The Public Deserves Better
Your newspaper has covered a hotly contested race for the Ulster County 21st Legislative District between Terry Bernardo and Manuela Michailescu. I am familiar with and work with each of them in my capacity as Town of Rochester Supervisor. Manuela has capably served with me on the Town Board for nearly 4 years and Terry has worked closely with me as our Ulster County Legislator for nearly 2 years. I also consider each of them a friend and believe that they are honorable and decent people. Unfortunately I am disturbed by recent controversies concerning signed petitions on the behalf of these candidates.
The most recent controversy to come to my attention concerns claims that a dead woman's signature was fraudulently placed on a Republican Petition to support Terry Bernardo's candidacy. The purported dead woman unfortunately happened to be my neighbor of almost 23 years who died after a long illness in March of this year. The petition in question was carried by a couple of volunteers. One is a young man I've known since he was in diapers and the other person a respected civically active woman from a nearby town. I also believe that neither Terry nor Manuela would ever condone any kind of fraudulent behavior. It disturbs me greatly that there are allegations that these two citizens conspired to fraudulently place a dead woman's signature on a petition.
I sincerely believe that an honest mistake could have been made in this instance. I've made stupid mistakes in the past as have other candidates. The petition process can be confusing at times. In this case the signature was written with the first initial and then the surname. As a knowing neighbor, there are two other relatives residing there with the same first initial as the deceased person. One person is the deceased person's daughter-in-law and the other person is the deceased person's granddaughter. It would have been very easy for the people carrying the petition who really don't know the family to erroneously mistake one of the relatives for the deceased person.
Every election season nullifying petitions and signatures turns into a blood sport. This year seems more so probably due to the redistricting and downsizing of the Ulster County Legislature. This has been going on all over the county. It is my fervent desire to see this trend reversed. Candidates and their supporters should spend more time espousing their positions and addressing the concerns of the people they wish to represent, and less time trying to knock their opponents out of the race by challenging petitions. The public deserves better and races should be decided at the polls and not in court.
Supervisor, Town of Rochester
I was truly appalled to read that the new addition to the Stone Ridge Library would not require an elevator and the administrative offices would be upstairs without access to an elevator. What happened to the ADA? This means they are keeping out an entire class of people from working there as administration. What would happen if one of the administrators were to become handicapped, would it mean loss of a job? Wouldn't the library be exempt from grants because of non adherence to the ADA? Why? Perhaps that should be used for storage? I couldn't help but notice the same paper had an article saying the new Mamakating Library would cost $500,000 but this library is $4 million for an addition? Doesn't make sense to me.
Old Rush = Gold Rush
With the aging of America a new gold rush is coming. The golden years of the baby boomers will be the treasure. Tens of million of boomers across America will soon need nursing care and soon the rush to the mother lode, not to mention father lode will be on!
30,000 people in the Ellenville area are without a single private or public nursing care complex and soon local demand will be waiting for supply. With a local facility(s) in Ellenville, area residents will be able to visit their elders, eliminating long trips... and guilt trips. Not to mention bad weather trips... and costly trips. The convenience of these facilities will attract prospectors to local digs.
Ellenville Regional Hospital, recognized for outstanding performance and service is the right place at the right time to start mining operations. Steve Kelly, Director of ERH and his associates have made the hospital a 24-carat treasure. And it's a treasure for all to stake claim because the elderly need help... and help means jobs... and jobs resuscitate towns.
If Ellenville gets staked a poke with public and/or private funding for a pilot program, a treasure map for other towns to follow could be the result. A revitalization not seen in rural American towns since industries and economies were more localized might be unearthed.