, with 347 fatalities, 1,346 injuries, and $7,545,315,068 in damage.(3)

Additionally, gas and oil companies engage in criminal activity. In addition to the previously noted lies, the industry uses bribery, political payoffs, and intimidation.

It takes citizens' property by eminent domain and threats of eminent domain. It bribes and pays off public officials to obtain permits to build pipelines. It poisons air and water. The public service agencies that are supposed to regulate the industry are staffed by former (or future) industry employees.  In one egregious case, Maggie Suter, an official at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) led the review for two gas pipeline projects by Spectra Energy.  

The fossil fuel industry should be identified as Public Enemy #1 because it only cares about profit; it does not care about the harm it does to you, your friends and family, or to the human race.

Charles Davenport
Wappingers Falls
(February 17)

 

Alternative truth

Everyone loves the Muppets. The two old grandpas in the balcony were revered for telling the truth. 

Mike Hein said Dave Donaldson and I both:

  • Opposed the monument to fallen soldiers. A lie. We both voted yes.
  • Opposed environmental projects. A lie. We both voted yes.
  • Opposed the Patriot's Project for homeless vets. A Lie. We both voted yes.
  • Opposed the strive project. A lie. We both voted yes.

The fact is both Dave and I voted to approve every project he declared we did not. To call him a liar would be accurate, and appropriate. Some might say that’s harsh.

The real question should be "what is the reasoning for the lies"? Our voting records are in the legislative office and are available to any and all. What would possess him to lie? Maybe the man cannot distinguish between right and wrong?

I can only tell you that if any of my children exhibited this fantasy of perpetual embellishments when they were growing up, I would have quickly taken them for professional counseling.

What should be done when one acts in a dishonest matter? I guess right now the man should be held in public ridicule as a liar.

John R. Parete
Ulster County Legislator
Boiceville
(February 6)

 

Opposes Legoland

I am writing to express my concerns regarding the proposed Legoland site for the town of Goshen.   The Company has confirmed an expected attendance of 10,000 to 20,000 people on any given day, which will include every day of the week from April through October.   The amount of traffic and resulting pollution and refuse that will spill over into our historic town including its secondary roads will greatly compromise our quality of life.

Those of us who have lived here to enjoy quiet open spaces and clean air will clearly be compromised by others who are willing to give these up in the interest of perceived monetary benefit.   I refer to it as perceived, because when all is said and done, I believe that the town will not benefit much if at all financially, given all the money that will be needed to hire more police, firemen, and keep up with the resultant wear and tear on our roads.  No analysis of this has been formally done, and if so, has not been made available to the public.

I speak for many about this, and I hope that more people will wake up and realize that this is a huge mistake before it is too late.

Robert Wolfson, MD
Goshen
(February 6)

 

New York’s failing tobacco grades

The editorial published on January 25, 2017, entitled, “New York State still failing in efforts to reduce tobacco use, Lung Association finds” is evidence that although a good deal of progress has been made, there is still work to be done to reduce adult smoking rates in NYS. 

Nearly 70% of smokers say they want to quit.  While half try to stop each year, nearly one in five adults in the United States and 15% of adults in New York still smoke despite the known dangers of tobacco use. More than 25,400 New Yorkers each year lose their lives to smoking-related diseases, and for every one person who dies, another 20 live with a smoking-related illness. In New York alone 1,200 children lose a parent to smoking-related illness every year. 

I applaud the concerted commitment in the Hudson Valley by dedicated medical facilities, behavioral health institutions, and community organizations in address tobacco use in the region.  The Center for a Tobacco Free Hudson Valley is involved in exciting projects like the DSRIP/Medicaid Redesign program which presents the opportunity for local providers and community organizations to unite and enhance the services necessary to help those in the Hudson Valley struggling to quit smoking. We are headed in the right direction whenever we work together to build sustainable infrastructures within our community to improve public health and avoid the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy.

Leilani Lockett
Tobacco Program Manager, Center for a Tobacco Free Hudson Valley/American Lung Association of the Northeast
White Plains
(February 6)

 

Legislature pay raises

Assemblyman James Skoufis lied to us. He told us repeatedly he was opposed to the Legislature getting pay raises. The truth is that he wanted one and was ready to vote in favor of it all along. He just didn’t want us to know.

