Friday, September 28, 2012

Mountaindale...Living Life Under a Microscope

Most of us in this life have simple wants when it comes to where and how we live our lives...we want peaceful enjoyment of our abodes, want left alone, our business our own.  Sadly, in speaking with various of my neighbors here in town, watching the ebb and flow of our small hamlet, it seems many of us feel as if our every move and action is being watched, observed and commented upon by eyes we never see as Big Brother watches and tabulates our every action as we go about our daily lives.  Living under such constant surveillance at best is difficult.

This past Wednesday night several of us were talking outside the Mountaindale Inn when a Fallsburg Police Officer arrived wanting to speak to a member of staff...seems that several noise complaints had been called in by supposedly upset neighbors...odd since many of the few neighbors we have were in the bar enjoying a drink and listening to the live music.  Disturbing when Ed has bent over backwards (as have his patrons) too keep noise levels down when Wednesday night Open Mic is happening.  More disturbing is the FALSE NATURE of the the time of the officer's arrival, as is often the case, several of us were monitoring the noise level with decibel reading apps we have installed on our phones...once the active and working app was shown to the officer, once it was pointed out that the sound levels were within the legal limits required after ten o'clock at night, he left not to be seen for the duration of the night.

Whoever it is that is making the noise complaints should be careful that they are not filing false complaints...the law clearly states that the decibel reading be taken in front of the property of the complaining person...odd, but I have yet to see one of the police officers show up at the property of the complaining person to take a reading to see if the noise complaint holds merit.  However, several of the patrons routinely step outside after ten, our decibel meters in tow to make sure we are within the legally allowed noise limits established for our community.  After while, it begins to feel like harassment...and for what purpose?

Yesterday while talking to neighbors, it seems that some in town don't like some of us parking our cars on the public street in PUBLIC PARKING SPACES.  I may be wrong here, but would seem to me that the Fallsburg Police would be issuing warnings and then tickets if our residents were illegally parking on the PUBLIC streets of Mountaindale?  No one owns the public streets, no private citizen has the right to tell you that you cannot park where you would like to park on public streets in public parking spaces that have no restrictions placed on them by our local governing body that I am aware of...if I am wrong on this, if a private property owner, or some citizen has a monopoly on and control of our public parking here in the hamlet, would love to know about this. 

These are just two examples of living life under what feels like a microscope.  I've heard stories from people who are hearing complaints that they are using too much water when they take their showers, wash their dishes and live their lives.  Really? Is there a water conservation order in place that we have not been made aware of?  Is my shower time is being timed, measured and graded by town of Fallsburg officials...I hope not.  Others in town have been told by un-named people that their  driving is inappropriate, or that they need to be a bit more careful with the language they use, or should learn to lower the modulation of their voice. Is there some secret list over in the town hall of what is and is not acceptable language and tone?  Crying kids in a stroller OK, but two adults laughing over a humorous joke unacceptable...I mean there could be for all I know.  After all, even though a lot of us would love to see it lifted, there is a ban on skateboarding here in the hamlet of Mountaindale.  If Steve is reading this, could you tell us what we would need to do to lift that ban so that our teenagers here in the hamlet could skateboard without the fear of finding themselves running afoul of the law?

What happened to live and let live?  What happened to being accommodating of others?  More importantly, do we really have that many people in town who are running to the authorities about every little behavior they find distasteful in their neighbor?  No one likes feeling they are living in a Gestapo State where they fear their every move is UNDER SURVEILLANCE.  No one likes being told where they car or cannot park on a public street, or fearing someone is going to call in false complaints about abandoned cars.   Is it possible for people to learn to embrace tolerance here in our community? Inquiring Minds want to know.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mitt Romney and His Cronies Self Absorbed Arrogance Allowed Secret Recordings Too Happen

If Those Seniors Really Knew What I Think of Them!  LOL
If you watch the full video of the Mitt Romney Tapes (Romney Tape Gate), it appears conservative to state there were at least 20 well heeled (uber wealthy) rich Republicans who paid $50,000 each (minimum) to sit down and break bread with Mitt Romney.  If you look at the video, you can pretty well pinpoint where the camera was placed...

So, lets think about a few things.  20 people is a conservative number for this fund raising event, but we will stick with that, and state that the dinner bill was one million dollars.  It is also obvious that the patrons received very good service from those who waited on know, hard working lower and middle class wait staff and kitchen help.  Good service should get a 20 percent tip...we all know that did not happen, the staff did not split a $200,000 tip.  In fact, would be surprised if the entire wait staff shared a tip of $1500-$2000 for their work.  Fact is, if they had been properly tipped, there is a chance that video shot at the event might not have seen the light of day.

