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Monday, February 18, 2019


Boy Scouts at 109

To the editor:
Interesting read on the 109th Anniversary of the ‘Boy Scouts of America' oops correction ‘Scouts BSA'. Another great institution lost to political correctness.
I was in the Boy Scouts in the 60's to 70's, a Cub Scout, Webelo and a Boy Scout and the only females involved were Den Mothers since the men worked during the day and if those mothers had daughters those girls would be around but not as part of the scout den.
The girls went to Girl Scouts, not boys but girls and as the website boasts they do everything a boy scout does, seems like that org has evolved with time and they have research that shows girls learn best in an all-girl, girl-led, and girl-friendly environment. Girl Scouts is a place where she'll practice different skills, explore her potential, take on leadership positions—and even feel allowed to fail, dust herself off, get up, and try again. They go hiking and more now, it's not just cookies, baking or sewing anymore.
I'm not being sexist just trying to understand why the change to one organization for no apparent reason but political.
Boy Scouts molds boys into men; Girl Scouts molds girls into women; so what will the Boy scouts mold girls into? Both scouting organizations are basically the same, leaving room to their own gender appropriate stuff, so what's the Boy Scouts teaching the girls that the Girl Scouts can't?
Co-ed den's for ages 11 to 17, going into nature on a bivouac should be interesting! I remember going hiking and skinny dipping at a secluded lake, does the same holds true now for co-eds?
Girl Scouts offers the best leadership development experience for girls in the world.
I haven't read anywhere that there are boys in the girl scouts, wonder why.

Don Dittmer
Lake Huntington

A heathly skepticism

To the editor:
It's clear the Democrat likes to stay away from unnecessary negative-nelly type reporting where possible. But its latest coverage of the new Eldred budget, where the Superintendent asserts that this year's budget and its attendant 4.9% tax increase will solve all the problems the school faces for the next 10 years, lacks appropriate and meaningful journalistic skepticism.
Sullivan West was stabilized a decade ago after the budget crunch following the new school construction by honestly evaluating the problems, and creating an honest path forward, however painful. And it worked.
Eldred, with the Democrat's help, seems to think just saying something makes it true. Unfortunately, not every pig deserves lipstick, and not every story has a happy ending. Failing to report the true situation just makes things harder for those working hard to find a solution.
Basically, no one - not even the Heaven Sent Dr. Morgano- can see 10 years into the future, and clearly, no distressed financial ship was ever righted with one simple low cost fix.

Chuck Petersheim

Why Publish?

To the editor:
So on the opinion letter “Why Publish Them”, the simple answer is our First Amendment rights and if the writer actually has something more accurate and/or less stupid to publish he is encouraged to do so and, as a grandparent, I look forward to his great grandkids better cartoons.

