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Monday, March 18, 2019


Come together

To the editor:
There is no reason to demonize people with a different point of view and both sides are demonizing the other. We have painted ourselves into corners, we think you are with us or you are against us. There is no middle ground, in fact if you are in the middle you are derided and roadkill.
Until people stop talking at each other and start talking with each other there will be no coming together. There are people who think that using abortion as a birth control device is morally repugnant. Others think that a woman has the right to choose what she should do with her body. Some believe that climate change is destroying the planet and will ultimately destroy us. Others believe that if we move too fast it will destroy jobs and lead to poverty for many working people.
The federal government has failed to deal with the southern border since 1986. Now 12 million illegal immigrants inhabit our country and we have no consensus on how to deal with it. Everyone thinks we need to have a secure border, we just have different ideas of how to accomplish that. Some think that young children brought to this country by their parents should be allowed to stay; others think that that is just rewarding the parents who brought them and they all should be deported.
Some people think taxes are too high and damage job creation, others think that taxes pay for helping those less fortunate or for public projects that help everyone. If you can't bear the thought of speaking to a neighbor with different views then I seriously endorse Dr. Maidenbaum's idea of watching a competing network of news for an hour or two per week, not to disgust you but to expose you to the other point of view.
We need to get out of our corners and explore more of the world, we need to stop demonizing others and try and understand others. This will probably not change anyone's mind but perhaps we can slowly respect the opinions of others.

Bill Godfrey
High View

Republican/Conservative candidate for Sullivan County Legislature District 3

To the editor:
My name is Mike Brooks, the Republican and Conservative candidate for the Sullivan County Legislature from District 3, encompassing the towns of Neversink and Rockland, as well as a small piece of Liberty.
My family and I have lived in the Grahamsville area since 1972. I am passionate about civic duty and public service and have dedicated nearly 30 years of my life serving my community. I served on the Neversink Planning Board for more than seven years. I served twelve years on the Tri-Valley School Board, the last four as President. I am in my fourth year on the Neversink Town Board. I have coached boys little league baseball and girls softball.
I graduated from the Tri-Valley Central School and the State University at New Paltz, earning a B.A. in Communications and Media Management. Since 1981 I have worked with technology in various industries, including cable and satellite television, information technology, and telecommunications, and have experienced firsthand the acceleration of technological change in our lives, our businesses, and our government.
For six years, my wife Donna and I owned and operated Brooks' Chestnut Woods, a family restaurant in Grahamsville, receiving the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce Pride of Sullivan Award for the town of Neversink in 2007.
I am thankful and fortunate to have had the confidence and trust of the voters in the Town of Neversink and those of the towns that make up the Tri-Valley Central School District. Whenever I have asked for support, you have entrusted me with it, and I never take that for granted. Now I ask the voters of District 3 to support me in my bid to represent you on the Sullivan County Legislature. I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can between now and November.

Mike Brooks

Over the Hill

To the editor:
For the past several years those traveling through the hamlet of Hurleyville in the Town of Fallsburg and the Columbia Hill neighborhood in the Town of Thompson have seen the numerous blue roadside signs asking “What the Hill is Going On?” referencing the proposed Gan Eden development. A recent “going-on” is the completion of the yearlong litigation brought by the Gan Eden developer against the Town of Thompson. The litigation contested the constitutionality of density levels as stipulated in the multi-family zoning ordinance. It also contested the imposition of parks and recreation fees on new developments in another code section. Nine of the eleven complaints in the suits (12/17 and amended in 2/18) were dismissed by the judge in October 2018.
In January 2019 the Town of Thompson and Gan Eden agreed to a Consent to Order Settlement in which the remaining two complaints were dismissed with prejudice. In exchange, the Town committed to expedite the project's approval process. The Town's Planning Board is directed to review the developer's latest site plan application promptly and diligently with set timelines. The developer has agreed to adhere to the Town's zoning code by planning to construct 535 townhouse type units. They previously planned a mix of 147 townhouses and 388 garden apartments. They lacked the sufficient buildable acreage under the Town's allowed density levels for property in an SR Suburban Residential zone. The developer also agreed to pay the parks and recreation fees, $1250/unit, due when building permits are issued.
To their credit, the Town has so far done their due diligence in reviewing this transformative mega-sized project and it is hoped that they will continue to do so as there remain many troubling issues to address. A hydrogeological consultant, retained by the Town, has already indicated that the 72 hour on-site well testing done in the fall of 2016 failed to follow established protocols. This called into question whether the development has a sufficient supply of potable groundwater to proceed. Some homeowners' wells were adversely affected during that testing. A question has also been raised about whether there will be enough capacity and pressure for firefighting purposes.
The developer plans to construct a questionable “package plant” wastewater treatment system to service the development. Of late, the Town of Thompson stepped in to take over the failed water and/or sewer systems of at least four other existing developments; Emerald Green, Melody Lake, Dillon Farms, Harris Woods. Another, Sackett Lake, looms on the horizon. The cost to rectify them is many, many millions of dollars. Even the NYS DEC is beginning to question the wisdom of allowing private developments to plan, build and operate their own wastewater treatment plants. As the saying goes, those who don't learn from history are condemned to repeat it.
Gan Eden and the Town of Thompson both maintain in the consent agreement that the development will meet the urgent need for rental housing in the Town due to recent and anticipated growth including the influx of new workers. A skeptic might question if this is really who the future residents will be and, if so, why build such a large complex for workers at a site that is not served by public transportation?
There are numerous other concerns to this proposed development including increased traffic, using perilously located entrances, storm water runoff, potentially flooding adjacent Hurleyville downhill areas, light and noise pollution, not to mention having to live near a multiyear construction zone.
While it's understood that the Town has to abide by the consent agreement, they are still required to conduct the Planning Board review of the application in a thorough and comprehensive fashion. Anything less would be a disservice to the surrounding communities. Also, despite the ill advised zoning changes made well over a decade ago at the developer's behest, the inherent character of our area remains rural not suburban.

