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Dirty pool in Damascus

November 17, 2011

Three days before the recent election, an oversized postcard appeared in my mailbox. Titled “Damascus Town Supervisor Joe Canfield,” it advertised things he has done for the community, his long experience in the logging business, and his philosophy of “strong support for property rights.”

In an opposite column it listed the accomplishments of his Democrat opponent Dolores Keesler (who taught school in Damascus Township for over 25 years) as: “ ? – promises.” I assume the writer means that her promises are questionable. Her campaign material did promise support for clean water and clean air.

Clearly this giant postcard was political advertising. But the signature line said only: “This ad did not originate with the candidate, nor was it paid for by him.” Republican Joe Canfield denied knowledge of the piece. He did win the election—no surprise, since Damascus is roughly two-thirds Republican to one-third Democratic.

The surprise followed a few days later, when it was disclosed that the writer and distributor of the ad was Damascus resident Mike Uretsky. Now, Uretsky is an educated man who should have known that anonymous political ads are “dirty pool” even if effective, as this one was. And he is hardly a disinterested letter writer. He is a known spokesperson for the Northern Wayne Property Owners Association (NWPOA) and speaks often to support its gas extraction goals and the “gifts” that will come to Wayne County when gas drilling really gets going.

All this makes me wonder. Why does the NWPOA seek anonymity in supporting Joe Canfield? He is one of their own. And exactly how realistic are the benefits promised to Wayne County from gas extraction? Will promises of many new jobs, improved roads, and (especially welcome for economically deprived Wayne County) enormous cash inflows actually materialize?

I know now for sure that we can add “dirty pool” politics to this list of “benefits.”

Barbara Yeaman
Milanville, NY

Referendum on drilling?

If Delores Keesler would have defeated Joe Canfield, it would have been a miracle, as Ms. Yeaman knows the republican majority figures in Damascus, compared to registered democrats. Take an unidentifiable brown substance (to borrow a Monte Python reference) label it republican, and it will win in the local election, usually by a larger majority than Mr. Canfield enjoyed.

If it were a referendum on drilling, a lot more than thirty something percent would have shown up at the pols, and furthermore, as the lessors like to always point out, the homeowners and landowners who are "anti" shale gas drilling, or who even care about sanity in zoning, seem to be second home owners who don't have the ability to vote in these local elections. They just pay a heck of a lot of property taxes to the County.

No taxation without representation?

The township supervisors have already rezoned the township for the benefit of Hess, Newfield and NWPOA. Joe Canfield's defeat would not have changed that. Much thanks go to Ms. Keesler for making the run however. She did great, and it is a start. What did I read, 38% voted for her. Usually Canfield would run unopposed, I suspect.

As to Mr. Uretsky, his little maneuver is not a surprise.

I have to agree, Ms Yeaman.

I have to agree, Ms Yeaman. I also am not technically a resident of Damascus but care deeply about this election. It was hailed as a "referendum on drilling" but unfortunately it seems that the following of the Damascus Concerned Citizens did not turn out in force or surely the election would have gone otherwise. I am disheartened to learn that Mr. Uretsky would endorse his fellow NWPOA member in such a way. I am just glad we don't hear much about this election any more.