The views and opinions expressed in our letters section are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Hudson Valley One. You can submit a letter to the editor here.

Letter guidelines:

Hudson Valley One welcomes letters from its readers. Letters should be fewer than 300 words and submitted by noon on Monday. Our policy is to print as many letters to the editor as possible. As with all print publications, available space is determined by ads sold. If there is insufficient space in a given issue, letters will be approved based on established content standards. Points of View will also run at our discretion.

Although Hudson Valley One does not specifically limit the number of letters a reader can submit per month, the publication of letters written by frequent correspondents may be delayed to make room for less-often-heard voices, but they will all appear on our website at All letters should be signed and include the author’s address and telephone number.

We must do better

The NYS Attorney General’s (AG) Office issued a report criticizing the Saugerties Police Department’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations brought by an unnamed complainant and two of the department’s officers.

The report highlights the systemic problems within law enforcement brought by a lack of regulated oversight and universal policies nationwide.

The back story of the officer in question, Dion Johnson, begins at the Albany Police Department, where he had a sketchy disciplinary record, including “untruthfulness,” according to the state AG’s report. Despite his less-than-stellar performance, the Albany Police Department recommended him to the Saugerties Police Department without reservation!

A civilian lodged a complaint against Johnson in 2020 alleging inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature. Saugerties Police Department chief Joseph Sinagra said the complainant was “uncooperative” and no charges could be filed against Johnson.

Johnson’s troubles didn’t end there. Two other complaints of a sexual nature were filed by fellow police officers in 2020 and 2021. The Saugerties Police Department found that Johnson violated sexual harassment policies.

Sinagra said that the AG’s criticism of his handling of these allegations is unwarranted. They are unfamiliar with civil-service law, union rules and the lengthy process required to fire an officer who is innocent until proven guilty.

Sinagra pointed out that Johnson is not on the Saugerties Police Department payroll at this time, but is currently serving in the reserves.

Lots can be done to fix these types of problems. For starters, a national mandate must require police personnel records to follow officers from department to department. Sinagra agrees.

This amounts to a thorough background check that other employees in sensitive positions undergo, for example officers with the FBI and Homeland Security. This step halts officers like Johnson in their tracks.

Officers under investigation should not be allowed to serve elsewhere in law enforcement, or in Johnson’s case as a reservist until their investigation is concluded.

Sinagra’s referral of these allegations to the AG is a requirement in NYS. This requirement should be adopted as part of a much-needed universal protocol for all law-enforcement agencies. The investigation process at higher levels must be shortened and given priority.

Both of the officers’ complaints were investigated within the department. In my humble opinion, allegations within a department should be reviewed by a neutral third party, similarly to internal-affairs bureaus in larger departments.

Sinagra said he is recommending Johnson be terminated, but it is now up to the Town Board to make that determination.

The AG report is a reminder that we must do better, and that changes are sorely needed.

Jo Galante Cicale

Larry Winters and the Cost of War

Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote: “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world: My own government, I cannot be silent.” According to Brown University’s Cost of War report, U.S. aggression abroad since 9/11 has cost U.S. taxpayers $8 trillion, created 38 million refugees and killed over 900,000 in 85 countries.

Last week Larry Winters, who has delivered to HV1 readers, among many things, the horrors of his experience in Vietnam, while reminding us of the horrors of U.S. genocide abroad — regardless of party and disguised always as humanitarian intervention — has suggested retiring his most eloquent voice from this column.

Please, keep writing, Mr. Winters. Do not let your voice become another casualty of the Cost of War. We are paying attention.

Christopher Spatz

Meyer’s hallucinatory support of Biden

In response to Meyer Rothberg’s letter of 7-12-23 entitled “Wake up,” I’ll address his incredible support for a clearly mentally and physically failing Joe Biden, a bit later.

