Letters to the editor July 16 to 22
On behalf of the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway (UDSB) and the Callicoon Business Association’s (CBA) Depot Committees, I would like to clarify several points made in Linda Drollinger’s article, “A river runs beside it.”
The two nonprofits are collaborating on the development of a visitors’ center within the train depot in Callicoon, for which Sen. John Bonacic secured a $250,000 state capital construction grant for renovations, and a lease is being negotiated with Central New York Railroad to preserve the vacant historic structure for multi-purpose community use.
The article incorrectly stated that mitigation is underway to remove “surface spills” damage identified through an environmental study. While an engineering firm recently completed a site assessment, a Phase II study would be the next step to offer any mitigation recommendations, and no action will take place until the lease is signed.
A professional building inspection took place on July 1 (not pending on September 1), which yielded a detailed, positive report about the former Erie Depot’s condition and infrastructure.
A Callicoon hamlet-wide parking study, which is proposed to be funded through the Town of Delaware’s Sullivan Renaissance 2019 Silver Feather Award proceeds, has not been awarded for $7,000 to begin in the next few weeks, as reported. The final scope of work is being determined by town and CBA officials to solicit quotes for review.
Once site control is secured, a robust public engagement process will begin to gather ideas for desired usage of the Callicoon Depot in order to design the space and to collect railroad memories to help document this lasting relic of the Upper Delaware River Valley’s transportation story.
Sullivan County’s five-man legislative junta emerged from another of its star chamber executive sessions (June 15) with new edicts designed to restrict and interfere with public attendance, participation and input at supposedly open county government meetings. After failing to quash the outpouring of protest against the appointment of ex-judge Michael McGuire as county attorney, legislature chairman Robert Doherty announced that, starting June 18, a restricted number of only 25 members of the public will be allowed to attend “in-person” county legislative meetings, and only those lucky few will be allowed to present public comments. Chairman Doherty went on to make the astounding statement that “comments about non-elected county personnel will not be permitted.” Will not be permitted by whom? And where is it written that only in-person submissions of public comments may be heard? It is illegal to prohibit or restrict public comments on any specific topic. You have to wonder if chairman Doherty consulted the county attorney on the legality of this pronouncement before it was issued. And after ordering people to appear in person (in groups that could exceed the current limit of 25), the chairman refused to wear a mask, citing pre-existing health issues. If he can’t wear a mask to protect others, why did he insist on switching from a virtual to an in-person meeting format that does not protect the public’s health?
“Open” meetings that restrict and limit public attendance, input and participation are not compliant with the spirit of the open government statutes. Using COVID-19-related social distancing guidelines as an excuse to limit public access to meetings is a transparent scam that will not be tolerated any more than phony directives limiting the scope of public comments will be allowed to gag people from expressing their views on their government. I personally do not feel safe resuming even limited group gatherings, a fear borne out by spiking COVID-19 cases found in fast and loose reopening areas around the country. To restore the unrestricted access of all people wishing to participate in their local government, the county legislature must take whatever steps are necessary (preferably though an interactive program like Zoom), to make this to happen.
Star D. Hesse
Over the Fourth of July weekend, President Trump downplayed the danger of COVID-19. He repeatedly stated the impacts are “minimal” and less than 1 percent of the population are at risk—completely at odds with what we hear from every credible source from the CDC as well as every medical expert from Harvard Medical School State Health Agencies. The people “on his team” who support his statements are putting Trump and his administration above the public welfare. Not us.
What this means is quite clear: My wife and I, and anyone with a compromised immune system, are expendable. No big deal. We are labeled, “elderly with complicating health issues.” Either lung issues, heart issues, compromised immune system, body type and many other ailments that are a part of growing older. Scientists and doctors report our chances of serious complications and death are 10,000 times greater than a 30-year-old.
Yes, we are over 70, whatever that means. We are grandparents—Mom-mom and Pop-pop to our grandsons. We are parents of grown adults. We are an aunt and uncle and sister and brother. We are not expendable. Sorry to be so selfish, Mr. President, but we are not expendable. Neither are my friends and neighbors, or fellow human beings for that matter.
For those of you who refuse to wear a mask because of your “constitutional right,” you should think about what you are doing. Think about how this impacts your fellow citizens and your own family. It is not a constitutional right to be an accomplice to murder. If a family member or friend is infected by someone who refuses to wear a mask, then you are contributing to death.
President Trump has made wearing a mask political. Would Tom Ridge, Gifford Pinchot, Milton Shapp, Dick Thornburgh, Arlen Spector, or Bill Scranton say that public health is political? It is not political. It is common decency.
We are better than this.
Thank you to the Gottlieb family, owners of the Trading Post in Liberty, for putting their employees and customers before money. One cannot enter the Trading Post without a mask, and as soon as a customer finishes with a shopping cart, it is immediately sanitized. Some people and business owners object to the governor’s executive order requiring that a mask covering the mouth and nose be worn in public, but to their credit, the Gottliebs are in compliance and are making no exceptions. Kudos to them.
While the Governor’s order is appropriate, wise and promotes the public’s health, safety and welfare, some insist—because technically, the executive order is not “the law”—it’s their right to not wear a mask. Nevertheless, while a person may choose to go mask free, he/she does not have the right to infect others. If you don’t like the mask and sanitary policy of a particular store, you have the right to go to another more forgiving place. Alternatively, it is my right to avoid businesses that are not taking the requisite steps to limit the spread of COVID-19. A few minutes of inconvenience can save a life and send the important signal that you are a member of a tribe that acts selflessly in the interest of the greater good. Is it really such a big deal to do the right thing?
Swan Lake, NY
As a child, I always cherished my grandmother’s warmth and loving appearance. Now, while I still recall her fondly, her photos reveal more clearly the frail and aged person that she actually was. This “see what you are looking for” dynamic is hardly a new revelation. Notwithstanding, it can be very powerful in shaping our perceptions.
In 2016, Donald Trump captured the imagination of people who were looking for something that largely he turned out not to be. Many saw him as a rule-breaker, a no-nonsense kind of straight-talker, somebody who would lock up all the bureaucrats and big-shot insiders and finally bring justice to people. Or so many thought.
I believe some people were earnestly looking for that kind of person. Others were attracted to his much uglier content and, unfortunately, that darkness has been featured as a dominant part of his wayward and erratic leadership. But the truth is that mock celebrity, rude dismissive behavior, racial antipathy and an exclusive driving personal obsessiveness does not mix well; neither with our national interests nor our chronic problems. Recently, as he has increasingly stumbled his way through the final months of these last four years, it seems that the underlying paucity of this president’s leadership and character have become more clearly apparent to many more Americans. Decidedly, he is like neither “you nor I.” He seems exclusively self-involved and increasingly displays as a corrupt “swamp creature” unlike any we have seen before.
For America’s would-be celebrity king, it appears that his ruinous, rudderless and helter-skelter presidential show may be coming to a close this November. But why now does he reveal as frail, worn and aged? Oh yeah—something like my grandma’s photo. For many Americans, what was an internal and hopeful view of this president is no longer the operative lens through which he has come to be seen. COVID’s 130,000+ American deaths have vastly changed many perceptions.