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Is the Town’s Plan to Exhaust Residents Seeking Justice?

New Baltimore Resident’s Message to Joe Stanzione, Greene County District Attorney:
“We, the public, pay the bills but we’re not getting delivery. As an attorney, you should recognize that this is unlawful.”

Taxpayers and Property Owners are not Means to Their End!
Tax Dollars Pay Public Employees’ and Elected Officials’ Salaries, and Provide Money for Reasonably Expectable Competent Services.
Not to damage our property and then ignore us!!!

New Baltimore insurers Marshall & Sterling (Leeds, NY), Trident Brokerage, and Argo Group (Bermuda) are being paid to work against New Baltimore Residents and Property Owners with good faith claims for damages. The Albany law firm of Bailey, Johnson, DeLeonardis & Peck P.C. have been hired by New Baltimore’s insurers and New Baltimore to make sure New Baltimore residents, property owners and tax payers don’t get justice and fair play! Isn’t there something wrong with this picture? Don’t WE pay the bills in this town? If we as private citizens damage town property our sorry asses are in jail! Maybe that’s where our Town Board, our Town Sole Assessor, Gordon Bennett, and definitely our Town Superintendent of Highways, Denis Jordan, should be!

This is what our government has become!

When a government uses a taxpayer’s own dollars to screw the taxpayer, that’s downright immoral. The Town of New Baltimore pays for insurance to cover liabilities but when a liability occurs, the insurance coverage we pay for is used against us, and the town hides behind the insurance company’s lawyers. You want rights? Find another lawyer, pay him, spend years paying him or her, and when the money runs out, forget about it. You’re still paying. Why doesn’t the Town of New Baltimore wake up, accept the evidence, and stop playing games with residents. That’s not how it’s supposed to work guys and gals!

Here’s the text of a local resident’s letter to the insurance companies covering the Town of New Baltimore’s liability risk. It seems that New Baltimore’s Town Board (Jeff Ruso, Shelli van Etten, Chuck Brody, Scott Brody), Supervisor Nick Dellisanti,  and other elected officials are really missing the bus when it comes to doing what’s right for residents and taxpayers. The problem is that we elected these people who are spending so much time screwing us than they are making life better for us. No exceptions! From the SupervisorDellisanti, Deputy Supervisor Ruso,  to the town board members (Shelli van Etten, Chuck Irving, Scott Brody), to the Highway Superintendent Denis Jordan, to Gordon Bennett, New Baltimore Tax Assessor, who, rather than look at a piece of damaged property for reassessment, tells the property owner to ask for a form!!!

Here’s the full text of the letter to the Town’s insurance company:

Dear Insurance Specialists:[1]

Mr Thomas Rickert, CPCU, ARM, ARM-P, ARM-E, ARC, ARe, VP, Head of Marketing, Trident, ArgoGroup[2]
Joshua Bouchez , Territory Marketing Manager, East Coast[3]
Claims Reporting, Trident[4]
Ashley Heline, Communications Coordinator, ArgoGroup[5]
ArgoGroup Underwriters[6]

It has always been my understanding, and I would reasonably presume that of the general public, that insurance was a science of risk management, control, mitigation but our understanding has changed radically over the past two years on the example of ArgoGroup’s, Trident’s and Marshall & Sterling’s “risk management” in the Town of New Baltimore.

It seems your operations are more attuned to “risk aggravation” or “risk perpetuation” than to “risk management,” and this fact is borne out by a brief review of some of the reports published on a local watchdog blog, Smalbany Blog, which has been covering the incompetence and the abuses operating in the Town of New Baltimore, most specifically in the New Baltimore Highway Department under the direct supervision and authority of its Superintendent, Mr Denis Jordan. For your convenience, several of those links are provided at the end of this communication. You are encouraged, in your own interests, to review the contents of those articles.

Our Town Government at Work for Us.

In terms of fair play, justice and fiduciary obligations, ArgoGroup, Trident, the agency Marshall & Sterling (Leeds, NY) in collusion with the law firm of Bailey, Johnson, DeLeonardis & Peck P.C.(Crystall R. Peck, attorney of record in this matter) and the Town of New Baltimore, you all get failing grades in terms of ethics and fair play. Furthermore, on objective and subjective moral assessment, your conduct is immoral.

It is very much in your interests to review the links provided below which provide a very clear picture of the real risk situation in New Baltimore and how the rights and interests of taxpayers, residents and others, including your shareholders, are being misused and abused.

The facts are indisputable, the evidence clear and convincing, the wrongful acts ongoing, and the damage to the public and to private interests substantial. This is bad press for you and your collaborators indeed.

Poor stewardship of public treasure, abuse of office, and indifference and incompetence at the state level (Mr George Amadore, NYS Senator, 46th Senatorial District), the county level (Greene County, NY; Greene County District Attorney, Mr Joseph Stanzione), and at the local, town level (Town of New Baltimore Town Board; Town of New Baltimore Highway Department, Highway Superintendant Denis Jordan; Town Attorney Mr Tal Rappelea) with the self-interests of Trident/ArgoGroup’s legal prostitutes Bailey, Johnson, DeLeonardis, & Peck P.C., are jointly, severally and individually traumatizing every concept of justice, fair play, professional ethics, good government, and abusing the fiduciary obligations and duties of local, county, and state elected officials, whose obligations are to the public weal, and to the individual uniquely concerned.

It is our well-founded observation that none of the parties listed in the above paragraph are complying with the basic tenets of ethics and the standards we, the public, expect of regulated enterprise, licensed professionals, elected officials; in fact, it is our observation, not our opinion, that Marshall & SterlingTridentArgoGroup, state senator George AmadoreGreene County officialsTown of New Baltimore officials, and the law firm of Bailey, Johnson, DeLeonardis, & Peck P.C.are making a public mockery of public and professional ethics, good government, responsible stewardship in government, and the notions of justice, fair play and fiduciary obligation to the citizen, resident, and most of all to the taxpayers of these communities.

As it now stands, the taxpayer and property owner is exposed to tenfold jeopardy[7]:

  • Jeopardy situation No. 1: As a property owner, one is obliged to pay substantial taxes on one’s property to support government and education; accordingly, the property owner, by and through their taxes and assessments, pays for the services of government. Forsaking all else in order to ensure timely payment of assessed property taxes, the property owner remits.
  • Jeopardy situation No. 2: When the services of government, including the wages and salaries, the goods and services required for operation, etc. operate contrary to the interests of the taxpayer, the taxpayer is harmed. The taxpayer/property owner is deprived of his reasonable expectations issuing from the payment of assessed property taxes.
  • Jeopardy situation No. 3: Included in the allocations of taxpayer dollars, that is, the taxes paid by the property owner, are set aside for the purposes of payment of the salaries and wages of individuals who are either indifferent or incompetent, and those individuals in the course of their employment, harm the taxpayer, those tax dollars are used ostensibly to harm the taxpayer. This is an egregious abuse of the notion of trust and fair play.
  • Jeopardy situation No. 3: When the competent government offices are served with notice of the above situation, and those authorities do not exercise and implement every available option to cure the defects and deficiencies, those authorities are derelict and guilty of misprision.
  • Jeopardy situation No. 4: When the harm done to the taxpayer/property owner is ongoing and attributable to the constructive operations and knowledge of the local competent government offices, each of the instances constitutes a new claim and a new harm to the taxpayer/property owner. Given the fact that the local government and the competent offices are duly notified, each instance constitutes a separate act of negligence/dereliction.
  • Jeopardy situation No. 5: The taxpayer/property owner not only is being deprived of reasonably expected level of competent services for his tax dollars, he is being deprived of good ethical government services, both of which result in financial damage to the taxpayer/property owner in terms of his good faith investment in his community and his reasonable expectations of financial advantage resulting from his investment. This deprivation is tortious.
  • Jeopardy situation No. 6: When the beneficiary local government by its negligence, indifference or incompetence then ignores the taxpayer/property owner’s good faith notice and demands for cure of the defects and deficiencies, and for compensation of the harm done, the local government ignores the claimant and, instead of fair response, hands the matter over to an underwriter, who then hands it over to a hired-gun law firm.
  • Jeopardy situation No. 7: Given the situations above and given the fact of Jeopardy situation No. 7, the taxpayer/property owner is confronted by a situation comparable to Buridan’s ass[8]: The choices available to the taxpayer/property owner to obtain justice are: (1) rely on the good will of local government, (2) proceed at law. A third option is merely to throw one’s hand’s into the air in despair, and lapse into anger and apathy. Conspicuously, option (1) is absent and unavailable to the taxpayer/property owner, and option (3) is unacceptable by any standard of assessment. This leaves Jeopardy situation No. 8.
  • Jeopardy situation No. 8: The taxpayer/property owner, while still obliged to pay his property taxes and other assessments to the delinquent and derelict town government and town officials, is compelled to seek out and to pay for legal services necessary for obtaining justice. This may be a calculated strategy deployed by the delinquent and derelict town government in collusion with their insurance underwriters and their attorneys, clearly expecting that the matter will have to endure a protracted course in pretrial procedures and, if the victim is persistent, then to endure the trial procedure. This normally lasts for a decade or more and can cost the harmed property owner hundreds of thousands of dollars. Regardless of the endurance of the harmed property owner in terms of financial resources and tenacity, he is still in jeopardy situation No. 9.
  • Jeopardy situation No. 9: The clear strategy of the town is to hand over the matter to the underwriter, who has almost limitless resources, who hands it over to a local law firm, who is on retainer by the insurance company. The combination of very deep pockets and a law firm on retainer and obliged to represent the interests of the insurance company over and against the interests of the property owner, regardless of the factual situation, encourages the insurance company and the law firm to keep the matter in the courts for as long as possible, ostensibly in the expectation of exhausting the property owners will, energy, and resources, causing him to withdraw.
  • Jeopardy situation No. 10: The interests of justice and the public weal are defeated, as are the interests of the property owner. The entire community and society at large are damaged, injured.