Last summer, he said that with so many of his constituents still in need of better opportunities, he’d be opposed to getting a pay raise. But I just read in the Daily News that he whined to Governor Cuomo about not getting a pay raise and said he couldn’t come out in favor of one publicly because it’s unpopular with his constituents.

Know what else is unpopular with your constituents, Assemblyman Skoufis? Politicians who lie to us. We won’t forget this when you’re up for election again.

Dennis Pitcher
Goshen
(February 6)

 

Supervisor objects to Nazi merchandise at gun show

In 2010, after a display of Nazi paraphernalia at the Westchester County gun show - the chair of the Holocaust and Human Rights Education issued a statement stating that the sale of Nazi artifacts was "an unbelievable insult". Richard Laster, chair of the center in 2010  said that he would reach out to County Executive Astorino and encourage him to avoid a similar sale at a gun show.

On January 21 and January 22, 2017 (seven years later) the Westchester County Center was again the location for the gun show at the Westchester County Center. Once again - Nazi propaganda and Confederate materials were sold for profit at a government owned building.

I am shocked---I am outraged that the County Executive would allow a taxpayer paid for building to be used for this disgraceful purpose- to help someone profit from the sale of books, flags, paraphernalia promoting Hitler, the Confederate states, those who supported slavery. The event was a gun show. The county center is not a museum, it's not a library. This was a for profit event. And the vendor attended the event to make money -selling symbols of hate.

The sale of pro Nazi and pro confederate materials at this time in our nations history is very disturbing. Anti Semitism is up. Racism is becoming more acceptable to some.  The 2016 Presidential elections featured more anger, more hatred --something the county should not promote. The Journal News frequently publishes articles about Nazi symbols appearing all over the county.

Six million Jews died during the Holocaust. Slaves were abused and treated like sub humans by the Confederate states. County Executive Astorino should show some sensitivity to Holocaust survivors, their families, those whose ancestors were slaves by prohibiting the sale of Nazi and confederate materials at county owned buildings.

I applaud the Democratic members of the Board of Legislators for speaking out on this important issue. This is not a Democratic or Republican cause. Every elected official should show sensitivity.

I urge the legislature to pass a law banning the sale of pro Nazi and Conferate artifacts and materials at gun shows and other for profit events held at the Westchester County Center.

Paul Feiner
Greenburgh Town Supervisor
(January 26)

 

Where is Faso?

On January 5, 2017 on his Twitter page (@johnfasony), NY District 19 Congressman John Faso said, “My job is to work for the people of our district. Always feel free to reach out to me if you need assistance.” That now seems truly disingenuous, because as of this writing (1/25/17) we the people of his district want to be able to meet with him at town halls and district events and are getting nowhere.

Faso’s predecessor, Chris Gibson of the then-District 20 (now 19), posted his D.C. schedule and his events in the District, including town halls. As of this writing, Faso has no town halls scheduled, his staff say there are no current plans for any, and his website and staff refuse to provide even one tiny glimpse into his schedule.

Congressman Faso, how can you “work for the people of our district” while building a wall between yourself and your constituents? Post your schedule on your website, and schedule town halls in your district.

I’m a member of Move Forward New York 19th Congressional District, and we will continue to press for access to our representative in Congress and publicize any continued difficulty in achieving it.

Michelle Sutton
Highland NY
(January 26)

 

Wants legislative commitment to Catskills

In years past, thanks to support from Governor Cuomo, his administration, local Assembly and Senate leaders and the State Legislature, our beloved Catskill region has seen strong growth in the marketing and promotion of our region, providing a boost to our recreational tourism-based economy. Programs like the Catskills Challenge that Governor Cuomo created have drastically raised awareness and the profile of the Catskills as a region. Expanded support for our local tourism efforts, as well as the opening of the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center, a visitor center for the Catskill Park have all been welcome support of the Catskills, furthering a regional identity in the minds of millions of current and future visitors.

Most recently we were glad to see, as part of the governor’s Adventure NY proposal in the 2017 State of the State, that New York State commits to spending at least $5 million in the Catskills to conserve land, improve signage, increase trail mileage and upgrade our campgrounds as well as support to expand opportunities for recreation, strengthening our region’s economy.