Roger Betters & Donna Nestler

Not surprised

To the editor:
Not surprised by another letter from Jennifer Young, responding to someone who replied to her first letter. However, it's clear she really doesn't care what any Trump supporters think and didn't truly want to understand a point of view that differs from hers.
Her personal response to my letter addressing her questions:
“Stop drinking the Kool Aid. I have given up trying to appeal to morality”.
There cannot be a real conversation when that is the response.
Have to shake my head at the people who always resort to claiming to be morally superior when the opposite is true.

Denise Connolly

Choose REAL Dairy Products

To the editor:
As a dairy farmer with three generations working together on our farm in Callicoon, I'm very proud to be part of the population that feeds families in my community and beyond.
March 14 is National Ag Day, a time to recognize the important role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products. Our family farm is dedicated to producing wholesome, nutritious milk. To do so means taking excellent care of our cows -ensuring they have a healthy diet, plenty of fresh water, and clean, comfortable living conditions -no small feat during this challenging winter! There are no snow days or delays for farmers, and harsh weather makes routine tasks harder -but farming isn't just a job, it's our passion and way of life.
You may have heard dairy farmers are facing tough times right now. Want to support us? The best, most helpful thing you can do is choose REAL dairy products at the supermarket—milk, cheese, yogurt, or your family's favorite dairy food. Warm up with hot chocolate made with real milk, creamy soups or grilled cheese. Whichever dairy product you choose, you'll know that what you're providing for your family is delicious and nutritious. It's a win-win situation for us all!
Be part of the revolution -choose REAL DAIRY PRODUCTS! Learn more at

