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City Council

A Confederacy of Dunces


Confederacy of DuncesIf you haven’t strolled down the west end of Main Street recently—or more precisely, prior to Tuesday, September 5th—you may not want to take that trip for another twenty years or so. Yesterday our City fathers and mothers presided over a Class A hack job and cut down all the mature trees on the west end of the street.

While it’s not clear exactly what the rationale for the tree cutting was—disease, sidewalk heave, stupidity—an email to current Ward 4 Councilman, and mayoral candidate, Steve Gold resulted in the following exchange:

“I am not the Mayor. If I was I would have handled it differently. I would have tried special sidewalk treatment around those trees and only removed them when there was no other choice. For now I have done all I could do.”
—Steve Gold

I looked into this very carefully. I wrote a resolution on the matter that prevented the city from removing healthy trees. I was promised by the Mayor and I called Zep this morning to confirm it. Only trees that are diseased, dying or have have heaved up the sidewalk were removed.

I am not the Mayor. If I was I would have handled it differently. I would have tried special sidewalk treatment around those trees and only removed them when there was no other choice. For now I have done all I could do.

Do I believe that every tree that is being removed has heaved up the sidewalk…as I was told. NO!
Just please help me to get elected so that we can have a Mayor who really cares about this stuff and not just talks about it. And that applies to ATVs also.

The email’s obvious self promotion aside, it’s pretty clear that no one on the City Council—from the Mayor and Administrator right on down to the Ward Councilmen/women—had a clue as to what it was that they were presiding over. (Which may well be the status quo for the City of Beacon) And resolutions, as we’re all aware, are no more than a way to wrap a halo around your head while still allowing you to sit on your hands and do nothing.

To his credit Steve is the only councilperson who has responded to me and in a subsequent email he stated that, after going down to see what was done to the trees, he was very sad. Unfortunately his sadness can in no way make up for the damage that was done.

Emails to Lee Kyriacou remain unanswered. Other emails are on their way to the rest of the council.

I have stated on many occasions that Party, on a local level, means absolutely nothing. Voting for the party instead of the person makes no sense whatsoever when you’re talking about a small community.

In short, our faith in a new political future has given us a confederacy of dunces.

I have stated on many occasions that Party, on a local level, means absolutely nothing. Voting for the party instead of the person makes no sense whatsoever when you’re talking about a small community. At present, with the exception of the Mayor, we have a City Council that is made up entirely of Democrats. Democrats who, it should be noted, ran on a platform that promised change in our City government, a careful consideration of how to make changes, and a focus on what’s best for the City. What we’ve gotten is the same old bureaucratic B.S. masquerading as leadership and inattentiveness and self promotion parading around as good government. In short, our faith in a new political future has given us a confederacy of dunces.

The New Main StreetIf you don’t like what you see, come November, every incumbent on the ballot, no matter what seat they’re running for or what party they’re in, should be voted out of office. Tonight, there’s a debate between the two mayoral candidates at the Memorial Building. Come, voice your opinion, and then, throw the incumbents out.


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Discussion

31 comments for “A Confederacy of Dunces”

  1. What a shame. This is Tree City, USA?

    Posted by Mike | September 5, 2007, 1:52 pm
  2. I’m scared to go down and look. I’ve got to pass on my way to soccer this evening. When this issue was brought to my attention originally, I gave it little thought. Cutting tree’s and repairing damaged sidewalks. Should be simple, right. Who would think you’d need to worry in Tree City?

    Posted by Greg Strong | September 5, 2007, 3:40 pm
  3. I wrote to the mayor and council as well. no response yet.

    Posted by zach rodgers | September 6, 2007, 3:26 pm
  4. I was at the most recent city council meeting and supposedly all tree cutting is to have stopped until council members could examine what has been done and whether or not it followed the initial plan. All council members seemed shocked to hear how Main Street looked after the first day of cutting but what will be more telling is what happens from here.

