Letters to the editor April 1 to 7
What is the Governor’s Executive Order EO 203, commonly referred to as “Police Reform,” and what does it mean for our community?
This order requires local law enforcement to (1) perform a comprehensive review of current policies, procedures and practices and (2) develop a plan to improve those processes. The goal of this order is to address the particular needs of the communities served and to promote community engagement; to foster trust, fairness and legitimacy; and to address any racial bias.
Compliance with EO 203 requires that the local police agencies within the state are expected to actively engage with stakeholders in the local community—anyone who lives, works or travels through that community—and together, develop those plans for strategies, policies and procedures that will be locally approved.
Some of our local municipalities—Fallsburg and Monticello, for example—have made commendable efforts to accomplish this, offering many open public meetings and comment periods. Others, as evidenced on Monday evening [March 15] at the sheriff’s reform meeting, have failed to create a climate of collaboration with the community. With only two weeks left before the April 1 deadline to have a reform plan, there is still no draft plan for the community to review and contribute their input.
EO 203 recognizes that improved police agency and community relationships must be based on trust, fairness, accountability and transparency. The sheriff’s department does not seem to recognize that.
Kathie Aberman, Judy Balaban, Martin Colavito, Dayna Halprin, Sam Encarnacion, Juanita Sarmiento, Bobby McCullogh and Carol Ryan
Committee for Equity and Justice, S.A.L.T
Sullivan County, NY
I am an Asian-American woman. Living in our community for 44 years, I have made friends and acquaintances here (and maybe some enemies).
For those who don’t know me and just see a “foreign” face, I encourage you to see me. Don’t see the stereotype.
Do not fear, blame and attack what you do not know. See me as a fellow human being.
Callicoon Center, NY
On Friday, March 19, we held the first-ever virtual Hortonville Talent Show, a partnership event to help raise funds and fun with the Youth Economic Group.
The Youth Economic Group (YEG), along with Rural & Migrant Ministry Inc., would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our amazing MC Jonathan Charles Fox, the original organizer Jane Orcutt, and the Hortonville Presbyterian Church. Your commitment is what made this event a success; we couldn’t have done it without you.
It was YEGs vision to uphold the tradition of the 34th running of the talent show while opening it up to a wider audience with more accessibility during the pandemic. We had guests join from all corners of New York State and out of states like Vermont, Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Virginia and New Jersey.
We were able to raise more than $2,500 to benefit the work of rural youth here in Sullivan County. Once again, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
YEG coordinator, Rural & Migrant Ministry
The New York State Public Meeting Laws are intended to ensure that the business of the people is done so that the people know what the issues are, understand the pros and cons of the issues, understand the perspectives of their elected officials, and have the opportunity to make their voices heard. This means that the voices of all our elected county legislators have to be heard. We elected them to represent us, and if they are not at the table, we are not represented in county government.
The recent private meeting regarding contract negotiations between three members of the county legislature with one representative from the Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association (SCVA) is an example. Neither the public, nor officials at SCVA, nor the rest of the legislature were privy to the discourse that took place. Yet, the chair of the legislature, in a public statement, tells us, “By April 1, we will be announcing a larger plan.” So, clearly, the three GOP legislators have made decisions for the county absent full public meetings and absent the input of our duly elected representatives.
While this off-the-books meeting may comply with the letter of our Public Meeting Laws, it certainly does not comply with the spirit of the law. The reality is that three GOP legislators turned county business into partisan sport.
We call on these legislators to tell us what was discussed. Tell us why some legislators were chosen to meet, but not others. Tell us why it is necessary to exclude the eyes and ears and voices of the people. But, more importantly, we call on the chair of the legislature to treat the public and his fellow elected officials with the respect they deserve.
Catherine M. Dawkins
Sullivan County Democratic Committee