Politics

The Tyrant that is Thane


The City of Amsterdam, New York was invigorated by a newly elected Common Council this year. The citizens, not happy with the way taxes were going up and spending was increasing, elected conservative representatives who wanted to make a change. With a highly critical state financial audit, finances are in shambles and our elected officials still do not know how much money is in the city fund balance. Despite these facts Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane continues to increase spending, raising salaries and creating new staff positions at City Hall. Not happy with the take charge attitude of the new Council members, Thane took them to court and sued to get a ruling in her favor about the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course Pro Contract. She continually vetoes any legislation proposed by the Council even if it has unanimous support. This effectively delays the passage of all legislation. She gets on local radio and makes press statements that berate and belittle Council members and anyone who gets in her way.

The public, embarrassed and humiliated by Thane’s behavior, went to the Common Council asking to revise our city charter changing ambiguous wording to prevent misinterpretation and added costly court proceedings. The Common Council appointed a Charter Review Committee (of which this blogger is a member) who would study and recommend changes. Thane stated that a Charter Review Committee was not necessary, that there were more important things to do.

“The mayor agreed with the commission idea in the beginning, but she does not agree with the appointments. What do you do when you have a mayor for six years and she’s relentless? She does not give up; it has to be her way or no way.” — Alderman Diane Hatzenbuhler

Corporation Council Gerard DeCusatis who by law is supposed to support and advise the Mayor and Council, only does so for the Mayor. Soon after the Council appointed Charter Review Committee had its first few meetings, the Mayor appointed her own Charter Review Committee, who she insinuated in The Recorder were more intelligent than the Council appointed committee.

“What I’m looking for are intelligent people to weigh in on a document that’s affected the community for a long time.” –Mayor Ann Thane

This derailed weeks of work already accomplished by the dedicated committee appointed by the Council. As  explained to me, the Mayor’s Committee takes precedent over any other Charter Review Committee who, with this action, can not send any Charter related questions to the ballot for referendum vote in the 2014 general election. Attorney Peter Califano, Chairman of the Mayor’s Charter Review Commission, cited this 2008 NYS Supreme Court decision as the standing ruling on the subject.

After exchanging emails with Peter Califano, I discovered that both of our Committees had a common goal, to strengthen the separation of powers by removing the Mayor as presiding officer of the Common Council.  The Mayor presiding over Council meetings, promotes arguments and obstructs the flow of governance. For Ann Thane who tries to micro-manage every aspect of city government, it only increased her already over-inflated ego.

As many of you know I was an active member of the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation, whose mission was to fund and organize concerts at Riverlink Park that are free to the public every Saturday evening during the months of July and August. Our Committee consisted of four dedicated members who give a lot of time and effort for Riverlink Concerts. I donated a few hundred photos and designed hours worth of advertising design that appeared as posters and ads in local and regional newspapers. All of that has come to an end as I resigned from the Foundation a few weeks ago. Mayor Ann Thane could not keep her control-freak hands off of the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation as she held a secret meeting with Congressman Paul Tonko, Amsterdam Economic Development Director Rob von Hasseln, Grant Writer Nick Zabawski and Waterfront Foundation President Paul Gavry. It seems despite the spin put on the situation, the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook (Pedestrian Bridge) is way over budget and Gavry was told that the Waterfront Foundation would seek grants to fund the 1.6 million dollars of artwork a select committee decided should go on this bridge. In order to carry this out, five new members that they selected would be added to the board of the Waterfront Foundation. This effectively weighted our vote, giving the Mayor control of the Foundation. Of course when we were seeking funding for concerts or wanting to increase our membership for the past two years these people were nowhere to be found. Neither Congressman Tonko, Mayor Thane or the five new Waterfront Commission members came to support the Riverlink Concert fundraiser held at the Amsterdam MUNI Clubhouse on June 13th. They did not consider the impact this new fundraising project would have on grant applications to fund the concert series.

