Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tom Deweese Speaks in Santa Cruz

Tom Deweese speaks in Santa Cruz. I heard Tom speak in the Albany area about two months ago (H/t Chip Mellor). He's a great speaker.  Will America awaken to escalating totalitarianism?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Why Academics are Pro-Fed Ideologues

"Tuition has been rising at leading institutions for the past quarter century at rates far ahead of inflation, reflecting the rising prosperity of the top 5 or 10 percent of the wealth distribution. Philanthropists continue to lavish large donations on prestigious institutions.  College and university endowments, fueled by the stock market boom of the past quarter century, have reached levels never dreamed of before.  In 1981 only one institution (Harvard) had an endowment exceeding $1 billion; as of 2007, more than sixty institutions had endowments in excess of $1 billion.  Harvard's endowmnet reached $29 billion in 2006.  Yale's $18 billion, Stanford's and Princeton's  $14 and $13 billion respectively.  Princeton's endowmeent is nearly $2 million per student, which effectively yields about $100,000 per student annually, a sum tht is more than double the annual tuition.  Many state universities, such as Michigan, Virginia, and Texas, have accumulated large endowments even though they receive annual subventions from the public treasury."

--James Piereson, "The American University: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow" in Robert Maranto, Richard E. Redding, and Frederick M. Hess, editors, The Politically Correct University. 

Without the Fed, endowments would be at 1981, or perhaps 1937, levels. There would be much less income inequality because the only possible explanation for a rising stock market is subsidy from the Fed at public expense.  This occurs because consistent reductions in interest rates increase the present values of future corporate earnings--the chief determinant of stock prices. Hence, the Fed's low interest rate regime directly subsidizes stockholders at the expense of the general public.  Income inequality results from the same Fed policies.  The wealth consumed by stock and real estate investors, including universities, who produce nothing (in the case of universities, less than nothing) but enjoy increases in asset values, comes from wage earners in the form of an increasing gap between productivity increases and wages.  That gap cannot continue.  Eventually, the public will either stop working or vote the bums who have subsidized the super-rich, including university endowments, at the expense of the producers of wealth, out of office.  Or, perhaps, the nation will simply collapse due to public mismanagement.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ron Paul Revolutionizes Political Dialogue

Ron Paul is phenomenal.  In the past six months, friends who watch television news tell me, the line has been "he can't win."  Kingston, New York's crusading newspaper publisher Mike Marnell gave his response in a bold headline to The Lincoln Eagle's 18,000 readers: "Ron Paul Can Win!"  Iowa now supports Marnell's prophecy.  According to the left-leaning Huffington Post, which has been more open minded toward Paul's pro-freedom views than Fox's militaristic socialists:

Paul is currently leading the Republican presidential field in Iowa, his approval rating among the state's voters having risen this past week from 21 to 23 percent, compared with Romney's 20 percent and Gingrich's 14 percent, according to the latest Public Policy Poll.

The claim that Paul can't win echoes Barry Goldwater's history.  The last major libertarian presidential candidate, Goldwater lost in a 1964 landslide to Lyndon Baines Johnson, who spent billions on a war on poverty that preceded decades-long increases in income inequality.  Seven years after Goldwater's loss, President Richard M. Nixon said, "We are all Keynesians now."  But state intervention has caused a declining economy, destroyed the manufacturing base, and limited the average American's income.  In response, the Libertarian Party, on whose ticket Paul has run as a presidential candidate, was founded.  Since then, Wall Street's control has escalated as the Federal Reserve Bank has created a three-decades long financial bubble that masked the crumbling of the American economy due to Fed-induced mal-investment.  

The past century has been a reversal of the nation's early history.  In the late nineteenth century, the period of the nation's rapid economic growth and innovation,  when there was limited government intervention in the economy and no Fed, real wages were growing 3/4 of a percent a year, and millions of immigrants flocked here.  But the  German historical school of economists, which evolved into today's Democrats and Republicans, advocated expansion of government into a Roman-style mixed economy.  The Germans lost two world wars but won the ideological battle.  Today, our two parties' ideologies are Rome's and Bismarck's, and the trend toward totalitarianism in today's America is as relentless today as it was in 1920s Germany. 