Damned if I do. Damned if I don’t.
Why are they doing this to us?

As the situation enumerated above clearly shows, the current situation is immoral and represents an insult to the precepts of ethics in government and the professions. We are demanding investigation and prosecution of the particular matter and the general situation in New Baltimore.

I reasonably expect that as this situation develops there will be commensurate and appropriate public outrage, a justified outrage that will manifest itself in a multitude of ways.

This communication will be submitted to the Smalbany Blog for editing and publication.

I look forward to your response and comments.

First of all, given the performance of these elected officials, they don’t deserve to be in office and should be booted out next election. Secondly, these crooked insurance agents and brokers should be boycotted and investigated by the regulatory authorities. As for the shysters, the prostitute law firms like  Bailey, Johnson, DeLeonardis, & Peck P.C, they should be drummed out of the profession; they’re whores practicing law and abusing it.

Well, we’ve done our homework and have researched the law and other applicable court decisions as well as opinions on the subject matter handed down by the Office of the New York State Comptroller. Apparently, New Baltimore Town Attorney, Tal Rappelea, although he claims to specialize in municipal (town) law, hasn’t done his required reading for this course. We’ll be happy to provide him with our Memorandum of Law at the next New Baltimore Town Board public meeting. We’d like him, Mr Denis Jordan (New Baltimore Superintendent of Highways), Mr Scott van Wormer (the “new” — or he will be — New Baltimore Superintendent of Highways), Mr Joe Stanzione (Greene County District Attorney), Ms Crystall Peck (Bailey, Johnson, DeLeonardis & Peck P.C.), and the Greene County Press (Johnson Newspaper Group, Mary Delaney), and Ken Gray or Jean Valk (Marshall & Sterling Insurance) to be there to hear what we have to say, and maybe to comment, too. Maybe Greene County Sheriff Gregory Seally (R), “Mr Cold Case” Seally, will bring a couple of deputies and cuffs for the Town Board and Mr Jordan. We”ll also publish the Memorandum before the meeting so that the whole community can see what can and should be done to correct the disgusting situation in New Baltimore, and other towns like it.

Speaking of lawyers, here’s a bit of humor to take the edge off:

Question: Why does New York have all the lawyers and New Jersey all the toxic waste?
Answer: New Jersey had first choice.

Sign on New Baltimore Town Hall front door.

Enjoy your day!

The Editor

If you enjoyed this article, please copy and paste this link https://wp.me/p2jPFe-31V and email it to your friends, family, and contacts. Keep everyone informed.


Notes

[1] This communication was also cc’ed to Nick Dellisanti, Supervisor, Town of New Baltimore; Jeff Ruso, Deputy Supervisor, Town of New Baltimrore; Barbara Finke, Town Clerk, Town of New Baltimore; Mr. Joseph Stanzione, District Attorney, Greene County; Tal Rappelea, Town Attorney, Town of New Baltimore; Crystall R. Peck, attorney representing Trident/ArgoGroup (Town of New Baltimore); Ken Gray, Marshall & Sterling (Leeds, NY);  Jean Valk, Marshall & Sterling (Leeds, NY).

[2] Thom Rickert, CPCU, ARM, ARM-P, ARM-E, ARC, ARe VP, Head of Marketing, thom.rickert@tridentpublicrisk.com

[3] Joshua Bouchez, Territory Marketing Manager, East Coast, joshua.bouchez@tridentpublicrisk.com

[4] Trident Claims Reporting, claimsreporting@tridentpublicrisk.com

[5] Ashley Heline, Communications Coordinator, Argo Group US, ashley.heline@argogroupus.com

[6] The Argo Group is the parent of the Trident Insurance brokerage, and is located in Bermuda. Wonder Why? that is? Could it be for tax avoidance? (Argo Group, 110 Pitts Bay Road, Pembroke HM 08, Bermuda. info@argolimited.com

[7] Jeopardy is defined as being or being placed in a situation in which someone or something is exposed to possible injury, loss, or evil.

[8] Buridan’s ass is an illustration of a paradox in philosophy in the conception of free will. It refers to a hypothetical situation wherein a donkey that is equally hungry and thirsty is placed precisely midway between a stack of hay and a pail of water. As used here, it represents a situation where the choices are equally good or equally bad; damned if you do and damned if you don’t. The donkey in the illustration is hungry but dies because it can make the choice of which bale to eat. The illustration relates to the situation in New Baltimore in that the options for the property owner are all going to cause more harm or more suffering no matter which choice he makes. The only good choice is for the Town of New Baltimore to choose to do what is fair and right. But they have chosen not to do so. Thus, the property owner is in the unfavorable situation he finds himself in.

 

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2017 in 19th Congressional District, 2018 Elections, 20th Congressional District, 46th District, 46th Senate District, Abuse, Abuse of Public Office, Accountability, Alan van Wormer, Argo Group, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Catskill-Hudson Newspapers, Chuck Irving, Columbia-Greene Media, Conflict of Interest, Consolidated Highway Improvement Program, Conspiracy, Corruption, Crystal R. Peck Esq., Daily Mail, David Louis, DeLeonardis & Peck P.C., Denis Jordan, Denis Jordan, Diane Jordan, Diane Lewis, DOT, Elected Official, Elections and Voting, Eric T. Schneiderman, FaceBook, Fair Play, George Amadore, Gordon Bennett, Government, Greene County, Greene County Attorney, Greene County District Attorney, Greene County Elections, Greene County News, Greene County Sheriff, Gregory R. Seeley, Hearst Corporation, Incompetence, Independence Party, Investigation, Irene Beede, Irresponsibility, Jean Horne, Jean Valk, Jeff Ruso, Joe Stanzione, John B. Johnson, Johnson Newspaper Group, Joseph Stanzione, Ken Grey, Mark Vinciguerra, Marshall & Sterling, Marshall Sterling Insurance, Melanie Lekocevic, Misconduct, Misuse of Public Office, New Baltimore, New Baltimore Democrats, New Baltimore Elections, New Baltimore Elections, New Baltimore Highway Superintendent, New Baltimore Republican Club, New Baltimore Superintendent of Highways, New Baltimore Town Board, New Baltimore Town Board Member, New Street, New York, New York State, New York State Department of Transportation, New York State Department of Transportation, New York State Highway Law, New York State Town Law, News Channel 10, News Channel 13, News Channel 6, News Herald, Nick Delisanti, Nick Dellisanti, Notice of Claim, NYS Assembly, NYS Senate, Obstruction of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, Open Letter, Pat Linger, Patricia Hildebrandt, Patrick Linger, Patty Hildebrandt, Public Corruption, Public Safety, Ravena News Herald, RCS Community, RegisterStar, Retaliation, Scott Van Wormer, Scott VanWormer, Shelly van Etten, Smalbany, Sole Assessor, Susan K. O'Rorke, Tal Rappelea, The Daily Mail, Times Union, Town of New Baltimore, Transparency, Trident, Trident Insurance, Uncategorized

 

Allegation that New Baltimore Highway Super Helps Employee Avoid Drug Test

Question: Did New Baltimore Superintendent of Highways Denis Jordan Turn a Blind Eye to Drug User Employee?

Time to Wake Up, New Baltimore!
Time to Investigate!