    Posted by Meredith Heuer | September 6, 2007, 7:36 pm
  5. Unfortunately, I’m afraid this is going to be one of those animals/barn door kinds of things.

    What can’t be allowed is for present Council Members, City Administrators, Mayors to point the finger at everybody else and say it wasn’t their fault. That, I’m afraid, is B.S. And the fact that many council members have said that “they didn’t know that this is what was going to happen” is an indication that no one at The Hall takes what they’re doing seriously. This ain’t Student Council boys and girls, this is City Government.

    I’m of the FIRM opinion that as many incumbents as is possible should be thrown out of office next election, including incumbents running for mayor. And I say that even though I voted for many of them and I call many of them my friends.

    Posted by jeff | September 6, 2007, 10:59 pm
  6. As a relatively new citizen of Beacon, I was HORRIFIED to see the wholesale cutting down of mature trees on Main St. last week. As far as I could tell they were healthy mature trees and since I walk that stretch of Main St. regularly I can testify against any trip hazard that they might have represented. My husband and I moved from New York City last year and purchased a home near this area of Main St. becaused it looked like it was developing into the type of picturesque, well groomed and comfortable neighborhood that we were used to in Brooklyn. It now looks more like a strip mall.
    Furthermore, this is the stretch of Main St. that is seen by visitors first as they walk up the hill from Dia or the train. Is this the real face of Tree City that we want to project? What could city planners be thinking? It will take another 20 years for trees planted now to achieve the grace and stature that the lost trees gave to our neighborhood. Shame on you City council! I vote for the first time here this month. Incumbents watch out!
    Hollis Bogdanffy, DeWindt St.

    Posted by Hollis Bogdanffy | September 8, 2007, 9:55 am
  7. I also walk Main street regularly, and can confirm that none of the trees that were cut down were seriously diseased and none were buckling the sidewalks. It looks to me like the trees may have been in the way of some other project requiring periodically digging up the sidewalk. What that is, I have no idea. It is sadly apparent, though, that no one who cares much about the city’s appearance was involved in planning this project.

    Posted by Travis Fisher | September 8, 2007, 10:36 am
  8. I live on the west end of Main and was awakened to this absurd, surreal act at 7 in the morning. On the first morning, the deafening noise merely inflamed me as an inconsiderate nuisance (7 am!). On the second morning, knowing the destruction behind the noise, my heart ached.

    Posted by Scott Tillitt | September 9, 2007, 7:55 pm
  9. I’ve had a couple of bad experiences regarding Beacon and trees–not auspicious for a Tree City. In these situations, both trees were mature sugar maples between the curb and sidewalk. In one case the city was warned of removal by the property owner beforehand and the city did not make any effort to stop the action that Joe Braun said it opposed. Another was done illegally on a Sunday with no notice to the city. The officer at the Beacon police department told me there was no law prohibiting the cutting of trees, and asked how I knew it was a street tree anyway. He proceeded to give me a lecture on property lines, saying that he routinely parked his car on someone’s lawn and that he wouldn’t stop because they couldn’t show him a survey proving they owned the property. I asked him to read the tree ordinance (it specifically addresses the issue of identifying street trees and says they are automatically subject to the legislation); he refused, and when I showed it to him he said that if an officer felt the law was violated the police could give the owner a ticket, but that they weren’t about to question the cutting. Kinds begs the question when the law is either forgotten or not treated seriously.

    So Beacon’s competence in this regard is questionable. I know that trees can be hazardous–I work as a park manager and deal with tree questions regularly. I do not know what training and plan Beacon has used. But cities that care about trees ought to have a certified arborist from a disinterested organization (perhaps a competently trained employee or someone from, say, Cornell Cooperative Extension) inspect the trees and recommend appropriate work. I certainly hope that Beacon did not give the job of inspection to somone who might profit from tree removal. That would really be small-city living at its worst.