I really loathe politicians, they chew you up and spit you out. It seems my every attempt at civic duty was derailed by this Mayor. It’s been over three years since I sat on the committee to update the Zoning Code along with Montgomery County Planning who were paid by the City to write the new code. The Mayor’s Corporation Counsel DeCusatis sat on the document for over two years for a “legal” review. Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler had me review the document with the codes department earlier this year to get their advice. We are now 6 months into the new Council’s administration and this document still has not been presented to the Common Council for a vote. It increases the area of what is considered Amsterdam’s downtown core and eases restrictions making it much more business friendly. A little follow through and cooperation would really help our local government instead of the costly and obstructionist display of power and disrespect flaunted by Mayor Ann Thane who feels free to lambast and personally attack others when they disagree with her.

Overpriced art pieces Ann Thane insists must go on the pedestrian bridge:

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Categories: Amsterdam, Equality, Law, Politics, Riverlink Park | Tags: , , ,

Meet Laura Elmendorf


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The Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course has been local news for the past few months. A new Common Council with a supermajority vote and a Mayor used to getting her own way have stalled contracts for both the golf pro and the concessionaire at MUNI.

Laura Elmendorf is the concessionaire without a contract who has successfully run the restaurant and bar at the golf course.  Still negotiating her contract, Laura is busy planning for this year’s events.  Although the concession used to be open on weekends during the winter, this year it is closed because a contract was never negotiated or signed last year.

As a board member of the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation, this blogger had the opportunity to meet and talk with Laura while planning a fundraiser to be held at MUNI in June. Every year the Foundation is tasked with raising money, organizing and presenting Riverlink Concerts to the public free of charge. Laura is very pleasant, knowledgeable and personable. She seems much wiser than her years. My visit to MUNI was to get a better idea of the layout and space. The AWF fundraiser will be announced as soon as we have a firm commitment, that being easier said then done.  Laura was ready with menu choices, reasonable prices and suggestions. The venue was larger than I imagined and the views were gorgeous, even in the winter!

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I sincerely hope the responsible parties take care of these contracts soon before scheduling opportunities are lost.

Categories: Amsterdam, Business, Celebration, Entertainment, Outdoors, Photography, Politics, Riverlink Park | Tags: , , , , , ,

So long it’s been good to know yuh!


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Pete Seeger 1919-2014

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I heard the news today that Pete Seeger died at the ripe old age of 94. Pete Seeger was a legend in the folk music scene. A writer and performer who won Grammy awards and the American Music award, Pete was also an activist who fought for equal rights and environmental action. He founded the group Clearwater,Inc. that was established to educate the public about pollution in our waterways. Clearwater’s lobbying efforts helped win a court decision ordering GE to remove years of toxic PCB contamination from New York State’s Hudson River. Pete was also a friend who I met in the late 80’s through my late partner Ken Yeso who worked for Clearwater as an environmental educator. I became a Clearwater volunteer and freelance photographer, contributing photos for the Clearwater Navigator as well as the annual catalog. Pete and Toshi Seeger made you feel like you were part of an extended family. Their generosity had no limits. When Ken died in 1993, we held his service aboard the sloop Clearwater on the Hudson River near the Bear Mountain Bridge. Pete and other Clearwater members attended. Pete wrote and performed a short song in honor of my partner Ken. Pete Seeger will be missed by his huge extended family.

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Ken Yeso 1954-1993

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Categories: Equality, Family, History, Human Rights, Media, Music, Outdoors, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It’s Time for Queen Ann to Abdicate!


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Queen Ann of Amsterdam, New York

They say she “means well” and Mayor Ann Thane has done a lot to improve Amsterdam’s image but the overbearing need to micro-manage every aspect of OUR City is a detriment to economic development. One would think that after serving as Mayor for five years, Thane would learn to delegate authority, trusting in the many talented people that make up both city government and the constituency. We see the control issues pop up time and time again, from censoring the populace to insisting on exerting influence on issues that are clearly not under the jurisdiction of the elected position of Mayor.