The person hosting the event, Mitt Romney and his staff never gave a thought to those working the event, saw and see them as nothing more than a part of the great uncleaned masses, saw them as WAIT STAFF and nothing more...perhaps if they had seen them as people, perhaps if they had not taken them for granted, perhaps if they had given any thought at all to this staff, a camera would not have been positioned in the staff area recording Mitt's talk.  Perhaps if these self absorbed, self serving arrogant folks had really thought about it all, they would have had tighter security in the kitchen serving area, would have swept the place just before the event started, would have put the kitchen/wait staff through security screening...but the fact is, these UBER RICH folks don't see these people, do not see average people who they have deemed are beneath them at all.  

Mitt Romney's words are damaging enough...the fact that someone so easily video taped this private fund raising event from start to finish speaks volumes about the stupidity of himself and his staff.  Sorry, but a presidential candidate should have people around him that make sure such things don't happen.

Mitt Romney got secretly taped because he does live in a bubble, Mitt Romney got taped because he is out of touch with average every day Americans.  Mitt Romney was taped because he and his staff were and are too stupid to realize that those people waiting on him and his friends are more than likely a part of that 47 percent he so disdains.  Mitt Romney got taped because he does not see most people at all because we are not in his social class, are in his mind not worth being noticed, let alone acknowledged.

For Future Growth, Sullivan County CANNOT AFFORD A Property Tax Increase For 2013

County Commissioners are looking at approving what could be a DOUBLE DIGIT property tax increase for 2013...lets be honest, property owners cannot afford any increase in their property taxes, and the county cannot expect much growth in our county when property taxes are already so out of line...such high property taxes DISCOURAGE NEW BUSINESS, rather than attract it.

As example, look at some of the properties for sale in our county, and the estimated property taxes (this includes all property taxes including school taxes), and it becomes crystal clear that one of the anchors holding back economic renewal in our county are the taxes on real estate...when one is looking at having to put more in the escrow account to pay property taxes than they are paying on their mortgage each month, something has to change.

There is a property for sale in Mountaindale that can be purchased for $45,000...the owners are wanting to be done with it.  If one puts down 20 percent and finances the remaining $36,000 with a traditional 30 year mortgage, your monthly payment would be $171.87.  However, the estimated taxes (before the county raises them) for this property come out to $3300 per year.  That would require the home purchaser to put $275 per month into escrow to cover property taxes on the home...hello Houston we have a problem.  Who wants to buy a home where they have to pay more per month in property taxes than they are paying on their mortgage?  No wonder so many people walk away from their properties, let them go up for auction to pay off their property taxes.

Property values in our county have plummeted, yet try to get a reduction in your tax rates, and most of the time the County Auditor is going to laugh at you...why?  If a home was once worth A and is now worth B in an arms length sale and that value of B is now lower than A, seems only logical that our citizens should see their property taxes lowered rather than raised doesn't it?

No one likes cutting services, or losing some of their perks, but maybe it is time that the County Commissioners here in Sullivan County find ways to TIGHTEN THEIR BELTS, rather than raising property taxes that are already out of line.

How about an across the board cut of say 10 percent?  How about figuring out ways for the county offices to use less me, go through the budget and you would be surprised at how much the county ways to keep the proverbial lights on.  Perhaps they need to ask county employees to pay a bigger share of their health care costs, or ask police officers and others to pay for their own uniforms, rather than handing out generous clothing allowances that we the tax payers pay one pays the tab on the clothing we need to go to work.  Maybe it is time for some PAY CUTS...studies show that those on the government payroll earn on average 40 percent more than their private sector counterparts doing the same work.

Raising property taxes is NOT GOOD for the county's property owners, and in the long run not good for the future growth of our county.  In this economy our elected officials should be looking for ways to cut costs, rather than looking to already financially strapped households to take yet another hit on their family budgets.

"News On The Run"...Things Here in Mountaindale

Woke up to rain...which is fine, as we desperately need some of the wet stuff....especially since it has just been announced that this has been the hottest summer America has ever recorded since record keeping began.  Of course, there are still some (Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan) who will insist Global Warming is a hoax.

We are losing a very talented clothing designer at the end of this month who will be vacating 47 Main Street as she heads back to her home state of Minnesota.  

Many of us suffer from allergies...ragweed, golden rod and other weeds contributing to our suffering.  A walk around our hamlet, and other villages shows us there are several yards/lots that have not been mowed all summer, some of the weeds over four feet in height.  A perfect example of this is the vacant/abandoned lot right next door to the Post Office.  Not sure who owns this lot that so many of us walk by every day, but do know it has not been mowed even once this entire summer. 

