Court Decides Ballot Issue in Favor of Democratic Commissioner–Absentee Ballots to Be Mailed Soon

State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Cahill ruled that the Democratic Election Commissioner, Ashley Dittus, was correct in her interpretation of state law and that Kathy Miller will remain on the November ballot as the 16th District Legislative candidate forI voted absentee the Republican, Independence and Conservative parties.  Judge Cahill agreed that Miller’s filings that declined the nominations were due on July 17, 2017 (August 24 for the Independence Party nomination), as the Democrats have maintained, and thus Miller’s attempt to decline the nominations were untimely and hence illegal.  Also held invalid were the filings that attempted to substitute Miller’s husband, Jim Miller, for her on the ballot.  A link to the court’s decision in this matter appears below.

The practical implication of this court ruling is that the ballots will be printed with Kathy Miller’s name on them.  Miller is presumed to be unable to serve because of the federal Hatch Act and her employment as a rural letter carrier.

Absentee ballots could arrive in the mailboxes of 16th Legislative District residents as early as the first part of next week.  They should be available at the Board of Elections by the end of this week.  Although extremely late, residents who applied for absentee ballots will be able to cast them prior to Election Day, November 7.  This is good news for voters.

Here are some useful links:

BOE Decision

Daily Freeman Article on BOE Decision 

Absentee Ballot Application

Ulster County Webpage on Absentee Ballots

The Republican Plot to Suppress the Vote in Gardiner and Shawangunk

If you live in Ulster Legislative District 16 (Towns of Gardiner and Shawangunk) and are wondering why you have not yet received your absentee ballot in the mail, it is because the Republicans here are following a pattern set by Republicans nationwide.  They are attempting to suppress the vote.Stop voter suppression

It’s a bit complicated but here’s how it’s going down:  At their caucus in early June, the Republicans nominated Kathy Miller to run for District 16 Legislator against incumbent Tracey Bartels. (Bartels is unaffiliated but caucuses with the Democratic members of the legislature).  Miller, it turns out, is a rural letter carrier and is legally barred from running for public office under the federal Hatch Act.  They realized this fatal error sometime around the middle of September.  However, the legal deadline to withdraw from the ballot after being nominated was July 25, as the Board of Elections needs ample time to get the absentee ballots printed and mailed to voters. See the problem? By the time they realized their error, it was legally too late to remove Miller’s name from the ballot.  She was putting her job in jeopardy by being on the ballot and if she won she would not be able to serve.

So the Republicans hatched a scheme to circumvent the law.  They showed up at the Board of Elections on September 28, two months past the legal deadline, with bogus paperwork to illegally substitute Kathy Miller’s husband, Jim Miller, for their legally barred letter carrier candidate.  They were betting that the Democratic Elections Commissioner, Ashley Dittus, would go along with this scheme. She did not.  Since then, Tom Turco, the Republican Elections Commissioner has refused to certify the absentee ballots with Kathy Miller’s name on them in compliance with election law.

Here we are in late October and no voter in District 16 has an absentee ballot available because the Republicans are holding them hostage unless we go along with their illegal plot.  The Democratic Party has gone to court to force the Board of Elections to get the ballots certified and mailed.  During an attempted mediation of the dispute, Republican boss Tom Turco allegedly said, “I don’t care if no one in District 16 gets to vote absentee this year.”  Knowing that a majority of absentee voters in the district are Democrats, they are refusing to comply with the law.  We are doing everything we can to speed up the court case, but it is still pending. We will keep you updated.

This week, in a brazen PR move designed to apply pressure on the Democratic Party to acquiesce to their illegal scheme, the Republicans issued a press release filled with misinformation, including the bogus allegation that it is the Democrats who are trying to disenfranchise Republicans by opposing their new chosen candidate for county legislator.   Like so much from Republicans in the age of Trump, this is pure nonsense or “fake news.”

Local right-wing “eccentric,” Pam O’Dell, has been posting this Republican fake news in various places, including on the Town of Gardiner Facebook page. We felt it was important to set the record straight.

2017 is the year to reject Trumpism in all of its forms and in all of the places it rears its ugly head, including Gardiner and Shawangunk. 

Vote Row A on November 7! 