A Brief History

There was the Chalmers building fiasco:

A Chalmers Love/Hate Story

Removing the State imposed 3% tax cap.

Her Majesty Queen Ann has Spoken

The City of Amsterdam Zoning Update that is being held up since 2011 by Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis:

Amsterdam’s Proposed Zoning Update

There was the Art Center:

The Politics of Art

Raises for everybody!

Body Language

A Piece of the World Trade Center that was to be a memorial to 911 still sits rotting at Riverlink Park without any fanfare, dedication or respect.

The Forgotten Memorial

Then there was the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency’s purchase and rehab of a building on Main Street that was held up by the Mayor’s insistence that a damaged mural by an unknown artist in the building be preserved.  This blogger even volunteered to photograph the mural for the archives to help settle the back and forth debate between the Mayor and the AIDA. That situation, to my knowledge, is still not resolved.

The Current Situation

Meet Bala Peri

A man from Virginia, Balakumar Periyasamy, buys the former Park Hill Adult Home on 52 Grove Street in Amsterdam, New York with long-term plans to open as an assisted living facility for Veterans.  To run the home the NYS Department of Health requires a license that takes about two years to get. Having invested a lot of money in building, including the payment of back taxes to the city, Mr. Peri announces his plans to open a restaurant and hotel in the 52 room complex until such time as the adult home license is approved. This project would give local jobs and add to our local economy but requires a variance from the Zoning Board and site plan approval from the Planning Board.

Bala is very excited about the plans and invites local dignitaries to visit the facility. The President of FMCC and members of his executive team visit the building anticipating the need for overflow student housing.  He leaves the tour excited about the possibility commenting that it is in better shape and larger than he originally thought. Bala invites Mayor Thane to tour the building and she does so commenting how beautiful and large the building is stating she would do what she could to help him with the project.  Bala then invites journalist Alissa Scott from The Recorder to hear his plans for the restaurant and hotel.  Alissa writes an excellent article, published in the Recorder on December 9, 2013, that would have helped further the project along had it not been for disparaging comments quoted from Mayor Ann Thane.

Thane said she doesn’t think Peri should go through with student housing. “I actually don’t think that will work because there’s too much in the way of state regulations that would need to be done to make that ready for students,” Thane said. “The cost would be too high.”She also doesn’t think a hotel would well-suit the community’s needs. “To propose a hotel, you have a high-end hotel going in across the river at the castle and you have a Hampton Inn and they have much better locations,” Thane said. “IfI’m going to book a room in a hotel, I don’t want to stay in the room that was a senior cubby hole.”

Thane goes on to suggest what Peri should do with HIS property, stating she is not sure the area can support another adult home. This from an elected official who touted economic development in her election campaign.  Bala’s vision is not for a high-end hotel like the proposal for the Amsterdam Castle or the new Hampton Inn. It is for students or the budget minded traveler, the 99% who can’t afford to stay at a high-end hotel.
Here is a business person who invested in our community buying a building that was left to deteriorate, who already employed a dozen local people to help with his project. Mayor Ann Thane’s damning comments may have a harmful effect on Bala’s project before any approvals are granted from Zoning or Planning.

My personal experience catching the criminals who stole thousands of dollars of copper from the building is chronicled in the following link.

A Copper Caper 

For the greater part of 2013, this blogger exhibited much restraint in not posting political critiques or commentary but this situation just crossed a line.  The Republican supermajority Common Council taking office on January 1st will dethrone Mayor Thane’s veto power.  She may as well abdicate now and negotiate a compromise as she will soon be forced to trust the legislative body of the City of Amsterdam.

Categories: Amsterdam, Business, Law, Park Hill Adult Home, Politics | Tags: , , , , ,

A Tale of 2 Candidates


Debra Baranello is a registered Democrat who is running for 3rd Ward Alderman in the City of Amsterdam, New York, while Diane Hatzenbuhler, a registered Republican, is running for 4th Ward Alderman. With all of the dysfunction in our federal government as a result of differences in political ideology, you may think these two candidates do not have much in common. Nothing could be further from the truth and that is a very refreshing fact.

