Says This Newspaper Defines 'Local'
Without the Shawangunk Journal there would be no "us." We would be a collection of disparate groups — ethnically, racially, socially — who knew nothing about each other. We would not know a thing about Lamm. We would not be warned. We would be sitting ducks. We would not know the Pine Bush school or their cheerleaders. Hattley would still be in jail.
Without the paper, we would be plugged up with no way to get our message, no matter what it is, out to the people we want to hear it. We would fume to no avail. We would have no way to "talk" to each other. The Shawangunk Journal is the Town Square. Everyone who wants to be is represented. It is better than government and courts. It makes things happen. It mediates debates, arguments and fights. It carries them over from issue to issue until everybody is satisfied that they have had their say. It gets results. It is the true "Voice of the People."
The paper is a cultural menu. It is inviting. It invites people to bring their kids to the library, it makes local events attractive, and brings people out of their houses onto the streets to celebrate. It follows up with pictures. Many people get their pictures in the paper. By both reviews and advertising, it lets everybody know what hours their restaurants are keeping and what they're serving. It lets us know what's going on.
The paper binds people together and at the same time lets them know there is a bigger world out there in towns up and down the line. Without it people will hole up in their homes with their phones and TVs. There will be no "local."
Faso & The GOP Need To Do Research!
Self contradicting, double speak, or ignorance? Is the Republican Party a party of sycophants taking marching orders — marching to the beat of corporate profits rather than civic engagement? Congressman John Faso, Congressional District 19, voted on Feb. 2 to overturn an Obama-era gun policy that prevented Social Security Disability recipients with mental health disorders to buy and own guns, stating it was an overreach. At the same time he has supported legislation that prevents people with mental disease or defect to own guns, as per the 1968 Gun Control Act. Concurrently, he has condemned authorities for not doing enough to preempt massacres such as in Charleston, SC. This is emblematic of the consistent contradictory actions and double speak that we are hearing from this administration thus far.
It is my opinion and observation as a mental health clinician, with decades of experience in the field, that Faso and all the others who voted to roll back that measure are clueless about SSD, mental illness, and the implications of what they have done. The Obama policy was attempting to fine tune the earlier act in order to help identify individuals who are incompetent to own and operate a lethal weapon. A policy that no doubt was informed by social science. During the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, social scientists were informing the policy-making, culminating in the Great Society programs that have been the backbone of this country since. Today we see the sad result of how the Citizens United ruling has created a government run by the corporate class where policy is driven by the financial sector, with no separation of business and state, let alone church and state. Consequently, we are seeing the roll out of policies that are completely out of touch with the country outside of the politicians' own gated communities.
This administration is clear that they want to run our government like a business not a democracy, throwing out civics all together. They forget that the American people are paying their salaries, and that they work for us, not the other way around. This administration is moving quickly and recklessly, making up for the last 8 years of trying to stall or stop anything that came from the Obama White House. As a result they are creating chaos and destabilization which will bring about more destruction in the end in one form or another. Their agenda is corporate deregulation at the expense of social programs and civil rights. People are not being "protected" by these actions, despite what they would like us to believe; citizens are being traumatized by the wave of disregard for human rights and the environment that is sweeping this nation.
From this view, if our Congressman Faso would like to remain a representative of Congressional District 19, he needs to start doing better research and holding town hall meetings before voting on anything, so he can hear from the people who not only pay his salary, but who can also offer to educate him on the nature and impact of the programs upon which he is legislating.
Money Buys Options...
I finally agree with Bob Prener. Money does buy options. Too bad the NYS legislature hasn't seen fit to alter the way education is funded. Using outdated property taxes is ridiculous. Income based taxation for funding education is the only logical choice. Limit the money and you limit the options.
As it becomes more difficult to fund education's rising costs with local property taxes and as the state and federal levels of such funding have declined, what we've been seeing is a push for charter schools. And, just who is pushing charter schools? Corporate owners, hedge funders, in short some of the wealthiest people in America. That should be a clue as to why it's happening.
Charter schools aren't held to the same standards as public schools. Charter schools don't have to take all students (meaning the challenged, the disruptive, the underachievers etc), don't have to meet the same academic standards as public schools must, and they haven't shown ANY significant improvement in success rate of students.
Charter schooling is the alternative being pushed by the wealthy in order to save their money via taxation on income. As more public money is spent on private education (including parochial schools) less is available for public schools. Which is the plan: Ending free public education for all.
That is tragic.