    I have yet to see the damage wrought–I haven’t been able to bring myself to walk down that way. The west end of Main Street was beautiful a few weeks ago, especially because of the trees. I hope the property owners object enough to seek a reduction in their property taxes based on what is generally regarded as a real estate trueism, that properties on tree-lined streets are worth more than similar properties on bare roads.

    A apologize for venting on this, but situations where vast damage is done through a few idiotic decisions are especially frustrating.

    I agree the political repercussions should follow unless there’s a damn good explanation forthcoming from the city’s leaders.

    Posted by Steve | September 10, 2007, 9:08 am
  10. The main street tree cutting is heartbreaking. I experienced a similar situation in my Beacon Hills neighborhood on Greenwood Drive (which is almost a mile long) about a month ago. This time by Central Hudson. I have only been a resident of Beacon for 4 years now and was told by neighbors that every 5 years or so, the company will come and top off trees that are growing by the power lines. I know this is necessary for safety and downed wires, but instead of carefully cutting around wires for asthetic purposes, trees were cut in half, their fallen limbs left abandoned on the ground. Broken off branches from the cut trees as well as nearby innocent standing trees were left half hanging or scattered on the ground in front of our properties. It looked as if a giant dinasour had trampled through the area leaving destruction in its wake. I called Central Hudson repeatedly to come and clean up after themselves to no avail. I can only wonder how this will effect our property values. There is a difference between a natural woodland like setting and one of man made destruction. After hearing what happened on Main Street I am disgusted with the lack of oversight from our local government offices.

    Posted by the schapperts | September 11, 2007, 1:48 pm
  11. I’m still very disturbed by this brute act of violence that rightly has so many others angered, injured and confused. I had a good three months of traversing this corridor daily before this assault and came to know the former trees quite well. There wasn’t a bloody thing wrong with any of them.

    I feel personally violated by those who committed this dull-headed butchery. The morning they started it, I called the mayor’s office inquiring why the trees were being taken out in the first place, and why the crews were using a backhoe to pull up the stumps, which caused so much unnecessary sidewalk damage, instead of less invasive (not to mention cheaper to rent and run) machinery. Joe Braun returned my call and said the project was carefully deliberated and that the trees were removed because they were damaging the sidewalks, and that the sidewalk damage done by the backhoe was slated for repair. HUH?

    I just spent the last twenty years in lower Westchester. They’re overdeveloping the crap out of everything, which is why I recently embraced Dutchess County, but at least most (native) people there will cheerfully let the sidewalks buckle to the point of walking in the streets before sacrificing a tree, esepcially a majestic, mature hardwood. Beacon’s Main Street was decades away from the kind of pedestrian impairment that merits even sidewalk modification, much less tree removal. And like others, I could see with my own eyes that none of the trees that were so callously obliterated showed any sign of advanced disease or other frailty. Indeed, the cross-sectional view afforded by the ignorant murder of these unfortunate victims only affirmed their integrity.

    As I told Mr. Braun, I’m no arborist, but I’ve seen and had this type of work done many times (I hail from WPa). I’ve learned a lot about trees – and also about unscrupulous people who have no ability to appreciate aesthetic value but just love revving up heavy equipment, power tools and other noisy, fossil fuel-guzzling big boy toys that destroy things, especially when they’re getting paid to do it.

    Until last week, I had two new stores for Main Street in the planning stages. With this terrible, unretractable loss, and the conspicuous warning it gives of the ineptitude in local government, I won’t even be renewing my lease. What a disorienting disappointment.

    Posted by Nancy | September 13, 2007, 3:00 pm
  12. Steve Gold and company can point their fingers at Mayor Gould and Joe Braun all they want. It’s not going to work. They all fell asleep at the wheel. They are too busy raising money and their salaries that they are not doing the people’s work.

    Too much time in Executive Session – behind closed doors. They were voted in because people wanted change. They have failed.

