An apology

I MADE A GRAVE MISTAKE in the headline on the lead story in the November 25, 2010 edition of The Columbia Paper. The headline said: “Fired worker costs plenty” and the story made reference to the “firing” of an employee of the Town of Taghkanic Highway Department. The employee in question was not named in the story and he will not be identified here. The important fact is that he was never fired. He was laid off. The distinction is critical.

The headline and the part of the story that involved the employee’s situation were inaccurate, and on behalf of the paper and myself, I wish to tell him and our readers that I am deeply sorry for this error. Read more…

Change the assessment system

HOW MUCH is your home worth? You could ask a real estate agent or monitor prices for similar homes. But neither method is likely to match that often mysterious official value known as your assessment, often referred to by homeowners as “my %$@!#&!! assessment.”

Everybody in this state who owns property outside of New York City knows that depending on whose measurement you use the state has among the highest local tax burdens in the nation, and property taxes are the primary form of local taxation. Read more…

Library shots threaten whole community

PEOPLE WHO USE a library may be many different things, but they’re not stupid. People who shoot holes in library have brains as useful as a brick on a stick. And while it’s no crime to be stupid, acting stupid with a firearm is a serious violation of the law, and one that can’t be lightly dismissed.

But was it just stupidity? That’s the simplest way to look at last week’s inexplicable vandalism at the new Roeliff Jansen Community Library on Route 22, where some person or persons fired six shots into the entrance, breaking windows, smashing some exterior tiles and causing damage inside. The bill is expected to come to $5,000 on top of the $3 million in private donations and grants raised to pay for this remarkable facility. Read more…

State strangles local business

EVERYBODY LOVES SMALL BUSINESS. Our neighbors own them. They’re the backbone of the community. But you know how it is, the urge to shop is stronger than love, and now and then, mysteriously, I find myself at some big box store in Greenport, Albany, Pittsfield, Kingston…. It doesn’t matter where; they know what I want, and it’s on sale.

Consumers like me have plenty of company when it comes to divided loyalties over small business. Elected officials never tire of reminding us that small business is the engine of economic growth and the source of most new jobs. They heap praise on small businesses, but they win elections with cash from huge corporations. In return, big firms get laws and regulations that meet their needs; or if they don’t, they move their operations offshore and claim a tax break. Read more…

Food drive supports pantries

THE WOMAN REACHED INTO her Price Chopper grocery bag and pulled out a round tin of fancy cookies. Then she headed to the parking lot at the Catskill supermarket. The tin joined the stacks of food that had just started accumulating in the school bus.

The whole interaction took a few seconds last Saturday. It was one of hundreds of donations to the first of two “Stuff the Bus” food drives sponsored by the local Clear Channel radio stations and this newspaper. The small bus from Pulcher and Sacco had maybe 20 seats. The donations in Catskill went to the food pantries of Community Action of Greene County. The bus filled up quickly with things like canned goods, bread, cereal, pasta and sauce, juice, diapers, paper plates and that tin of cookies. Read more…