This blogger had the privilege of photographing, designing palm cards and brochures for both well qualified candidates for office. The design process involved sitting with each candidate and coming up with a list of concerns they would address as Alderman. Both candidates gave me lists that were almost identical. They want to fight URBAN BLIGHT, decrease CRIME in our neighborhoods, increase COMMUNICATION between elected officials and our citizens and CUT SPENDING to keep property taxes at bay.

Both candidates want to fight urban blight by increasing code enforcement through inspection and prosecution. Diane Hatzenbuhler would like to see annual inspections of rental properties and a workable complaint procedure for tenants. Debra Baranello would like to increase the number of demolitions of condemned properties. Diane Hatzenbuhler wants to fight crime by improving our Neighborhood Watch and increasing patrols in known high crime areas. Debra Baranello wants the Amsterdam Police Department to start neighborhood foot patrols as a deterrent and increase recreational activities for our young people. She is grateful for the work done by Amsterdam Recreation and Wishful Thinking at the Clara Bacon School. To improve communication Debra Baranello plans to listen to the concerns of the residents of the 3rd Ward and take positive action. Diane Hatzenbuhler wants to improve the flow of communication by increasing transparency of all municipal transactions with an emphasis on finance. To help cut spending, Debra Baranello wants to increase our economic development by working with our elected officials to help revitalize an aging infrastructure to support new business ventures. Diane Hatzenbuhler wants to cut all unnecessary spending and increase revenues by prosecuting code violators.

There are negative campaigns being run against both candidates for Alderman. Their opponents must have run out of solutions or viable candidates. Both of these women would make a great addition to the Amsterdam Common Council. With them we have the hope of a bipartisan solution that will bring us out of the standstill that we are stuck in. The Council has been spinning its wheels for much too long. There is power in unity and together the Common Council can move Amsterdam in a forward direction.

 

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Debra Baranello, candidate for 3rd Ward Alderman

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Diane Hatzenbuhler, candidate for 4th Ward Alderman

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Division Street resident Ed Battistini and Debra Baranello in the 3rd Ward

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Debra Baranello at Riverlink Park in Amsterdam, NY

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NYS Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk, Debra Baranello, candidate for 3rd Ward Alderman

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Debra Baranello, Dan Peluso, NYS Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk in Amsterdam’s 3rd Ward

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NYS Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk and Debra Baranello, candidate for 3rd Ward Alderman

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Elks Club, 4th Ward

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Holland Garden Apartments, 4th Ward

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Peddler’s Wagon at 5 Corners in the 4th Ward

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Polish National Alliance, 4th Ward

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Pulaski Bridge, 4th Ward

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The Rao Center, 4th Ward

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St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, 4th Ward

Categories: Amsterdam, Photography, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Clara S. Bacon School


The Clara S. Bacon School at 40 Henrietta Boulevard in Amsterdam, New York has been a hot topic for the past few years.  The former elementary school with its circular design is nestled in a wooded section of the city known as Sassafras Park.  The school has a sports field in back and sits next to an extensive wooden jungle gym built on the grounds of the city owned Sassafras Park. The once popular well manicured trails of Sassafras Park that led to picnic areas, an amphitheater and a woodland museum building have deteriorated.  There is little is left of its original splendor, just a newly constructed the wooden jungle gym that bears the name.

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Google Maps aerial view of the Clara S. Bacon School.

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Similarly, the Clara S. Bacon School has fallen into disrepair.  The former school has been the home of the Whispering Pines Day Care Center that occupied the northern section for the past few years.  The school was put on the market for sale and had a valid bid from the Chinese World Peace and Health Organization who paid a $50,000.00 down payment on the building.  The offer was withdrawn because of the bigoted nature of the  questions asked by citizens attending a required public meeting prior to the sale agreement and the questionable ownership of an access road to Sassafras Park through the school property.  The money for the down payment still sits in an escrow account, with neither party having access until they can agree on terms.

