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Sunday, September 23, 2018


Consumer talk

To the editor:
I was unable to solve a warranty problem with a manufacturer.
I went to Tractor Supply in Liberty to get help. The manager “Megan” solved my problem in no time at all. It's great to know there are some people who listen to a consumer for a change.

Tom Damiani


A Night of Music

To the editor:
This past Saturday night we had a most pleasant musical evening thanks to the Sullivan County Chamber Orchestra and the Nesin Cultural Arts.
Their program "Songs Without Words," highlighted works by Rossini, Mozart and Mendelssohn, and was performed by 13 talented musicians (led by Artistic Director Andrew Trombley, and Concertmaster Akiko Hosoi).
A clarinet solo by Anton Rist was a highpoint of the evening.
We also enjoyed refreshments after the concert.
While we are only part-time residents of Monticello, we attend the Chamber's concerts at every opportunity, and highly recommend that our neighbors discover this cultural jewel in Sullivan County.

Sylvia and Donald Singer


Addressing Parking in Kauneonga Lake

To the editor:
The letter signed by Dan Sturm and the Bethel Town Board titled ”Kauneonga Lake Firehouse to Stay” was written in response to a statement by a “local business owner” that the Kauneonga Lake Firehouse would serve the community better if it were removed from the business district where it does not belong and placed in a more appropriate spot, or merged with The White Lake Fire House which is just 1.4 miles down the road and on 17B.
Since I am that local business owner and also the “landlord” to three local businesses and several new residents on the main street in the hamlet, and since I am also in the process of rebuilding yet another main street structure, I would like to offer a response.
My suggestion was in no way meant to diminish the role of our volunteer firemen and their self-sacrifice, heroism, and importance to the community. Their dedication, professionalism and generosity of spirit are not in question.
What is very much on the table is the placement of the firehouse itself. It no longer belongs in the center of the business district. This fact is obvious even to the firemen themselves.
The Firehouse was built when the town was dozing. There were some cars on the street in 1974. But not that many! Vasmer's was a well-loved establishment with a history and personality, but its clientele hardly caused a parking problem. There were no tickets on cars blocking the fire lanes and causing firefighters to complain incessantly that the sheer volume of cars parked over the white lines, the congestion and traffic on busy weekends was causing them angst about how to get through in case of fire.
Even the one parking spot in front of The Fat Lady Cafe is constantly being questioned by the Fire Department.
The town is no longer a sleepy 70's place. It is now wide-awake. And there is a parking problem. And that “problem” is due in large measure to people like myself, who recognized the potential of this once quiet lake community and started to build. When I first drew plans for “The Fat Lady Café” I called on the Gerry Foundation and asked them if they had any interest in investing in the town. Jonathan Drapkin, then working for The Gerrys came down, walked with me through the rubble of what had once been the Cottonwood café and said I was on my own.
Now 15 years later, Sullivan Renaissance, an arm of the Gerry Foundation, Sullivan Planning and Cornell Cooperative have returned with experts to make Kauneonga Lake “walkable.” Most of us thought “walkable” meant sidewalks on Route 55 so that people with baby carriages would not be at risk all summer. But no. We who attended the forum found out that these experts came up with ways to put a walkable tiny park in the center of town replacing roads that would give access to restaurant deliveries that go on all day. Their plans did not address sidewalks on Route 55 or any of the real issues in the town and the plan cost upwards of 20 thousand dollars to draw. I gave my opinion for free.
I looked at their plan and suggested, if they want a town park, which would be lovely, and if they wish to address the real problem of Kauneonga Lake, which is parking, they ought to think about getting rid of the firehouse. Once they do, they give the town access to the Firemen's Pavilion for town events and to enough parking to meet the needs of our thriving little hamlet.
The very fact of people being so outraged at such a suggestion (although many residents of the town agree with me) only underscores that what I say rings true. If you tell a skinny woman she's fat, she'll laugh it off. But if you walk up to someone obese and suggest they read Atkins, watch out.
You don't get outraged over something far fetched. The Town Supervisor and the entire town board would not have spent time penning a letter to the Democrat if what I said at that forum didn't hit a vein of truth.
So I will suggest again. Remove the Firehouse. If the two companies don't want to merge even though they once were one company, then build a new firehouse in a more reasonable spot.

