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Showing posts with label Letter to the Editor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Letter to the Editor. Show all posts

Letter to the Editor: No Thanks to Faso

Written By Editor on 11/6/16 | 11/6/16

Dear Editor:

While this election cycle has produced heated debate between friends, neighbors and family members over who should be president, there should be widespread agreement on who to vote for in the 19th Congressional District. One candidate has a very clear record in Schoharie County.

John Faso served as a consultant for Tennessee Gas, a company which pursued a ten year long law suit against the county demanding to get the taxes they pay on a multi-million dollar pipeline and compressor station reduced.  It seems that Tennessee Gas didn’t think they should pay their fair share to our county, towns and school districts. John Faso agreed. The cost of defending the county from the lawsuit brought by Mr. Faso’s employer was borne by Schoharie County taxpayers. When the County ultimately gave up and reluctantly handed Tennessee Gas a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement, the taxpayers were left to make up the difference.

Mr. Faso later because a consultant to, and spokesperson for, Constitution Pipeline Company. As he stood before the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors touting his new employer’s plan to run a gas pipeline through the backyards, woodlots and farm fields of Schoharie County residents, Constitution was harassing those residents with unannounced high-pressure visits, intimidation and letters threating to take them to court if they didn’t voluntarily surrender their land for pipeline easements. Ultimately, Constitution used private process servers and Schoharie County sheriff’s deputies to serve angry residents with legal papers in their driveways and store parking lots then hauled them into court, seizing their land under eminent domain. The pipeline company believed they had a right to take private property to increase their profits. John Faso agreed.

John Faso’s record is clear. He is no friend of Schoharie County, no friend of private property rights and the last person we should want representing us in Congress.  The last thing we need is another lobbyist/politician beholden to special interests, bankrolled by corporate money, working against us instead of for us.

Bob Nied

Letter to the Editor: Protect the Second Amendment

Written By Editor on 9/25/16 | 9/25/16

As a civil rights activist the intertwining of all our rights brings US to the Second Amendment.

  Through a clear strong voice We counter the liberal rhetoric which is driven by hyperbole and conjecture.

We need not look to the past or to hypothetical theory to see clearly.

  Current events in Charlotte NC are playing out. Rioters and thugs are being described on main stream media as "protesters".

 Folks , this is an attempt to foster division and hate.

 The truth IS in our culture is being sold a narrative through main stream media that does absolutely nothing to address the core issues before US.

 "Liberty and Freedom are of the individual, not of Government." KS

  "The rights of Man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God." John F Kennedy.

    "We the People are the Governors of our State." KS

    Take hold of your rights , never surrender them to a Government that tells the masses that in order to secure a little safety one must give up a portion of Liberty.

-- Kevin Sission, Webster

Letter to the Editor: To the People I Call True Heroes

Written By Editor on 10/7/15 | 10/7/15

I would like to take this time to personally thank all of the volunteer fire personnel who risk their lives daily. For the countless hours of training they have to go through to save our lives and property. For the countless hours they are away from their families. For all the time standing in the streets on a very hot or cold day or having some other type of fundraiser to make sure they are well equipped to save lives and property. Whenever they are needed, day or night, good or bad weather they respond without any question or concern for their own safety.

To all of the ambulance personnel who constantly train to keep up with all the requirements and techniques to be E.M.T.s, Paramedics, and et cetera. For all the time they are on call day, night, or weekends. For the time they spend fund raising to insure that the communities continue to have a well staffed and equipped ambulance to help and save lives. For the caring and compassion they show during people's time of need.

To all the people and staff that work with the mentally and physically challenged. Sometimes I would be at a restaurant, movie, or other function and be amazed at the patience and courtesy shown by you and your staff to your clients. I would say to my wife thank God for giving us special people like you ensuring the proper care of our mentally and physically challenged people.

To all the missionary workers who travel throughout the world helping the poor and sick, shysically and spiritually without and regard for their own personal health and safety.

To all the dedicated coaches, cub scouts, boy scouts, and girl scout leaders who give up their time so that our children can become well rounded individuals. Doing things that a lot of us parents, including myself don't make time for or are too busy to do.

To all the people that work with the elderly. For the patients and understanding you have to perform the tasks that are involved to assure the quality of care and life that is well deserved by our elderly.

To all the people who at the holiday time cook and serve food to the poor and homeless, giving up their time with their own families to make sure the poor and homeless enjoy a good meal.

To all the people who give their talent and their time unselfishly to help others in need, regardless of their own personal families and lives.

You don't have to be a famous athlete, star, or personality with your face on a ceral box or endorsement of some famous product to be my hero. Because you are the real heroes and I thank God for you all.