Even though Meyer’s math is correct, i.e., 330,000,000 x 7.2% = 23,760,000 which Meyer rounded up to 24,000,000, it doesn’t factor out children and near seniors to seniors. I think it can reasonably be argued that the most committed group of the practicing LGBTQ members are in the age range of 18 to 44 years (35.9% of the population). 35.9% of 330,000,000 = 118,470,000 and 7.2% of that number = 8,530,000. Since transgenders only represent well under 1% of the LGBTQ community, .005% of 8,530,000 = 42,650. This extremely small number represent people, as Meyer puts it, who are “locked in a gender that is wrong for them,” and NOT the 24,000,000 Meyer asserted.

Derogatory or not, “woke” refers to the rabid progressives on the left and their lemming followers who believe everything Biden has done for ALL Americans has been nothing short of stellar. We’ve had a border crisis for 2 1/2 years, a serious cartel problem, a fentanyl crisis, an out-of-control crime problem, a failed cashless bail judicial system, an economy that hasn’t been this bad in 41 years, and countless more screw ups. And, because the left and their lemmings have no problem with any of these calamities, Meyer still wants us to believe that they are AWAKE. Most would say COMATOSE.

And amazingly, Meyer, Neil Jarmel and the like will still actually vote for the Biden/Harris disaster, AGAIN? It doesn’t get any more dysfunctional than that.

As more and more Democrats become disenchanted with Biden, the floodgates will open for many mediocre challengers to Biden when he turns out NOT to be the Democratic candidate, either by his own consensual withdrawal or not. And, possibly the most likely replacement for Biden and waiting for the right time to emerge from the woodwork is none other than the macho California destroyer, Gov. Gavin

Gruesome. Is it even possible to find someone worse than Biden? Stay tuned.

John N. Butz

Support for an Ulster County Housing Action Fund

County Executive Jen Metzger has proposed a Housing Action Fund to address Ulster County’s universally acknowledged housing crisis. Her action follows a vote in the county legislature that declared housing a public purpose.

The fund would be seeded with $15 million from the county’s excess fund balance and could receive, with legislative approval, additional yearly dollars from a new hotel occupancy tax.

• The carefully designed fund is a natural partner to the new Housing Smart Communities Initiative, which encourages and supports municipalities in their varied efforts to address local housing needs.

• The fund would favor projects that create energy-efficient housing for families making up to 80% of the county’s median income. It anticipates the development of renovated buildings, supportive housing and accessory units. It would also support infrastructure needs.

• Several regional counties have developed similar, successful programs.

Proposals like the Housing Action Fund are legitimately scrutinized for their financials, accountability and the likelihood of success. This plan can pass the scrutiny.

• An appointed committee would annually develop and issue guidelines for projects…a 3-4 month process. It would then evaluate submitted proposals.

• The county executive’s office and the legislature would work together to approve funding.

• Awarded projects would be required to submit spending timelines in order to receive funds, and contracts would contain clawback provisions. Annual reporting would also be required.

The Housing Action Fund meets the test of fiscal responsibility. The county’s financial condition is stable; recent data suggests the likelihood of a recession is diminished.

The leader of our county, Jen Metzger, has offered a plan. Other county leaders — our legislature — must show they believe their own words: housing is a public purpose of their jobs. Most important, residents of the county, who know all too well how difficult it is to find housing they can afford, expect and deserve bold action. The legislature should approve the proposal.

Tom Denton
New Paltz

Jewish Federation laments our community lags in organ donation

Most of us know somebody who has benefitted from the miracle of organ transplantation. Consequently, we were dismayed to learn that Jews are underrepresented among organ donors compared to other population segments.

Why would a community aligned with the ethical imperatives of Tzedakah (charity) and Tikkun Olam (Repair the World) be behind in organ donation? One problem is a misinterpretation of Jewish Law. “The Jewish community generally does not consent to the donation of the organs of their family members. The major barrier was a perception that Jewish law prohibits such action. A study of Jewish law revealed that organ donation is permitted and, in fact, encouraged by all branches of modern Judaism,” according to the Journal of Transplant Coordination.