Thanks to the leadership of Senator Seward and Senator Amedore, we have seen the creation of an Aid to Localities line for the Catskill Park. The first year's funding is already going into the creation of a comprehensive recreation plan for the Catskill Park and access improvement projects across the region. The goal of the recreation plan is to look at the Park as a whole, open spaces, public lands and communities, and see how we can connect existing trail systems, where we can provide more recreation opportunities for the public and how we can connect our communities to each other and to the vast open space resources around them to help build economic opportunities based on outdoor recreation of all forms.

We would now like to see a commitment to build on this collaborative success by establishing a regular annual “Catskills Package” that would support projects to improve our regional economy by supporting both enhanced access to, and stewardship of, our public lands, ultimately providing a world-class experience for visitors and residents alike, that strengthens the economy on Main Street and our natural environment by spurring the development of permanent sustainable jobs that are based on our multitude of outdoor recreation opportunities

We believe that funding for this package can come from two distinct funding streams, the Environmental Protection Fund and New York Works funding. If you agree, please join the Catskill Park Coalition in Albany, alongside dozens of supporters, for Catskill Park Awareness Day, Tuesday, February 7th, 2017. Learn more and register at CatskillCenter.org/events.

(Letter edited for length)

Jeff Senterman
Executive Director, The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development
Co-Chair, Catskill Park Coalition
(January 26)

 

Indian Point “power gap”

Assemblyman Brabenec’s recent letter entitled, “Power gap opens when Indian Point closes,” revealed his ignorance.  He also distorted the facts.  Ineptly, he tried to gain some political mileage by criticizing Governor Cuomo for his involvement in Entergy’s decision to close an unprofitable Indian Point.  Brabenec also tried to score points with CPV, another likely corporate campaign contributor.  

Brabenec hasn’t done his homework.  There is no “Indian Point gap” and no need for CPV.  Nearly 3,600 megawatts of electricity have been added to the system through transmissions upgrades, efficiency, and demand reduction from distributed generation since 2012. This doesn’t count the additional 1,650 megawatts now available since Bowline and Danskammer are back in service. 

In addition, Brabenec obviously doesn’t care that IP and CPV threaten public health, safety and welfare, are poor energy investments, require subsidies and mean dependency on costly archaic fossil fuel infrastructure for the foreseeable future.

Brabenec needs to smell the coffee.  Indian Point threatens our future, and CPV’s fracked gas power plant will contribute to global warming, climate change, extreme weather catastrophes, sickness, death and destruction. 

Those who oppose IP and CPV are not “NIMBYs,” they are intelligent, informed, concerned citizens fighting to protect and preserve our valley, our state and our country; they are Americans and they welcome the transition to clean energy infrastructure.

Our state could be a leader of a healthy green energy economy predicated on renewable resources with thousands of good paying jobs.  Get on board Assemblyman Brabenec. 

Randolph Hurst
Slate Hill
(January 23)

 

Open letter to John Faso

I write as a concerned citizen in the 19th Congressional District. Congratulations on winning a hard-fought congressional race. While I was (and remain) a strong supporter of Zephyr Teachout, I applaud your efforts and wish you the best in this position. I am a founding member of the political action group Move Forward New York, comprised primarily of folks from the Hudson Valley. We are currently more than 1,000 members strong. Our primary purpose is straightforward. Generally speaking, we are excessively concerned about the presidential election results – speaking for myself, I think “terrified” may be the most accurate characterization of my feelings. We are deeply concerned about issues related to health care, education, immigration, international policies, and so forth. I am sure that you are aware of the kinds of concerns we may have and will not belabor this point here.

Built on a mindset of collaboration and progress, our group plans to communicate with you – and ideally to meet with you – to ensure that our voices are clearly heard. We look forward to collaborating with your office moving forward, in spite of what are likely clear ideological differences, to help ensure that the US remains the great nation that we are fortunate to call home.

So please expect communications from our group regarding setting up meetings, etc., to discuss issues and to hopefully build a collaborative relationship.

p.s. Feel free to email our organization at: mfny19@gmail.com or learn more about us at www.MoveForwardNewYork.org

Glenn Geher, Ph.D.
Chair and Professor of Psychology, Founding Director of Evolutionary Studies
SUNY New Paltz
(January 23)

 

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