Town of Fallsburg ordinances state that grass is not supposed to be taller (on average) than six inches.  Now I can understand an open field out in the country not being mowed, and appreciate the beauty it represents.  But do wonder why it is that vacant/abandoned lots within the limits of a town, village or hamlet are allowed to grow out of control when we have an ordinance requiring that these lots within town limits be fact, the ordinance goes so far as to state the town will mow the lots themselves and bill the property owners if these lots are not maintained.  These in town/village/hamlet lots covered in weeds present a serious inconvenience and health hazard to those suffering from allergies, so if Steve Veglianti and the town board are reading this, it would be nice if someone would address this issue here in Mountaindale, and in some of our other small hamlets and villages within their governmental jurisdiction.  Those suffering from allergies would thank you for it.

Don't forget...every Wednesday is OPEN MIC night at Ed's Mountaindale Inn which is located at 69 Main Street in downtown Mountaindale.  Bring your voice, instrument and self and enjoy some great local musical talent from 8 PM till around midnight.

We end on a funny note...apparently there is nothing newsworthy going on in the Town of Fallsburg...vist the town of Fallsburg's reworked webpage for news, and the page is literally BLANK.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Are You Part of The 47 Percent of Americans Who See Themselves As Victims That Romney Could Care Less About?

I would be doing better if I were Latino
Laying here under the weather, and doing what I always do when I find myself snuggled in...watching CNN as the news junkie that I am.  Seems that someone recorded Mitt Romney at a private fund raiser for well heeled FAT CATS...think UBER RICH.  He had some rather explosive things to say, seems to be actually mocking and insulting those who support him...think SENIOR CITIZENS.  Lets share here his most explosive statement:
Mitt Romney essentially wrote off 47 percent of the population who he said will always support the president because they “believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax. ”

OK, lets dissect this...For all those senior citizens who are planning on voting for Romney, PAY ATTENTION HERE.

1.  Do you, or will you collect social security?  If you answer yes to this question, you are a part of that 47,48 or 49 percent who see themselves as victims, who want a FREE RIDE compliments of Uncle Sam and the United States government.  NEVER MIND THAT YOU PAID INTO SOCIAL SECURITY FOR OVER FORTY YEARS!

2.  Do you get Medicare as a Senior Citizen?  OMG, do you see yourself as a victim, do you see yourself as someone expecting the government to give you something you have not earned, but instead are entitled too?  Hello, again if you are on Medicare, YOU EARNED IT, paid into the system for over 40 years so that Medicare would be there when you retired!

3.  Do you have a child, parent or other relative with serious medical issues, who is disabled that receives some kind of government assistance?  IE, think about our 50,000 troops who have been injured in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  If you are someone that falls into this category, if one of your loved ones does, you fall into this category of people that Romney DOES NOT CARE ABOUT?  In his words, you see yourself as a victim, you expect and even demand that the government give you a FREE HANDOUT!

4.  Have you, or anyone you know ever needed foodstamps?  Romney does not care for you!

If you, someone you love falls into any of these categories, this is what Mitt Romney went on to say in that private fund raiser about you....
“My job is not to worry about those people,”... “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Hello worked your entire lives, paid into the system, paid into both the Medicare and Social Security systems so that those benefits would be there for you when you Mitt Romney is saying it is not his job to worry about you, and even worse, he is saying (basically) that you are a FREE LOADER who does not take responsibility for yourself, is saying you do not care about your own lives.  Yet, you are going to vote for him?  REALLY?

Faced with his own remarks, Romney DID NOT APOLOGIZE...all he had to say, is that maybe he could have made his statements in a more politically correct fashion!   Come on folks...WAKE is time to toss this out of touch with reality spoiled rotten rich asshole under the bus..

Friday, September 14, 2012

Why Is You Tube PROFITTING Off Innocence of Muslims

First, the movie "Innocence of Muslims" is offensive to any REASONABLE thinking person regardless of race, color or creed.
Secondly, though the movie is (putting it mildly) is in extremely poor taste, it does not excuse the behavior of those fanatical zealots who have invaded embassy, needlessly and wrongfully taken the lives of innocent citizens in their own hatred.  It was a poorly done movie orchestrated by one man, it was not done by a nation, and as I was taught as a child, "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.
Lastly, in looking at the various trailers and watching the movie itself, I was shocked to see that You Tube had actually PUT COMMERCIALS on some of these tasteless videos that have caused some much destruction and loss of life.  Why?  Commercials mean that You Has made money on these videos, as has the person who uploaded them...that is SICK.  I would call on You Tube now to figure out to the penny just how much ad revenue these videos generate, and take that amount of money and donate it to the families who have lost loved ones in Libya. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Why Give $1.5 Billion To A Nation That Attacks Our Embassy?