Today we don't need a Hitler or Stalin to lead America's former liberal democracy into totalitarianism.  It is already totalitarian, and the media and the two party system ensure totalitarianism's extension.  But there is a contradiction, for the Wall Street-Washington nexus makes ever bolder moves that unmask its totalitarian aims. The result is increasing public recognition that Ron Paul's ideas represent the future.

The television networks are megaphones of  the American power elite, a nexus of Wall Street, commercial banks, corporations, media, government, and academia.  The public has heretofore acquiesced in America's corrupt dictatorial state because indoctrination in public schools and universities convinces most that current political arrangements are inevitable and that the only legitimate voices are those of the two dictatorial parties: the Democrats and Republicans. 

Paul and the Consciences of "Liberals" Who Handed $50 Trillion to Wall Street

According to a recent report by James Felkerson of the University of Missouri and the Jerome Levy Economic Institute concerning the 2008 bank mismanagement crisis:

When all individual transactions are summed across all unconventional LOLR facilities, the Fed spent a total of $29,616.4 billion dollars! Note this includes direct lending plus asset purchases...Three facilities—CBLS,PDCF, and TAF—would overshadow all other unconventional LOLR programs, and make up71.1 percent ($22,826.8 billion) of all assistance.

The entire American GDP is $14 trillion.  In other words, Wall Street, the two parties, their "progressive" academic servants, and their media megaphone make the bizarre claim that financial institutions that cost $30 trillion are producing value for a $14 trillion economy. Given the absurdity of the media's and academe's politically correct positions,  it is amazing that Paul's poll numbers are so low in Iowa.

But that's not all.   A similarly large potential transfer of wealth was the tripling of Federal Reserve bank credit and the monetary base to subsidize the same mismanaged commercial banks and Wall  Street.  Based on the monetary expansion that will follow, banks can potentially print $18 trillion dollars, decimating the holdings of bank depositors and wages in the interest of Wall Street hedge funds, banks, big corporations, stockholders, and government. 

The trend toward centralization of authority and public immiseration is now escalated in the political sphere. President Obama has signed the $690 billion Defense Authorization bill. Lindsay Graham says that "the homeland is part of the battlefield," according to Judge Napolitano in the video below. According to the video, Congress has voted for (and more recently President Obama has signed) a law to allow the military to imprison American citizens without charge by calling the world, including the United States, a battlefield.  Congress and the president are now an illegitimate, unconstitutional tyranny.

Paul Opens Dialogue on American Totalitarianism

Given the extremism in Washington, Ron Paul is the only moderate, the only legitimate major candidate running for president. If the American public does not awaken in 2012, freedom may be lost.  But even if he does lose but fortune nevertheless preserves freedom's remnants, his successes will stimulate the dialogue necessary to energize the movement to disestablish the Fed and begin building the long road from Rome to freedom.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Obama Proposes Gosplan Style Rural Councils

H/t Redeemer Broadcasting. The Democratic commentator on this video laughably claims that the Keystone Cops in Washington can  revitalize the Midwestern economy.  Maybe they'll print another $3 trillion and have Chicago banks lend it to a new group of poor home buyers.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Student is Offended By Grade

A Student Writes

Thank you for taking the time out to grade our group's paper. I just wanted to say that I was a little offended when you commented on us having  "Poor writing skills". I know that by no means are we perfect in writing. And it's probably a good thing neither of us are looking to become journalist. However, I personally, feel insulted to hear that in my senior year I confused words that would potentially be an embarrassment in business writing.

I would like to give you a little bit of a background on me:

I was once a high school drop-out and did not attain my GED until ...

I respond:

I’m very sorry you feel insulted as that was not my purpose. My purpose is to help you advance by pointing out a deficiency that you are capable of correcting. One of the very serious mistakes the educational system makes is emphasizing self-esteem at the expense of hard skills.  I don’t recall which paper is yours, but if I said that the writing needs work, that is my true belief. It has nothing to do with insulting you.  It is a way to help you achieve your goals.  I am on your side.  I could do what most others do and what I did for years:  ignore the writing issue and pretend that all is well. But that is not going to help you. 

If you look at your pique from my standpoint, you might consider that I pay a price for what I do with the grading. I could give everyone an A or B+ and say everyone’s paper’s great. Instead, I spend a week of my time thoroughly reviewing your work and giving you pointers as to how to improve.  I don’t get paid more for doing that rather than just giving everyone an A or B+ and doing little more.  