Normally we would not publish a mere allegation sent to one of our contributors but this one is very serious. It concerns the New Baltimore Superintendent of Highways and his poor judgment and misconduct in office. It concerns endangering the public. It concerns putting public property at risk. It concerns helping a drug user evade detection.

Normally we would not publish a handwritten note from an anonymous informer but this one is different. It reports a very serious incident. It reports very serious misconduct. It reports something that is very likely true.

Normally we would not publish something like this about an alleged instance of misconduct by a public employee, an elected official, someone to whom important public works are entrusted. But this time it’s different. It concerns a public employee, an elected official who, like so many in the Capital District of New York, but especially in the Ravena-Coeymans-New Baltimore area, is dishonest, incompetent, and corrupt.


Denis Jordan to employee: “Take two weeks and clean out.”

The allegation is that New Baltimore Superintendent of Highways, Mr Denis Jordan, allowed a New Baltimore Highway Department employee to avoid taking a required drug test so that the employee, who admitted he was taking illicit, illegal drugs, could “clean up.” Jordan allegedly allowed the employee two weeks to clean up and then take the test. In the meantime, the employee was allegedly operating Highway Department trucks on public highways, putting everyone at risk. And Jordan knew this and allowed it. On retesting, the employee failed with high levels of cocaine; he was terminated. Jordan is still employed by the Town of New Baltimore.

What makes this information believable is the fact that the informant knew the contributor’s name and his address! This leads us to believe that the informant is local, and he or she may even be an employee of the Town! In fact, when we compared the postmarks on two pieces of mail, one from the Town of New Baltimore Assessor’s Office and the postmark on the anonymous note, the postmarks were almost identical, except for the dates! They apparently were mailed from the same place. Here’s the actual note our contributor received.


It might be a bit hard to read so we transcribed it for you. Here’s what the author has to say:

“Good day, [name redacted for security]:

“After reading your latest blogs regarding New Baltimore Hwy. Supt. Denis Jordan, I would like to give you some more information to look into.

“Recently a newly hired Town Highway Employee was scheduled to have a required drug test as part of his Employment. The morning of the test, said employee went to the Superintendent [Denis Jordan] and told him he could not be tested because he knew he would not pass. We are told that per the employee handbook, this is refusal to submit to a required [drug] test and the employment of said employee is to be immediately terminated. But instead, Supt. Jordan gave the employee 2 weeks to get clean, and told him he would be retested at the end of two weeks.

“At the end of the two weeks the employee went for testing [deletion] and tested positive for high levels of cocaine, and he was terminated.

“This employee [deletion] operated town equipment and drove town trucks up and down the Highway for 2 weeks under the influence of cocaine. Mr Jordan’s decision put not only the other town employees lives and safety at risk, but also each and every person he passed [deletion] on the highway for those two weeks.

“Had this employee been involved in an accident and injured [deletion] or killed an innocent person, and his blood was tested, it would have put the town of New Baltimore in deep trouble both legally and financially.

“Once again Mr Jordan has no regard for rules and regulations that are put into place.

“Rules are for everyone else but him!!”

Given the information being provided in this letter and the details, we have to admit it is pretty convincing. How would someone make this stuff up? But what is even more interesting is the depth of the details. This informant must be in a position to know these “facts” or someone close to this person is in such a position.

This is very serious, indeed. So serious that we felt we should publish it for the community to be informed of what’s going on in the Town of New Baltimore and its departments. In fact, this is so serious that we now demand an immediate investigation by the Town of New Baltimore Town Board. Furthermore, it is so serious, we demand that the New Baltimore Town Board request Greene County District Attorney Joseph Stanzione to launch an investigation into these allegations of Mr Jordan’s latest misconduct.

“Where there’s so much smoke there has to be a wildfire!”

Two outcomes are possible: Once an investigation is launched and completed, Mr Jordan may be cleared of any wrongdoing. But that’s highly unlikely given his history. On the other hand, once the investigation is launched and completed, and Mr Jordan is found to be guilty of the alleged misconduct, we would then expect that he be immediately removed from office and charged. The list of misconduct is too long to allow Jordan to choose when he goes and then shoot the taxpayers of New Baltimore the ‘bird” as he cashes his unearned pension checks at our expense. We say: “Where there’s so much smoke there has to be a wildfire!”

We have covered a large number of cases where New Baltimore Superintendent of Highways has been shown to be incompetent, unfit for the position he holds, as well as instances of misuse of Town personnel and equipment, violations of the rules governing proper recordkeeping, continuing training, and the list goes on. The burning question is Why has he been allowed by the Town Board to continue his misconduct without having to answer to anyone?

Town of New Baltimore Town Board, Greene County District Attorney Joseph Stanzione: It’s time to get off the pot and do something about this ongoing situation. It’s high time someone started doing their job and clean up the corruption!

If the New Baltimore Town Board doesn’t initiate some official action on this latest report, given the other information that the Town has been provided, we think a referendum should be held to remove all of the useless puppets from Town Hall. We’ll want a town hall meeting to discuss what’s been going on in the Town of New Baltimore and demand that all elected officials b be present to answer questions and to take responsibility. This includes Supervisors past and present, Highway Superintendent and Deputy, Entire Town Board, Town Justices, too! Enough already of the hanky-panky cronyism and the behind the scenes operations called “executive sessions.” We demand accountability and transparency!

Let’s Get Started, New Baltimore!

The Editor

 

 

 

Does your funeral home provide customer service or human service?

An Op-Ed Republished with Permission


As a provider of psychospiritual care to the bereaved, as a professional bereavement chaplain, theologian and thanatologist, I firmly believe that some things just have to be delivered locally and face-to-face; these include sex, making friends, spiritual care, funeralization services. Not necessarily in that order or priority ranking.


Grief work is not achieved in three days nor with an online consult. That’s purely and simply idiotic.

The saying goes thus: “Death is the great equalizer.” We are all equal in death. Presidents, kings, supreme court justices, movie stars, athletes all die, all decay, all go the same way as the homeless man on the corner. But would you think of direct burial or direct cremation for a president, a queen, Mohammed Ali? So why skimp on grandpa? We celebrate the deceased’s achievements in life, not the fact of his or her being dead. And we do it with pomp, ceremony, rites, ritual, tradition, dignity and respect. Virtual mourning is none of the above and the grief work is not achieved in three days nor with an online consult. That’s purely and simply idiotic.

Furthermore, a death is a social, political and community event. The emotions involved in the acute grief experience are far too complex and idiosyncratic to be amenable to one method, one technology, one dose. As a social, political and community event death care requires real community involvement, hands on, and that means a local group understanding the local cultures, a “neighborhood,” if you prefer. This is a physical community, complex, deep, involved, alive; not a virtual make-believe, conjured up community.

One more thing: We have to stop giving Jessica Mitford and her estate post-mortem kudos for a book and a sequel book that was not only self-serving and conflicted in its interests, but a masterpiece of biased muckraking appealing to the titillation lust of the masses and their denial of death anxieties. Mitford couldn’t attack Death itself nor could or would she attempt to attack institutionalized religion, so she went after the next best thing, the funeral services industry. I’ve cited Mitford several times on my various blogs so I won’t waste bytes on her here.

I place Mitford in the same category as Kübler-Ross in that neither of them can claim any objective or scientific credibility but their main contribution to Western, particularly American society, was to get people talking about death and deathcare services. That, my friends, was a big step in a society frozen in preadolescent fascinations, psychosocial pathological denial, anxiety and narcissism, steeped in materialist humanism and addicted to corporate-fed consumerism.

It’s progressively gotten worse with the public health problem of Internet Addiction Disorder and the pathological subset, Facebook Addiction Disorder, and the emergence of the multistate funeral services groups like Newcomer Funeral Services Group, Service Corporation International and their alter ego Dignity Memorial, and StoneMor, who have all added greed and indifference to the corporate mix of tastelessness and deception of the consumer public. and their dead Again, I’ve commented extensively on these ghouls of the funeral services niche so I won’t waste time or words on them here.

Newcomer, SCI/Dignity Memorial, StoneMor
Ghouls of Corporate Death Services

They want your money not your brains!

Like it or not, death is inevitable for every mortal creature from cockroaches to presidents and kings. No matter how you define or think about it, you will have to some day deal with death so get a grip. How you deal with the death of a significant other in your life, whether that loved one is a pet or a parent or a child–or your own death is a matter of what I will term befriending death. No, I don’t mean the superficial, make believe, virtual “befriending” most of you are addicted to on Facebook and other social media. I mean the kind of be-friending that involves learning about, nurturing an intimacy with, even trusting, welcoming into your world, and frequent contact. Being at ease with, acknowledging, being aware of death is key. That may sound a bit bizarre so let me explain.