You Folks Insult YOURSELVES...GET A JOB!
It is 911, a day of both mourning and remembrance here in is not the day where our embassy in Egypt should have been attacked by a bunch of asshole religious zealots.  If Egypt and their Muslim Brotherhood president want too allow these kinds of things to happen, then it is time that America stops giving them $1.5 BILLION (with a B) dollars in US military aid each and every year.

To those who attacked our embassy...get over it.  We here in America have FREEDOM OF SPEECH, we have the RIGHT to say whatever we want about anything and everything.  You today desecrated our flag, but take offense if we burn one of your Korans...what makes your book of scriptures more sacred than our flag, or a Christian's bible.   

Here is a clue...if your Allah tolerates and even approves of your heinous actions today, your terrorist activities such as bombing our Twin Towers, if your Allah approves of your senseless violence, then HE IS NO GOD BUT INSTEAD IS A FALSE PROPHET, by proxy and association is a murderer and thug, which makes him nothing more than a sleazeball scum, a demon-spawn born from Satan's loins.

If my words on this the eleventh anniversary of 911 offend you get over it.  These words, just like the movie you have taken offense to are not the words of the United States, BUT MY WORDS as a United States citizen practicing his FREEDOM OF SPEECH.  I take offense to your actions as a radical extremist, the actions of today, the actions that we hear about in the news on a far too frequent basis.  May the one and true god, whomever she or he may be, give you just what it is that you deserve on judgement guess...there will be no virgins waiting in heaven for you, as you will spend your eternity feeding the flames of hell.

As to your nation, the nation of have SHOWN YOUR TRUE COLORS, and it is time that our government stop giving you a bloody red cent, it is time for us to take that money and spend it in our own homeland.

A Great Education...Fact is Many Local Communities Cannot Afford It

The Chicago teachers strike is now in its second day with both sides wanting to point fingers at the other with children seemingly caught in the middle.  Teachers want certain protections...IE, who gets called back and when (seniority), while those on the other side want the right to call back who they want when they want, claiming they want to call back to work the BEST TEACHERS FIRST.  Being a bit jaded, would guess here that the Chicago School Board wants to call back first those teachers that cost them less, rehiring the newer younger teachers while abandoning those who have paid their dues.  

However, that is not the focus of this article, just as the the strike in Chicago is not the problem, but rather a symptom of a far larger problem...the very real fact that many school systems in the best of times, let alone the worst of times simply cannot afford to give our children a quality education under the current funding system where a large part of the budget comes from property taxes assessed to those who own homes in the local school district.  Being honest, being a man of modest means, and having no children, and looking at the already far too expensive property taxes here in Sullivan County, I would vote against any new school levy.  Not because I don't want children getting a great education, but because I simply cannot afford an increase in taxes...or for those renting, could not afford the increased tent a landlord would charge to cover those additional costs.

Contrary to what some politicians and leaders express, I am one that feels our teachers are both under valued, and under paid.  Yes, they get summers off, all major holidays, and I know the argument that they are getting 12 months pay for around eight months work...problem is, those who give voice to this argument are missing some basic facts.  A teachers job does not begin and end with the start and finish of the school day.  How many teachers have to come in early and stay late because they care about their students, are going above and beyond the call of duty by being at school for various events, and school functions.  How many teachers finish dinner and then go off alone to grade papers, or to work on their learning plans preparing for the next day's class?  We think nothing of a Wall Street Weasel earning north of a quarter million dollars a year, yet when it comes to those people that will give our children the quality education they deserve, we want to claim teachers are underpaid?

There is the rub...we want our children to get a quality education, but when it comes to taking care of those that provide it, we balk at the cost, and when it comes to funding education, many of us are going to vote against it because our own middle class pocketbooks cannot afford another raise on the expenditure side of our own budgets.  The whole equation comes down the haves verse the have not,s with those fortunate to live, attend school, and/or work in wealthy neighborhoods getting what it is they need, while those in poorer communities find themselves coming up empty handed, property owners, teachers and students alike all getting the short end of the stick.