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Since then, the City School District started using the building for an alternative education program with four teachers, a teacher aide and a principal to accommodate those students who do not function well in the main high school setting. These students, for whatever reason, are disciplinary problems who have educational needs that are met by the smaller class sizes and personal attention they receive at the Bacon School. The students respond well to this setting and a large number graduate with a high school diploma and some a regents diploma.

The Bacon School has also become the adopted home of the Amsterdam Recreation Department who partnered with the Amsterdam School District and the Wishful Thinking  group to create a basketball program, a summer camp program and a sports and after school program for our young people. The gym floor was refinished, walls painted and decorated from money donated by generous benefactors who realized the importance of having a safe place for our kids to learn to compete as athletes

I had the opportunity to photograph the Bacon School property and Sassafras Park early this spring on assignment from Bob Cudmore for his recent book.  What I saw was a little disappointing. Graffiti  adorned most of the back section of the Bacon School. I mentioned this to Amsterdam’s Recreation Director Rob Spagnola and suggested to him that it would be a positive gesture if the group Wishful Thinking organized a cleanup of the graffiti.  Unfortunately this never happened.

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I visited Bacon School again on September 15th, with 3rd Ward Alderman candidate Debra Baranello.  We met Hännah Watermann, one of the alternative education teachers who was just back from a camping trip, bringing back some mushrooms harvested from a tree that she carved as an art project to show her students.  Hännah was very passionate about her program and the students she teaches.  She described the difficulty of getting needed maintenance and supplies for the school and told us she has bought paint for the walls of the building and classrooms. Hännah also had the same idea about the graffiti removal, suggesting it would be a good project for her students to gain a sense of self-pride.  The alternative education program also accommodates students from the Broadalbin-Perth School District who have no program of their own.

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Amsterdam’s 3rd Ward Alderman candidate Debra Baranello.

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Debra Baranello and Amsterdam teacher Hännah Watermann

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3rd Ward Alderman candidate Debra Baranello and Amsterdam Alternative School Teacher Hännah Watermann.

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Debra Baranello, Karin Hetrick and Hännah Watermann in the Bacon School gym.

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The refurbished Bacon School gym.

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3rd Ward Alderman candidate Debra Baranello and Teacher Hännah Watermann outside her classroom at the Clara S. Bacon School.

You would think the Amsterdam School District would be very proud to be able to offer our young people all of this positive programming at the Clara S. Bacon School. Instead, they move forward with plans to vacate the building with a multi-million dollar renovation to move the District offices into the building. The plan involves lowering the gym height to build offices over it and to bus all of the Kindergarten classes to the Bacon School. This would mean the alternative education program that finally found a home would have to move back to the high school building, The after school and sports program would have to relocate and who knows what will happen to the Whispering Pines Day Care Center. Should we put up with this just so some bureaucrats can have nicer offices?

JUST SAY NO!

Listen to Amsterdam Board of Education member Gavin Murdoch describe the plan in the September 20, 2013 version of the podcast TSWNN:

We can do better than this.

Categories: Amsterdam, Politics, WPHO | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Greater Amsterdam Riverlink Park


A formal acknowledgement of accomplishment celebrating the conceptualization, design and implementation of Riverlink Park, is what the email invitation described. On Wednesday, August 20, 2013, at 11am, elected officials and representatives from local organizations celebrated the fruition of 30 years of planning and development resulting in Amsterdam, New York’s beautiful Riverlink Park.

Like proud parents seeing their child off to college, Congressman Paul Tonko and Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane were beaming with smiles as they talked about the hard work involved in turning a brownfield contamination into the Jewel of the Mohawk River. Phase one and two of the park development are complete and soon phase three construction will begin. The third phase is the much debated curved pedestrian walkway that will span the Mohawk River as a park lined with benches, plantings, trees and pictographs describing the history of Amsterdam.