As far as your background, given the impressive gains you’ve made since returning to school, I would think that you would appreciate my selfless and unrewarded efforts in helping you improve. I’m not BSing you, trying to make myself into  a VIP, or building my own ego.  This is a painful, time consuming process for me that I do to help you. I get nothing in return for it. I could not do it. But that wouldn’t be of help to the students.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mississippi Becomes the 44th State to Reject Kelo v. New London Ruling

I just received this e-mail from Christina Walsh of the Institute for Justice. This is good news. 

Mississippi Becomes the 44th State to Reject Kelo v. New London Ruling
Eminent Domain Reform Passes with 73 Percent of Vote
Jackson, Miss. — In a tremendous victory for property rights, 73 percent of Mississippians yesterday overwhelmingly rejected the infamous U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Kelo v. City of New London to become the 44th state to pass stronger protections for property owners against eminent domain abuse.

Initiative 31 amends the Mississippi Constitution to prohibit the government from seizing private property by eminent domain and handing it to other private entities.   Government agencies that take private property by eminent domain for a public use must own and use that property for 10 years before selling or transferring it to a new, private owner.  Restricting the transfer of the property the government acquires by eminent domain discourages the forced transfer of property from one private owner to another private owner under the guise of “economic development” and will protect the vast majority of property owners in Mississippi. 

“Mississippians and their property are safer today—their homes, farms or businesses cannot be taken by eminent domain simply to be to be handed over to others for private profit,” said Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Dana Berliner.

Mississippi had been one of only seven states that have not yet enacted any type of eminent domain reform since the Kelo decision which took away the homes of seven New London, Conn., families for private development and sparked a nationwide backlash against eminent domain for private gain.  IJ represented Susette Kelo before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“In 2009, Governor Haley Barbour vetoed a strong eminent domain reform bill that passed overwhelmingly by both houses of the state legislature,” said Christina Walsh, director of activism and coalitions at the Institute for Justice.  “Like all typical eminent domain abuse apologists, Barbour claimed that economic growth would screech to a halt if big corporations couldn’t use eminent domain to seize perfectly fine private property.  As we demonstrate in Doomsday, No Way: Economic Development and Post-Kelo Eminent Domain Reform, that’s false—and yesterday’s vote demonstrates that Mississippians recognize that, even if Barbour refuses to.”

This was the third attempt to reform Mississippi’s eminent domain laws.  A lawsuit was filed earlier this year to keep Mississippians from voting on Initiative 31 but IJ and the Mississippi Farm Bureau worked to keep it on the ballot.

IJ filed an amicus brief in the Mississippi Supreme Court on behalf of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference – Jackson Chapter and the Mississippi Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business.  In a September 2011 ruling the Supreme Court allowed the initiative to remain on the ballot but said it could be challenged if enacted.

“Voters in Mississippi spoke loud and clear:   The government does not have the power to take their property and give it to a private developer,” said IJ President and General Counsel Chip Mellor.  “Mississippi can finally be added to the list of states that have reformed their laws to provide better protections for property owners against government abuse.”

Monday, November 7, 2011

Miami Herald's Leonard Pitts Unschooled on Race and Conservatives

Leonard Pitts, Jr. writes a spin piece in today's Seattle Times (h/t Adam Schmidt on Facebook).  Pitts  argues that African Americans would be insane to support conservatives because conservatives have always been anti-Black. 

Pitts illustrates the historical ignorance that characterizes the American left and its pitiful media. Social conservatives in New England were the leaders of the abolitionist movement.  For example, John Brown's father was associated with Oberlin College, where Charles Finney, leader of the Second Great Awakening, was president. Oberlin, a Calvinist Presbyterian School, was the first college to admit African Americans in 1835.  Wikipedia writes of Charles Finney:

In addition to becoming a popular Christian evangelist, Finney was involved with the abolitionist movement and frequently denounced slavery from the pulpit. In 1835, he moved to Ohio where he became a professor and later president of Oberlin College from 1851 to 1866. Oberlin became active early in the movement to end slavery and was among the first American colleges to co-educate blacks and women with white men.[8]

