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Friday, July 10, 2020

Letters

Follow the money

To the editor:
In a letter published on June 30, the SC Democratic Committee wants us to believe there is “systemic racism throughout our society”.
Those two words, “systemic racism” were invented by people who want to divide our country even more than it is. Mention those two words to intelligent, America-loving black leaders like author and documentary filmmaker Shelby Steele or long-time civil rights attorney Leo Terrell, or Bob Woodson of the Woodson Foundation (who, with his “1776 Project” is countering the radical left's push to add their “1619 Project” to our public schools which twists our country's real history and insists that black people must see themselves as victims and they cannot achieve the American dream) and many other black community leaders and they will laugh at you and then school you as to what has really been going on in this country. They will also remind you that America is the only country that fought a war to end slavery!
Throughout their letter, the Democratic Committee tells us what we should do and what we should demand.
Nowhere in their letter do they condemn the violence, destruction of federal and private property, looting and burning, injuries to police and business owners or even the killing of police and business owners. Why is that? Why has no Democrat come out against the violence, except for Wisconsin State Senator Tim Carpenter who was brutally beaten by some BLM protesters while taking photos with his phone of a protest in his district. He was quickly shut up by Pelosi and Schumer.
The Democratic Committee also tells us that we should “directly and specifically support the call and the efforts of the Black Live Matter movement.” That is because BLM is a fundraising arm of the Democrats! When you click on that donate button on the BLM website, you can click all around (be sure to read the disclosures sections) and follow the money right to the DNC.


Denise Connolly
Smallwood

A better strategy

To the editor:
I was elected into office for a variety of reasons, and a primary one in the towns of Highland and Bethel within my district had to do with the under-construction Eldred Preserve.
While on the campaign trail, I heard many times of the discontent with the fact that the Preserve's developer plans to discharge up to 17,000 gallons of wastewater every day into the pristine Halfway Brook, which flows south through Eldred and into the Delaware River at Barryville. I promised then that I would do all that I could to address this situation, and this letter is part of that effort.
Let me be clear that I fully support a thriving local economy, which my colleagues and I are striving to create every day we're in office. The Preserve promises to be a significant source of employment, along with tax revenue, when it's in full operation, and from what I know, it will capitalize on everything we love about Sullivan County - relaxing accommodations, beautiful natural resources, hospitable dining.
But it can do all that without polluting the environment at the same time. The proposal to discharge 17,000 gpd of wastewater after primary treatment is unnecessary and inappropriate given the high quality of the receiving stream and associated wetlands that will be impacted, as well as downstream aquatic habitats. Halfway Brook is a Class B(T) stream known for its recreation, including trout fishing and swimming. Halfway Brook's high water quality ensures its tremendous ecological and recreational value but also means the stream has little buffering capacity, and little ability to accept and process point source loads of nutrients, BOD, and salts without impacting the water quality and the best uses of the stream, associated lakes and wetlands.
The Eldred Preserve should be required to use, and should want to use, non-discharge alternatives that protect the creek, those who are downstream, and the ecological health of our region.
A large-scale, well-functioning septic system or other non-direct discharge strategy - which the owner of the Preserve can easily afford - is far preferable to the direct discharge of additional flow and pollution to this sensitive stream of such importance to the region's quality and health.
Further, there is reason to be concerned that the Preserve is anticipating additional development and expansion at this site that would increase the quantity of wastewater and pollution discharged to Halfway Brook. It is important that the Preserve and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation be required to disclose whatever is anticipated for this site that would result in an increased volume of wastewater discharges.
Halfway Brook drains directly to Delaware River Basin Outstanding Basin Waters, which we know as the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River. Outstanding Basin Waters are those waterways with the most pristine quality in the Delaware River Basin and as a result have the highest level of anti-degradation protection available in the Delaware River Basin Commission's Special Protection Waters Program.
The ongoing quality and beauty of this stretch of river is directly dictated by the health of the tributaries that feed it. Harmful impacts to the Halfway Brook will have implications for the outstanding water quality, scenic, and recreational values of the Delaware River.
I've been in touch with the Delaware Riverkeeper Network about this matter, and they urge rejection of the surface discharge and that a non-discharge alternative be mandated. As they've said and I'll vigorously endorse, it's wrong to sacrifice the very nature that attracts customers to these kinds of businesses.