    They are using every opporunity they can to flex their muscles and stick it to the taxpayers. They really don’t want to hear what we have to say.

    Are you undecided about voting for Mayor? Take a ride by Steve Gold’s house and then take a ride by Fred Antalek’s house. Enough said…Fred Antalek for Mayor!

    Posted by John | September 13, 2007, 10:05 pm
  13. My earlier rant is tempered by the planting of some new trees this morning. I don’t know if that was part of the original plan, but I’ll focus my critique instead on the absence of communication that augmented this negative backlash. I’ll also posit that if Beacon’s got the bucks for such pet projects, funds might be better spent on endeavors such as increased law enforcement and more opportunities for the local youth. Shopkeepers might benefit if their patrons weren’t greeted with graffiti, broken plate glass windows and empty dime bags. If beautification is a high priority, Council could tackle such eyesores as the glut of above-ground cabling at the Chestnut Street intersection. Destorying the trees was just a bozo move no matter how I look at it.

    Posted by Nancy | September 14, 2007, 8:46 am
  14. Nancy found the “Brutal act of Violence” upsetting, Hollis was “Horrified”, Steve found it “Heartbreaking”, Scott Tiller ‘s “Heart ached knowing the destruction”, and finally Travis Fischer comes to the realization “It is sadley apparent no one cares”. No, they are not talking about the brutal unprovoked shooting of Police Officer Anthony Hopper almost a year ago, they are talking about trees, yes trees……This is incredible to me, it is a very sad state when the cutting of trees garners more responeses and letters to the City Council than a Police Officer being shot….What is even more pathetic is the City Council, including Mayoral Candiadate Steve Gold give it more credence,…PJS

    Posted by Paul J Schettino | September 15, 2007, 8:00 pm
  15. It’s a matter of not getting all fired up about something that writing a letter can do little to improve. We can vote in a manner that will have an effect on idiotic tree cutting, after all, it was the action of elected representatives. Crime is a bit more complex. I suspect that most people opposed the shooting of the officer, and that they didn’t feel the need to state their opposition to attempted murdder. Likewise, no one seems to have a two paragraph answer to the problem of crime in America. In many ways, it’s a matter of focusing energies where they can best make a difference. Few people want cops to be shot by worthless thugs, or for others to be victims of violent crimes either. But smaller issues like senseless tree cutting in our town might get a response by a letter…and if we let the little things go by the wayside because the nation has bigger problems, we will be paralized as a people.

    Posted by Steve | September 17, 2007, 7:40 am
  16. [...] off on a tangent of late. A tangent that started when the City fathers and mothers of my fair town determined that it was necessary to cut down more than 50 trees on our Main Street. (There are pictures at the link.) The work commenced, with no public notice, on the day after [...]

    Posted by What’s Buggin’ Me Now - Building The Perfect Beast | September 18, 2007, 11:29 am
  17. Hey Mr. Schettino, how shallow and pretentious of you to dismiss me as a mere tree hugger. How presumptuously you accuse the posters here of being incapable of appreciating other points of interest. And how telling that you would take the pains to come into a forum only to make disparaging remarks instead of advancing the inquiry, choosing to break the momentum toward positive change instead of spending your oh-so-valuable time and thought processes on the many other matters you simplistically deem to be of superior importance.

    Obviously, the larger issues represented by this haphazard and misguided project have been lost on you, such as the deficiencies of leadership, flaws in the process of conducting the city’s business, and disregard for citizenry demonstrated here. I know this is far too complex for a person of your insights to begin to grasp, but try nudging your mind open just enough to entertain the notion that unspoiled nature is the primal requirement for human health, including the mental component. Plenty of rock-solid science demonstrates as much. That’s why some enlightened people who aren’t so fortunate as to have things like private ocean front estates and endless idle time prefer tree-lined streets in smaller towns, like Beacon. And whether or not they’re aware of it or even appreciate it, everyone benefits from the presence of trees, the shade they provide, the wildlife they support, and the natural beauty the contribute, among other things.