Pete Coppolo

Letter to the Editor: Landowner Forced into Eminent Domain by Constitution Pipeline

Written By Cicero on 5/5/15 | 5/5/15

To the Editor
I am a landowner in Davenport, NY, who is about to have my property and life ripped apart by the Constitution Pipeline.  I am a typical working class American, who is fortunate to own my land.  I see myself as a steward and believe the care I’ve given to my land has provided environmental benefits for everyone living in what I grew up to believe was a democracy.  Now my land is being taken by eminent domain so the gas can be shipped to a foreign country and sold at a higher price.
If the pipeline trench is dug and the land blasted, that democratic ideal would also be ripped away from me by an opaque and devious energy company that has no respect for the basis of American democracy: Private Property.  I find it especially disturbing that my own government, through the federal agency FERC, could take my land just so a corporation could profit from it. Eminent domain used this way is not only undemocratic; it is government-sanctioned corporate theft.
Here in Davenport I fear that the peaceful rural environment and the pristine headwaters of the region are about to be permanently industrialized by giant energy corporations, all for the purpose of increasing the wealth of just a handful of people. Those people have been able to wield great power over landowners like me; simply we landowners are of lesser wealth and are poorly represented.
Because the UN-Constitution Pipeline Company needs NY DEC permits to construct this pipeline, the only way the project could now be stopped is through the DEC.  I hope the DEC, the Attorney General, and Governor Cuomo do the right thing and refuse to issue these permits. 
Robert Lidsky…  a Landowner forced into Eminent Domain by Constitution Pipeline.

Letter to the Editor: Ignorance is Bliss

Written By Cicero on 4/23/15 | 4/23/15

Dear Editor:
The Center for Sustainable Rural Communities recently sent a letter to the Town of Richmondville advising them of information obtained from the public record that indicates a potential link between contamination at a superfund site in Connecticut and the former Kivort Steel facility in Warnerville. Additionally, we reported statements made by Town officials regarding the site which suggests possible anecdotal knowledge and community concern about environmental issues at the site. We provided that information, which included a specific EPA Identification number, to ensure that the Town had all available information as they consider a request for a new junk yard permit for the site and a development plan, as is required under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).  We were very clear that we had no first-hand knowledge of environmental issues at the site, nor were we alleging such issues, but were simply reporting information that we were aware of and should, as a matter of due diligence, be investigated.
The reaction we received was both surprising and concerning. The Town’s Code Enforcement Officer said he was unable to find the information we submitted, the developer’s representative indicated in an email (obtained under FOIL) that she looked for hours and was unable to find the information and the Times-Journal ran an editorial calling our letter a “stink bomb” and a “scare tactic.”  This is particularly odd given that a simple Internet search returns the same information we provided in less than 30 seconds, a 2 minute conversation with the Town of Richmondville Planning Board members could verify previous statements they made about the site, and a ten minute phone call to the EPA could validate the information provided by us regarding the superfund site.
In a 2008 letter to the Schoharie County Planning and Development Agency (also obtained under FOIL), a Senior Attorney for the NY State Department of State notes that complaints regarding junk yards (which the Kivort site was and is proposed to be again) “should be taken seriously and investigated. Once the municipality is on notice of a potential violation, a duty might very well exist to investigate it, whether or not the complainant has been identified.”
So why would those in receipt of the information not be willing to take a few minutes to verify it? We can only guess that having no information is preferable to having information that requires them to actually do something. If ignorance is bliss, there are some folks in our community, including public officials, who prefer to remain eternally blissful.   
Bob Nied
Center for Sustainable Rural Communities

Letter to the Editor: Zoning and Democracy are Compatible

Written By Cicero on 4/21/15 | 4/21/15

Dear Editor,

The last paragraph of Bob Nied's letter explains the practical necessity and utility of zoning. The Town of Schoharie's 2005 Land Use Law rewrite, struck down by the court only because it was improperly filed at the time it was passed, was designed from a long-range comprehensive plan 8-9 years in the making.  The plan grew from lengthy surveys filled out by town residents on the way they'd like to see their community grow.  

The late John Poorman, the highly respected long-time chair of the Capital District Transportation Commission, shared with me that Scoharie was one of the few locales in the entire country where town and village governments had worked cooperatively to formulate a shared vision for the region's future.  He felt people didn't fully appreciate the rarity and worth of our community's capacity to work toward common goals.

The Town Council thought it wise to revisit and rewrite segments of the Land Use Law, leaving out any public input until they have tweaked it to members' satisfaction.  Only then will they present it at a public hearing.

Richard Sherman is one of the Councilmen contributing to this rewrite.  In response to Bob Nied's debunking of the rhetoric against zoning, he writes, "Every time a zoning regulation is written it infringes on someone's rights to use their property as they see fit …  I believe that any time you restrict a persons ability to use their property as they see fit is a bad thing to do."  Really?

That is an extreme view, one I'd frankly shrug off as inconsequential were Richard not helping revise a Land Use Law built from input from the Schoharie citizens.  Civilization requires us to live alongside others.  The presence of laws is a recognition that pure freedom of the sort Richard advocates often results in societal mayhem.  Schoharie's zoning laws were conceived through a logical, thoughtful progression, not from on high from the wealthy or powerful.  They grew a from a desire to protect the historical richness of our town and village, a contemplation of what positives make our community livable, and from a respect as to why those of us who chose to move here did so. As one who moved here 37 years ago to raise his family, my only agenda is to uphold those qualities.

Plucking away carefully conceived components of that hard-won land use law, or wishing we could do away with zoning altogether in the name of individual rights, is contributing to the collapse of a system that enables us to live sensibly with one another.  I sit on our Village's Planning Board.  It's not a fun job, but we routinely work to help people work to meet local, state, and federal laws related to projects they wish to see through.  Few of us like having rules to follow, or tedious forms to fill out, but these ultimately work to the advantage of our village's progress, and variances are available to accommodate aspects that fall outside the letter but not the logical intent of the law.