Robert A. Doherty
Monticello

Engaged and relentless hope

To the editor:
To stay engaged for 2 decades on all levels of town and school board issues is not accurately defined as attacks, disparagement or disgruntledness. It's called Hope. Engaged and relentless hope, against all the accumulated evidence that the realization of that hope will always be just outside of reach.
It's also called ‘integrity', where one's actions have no collateral self-benefit, and the right course could actually have a negative personal and professional result.
As Fitzgerald's Carraway says of Jay Gatsby, “He was the single most hopeful person I have ever met, and will likely ever meet again.”


Chuck Petersheim
Eldred

Take this seriously

To the editor:
I'm glad to see that judging by the relatively low infection/death rate people in Sullivan County and New York State are taking the coronavirus seriously.
This, is in contrast to almost all the GOP-controlled states that are witnessing alarming rises in the pandemic.
Don't those people realize it's far better to wear masks and keep six feet apart, than to heed Trump Republicans and end up six feet under?



Marshall Rubin
Youngsville

On to the next chapter

To the editor:
I am writing regarding my retirement from the County of Sullivan on Thursday, July 2, 2020. My last day with the Office for the Aging (OFA) and Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) will be on Wednesday, July 1, 2020.
I would like to thank all the volunteers that provided a few hours or many hours of volunteer service to many agencies, stations and to your community, you truly make a difference. The definition of a volunteer is a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task or freely offers to do something and for that we say Thank you!
I have enjoyed my 33+ years of service with Sullivan County and the Sullivan County Office for the Aging and 30 years in the RSVP Program. I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with five (5) Office for the Aging directors- James P. Galligan, James Lyttle, Deborah Allen, Stephanie Brown, and Lise-Anne Deoul and three (3) RSVP Project Directors/Coordinators- Mary Inghrim, Carol J. Kelly, and Caryn Mathews and so many wonderful co-workers who are like family. I feel it is my time to move on to my next chapter of life in retirement.
I will take with me the everlasting friendships and memories that I have made over the years it truly has been a pleasure working with all of you.



Elaine M. Finkle
Recently Retired

This is not OK

To the editor:
A couple of weeks ago, my daughter and I drove across the bridge into Narrowsburg, N.Y. on our way to visit family graves in Youngsville.
As we drove up Bridge St., my daughter said that a N.Y.S. Trooper car was behind us, and apparently wanted us to pull over. We did so, and a male Trooper approached my daughter on the driver's side. A female Trooper came up behind me in the passenger seat.
The male Trooper stated that my daughter was not wearing her seat belt. She DEFINITELY was wearing it; but, unfortunately the black belt blended in perfectly with her black t-shirt.
Upon realizing his error the male Trooper ignored the FACT that he was wrong, and proceeded to ask for our licenses, registration and insurance card. Everything was in order.
After this most unsettling encounter, we were told to move along.
This was not OK! It was wrong on so many levels. That the Police could so blatantly ignore any semblance of sound reason and justice is incomprehensible!
I am a 79-year-old white woman and was very afraid. I cannot imagine how a 79-year-old Black woman would have felt under the same circumstances. The female Trooper standing behind me, with her hand on her pistol was frightening.


Virginia Shaara Jamieson
Beach Lake, PA

Roscoe joins BLM protests

To the editor:
Page 2 of the June 16th Democrat printed in large type read “Roscoe joins BLM protests.” I did not recognize any Roscoe residents in the picture, and the column next to the picture stated, “residents in neighboring hamlets and villages have taken to the streets”.
To say the least, I was disappointed. I believe the full name of the organization is “Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation.” The Co-Founder Patrisse Cullors stated, “We are trained Marxists.”
In Russia Marxism led to Communism which is a system of complete government control and which has never succeeded in any country that tried it.
I have been a resident and an annual voter in Roscoe for the last 30 years, and I hope that “Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation” never comes to Roscoe again.
I hope that the Democrat uses better judgement in the future.