Kevod ha-met, the dignity of the dead, is an age-old tradition. Judaism teaches the sanctity of the human body is a reflection of the “Image of G-d,” which adheres to the body even post-mortem. The value of human life is also a cardinal principle of Jewish law. This mandate, Pikuah nefesh, includes the duty to save the life of a fellow human being in mortal danger. The commandment reads, “You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor” (Lev. 19:16).

The prevailing doctrine is that the preservation of human life is obligatory. “When needed for life-saving transplantation, withholding consent for post-mortem organ donation must be forbidden,” the Rabbinical Assembly, an international association of Conservative Rabbis, declared. That applies across all streams of Judaism and outweighs countervailing interpretations.

Changing long-held attitudes will require education and outreach. New York State may create a financial incentive: there’s a bill pending in the legislature supporting a $10,000 tax credit for living organ donation.

According to the Talmud (a compilation of ancient teachings sacred to observant Jews): “He who saves one life, it is as if he saves the world entire.” We need to better heed that call.
For more information on becoming an organ donor, contact

David Drimer
Rondavid Gold

David Drimer is Executive Director and Rondavid Gold is President of the Jewish Federation of Ulster County

The FDA knew early on

In October of 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) published a video of an FDA official doing a slide presentation on the alleged “Safety and Effectiveness” of the proposed Covid vaccines. On the slide presentation at 2:33:16 to 2:33:40 of this official FDA video (, the FDA official declares that there are some “possible adverse event outcomes” to the Covid vaccines but he states: “I won’t dwell on this” even though the video is eight hours and 50 minutes long. While the FDA official makes that aforementioned statement, the next slide comes up showing a list of 23 possible adverse outcomes of taking the vaccine, but it appears so briefly, it is impossible to actually read the list, which appears to have been done for that reason. I did a little research to dig up the actual pdf file of the FDA slide presentation at this link: Scrolling to page 17 of the pdf file, which is slide 16, one will be able to see that list of 23 possible adverse event outcomes. Some of the more familiar are as follows: GuillainBarre syndrome, convulsions/seizures, tranverse myelitis, stroke, myocarditis/pericarditis, autoimmune disease, multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, vaccine enhanced disease, pregnancy and birth outcomes, Kawasaki disease, narcolepsy, tranverse myelitis and ten more including death. By the FDA’s own admission, the list could be more. The FDA knew early on there would be serious adverse outcomes and many people have, in fact, been injured (including in my own family) and have testified as such:

Steve Romine

Does anyone care?

I wonder how many Democrats who voted in the recent primary were aware of the design of the Comeau Building’s addition, an addition that was supposed to complement it. I also wonder how many people that plan to vote in the November election will view the design of the Comeau Building’s addition, if they believe that the design complements the building, and, if not, who is responsible.

Howard Harris

So, this is our Meshuga Woodstock…

The recent “Searching for Swami,” an HV1 Almanac remembrance, was a beautiful AND well-written Brian Hollander piece of town lore which delightfully spotlighted this wonderful IRL character, our very own “transcendenizen everyman” Michael Esposito [a musician-artist-priest, gentle spirit, friend and proprietor of the an old-style bicycle repair shop], as well as his muse, a rascally little fellow and deliciously “bang-on” cartoon observer, “who’d give Woodstock context, all within a simple cartoon landscape.”

Our “[he who is] one with himself” Swami usually provided the reader with observational words that could be wry, fast and/or breezy. He and Mike helped us visually color outside the lines with cosmic crayons while also teaching us how to turn aholes into haloes. This li’l guy had an ongoing road map of crazy wisdom which sometimes ricocheted back and forth with a wrinkle ‘n’ crinkle.

I loved reading the weekly/long-running cartoon panel in our town newspaper. With cartoonist Mike’s natural drawing rhythm, he’d expose a dab of karmic insights, outtasites and kaleidoscopic sightlines that our Swami Salami trampolined from while almost always defying gravity. Woodstock has a vibe, and the Swami, I believe, was the tuning fork.