Linda Kays

Smallwoodians show good citizenship

To the editor:
Over a year ago, upon accepting an offer to become this paper's Smallwood/Mongaup Valley columnist, I made a commitment to write about a variety of things that would be relevant and informative to the diverse cross-section of Smallwood residents. My intention has always been to connect Smallwood to the broader world and vice versa by writing about everything from food, music, art, sports, and the local school district to quality of life issues, obituaries, the dog park and Forest Reserve, weddings, graduations, pancake breakfasts, the firehouse, and the Smallwood Civic Association. My March 8th published column included only one short paragraph because the Democrat believes the remaining content submitted did not constitute appropriate “Community Column” content. While I disagree with the paper, I understand its editorial position that its news reporters (and not community columnists) will report on Town, Zoning, and Planning Board meetings and public hearings. Below is the remainder of my column containing information that was not reported in a Democrat news article about the Town of Bethel's recent public hearing regarding the Bethel Motor Speedway's application to increase its days and hours of operation.
As it does each year, the Town of Bethel held a public hearing on the renewal of a permit that allows the Bethel Motor Speedway to operate. Only this is year, in the minds of many, including those who operate the racetrack near Horseshoe Lake and others who live close enough to experience the sounds and smells of the auto racing, much was at stake. In addition to continuing its weekend hours, ownership was asking for a significant increase in the Speedway's hours and days of operations.
On February 27th the Town held an orderly public hearing in which many people commented in favor or against the increased hours. More people testified against the new hours than in favor. The most heartfelt and emotional testimony was delivered by those living closest to the racetrack. These folks, who also delivered a petition with close forty signatures, described the devastating effect the track's Saturday night races has on the quality of their lives and ability to use and enjoy their homes and property. Nevertheless, in an interesting but unspoken act of community unity, no one suggested the Speedway be shuttered, and most opposed to the increased usage acknowledged that the track was both here to stay, and a meaningful component of the Town's economic and social fabric.
Credit Smallwoodians with good citizenship. Many either attended the hearing and/or gave testimony on the 27th. Others wrote letters in advance that became part of the public record the Town Board is responsible to review before making its decision. Leah Maidenbaum testified as a mother and the owner of the Kauneonga Lake ice cream shop, Sticky Fingers. G.I.S. (Graphic Information System mapping) analyst and New School For Social Research Assistant Professor, Stephen Metts, presented a detailed and specialized map. Among other things, Metts informed Town Board members that 77% of the homes in Bethel are situated within 4 miles of the Speedway.
He went on to state what many Smallwoodians already know. He lives 4 miles from the track and hears the racing loud and clear. My wife, attorney Gail Rubenfeld, made a professional appearance representing multiple clients from Smallwood. She took neither a pro nor con position about the existence of the Speedway but testified that based upon her reading of the Town Code (law), the Speedway was a “non-conforming use.” Her analysis, she stated, illustrated that the Speedway's request for additional hours and days of operation was clearly an expansion.
She went on to say that the Board did not have the legal authority to approve the permit because the Code does not allow for the expansion or enlargement of a non-conforming use.
The Town had no attorney present at the hearing and during the Board's post-hearing comments prior to its vote, there was no discussion as to the legal ramifications of Gail's comments. The Board, while walking a deliberate and careful line, instead praised the Speedway and ultimately sided 5-0 against the increased usage, citing quality of life and “environmental” issues. In the days following the hearing, Supervisor Sturm publicly stated, upon reviewing the issue, he believes the Speedway is a “permitted” use. Stay tuned folks. This could get interesting (and complicated).

Jonathan Hyman

Trump love?

To the editor:
So the best response to our real national emergency of Trump's tidal wave of lies in the “Over the top“ opinion letter on your website is to throw out the false equivalence of Obama's one time, off-mike benign comment to then Russian president Medvedev? Any examples of Obama publicly throwing his own intelligence experts under the bus to suck up to Putin? I missed word of the Obama Tower Moscow Hotel Deal.
On sanctions, Congress, not Trump, drafted them and Trump delayed and then only reluctantly signed some of them calling them “seriously flawed”. On Trump's Russian lies, they're all on video, but maybe not aired on Fox.
As for Trump's “love”, really? Trump demonstrates daily he loves only Trump. As a virtual life-long New York City resident we knew Trump for the dishonest, narcissistic con man he is. That's why he got absolutely trounced in his OWN district in 2016 and why owners in Trump branded buildings are paying thousands to dump the Trump name off their buildings.
This is your “self-made”, “genius” that lost money running casinos and NYT investigation shows needed over $400 million from daddy to bail him out of all his bad deals. Ask any of the suppliers, banks and employees he has stiffed in his business failures about Trump “love”.
Enough obfuscation of the obvious.

Bill Lucas

My experience with the mayor of Liberty

To the editor:
I have lived in Liberty my whole life. I have seen it in its glory days and I have seen it at its worst. I decided a few years ago to get more involved and try to understand why the Village and Town seemed to be stuck in a rut.
I started with the Village and Town leadership to try to understand why. More importantly, I needed to know how I could help. We talked about the blight that seemed to grip our community from unfinished and boarded up buildings, to abandoned billboards, to a lack of basic lawn maintenance.
As we discussed the many problems that face our community, I thought beautification would be a good place to start. After all, how hard could it be to just clean up? To my surprise it was a little more complicated than I thought. Mayor Ron Stabak stepped up to the challenge and helped us create the Flower the Village Program (hanging baskets), and to his credit he found a way to get tax deductible outside funding and donations without using tax payer funds over the past three years.
Then I looked for the biggest eyesore in the village and set my sight on acquiring it (the Liberty movie theater). After many meetings with developers and engineers it was that we would be upside down in the project unless we had a grant. Once again Mayor Ron Stabak stepped up and helped us apply for the restore grant that we won from the state.
We have since put a new roof on the theater and finished most of the asbestos abatement. I have dealt with Ron on many occasions, he always has been pro Liberty and willing to help further the community in any way he can. I encourage my fellow residents to get involved.
You can make a difference. There is still so much work to be done. I hope this helps the citizens of Liberty better understand Mayor Ron Stabak. An informed electorate is a healthy one.