Someone -- I'm not sure who, but someone -- owns land adjacent to the Old Stone Fort complex.  I won't speak for Richard, but I'm guessing that he'd agree that the person who owns the property should not be able to erect a high rise apartment complex or a go-kart track on that land just because he owns it and has the money to build either.   

In fairness, this anti-zoning sentiment from Richard surprises and saddens me. Over the past decade, I've heard him argue repeatedly and passionately for upholding the Town's Land Use Law in the face of a company's ongoing attempt to run roughshod over it.  His, and his fellow-councilmen's fatigue in this battle is understandable, but I dearly hope he's not tiring of the righteousness of that fight.  It's a fight far more principled and of credit to him than the one that champions a person's right to do whatever he wants on any land his personal fortune enables him to buy.  

In what universe is that just?

- Tom Smith,
Schoharie, NY

Letter to the Editor: Zoning is not the Problem

Written By Cicero on 4/18/15 | 4/18/15

Dear Editor:
Most people have heard about “urban myths” like alligators in the sewer but few realize we have our fair share of rural myths as well. In Schoharie County the number one myth is that the reason the economy is depressed, the reason we don’t attract big box stores and the reason few businesses move here is because we have overly restrictive zoning laws. It is an easy gripe to repeat, fun to say but it is also untrue. The oft repeated refrain that we “chased away Lowes” is a perfect example. Lowes did not reject Cobleskill as a site for one of its stores because of zoning, lack or water or the other familiar claims. It chose not to build because of very carefully conducted demographic studies that demonstrated to Lowes’ executives that Cobleskill could not support a large home center, given many factors including the proximity to similar stores to the east and west.  The population wasn’t here, the median income level wasn’t here and a Lowes in Cobleskill would not be profitable. The latest claim that the proposed zoning law in the Town of Schoharie would prevent economic growth is equally unfounded and not born out by the facts.
Consider for a moment the Towns of Colonie and Latham. There is no shortage of development in either. In fact they are up to their ears in commercial development. If you compare the zoning law in Schoharie to zoning regulations in Colonie or Latham, it quickly becomes apparent that the laws in Latham and Colonie are far more extensive, granular and restrictive. So why do they not look like ghost towns? The answer is simple. Viable businesses adjust their plans to zoning regulations if they believe there is a profit to be made. Zoning didn’t keep business out of Latham, Colonie, Saratoga or dozens of other communities, any more than it would keep business out of Schoharie County. In fact, half of the Towns in Schoharie County don’t even have comprehensive zoning laws!
What keeps business out of Schoharie County is laundry list of problems – relatively low population (small market for goods and services), low median income levels (consumers with little discretionary spending), uneven access to broadband technology (makingInternet transactions difficult), relatively low rates of college and post-graduate education (shortage of senior-level managers and administrators), unprofessional leadership (unfortunate history of political wrangling and scandal) and an absolute lack of progressive planning strategies (reliance on passive, outdated economic development strategies that ignore quality of life issues, non-traditional markets and alternative marketing strategies).
A related rural myth is that things would be better if we could only get another Stewarts or Dollar General. The fact of the matter is that the only way that rural communities stand a chance at thriving is to aim higher than embracing an suburban strip mall mentality. We need to distinguish ourselves from other run of the mill places by making our communities more livable, more walkable, more sustainable, more interesting and more vibrant. We need to start by revitalizing our downtowns into unique destinations that attract families who will stay and invest in the community. We need to encourage unique/one-off small businesses, non-traditional agriculture markets, scenic/eco-tourism, and develop our towns to be more than a drive thru on the way to Albany or Cooperstown. The use of carefully constructed comprehensive plans and progressive performance zoning is not the impediment to that kind of future it is the roadmap to that future; We should let go of the myths and work to our strengths and not make excuses for our weaknesses. Zoning is not the problem, a lack of vision and a lack of leadership is.
Bob Nied
Center for Sustainable Rural Communities

Letter to the Editor: Local Land Law Was too Restrictive

Written By Cicero on 4/14/15 | 4/14/15

Dear Editor,

I write in response to a letter to the editor which recently appeared in the Times Journal.  The letter was signed by Jeremy Rosenthal, chairman of the Town of Schoharie Planning Board.  In his letter, the Chairman criticized the Town Board’s suggested changes to our proposed Land Use Law.  In particular, he criticized certain changes which I had suggested.

I am writing to explain why I have made those suggestions.  In the past 3 years that I have served on the town board I have listened to the residents of the Town of Schoharie- a population about 3,000.   Over the years many residents have asked me certain questions such as, why did the dollar general go to Middleburg instead of Schoharie? Why Hannaford didn’t come to Schoharie?  Why the New Holland tractor store moved out of the village of Schoharie? My short answer is, the Land Use Law, which was recently struck down by the Courts, was too restrictive on building designs.  None of those buildings would have fit our design standards.  It has been 10 years since the old law was put into place and a lot has changed.  As the Town Board is currently working to adopt a new Land Use Law, it is the perfect time to incorporate the changes that our residents desire.

Some residents have stated that they were concerned that the changes we were making are incompatible with the Town’s Comprehensive Plan.  As the Town Board went over the Comprehensive Plan I voiced some concerns I had with the Plan, specifically the design guideline examples that are appended to the Plan as of Appendix A.  However, the consultants which the Town has hired to assist with the Plan’s review explained the “examples” included in Appendix A are not binding and the Comprehensive Plan acknowledged that appropriate design guidelines may be developed over time. We must remember it is just a map to guide our decisions and not the direct road that we must follow.