Judith Maidenbaum
Owner: The Fat Lady Café
Kauneonga Lake

Kauneonga Lake

Give one, others will want

To the editor:
Remember when the DA wanted a new ADA and the money was already there? The Legislature said ‘If you give to one the others will want too' and said not yet.
The ADA was recently hired and now here they come.
Department of Family Services (DFS) will eliminate the one System Operator position and create a Housing Coordinator. Even swap at $52,000/year. Why eliminate one for another when DFS has 4 attorneys*, 47 examiners*, 68 caseworkers* and 38 account clerks* plus more*. I'm sure they can find a Housing Coordinator from the people they have without eliminating a one-person position. Split the work load with whom you have especially with administration. [* = different levels].
Next, Public Health Services (PHS) will create a Director position at $70,000 annual salary. To ‘help' cover this cost they will eliminate a Public Health Nurse position. They have 11 Public Health Nurses*, 3 Public Health Dir's*, Public Health Coordinators and a PHS Program Coordinator which sounds like the director position they want to make. Salary only, nothing about benefits or where remaining monetary ‘help' is coming from!
Personally I'd hire a nurse that treats needy people and lose a director's position spreading that person's duties around; a little cooperation is all it takes.
Recently the Sheriff asked for more deputies and dispatchers. Sen Bonacic said they should be paid for from the agreed casino deal especially since it's due to the casino that they're needed. There was talk about making the 911 center the only dispatching center and lose the Sheriff's dispatchers to patrol. Since it wasn't mentioned in ‘Code Blue' where's that update?
Instead of doing a little research or re-organizing, the legislature has no problem spending money and doesn't say where it's all coming from with the casino running at a loss.

Don Dittmer
Lake Huntington

One and done

To the editor:
In response to Highway Supervisor Scullion's tirade against spending money on encouraging tourism. I would say to Mr. Scullion that the reason folks complain about potholes is because the Highway Dept. seems to fix the same potholes each year. If the Highway Dept. would fix the potholes one time like they should be fixed there would be no complaints.
Imaging going to the dentist to have a cavity filled, and having to return to the dentist each year to have her refill the same cavity because the filling disappears. I would suggest that Sullivan County needs both tourist dollars as well as competent highway dept. workers for us to thrive. The money allocated by the legislature to increase tourism should help in this regard BUT what can be done to find competent highway dept. supervisors that are able to fill a pothole one time and have the pothole remain fixed?!

Walt O'Brien

ACLU & NRA vs Cuomo

To the editor:
The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the NRA's right to take NY Governor and DFS (Dept of Financial Services) to court.
From ACLU website: "The NRA alleges that Cuomo and top members of his administration abused their regulatory authority over financial institutions to threaten New York banks and insurers that associate with the NRA or other “gun promotion” groups, and that those threats have jeopardized the NRA's access to basic insurance and banking services in New York.
In the ACLU's view, targeting a nonprofit advocacy group and seeking to deny it financial services because it promotes a lawful activity (the use of guns) violates the First Amendment. Because we believe the governor's actions, as alleged, threaten the First Amendment rights of all advocacy organizations. Meanwhile NY State has asked the court to dismiss the case without even permitting discovery into the administration's actions. The ACLU's brief supports the NRA's right to discovery on its First Amendment claims. The ACLU's position in this case has nothing to do with the NRA's policies — it's about the First Amendment rights of all organizations to engage in political advocacy without fear that the state will use its regulatory authority to penalize them for doing so.
Political advocacy organizations like the NRA (or the ACLU or Planned Parenthood) need basic business services, like insurance and banking, to operate. The NRA says that the state, using its regulatory powers over those industries, is threatening financial companies that do business with the NRA."
Remember whether you like it or not it is our right to bear arms that protects all our other rights and freedoms especially freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
God bless America, One nation under God, In God we trust.