Bruce Davidson

Credit where credit is earned

To the editor:
Kudos from Vincent Alukonis to the Town of Delaware government for addressing three major infrastructure projects this year!
As reported in the February 19 edition of the Sullivan County Democrat the Town will purchase and overhaul the Callicoon Water Company, relocate the 60-year-old Town Highway Barn in Hortonville( with a new Town Barn and Salt Shed), and replace and relocate Callicoon's sewer plant.
Many thanks go to Supervisor Ed Sykes and Councilmembers Cindy Herbert, Chris Hermann, Al Steppich, and John Gain for securing a thirty year zero-percent interest loan for the water company overhaul, a grant for the new Town Barn, and for purchasing a site for the new sewer plant that is out of the flood plain. We appreciate that our Town government is fiscally wise.

Vincent Alukonis

Understanding Trump voters

To the editor:
Thanks for the well reasoned response, Mr. Godfrey. I could not agree more with your critique of presidents moving to the center and the frustration it has caused. So what you are saying is that we have a profound misinterpretation of cause and effect, leading to a failure to correctly prioritize issues. Gerrymandering, voter suppression, and money have worsened the problem, and, in my opinion, are the only reason besides Fox News why one party remains competitive.
Both parties share blame because their perception of the middle is inaccurate. The real middle understands that global capitalism, not immigration, lowers wages and outsources jobs. We know that our energy companies have caused climate change, which has triggered mass migrations worldwide due to poverty and unrest, i.e. terrorism, largely related to drought. This has hit Europe way harder than us. A recent Monmouth poll showed that 78% of Americans understand climate change is real, and 69% think we ought to do something about it.
We have seen that Trickle Down Economics has led to extreme wealth inequality. Last month Fox ran a poll showing 70% of its viewers favored higher taxes for the rich, which the commentator attributed to teaching students about fairness in school. Priceless.
Point is we need to hold accountable the 1% who created this mess, since they are now the only ones with wealth enough to fix it, and only one party is starting to get it.
The other party has, under the leadership of this president, tried to discredit our federal agencies, coequal branches of government, press, and international alliances. Exactly right, our kids have relocated to urban areas for economic reasons, again driven by global capitalism, yet one party is somehow compelled to vote against their own kids! Divide and conquer is dirty but it works. Are conservative religious values fore in one's mind as one chants “Lock her up” and “Build that wall”? This is an unholy alliance rife with hypocrisy, and so ugly.
Bipartisanship has failed because productive debate requires starting at agreed upon facts and a level playing field.
Science is not conservative or liberal, it is science. IT IS KNOWN. The whole world knows it, and the longer our politicians pretend not to know it, the worse it will be for us.
Consider this: In New York, by 2100 the ocean will have risen by at least 18-50 inches, possibly as high as 75 (NY DEC). A big beautiful wall on our southern border will not be effective.
The middle did not have a candidate speaking to their concerns in 2016, but it looks like they finally will in 2020. We are in a real emergency, and while one party has proposed an ambitious Green New Deal to try to address it, all republicans can say is “they will take away your trucks, airplanes and cows.” Oh yeah, and “democrats love infanticide.” How short sighted and disappointing.
Mr. Smith,
Probably a lot of Trump voters did, quite rationally, think the alternative was worse. What's troubling is how few have changed their minds.

Jennifer Young

St. Patty

To the editor:
Wow Daddy soon it's St. Patty
We going to the parade
We'll all get together hope for good weather
Greens hanging up, cookies made,
Chance to be meeting and lots of greeting
From all parts of the city
Huge smiles and fun amongst everyone
Walking down looking so pretty
St. Patty a sign of love yours and mine
Join if you really can
Hope the sun shines right thru
Bring your friends with you
You gals bring your loving man.

