Letters to the Editor June 2

I’m concerned about town matters

I am writing in response to recent comments made about me by The Millerton News and by North East town Supervisor Dave Sherman.

In an article that appeared two weeks ago, I was characterized as a frequent critic of the town. This is the opposite of the truth. I love the town and have worked hard on behalf of the good people in it. I am a frequent critic of certain individuals who I feel are not working in the best interests of the town.

One of these is David Sherman, who wrote a letter to the paper last week concerning my criticism of him. He claimed I twisted and confused information and smeared him and others through innuendo.

He did not dispute the facts I presented about his participation in the Route 22 Corridor Management Plan, which called for open space preservation through acquisition of land and land rights, or that he was instrumental in forming and serving on the Assessor’s Office Study Group (AOSG). He did not argue with the fact that the assessor cited the study group in regards to the changes in agricultural assessments.

If these facts, along with the other information I presented, suggest something, then that is for the reader to decide. I did not criticize other members of the AOSG. I was merely pointing out a chronology of events involving Mr. Sherman going back almost 10 years, which, in my view, raises legitimate questions.

Mr. Sherman says he is proud of his service as supervisor. If he is proud of the Route 22 plan, why were we not told all about infill priority growth development and the growth boundary for the village? Is Mr. Sherman proud of the legal and financial mess created by the Millerton Overlook debacle? The housing project was a perfect example of (infill) priority growth development as described in the Route 22 plan he worked on.

As far as the tax revaluation goes, I am not the only one who thinks something is very wrong here. Dramatic increases in assessments of properties outside the village will result in real pain and real economic hardship and loss for real people.

I have heard verbal exchanges between landowners and farmers and Ms. Johnson. It is clear they find her explanations lacking any credibility.

There is also the unresolved issue of comments she is alleged to have made about having an agenda against certain types of property owners. She denies that she made these comments, but credible members of the community say they heard her make them. I have been waiting for over two weeks for a response to a FOIL request concerning these comments.

Mr. Sherman is a politician. I am a local resident who is not afraid to stand up to the wealthy and powerful in this community while sporting holes in my shoes and a hot pink top from K-Mart.

I happen to have read widely on certain issues. When I read over a year ago in the local paper about things that were happening in my town that are a part of a larger movement restricting the liberty and property rights of Americans, I became involved. I have nothing to gain from speaking out. On the contrary, involvement comes with risk, otherwise perhaps more people would do it.

I believe the Town Board should stand by its resolution concerning the tax revaluation. There are too many unanswered questions here.

Pamela Michaud



Promises from state Senate

The state Senate has once again promised a vote on “marriage equality” before the end of their session this month. Our representative, Greg Ball, has apparently not yet made up his mind. As a gay man with local roots, I wanted to explain why marriage is important to me.

My partner, Ken, and I have lived together for 23 years. In that time we have been through the deaths of three parents, the births of most of our 14 nephews and nieces and the divorces of two heterosexual siblings. We have spent Christmas and July 4 holidays with our families and usually host Thanksgiving.

We’ve worked at the same jobs, paid taxes without complaint and volunteered in our community. We bought an old house in Wassaic nine years ago and have spent most weekends since making repairs and planting a garden.

What we cannot do is make that relationship legal or permanent in New York state. We have friends who have crossed the border into Connecticut to marry, but feel it is a point of principle to wait until we can wed where we live.

If I were to get sick, my sister would have the right to determine my hospital care, not Ken. There is no guarantee that I would receive his work pension and certainly not any of  his contributions to Social Security.

More importantly, we are not able to have the ceremony (which straight friends take for granted) solemnizing our commitment to each other. Not that there’s much doubt after 23 years, but I would like my 89-year-old mom to be able to attend.

The arguments against gay marriage mystify me. How exactly would recognizing our relationship diminish those of heterosexuals? Didn’t Arnold Schwarzenegger (the latest in a very long line) do a good job of that? How would the vote impinge on religious freedom, when no priest, rabbi or imam is required to perform a ceremony? America was founded on individual liberty even ahead of religious freedom. When religious law supersedes justice it produces the Taliban.

Our neighbors in Amenia could not have been more welcoming and supportive of our presence in the neighborhood.

So I wonder who Sen. Ball will choose to represent? The caring and sensible rural people I see all around me, who in numerous polls support our effort to marry? Or will it be those mired in the oldest of hatreds?

Leo Blackman


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