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Categories: Amsterdam, Celebration, Outdoors, Photography, Politics, Riverlink Park | Tags: , , , , , , ,

A Provincial Reply


This post continues the ongoing unharmonious discourse between the Buddhist World Peace and Health Organization and the Catholic Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville, NY.

As we learned in my earlier posts Help, Belgarde Bug Out, Buddhists Move Forward Despite Jesuit Road Blocks, and  Jesuit Blocks Entrance to Buddhist Temple, Priest George H. Belgarde, S.J. has harassed the Buddhist group by erecting crude roadblocks on every conceivable entrance to the Buddhist compound and even interfering with road construction of the Buddhist owned Freedom Road.

There were problems caused by the blockade on Shrine Road including the stoppage of mail and package delivery. GPS systems brought visitors down Shrine Road only to find the road blocked. Crude signage and crime scene tape with no trespassing signs were not a very welcoming sight to visitors. The threat of arrest by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office for Buddhists who set foot on Shrine property (that is otherwise open to the public), sort of upsets the peaceful nature of the setting and the people.

Attempts to resolve the issue through local elected officials failed with not one willing to touch the politically sensitive issue. Jenny Wong, the WPHO spokesperson sent a letter to the previous Jesuit Director, Father Peter Murray, S.J. with whom the Buddhists has a very harmonious relationship  that resulted in the following response,

Jennie: I did receive your letter. Thanks for that and for this reminder here, this Email, but here’s the problem:
I am no longer in charge at Auriesville, and have to  be careful not to speak out since I don’t know all the angles and needs, new problems, etc. So I must pause at the present time.
Maybe we can talk someday by phone. . .BUt at present, I must   not write any notes of “support” etc. But, I shall pray for you! I hope the rough situation can be made better, soon.
Father Murray SJ  (Very busy in Buffalo).
Jenny then sent an impassioned letter to Father Belgarde’s immediate supervisor, Provincial David S. Ciancimino, S.J. requesting his intercession. On July 17, 2013 Jennie received the following reply:
Jesuit reply received on July 17,2013

Apparently the Provincial has been lied to misled by Father Belgarde. Shrine Road is still blocked and access to the Buddhist Temple from Shrine Road is not possible because of both the barricade and threat of arrest initiated by Belgarde. This is not the kind of neighborly stance expected.

Barricade on Shrine Road photo courtesy of WPHO

Barricade on Shrine Road
photo courtesy of WPHO

A hearing in Montgomery County Supreme Court today established that an agreement between the parties was not possible and dates were set for motions and discovery contemplating a trial date for the civil lawsuit of September 20, 2013, at 9:30am.

Categories: Human Rights, Law, Politics, WPHO | Tags: , , , , ,

Help!


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Buddhist Master Ziguang Shang Shi
Leader of the World Peace and Health Organization

Fr George Belgarde, SJ Director of the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs

Fr George Belgarde, SJ
Director of the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs

These men are religious leaders, both having reached a certain level of authority among their devoted followers. Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi and Father George Belgarde, S.J. share the same age bracket. They are neighbors living within a few hundred feet of each other but that is where the similarities end. In reality, they are just about as different as one can get. They are from different parts of the world, have greatly differing belief systems, cultures and general demeanor. The Holy Master is jovial, kind and understanding while the Jesuit is angry, hostile and rude.

The Chinese Buddhist and the American Jesuit do not communicate and it is not for lack of trying on the part of the Buddhist. My attempts to communicate with Fr. Belgarde were also rejected. We cannot know his true motive because he refuses to communicate but it seems retaliatory and childish. His intent seems evil in nature.

The frustrated Buddhists are looking for help from whoever may be able to break through this impermeable barrier and foster the hope of a peaceful solution to this ever-increasing tension and hostility they now suffer. It has affected their overall mission and outlook on the local community. They feel the sting of discrimination and prejudice. This writer is a witness to this unholy war deployed by the Jesuit against his neighbor and fellow spiritual leader. Belgarde and his maintenance worker have erected a total of three barricades, blocking all access roads to the Western Supreme Buddha Temple and residence without any explanation or warning.