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Dukler Answers Queries from the New Paltz Times

Gardiner Town Board candidate David Dukler answers questions posed by the New Paltz Times about his bid for re-election to his second four-year term.Dave cropped 2

1. What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the Town of Gardiner at
present?

Gardiner is facing a new wave of development after years of relative quiet. The most visible of these are the large-scale projects: Heartwood, Route 208 Apartments, Shaft Road. They all have raised concerns about their design, both on the part of the planning board and the public. While the planning board uses the code to evaluate the projects, the public has concerns that go to the heart of the Master Plan and how the code comports with it. As we have recently discovered, the code does not cover all recent developments in the marketplace. Heartwood is described as a “glamping” project, a glamour-camping resort that fall between the cracks of our code. This ambiguity needs to be solved. The availability of water as we go forward has also raised concerns. With the changing weather patterns and effect on rainfall, residents are understandably concerned about how large-scale projects will affect them. Other residents are concerned that property rights may be compromised by additional regulation. It is the responsibility of the Town Board to address this crucial issue. We need to: 1—revise the code in areas where it is found to be lacking. We must do that with input from all stakeholders as well as those with expertise in areas related to development issues; 2—review, revise and reaffirm the Master Plan as our guiding document. The MP was arrived at through a process involving a large group of community members. It represents our community’s vision for our town. 3—bring the public and private sector together to create a plan for Gardiner going forward.

2. What, in your view, is Gardiner’s most threatened resource? Most underutilized resource?

The rural environment that has been Gardiner since its inception is slowly disappearing before our eyes. While we knew that this would eventually happen, we are now experiencing an acceleration of that change. It makes real what more development means. It raises our awareness of how precious our open spaces and vistas are, how much of what we have we take for granted. As we move forward, we must reaffirm our commitment to preserving what we love about Gardiner while shaping the Gardiner of the future.

I believe that our hamlet district is our most under-utilized resource. By working to create more in-hamlet density housing, we could accomplish a number of goals. We could create less expensive residential units for both renters and owners. We could foster the condition for more businesses in the hamlet. We could promote a walkable hamlet for shopping, families, seniors as well as more utilization of Majestic Park. We could make the possibility of a drug store, a theater, more food establishments and other community businesses more likely.

3. If (re)elected, what would be your top-priority action to take as Town Board member in your first year of the next term?

My first priority is to have the zoning codes updated. We must also consider the need for a moratorium as pertains to sections of the code that are deemed lacking in specificity. The community needs to feel confident that the board is doing all in its power to see that the intent of the Master Plan is being carried out and that no projects are allowed to fall through the cracks.
4. What practical measures can the Town Board take to help the Planning and Zoning Boards cope with the recent deluge of large-scale development proposals, many of which are controversial?

The Town Board needs to engage in a conversation with both the Planning Board and the ZBA. We need to hear about their view of the challenges we face and what resources they need. We need to reach out to the wide array of resources—governmental and private—and access their expertise that can help us better understand and meet the challenges of recent development pressures and projects. We need to see that our budgets are sufficient to meet these needs.

5. What needs to be done on the municipal level in order to make/keep Gardiner an affordable place to live?

“Keeping Gardiner affordable” is a great bumper sticker slogan. But what do we mean by affordable? What solutions do we have? What will make an impact? Some have called for a reduction of residential zoning from 5 to 2 acres. In a survey of local realtors, a consensus emerged that a three-acre reduction on a 2000’ new raised ranch house would result in about a $25,000 reduction in cost. Over a 30 year mortgage and a current rate of 4%, it would result in a monthly mortgage savings of $78(assuming 10%$ down). Increased density also has hidden costs. All studies have shown that new residential housing demands more in services than they pay in taxes, causing rates to go up for all. Greater housing density means more cars, longer drive times, degradation of the local environment, and more demand for and pressure on public spaces.

The best tool that town government has to create more residential options is to formulate and actively promote an alternate vision for the town. As described above, a new and expanded vision for the hamlet could serve as a new model for small town—rural development. The town could work to bring together residents, developers, planners, environmentalists, seniors, families, and all other interested parties to craft and new model that would find a new way of keeping Gardiner rural while building both a housing and business base that would create a vibrant Main St, increase our tax base while preserving the rural and small town community we all value.

6. What background, experience, skills or approaches do you feel make you the most qualified candidate for the elected office you seek?