    It takes a generation’s time for a tree to mature, and only about an hour to hack one apart. Why don’t you sit under one, preferably a large, live one, and ponder that for a while.

    On the other hand, if you want to turn the world into one big prison for the criminally insane, just keep cutting down trees.

    Posted by Nancy | September 19, 2007, 10:45 am
  18. “Nancy”, In the words of the Geico caveman “WHAT”? I didn’t accuse anyone of anything, I never dismissed you as a “tree hugger” they are your words. Oh, sorry I am not as smart and open minded as you. I just find it amazing that you and others could describe the cutting of trees as a “Brute act of violence”, an “assault” etc. etc. I was making an observation that the cutting of trees gets more attention than a human being, living breathing person, a son, a brother, a husband and a father to two little children-not to mention a cop, getting shot. Sorry, I think that is a more important issue than cutting trees. You may be onto something though, if the guy who shot the cop had a nice big tree to sit under growing up he may have made better choices. Thanks for showing me the way, my mind is changed. Thanks for making Dutchess County your home……. PS, Thanks “Steve” you made a much better point.

    Posted by Paul J Schettino | September 22, 2007, 6:29 pm
  19. You’re welcome, Paul. Your point was well taken as well.

    Posted by Steve | September 23, 2007, 7:10 pm
  20. Paul, get with it. This is a blog, not the editorial section of a high-brow newspaper. Hyperbolic language is the norm. You’re welcome to join the rest of us over on this side of the digital divide any time.

    Your point may have been well-taken by a mayoral candidate with preoccupations toward political correctness, but in truth, it misses the mark. No one ever diminished the importance of a member of service who died in the line of duty. It’s just OFF TOPIC.

    As for my own priorities, if you bother to undertake the diligence of reading my second post on THIS issue (that is, set your emotions aside and be objective for a moment), you’ll note that I was quick to suggest that Beacon could do better by committing its limited funds to such as increased law enforcement before tackling beautification projects. You’ll also note that I described my own initial post as a “rant”. Again, to assist you, that’s web vernacular.

    You can keep grunting like a caveman all you want. However, you might make better progress if you 1) read carefully and thoroughly before taking a stance, including some of the instructive articles available at this site regarding the psychological benefits of urban trees, and 2) post your concerns in appropriate fora where you’re more likely to garner support from a sympathetic readership.

    Meanwhile, stop trivializing the tragedy of a police officer’s untimely death by bandying it about where it’s not at all relevant.

    Posted by Nancy | September 25, 2007, 11:45 am
  21. Ok, this is the last one I promise, again I was just making an observation I am sorry you take it so persoanlly, but it does cement my opinion of elitists like yourself. I think you made my point better than I ever could. Oh, and by the way the police officer I referred to did not die, he is back to work protecting you every day. And I hardly think after 28 years in law enforcement I woudl trivialize the shooting of a police officer, quite the contrary.

    Posted by Paul J Schettino | September 25, 2007, 1:24 pm
  22. If he didn’t die, then what’s the big deal? Don’t you cops carry weapons with your badges? Don’t you get trained to expect to be fired upon? Sounds like an occupational hazard to me. You chose your profession, so did your comrade. Quit whining.

    How cute that you wonder why I take your comments so personally and call me an elitest in the same breath. There you go again with that pretention you deny. (Who’s the elitist, again?)

    Posted by Nancy | September 25, 2007, 1:50 pm
  23. If he didn’t die, then what’s the big deal? Don’t you cops carry weapons with your badges? Don’t you get trained to expect to be fired upon? Sounds like an occupational hazard to me. You chose your profession, so did your comrade. Quit whining.

    How cute that you wonder why I take your comments so personally and call me an elitist in the same breath. There you go again with that pretention you deny. (Who’s the elitist, again?)