Pitts is also wrong because, later in the 19th century, the Mugwumps, who tended to support laissez faire as well as reforms such as the Pendleton Act, tended not to be anti-Black. They were the post-bellum Republican elitists during the period of carpetbaggers and Reconstruction.  During Reconstruction, the Ku Klux Klan's first victims were African American Republicans.  George Wallace, the leader of 1960s racism, was a Democrat and a supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

As Pitts points out, the worst racists were Democrats. Although Pitts calls them conservatives, the racist Democrats voted for Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt just as the northerners did. Pitts's argument is circular:  racism is conservative, therefore, conservatives are racists.  But the advocates of limited government were not necessarily more racist than the supporters of big government and big business--the GOP.  On the one hand, it is true that Andrew Jackson, the founder of today's Democratic Party, was a racist and that his Supreme Court Chief Justice Taney was responsible for the Dred Scott decision.  But the New York labor unions were probably more anti-African American than Jackson was.  That The Miami Herald's syndicated columnist Pitts is apparently unfamiliar with the Draft Riots and organized labor's sympathy for the South during the Civil War is an embarrassment to the pathetic legacy of American journalism. 

Pitts's argument is tautological:  racists are conservative, therefore conservatives never stood up for blacks.  In fact, the first “conservatives” might be said to have been the pro-laissez faire Mugwumps, who favored the gold standard, opposed tariffs, and favored limited government.   The founder of The Nation, EL Godkin, was not overly supportive of African Americans, but he was no racist.  The Republican Party in the late 19th century was a big government, pro business party, and mostly laissez faire (at least in words).  

At the same time, the Progressives, especially Woodrow Wilson, were frequently overt racists.  Eugenics was a significant facet of Progressivism, and as C. Vann Woodward points out in The Strange Career of Jim Crow, Jim Crow exploded during the Progressive era, not the Gilded Age, which was characterized by policies and leadership that conservatives support today. 

One source of Pitts's confusion (besides being due to an ideologically extremist university and educational system that indoctrinates in left wing groupthink rather than educates, leaving people like Pitts ignorant) is that popular lingo confuses laissez faire with conservatism and social democracy or socialism with liberalism. Thus, the Wikipedia article calls Charles Finney "progressive," but he would be considered a social conservative today. 

On the one hand, the first big government socialist president in American politics was Theodore Roosevelt, and he was not a racist. On the other hand, the first president who was a conservative (defined in opposition to the first "liberal," Roosevelt) was William Howard Taft, and he wasn’t a racist either.  Roosevelt backed Taft before he learned that Taft would not support regulatory solutions to the trust issue—that he would instead support a litigated settlement in the Standard Oil case.  The Taft Supreme Court (Taft was the only president to later become Chief Justice) was  conservative.  Roosevelt ran against Taft in 1912, electing racist-cum-Progressive Woodrow Wilson in Taft’s place.  Wilson began the American socialist project by pushing through the income tax and the Federal Reserve Bank the following year, 1913.  He also implemented Jim Crow in Washington, DC.

Princeton, of which Wilson had been president, has been well known as the most anti-Semitic of the Ivy League universities.   Here is what Wikipedia says about Taft:

Taft met with and publicly endorsed Booker T. Washington's program for uplifting the black race, advising them to stay out of politics at the time and emphasize education and entrepreneurship. A supporter of free immigration, Taft vetoed a law passed by Congress and supported by labor unions that would have restricted unskilled laborers by imposing a literacy test.[63]

Moreover, the Southern Democrats, the racists,  repeatedly supported left-wing Democrats. They voted for Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Adlai Stevenson.  It was not until the 1960s that racism and the Republican Party crossed paths.  By then, both parties had become advocates of Progressivism and supporters of the Roosevelt/Rockefeller agenda. In 1944, the entire Jim Crow South voted for the paragon of American socialism, Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Alabama, for example, the state remembered for Rosa Parks and the Montgomery boycott of the 1950s, voted 81% for FDR.  In 1952 and 1956, the most social democratic candidate between FDR and BHO was Adlai Stevenson.  In 1956, the ONLY states in which Stevenson won were the Jim Crow states:   Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

So Mr. Pitts, you're a doody head.

A Society Whose Citizens Refuse to See and Investigate...

This appeared on Facebook

Friday, November 4, 2011

Spend, Spend, Spend

H/t Dennis Blankshine and Amanda Panda on Facebook. Left Click on picture to enlarge.