1—I am a problem solver. I am not doctrinaire. I approach issues as problems that need to be solved. I promote discussion for understanding, dialogue and use of all available resources to help make the best decisions.
2—In discussion of issues, I seek to understand. When we differ, I want to comprehend my colleagues thinking. I know that life is rarely black and white, that there are many ways to create solutions. The more we understand, the better we can be in devising effective solutions.
3—I show up and work. I have hardly missed any meetings over four years. I have actively sought out additional work to support the two supervisors and boards with whom I have served. I will continue to take on that role as there is much work to do and not enough time to get it done, no matter whom I serve with. I have a passion to improve the life of our town. I chose to live her. I value that choice every day. I will work so that future generations will get the best of Gardiner in the future.
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Warren Wiegand for Gardiner Town Board (Post #2)

I have been working to save Gardiner’s farms and open space since 2004. We have accomplished a lot so far, but there’s much more to do to protect the town’s special, rural character and its unique, natural environment.Warren Cropped

In 2005 and 2006, I was a member of the committee which wrote Gardiner’s plan for protecting farms and open space. Next, I worked with town board member Nadine Lemmon to draft Gardiner’s open space law. Then in 2007 I was selected as the first chair of the open space commission, which identified the Kiernan and Hess family farms as the most important properties to be protected from development. Over the next 5 years, I worked with the Open Space Commission, the Open Space Institute, the New York Department of Agriculture, and private foundations to raise the money to save these working farms.

Both farms, totaling over 200 acres, now are protected by conservation easements, which prohibit any future development. This was accomplished without any increase in Gardiner’s taxes.

But there’s much more to be done. we should begin by restarting the Open Space Commission, rebuilding relationships with Gardiner’s farmers and other large land owners, and reviving relationships with funding sources.

Vote for Warren Wiegand on November 7 to protect Gardiner’s farms and open space, and its unique, rural character.

Warren Wiegand
Gardiner, NY

Warren Wiegand for Gardiner Town Board (Post #1)

I am a candidate for the Gardiner town board in the November 7 election.

I’ve worked for the people of Gardiner for more than 15 years. first, I was a member of the board of assessment insuWarren Croppedring that taxpayers’ property assessments were fair. Next I started Gardiner’s effort to protect open space from development, resulting in the Gardiner’s first open space law and saving two farms and over 200 acres from development. Then, I was the chair of the new library’s fund-raising campaign, which resulted in the construction of Gardiner’s new library which has become the center of our community.

I served 8 years on the town board, where I was chosen to be the deputy supervisor by my fellow town board members. while on the town board, I focused on keeping Gardiner’s roads, bridges, and highway equipment up to date and keeping taxes affordable, especially for seniors and young families. Additionally, I worked to protect Gardiner’s assets, including the sale of the old library for $100,000 and the recovery of $129,000 from a settlement of a series of law suits. And, for the last 1 ½ years, I have served on the planning board, protecting property owners and open space.

I hope you will support me in November, so I can continue to serve our community.

Warren Wiegand
Gardiner, NY

Lindsley Talks to the New Paltz Times

Lisa Lindsley, Candidate for Gardiner Town Supervisor, outlines her view of Gardiner’s challenges and what she intends to do about them:

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the Town of Gardiner at present?

Our town is at a critical point in its development.  Gardiner’s elected officials must foster responsible economic development while preserving our rural character.  I want to ensure that our water, wildlife, land and the natural resources that make Gardiner unique are not exploited by predatory financial interests that are not part of our community.

The institutions, policies, processes and professionals that govern land use no longer serve the long-term Lisa head shot croppedinterests of Gardiner residents.  I will work for more effective implementation of Gardiner’s master plan and open space plan, and an update of the town laws to be consistent with these plans.  I will initiate a process to review, get community input, and update these two plans – each over a decade old – in light of the experience and trends of development in Gardiner.

The boards and committees that influence development in Gardiner – planning, zoning, open space, environmental – require dedicated impartial volunteers.  Recruiting and training those volunteers will be a priority.

What, in your view, is Gardiner’s most threatened resource? Most underutilized resource?

Gardiner’s irreplaceable natural beauty is its most threatened resource, followed by Gardiner’s small-town charm, its water supply and its wildlife.  Development projects in various phases of approval could threaten these precious resources.