Technology has evolved faster than we as human beings have done. We lag far behind technology in our understanding of it and our ability to wisely and prudently steward it. In fact, technology has overrun us and has taken over our lives; this can’t be denied. This fact has been used to the level of Dr Strangelove proportions by corporations and big business, and even by individuals with pathological ambitions like Donald Trump on Twitter and Mark Zuckerberg with the Facebook phenomenon. The medical, psychological and ethics journals are full of reports on the so-called Internet Addiction Disorder, which was described back in the 90’s, and now there’s a subset of that disorder termed the Facebook Addiction Disorder and the Internet Gaming Disorder, which all share the same symptoms as alcoholism and street drug addiction like heroin or the like. Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it, just go to Pubmed and plug in a couple search terms and you’ll get all the proof you’ll ever need of this fact.


Editor’s note: For those of you who are not familiar with Pubmed, it is the database and search engine maintained by the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health; it provides access primarily to the MEDLINE database of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics. (Access Pubmed here. )


You have to admit you have a problem when you need Facebook to help you grieve!

The stimulus for this editorial, however, is not Newcomers or SCI. Nor is it Twitter or Facebook. The funeral service corporations and the social media and networking evils do figure in the theme of this communication, however.
If presidents and perverts have discovered social networking and social media, neither of which are social in the benevolent meaning of the word but serve a more sinister, asocial purpose of getting people hooked and then controlling them, just as the word “service” is used deceptively when used in conjunction with such greed mills as Newcomers or Service Corporation International.
The stimulus for this commentary is, in fact, an article that appeared in Forbes online, “Customer Service In Deathcare: How The Funeral Home Industry Cares For The Living” (contributed by Micah Solomon, MAY 26, 2017).—

Mr Solomon describes himself as a “customer service consultant” and “consumer trends expert,” — he doesn’t say how he got those credentials, though — catchy phrases but a bit too catchy to inspire any confidence or credibility. I’m a bit at a loss not at the What? but at the How? when Mr Solomon then goes on to say:

While some of my own work with the death care industry as a customer service consultant and consumer trends expert has been on innovation in the deathcare customer experience (methods for serving today’s far-flung bereaved customers by using connectivity, videoconferencing, and recording technologies to allow them to take part in memorial/celebration of life service) most of the work I do in this industry and that matters the most, in my opinion, is simply aimed at improving the customer experience, which, of course, is for the living.

Likewise unclear is Solomon’s terminology “far-flung bereaved customers” and “connectivity, videoconferencing, and recording technologies” to involve them in the “memorial/celebration of life service“. Maybe it’s Mr Solomon’s sense of compassion that is represented by his use of the term “far-flung” to describe the unfortunate mourners who are separated by distance from the event. Describing the bereaved as “customers” further chills the atmosphere he’s creating. Technical jargon like “connectivity, videoconferencing, and recording technologies” somehow put a damper on my sense that this guy has any clue about the nature of bereavement, acute grief, mourning, tradition, spirituality, cultural sensitivity, or even the characteristics of the vocation of funeral director. I’m therefore at something of a loss how he, with his frigid and disconnected technospeak, can improve the customer experience! This he leaves to the funeral directors he’s interviewing. Wisely so.

But even more poignant ar the three phrases caught my attention in that unimaginitive and deceptive title: “customer service,” “deathcare,” “funeral home industry.”

We alone, as moral agents and social actors, are responsible for what we do and how we do it

Inserting a bit of Kantian deontology that I’d like you to keep in the back of your mind while reading this, I’d like to say that we are not measured by what the other guy or gal does, but by what we do; we alone, as moral agents and social actors, are responsible for what we do and how we do it. It’s the quality of our values, morals and ethics that govern our behavior. As moral free agents we alone are responsible for what standards are used to guide our conduct.This applies not only to our inner forum, our conscience and how it guides us, but to the external forum, the community in which we live, work, and may disinterestedly interact.

Human service becomes “customer” service when an goods or services transaction forms the basis of the interaction

Customer service is at its most basic human service, service to human beings, human interaction, relationship building. By human services, I mean a broad range of interdisciplinary services whose commitment is jointly and individually to improve the overall quality of life in diverse populations through guidance in meeting basic human needs and support remediating real or perceived social challenges.  Human service becomes “customer” service when a goods or services transaction forms the basis of the interaction but it is still a subset of human services. Accordingly, customer service cannot separate itself from the humane aspect, the relationship aspect of its nature. The problem I have with the Forbes article is that, true to the materialist consumerist interests of Forbes, the article defines customer service purely in terms of selling and purchasing relationships but in the context of the so-called, malapropism, funeral service industry. Customer service must be human service, especially in the funeral services professions. Human service and hence customer service in this framework is near impossible on a corporate or industrial scale for reasons I’d be happy to substantiate in another article, if required.

Try doing this on Facebook or in cyberspace!

The second term that raised my suspicions is “deathcare.” We can defined death care as the care given to the dead or as post-mortem care. This would involve respectful and dignified custodianship and preparation of the dead body for whatever funeralization rites and rituals are appropriate as defined by the deceased individual during his or her life or as requested by the survivors. We must not oversimplify deathcare with the deathcare services businesses and industries that commonly provide services related to the dead body and death traditions, that is, preparation of the dead body (removal, embalming, cosmetology, etc.), funeral rituals, disposal (burial, cremation, etc.), and memorialization. The deathcare business includes for example funeral homes and their operations, including transporation services; containers like caskets, coffins, urns; accelerated decomposition services such as alkaline hydrolysis, cremation, etc.; cemeteries and burial plots, and headstones, markers, etc. What we most neglect in the discussion of deathcare services is psychospiritual care, and here we must include the professional bereavement chaplain and some but not most clergy.

The phrase that most raised my hackles is “funeral home industry.” First of all, the funeral home is not an industry. It may operate like a business but it is a professional operation requiring very specific training and licensure in most places. Most states require a trained and licensed funeral director to at least oversee the operations of a funeral home. The term “funeral home industry” is grossly misleading and deceptive because it creates an image of the traditional funeral home with all of its warmth and amenities together with the dignified and compassionate professional funeral director at its helm. Nothing could be farther from the truth if one looks at the funeral services industry, the more correct designation for the funeral services groups and corporations such as Newcomer Funeral Services Group, Service Corporation International (Dignity Memorial) or StoneMor, who operate more like waste disposal business than funeral homes. Remember corporations operate according to policies, procedures, protocols and most of all the bottom line and shareholder satisfaction. No room here for stuff like compassion, empathy, much less “human service”.

Their focus is twofold: dignified care of the dead and compassionate care of the living.

The traditional, community funeral home is a hub of interdisciplinary teamwork.

The role of the funeral services provider, more accurately the funeral services team, is just that: to provide human services. Those human services are provided by a team of specialists that range from the funeral home cleaning and maintenance person(s), to the housekeeper, the groundskeeper, the funeral home assistants, the behind the scenes professionals (the cosmetologist, the hair stylist, the embalmer), to the front of house staff (the assistants, the funeral director(s)), to the psychospiritual care provider (the funeral home chaplain or associated clergyperson). Their focus is twofold: dignified care of the dead and compassionate care of the living. The human services aspect persists far beyond the care provided with the first call, the removal, the arrangements conference, the chaplain visit and consultation, the visitation or the funeral; what happens at any of these milestones significantly affects the survivors during, immediately after the services, and well into the future, perhaps for years. That’s what the funeral services industry, the large groups, the corporations can’t provide but what the local family-owned funeral home pride themselves in: the human side of funeral services. So be clear on this point: once you start talking “industry” you are not talking “human”. Period.

So far I’ve taken issue only with three phrases that occur in the title of the article alone. But what about the remainder of the so-called article at issue? Well, there’s not much to say about it because the bulk of it is made up of questions put to three selected funeral directors and their responses. Their responses are totally acceptable in terms of the language, and to be honest I can’t find much with which I’d tend to disagree. The funeral directors seem to have their acts in order and say the right things. They are in a highly competitive business and have to be realistic, not necessarily traditional. Read into that what you like.

It should be clear by this point that I do not advocate virtual or technological or corporate solutions to anything as profound as the death experience or any occurrence of acute traumatic bereavement. Electronic signals, bits and bytes, virtual compassion just do not and cannot replace the warmth of human spirit, the compassionate embrace of a friend or loved one, the immediacy of the death experience, the real-ization of the death and its sequellae. The funeral home and its resident and on-call team members are the experts in offering compassion and comfort and no social networking scheme, no corporate disposal package, no virtual event and no DVD can replace the authenticity and true empathic response of face-to-face, human-to-human, verbal and non-verbal communications, the symbols and rituals that give meaning to this most mysterious of life events, death.