The third barricade blocked an old unused access road yesterday, July 9, 2013. Yellow crime scene tape was stretched across the road with a no trespassing sign taped on a post with duct tape. This barricade came with a Montgomery County Sheriff Deputy who threatened to arrest the Buddhists for entering the Shrine’s property. The Buddhists in turn called NYS State Trooper Ramieriez who explained that once informed by a police officer, they can in fact be arrested for entering the Shrine property. Trooper Ramierez also discussed the situation with Friendship Road, an access road built by the Buddhists that was also blocked in June by Belgarde who insisted the four-year old road was partly on Shrine property according to a survey he just had done. He placed a pole in the middle of the road forcing the Buddhists to enlarge the access road.

Feeling imprisoned on their own property, the Buddhists sought help from local government officials but nobody was willing to intervene. A civil lawsuit was filed in Montgomery County Supreme Court with Judge Felix Catena proposing a meeting between the groups to settle differences. This was described in my previous post Belgarde Bug Out

The next court date is July 18, 2013 at 10:00am.

Barricade

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Friendship Road
(after widening the road)

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Friendship Road

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NYS Trooper Ramirez explains the situation to the Buddhists

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Old unused access road recently blocked by the Shrine.

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Statue of Christ maintained by the Buddhists for Shrine visitors who used to enjoy praying by it. Access to this memorial has been severed by Belgarde.

Dedication on the back of the Christ statue's base.

Dedication on the back of the Christ statue’s base.

The Buddhists hope NYS Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk and NYS Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara will intercede in this matter.

Categories: Equality, Human Rights, Law, Politics, WPHO | Tags: , , , , ,

Belgarde Bug Out


Today’s blog entry is for those readers following the plight of the Buddhist World Peace and Health Organization and their ongoing problem with Jesuit George Belgarde, Director of the Shrine of our Lady of Martyrs.

For background information, click on the following links:
April 8, 2013 – Angry Jesuit Blocks entry to Buddhist Temple
June 20, 2013 – Buddhists Move Forward Despite Jesuit Roadblocks

Last evening, June 24, 2013, this writer was informed by WPHO spokesperson Jennie Wong, that a meeting was scheduled to negotiate a settlement concerning the blocking of Shrine Road leading to the Western Supreme Buddha Temple and the residence of the World Peace and Health Organization. As a witness to these incidents and a spokesperson for the WPHO, I too was to take part in the negotiation. This meeting was strongly suggested by Montgomery Supreme Court Judge Felix Catena after preliminary statements were given in a civil lawsuit filed against the Shrine’s Director and maintenance man for blocking Shrine Road.

The agreed on meeting place was the Shrine office, 136 Shrine Road, Fultonville, NY 12072 on June 25, 2013, @ 10:30AM. The six of us approached the building and were met by attorney Carmel Greco and George Belgarde.  “Only one!” shouted Belgarde as he raised his arm in what appeared to be a Nazi salute and yelled “Stop! The rest of you get off MY property!” When Yik Cheng explained to him that these members of our organization will attend the meeting, he stated “Then the meeting is cancelled” and went back in the Shrine office and slammed the door. His attorney and the Buddhists tried to reason with him to no avail.  A July 18, 2013, court date is scheduled in Montgomery County, NY Supreme Court continuing the civil lawsuit.

The Buddhists paid $595,000 to the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs for this property in 2006, helping to keep the financially plagued Shrine afloat. It is despicable that they are being treated so shabbily by the Shrine’s new Director George Belgarde.

Shrine Director George Belgarde

Shrine Director George Belgarde

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Peace, Nackie, Jennie, Yik, Shanxing

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Yik, Jennie, Nackie, Shanxing

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Roadblock placed on Shrine Road cutting off access to Western Supreme Buddha Temple (174 Shrine Road, Fultonville, NY 12072)

 

 

Categories: Equality, Human Rights, Law, Politics, WPHO | Tags: , , , ,

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