Gardiner’s parks are its most underutilized resource.  In a town whose children attend schools in three different school districts, parks are an important resource for building a sense of community.  Gardiner is blessed with ample public parks with unfinished and decaying infrastructure.  Our town’s skateboard park could be complemented by a finished pole barn and revamped pavilion, soccer fields, and perhaps eventually an ice skating pond.  The town would earn revenue from renting these structures, and there could be many more recreational programs for residents of all ages.

If (re)elected, what would be your top-priority action to take as supervisor/Town Board member in your first year of the next term? 

I will make town government more accessible and transparent, and improve communication with Gardiner citizens by updating the website, use of email and social media, communications about board meetings, and publication of minutes.  I will explore streaming or videotaping of meetings, and hold office hours that enable people who commute to access the Supervisor.

Another top priority will be to design and launch a process to update Gardiner’s Zoning Code, Open Space Plan and Master Plan so that they take into account existing and expected land use issues and so that they are consistent with each other.

What practical measures can the supervisor/Town Board take to help the Planning and Zoning Boards cope with the recent deluge of large-scale development proposals, many of which are controversial?

Creating a deep bench of candidates for all of the town’s volunteer boards will be one of my priorities as Supervisor, as will ensuring that board members receive the training they are required to have in order to successfully perform. I will work to ensure that these boards, as well as the Environmental Conservation Commission, Open Space Commission, and Ethics Commission have the tools and staffing that they need so that the members of each board may collaborate and that the boards may easily disseminate to the public relevant documents regarding what is happening with these projects.  The professionals who advise these boards must be clear that their role is to support deliberation and decision-making, as opposed to steering the boards down a predetermined path.  I would also encourage the boards to exercise their prerogative to hire independent professionals, at the expense of the developer, to evaluate analysis provided by the developer’s experts.  I will work to secure a sound system that will ensure all attendees at meetings and hearings are able to hear what is being said, and explore adding video of key meetings, which can be done inexpensively.  A pause in the approval of development projects may be warranted as a tool for easing the burden on Planning and Zoning Boards.

What needs to be done on the municipal level in order to make/keep Gardiner an affordable place to live?

I will work to keep Gardiner affordable, and to maintain the quality of life that Gardiner residents currently enjoy. One component of preserving Gardiner’s rural character is to keep farmers on their land, and I will support efforts to do that through the Open Space Commission and alternative financing vehicles for farms. The most significant proportion of the taxes paid by Gardiner residents are levied not by the town but by the school districts.  While it is tempting to assume that residential land development will help our tax base, the opposite is often true when it comes to school taxes. Thorough analysis of the impact of residential development on our taxes should be a component of evaluating new projects.

I am passionate about providing affordable housing to our residents with low or fixed incomes.  I believe more study is needed to evaluate the demand in our town for this type of housing, as well as the alternatives for building and financing affordable housing that are economically and environmentally sustainable and consistent with our development priorities.

What background, experience, skills or approaches do you feel make you the most qualified candidate for the elected office you seek?

I love Gardiner and have been coming here for 25 years.  No I was not born in Gardiner – I chose to live here. I am willing to listen and learn from fellow elected officials and residents alike.  I’ll be a responsible steward of our town’s financial resources and tax dollars, applying my 30+ years in finance, my knowledge of municipal finance, and my managerial acumen to the operations and opportunities of Gardiner.   I have a track record of leadership, from global organizations to activist groups to a local skydiving team. And I’d like your vote on November 7!

 

David Dukler’s Vision for Gardiner

My name is David Dukler and I am running for a second term on Gardiner’s Town Board.   All candidates do their best to distinguish themselves by taking certain positions on the issues of the day, but what is relevant today may not be a priority in the future.  What guides us in decision-making is an approach, a lens through which we view the responsibilities of our service.

Growing up in New York City and choosing to come to Gardiner, I am acutely aware of what a precious resource our community is.  I think of Long Island and the transformation it has undergone in the past 70 years.  From being a land of potato, daiDave cropped 2ry and vegetable farms, of small towns and rural roads, it has become the poster child for congestion and overcrowding, long commutes, malls and big box stores.

This transformation informs us that it can happen here if we let it.  I take the long view: what do we want our town to look like in 200 years?  Our Master Plan lays out a vision that combines open space development, concentrated development in a few areas, limits on big stores and our best attempts to retain the rural atmosphere which we have today for future generations by charting a build-out plan for residential housing.