… some things just have to be delivered locally and face-to-face; these include sex, making friends, spiritual care, funeralization services.

This is what we do.

The Editor

 


Editor’s Note: Solomon’s self-description reads line a narcissist’s mini-bio: “I’m best known as an author, keynote speaker, consultant, and thought leader in customer service, customer experience, company culture, leadership, hospitality, innovation, entrepreneurship and consumer trends. I travel nationally and worldwide, and home base is metro Seattle. Reach me at 484-343-5881 or micah@micahsolomon.com or http://www.micahsolomon.com” We’ve contacted him for a comment on this editorial.


Acknowledgement: I’d like to extend my special thanks to my colleagues on LinkedIn, Ms Linda Williams M. Ed., M. Th., who describes herself as an Entrepreneur, Virtual Event Planner and Facilitator, Instructional Designer, Educator, Inspirational Speaker”.” Ms Williams describes her business, In-Person Away Virtual Events, as an operation that provides “our clients, their families, and friends with a virtual alternative to come together in an engaging, realistic and meaningful way, as well as host and attend social events, without breaking the bank on travel expenses.” Ms Williams does not advocate virtual resources as a substitute for real presence but only as a valuable alternative affording an opportunity to share where no other viable options are available. I agree.


 

Is Church Playing the New Lowest Common Denominator; Sending Mixed Messages

Is Church Playing the New Lowest Common Denominator; Sending Mixed Messages? Or no real message at all?

Is the Church missing the bus? Sending the wrong messages?

Passing through some of our local communities, I frequently notice churches, that is, the physical building, the places of worship, and what characterizes them. The structure, the upkeep, the appearances, the messages posted outside; these say a lot about the people these brick and mortar structure, symbolic representatives of the beliefs and communities they claim they serve. I often see the trite clichés like “God is home, come on in!” or “Be yourself; everyone else is taken” and similar trite slogans. Apparently the Roman Catholic Churches in this area, Ravena and Coxsackie, NY, have given up on being taken seriously so now these parish leaders, the pastors, have to play cool cutsie, mimicking their Protestant and Reformist cohorts. Such silliness simply degrades the sacred space and makes idiots of those few who still frequent them.

This is particularly the case when a new pastor tries to become too popular too fast for too many of the wrong reasons. He starts to get sloppy in his role as spiritual leader and too cozy with the local in-crowds. A leader doesn’t have to be a friend and he doesn’t have to entertain. He has to lead. So, as I drive through the aging, geriatric, brown collar community of Ravena, New York, the local Roman Catholic Church, St Patrick’s, catches my attention. How?

Well, some time ago I was surprised to see a folding sign board placed in front of St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Ravena, on Main Street. It was last Fall and said something like “Leaves fall but Christ doesn’t”. My first thought was that it was rather silly, rather odd. Something I’d expect from some failing Protestant denomination, or some storefront church whose pastor has no other training than what he received in jail, where he got his certificate in Bible Studies from Dumbass Bible Institute or wherever. I knew the pastor at St Pats was one of the young bloods recently ordained, Scott Vandermeer, in his thirties, a journalism degree, able to move around without a walker, he was somewhat more promising than his predecessors, all aging or decrepit, failing, burnt out or uninterested, all cut from the Hubbard School of Ultraliberal Hacks. Careerists. Our hope never failing and our realism always on the watch, we even wrote to Vandermeer offering him help and support. It soon proved that he was going to be just another narcissist; he never responded to our letter. Here we go again!

Soon the signs started going up and were getting weirder and weirder, perhaps because they were cleverly done so as to appeal to the intellectual depths of darkness of the local community. One that appeared:

The sign above is stupid because St Pats does not have a soup kitchen or a food pantry. So not only is the sign a bit idiotic, to anyone not familiar with the local intelligence level, it’s misleading. [Editor’s note: Vanderveer is “out of the country” at the time of this writing and apparently will not be back for another 2-3 weeks, so we could not reach him for comment.  Nor did we receive a response from his office staff.] That really doesn’t matter because it does get worse. Some local in a feeble attempt to put some meaning in his or her life, and for a minute of local fame, placed the “?” on the sign making it even more ridiculous. No one in the parish, not even the absent pastor, seems to have noticed…or cared.

More recently, that is, several weeks ago we again drove by and saw that the sign had been changed to something quite new:

 Is a feeble-minded, scandal-plagued Church is going to make the nation strong again?

This time Mr VanDerveer is apparently making a statement that the Church has something to do with the characteristics of the nation, presumably the nation known as the United States, since we are not aware of any Scriptural or Doctrinal references that would support such a statement. It used to be that strong men made strong nations, then strong families but with the castration of the American male and the virilization of the American female, together with the decline and demise of the American family, it seems that a feeble-minded, scandal-plagued Church is going to make the nation strong again. If this notion was part of the preaching series offered by Vanderveer, we are really sorry we missed his performance. But by any standard, given the Separation Clause and the hesitance of government generally or any of its branches specifically to enter into any discussion of a collaboration between Church and state, this statement seems to indicate that Mr VanDerveer is either ignorant or has a boundaries problem. While the Church and churches, that is, the Roman Catholic and Christian tradition — by division and internecine conflict —  has been losing ground since the 16th century, it would seem that Mr VanDerveer and his keepers would be better advised to concentrate on good preaching and catechesis, fostering interdenominational dialogue and collaboration,  reaching out to local opinion leaders rather than making an untenable and unsubstantiated statement like “A strong church [=] a strong nation.” No matter how you analyze such a statement, logically, theologically, socially, or politically it fails. The Church would be well advised to steer clear of politics — and fallacious logic —; a mere parish priest has no business making such statements and should be reprimanded for having done so. It’s irresponsible, insupportable, fallacious, and is simply not official Church teaching. Politics should be kept out of the pulpit and away from the front of the church — or it should be left to the bishops who are the sole church officials authorized by Rome to make asses of themselves.. Mr VanDerveer should be spending more time preaching that strong family values and morality make for a strong nation; sharing Sunday family dinner together without smartphones might be a start. Getting rid of fidget spinners and Facebook, replacing them with a print book, perhaps St Augustine’s Confessions,  in the schools would be a great move, too.  But the Church has failed in that teaching, too, and in getting that message across to the community.

An half hour for God and 3 hours for the ball game seems like a fair deal for most Catholics.

Instead, the Church and its agents, VanDerveer’s colleagues, superiors, and minions, have prostituted the Church, mistaught and continue to pervert doctrine, dogma, and promote error, and have reduced preaching to a 5 minute commentary so that the so-called “faithful” can get there and out the door with 30-45 minutes at most. After all, a half hour for God and 3 hours for the ball game seems like a fair deal for most Catholics.

Get the ^%$# out of the way! I’ll be late for worship…and the game!

The latest stupidity to be posted in front of St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church apparently has to do with the Biblical myth of Noah and the Deluge found in Genesis, or we may be wrong and VanDerveer’s referring more likely to the bizarre interpretation of the myth provided in the movie, Noah (2014) but here’s the official Biblical version:

“The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.” (Gen 7:2-4)

Actually, someone should have whacked the one who thought these signs were appropriate! Never mind the mosquitoes. We don’t recall any specific reference to mosquitoes in Genesis (nor in any part of the Bible) nor any cameo appearance of mosquitoes in the film Noah. Perhaps Vanderveer can help us with that one. We do tend to have our facts straight on this blog so we’re reasonably certain that there were no mosquitoes involved. The only other possibility we can think of is that one of Vanderveer’s Scriptural Studies instructors at seminary came upon some previously unknown Biblical text that tells the story of Noah and the mosquitoes. Whatever the story behind it, Vanderveer appears to believe the story. Why else would he publicly post something like that in front of his church? It seems the “unclean animals” were  sent either to Roman Catholic seminary or to Ravena-Coeymans after leaving the Ark. We have no record of where the “two mosquitoes” went after having escaped being swatted.


A Pleasant Anecdote

While I photographing one of the signs, a St Patrick’s parishioner was approaching the church to attend a meeting, and stopped to chat when she observed me taking the photographs. She commented how interesting the signs were and how they got your attention. I responded very bluntly that they were not interesting; they were a disgrace and were demeaning to the sacred place they were disgracing. I did agree that they got your attention but for the wrong reasons. I admitted to her that I was taking the photo not because I found them attractive, funny or pithy but because they got my interest, and that was not good.

The parishioner was very interested in what we had to say and very gracious, too. We discussed a number problems with the Church, the parish, and local politics. All in all, it was a positive exchange that started on a negative footing.

Shows you that there are still some good, sensible people in the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk community; all too few, though.


Contrary to what you have been told or led to believe, dear readers, churches are not where God lives [Thank God!], that is, churches are not God’s personal primary residence, they are sacred spaces where we can find safe, quiet space to reflect, meditate, be still, or engage in a conversation with the Divine, a practice what we call prayer, but have forgotten – or never knew how to do. Nowadays most conversations with God turn out to be like conversations with those twits exercising their thumbs on an electronic device; a meeting where God’s trying to reveal himself to the twit who’s functioning with half a hemisphere, wondering whose reflection it is in the smartphone screen.

Repurposing Our Churches

When I hear of closure of churches, merging of congregations, sale of church property, conversions of churches to art galleries, restaurants, even private residences, I feel a cold shudder. These churches have become like dinosaurs; they were once living, awesome organisms, and they thrived and nurtured similar life but at some time long ago they became sick, languished and died. Now all we have left of them are lumps of rock we gawk at in museums or use as paperweights in our studies. So, too, many of our former sacred spaces are now secular spaces where the inhabiting materialist-consumerists worship their new idols: mega-flat screens, surround sound, a nymph, and a bottle. Happy worshipping!

We’ve replaced God there too with some idol like money, sex, a car, or a pop star

So where has God gone once evicted? God’s where he’s always been: in the dark silent depths of our hearts, unless we’ve replaced God there too with some idol like money, sex, a car, a political figure or a pop star. Yes, Idolaters of Ubiquitous White Noise and Distractions, the Ultimate Truth still lies hidden in that wet, fertile, darkness deep within a human being (No, not a vagina!) but nowadays who among you Vessels of Clay with your stymied white-cane spirituality would dare explore the silence within, when there’s so much to do in the world? Why would anyone want to become acquainted with their true self when they can invent another, more pleasant, acceptable self and one that you can transform it at any time using a convenient app? Who will know? You will. But you don’t care because you’ve been diving down that slippery slope for so long you wouldn’t know your true self if you tripped over it!

In my meanderings I spend time in churches, at meetings and conferences, on Internet forums, at monasteries, interacting with others in a variety of settings. I note the anxiety and the vulnerability that cripples so many people; I note their white-cane spirituality, blindly pursuing some sort of agenda-seeking-to-become-a-religion, a tool for a virtual life; they have no real life. I listen to and become offended by the ignorance and narcissism of those claiming to be called to a vocation, as clergy, as lay religious, as lay ministers in churches, congregations, parishes; I frequently observe the infantile fascination of the unwashed when, in a strange ecstasy of voyeurism, they rub shoulders with monks, priests, nuns, or spiritual leaders, and they grin idiotically as if caught in an act of masturbation. “Hee, hee! Look at me!” Narcissism, too, is a form of idolatry. I have to wonder whether the gawkers or the gawkees actually realize the pitiable dynamic going on. It’s rather like the voyeurism of social media but worse. Worse because the so-called spiritual leaders are actually enjoying the worship, and the egos soar – and the wound deepens and festers, poisoning the entire mystical body.

Starving?
Tail’s great!

And like starving rats will go for anything that smacks of survival…

If churches and faith communities are hemorrhaging members, the religious vocations are dwindling into membership cachexia. And like starving rats will go for anything that smacks of survival. For several decades now, the materialist consumerism and the dumbing down of society has left the message of higher truths and spirituality to languish in the shadow of anti-human propaganda, corporate greed, political narcissism, social confusion, despair and anxiety. Fear of loss is the underlying message everywhere we look. That fear is nourished by the messages we receive of time running out for something, anything, everything; fear the terror threat, fear the coming rain or snow showers, fear the threat represented by the guy next door, fear the North Koreans, fear the Russians, fear the illegals. What we need to fear is the false teaching in the poor preaching, we need to fear the pulpit politics, we need to fear the bigoted perp patrols.

Stuck somewhere in a learning curve…

The only religion that’s growing these days is Islam and our response is to demonize it

We are stuck somewhere in a learning curve. But where? We need to learn to fear our own demise and ignorance thanks to the conflicting and contradicting messages we receive from the media, the poor performance of our education institutions, and the dishonesty and corruption of our political system. Add to that the failure of our Judeo-Christian religious institutions to teach correct doctrine and dogma, and to provide effective preaching in support of implementing doctrine and dogma into our day-to-day lives in furtherance of “happiness” and a “good end.” And it’s no wonder people are despairing and anxious. The only religion that’s growing these days is Islam and our response is to demonize it as a bunch of whacko terrorists. Doesn’t anyone see where this is leading? Why can’t religious institutions join together to combat the capitalist propaganda drowning us in a sea of lies and hate? But then, when I was a kid it was the Roman Catholics and Protestants killing each other. Only the bigotry and creeds have remained the same; only the faces have changed.

Cultural and political institutions our religious and faith institutions are appealing to the lowest common denominator

Failing religious institutions and religious organizations and institutions are desperately prostituting themselves in a vain attempt simply to survive. And like our cultural and political institutions our religious and faith institutions are appealing to the lowest common denominator in the attempt to get what they can and run with it. It’s not working, people, that’s why you see so many storefront and strip mall micro-churches flooding into the vacuum left by mainstream institutions. Problem is this: the storefront and strip mall micros are just as bad as the movie-theatre or stadium megachurches, because they create their own ideologies, agendas, idolatries and there are plenty of sheeple to participate because they don’t know anything better. Thanks Vatican II and interfaith dialogue, ecumenism. Lights, cameras, action! Worship!

I can speak from personal experience, scholarship, and professional activity with various faith traditions and communities, religious organizations and institutions, and educational institutions. As a writer, editor, researcher, and educator I vet my facts.

So where does an institution in decline turn in the desperate attempt to survive a couple of more years? St Patricks is prepping, even in the absence of its pastor for several weeks, for the celebration of the church’s centennial. 100 years is not a very long time in Church terms but it’s a start. The nagging question is how long does it still have before it’s converted into another empty building on Ravena-Coeymans’ growing list of vacancies. [Editor’s note: St Patricks have already sold off a number of real estate parcels, some of which were sold to RCS school board president, James Latter, the same James Latter who works for the Saudi Arabian-owned Sabic corporation, the same corporation who got recommendations for tax breaks from the RCS school district.] Maybe Mr VanDerveer’s off attending job interviews, since the parishioners in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany are usually the last to know when their church is closing.

When you can’t attract young men to the priesthood you have to attract old men to the diaconate

Like the consumer society they operate in, churches like St Patrick’s are compelled to sacrifice quality for quantity. For example, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany reports in a recent issue of Sheaf, the official gazette of St Bernard’s School of Ministry and Theology, the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese reports “200 deacons and growing.” When you can’t attract young men to the priesthood you have to attract old men to the diaconate. Numbers not quality count; that’s why the permanent diaconate was revived by the Roman Catholic Church in the 60s to stem the decline in seminary admissions; in many dioceses the diaconate has become a boy’s club, a church country club, an organization of narcisistic logrollers. “My dad the deacon.” “My son the deacon.” “My wife, Mrs Deacon!”

Deacon Chic Coming Soon to Your Parish!
You have your church band, liturgical dancing, now you can have liturgical strippers!
Don’t miss the Trinitarian Trio of Trollops!

The Episcopal church has been ordaining “women” for decades; many (mostly gender ambiguous specimens) in the RC church are advocating ordaining women deacons and the reasonable expected consequence of this slippery slope is women priests! When does this comedy of errors, this farce stop? [Editor’s note: For those of our readers with limited vocabularies, a “slippery slope” is a comedy of errors is a related series of amusing or farcical events involving a series of awkward missteps or other mistakes.]

Clergy or Special Ed Class or LGBT Rejects?

There is a big problem with erroneous teaching and that leads to gross stupidity and poor public image. Take for instance the Church’s stand on abortion and other issues. The corrupt and long discredited practice of prayer and what the faithful could expect from prayer as espoused by a greedy medieval Church led not only to Martin Luther’s confrontation and the ultimate schism but also to the Counter-Reformation, and later to many, many scandals. They still haven’t learned.

Erroneous teaching and that leads to gross stupidity and poor public image

OK. But can someone tell me how this works? How about you, Father?

Let’s face the facts: The Church may be facing annihilation over the longer term if it doesn’t (1) come up with some sort of recruitment scheme for the long-term future of the priesthood, and (2) come up with some sort of outside “support for its mission,” which translates into people who are able and willing to give in support of the Church in general and of their local faith community before it has to selling off more acreage. The old priests and nuns committed their lives and fortunes to the faith community; they’re gone now and so are their legacies. A liberal, liberation theology (= socialist)  tainted Jesuit pope is not going to solve the problem; in fact, he stands to worsen it. Jesuits don’t have a very good record in Rome; Jesuit popes have an even worse record..

And this is how it’s gonna be!

One of the real problems being faced by the Church and by the faithful is that they are learning impaired. Change is not measured in years in the Church but in centuries. While the men in the Vatican are swilling good wine and dining in gardens al fresco, the American Church is making its own rules. Everyone seems to be caught up in a dead man spiral, stuck somewhere in an ecclesiological learning curve. But no one seems to be certain where they’re stuck.

Still in the learning curve. But where?

So that’s where we stand locally, and regionally. Ravena is just an example, a stereotype, and not the main culprit; Ravena is a symptom, we have to look for the ecclesiological pathology elsewhere. Meanwhile, the stupid signs aren’t helping.

The Church at Work.
Did you find the problem yet?

 

$46 Million Dollar School Budget Passed – One Backwoods School District

Voters a.k.a. “residents” approved a local RCS Central School District school budget of almost $46 million dollars. That’s more than the total budgets of several surrounding townships combined! Voters a.k.a. “residents” who passed the budget are largely non-property owners but the property owners foot the bill. What’s more, local government has caved to demands that local corporations get their tax breaks and reduced assessments. Again, local tax burden falls on the shoulders of local property owners. The local area is falling apart and so is the quality of education because we’re educating those who don’t have an appreciation for education and who likely don’t even use it later; they just don’t come from a background that encourages working or learning. So why do we keep spending and spending and spending? We don’t make the necessary adjustments, we just tax more and spend more. Why is that?

You’re still doing it! So we’re here to tell you how…

$45,829,423 budget for the 2017-18 school year!?! That’s more than local town budgets combined! And you wonder why your roads suck? You wonder why your drinking water is toxic and brown? You wonder why crime is rampant and the police do little or nothing to bring in the criminals? You wonder why you can’t make ends meet? But don’t you wonder why your kids act like brain dead morons? Why they can’t read? Why they can’t spell? Why they can’t hold a discussion?

Has anyone ever asked the students — the one’s with the lights on and someone home in their heads — what they think of their education, of their teachers? Times Union, News Herald, Daily News, W10, W13? Has any of the media given a thought to ask students about what they think of their education? Well, it would have to be cleverly done — and that rules out Times Union, News Herald, Johnson Newspaper Group, Daily News, W10 and W13, practically all Capital District media — and it would ideally include past graduates, who would be more likely to be truthful and say where RCS education got them. Current students would be fearful of teacher or student retaliation if they were to be interviewed and identified. That’s the way it has been and continues to be in the RCS Central School District, and is very likely the same situation throughout this third-world, backwoods hole in the earth. (Great place for woodchucks, though.)

We did an informal survey and found that several past graduates agreed that “one in fifteen teachers was any good and cared for students.” Others simply hated RCS and refused to participate even in 10 year class reunions. One RCS teacher with 23 years teaching said that he couldn’t wait to retire, “They have millions for astroturf but no money for books for my AP students! I’m history as soon as I can retire.” A history of pitiful graduation rates, low student and teacher morale, and spending seem to characterize local schools, especially spendthrift RCS.

Why don’t we ask the one’s who know?

If past history is anything to judge by, we have a pattern of fewer property owners (those who pay) and a growing number of social service recipients, senior citizens (those who can’t afford to leave), and transients (those who don’t pay), as well as a decline in taxable businesses, and an increase in pandering to local large corporations (who get “corporate welfare”) who want and get tax breaks but don’t create jobs and don’t contribute to tax revenues. So the misinformation provided by propaganda machines like the Times Union, News Herald, and other local media, flash such titles as “School budgets sail to approval”(Times Union, May 19, 2016) reporting also that “districts were mostly able to avoid huge tax hikes in their 2016-17 budgets thanks to a large increase in state aid.” Really? If that’s last year’s situation, why the increase this year?

The previous year, the Times Union article, “Voters Happy With Budgets” (May 19, 2015) reports that “Voter turnout was typically slim with many school board candidates running unopposed. Albany saw 72 percent of voters who showed up to vote offer support for the school budget. In 2015 Albany passed a $234 million budget that carried no tax increase. Schenectady passed a $177 million budget that will actually decrease the tax levy 0.21 percent. The report goes on to say that “on average, Capital Region schools are prepared to spend and tax more than other districts around the state. Spending is poised to rise 2.87 percent at schools across the region next year (compared to 2.1 percent statewide), while tax levies will increase an average of 0.95 percent (compared to 0.7 percent statewide). That was 2015.

The pattern continues in RCS. 2017-18 budget passed by voters Residents of Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk took to the polls Tuesday, May 16, approving a $45.8 million budget for the 2017-18 school year, as well as the bus purchase proposition and community library vote. Voter turnout was typically slim (less than 1000 voters, down from previous years) with school board candidates running unopposed.

The local school district got approval to purchase school buses for the year ahead and create additional teaching positions. New technology purchases, like Chromebooks and iPads, were also high on the budgets, as well as a bigger investment in professional development for teachers. More technology, less learning, more cyberkids and sheeple. What a plan for Big Brother!

Local politicians, including the RCS School Board, are like maggots eating us alive.

Corporate Welfare. Lowered assessment for Selkirk Cogen to affect RCS homeowners (May 5, 2017). The RCS Central School District website reports: “One noticeable difference for taxpayers will be increased tax rates for the 2017-18 year, due to a lowered tax assessment for local business Selkirk Cogen. The district does not control home or business assessments, however, taxes collected from those [private] assessments act as revenue for the district.” This is purest propaganda. These businesses come to this area, destroy our historically beautiful landscapes, poison our air and our water, demand tax breaks at the expense of property owners and small business, drive out local residents and businesses, shift the tax burden to local property owners. They promise prosperity and jobs, which our local hillbilly elected officials gobble up like hungry hogs, and don’t deliver. In fact, the trend is to automate operations, leaving the really dirty jobs to low-paid black-collar workers. Now that’s a real vision for the future. Our economic geniuses hard at work for the corporations, while burying us!

According to a RCS school board member : “As a district, we have no control over assessments,” school board member James Latter said. “it’s unfortunate the reduced assessment has an effect on our resident taxpayers, we are thankful for businesses like Selkirk Cogen. It’s businesses like these that often pay large sums of school taxes, taking some of the burden off our residents.” Contradiction here, Mr Latter? Read that quote again! He’s double-talking. And that’s the kind of dumbass RCS voters put on the school board! 

That kind of pass-the-buck double talk is characteristic of weasel Jim Latter, who is an employee of a Saudi-owned corporation in Feura Bush, so we know where his loyalties lie. He’s not going to be honest and tell it like it is: He’s going to spend, spend, spend and then blame the tax hikes on the local town administrations! Of course he’s thankful to Cogen and to his Saudi keepers, they sign his checks.  But it’s his talking out of both sides of his mouth that irks us most. You see, they preach austerity and fiscal responsibility but they don’t practice what they preach.

We’d like to know where the money came from for the sports field refreshment stand that is not used for 6-8 months of the year? The RCS Sports Association was to have paid for it but they couldn’t raise the money. Anybody hear where the rest of the money came from? Anyone care to guess? We all know. But the question is still: If we have so many youth sports associations and groups in the area, why does the school district have to have million dollar playing fields. Is the RCS community that rich? We know it’s falling apart and dirty. We know that our elected swine are handing our community to killer trucks, heavy truck traffic, dust devils, and our roads are tuning into mini-Grand Canyons. We know our students are coming out of RCS schools stupid. We know that there’s money for jocks but no money for books and brain programs. We know the teachers are getting paid very well, get incredible benefits and get paid professional enhancements. We know that 75-80% of the budget goes to salaries and benefits. What else do you know but won’t admit?


Heres a contribution from one of our readers that should get you thinking:

I was working out at the Glenmont Planet Fitness when a group of about 4-6 boys gathered around one of the equipment. One was on the phone and talking to “his brother”. When he had finished he asked the others whether they knew anyone who would “buy” for them. As the conversation went on it became clear that they needed alcohol for a group or a party that was going to happen in connection with the prom. They brainstormed for a little and made some calls, and then, apparently the problem was solved. Someone, one of the boys brothers, would make the purchase. These guys were obviously still in school at RCS and planning a party after the senior prom. They needed booze and found it. I wanted to give them a good talking to but the way they were acting, it would only have caused a scene and embarassed me. They were too ignorant to care, and their language didn’t make me think they had any brains.