Who didn’t love Salami — our town thinker, teacher and sage? Yes, remember, one good friendship with this single-panel cartoon character Swami Salami could outlive a hundred average ones, in the real world. And as we know, his creative illustrator Michael ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at either.

Again, thank you to HV1 for a great article and tribute to our affable, caring, thoughtful, precious, irreplaceable and always trustworthy Mr. Esposito and his meshuganishi yogi sidekick. Please bring him back for us readers to follow on a regularly irregular basis, for his consciousness expanding, simple, yet profound and funny path is one to skip down.

I am looking forward to the day when a newly published Swami Salami cartoon book that can be read from front to back and vice versa [it’ll unfold within itself] occupies a reverential position between Be Here Now by Ram Dass and Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, on my bookshelf.

Neil Jarmel
West Hurley

Our neglected Thruway

As a kid, dad showed me the Tappan Zee Bridge construction from the east side in Tarrytown, where Chevrolet built cars — we bought one of them in 1963, a station wagon that dad ordered with a limited slip differential (for My Cousin Vinny fans), manually engaged overdrive and a 283 V-8 engine that let that beauty carry loads and pull boat trailers. Dad gave it to me when I got two sons, it served us well and died at 183,000 miles.

Early on, in the mid 50’s, our family vacation for six years was renting a remote cottage on the shore of Lake Ontario, really a fresh water ocean. With a pot-belly stove that glowed red at night, warming us from north winds, mom hand-pumped lake water into the sink and we all learned how to use the outhouse. We got our drinking water from a farmer’s well nearby. His cows pastured in the field our cottage sat on; it was nearly a wilderness adventure. We caught fish every day, with our first year using a rowboat I could handle. Later, dad borrowed a 5 HP motor. We went even further out from shore!

The drive up and back was a tour of the Thruway being built. We’d drive on finished sections, then county roads with flagmen, then back onto completed sections. Dad had me navigate the route on maps, a skill that was once common.

The road was great, but designed for 50,000 pound tractor-trailer rigs, not the 90,000 pounders common today. Surface coating the road as they’re doing now is not much more than cosmetic. Pot-holed sections south of New Paltz are already re-emerging. This winter, we will have holes again.

It’s tough to be poor — used, repainted bikes for Christmas, no family restaurant meals and working all through college. Now we’re watching “The Empire State” crumble, brick-by-brick, failing schools in every city, and the Hudson still an open sewer. And a toll road we were told would be toll-free 20 years ago. Our state is sliding into the abyss.

Our big donors are fleeing to Florida and Tennessee. Many are retired politicians.

You get what you VOTE for!

Paul Nathe
New Paltz

Woodstock Pollinator Pathway

As our Woodstock Town Board liaison to the Woodstock Environmental Commission (WEC), I wanted to share the status of our Pollinator Pathway actions.

Supervisor McKenna and I continue to be fully dedicated to making the Town of Woodstock pollinator friendly, to continue actions already taken in this direction, and to implement additional actions. We have been actively working with Woodstock Pollinator Pathway leaders and the WEC to clarify the best approach.

Supervisor McKenna previously placed a resolution for Woodstock to join the Woodstock Pollinator Pathway on the Town Board agenda, but people requested changes. Accordingly, changes were made, and Supervisor McKenna placed an updated resolution on the agenda. People who did not previously weigh in did weigh in on this version, requesting additional changes. We are listening to the people, and further refining our Woodstock Pollinator Pathway plan.

I am reaching out to Woodstock Pollinator Pathway leaders and WEC Chair Chris Compton, along with people who requested the recent changes, to finalize together a Pollinator Pathway Plan that is best for Woodstock. We will continue taking pollinator friendly actions as we finalize the details of our strategic plan.

Laura Ricci, Town Council Member

Making our sewer plant more resilient

Please sign on to our list of supporters at the village website or via social media.