Some want Gardiner to stay the same as it is today.   That will not happen.  There must and will be more development but at some point, limits will be reached.  As a community, we have chosen to delineate that point by creating our Master Plan.  We decided not to let the “market” decide.  We have seen the results of that too often.  The Master Plan resulted in a new code (which we are beginning to update).  It is apparent that there are gaps in the code, situations that we did not anticipate.  It is in these grey areas and those to come that I use my 200-year timeline to help me think about to move forward.  What kind of regulations should we have? How do we view new trends not foreseen in 2006? How do we protect existing residents and property rights? What resources should we be developing?   Trails?  Sidewalks?  Parks?  Small business? Concentrated development?  Theme parks?  Glamping resorts? Solar farms? Motor tracks? Theaters?  The list goes on.

Rockland County has become more and more congested since I first worked there in 1975.  That is not my 200 year vision for Gardiner.  In the future, I know that locals will treasure having Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska in their backyard, being able to access its beauty and tranquility, in a world which we cannot yet imagine.  To the greatest extent possible, I want residents to have that feeling about the Gardiner we leave them, one filled with rural roads, open fields, vistas, farms, local shops and businesses, low-density housing, vineyards, apple orchards, housing, parks and trails.  We should not leave them another Levittown, another Spring Valley.  We will have failed in our responsibility to our descendants if that is the result of our time here.

Important Town Board Meeting Tomorrow!

October 2, 2017Gardiner Town Hall

Dear Fellow Democrats,

On Tuesday night (tomorrow) at 7 P.M at Town Hall, the Gardiner Town Board’s agenda includes a discussion of the request for a building moratorium by a group of Gardiner citizens. The Town Board will also discuss the current zoning code.  We strongly urge you to attend this important meeting.

Deep- pocketed developers, some from as far away as California and others as close as Wall Street, have discovered the irreplaceable beauty of Gardiner.  They believe they can roll over small town planning boards and compliant small town governments. “Save the Ridge” was a huge victory, but another struggle is just beginning.  Currently, Gardiner is dealing with at least 3 developments that we are aware of: Shaft Road; Heartwood; and the 208 development. There are also 200 acres on the Ridge belonging to developer John Bradley that is for sale.  Talk is that a hotel chain is interested in developing that land.

Gardiner Democratic Committee Supervisor Candidate, Lisa Lindsley will be in attendance.  Take the time to meet with and talk with Lisa.  Lisa has been an active  member of the group opposing the development of the wetlands adjacent to  Shaft Road in Gardiner. She will provide the leadership Gardiner needs to balance maintaining our town’s rural character and unique natural environment with the demands of economic development. She is passionate about parks, open space and smart development for Gardiner as well as professionalism and sound financial management for town government.  With 30 years of professional experience in financial services and a track record in union organizing and local activism, Lisa has the experience and passion to serve Gardiner well.

Your presence at Tuesday’s meeting will send a message to the Town Board: we citizens of Gardiner are counting on you to protect our interests, not the interests of out of state developers.  See who on the Town Board will vote to protect what makes Gardiner the place we choose to live in.  See who believes “fairness” to developers is the priority. Let your voice and your priorities be heard!

The Gardiner Democratic Committee

 

 

 

Make Misogyny Great Again

Our Make Misogyny Great Again president rails at the pleas of San Juan Mayor, Carmen Cruz, as she begs for help for her people and he golfs – again. Ironically, this unqualified, ignorant, corrupt, racist and destructive “man” accuses her of “poor leadership.” The tragedy is personal, political and moral. As people die, Trump squanders our nations’s moral authority and destroys our reputation as a compassionate people.  Shame!

James Fallows on this topic

Ways To Assist Our Fellow Americans in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

September 30, 2017

Dear Gardiner Democrats,

We are all aware of the desperate situation in Puerto Rico. The following links provide suggested opportunities for offering some relief to the men, women and children who are without electricity, food and water, medicine, mUSVI FLAGedical care, their homes, their businesses and their jobs. These suggestions come from a family who are residents of the island.

USVI Recovery

United for Puerto Rico (spearheaded by the First Lady of Puerto Rico)

Center for Popular Democracy 

Hispanic Federation’s “Unidos” page 

International Medical Corps puerto-rico-flag

Catholic Relief Services

Americares

Direct Relief

Save the Children,

Global Giving has a $2 million goal for victims of Hurricane Maria

Thank you for continuing to be the people who can be relied upon in time of need

The Gardiner Democratic Committee