I listened to the majority of our Town residents before I made my decision to suggest the changes in the Land Use Law, not just one person or one opinion

James  Schultz
Town Councilamn     
Town of Schoharie

Letter to the Editor: We Must Resist Additional Pipelines

Written By Cicero on 4/13/15 | 4/13/15

Dear Editor,

Once again the residents of Schoharie County are facing the possibility of another pipeline (Tennessee Gas) while the struggle continues to stop Constitution.  It is certainly time to recognize that not only are we being exploited, we are being abused as well.  If big energy was to have its way Schoharie County will become a corridor for pipelines and compressor stations.  While there has been some resistance to any more pipelines running through our county by some of the members of the County Board of Supervisors, it is time for a united front by all members to send a clear message to our representatives at the next levels of government as well as big energy. That we will resist all scheduled plans currently drafted to construct additional pipelines through our county.

The residents of Schoharie County are and will continue to be victimized by devaluation of properties, detrimental set back standards, scars on our landscape and eminent domain procedures placed against landowners not willing to sign easement agreements.  Our residents will continue to suffer the environmental impacts as well, caused by the very presence of any given pipeline and compressor station emissions all for the purpose of exporting natural gas.

While portions of our county continue to recover from flood devastation, the county continues to lose populace, creating hardships not only for business but an increase tax burden for those of us who remain.  We must recognize that the loss of populace is caused by the lack of economic development, flooding events, taxation and even the lack of additional skilled nursing facilities.  All made much worse by one pipeline after another eating away at the beauty and safety of our rural environment and at the ability of landowners to truly own and control what’s on their property.  While major specific issues are causing exodus, those same issues are serving as a deterrent for an influx of new residents.  While many of our upstate communities are suffering lack of growth, Schoharie County has a unique set of circumstances that must be dealt with.

I believe that collectively we must resist any additional pipelines.  Elected officials must stand up and be counted on this issue for we are duty bound to protect the health and safety of those we represent as well as stopping the long arm of government that is all too willing to reach out and take what individual homeowners have worked for their entire lives.

Gene Milone
Town of Schoharie Supervisor

Letter to the Editor: Lopez - Too Little, Too Late on Pipelines

Written By Cicero on 4/7/15 | 4/7/15

Dear Editor,
Shortly after Cabot &Williams announced that they intended to build a high-pressure natural gas transmission pipeline through the forests, farms, wetlands, streams and backyards of Schoharie County Assemblyman Pete Lopez held a press conference, not to oppose the pipeline, but to suggest it run along the I-88 right of way. Everyone who had any understating of interstate pipelines knew that such a route was not on the table and never would be. We all knew that Constitution would never agree and that the NY State Department of Transportation would never agree. We also saw Lopez’ proposal for what it was – a phony attempt to pretend he cared about the landowners who would be impacted by the pipeline by suggesting a route that could never happen but to which he could point as his big effort on behalf of his constituents.
For the next several years, an unprecedented political and legal fight ensured to stop the pipeline. Many of Mr. Lopez’ constituents were pressured, bullied, intimidated and eventually had their property condemned by Constitution. Mr. Lopez remained silent, unwilling to defend the voters who put him in office as they endured an emotional and economic assault by an out-of-control gas industry. As to why Mr. Lopez failed to respond there are two primary reasons: First his political and philosophical affinity for big oil & gas (witnessed by his condescending and insulting comments during the protracted fracking debate) and second is his special affinity for Constitution Pipeline, whose chief lobbyist and spokesperson John Faso has a long political kinship with Mr. Lopez.
Fast forward to a second pipeline proposal and Mr. Lopez has broken his vow of silence and has announced his opposition to the NED pipeline. We should be grateful, right? Maybe, if we didn’t once again see it for what it is - a calculated and transparent political move motivated not by a concern for the residents facing the unimaginable intrusion of a second forced pipeline easement through their properties but rather a simple expression of his loyalty to Constitution Pipeline. The second pipeline is in direct competition to Constitution.
Mr. Lopez is not opposing the NED, he is working to help Constitution as they play a high-stakes corporate game of chicken with a competitor, while landowners twist in the wind.  
Mr. Lopez can deny this as his motivation and probably will. I invite him to prove me wrong by opposing not just the NED but also the Constitution Pipeline which has already violated the private property rights of his constituents and which is poised to do irreparable harm to the land Mr. Lopez claims to steward.  I further invite Mr. Lopez to turn over a new leaf and be less of a shallow politician with blatant allegiances to big oil and gas and his political allies in the industry and more of a leader who is willing to stand up for those he represents. If Mr. Lopez can’t muster the fortitude to do that, he won’t be unopposed the next time he runs.  
Bob Nied

Letter to the Editor: Pipeline to Reduce Quality of Life

Written By Cicero on 4/6/15 | 4/6/15

Dear Editor:

It is no surprise that people are fleeing Schoharie County and many more will follow if they could only sell their houses. Just take a ride around our beautiful County and you'll see more real estate signs than cows. There are many factors for the population decline, most of the upstate region has been in a downward spiral for years. The Times Journal front page story "Sinking To New Levels" cited lack of jobs, hurricanes, and floods. I agree the floods devastated the County and a lack of good paying full time jobs are always a negative especially when people are looking to purchase a house and relocate to an area. The once great State of New York is not so appealing any more. It has taxed, tolled, and surcharged many decent people right out. Also the political culture is rancid in New York and the insufficient representation from our elected officials doesn't help much. This brings me back to the Times Journal story and the genius of one of my elected officials. Why of course it is Assemblyman Peter Lopez, doing what he does best "TALKING." Pete just once please say something meaningful or maybe something we don't know. One of Pete's quotes, "We have so much to offer when it comes to quality of life." Hey Pete you're absolutely right, that was the biggest factor when Jerry and Michelle Fiore decided to move to Summit 18 years ago. We wanted to raise our young daughters in a beautiful safe place and it has been everything we've dreamed it would be. But not anymore as we now will be having a 30 inch gas pipeline coming through our land and another one soon to follow. I don't think our quality of life is so good anymore, do you? So Pete, next time you trip over yourself to get in front of a microphone, tell us something we don't already know.

Jerry Fiore Summit

Letter to the Editor: Milone Seeking Re-Election

Written By Cicero on 4/3/15 | 4/3/15

Editor's Note: Gene Milone is the Town Supervisor of Schoharie and is currently serving in his second term. He has defeated former Supervisor Martin Shrederis twice at the ballot box.

Dear Editor,

I write to inform you as well as the residents of the Town and County of Schoharie, that I will be seeking re-election as Supervisor of the Town of Schoharie in the November, 2015 general election.

While there have been some major issues addressed at the Town level such as flood recovery, assessment relief, the overturning of the Town's Land Use Laws by the Court, as well as budget difficulties, the Town has managed to address it all and will continue to move forward. There is still much to be accomplished as far as infrastructure is concerned, some of which will be funded by New York Rising money, flood mitigation efforts, economic development and my quest for a local grocery store. 

There are also a number of major issues at the county level to be completed such as the recovery effort at the county building, the rebuilding of a new jail in Schoharie and ongoing meetings of the flood mitigation coalition which I had a direct hand in putting together with hopes of mitigating flooding throughout the county. There is also the hope that the county will partner up with a local health care provider to put in place a skilled nursing facility, which I have addressed before, so we may meet the needs of our county residents. 

There must be an ongoing effort to keep in place a safe and prosperous workplace environment for Town and County employees, as well as an ongoing effort to prevent politics dictating the decision making process.

In closing, I wish for you to know that my interest and willingness to be a part of what yet still need to be accomplished is as strong as it has ever been. I remain willing to represent the best interests of the residents of the Town and County of Schoharie. 

Gene Milone, Supervisor
Town of Schoharie

Letter to the Editor: Wright Councilmen Conspire to Alter Comprehensive Plan

Written By Cicero on 4/1/15 | 4/1/15

Dear Editor,

Three Men in a Room in Albany proved to be bad politics and bad policy.  Three Men government is just as bad in the Town of Wright.

Three men in the Town of Wright have decided that they know better than anyone else what the taxpayers and residents think and need.  Councilmen Ed Thornton, Tom Aulita and George Karlewicz feel they are best equipped to revise the town Comprehensive Plan and, unless the taxpayers and voters speak, the 3-councilmen-in-a-room majority will set a course that will take years to undo.  And it’s an unnecessary course because the Plan that was drafted in 2013 had already been through Town Board and community workshops, public hearings, and County Planning Board Review and approval.  What don’t they like?  Are they hoping to remake the town in their image?

Read their 2015 Comprehensive Plan Draft and see for yourself. 

Three councilmen are not a committee.  Three councilmen are the Town Board.  Three is a majority and when a majority of the Board works together to craft a plan, then the normal, routine components of “public input” are a sham, a joke.  Three councilmen who come to agreement are not going to be swayed or influenced by a last minute public hearing.  Three men working this closely have their minds made up.  A 3-man committee made entirely of councilmen is completely inappropriate.  It might even be ethically improper. 

Working without the benefit of a summary town survey (2007) or current survey information, they place their own voices over the town as a whole.  The summary town survey from 2007 is deleted and lacks prominence as a guide to their draft document. It is present only in an appendix, as an afterthought.  This is especially ironic because they previously stated that the ’07 survey did not reflect enough input.  They’re talking out of both sides of their mouths.

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats facing the Town and voiced by residents over 20 years of planning (properly included in the 2013 document) are now somehow unimportant in their new draft and are deleted.  The original Comp plan, the revision currently in place and the 2013 draft shared the same goals for reasons residents hold dear.  The newest draft being proposed seeks to change all that.  Why is that appropriate? 

According to the new Plan, appointed boards serving the town (Planning Board, ZBA, for example) are not worthy of using the Comprehensive Plan. “The Comprehensive Plan is not intended to be…used by the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals or any other town board to enforce zoning.”  (Remember: Wright has no zoning whatsoever so there is no enforcement possible.)  But the bigger point is their specific intent to keep the Planning Board from considering the Comprehensive plan in their deliberations.  Planning Board deliberations of a proposed subdivision may not take into account the most fundamental and broad document plan of the town.  How can such a thought be justified?  I guess only 3 men know but it looks like a blatant power play to strip the Planning Board of any real role in our town.

There aren’t nearly enough column inches to detail the absurd changes Thornton, Aulita and Karlewicz want to force on the taxpayers of Wright.  A few, however, really need to be mentioned.