The Village of New Paltz is submitting an application before July 28 to the NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) for an engineering planning grant. We would like to study our sewer treatment plant’s long-term capital planning options, capacity limits, and how to improve protection of the plant during flood events. The plant is located at the lowest elevation in New Paltz (approximately 190 feet) at 71 Huguenot Street, next to the Wallkill River.

On the heels of another significant storm event in the region, we ask you to consider how important a resilient sewer treatment plant is to the health and welfare of our community.

Will you add your name to a list of supporters? Public demonstration of support is key for every grant application. New Paltz is living in a new reality defined by rising sea levels and extreme weather events that will occur with increased frequency and power.

We must mitigate against future risks and build increased resilience at our sewer treatment plant.

Thank you for taking time to add your name in support of this important project. #sewerissexy

Mayor Tim Rogers
New Paltz

A great visit

I was so glad I took part in the profound ceremonies surrounding the visit of The Golden Rule on Saturday, July 8! The ship, crewed by its captain and Veterans For Peace, have sailed it from along the West Coast, all the way here in its “Great Loop” campaign. Its mission is to promote peace ( its sail is emblazoned with a giant peace symbol) and to raise awareness about nuclear disarmament. I witnessed, with a bunch of other folks, the “gifting” exchange with the captain, held on the grounds of The Old Dutch Church. This included planting a tree dedicated in ancient Hawaiian customs. The festivities continued at Gallo Park on the Rondout, where The Golden Rule was anchored, but ready to sail further north. Thank you Veterans for Peace and Kingston for this meaningful event!

Martin Haber

Support for Esi Lewis, acting commissioner of Ulster County

I am writing this letter to express my support for Esi Lewis, the acting commissioner of Ulster County.

Her dedication, leadership and commitment to our community have been invaluable. I have had the privilege of witnessing firsthand how Esi embodies the qualities of respect, kindness and love for all people.

Esi’s support for every individual in our community is truly commendable. She goes above and beyond to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and respected.

Whether it is attending community events, engaging in meaningful conversations or listening to the needs of our residents, Esi consistently demonstrates her genuine care and compassion.

Esi apart has the ability to connect people to the necessary resources and works to bridge the gaps and bring together individuals and organizations to create a stronger, more inclusive community.

Her dedication to ensuring that everyone has access to the support they need is truly inspiring.

I have personally witnessed Esi’s tireless efforts in the community, supporting and attending events aimed at fostering unity and understanding. Her presence alone brings a sense of warmth and belonging.

Esi’s commitment to fostering an environment of respect, kindness and love for all people is something we should all aspire to emulate.

Let us recognize Esi Lewis for her outstanding service as the acting Commissioner of Ulster County. Her unwavering dedication, her leadership and her ability to connect people to resources are all qualities that make her an exemplary public servant.

We are fortunate to have someone like Esi working tirelessly for the betterment of our community.

Bryant Andrews

The Woke Ostrich Syndrome

I greatly dislike dignifying the ignorance and closed-mindedness of another letter writer, however Meyer Rothberg’s attacks on John Butz and myself merit this response.

Meyer’s assumptions about who I support politically and who I vote for were way off base. I am a fourth-generation registered Democrat and a former Civil Rights leader in the early 1960’s. I worked with James Farmer of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and I was presented with a silver medal for my civil rights work by Mr. Farmer.

That being said, Meyer Rothberg scores very poorly in reading comprehension. He obviously buried his head in the sands of denial when both Mr. Butz and I filled our previous letters to this publication with a multitude of FACTS regarding the medical and psychological suffering that transgender mutilations and drugs are causing the easily influenced young children who are claiming gender dysphoria. Facts are facts. They are not opinions. These ill effects of gender reassignment surgeries and hormone treatments are destroying young lives. Many are now detransitioning and some are suing the doctors who destroyed their bodies and their lives. Woke folk act emotionally and ignore the facts and consequences of these radical and unnatural practices.