John "JP" Pasquale
Livingston Manor

My Thoughts

To the editor:
“No one has more understanding of the pressures NYSEG must be under recovering from the 2 horrendous Sullivan County storms last spring, and just the sheer amount of construction happening in the County. But when one of the county's largest investors has to wait 5 months for a simple utility pole to be installed so we can get electric to a new home, the situation has reached an alarming new stage.”

Chuck Petersheim


To the editor:
To All Residents,
Last month the Town of Bethel, in collaboration with our planning partners including Sullivan County Planning, Sullivan Renaissance, and Cornell Cooperative Extension held 2 public forums. They were meant to solicit input from all of our residents, businesses, visitors, and first responders in regards to forming a longer term plan due to the great growth in the Hamlet of Kauneonga Lake over the last ten-fifteen years. The forums were well attended by over fifty people, and were led by our professional engineers and designers Delta Engineering. There were great suggestions to consider, and at this point data has been collected and will be studied for future possible improvements. No decisions have been made.
Normally, all comments and suggestions are welcome and well received. In this case there has been one particular idea from a local business owner that has called for the removal of the Kauneonga Lake firehouse from its present location, as well as to consolidate all local fire companies, to provide for more parking and maybe a new green space or Park area in that location. This idea has caused great concern, angst, and animus in our Town especially with our local firemen.
All year long Kauneonga Lake firemen contribute so much to our community and our residents. They have been serving Bethel for almost one hundred years. We love the chicken dinners, pancake breakfasts, as well as their help with the Allison Whitney run, Suicide prevention walk, or the Bethel Farmers market. They open their doors for our kids for the Santa Express, Christmas tree lighting, and open in emergencies for either a warming or cooling center as needed. We have always appreciated the numerous times they have filled the Bethel pool, sometimes many times in one season. Their dive team has given us great assistance in searching for leaks and holes in our aging pool before we put in a new liner.
As members of the Bethel Town Board for many years, we must categorically reject any notion of removing the Kauneonga Lake firehouse for parking. That idea is OUTRAGEOUS. If and when any fire company wants to consolidate, that would be up to the fire company, the commissioners and the tax paying residents in those districts.
Every single day, our volunteer firefighters dedicate their spare time to protecting the communities in which they live. The five departments that serve the Town of Bethel are Kauneonga Lake, White Lake, Smallwood/ Mongaup Valley, Kenoza Lake and Swan Lake. Every one of them is an integral part of this community. They are selfless servants, who often put their own lives in harm's way to protect the lives and property of people they may have never met. They face great risk of injury to themselves for others. They do not get paid and are the backbone of our community.
Our firemen are professional, and it is our honor to witness them in action and work with them in emergencies. You have our utmost respect and appreciation for protecting us. You need to know that we have your back, and would not allow a great firehouse or its members to be moved for any reason, unless it's your choice and your decisions.

Daniel Sturm, Town Supervisor
Vicky Simpson, Deputy
Town Supervisor
Dawn Ryder, Councilwoman
Lillian Hendrickson, Councilwoman
Bernie Cohen, Councilman