Bill Lucas

Sales Tax Sharing

To the editor:
As a former Supervisor of the Town of Liberty, I read with great interest an editorial in the February 7th edition of the Times Herald Record, which commented on the proposed elimination of AIM money to local towns and villages. The editorial read, “…although local governments are losing these funds, they are getting more this year from sales taxes.” That statement is incorrect. The towns and villages in Sullivan County are local governments, and they will not be getting more this year from any rise in sales taxes. Unlike 80% of the municipalities in other counties in the state, Sullivan County municipalities do not receive any sales tax revenues from the county.
The public may remember that the topic of having the county share sales tax revenues with the towns and villages was discussed a number of years ago. At that time the county took a “wait and see” position. Well the Town and Villages have waited and now we have seen. Issues presented by the County were: 1. The impact of the cost of the jail was not known and 2. The sales tax impact on local tax revenue was not known. I think both those questions have been answered.
When the towns and villages first asked for sales tax sharing back in 2015, Mr. Samuelson, then Legislative Chairman, suggested we form a committee to discuss the request and make recommendations. We met and came to a tentative sharing agreement. The committee agreed that the county could keep 100% of the first $40,500,000 of sales tax revenue and keep 60% of anything over that. Then County sales taxes were around $35,000,000 at that time. When the agreement was presented to the Legislators at that time we were told it would be premature to commit to anything as the county did not know how much the new jail was going to cost. So we waited to find out. In the meantime an election was held and a new legislature was elected.
Fast forward to December 4th, 2016. Your Supervisors, Mayors and Highway Superintendents attended a meeting of the county legislature to once again make the sharing request. Legislators, Mr. Samuelson, Ms. Ward and Ms. Rajsz suggested we try to work out some sharing formula, but not right then. Other legislators made no comment. Subsequently, Chairman Alvarez, in a guest editorial at that time, suggested that there are other ways the county could help the towns, but no specifics, just generalities, and no dollar amounts.
The Town Supervisors, Mayors, and Highway Superintendents at that time pointed out:
• Sharing County sales taxes is the norm in New York State, not something out of the ordinary or new.
• 46 of 57 non-New York City Counties share and most share from dollar one, that's 80 percent of the counties and many share the whole sales tax pie. Sullivan County is one of 11 counties that do not share. Why? I don't know.
• The towns and villages had met at that time in good faith with county representatives and created a Memorandum of Understanding which was agreed to by a joint committee.
• The towns and villages have been left out of receiving any direct casino revenue:
- The county gets a share
- Town of Thompson gets a share
- The schools receive increased aid
- Heck, even Orange and Ulster county get additional direct casino revenue.
Some of your county legislators told me at that time that the county should use the sales tax to reduce property taxes (how has that worked out?). I agree the increased sales taxes should be used to reduce property taxes and that is exactly what you would be doing by sharing with the towns. Tax relief is tax relief and our citizens don't care where it comes from. It is time to give our taxpayers a break and the towns have shown they can do it.
A recent article in the Times Herald Record stated that “Sullivan County's sales-tax income has continued to surge since the opening of the Resorts World Catskills casino in the Town of Thompson in February, giving it the second-highest growth rate among New York's 62 counties for the first nine months of 2018. Sullivan took in more than $35 million in sales tax through the end of September, a leap of $5.2 million, or 17.4 percent, over the same period last year.”
If the sharing formula proposed had been adopted, the county would keep about 95 cents of every dollar they get. Kind of makes Scrooge look like Santa Claus doesn't it?

Charlie Barbuti

Wake up America

To the editor:
We live in a country with nearly 400 million people. We have thousands of college professors, millions of college graduates. Doesn't any of them have the gift of common sense? You don't have to have a Ph.D. in anything to realize Trump and Putin both knew exactly what was going on in 2016.
This man is another Hitler in the making. Has he ever admitted to the 8,100 lies since he took office? Has he ever admitted to the several billion he has added to the national debt?
Don't you people have children and grandchildren whom you want to enjoy a good life? This man has got to go. We as Americans have to get together. Pack him up in a rocket ship to Saturn so he can become another moon orbiting the planet. This man is that far out in space.

John Ebert
North Branch

Recreational Marijuana

To the editor:
Can the Governor's proposal to legalize recreational marijuana pay for itself without increasing THC use? I don't see how.
New personnel expenses for salaries, benefits, and training will emerge for a new state bureaucracy of testing, inspecting, regulating, law enforcement, and licensing. I'm not familiar with costs of growing weed in one's backyard, or of those incurred by cartels moving it to market, but I'm fairly certain they don't include NYS regulation. So why would existing users pay much more than they're paying now? Should we expect a surge of interest in package labeling?
If the Governor's plan is conditional, as it appears to be, not only upon growing marijuana but also its number of users, he should say so. And if his program isn't likely to pay for itself, he should say who will - though I think we can guess - and, more important, what public safety provisions could be compromised in the process.
Targeting people of color with marijuana laws, or any law, is a disgrace. Addressing it doesn't require legalizing recreational pot.