In fact, it almost seems Bob Prener is advocating for home schooling as he states "Children/parents should be free to choose the school which best suits the particular intelligence of the individual child. There should be many and varied schools. The government monopoly makes that impossible."
No, government "monopoly" doesn't make that impossible. It is the "fact" as stated by Mr. Prener that puts the lie to that statement, viz., "Lots of fun and games out there in education-land but to be honest there are upwards of 7.5 billion intelligences. Gardener categories are oversimplifications of the fact that our brains are genetically more different than our unique fingerprints. They continue to change with every input senses, food, chemicals, and radiation."
Therefore, as Bob Prener puts forth, we'd need 7.5 billion schools or, home school at significant savings AND at significant risk as you'd then have parents of questionable intelligence and achievement teaching children.
God help us all if that happens.
Steven L. Fornal
Global Warming Is Still Not A Hoax
My deepest apologies to your excellent columnist Ryan Trapani for mixing him up with Bob Prener in my letter of 1/19 refuting Mr. Prener's claim that global warming is a hoax. And my apologies to Mr. Prener for saying that he writes with authority. I take back anything that I said about Mr. Prener writing with authority about anything.
I must have struck a chord, because Mr. Prener has felt the necessity to reply not once, but twice (1/26 and 2/9), picking and choosing odds and ends of facts and surmising nonsense such as scientists don't know how to read a thermometer. He falls into the trap of arguing that, since not everything is known, nothing is known, and that because some things are uncertain, nothing is valid. Typical for an autodidact.
Sorry, but he still has it wrong. The earth is still warming. Still not a hoax.
How Healthcare Changes Will Impact Us
Last week I met with a representative from Congressman John Faso's office in Kingston where we discussed the current state of our health care system and how hundreds of thousands of residents in Congressional District 19 will be impacted by impending potential changes and amendments to our current health care system. Recently, there has been much talk about a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and this has many consumers of healthcare concerned that beneficial components of the current law will be rescinded. Prior to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, health insurance companies discriminated against their customers who had pre-existing conditions and illnesses by providing insurance policies that did not allow for them to receive coverage or treatment for a pre-existing condition or illnesses until a full six months or more had transpired from the time that they initially signed onto a new insurance policy. Under the Affordable Care Act, those with pre-existing conditions are now able to receive health insurance policies without being discriminated against through higher premium prices or in their ability to receive prompt treatment and immediate insurance coverage. In addition, the Affordable Care Act also allows for the dependants of insurance customers to receive coverage up to the age of 26. These two important components of the Affordable Care Act are viewed by most as being off the table for discussions in how the Affordable Care Act will be amended!
Additional areas of concern that consumers of health insurance have include the protection of women's health issues and the reduction of the "donut hole" within Medicaid's coverage of prescription drugs that causes prescription drug consumers to pay a higher co-pay percentage after their overall prescription costs reach a specific threshold level. In my discussion with Congressman Faso's aide, I emphasized the importance of these issues, and I also pointed out how some corporations have responded to the 30 hour-per-workweek employer mandates under the Affordable Care Act by reducing employee workweeks to less than 30 hours per week. This creates a whole new class of working poor who make little money, receive no health insurance and are unable to qualify for health insurance through their state of residency. In order to alleviate this problem, I suggested that the federal government should provide funding to individual states so that sliding-scale clinics can provide health care coverage to the uninsured on a large scale which will close the gaps in coverage that any healthcare law will cause within the United States. In closing, I left it open for a personal meeting with Congressman Faso to discuss these important issues with him.
Chris Allen, Ulster County Legislature
How Can Faso Call Himself Environmentalist?
Congressman John Faso of District 19 says that he is an environmentalist, but the legislation he has supported belies this claim. He voted to overturn the Stream Protection Act, which regulated dumping of mountaintop removal debris into rivers and streams. Likewise, he voted to nullify the Bureau of Land Management rule to reduce waste of natural gas during oil and gas production on tribal lands. He also voted to roll back the BLM's planning process, which was opened up to more stakeholders: state and local governments, environmental groups, outdoor recreation groups, citizens and tribes, making the process more transparent.
This doesn't sound like an environmental supporter to me, and it makes me wonder where he stands on upcoming legislation — one to ensure the protection of federal lands, and another which seeks to terminate the Environmental Protection Agency. As a person who values our forests, rivers and lakes, and clean air, I am concerned. If you are too, give Mr. Faso a call at one of his offices and let him know: