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Wednesday, January 16, 2019


Balancing Priorities Is a Never-ending Challenge

To the editor:
I'm often heard telling folks that it's important we “take care of our own”: that we pay County employees a living wage that doesn't require them to be lining up at our Social Services office just to put food on the family table - or just as bad, taking their skills elsewhere. I've written about that topic in this very space.
But that concept extends to our taxpayers, too, and it is this balance that my colleagues and I often agonize over. An undeniable fact is that New York State is losing residents largely because of the enormous tax burden placed on their shoulders, and County leaders have a responsibility to address that proactively.
It is a rare success when we can raise salaries without raising taxes, but we're working on that right now, hoping to complete long-awaited contracts with several of our employee unions. I'm optimistic we'll be able to do so without further burdening taxpayers, thanks to a better economy and brighter prospects for everyone in Sullivan County.
The ironic part about achieving balance, however, is that you constantly have to work at it. It's like walking a tightrope: the moment you rest is the moment you lose your balance.
So the next “balancing act” already lies before the County. In fact, the challenge has been awaiting us for the past three years - the entire term thus far of this Legislature. If you've read this newspaper or talked to your local town officials, you've probably already heard about it: sharing newfound monies with our 15 townships.
Supervisors of those towns have been asking the County for a cut of increased sales tax income since before the current Legislature was seated. And while our predecessors were close to agreeing on a sharing formula with the towns, my colleagues and I felt that we should wait to see not only what new revenues came our way but also what new expenses cropped up. For as anyone with a budget knows well, expenses tend to keep pace with revenues, if not outpace them.
Plus, this Legislature agrees with me that our employees have suffered with low wages long enough, and if we are to achieve that “rare success” of raising salaries without raising taxes, we have to utilize that increased revenue from the array of new and expanded development now ongoing throughout the County.
That's how we've set our priorities, and I've endured some very pointed criticism from town leaders for that stance. Regardless, I think we've made the right decision.
However, the pleas of town supervisors to help them balance their budgets and more cost-efficiently serve their taxpayers - OUR taxpayers - has not gone unheard by this Legislature. The County already shares resources, equipment and personnel with our towns whenever and wherever we can, and vice-versa. We have to rely on each other - we're too small a place not to.
So while we have not moved forward on sharing sales tax revenues, I believe we've found another new revenue stream into which towns can tap. We're working out the details, and I plan to announce this exciting new initiative at my State of the County Address, tentatively scheduled for January 24. It's about “taking care of our own”: in this case, our towns and our taxpayers. Stay tuned!

Luis A. Alvarez

Thank you to BCES Trail Project

To the editor:
Part of my work as a part-time employee of the Fallsburg Central School District is to write press releases and articles and to take photographs celebrating the achievements of students and staff. I always want to acknowledge people and organizations that contribute to the well-being and the successes of the children, the parents and the school personnel. Sometimes there are so many contributors it is hard to mention everyone in the space allowed.
Such is the case with a wonderful project that has taken over two years to complete—the restoration and improvements to the hiking trail behind Benjamin Cosor Elementary School. The main champion of this project is first grade teacher Mrs. Leah Exner. On her behalf, I am writing this thank you letter to all those who contributed their time, their donations of money, in-kind materials and equipment, discounted supplies, and countless hours at the work site to fulfill the dream of Mrs. Exner and many teachers at BCES that began and implemented earlier versions of the trail.
The supplier and donor list includes: Woodbourne Lawn &Garden, Woodbourne Landscape Supply, Fallsburg Lumber, Rock Hill Trading Post, Home Depot of Monticello, FCSD, Steingart Associates, Tri-Valley School District Field Management Class, Tri-Valley FFA, Walmart of Monticello, A. Alport & Sons, Rock Hill Pharmacy, Friends of Sullivan County, NNG's Ed Schutte, Morgan Outdoors and Lisa Lyons, BCES PTA, The Maker's Lab, Diane Galusha of Catskill Watershed Corporation, Fallsburg Construction, Greg & Linda Goldstein, Newman Signs, and two generous anonymous donations supporting materials and snow shoes.
The hands-on volunteers of service and expertise includes: Colleen Emery and Diana Weiner of Sullivan Renaissance, SueAnn Boyd, Emily DeVore, Wanda Vionet Cruz of Cornell Cooperative of Sullivan County, Brian Brustman the Sullivan County Water Conservation & Soil Manager, Sullivan County Historian John Conway, Lee & Lucy Smassanow, Arnold Seletsky of Town of Fallsburg Parks & Recreation, Steve Vegliante Town of Fallsburg Supervisor, Sullivan County BOCES Construction Technology Program, Tri-Valley Lion's, FCSD Grounds keeping Staff, FCSD High School Life Skills Class, Sullivan County Longbeards, FCSD Cross Country Team, FCSD Leo's Club Girl Scouts - Heart of the Hudson, FCSD Publicity- Larry Schafman, FCSD Extended Day, FCSD Wellness Committee, FCSD PBIS Committee, FCSD Administration and FCSD Business Office, BCES Principal Mary Kate Stinehour. FCSD Athletic Director Suzanne Lendzian, FCSD Coaches Daniel Redman and Danielle Halikias, Mike Herbert, Patrick Mickelson, Andrew Exner, Ashley Exner, Paul Exner, Helen Exner, BCES Art Teacher Heidi Camacho, BCES Office Staff Hayley Frunzi and Bonnie Blanchard, Preston Kelly, and Todd Huebsch.
For grants received: Sullivan Renaissance Healthy Community Initiatives; Cornell Cooperative of Sullivan County Healthy Schools and Communities; NYS Education Literacy Grant; Pi State DKG Educational Foundation Grant toward Literacy; and Empire State After School Grant.
If I have overlooked your name, please let me know. Thank you.

Larry Schafman

Students deserve better

To the editor:
In Reply to 1/6 Article: “Metzger, Roscoe CSD disappointed with Governor's veto.”
As a parent, taxpayer and local school board member in my community, I join the parents, families and the Downsville, Livingston Manor and Roscoe Central School Districts to express my deep disappointment with the decision of Governor Andrew Cuomo to veto legislation to prevent the loss of millions in building aid.
Our students deserve school facilities that are safe, secure and fit to prepare our young minds to become tomorrows' future leaders. Despite New York State on paper spending the highest per pupil, many of our rural school districts are short changed of thousands if not millions of dollars they are due in academic funding. At the same time, New York State annually passes a bill of over $ 10 billion dollars to pay in unfunded mandates to our school districts and local municipalities. That's money being robbed from the classroom and a tragic upsetting guarantee of ever-increasing higher taxes on our overburdened homeowners. The Governor's veto here is another example of a State Government that too often pays lip service to our school districts' needs, but whose actions are too often detrimental instead in cost and lack of resources.
So I join my fellow parents and educators by urging Governor Cuomo here to reconsider his veto and provide the relief owed to our school districts in Orange and Sullivan Counties, while supporting passage of needed legislative reform that will correct the inequities in school aid and rein in the cost of unfunded mandates.
Sincerely Yours,

Kevin Gomez, Esq.
Attorney & Counselor at Law

Kevin Gomez, Esq.

Make America Sane Again

To the editor:
There are those who choose to marginalize aired complaints about Donald Trump, referring to such statements as the products of those who are prejudiced, i.e. haters without just cause. Long before Trump was elected I already knew that I hated that man. I hated when, during the primaries he referred to Mexicans as rapists. I hated when Trump encouraged his audiences to beat up on protestors. I hated when Trump made fun of a disabled reporter. I hated when Trump was shown to have bragged about grabbing women's genitals. I hated when Trump lied about producing his tax returns.
When, thanks to the Russians, Republican gerrymandering, and GOP voter suppression Trump won, after garnering three million less votes that Clinton, he went about pleasing his base. One of his first hateful acts was when he stopped the EPA from preventing corporate dumping into our waterways. In an effort to muzzle the press he convinced his brain-dead followers that the news media were all liars (except for the doting Fox “news”). For nearly two years he undermined our national security teams, our courts, even the FBI. I sometimes had harsh feelings about past actions by those institutions, but I never argued to emasculate them.
I hated as, one-by-one we saw a record number of resignations, firings, indictments, and convictions of the team he installed to supposedly drain the swamp.
Above all I hated that Trump ordered many hundreds of children be ripped from their asylum-seeking parents, sometime tear-gassed and placed into detention centers—prisons for children, most without due process. Now 800 thousand crucial federal employees are going without paychecks after Trump proudly boasted about shutting down the government over a stupid wall, Trump's monument to himself.
Yes, although a Trump-hater, I'm not prejudiced against him. That's because I have sound REASONS behind my contempt. We need all work together to remove Donald Trump and his political enablers from office and make America sane again!

Marshall Rubin

‘Debate Challenge' comment

To the editor:
In his “debate challenge”, the author fails to distinguish between ‘causation' and ‘correlation', which must have been an important part of the doctor's science education.
As he expounds on the importance of facts, he neglects to include any information that specifically connects President Trump's policies with ‘causing' the current positive economic environment in Sullivan County. Factually, almost all of the County's present gains can be traced back to momentum begun prior to January 2017.