Dave Colavito
Rock Hill

The Exploding Opioid Epidemic

To the editor:
Thank you for your recent coverage of the status of negotiations with county employees. As Teamster union rep for the employees, this letter should concern that situation.
However, there is an even bigger problem our county faces besides the bottom-of-the barrel wages paid to county employees.
That problem is the county's exploding opioid epidemic.
Virtually every long-time Family Services, Public Health and Community Services employee will tell you: never in our history have we faced this kind of overwhelming crisis.
Here's just one of hundreds of such stories. Last week a child was hospitalized in shock, after calling 911 to report her overdosing mother lay unconscious on the kitchen floor. Our county workers had front-row seats to this catastrophe, and such catastrophes are now every-day occurrences.
Because of the incredible increase in children requiring foster care, our caseworkers are handling more cases than the state allows. All are working overtime. When they and others do go home, they are often haunted and near-traumatized by what they witnessed at work that day.
You want to go numb, but you know if that happens too much you can lose part of your soul. All these employees do this work because of their beliefs, not because of the low pay.
Did you know the county is required to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover each baby born of an addicted mother. Those numbers are steadily increasing.
Even our Motor Vehicle employees relate stories of the ever-growing number of addicts rolling semi-conscious from their chairs onto the floor, or stumbling to the window incoherent, papers askew and incomplete.
I know these same stories are repeating throughout the world at this same moment. I pray for those fighting the scourge of addiction in general and opioid addiction in particular.
The opioid epidemic is an existential threat to the future of Sullivan County. Please support all those on the front-line of this war. Our communities must think and act collectively, inside-and-outside the box, to win it.
You may not want to attack the problem, but the problem is attacking you.

Jerry Ebert

What “Hate Trump Media”?

To the editor:
I find it interesting that opinion contributors such as “Hate Trump Media” continue to confuse and conflate hate with dissent and why they don't identify the trait with a serial hater such as “birther in chief” Trump.
My viewpoints are based on what Trump himself says and does, and since he is so needy and craves attention so badly, there are volumes of evidence in support of those viewpoints.
Do these writers at all concern themselves with the research that Trump lies an average of 7 times a day (A DAY!) since coming to office or the fact that he labels the media that reports his lies “the enemy of the people”? Makes Putin proud.
Why would you believe anything he says or his minions parrot or try to confuse on his behalf?
Take Russia:
All OUR intelligence agencies have proven that Russia “attacked” our 2016 election to help Trump.
Yet Trump says all OUR professionals are wrong and he believes Putin, lowlighted by his shameful performance at Helsinki.
Why have Trump and so many of his appointees been caught lying about their Russian contacts. Imagine if Obama had done that?
Why no other U.S. officials at Trump/Putin pow wows and why were the few notes taken destroyed?
Why all Trump's lies about “NO business in Russia”? Why are Trump supporters numb to all these obvious lies and abuses when these guys were ATTACKING US?
Why has Trump repeatedly acted as Putin's puppet on important matters like NATO, Syria and the INT?
Reasonable, non-hateful, questions on these concerns could be: what does Putin have on Trump or whether he just takes advantage of “Big Brain”, over his head, Trump for what the CIA labels a “useful fool”?
Dissent is a foundational quality of American political debate.
Wake up, Trump only cares about himself, his image and his money and virtually zero about those he has sworn to serve except for their chanting at his rally punch lines like “Mexico will Pay!”