As a civil rights activist, I agree that adults have the right to do as they wish with their own bodies. But let’s leave the children alone until they are mature enough and old enough and sophisticated enough to make an informed decision.

Pay close attention to the sad repercussions of the transgender fad and please stop attacking those of us who truly care about the children. We are simply trying to protect them from this tragic dangerous trend.

Donzello Berelli
New Paltz

What do you want for Woodstock?

Do you want to know how things work in Woodstock? Here is one way you can inform yourself. Go to the town website and check the calendar for meeting dates and times. You can attend a meeting of the Town Board or any of the other important committees that are setting policies that affect each one of us. And the best thing is, you can often do that from the comfort of your home because most meetings are on zoom (ask for the link from the supervisor’s secretary) or can be seen after they have been posted on YouTube. Just type in the committee name and date and a recording should pop up.

Invest some time and find out what’s going on, or not going on. Unfortunately, some committees are meeting in person but aren’t saying when and where they are meeting, so you may have to do some digging. But for the most part, the meetings can be attended in person or watched on YouTube recordings.

As the need for affordable housing is one of our most important issues, the Housing Committee is now finally meeting in person at the Comeau. Their meetings have not been recorded lately, so you may want to ask the supervisor why. You can attend in person. The Housing Oversight Task force (HOTF) is meeting, but not in public. They have been asked to meet in public and record their meetings. To date, they have recorded one meeting. I don’t know what’s down the road.

ALL meetings should be accessible and recorded. This transparency is very important if we are to let our residents understand the town goals with housing and STR’s, as well as the new zoning law changes. I would also like to see any comments or recommendations that the town receives from residents regarding the zoning law changes be accessible for ALL to see. Currently, there is nowhere to access this information.

Lastly, these are extremely important issues upon which you may want to base your vote. Voting is on November 7. I am still in the running, as are Bennet Ratcliff and Michael Veitch. We will be on the Working Families Party line on the ballot. Or you can write us in. Either way, it’s a vote for better governance and transparency, especially with the various committees that are doing important work. It’s a vote to have better communication between committees and the public.

An informed public is a proactive public. Question authority and make your vote count toward a progressive and fair approach on how we improve our town and its affordable housing availability, while retaining the character and focus on the environment, music and the arts.

Linda Lover

Huge cost over runs in Ulster County

Reading the updates this week on the huge, unanticipated cost overruns on gutting and renovating the county-owned property at 21 Elizabeth Street in Kingston the county purchased for $700k a couple years ago (now being estimated to be over $4mm), I’m concerned. Further, back in May of this year we learned that the planned County Operations center budget somehow didn’t include “technology and wiring” that added $10mm (!!!) to a $24mm budget.

Clearly the people responsible for assessing the costs of renovation on the Elizabeth Street project weren’t skilled enough to identify potential remediation costs, the fact that in order to qualify for funding/grants an elevator and other ADA compliant requirements would be needed. Thoroughly reviewing any property before purchase is as basic as it gets. How the county could buy what appears to be a tear down building for $700k without understanding what it was buying is shocking. How the budget is now 4-5x the purchase price (and this again appears to be a very vague estimate by non professionals) is alarming. At some point, (and probably right now), this property is no bargain and is a money pit that should be considered for tear down rather than dumping millions and millions into it. These funds can be better used elsewhere for emergency/temporary housing in Ulster County. We’re at the point at which $4mm to update this building makes no sense. This is no different than spending $75k to restore a classic car that will be worth 25k when completed. This building can’t be a labor of love and a money pit with good money thrown after bad. Cut the losses and move on.

I raise the same questions about the county Operations Center’s construction costs which (after approval) suddenly swelled to $10mm more than the $24mm approved due to several large expenses being overlooked/not included in the estimates. Who is responsible for that debacle? Clearly, we’re spending hard-earned tax revenue as if it’s monopoly money. There needs to be accountability for these decisions, projects need to be thoroughly understood before they get approved and accountability to the numbers and construction contracts needs to be enforced. This appears to be a case of well intentioned but inexperienced people reviewing and approving huge projects that should have been handled by third-party expert firms familiar with construction projects of this nature.