Editor's note: Here at the Democrat, we have a responsibility to cover events happening in our communities. We can confirm there were local Roscoe residents in attedance at this demonstration who were motivated less by political ideology than by a sense of injustice toward the adversity faced by Americans of color.


Gerald McMurrer
Roscoe

Hulk Slams Sullivan Internet

To the editor:
During a recent interview, Jimmy Kimmel had asked Callicoon resident (and The Hulk) Mark Ruffalo why he wasn't taking the interview from home. He was blunt. “I'm here because our internet sucks,” he said. “How can we not have internet in rural New York at this point?” Great question.
In 2015, Governor Cuomo announced a new broadband program that would bring high-speed internet to all corners of the state. It would open up new opportunities for small businesses looking to grow, it would give students new ways to learn through technology, and yes, we might finally be able to stream a movie without waiting for it to buffer for an hour.
Unfortunately, these promises haven't come to fruition in large parts of Sullivan County. We've seen Charter Communications' bottom line continue to grow while many here are left with substandard internet services. People are often quoted thousands of dollars by Charter to run cable lines out to their homes. This is despite the fact that they could see decades of revenue increases from that infrastructure buildout.
We need to face the fact that profit-driven companies facing practically no competition do not have our communities' best interests in mind. This is where municipal broadband programs (MBPs) come in. MBPs come in all shapes and sizes, but the general concept is that communities own and operate their own networks. Countless examples across the country, including in rural areas, show they can work.
An investment in broadband is an investment in our entire community. It has the potential to expand our tax base, revitalize our economy, and reshape our rural areas. COVID-19 has forever changed the way we work and communicate with one another, and we need to be prepared for the future. That's why I'll be introducing a bill to give our municipalities the tools they need to create these types of projects.
We can no longer sit by and watch as other states create innovative new ways to provide services to their residents. Instead of giving handouts to multi-national, multi-billion dollar corporations, let's take that money and reinvest it here at home — and make our internet not suck.


Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther
Forestburgh

It's a two-way street

To the editor:
As the late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, “You are entitled to your own opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”
Samara Ferris' letter in the June 26, 2020 edition of the Democrat is a case in point. It starts right off with a mistruth - made all the more disturbing because Ms. Ferris claims she FOILed this info and should have her facts straight. I did not call the Emergency Meeting to which she refers - that was District 4 Legislator and Public Safety Committee Chairman Nicholas Salomone.
Makes me wonder what other inaccuracies she provided to the Department of State, though to this date I have not been contacted by the State on these accusations (nor has our counsel or clerk disagreed with our procedure).
Selectively telling the truth is almost as bad as peddling mistruths, and unfortunately that's what Ms. Ferris' next point does. It's true that I have in the past texted fellow legislators about upcoming meetings and discussion items, but it is also true (yet unmentioned by her) that legislators receive agenda packets via email at least 24 hours in advance of every meeting. I cannot and will not be held responsible for their decision to not open emails or engage in the legislative process. Communication is a two-way street.
As for the monies spent on feeding our hardworking crew at the Emergency Operations Center (as much as 15-hour days during the height of this crisis), it should be noted Ms. Ferris is begrudging sandwiches, pizza and the occasional lasagna (as opposed to “unlimited”) for the very people who were on the front lines and coordinating the distribution of free meals, medical supplies and badly needed masks Countywide during a pandemic - plus the constant, sometimes overwhelming, requests for information and other forms of assistance.
This expense equated to approximately $65 per day for 15 people over the entire span - or $4.33 per person per day. That said, I made it clear to the EOC that this continued kind of expense was unsustainable, and it was halted in April.
I will also note that I personally donated nearly $7,000 to supply food pantries throughout the County, along with bringing free food to our nurses at Catskill Regional Medical Center. Can Ms. Ferris say the same amidst her judgmentalism? (And by the way, calling me a misogynist and sexist is not what I'd call “brevity.”)
Finally, yes, I do read the Democrat - every issue, twice a week, for the past 35 years.
I anticipate this will be the last time I respond to Ms. Ferris. I neither have further time nor further interest in dealing with the mistruths she represents.