Bill Lucas

Cardinal Dolan opposes Abortion Rights Bill

The following letter was read Sunday, February 3, at all the Masses offered in the Archdiocese of New York.
To the editor:
Rarely do I intrude on your Sunday Mass, our most sacred time of the week, but in light of the events of the past two weeks, our priests have asked me to share some reflections on the radical abortion expansion bill, recently passed by our state legislature and signed with fanfare and celebration by our governor.
This chilling law, if you have not heard, insists on the right to have an abortion up to the moment of birth; drops all charges against an abortionist who allows an aborted baby, who somehow survived the scissors, scalpel, saline, and dismemberment, to die; mandates that, to make an abortion more convenient and easy, a physician need not perform it; and could be used to suppress the conscience rights of healthcare professionals not to assist in the grisly procedure.
All this in a state which already had the most permissive abortion climate, and one of the highest rates of abortion, in the nation.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you.”
Can there be any clearer statement of God's eternal love for each one of us from the womb to the tomb, than these words from the prophet Jeremiah in today's first reading?
In the “throw-away” culture that Pope Francis so often decries, we saw actual celebrations at the passage of a bill that makes it even easier to dispose of a life that someone might find inconvenient or troublesome, for any reason at all.
Those who told us that abortion had to remain safe, legal, and rare, now have made it dangerous, imposed, and frequent.
We also had to watch and listen as our governor proudly proclaimed his dissent from this and other clear Church teaching, as if it were a badge of honor, and used an out-of-context quote from Pope Francis as an applause line.
I'm a pastor, not a politician, and as a pastor, I am obliged to challenge our political leaders, to urge them to re-examine their priorities, and to respect and protect the unborn baby in the womb as strongly and passionately as we should the undocumented immigrant, the single mom worrying how she will feed her family, our dying grandparents, or the poor struggling to make it.
At the same time, we can recall the words of Saint Paul in his moving letter to the Corinthians, from today's Bible readings, “Love is patient, love is kind…It is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury. It does not rejoice over wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”
No matter the hurt, frustration, the disappointment, and yes, even the anger we may feel now at the passage of this horrific and grisly bill, we should not respond with more bitterness and divisiveness, but continue to put our trust in the Lord and ask for his guidance and inspiration.
Thank God we have the promise of Jesus that “not even the gates of hell will prevail.”
With gratitude for your attention, and promising my prayers as I ask for yours, I am,
Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan

Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan

Local Treasure of Publication

To the editor:
I grew up in New Jersey, but my family roots in Sullivan County go back a long, long time. It has only been the last few years that I have come to happily depend on this century-old (plus) newspaper for what it does best. So, I decided that I would like to set that down. There is very much to like about the Sullivan Democrat, and I thought I should go on record. I do so in the general page order of the newspaper itself starting with the front page:
1. The newsworthy cover of the County and regional issues and developments.
2. The no-holds-barred chronicles of Capt. Freda on Vietnam horrors and the bravery of Freda and all of our intrepid U.S. troops.
3. The religion columns of Moshe Unger, which help provide this non-Jewish reader with a friendly perspective of Jewish Orthodoxy.
4. The On-The-Road graphics of local sites by Roger Baker, of which I have enjoyed a couple of purchases!
5. The Op-Ed page with intelligent editorial opinions and enjoyable columns of Kathy Werner, Claire Stabbert, and other contributors (my motto has always been “I don't cook, I warm things up” but I usually get hungry reading Claire's inspiring cooking tips).
6. The Letters To The Editor Column: there are frequent outspoken views and rebuttals, offering perspective on local (and sometimes National) issues.
7. The Retrospect columns of historian John Conway--entertaining as well as educational. Cannot find this gem elsewhere.
8. The Sullivan Life “snapshots” of local events--accentuating the “positive” of our beloved region.
9. The interesting articles by contributors such as the Garden Guru and financial pro Joel Lerner.
10. The bi-weekly “Comics Page” with the humbling trivia test and the sometimes challenging Word Scrambles (I confess to being below grade level at crosswords).
11. The Coming Events column--monitor it always.
12. The local high school sports coverage.
13. The scintillating sports analyses of Ken Cohen--his writing is smart, educational, outspoken, and “major league”! Always a must read.
I hope I have left nothing out of your outstanding publication and its many appreciated contributors. Most importantly, this is a small, family-owned business that incredibly flourishes for well over a century, and I wonder how many of those are left.
Please keep up doing what you have been doing since the 1800's.
I just locked into a two year subscription renewal rate, so at least my costs will not go up for two years! I hope your other dedicated readers smartly do likewise.
This local treasure of publication deserves to stick around for a long time!

Galen W. Booth

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