Cathy LoBosco

Offering Help to the Lost

To the editor:
In response to fellow Bethel resident, Jennifer Young, I am going to try and address the points she stated in her Letter to the Editor on March 1, 2019.
She states “she doesn't hate Trump, he hates me”. No, he does not hate you. He doesn't even know you! He never said “Democrats are the enemy of the people” or “The media is the enemy of the people”. He did state many times that “The FAKE media is the enemy of the people”. Big difference! And, it's true.
As for his calling out some of those at the top (not the hard working field agents) of the FBI and DOJ, it would take up too much space here to list the twenty-five FBI and DOJ officials who have been fired, demoted, or resigned during the last two years. Here is a link that gives you all the details:
As for “Trump trusting Putin's word over his own intelligence about election meddling”, sad to say, there is thousands of documented proof that it was a dozen or so Americans, including Clinton and other members of the DNC (with assistance from those fired from the FBI and DOJ) who were the real meddlers in the 2016 election. Some Russians did have ads on social media, but no votes were changed because of that. Thankfully, the new Attorney General will be looking into that.
Trump did state “There were good people on both sides” in the Charlottesville tragedy because there were…not everyone there to protest was a member of the KKK, BML, antifa, etc. There were people there who did not bring weapons, did not use violence towards others. One group had a permit to stage a protest, the other groups did not. They came to cause trouble and someone was killed, many injured.
As for Trump's tweets, this is the way he speaks directly to America and the world. The "hate Trump" media edits and twists everything he says and does. You have to watch any Trump event LIVE to see with your own eyes, ears to know what really was said and what happened.
Ms. Young states that Trump is unhinged and not normal. Until a professional doctor who has personally examined President Trump declares him mentally unfit, it seems rather remiss for someone like Ms. Young or anyone else to state that Trump is not normal.
Regarding “climate change”, I strongly suggest that Ms. Young and others watch this video with Dr. Patrick Michaels, a renown specialist, who will explain about climate change.
Lastly, Adam Schiff is the LAST politician you should believe. He is a poster boy for TERM LIMITS needed.
I trust my response to your questions has been helpful.

Denise Connolly

When I Grow Up

To the editor:
We used to ask our kids ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?'
As they grew older the answers changed. Imagine this scenario: A parent today asks his daughter/son the same question and the answer comes back- ‘I want to be President of the United States.' Proudly, the awe-struck parent says, ‘Well, then, you'd better see that all that homework gets done on time and perfectly.' The youngster then says, ‘Aw, that's a lot of bull----'. The parent rightly admonishes the child who then retorts, ‘Come on, folks. I just heard the President use that word two times today in the same disjointed sentence.'
Does more need to be said?

Jim Newton
Livingston Manor

The path to understanding

To the editor:
In answer to Jennifer Young's query: The best way to get into the head of a Trump supporter is to watch Fox News for a week. You will see that Trump supporters are not viewing the same news that you watch and therefore, have a different take on the reality of this presidency.
Bill Godfrey's answer will suddenly make sense. You will understand that when Mr. Godfrey says “If you are a voter who believes in Conservative religious values,” he is not thinking about marital infidelities and hush monies, or about cheating and lies, or about the fact that the Trump operation is crooked and illegal, or about the dismemberment of an American journalist by a “good friend” of the Trump family in the Saudi government, or about conflicts of interest or nepotism or insurance fraud.
You will no longer wonder why Trump's base is not outraged by the fact that Jared Kushner is the peacemaker in the Middle East without ever having been given real security clearance by anyone but his father-in-law. None of this seems to fit the category of “Conservative religious values” in Foxworld.
You will be aware that much of this is barely news or glossed over by Fox where the means justify the end of keeping a Republican (even a fake one) in The White House. “White” is the key word in the Fox reality. Few blacks except in advertisements, and lots of whitewashing.
Trump supporters are not watching CNN or MSNBC although they should. When you watch Fox…start at 6 P.M. every night…you will understand the brainwashed mind of the Trump base. At 9, switch back to Rachel Maddow. You will need a breath of truth by then. Do it every night for a week.

Judith Maidenbaum, Ph.D.
Kauneonga Lake

A Safe St. Patrick's Day

To the editor:
This St. Patrick's Day, you don't have to be Irish to don green and hit the streets in Orange, Rockland and Sullivan Counties to celebrate. But don't depend on luck to end the night safely - planning ahead should be part of your celebration, from the parade to the pub. On March 17th, and every day, it's important to enjoy responsibly.
Even the luckiest four-leaf clover can't prevent the negative effects of harmful drinking, but these two guidelines can:
1. Plan ahead for safe rides
2. Hydrate between beers
Responsible drinking has long been a priority for Anheuser-Busch and its wholesaler partners, including Dana Distributors, Inc. Over the past 37 years, together we have invested more than $1 billion in national advertising campaigns and community-based programs to promote alcohol responsibility, and prevent drunk driving and other harmful drinking behaviors.
This St. Patrick's Day, we're asking you to join us. Those who plan ahead and enjoy responsibly will have luck on their side.

Tom Kennedy

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