    Posted by Nancy | September 25, 2007, 1:51 pm
  24. Nancy, “Whats the big deal” ??? How can you even make such a stupid statement. Yes, it is a hazard of the job. Yes, it is something trained for. It sounds like you would make the same type of statment if a woman was assaulted and raped while she was at the local wash and fold at 3:00 in the morning, after all, it was her choice to be there at that time.

    Posted by Robert Gooding | September 26, 2007, 11:48 pm
  25. Talk about stupidity. No comparison, Robert. It’s so laughably far off base I won’t waste space here slicing it apart. That’s more dignity than it deserves. You’re playing Officer Schettino’s hand, hocking arbitrary sensationalism to throw off the discourse.

    What it sounds like to me is that the most seasoned veteran of the local police force would be the one to shrug off an assault on a woman, figuring that she “asked for it”; or he might refuse to arrest an abusive husband because when he beats his wife it’s just a “domestic dispute”; or he may ignore a call for help when a gang of boys tortures and mutilates a dog or a cat, because it’s “just” a dog or a cat. It’s a dangerous place to be where enforcement personnel cherrypick the laws they like instead of upholding the law as a whole, because they disagree with and think they’re above the “lily-livered liberals” who enact the protections and regulations they’ve taken an oath to defend. It’s a troubling thing when a police officer enters a public dialog and makes communications that could be deemed as representative of their department, particularly when they show a distinct ideological bent that is not just out of step with the community, but overtly hostile to it.

    Let’s stay on point here. Whatever happened a year ago to an individual in a tangential incident, whether good or bad, deserved or undeserved, foreseeable or shocking, has absolutely no bearing on the matter at hand. If you Beaconites are so easily distracted and intimidated, I’ll do you all a favor and remove myself forthwith from your folksy little forum. Clearly, this is not my element.

    Posted by Nancy | September 27, 2007, 10:41 am
  26. PS – As a parting gesture, though I’m sure he never intended his name to be entered into the mix, I’ll take this opportunity to thank Officer Hopper for his service and wish him continued good health.

    Posted by Nancy | September 27, 2007, 10:57 am
  27. I think the original point that was being made was it seems ridiculous that there is so much uproar and public concern over the trees being cut down, then there was over one where a human being almost lost their life. That is all.

    Posted by Robert Gooding | September 27, 2007, 3:42 pm
  28. has anyone driven by the Antalek auto repair shop on south chestnut??? I wonder how many violations are going on there. abondoned cars, litter, hundreds of junk tires…unkept grounds….. hopefully steve gold will bring those antaleks into compliance!!!

    Posted by Who me? | October 9, 2007, 10:59 am
  29. Vote for Fred- Mayor

    Posted by Ken | October 18, 2007, 3:09 pm
  30. What makes any of you people think that Fred and the old guard are going to protect these trees, our open spaces, improve our quality of life? Those guys installed the current administrators who have tied us up with lawsuits, bought dogs instead of bulletproof vests,developed the whole tree cutting scheme and want to blow a bunch of money on buildings that will decrease public safety, and make the waterfront safe for cabin cruisers. These are problems of execution, not policy. Get out and vote for real progress and openness, not hollow phrases. Vote for Steve

    Posted by Kevin b | October 19, 2007, 10:28 am
  31. The issue I personally have with Steve and all members of the current council is that they signed off on a $400k project that most state they thought was meant to only cut down 4-8 trees. These are problems of oversight that the council wasn’t exercising and the responses that I have personally gotten have amounted to platitudes.

    Mismanagement of public funds is not “real progress” it’s the same old thing wrapped in the appearance of progress. If you want progress you have let the politicians know that you won’t stand for B.S. The ONLY language a politician understands is the language of reelection. You handle your job poorly we throw you out. And as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter what party you belong to at a local level. The current incumbents have not proved themselves worthy of reelection, it’s time to let them sit in the “time-out corner” until the next election rolls around.

    Posted by jeff | October 19, 2007, 10:44 am

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