My View

To the editor:
In a recent editorial column (8-10-18) published in the Sullivan County Democrat, ‘My Turn' author Steve White said, “Sullivan County has the reputation of taking enjoyment in watching, rooting, and waiting for the failure of others.”
This overall negative attitude seems to be the code of happiness in Sullivan County. Why are we so fast in finding reasons things don't work here, instead of being happy to be employed, happy for a good school system, happy for a good atmosphere for our children, and happy for a growing community to call home.
* * * * *
I arrived in Sullivan County in the early 60's. As a youngster I couldn't believe the beauty of Monticello and its surrounding towns. We were a world renowned vacation destination. We had 400-plus hotels and everyone was employed.
These employees built homes, had family's and put their children through college. Problem was, as the years moved on, the hotels only worried about their own properties and did not work with others to strengthen.
We needed to find a way to continue bringing our visitors back.
How could this be?
Why couldn't we join forces and work together?
In numbers there is strength and power. Working together provides a clearer view of the problems.
I am in business 50 years... I try to be supportive of our community and do the best I can in making this a great place to call home.
This past Labor Day holiday weekend I was asked to cater an event for BHR (Bernie's Holiday Restaurant). We are both caterers, we are supplying service to the same community, and we both claim to be the best.
He [Randy Resnick] is not my competition. He is a businessman in Sullivan County and we were honored to provide our services for him.
Point is, we are working with each other, we get along, instead of focusing on how to strengthen our own position in the marketplace.
Three businesses came together to make this special day, and it was a great day.
Sullivan County's attitude needs to improve. When everything seems wrong, when life seems filled with nothing but problems, when we don't understand why it's like this, we need to take a step back and believe, encourage things to be better, believe we can make it better, and most of all we are the only one who can make a difference.
We need to work on changing the mindset, work on changing attitudes, coming together is a beginning... keeping together is progress … working together is success.
Let's show Steve White things can and will get better, failure is a thing of the past, as we turn that negative rooting into positive results.

Bill Sipos
Glen Spey, NY

Glen Spey

Take Action

To the editor:
Hillary said it first and she said it best - “This man is not FIT to be President!” How right she was!! If you didn't see it before - and I don't know why you wouldn't - now anyone with a shred of common sense can see what a MESS this Know-Nothing, Liar, Cheater, Morally Bankrupt, Flim Flam Con Man President is and what a MESS he's making for our country and our world!
Know this: there IS something you can do - something effective: Be sure to VOTE on Tuesday, November 6th for the Democratic candidate in your district! You can help Dems take charge of Congress, giving them the power to start righting our perilously shaky Ship of State. This will remove power from the See -No-Evil, Hear-No-Evil Republicans who sit on their hands, shrug their shoulders and allow this Wrecking Ball of a President to run roughshod over the American people.
YOU have the power to help stop this travesty IF you'll take action!! Don't even THINK of not voting! The viability - the decency - the very future of our nation depends upon sensible, caring people taking action. Vote Dem come November!! And drag your friends and family to the polls, too! Whatever it takes!

Joan Rosenfelt
Pond Eddy

Pond Eddy

Influential research

To the editor:
For the past 40 years, I have tried to become an expert on Conservative political thought.
I believe it is important to share with your readers the one important finding I have learned. There now appears to be a much larger number of Conservatives who are essentially "survival-of-the-fittest" Social Darwinists than there were during the 1950s through 1970s.
This means, I believe, that they want to abolish and eliminate all federal government safety-net programs including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, and College Student Loans.
You will find many of them in the US Congress within the "House Freedom Caucus", the old "Tea Party", and the "Movement-Conservatives."
You will find a heavy dose of such thinking in conservative think-tanks such as "Americans For Prosperity", "The Heritage Foundation", and "The Cato Institute."
While some of these groups are open and transparent about their beliefs, many use hidden stealth tactics to influence opinion and political decision-making.
Others can do the same research I have done, and will likely come to the same conclusion.
I highly recommend the books "Dark Money" by Jane Mayer and "Democracy In Chains" by Nancy MacLean.
P.S. - I wrote this because I do not want to see any of the safety-net programs abolished/eliminated or cut/reduced.
I am a retired college professor of Sociology and Social Work who cared deeply about his students. I taught at West Virginia University and Slippery Rock University.
Stewart B. Epstein


The Real Mainstream Media

To the editor:
In her book about illegal immigration, ultra-Conservative author Ann Coulter took me aback when she boldly and proudly stated that while the mainstream media/press had been mostly liberal/Democrat for many years, that it now has become mostly conservative/Republican.
While research has indicated to me that this has been so for the last 10-20 years, I never thought that I would live to see a Conservative actually admit it. They love to pretend to be the "victim" and the "underdog" and of being "outnumbered." It brings in lots of money to them and gets lots of votes, too.
She then goes on to quote several well-known conservative figures who say the same thing that she does, and who say that many conservatives actually know this, but pretend not to because playing the poor, outnumbered "victim" and "underdog" will continue to bring in lots of financial donations and lots of votes.