Jason Rosenbaum

Debate Challenge: “You Gotta Be Kidding”

To the editor:
In 2018 we lost the great Charles Krauthammer, a Conservative voice of reason. He called Trump a “lightweight” with “bouts of loopiness,” and cited a new disorder June 9th, 2017 in The Washington Post, “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” (The disease Dr. Phil Jacobs accused me of having caught in his “Debate Challenge” December 28th 2018.) In Krauthammer's article he noted, as a former Psychiatrist, that Trump's tweets were “direct conduits from the unfiltered id” and warned there could be “consequences.”
In that same article, he called a Trump tweet to the Mayor of London “appalling” and “petty in the extreme,” and predicted that if Trump didn't stop acting unhinged and tweeting the ridiculous and dangerous, that “Trump Derangement Syndrome will only become epidemic.”
If Krauthammer had invited me to talk with him I would have gone anywhere at any time. And I would have certainly learned something from him as I always did on Fox News.
Dr. Phil's invitation to me “any time any place” to a debate about Donald Trump making America Great Again is ridiculous. Firstly America was always great. And second: As a practicing psychoanalyst for over thirty years I know what I see, hear and smell. And I am willing to adjust what I think I know at any time. Dr. Phil, on the other hand, seems to be an individual who only sees and hears what he already “knows” and then makes up the rest. What good would a debate do? He already drank the Kool Aid. End of Story.
That he doesn't know that the average American struggles to earn his daily bread despite the Trump administration's laudable reduction of unemployed can only mean that he is either blindfolded or has no non wealthy friends. We live in a poor county. Many here have two and three jobs and just barely make ends meet. Where has Jacobs looked for the average American? In Scarsdale? At Trump parties for donors?
Jacobs inability to admire someone like Michelle Obama, tells me he knows nothing of the struggle of Black women in this great country of ours to transcend stereotypes, prejudice and postal zones and attain greatness, which she did with elegance and style.
As for his outright lie that I want to tear down the Kauneonga Lake firehouse to get parking for my patrons, he should know that The Fat Lady Café has its own parking lot. He has eaten in the café many times and would see this truth if he looked across the street. I share my lot with my neighbors because they have little parking close by. He chose to exaggerate the facts.
He also should know that my recent letter was not about Trump's policy towards Israel or China but addressed Trump's lack of respect for protocol and decorum. He attacked me for what I didn't say. I have no idea if Trump's trade deals with China will work out. I'm still waiting to see how North Korea goes.
In my letter, I was writing about something my Grandfather called “Derech Eretz.” It is difficult to translate the term, but essentially it means respect. As President I want Trump to respect the Constitution, due process and Congressional procedures. In Dr. Phil's case, I would hope he could tolerate, the existence of other points of view. I actually agreed with some of the things he said in his letter. But his disrespectful attacks on me are off putting and not based on hyperbole. I never “screamed” for Trump's blood, but predicted, like Krauthammer, that there will be consequences to Trump's style of governance and I worry that he is inciting violence that could lead to bloodshed. If Jacobs did not like my “bloody” metaphor, I am sorry, but time is on the side of truth. Let's see where Trump's chaotic presidency leads.
We need a leader. Trump does not act like one. His latest tantrum about the wall (that sacrificed the paychecks of thousands of government workers over the holidays) and his decision to pull out of Syria without consulting his generals, or protecting the Kurds who are our allies, all point to a man who knew how to get elected, by hook or by crook, but has no idea how to govern.…by consensus, through careful consideration and due process. Take heed, Dr. Phil. If you expect me to take you seriously, you will have to treat me like a fellow citizen, with a difference of opinion, not as a “deranged” enemy of the people.
I remain, as ever, a concerned citizen.

Judith Maidenbaum, Ph.D.

Michael Crawford, inmate

To the editor:
For Michael, at 17 and serving over 20 years must've been tried as an adult for who knows what his crime(s), since he doesn't say.
To be in over 20 years it must've been of a violent, Class A Felony nature or he took a life. He doesn't mention a release date so maybe he's in for life!
I'm glad to hear that he has rehabilitated himself, too bad it's after he did his terrible deed and not before as he could've saved another family/people much grief. Rehabilitation is a great task, does that bring back a life or does it undo the grief/loss for families? You may call it a mistake but in reality it was a life altering/changing thing you did and we have laws that we are taught to go by.
Prison reform, Sentencing reform (without getting too soft) and especially Attorney reform of all sides is needed. DA's and client lawyers must start using all the laws not only for the people but the defendant as well. This includes full disclosure that the DA's are fighting to not do. Why would you fight to stop disclosing all truths and facts? Just to win a case at anyone's expense!
What's needed more is Family reform that would stop youthful offenders before they become one.
Usually convicted felons find God after it's too late so it's time to get back to church to find God first instead of honing with the Devil. Get the family unit back together that involves both parents back together for the sake of the children. People getting divorced stayed together for the sake of the children that was thought wrong to do, I think it did better than breaking up the home at early ages.

Don Dittmer
Lake Huntington

Debate Support

To the editor:
I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Phillip Jacobs Counterpoint “Debate Challenge”.
There are many more voters who feel as he does, including me, but we don't make as much noise as the unhinged election losers do.
A debate with a far left liberal, especially one who obviously suffers from Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) will end in only one way…with that liberal spewing the word “racist!” at Dr. Jacobs. That's all they have to fall back on when confronted with how well the President's America and Americans first agenda is working.

Denise Connolly

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