I thought about one of the blogs recent articles about the accident on 144 when Logan Penzabene was creamed and his buddy seriously injured. I remember the quotes from local law enforcement, and then there’s Cuomo’s campaign. I lthought how right you were in that article. Then I saw this one and everything got clear. It’s all smoke and mirrors around here.

Not two weeks after a fatal accident and these knuckleheads are looking for alcohol. What? Isn’t the prom enough? I guess they’re so insecure they have to drink. So where are the parents? Do these kids still have parents? Do they know it? What’s up with all this law enforcement effort to curb these teen morons and their childish behavior? Where’s the school district and the teachers on this one? Where’s Cuomo’s campaign. They’re at Planet Fitness arranging for a booze delivery! I couldn’t believe my ears!


Well, there you have it, “Not two weeks after a fatal accident and these knuckleheads are looking for alcohol. ” Maybe the RCS school district can get a discount on the grief counseling they provide after the fact. Is that in the budget? Plenty of money to spend but none to spend wisely.

Less than 1 in 5 persons in Coeymans eligible to vote actually voted in the budget vote! And they weren’t property owners voting for a tax increase, we know that for sure!

Coeymans has a population of about 7500 persons with 13% over 65 years of age. In 2010 there were approximately 3000 housing units in Coeymans, of which 70% were owner occupied (the tax base). 91% of residents 25 years old or older are high-school graduates but only 1 in 5 has a bachelor’s degree (they graduated high school but either couldn’t get into a 4-year college or didn’t try)! Of those employed, they travel an average of 26 minutes to work (Obviously they don’t work locally. Where would they work?) Half of the population earns less than $55,500 a year, and there’s a 10% poverty rate. About one quarter of Coeymans residents is under 18 years of age; 13% are over 65 years old. OK. Let’s do some old-fashioned math: 25% of Coeymans are under 18 so they can’t vote. That leaves 75% of Coeymans residents who can vote, or 5,675 eligible voters. Let’s say, just for argument’s sake, that only 5000 are legally registered and can actually vote. The numbers for the budget vote show only about 900 total votes were cast on May 16, 2017. that means that less than 1 in 5 eligible voters actually voted (This is probably less, considering that parts of New Baltimore in Greene County could participate in the voting!). This is even more alarming because if we can believe the US census data, 70% of the some 3000 housing units in the town of Coeymans are owner occupied, meaning that they are property owners and foot the tax bill. That’s about 2,100 voters, at least, who should have showed up to vote on the budget! How many property owners do you know who would vote for a tax increase? So you can guess who the majority of the about 600 votes were, who voted for the budget and the tax increase, can’t you? Piss poor performance in our opinion! Are you proud of yourselves, Coeymanites.

“The impact of the reduced assessment will be reflected in September 2017 tax bills when residents will likely see an estimated tax rate increase between 4.5 and 6.5 percent (based on 2016 tax assessment figures), depending on town of residency.

The RCS Graduate:
Can’t draw, can’t spell, can’t count, can’t write,, can’t drive.
Can drink, can fornicate, can finger-fondle any electronic device.
Can get a social services check.

Local Corporations Get Tax Breaks; Property Owners Get a Tax Increase; Teachers Get Increases in Perks and Benefits; Students look forward to a lousy education; We all Get Shoddy Government by Incompetent Ego-maniacs; Our Roads Get Worse (Our idiot highway departments fill in potholes with sand today, pothole’s back tomorrow). The budget calls for an increase in total spending of 2.6 percent from the 2016-17 school year and a tax levy increase of 1.25 percent, which equals the district’s limit based on the state’s tax levy cap calculation. Translation: for a home valued at $150,000 with no STAR exemption this would lead to a projected tax increase of $195 for Bethlehem residents, $116 for Coeymans residents, $117 for New Scotland residents, and $153 for New Baltimore residents. Here’s what you get for your tax increaase:

  • Local Corporations Get Tax Breaks
  • Tax burden shifts to property owners and small businesses
  • Property Owners Get a Tax Increase
  • Teachers Get Increases in Perks and Benefits
  • Students look forward to a lousy education
  • We all Get Shoddy Government by Incompetent Ego-maniacs
  • Our Roads Get Worse (Our idiot highway departments fill in potholes with sand today, pothole’s back tomorrow)
  • You get less in the package for more in the manufacturer’s pocket (Do you ever read the labels of your coffee containers?)
  • Welfare recipients get their cell phones, transportation, manicures, healthcare for free (Are you going to work today? Second job? Third job?)

Voters turned out in very low numbers, again. Even more alarming is that — even with the low turnout– there seems to be a bizarre pattern in the voting this year (similar to past years) With with the budget receiving 538 in favor and 294, the bus proposition 537 yes and 289 no; The RCS Community Library budget showed the same pattern of 593 in favor and 297. (RCS Central School District webpage, 2017-18 budget passed by voters, last accessed on May 17, 2017). Even more bizarre is that several of the local news reports repeat each other’s stories almost word for word!

The only good news coming out of this year’s budget vote was that the RCS Community Library vote passed with 593 in favor and 297 opposed. Residents also re-elected two candidates to the library board of trustees. Bravo! RCS Community Library! 

The only ones with half a brain appear to be the baby-boomers and they’re quickly disappearing from the area, leaving outright, or just dying. It appears anyone born after 1980 is a product of the materialist consumerism that haunts us today. Those born in and after the 1990’s are a total loss to their anxieties and greed. After 2000, they are either chemical or electronic addicts; orphans, really, and unable to articulate a sentence or even make change at the counter, even when the amount of change is displayed on a screen.

Your school tax dollars at work. Thank you.

Holy Scripture & Our Opinion
The Editor

 

A New Feature: Articles and Essays

skulls

Learn More about Death and Dying.

The Principal Facilitator at Thanatology Café writes about a number of subjects relating to death, dying, grief, and the funeral services profession. Published on several blogs these articles have stimulated interest among people who never thought they’d be talking about the dread subject of death, and those readers and participants in local Thanatology Cafés have asked for more about the subject of thanatology; so many readers have requested copies of the Chaplain’s essays and articles that responding to every individual request has been quite a task. To make it easier for anyone interested in reading the Chaplain’s articles, he’s decided to create an online page on the Thanatology Café blog, where you can click on the essay title and either read the article online or download it. It’s that easy!

The article “Interfaith Bereavement Chaplain — An Essential Asset” is actually an article written for the benefit of funeral homes and funeral directors, and gives them a good talking-to about how they are failing to provide the bereaved with essential grief services and aftercare. It’s a must read if you are going to make pre-arrangements or are making arrangements for a loved one. Local funeral homes like Babcock Funeral Home (Ravena), especially (!) with their expensive and shoddy services, and A.J. Cunningham (Greenville and Ravena), the Capital District’s very own “factory funeral home”, Newcomer Funeral Home, could learn a lot from that articel.

The article, “Why is Funeralization Desirable and Necessary” is directed more to the consumer than to the funeral director, although funeral directors could benefit considerably from this article. It focuses mainly on the benefits of the traditional funeral for survivors and mourners. It’s a must-read for anyone who is or will be involved in funeral arrangements — that means everyone!

One of the most interesting articles is “Plain Talk About Cremation,” which is a real eye-opener for anyone considering cremation as a final disposition of their mortal remains.

Those articles and more are available on the Thanatology Cafe Blog page, “Articles & Essays.”

Click this link to go directly to New Feature: Articles and Essays.

As soon as we have it, we’ll also be publishing the September and October Thanatology Café program for the RCS area. Stay tuned and stay informed!

Please let me know how you like the Chaplain’s new service.

Happy reading! The Editor

Happy reading!
The Editor

Source: A New Feature: Articles and Essays

Other blogs by the Chaplain include:

 

RCS Public Library Thanatology Café Program Preview

The April Thanatology Café Gathering is on
Saturday, April 9th, 2016, at the

The RCS Community Library

95 Main Street

Ravena, NY

Program starts at 2:00 p.m. and runs until about 4:00 p.m.

Visit and follow the Thanatology Café blog. Follow @thanatologycafe and on Facebook’s  Thanatology Café group.


death a personal understandingThanatology Café. Where the conversation is about death, dying and life. Will launch at the RCS Community Library on April 9, 2016.

The program will launch with a series of 10 short videos — one each month for 10 months — on various aspects of death, dying and grieving, “Death: A personal Understanding,” and the April 9 session will also include a short award-winning animated video clip, “The Life of Death.” Discussion of the videos will follow. Refreshments will be available. The program is free and the public is welcome.

A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death -The Life of Death is a touching hand drawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.

A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death -The Life of Death is a touching hand drawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.