In Chicago, I side with the teachers...they deserve to be paid well, and they deserve job security.  I understand the school system's these hard economic times, the money is just not there, and they know they can probably rehire two young (unproven) teachers for every teacher that has maybe 20 or 30 years of experience under their belt...simply stated, for them it is a matter of numbers though they will not admit it.  Problem is, such an approach is not fair to those who have paid their dues, put in the time necessary to get where they are at.  Last in, first out when it comes to layoffs has stood the test of time, is the only fair way to approach call backs, which means the real problem is finding MORE MONEY in hard economic times.

The solution from my perspective...when it comes to funding schools, eliminate local rule.  Create a National School Tax that is EQUALLY distributed to every school system in America so that we eliminate the inequality that is a byproduct of funding our children's educations through local property taxes.  Let us do away with a funding mechanism that creates haves and have not's, let us eliminate a educational system that allows privileged children to excel, while penalizing bright young minds who are unfortunate enough to have been born poor.  Let us also allow those with children, especially those with large families to pay a tax that reflects their usage of the educational system.  It is unfair to ask someone with no children to pay the same school tax as someone with say five children.

Perhaps such an approach would create a system where every child had an equal chance at a quality education while at the same time reining in a population growth that is out of control.  After all, how many families would choose to have say 2-3 kids instead of 5-7 if they knew they were going to have to start paying their fair share of the bill for educating their children?

9-11 Eleven Years Ago Today

911  Let Us NEVER Forget
Seems odd, almost unbelievable that it has been eleven years since that fateful day when America was changed occurred.  It is just after seven in the morning, and like on that day, I am sitting here in front of my computer drinking coffee, blogging instead of checking my email.  On that day I was already showered and dressed, would be driving my wife into work as her car was in for repairs.  She was running late but it was not an issue as I drove faster than she, would still have her at work well before nine.

It was after eight when I got us on the road, and by the time I got us onto the Sprain the first plane had already was odd, the day, the time, the flow of traffic, the sounds...everything had a surreal feel too it, odd enough that I turned on the radio to get a news report.  A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, a commercial aircraft...I knew it was terrorism.  As we approached the college, our ears glued to the radio, both of us stunned, the second tower was attacked. our nation under siege.  

Driving onto the campus that fateful morning it was obvious that peoples lives had changed forever...students, professor and staff alike were huddled in groups, some stood alone trying to reach loved ones who worked in the towers or close by, others sat on benches as tears ran down their cheeks.

I was upstairs in the office of one of the college's vice president's offices watching a small black and white television when the first tower collapsed, the visual bringing me to my knees as a scream gave voice to the agony I was feeling for those who in that moment were losing their lives.

Eleven years later my heart still breaks for those souls, for their families.  

A very dear friend of mine, Eric, lost half his company of comrades that day, firefighters who risked their lives trying to save the lives of others.  Another friend's daughter was doing her banking in the towers that morning...she lived, made it out...yet she is still haunted as she recalls one of the leaping bodies that landed on the pavement right there in front of her eyes as she watched the tragedy unfold.  She was frozen in place unable to move...a complete stranger racing toward safety saw her, scooped her up and carried her away from the scene.   Would she still be here with us today if not for his unselfish moment of bravery?

On campus they were working at closing it down, I had been unofficially assigned the task of walking around telling anyone I saw that the college was shutting down.  The task required more consoling than do you tell a weeping student that everything is going to be OK, that the loved one they cannot reach who works in the towers is going to be OK when you don't really quite believe it yourself?

Today, eleven years later I look at America and the aftermath of that day sad that we seem to have learned so little from what is one of the darkest days in our nation's history.  It had seemed as if the tragedy would draw us all together, "One nation under God", all our differences set aside as united we faced what had been done to all of us as a collective whole.  That sense of togetherness as we shared our pain lasted for far too short of a time, and today eleven years later we are a nation divided along party and philosophical lines as the American Dream seems to be going up in smoke...looking at this divisiveness, looking at a nation divided begs the question on this day of remembrance, "Are we really going to let the terrorist, those who oppose us win by defeating ourselves through an inability to compromise?
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
On 9/11 in the year 2001 those words meant something to each and every American, poignant words written in 1892 meant something again, the words "under God" which had been added to the pledge in 1954 seeming so appropriate as we all, as a nation, sat glued to our television praying for those who had died, praying that more survivors would somehow be found.  Today as then, we are a nation in crisis, then caused by outside forces, today caused by greed, Wall Street, politicians and divided loyalties...we over came that first crisis, honoring those who died on this special day of remembrance...question is, will we individually and collectively survive today's crisis, will we find a way to heal a nation divided and again find that common ground on which we all can stand united?

God bless those who died on 9/11, God bless those who lost loved ones on that fateful day, God bless those touched by the tragedy directly and indirectly, God Bless the United States of America.