Andrew Cowan

A no brainer

Should they ever close River’s Island detention center, may I suggest it as a possible future home of a Trump Presidential Library?

Seems like a no brainer to me.

John Scurti

Esi Lewis has brought professional decorum and a wealth of knowledge

As a member of the Ulster County Human Rights Commission, I am concerned about the portrayal of the commission in recent newspaper articles. Acting commissioner Esi Lewis has brought professional decorum and a wealth of knowledge and legal expertise to her work for the commission. In her few months as acting commissioner, Lewis has regularly reported on the progress of cases, worked collaboratively with the commission members and has scheduled meetings in advance in a responsible manner. Her communication skills and professional demeanor have been a welcome improvement to the operations of this commission.

In their resignation letter, the three former members of the commission referred to remarks made by former Commissioner Wilson that were anti-Semitic, homophobic, anti-Asian and anti-single mothers as “very trivial comments.” These sentiments do not reflect those of the Human Rights Commission. Holding such views should disqualify anyone from being an advocate for human rights in an official capacity.

The county’s code of conduct for elected and appointed officials clearly states: “The professional and personal conduct of members while exercising their office must be above reproach and avoid even the appearance of impropriety.” Yet, one of these former members revealed at the July meeting that he had obtained the cell phone number of a high school student who had spoken at our April meeting and has been texting with this minor without the knowledge or consent of the acting commissioner or the other commission members. This former commission member also surreptitiously contacted a client in an active case and undermined the work of the commission and the credibility of the acting commissioner. The acting commissioner had reported on the progress of this case and was actively laying the groundwork for mediation before this member privately intervened.

The county’s code of conduct further states, “Members shall refrain from abusive conduct, personal charges or verbal attacks upon the character or motives of other members, county employees or the public.” The former members complained that the chair of the commission was replaced without cause and called this “executive interference.” The former chair was unqualified for that position. He refused to employ standard meeting protocols such as Roberts Rules of Order. All three former commission members, himself included, regularly talked over women and trans people at our meetings. At the July meeting, one of these former members yelled, “HORSE SHIT!” while another commissioner was speaking. Another of these former members tried to shout down a transgender member of the commission while that trans member had the floor.

The former members alleged that the acting commissioner’s executive assistant Kathleen Harrison is not allowed to speak at meetings. This is false, she has spoken at every meeting since she was hired, including the most recent July meeting. This is a matter of public record, which can be easily verified.

A newspaper article stated that the resignation of two black members of the commission leaves only one black person on the commission, which fails to acknowledge that the acting commissioner is a black woman, and the commission’s new chair is a black man. I am hopeful that the leaders of the legislature and the county executive will maintain the diversity of the commission while appointing new, well qualified members who are truly committed to the commission’s charter to “reduce tensions, build consensus and foster harmony between the various and diverse communities within Ulster County.”

The statements of the former commissioners have been untruthful, their actions a breach of the code of conduct, and the newspaper reporting has been irresponsible in not investigating the motives or qualifications of those who initiated this attack upon well qualified public leaders who happen to be women.

Katie Scott-Childress

The Black Studies Department at SUNY New Paltz stands in support of Esi Lewis

Hearing about the resignation of the three human rights commissioners (HRC) of Ulster County was disturbing. Allegations of discrimination should always be taken seriously and combated, and as a discipline that seeks complete liberation of all people, we believe that there should be no room allowed for any forms of oppression and we see discrimination as one of those forms.

Equally disturbing about the resignations were the alleged reasons for them. Most of that reasoning seemed to be aimed at chief diversity officer and interim head of the HRC, Esi Lewis. Esi Lewis is a valuable and productive member of the New Paltz community. Her mother, Dr. Margaret Wade-Lewis, was the chair of the Black Studies Department at SUNY New Paltz for almost three decades, and throughout that tenure Esi established a relationship with the Black Studies Department and greater SUNY New Paltz community. She has kept her close ties with both the university and the department, and has remained committed to seeing that the university move in a trajectory that would create more diversity, equity and Inclusion on its campus. 