  1. The Vision Statement has been removed.  Their proposed Comprehensive Plan specifically removes a statement of vision.  Unbelievable.  But true.  I guess the Town of Wright doesn’t really need any vision to the future.
  2. Their Goals as drafted will no longer “ensure development is consistent with our rural community and environment.”  Those words are deleted.
  3. They are willing to preserve the essentially agricultural character of the town but they will no longer promote active working farms. The words “promote active” are deleted.   This ignores the town’s adopted Ag plan.
  4. Despite the number of residents unable to access high speed Internet, the 3 men remove references to improving telecommunications and broadband from their goals.  They are unwilling to pressure Time Warner to act in the best interests of our residents and they ignore the crucial role telecommunications play in the development of all potential small businesses in town.  How does this pretend to speak for our common good? 
  5. They remove the words “improve road conditions.”  Why?  What are they thinking?  Our roads do not need improvement?
  6. Despite encouraging the utilization of contemporary development strategies, they strike language suggesting that the town’s subdivision law be amended to allow conservation subdivision and cluster design.  They appear to contradict themselves.
  7. The 3 men strike all language directing attention to the needs of senior citizens.  Our population is aging and we’re not exactly seeing a flood of young people moving in.  Don’t senior citizens merit a mention?
  8. They delete this language from the plan: “Prevent incompatible industrial uses.“   Why?  Isn’t a major function of local government to prevent incompatible industrial use?  Why would anyone delete such specific language?
  9. All language specifically prohibiting heavy industry is deleted.  If heavy industry is not prohibited, then it is permitted.  Removing the prohibition on heavy industry opens a door that cannot be shut.  This is an almost unimaginable change in direction for our town and is in direct opposition to strong public consensus against heavy industry development.  Why promote heavy industry by removing the very language that prohibits it?  Does the proposed draft promote industry over agriculture?  Read it and decide.  I think it does.
  10. Almost all language referencing energy efficiency and green initiatives is deleted.  For many of us, that speaks volumes.

It takes a lot of time to read the 2013 Draft and the 2015 3 Men Draft and flesh out the differences but Councilmen Thornton, Aulita and Karlewicz are walking a slippery path. 

Contact them and Supervisor Bleau.  Tell them to cease and desist with their current plan draft.  Tell them to approve without delay the 2013 Plan they have had in their hands for two years.  There is no reason to waste more time.  The public has given them the plan it supports.  Their job is to approve it.

- Jean Burton

Letter to the Editor: Lopez Only Good at "Talking"

Written By Cicero on 3/26/15 | 3/26/15

Dear Editor,

Pete The Podium King doing what he does best" TALKING." In Pete's most recent trip to the podium, he is going over the 17 rules reform proposals for the Assembly. WOW it almost sounds important. We the people are now suppose to believe all of a sudden things will be different in the cesspool we call Albany. Pete is calling for 8 year term limits for the speaker, 4 would be better. I have to ask Pete what took you so long to speak up? Were you afraid to stand up to Shelly Silver? Did you have to wait for some of your colleagues to back you up? Or maybe you figured this would be an opportune time to make it look like you were accomplishing something. Pete you have learned your craft well and over the years you have become a seasoned politician. I have noticed in all of the latest photo-ops with your mentor James Seward you're out in front and doing most of the speaking. Pete lets be honest even you have to know things will never change in Albany. So it doesn't matter how many times you saunter up to the podium or get in front of a camera to dish out the usual political rhetoric. Most of us know you're just doing what you do best" TALKING."

Jerry Fiore  Summi

Letter to the Editor: No Crying in Baseball

Written By Cicero on 3/23/15 | 3/23/15

Dear Editor:
In his recent letter to the editor, Glenn Sanders expressed his anger over my criticism of the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors and their decision to appoint a county administrator. Mr. Sanders made two principal points – a county administrator is better than nothing and citizens (like me) should not criticize out of loyalty to elected officials who have done some good things.
Mr. Sanders is off base on both counts. A county administrator is not even close to a County Executive. A county administrator is employed by, and beholden, to the very Board of Supervisors who have been so ineffective in managing contracts, addressing poor performance and questionable conduct by department heads and mired in childish and unproductive political wrangling. To suggest that appointing an administrator with little power and no real autonomy will somehow magically restore good governance to a dysfunctional board is an expression of naive wishful thinking. 
Mr. Sanders says we should be grateful that the Board passed something. Something is not the same as something meaningful. Mr. Sanders seems upset that I would be critical of the Boards actions because they have taken positive action on some issues in the past. Mr. Sanders mistakes political loyalty for good citizenship. It is not a citizen’s responsibility to remain silent when public officials make poor judgments out of loyalty to those officials; rather it is the officials’ responsibility to be loyal to needs and concerns of the citizens they represent. In the case of Schoharie County, the citizens want the Board of Supervisors to take decisive action to fix the mess they have created. They have not done that and having done some good things in the past (something I have publically acknowledged, despite Mr. Sanders insistence to the contrary) is not like getting your “sandwich club” card punched at the deli. There are no free sandwiches.
Mr. Sanders insists my criticism was an “insult” and accuses me of stabbing my “supposed ally” in the back. I can only assume that Mr. Sanders is speaking as a surrogate from one politician or another who was offended by my comments but unwilling to speak for themselves.  I remind Mr. Sanders that public service is not a little league game in which the young players need to be comforted when they strike out. Those serving on the Board of Supervisors are grown men and women receiving a salary from the taxpayers of Schoharie County. They are responsible for a multi-million dollar budget and the well-being of thousands of county residents. When those supervisors swing and miss like they so clearly did by appointing a puppet administrator, they need to step back up to the plate and take a better swing.  To quote Tom Hanks in the movie A League of Their Own “there is no crying in baseball.” There is also no crying in public service. The Board of Supervisors needs to do a better job and have a thicker skin in the process. Mr. Sanders should encourage more scrutiny of the Board of Supervisors not less. He should also care less about how the Board feels and more about how they perform.
Bob Nied

Letter to the Editor: Supers Deserve Credit for Admin Passage

Written By Cicero on 3/20/15 | 3/20/15

Dear Editor:

Bob Nied recently criticized the County Board for its handling of county executive and county administrator initiatives (Letter, March 12). While I agree that much more could be done, I want to emphasize two big positives which were overlooked.

First, the creation and passage of an Administrator position is a big deal. I’ve seen enough and talked to enough Supervisors to know that many of the recent and current County misadventures would be mitigated or eliminated under the watchful eye of a professional administrator.

Second, the Supervisors represent a wide range of competence, commitment, and achievement. To tar them all with one brush, as Bob has done so regrettably, is counterproductive in the extreme. The best of the bunch have moved this County way ahead of others in the State on a large number of fracking, pipeline, personnel, development, and fiscal responsibility issues.

When a progressive like Bob Nied mocks these determined and caring people, it feels like a stab in the back from a supposed ally, as one Supervisor told me. I hope the rest of your readers will make up for this insult by reaching out with support and thanks to those several Supervisors who are fighting the good fight.

Glenn Sanders

Letter to the Editor: DeFeo Frustrated with Middleburgh Government

Written By Cicero on 3/19/15 | 3/19/15

Dear Editor,

I would like to take this opportunity to respond to your recent coverage of the March meeting of the Middleburgh Town Board. First, I would like to thank you for your attendance at this and our regular monthly meetings. We are very fortunate to have the Press in attendance. Many other Towns within the County do not benefit from this same oversite. It is critical that the Public be kept abreast of the activities of their public officials. I would also add that our Town Board minutes can be found on the Schoharie County Website, although locating them will take some effort.

Rather than attempt to support or refute the many items found in your lengthy article, allow me to make one simple point; 
I have met many people over the years in the numerous civic organizations I have served on. I believe most people would describe me as a pretty soft spoken, level headed person, perhaps a bit of an over-analyzer. However, at the most recent Board meeting I was neither soft spoken, nor apparently very level headed, given the reaction of some people in the room. 

If one can subtract oneself from the drama which was that meeting, perhaps you might ask yourself why would Brian DeFeo act so out of character? This is so unlike him.  In a word frustration. Frustration in what I believe have been a series of irregularities occurring in Middleburgh Town Government.

Jim Buzon has been my friend for almost thirty years, and the Lord willing I hope thirty more. He is very intelligent man. I don't think anybody can question his work drive. Yet, despite these attributes I believe there is a growing dis-connect. I don't necessarily see this as Mr. Buzon's fault. It appears to be the occupational hazard of politicians in general these days. 

I am not a trained social scientist, yet it seems to me the farther a politician comes from the People, the greater the dis-connect becomes. Ultimately, many reach a mind set whereby the 'ends justify the means' and they some how become free from the bounds of good government. This is apparent in both Albany and Washington. 

When this happens reasonable people must come forward to ensure that our Constitutional system of checks and balances within government remains intact. Sometimes there is price to pay for those willing to speak up. Halfway into my first term as a Councilman my late Father (who only gave me advice twice in my life) said to me, "If everybody likes you, you are probably not doing your job". There is great irony in his remark, in that to get a job as an elected public official you must first win a popularity contest. However, to do a good job as an elected public official, you must on occasion do something unpopular. 

In closing, the Citizens of Middleburgh have voted five individuals to their Town Council. I appreciate that wisdom and value their trust.

Brian DeFeo, Councilman
Town of Middleburgh

Letter to the Editor: No Representation on Pipelines

Written By Cicero on 3/17/15 | 3/17/15

Dear Editor,

HERE WE GO AGAIN! Another big gas company is starting the process that will eventually lead to eminent domain. They plan to bury another gas pipeline on our properties, using a separate easement. Any landowner who doesn't want this intrusion and injustice will have no say and not one elected official (PETE LOPEZ) will speak up or try to help. I think what constitution pipeline has already done to the families and landowners that have refused to just hand over their land is nothing short of a criminal act. Now we get to go through the same nightmare and it will end no differently. This second larceny will start next month as the land thieves will hold public meetings. Their spokesman who is sometimes called a communications specialist will spread the usual line of bull, sounding much like a politician. Some of the talking points will be job creation and the large amount of taxes they will be paying. All of this touted as a great benefit to the surrounding areas. The truth is not one permanent job will be created and our taxes will continue to rise regardless of what these companies pay. On top of that we don't even get the benefit of using the gas that is being transported through our county. Next step for the land thieves will be to start throwing money around via grants. They have to show the public how community friendly they are and how much they care. It reminds me of a mobster walking into a room and handing out 50 dollar bills to everybody from the bartender to the bathroom attendant. He doesn't care about anyone he's just buying them off all for his benefit. It won't take long to spend that dirty 50 dollars. Another step for the land thieves, while all of this is going on they will be using the U.S. Postal Service to continually bombard the landowners with mailings. Pretty color pictures will arrive. Some showing one of their communication specialists handing a check to some organization of course everyone is  smiling and why not we all like free money. Other pretty pictures will show how everything looks with the pipe buried in the ground. Beautiful green grass always well manicured, looks like a fairway on your favorite golf course  I would like to see the picture of what was there before they cut, bulldozed, dynamited and dug. Show me the picture of what was there before they destroyed and killed every living thing in their path. They will come right in to first steal our land then destroy it and it will be easy. They'll get no resistance from elected officials (James Seward) . So as the landowners start to get up and dust themselves off from the beaten they just took. Here comes the second bully who will use the same tactics to rough us up once again. I expect most will take the beaten and not say or do much. Finally when the dust settles after the second larceny and Schoharie County becomes an interstate for pipelines. I have to ask are we better off with these pipes running through our county?  The county is already littered with real estate signs. People trying to sell their homes and flee this area and most leaving the state. Who is going to want to buy a house with pipelines on the property? I know I wouldn't.

Jerry Fiore

Letter to the Editor: Step Right Up to the County Circus

Written By Cicero on 3/12/15 | 3/12/15

Dear Editor:
Step Right Up
The Schoharie County Board of Supervisors has a less than auspicious history of inaction, political shenanigans and internal conflict that includes comic wrangling over seat assignments and the embarrassing episode of board members essentially suing themselves over committee appointments.
Given that history, they should have willingly embraced the suggestion, stewarded by Wayne Stinson and other bright and concerned citizens, to move the county toward a system of governance that included a professional County Executive (a system that works well in other counties). Ever selfish and shortsighted, the County Board moved instead to appoint a County Administrator, a role that would be relativity ineffective, have little or no autonomy and still be subject to the adolescent-like whims of the Board. But alas, even a weak and insignificant change by the Board could not stand up to the backroom political maneuvering as members of the Board moved quickly to first water down the already inconsequential role of the Administrator and then tried to abolish the position altogether before anyone could even be sworn in.
As the little brightly colored circus car that is county government continues to drive around the midway, the clowns continue to trip over their big shoes as they jump in and out of the back seat. If it weren’t for the need to actually govern a county in precipitous economic decline, county residents could watch the entertaining slapstick show with dispassionate amusement. Instead, we all sit in shock and wonder how the county will ever survive without competent leadership and without a vision for the future.
There is only one way to fix this pathetic situation and that is for smart people to move off the sidelines and run for office and for concerned citizens to elect them, support them and participate in the process.  Unless that happens the side show of Schoharie politics will continue to run indefinitely or until the county simply collapses.
Bob Nied

Letter to the Editor: Admin Debacle Proves We Need a New County Board

Written By Cicero on 3/11/15 | 3/11/15

To the Editor:

I love serendipity.  A nice bit popped up this morning and it can really stand the light of day.  The crocuses don't need the light yet.  Soon, I hope.  But, I digress.....

I started my day's reading with the Schoharie News, email edition.  Among the information was a brief financial report of the major parties in the county and some suggested implications on the November election at which time all the county supervisor positions will be decided.  I wondered to myself what  impact the new Administrator position and person might have on those important elections in our little county.  I didn't plan to give it more thought.  Serendipity, however, had other plans.

The Daily Gazette arrived not much later and imagine my surprise (and maybe my amusement) when I read (under the headline: "Administrator plan sees challenge, change", page C2) that Supervisor Philip Skowfoe, Fulton, has introduced Local Law 4 to the Schoharie Board of Supervisors.  Local Law 4 of 2015, if passed, will abolish Local Law 1 of 2015.  Local Law 1 created the position of full-time Administrator for the County.  Skowfoe wants it gone and is quoted, saying, "We've got something that works now, why are we changing it?"  

His motion highlights a beautiful irony.  That is, the Board voted and Democracy was served.  The decision was made, fairly and squarely.  We are to have an administrator.  In the interest of full disclosure, I think the administrator is a good move and I said so the Board last fall.  I get that Skowfoe doesn't like it and doesn't agree with it but the deal is done.  

His willingness to waste time and tie up the board with any consideration of Local Law 4 stands as a perfect illustration of exactly why a County Administrator is needed.  Mr. Skowfoe, we do not have something that works now.  We need to change it.  You are proof.

The Times Journal editorialized on the particulars of the upcoming selection process and gave nary a hint of knowledge that Skowfoe had introduced Local Law 4.  I will give the TJ editor the benefit of the doubt that he knew and chose (wisely and with meaning) to simply ignore it as foolish folly.    

So, with enough Spring in the air to keep the temperature above freezing, this very morning gave me 1) a reminder of a pending election that can repopulate the County Board of Supervisors, 2) a specific reason to do so (not that I really needed one, just sayin') and 3) some specific thinking about how we take forward an important step.  All the local news outlets inadvertently conspiring has to be serendipity.  Has to mean something.

With luck, we will have a County Administrator before the November elections.  That position alone is intended to improve our lot but the position and person will be either hindered or helped by the people we elect as Supervisors.  We don't need to wait to know that there is willingness to impede our progress.  We will need to wait until November to elect a Board that values progress above obstruction but there is no question that is what we need to do.  We need to change something that doesn't work.

Chris Claus

The Best of the Summer

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