Robert A. Doherty
Monticello

We must do more

To the editor:
The Sullivan County Democratic Committee recognizes that despite its best efforts, persons of color or those experiencing poverty have not always been treated with the fairness and insight they deserve.
As a Committee, our goal must be to foster an inclusive culture that sparks community pride, emphasizes kindness and respect and ensures that all persons are valued and supported. However in this time, it is imperative that we directly and specifically support the call and efforts of the Black Lives Matter movement to ensure that the voices of persons of color are not only heard, but echoed by all of us.
We must commit to addressing systemic racism throughout our society and bring positive changes to all levels of society and government. We must solve the income and wealth inequality gaps that lead to systemic poverty throughout communities of color.
These conditions lead to poor health, and early mortality for those condemned to live within them. They lead to crime, despair and disproportionate policing and incarceration. Together, these conditions create a vortex that can be impossible to escape.
What can we do? As a group, we condemn any and all instances of bigotry and discrimination, based upon ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and specifically race. Period. However, while showing kindness, respect and support are positive, we must do more. We must demand more of ourselves and the Governments that represent us.
The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks are only the latest in a long list of sad reminders of the work we must accomplish. Their deaths may rightfully disgust us, but they must also inspire us to do more…to do better.
We must demand of our local governments, state governments and federal governments to embrace and implement diversity training, community outreach and support programs to increase employment and educational opportunities.
We must demand that our Governments re-examine the traditional models of policing, and provide more support for social and economic programs that will bring lasting improvements to poor communities and limit the interactions with police going forward.
While we must avoid demonizing police agencies, we must also demand that all Police agencies have the training, and oversight necessary to prevent another George Floyd murder.
We cannot by ourselves undo centuries of our history or address the underlying conditions that disadvantage so many of our neighbors, but we also cannot support symbols of a racist past such as confederate statues and flags to remain in places of honor. These symbols of hate are rightfully left in history books, and not in our Town Squares and Parks.
Together, we must reshape our institutional culture around an ethic of equity and declare that hate can have no home here.


Anne Hart
Secretary

Thank you to our community!

To the editor:
On behalf of the Board of Trustees of the Western Sullivan Public Library, I want to thank the public for their overwhelming support.
With a nearly ten-fold turnout increase from past elections, we are pleased that voters chose to approve our budget. The dedicated staff and volunteers work hard to make the library a valuable asset to our community with resources for personal enrichment, career advancement and lifelong education.
Now that pandemic-related restrictions are easing, a limited library reopening has begun. Check www.wsplonine.org for curbside pickup options, movie streaming, plus terrific online programming and classes.
Thank you again for participating in our election!