Stewart B. Epstein


Charter Woes

To the editor:
It was interesting to read your front-page story on the lawsuit against Charter Communications due to its unacceptably slow rate of expanding Spectrum internet services to Sullivan County. Why is just Charter a legal catastrophe?
My area of Sullivan County only has access to totally unreliable Frontier Communications internet, which offers only 1 slow speed, and constantly flutters off and on throughout every day and evening. Why isn't NYS government monitoring Frontier Communications?? Frontier has NO plan or scheduled date to fix or upgrade their useless service in Narrowsburg and Cochecton, where neither Spectrum nor any other internet/cable provider is available.
It is impossible to complete shopping or banking transactions, participate in webinars, watch videos, or even send timely emails with the terrible Frontier service. NYS needs to hold them to the same standard as Charter Communications, and replace their contract/license with a company that can do the job.

Pamela DeMan


Drink Responsibly

To the editor:
On Friday, September 14th, employees from Anheuser-Busch and Dana Distributors, Inc. will raise their glasses to toast Orange, Rockland and Sullivan counties smart and safe drinkers on the ninth annual Global Beer Responsible Day.
On this day each year, Anheuser-Busch employees and partners across the world hit the streets to celebrate the company's responsible drinking values and recognize those in our communities who make the right choices. This year, the day's activities will focus on Budweiser's new responsible drinking campaign, “Drink Wiser,” which promotes two specific behaviors:
1. Planning ahead for safe rides
2. Hydrating between beers
Anheuser-Busch has been a leader in responsible marketing since the early 1900s when the company launched its “Budweiser Means Moderation” advertisements. Over the past 35 years, the brewer and its wholesaler partners, including Dana Distributors, Inc have invested more than $1 billion in national campaigns and community-based programs to promote alcohol responsibility and prevent drunk driving. Alcohol-related fatalities have decreased 51 percent over this period, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
This Global Beer Responsible Day, join us in spreading the “Drink Wiser” message and helping make our community safer for all.
Tom Kennedy
General Sales Manager
Dana Distributors, Inc.

Jen for Senate

To the editor:
In the upcoming, September 13, Democratic Primary for the NYS Senate we have an opportunity to choose Jen Metzger, a proven advocate for our communities, as candidate in November.
She's an elected town council member, and leader of the non-profit Citizens for Local Power which has had success fighting utility costs and holding up crude-oil pipelines from crossing our neighborhoods.
The NYS Senate desperately needs an advocate to counter Republicans who have held up progressive bills that have passed the lower chamber. Don't miss this opportunity, the states can be a bastion against the harmful nonsense coming from Washington. Vote for Jen!

Roy Tedoff


Why I'm Here

To the editor:
One reason I'm working for Democrat Antonio Delgado's campaign in District 19 to be our next congressman is his opponent's record against women's interests.
According to a DCCC research report, John Faso:
Voted 21 times as an assemblyman against initiatives to combat pay inequality, casting the lone "no" vote 7 times.
Voted against a bill that provided millions of dollars for rape crisis centers, voted against the bipartisan anti-stalking legislation and wrote an op-ed in 2016 that equal pay legislation for women will kill jobs.
Even Republicans in 2006 described Faso as an "extremist conservative" who "votes against women".
There's a famous (perhaps apocryphal) story of Henry David Thoreau who was in jail for civil disobedience to protest slavery. Ralph Waldo Emerson, his friend, visits him and asks “Why are you here?” And Henry David Thoreau answers behind bars, “Why are you NOT here?”
That's why, for the first time, I'm involved in this political campaign, the most important in our lifetime. The stakes are too high to lose this election.

Steve Charney


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