Under Executive Order of the President

H/t James M. Debrango on Facebook. Left click on image to enlarge.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Why Pro-Freedom Voters Will Reject the GOP in 2012

The question an American voter needs to ask is, "Do I support a centrally planned, government directed economy, or a free market?"  The two major parties are committed to big government and central planning; if you oppose socialism, voting for either major party is a wasted vote.  Although Herman Cain pleads otherwise, three facts suggest that he is lying, just as other Republican candidates, including Ronald Reagan, have lied, about their commitment to freedom.

First, Cain continues to support the $2 trillion TARP  bailout (see video below).  He objects to its execution, but not its intent.  Second, Cain was a president of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank.  His intimate involvement with the biggest and most sensitive of government institutions renders his claims of being in favor of anything other than socialism suspect.  The days when Milton Friedman could call himself a libertarian and still support the Fed are passed. You either support freedom and liberty OR support the Fed--there is no middle course; the same choice was evident to Jacksonian Democrats with respect to the Second Bank of the United States.  Third, Cain has not brought to the fore concerns about the $16 trillion Fed asset purchases and up to $30 trillion monetary expansion ($3 trillion in  the past three years, with a potential expansion by banks through fractional reserve banking to $30 trillion).  These steps are more significant than Obamacare; Cain's avoiding their discussion camouflages his socialism.

Since the Civil War the federal government consistently has increased the scope of its central planning and government intervention. The leading party with respect to this trend until the 1930s was the GOP, especially Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.   A segment of the GOP became a force for small government because of the Civil War's forcing former northern Democrats (who were the limited government party at least until 1896) into the GOP.   Other reasons Republicans became associated with advocacy of limited government were the Democratic Party's backing of Populist William Jennings Bryan in 1896 and Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal in the 1930s.

Despite the GOP's small government strand, its establishment strand never relinquished its commitment to big government.  Democrat Woodrow Wilson oversaw enactment of the first income tax and the Federal Reserve Bank in 1913, but establishment Republican Theodore Roosevelt made Wilson's election possible.  Theodore Roosevelt ran as a third party candidate to defeat the relatively conservative incumbent, William Howard Taft.

In the 1950s, the big government GOP establishment put forward Dwight D. Eisenhower to defeat Taft's son, Senator Robert Taft, also a limited government advocate.  This was accomplished in part by New York Times support for Eisenhower.  In other words, big government Republicans have been willing to defeat small government Republican candidates by running against them as third party candidates (Theodore Roosevelt) and by sabotaging legitimately run campaigns (Eisenhower).  Through deception, legacy media support, third party candidacies, and outright lies (claiming that they are for small government, as did Reagan and George H. Bush) the big government strand of the Republican Party has marginalized the small government strand.  

The only way to resolve the intense conflict within the GOP is for those who favor freedom to bolt. The reason is that the GOP has become so extreme in its socialism that it has supported literally handing the entire economy to control of failed banks.  The economy amounts to $14 trillion; the subsidies to banks potentially amount to tens of trillions.

There are other reasons as well. First, Republican support for radical environmentalism, such as the extremist UN Agenda 21 that the George H. Bush administration signed. Second,  Richard M. Nixon's termination of the gold standard. Third, George W. Bush's tax and spend policies such as his prescription drug plan and the bailout.  Fourth, the failure of the GOP to reduce the size of government under Ronald Reagan or the Newt Gingrich Congress. This failure occurred during years when the GOP controlled all three houses of Congress.

Only two candidates now support a pro-freedom platform.  These are Ron Paul and Gary Johnson. The cause of freedom will be better furthered by reconstructing the Republican Party into a pro-freedom party.  This would undo the damage that the Rockefeller Republicans, with the support of The New York Times and talk radio, have done to the small government strand within the GOP.

It is more important for those who support freedom to now aim to reconstruct the GOP.  The choice between socialists like Romney and Cain and a socialist like Obama is no choice--voting for any of the alternatives to Paul or Johnson is a wasted vote. 

How Iceland Defeated Its Bankers

It's not rocket science. Just let them fail.  None of the chief Republican candidates other than Ron Paul and Gary Johnson opposed the largest step toward socialism since another Republican, Richard Nixon, abolished the international convertibility of dollars into gold: the Bush-McCain-Obama bailout of Wall Street.  H/t Peter C. Bisulca on Facebook.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Henry David Thoreau: Forgotten Libertarian

Some Thoreau quotes from Walden and Civil Disobedience that I recently assigned to my senior seminar class:

a. "I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.  He will put something behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves within, around, and within him...In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.  If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."(Walden, p. 256.)

b. "Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured and far away.  It is not important that he should mature as soon as an apple tree or an oak. Shall he turn his spring into summer? If the condition of things which we were made for is not yet, what were any reality which we can substitute?" (Walden, p. 258.)

c. "However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names.  It is not so bad as you are.  It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault finder will find faults even in  paradise.  Love your life, poor as it is." (Walden, p. 259.)

d. "I would not be one of those who will foolishly drive a nail into a mere lath and plastering; such a deed would keep me awake nights.  Give me a hammer, and let me feel for the furring.  Do not depend on the putty. Drive a nail home and cinch it so faithfully that you can wake up in the night and think of your work with satisfaction--a work at which you would not be ashamed to invoke the Muse.  So will help you God, and so only. Every nail driven should be as another rivet in the machine of the universe, you carrying on the work." (Walden, p. 261).

e.  "The American has dwindled into an Odd Fellow,--one who may be known by the development of his organ of gregariousness and a manifest lack of intellect and cheerful self-reliance, whose first and chief concern, on coming into the world, is to see that the alms-houses are in good reapair; and before yet he has lawfully donned the virile garb, to collect a fund for the support of widows and orphans that may be; who, in short, ventures to live only by the aid of the mutual insurance company, which has promised to bury him decently...It is not a man's duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradiction of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have the other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support..." (Civil Disobedience, p. 7.)

f. "...any man more right than his neighbors, constitutes a majority of one already." (Civil Disobedience, p. 10.)

g. "Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. (Civil Disobedience, p. 11.)

h. "A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight." (Civil Disobedience, p. 12.)

i. "Know all men by these presents, that I, Henry Thoreau, do not wish to be regarded as a member of any incorporated society which I have not joined."

Blind faith in Bad Leaders Is not Patriotism

H/t Liberty Non-Compliance and Flo Hoffman on Facebook.

Ron Paul or None at All

H/t Andrew Nappi and Daniel Parkman on Facebook.

1984 Was NOT Supposed to be an Instruction Manual

H/t Mackenzie Stout on Facebook

Monday, October 31, 2011

Communist Manifesto Inspires Saugerties Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel

I just received this from Gaetana Ciarlante, LCSWR

Letter to the Editor for pubilcation in this week's issue:
Dear Editor, 

There is great concern by Saugerties citizens over the plans that the current town council led by Supervisor Helsmoortel have for Saugerties. Saugerties now has headquarters for the very rich at Diamond Mills and shelters for the poor being housed at the Wenton Hotel, Hickory Ridge, the Commons and plans for more homeless Shelters and “Keeps” which this town board is embracing with our tax dollars.  Indeed the Town Boards continued polarization between the "Haves" and the "Have nots" is a page from the Communist Mainfesto in which the middle class is eroded away. In the case of Saugerties it is being accomplished through taxes and regulations. We pay the bills and get bombarded with regulations and taxes at every attempt to maintain our homes and our property while their practice of taxing through back door deals is making it next to impossible for many who take pride in owning our own homes and living independently to continue to do so.

While it is true that state regulations are imposed upon the town  there is much discretion as to the degree with which the town embraces these. Helsmoortel and his board have demonstrated a record of embracing all taxes, controls and government programs. For example while Helsmoortel defends his PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) for Dickinson Keep that may initially bring in slightly more money than New York State's 581A Tax Law, he cannot substantiate the reasons for granting this PILOT for 30 years. Developer Larry Regan stated many times during the Planning Board’s meeting that if the town did not want Dickinson’s Keep he would go elsewhere with the project. But in fact he reported finding that the town board welcomed his "Affordable" Housing Development while most of the tax paying citizens are finding it to be Unaffordable. The application to the state for Dickinson’s Keep includes a letter of endorsement for this project written by Helmoortel in January 2011 to the New York State Commissioner of Housing and Community Development.

A true leader of the people would seek out methods to alleviate the burden of its citizens, however no such action has ever come from this town board even after requested of them. Rather Helsmoortel portrays himself to his constituents as a victim of higher government when in fact he stands to gain personally through real estate transactions while the local workers and retirees place their homes on the market and prepare to flee for their own survival.  Knowing the pain inflicted on his people (vocalized clearly at the appeals to the infamous property tax re-evaluation of 2010 and many times since) a true leader would take into consideration the needs of his people.  At the very least there would be an appeal of the process to higher government of which Helsmoortel claims to be victim. Rather it took members of SACRED (Saugerties Assertive Citizens for Responsible Economic Development) to contact their State Representatives, of which Assemblyman Peter Lopez was the sole responder, to request a repeal of the regulations of New York State 581A. Meanwhile Helsmoortel and his Board continue to use every opportunity to apply new taxes and new regulations on the citizens of Saugerties.

 Last week Helsmoortel placed a full page ad quoting Saugerties School Superintendent, Seth Turner, as saying he did not know how much the Dickinson's Keep project will cost without an in-depth study. While Helsmoortel tries to use this response from Seth Turner to support his full speed ahead attitude with Dickinson's Keep Turner comments in fact support that the Town board is careless and neglectful and imposes upon our town a project without knowing the impact both financially and socially.  In no way did Turner minimize the figure of $500,000 per year but in fact kept open the possibility that it may cost far more.

Meanwhile it remains a mystery as to why Helsmoortel would have requested and hired a specific attorney from Albany, John Vagianelis, to represent the Town of Saugerties while knowing that Vagianelis’ law firm also represents the Funding Company through which Regan Development Corp. would seek their funding for Dickinson's Keep. This conflict of interest was pointed out by Town Supervisor Candidate Kelly Myers at the town informational hearing on October 11. Shortly afterwards, Helsmoortel removed Vagianelis but surely would have continued if not for Kelly's diligent work and courage in bringing forth this conflict of interest. The Town of Saugerties already has its own competent attorney, John Greco. The questions remain as to:

1. Why Greco was not used to represent Saugerties in the Dickinson's Keep deal?
 2. How much did the town pay Vagianelis?
3. What is the plan is to have Vagianelis repay that money to the town?
4. What is Helsmoortel's explanation for actively requesting Vagianelis when the town already has its own attorney?

 The deals negotiated through Vagianelis for Dickinson Keep and any other project in which he had such a conflict of interest must be considered null and void and monies paid to him should be repaid to the town. When asking Helsmoortel about these dealing with Vagianelis at the October 19 Town Board meeting he responded to me with an attitude of arrogance, contempt and disrespect and offered little information.

While the project of Dickinson’s Keep may appear on the surface to be of benefit to the poor that too is highly doubtful and will be the subject of future writings. 

  During the meetings with SACRED Kelly Myers came forward to assist the property owners and has become an active member. 

Though very knowledgeable, she repeatedly displays the attributes of integrity, courage, and humility. Her attitude is filled with respect, gratitude and compassion. Without prompting or invitation Kelly Myers, Joe Roberti Sr. and Pam Riggins have attended all the meetings related to Dickinson's Keep and investigated these improper proceedings.  Joe has many years of experience with volunteer organizations and government committees. Everyone who knows Joe recognizes his hard work and tireless investigation of issues put before him before making decisions.

I am not one who advocates change for the sake of change; however our current Town Board demonstrates the meaning behind "Nero fiddled while Rome burns." Leanne Thorton has become the hostess who gives out awards but steers clear of any independent thinking or judgment; She said voted against the repeal of the PILOT, brought forth by Jim Bruno after he learned Larry Regan had provided the board with mis-information, and justified her actions by saying she didn't know enough about it. Leanne needs to learn that government is not a garden party and the role of government is to protect, not entertain the people. This Saugerties town council falls far short and has become self-serving.  In conclusion our current Town Board can best be described as careless, arrogant and without regard. At worst it is conspiring, ruthless, corrupt and illegal in its deal making.

It's time for a big change. Kelly Myers will lead the town effectively and with compassion. Joe Roberti Jr. and Pam Riggins promise hard work and diligence in their roles on the town council.

And always remember that is our duty as citizens in a democracy to play an active role, stay aware and defend liberty at every opportunity.

Let's take back our freedom and let it begin in Saugerties.
Gaetana Ciarlante, LCSWR