Chris Peacock

Let's take a look

To the editor:
I read with great interest a letter published in the June 23, 2020 edition of the Sullivan County Democrat titled, “Defund the Police” by Hudson Williams-Eynon of Narrowsburg, NY. As he so eloquently stated, “This is a national issue, and a local one.” I would like to first address that aspect of his letter. More specifically, since he sent his letter to this publication, which is considered by many as Sullivan County's hometown newspaper, let's look at defunding of the police locally.
Sullivan County as a whole is serviced by the New York State Police and the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office. The Town of Fallsburg Police Department, and the respective police departments in the villages of Liberty, Monticello and Woodridge professionally and adequately patrol their own localities.
Since many areas of Sullivan County fall outside the aforementioned municipalities, the State Police and the Sheriff's Office are tasked with policing the remaining 910 square miles, including Narrowsburg.
While it is true that we provide and are provided invaluable assistance and backup from the Lumberland, Bethel and Highland constabulary, the NYS Department of Conservation, NYC Department of Environmental Conservation, NYS Forest Rangers and the National Park Service, there are often many times when the patrols from the aforementioned agencies are stretched extremely thin.
So, what exactly does defund the police mean? For some, it is simply a catchy slogan to utter, but more out of convenience than practicality. For others, however, it is a sword to be wielded as a punitive measure, aimed at punishing police departments by slashing their respective budgets. The money saved by not paying for police services, these individuals argue, could then be allocated to different social service agencies staffed by social workers, medical staff or other trained specialists.
These specialists could then devote needed time and resources to problems such as mental health issues or domestic situations, for example, and alleviate the police from having to respond.
Currently, the police are forced to respond to these so-called extra duties, again as the basis of the defund argument and echoed by Mr. Williams-Eynon, because “social services have been gutted.”
First, has anyone asked the social workers if they would be willing to go out at 2 a.m. and attempt to mediate a domestic situation or try to counsel a subject suffering from mental illness? What, if upon arriving, that social worker realizes that this isn't a disturbance as originally reported, but rather a situation involving domestic violence? How about the person suffering from mental illness that suddenly becomes combative? These situations can be some of the most dangerous and unpredictable that members of law enforcement must deal with every day and ones that social workers are ill-equipped to handle.
Overall, this social experiment collapses in the face of the reality of everyday police work wrought with the uncertainties and difficult and complex decisions that in the end, would neither help the victims or the community, especially a rural one, as a whole.
Hopefully you'll never need a police officer. However, when you pick up the phone and call for help, it would be nice if there was one to respond if he or she hadn't already been “defunded,” especially in our rural county.
I also disagree with Mr. Williams-Eynon's assertion that police departments are “accountable to no elected official.” While Sheriff Michael Schiff is elected by the citizens of Sullivan County, every other police chief was appointed by the elected legislative bodies in their respective areas and the Superintendent of State Police was appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Democratic-controlled New York State Senate.
Even the head of the embattled New York City Police Department was selected and appointed by, you guessed it - Mayor De Blasio. Governor Cuomo and Mayor DeBlasio can change the leadership of the police departments under their purview in a heartbeat.
Lastly, I would like to address Mr. Williams-Eynon's assertion that police unions are inherently evil since they “sabotage review boards, ignore legal action and defend tooth and claw even the worst cops.” It was President John F. Kennedy who stated 50 years ago, “Our labor unions are not narrow, self-seeking groups. They have raised wages, shortened hours and provided supplemental benefits. Through collective bargaining and grievance procedures, they have brought justice and democracy to the shop floor.”
In the para-military world of law enforcement, working conditions lagged behind those of our industrial counterparts by nearly half a century. That being said, a police union has an obligation to provide mutual aid and protection to our members. This concept is embedded in every American's right to representation under the 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which includes legal aid, defender's services or legal protection plans including insurance. At what point do we, as police officers, give up and leave our constitutional rights at the door?
Must we and are we, as police officers, held to a higher standard? Absolutely! I don't think it's a secret but none of us want to work with “bad cops” either. However, it's up to the management of the respective police departments to investigate instances of malfeasance, prepare charges if necessary and initiate disciplinary procedures. If the charges warrant termination, then that is the most likely result as the union, at least in the example of the State Police, is powerless to overturn the Superintendent's final decision.
The condemnation of the murder of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis has been immediate and all-encompassing among the cops and the police labor community throughout the United States. What we all witnessed on that video was absolutely appalling and morally reprehensible.
There was no justification for self-defense and no police officer that I know of was ever trained in the tactics used on Mr. Floyd. Calls for police reform have reverberated throughout the nation; however, the calls to defund the police and abolish the police unions are not the answer - better training and stricter hiring standards are.


Thomas H. Mungeer





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