Ms. Lewis has taught classes in the Black Studies Department and in the university’s scholars’ mentorship program (SMP), an organization founded by Dr. Wade-Lewis while Black Studies chair.

As stated on their webpage, SMP is a “…multicultural program that addresses the educational disparities of the historically underrepresented students of SUNY New Paltz. SMP develops a community of scholars and leaders who celebrate academic achievement, whilst becoming culturally competent, to develop an inclusive campus.” Esi Lewis’ participation and involvement with the Black Studies Department and SMP underscores her commitment to inclusivity. 

Ms. Lewis has not only taught within the Black Studies Department but she has also stood in solidarity with the Black Studies Department when it has called for issues of DEI to be taken more seriously. The Black Studies Department stands in support of interim commissioner and chief diversity officer, Esi Lewis. We know Ms. Lewis to be one who pursues fairness and justice for all, and we hope she will be able to continue those pursuits as interim head of the Human Rights Commission.

Weldon McWilliams, Chair
Black Studies Department
SUNY New Paltz

Not even close

“Trickle-down economics” doesn’t even SOUND like it works.


Public health guidance

Regarding the recent vote to approve a legislative resolution regarding public health guidance about deadly diseases, I can only repeat, “I’m sorry there was so much airtime given to lingering resentment towards public health guidance.” 

That comment just about sums up my view towards the anti-science view expressed by some Ulster Legislators as well as the sense that we all stand on our own sense of ‘freedom’ and do not stand on the notion of living in a community where errant actions often impact others who are less able to deal with the multiplicity of owl-like wisdoms that forget the wisdom of ‘do no harm’ or ‘we are a village’. 

I frequently wear a shirt that says, ‘Science is not a liberal conspiracy” I’ll have to change it to “Liberals bearing their view of science, and community could be dangerous to your health”.

To conclude: “I’m sorry there was so much airtime given to lingering resentment towards public health guidance.” 

Rick Jones
Town of Rochester

So much for party loyalty

After losing to Bill McKenna, Laura Ricci and Anula Courtis in Woodstock’s Democratic town primary, Bennet Ratcliff and Linda Lover resigned as chair/vice-chair of Woodstock’s Democratic Committee.

Research before voting revealed that first-term councilman Ratcliff, seeking to replace McKenna as supervisor, is a 25+ year Washington lobbyist/political contractor who:

• Worked for the violent 2009 junta that overthrew the democratically elected leader of Honduras.

• In 2010 was point-person for Jeb Bush’s Digital Learning Now, a GOP push to privatize state education and weaken teachers’ unions.

• Worked for radical right-wing election ‘reformer’ John Pudner five years ago.

These career choices don’t reflect the values of Woodstock’s Democrats.

Neither did Ratcliff, Veitch and Lover’s campaign tactics. In a 6/19/23 email to Ulster County DA Clegg Bennet Ratcliff:

  Made unsubstantiated and meritless allegations against his opponent of “asset forfeiture theft” and “fraudulent documentation.”

• Admitted his role in trying to get the NYS OAG Public Integrity Bureau to investigate and/or charge Supervisor McKenna with crimes, which Ratcliff claimed would, “reveal a pattern of corruption in the town supervisor’s office.”

Prior to Ratcliff’s email, their campaign consisted of allegations that McKenna broke laws and obstructed cleanup of a (possibly) toxic dumping site threatening Woodstock’s aquifer. This story fell apart when minutes from a July 2022 Town Board meeting, and a July 2023 letter from the DEC to Woodstock’s Town Board proved otherwise.

Ploys for an ‘October surprise,’ standard practice for professional political operatives, proved ineffective. In Woodstock facts matter, integrity too!

Michael Mulvey