Sunday, December 21, 2008

O Little Town of Bethlehem: Beyond the Wall


Saturday, Dec. 20 at 5 p.m. Woodstock Public Library 5 Library Ln. Woodstock, NY 12498

Talk and media presentation by Jane Toby, a "Jewish American woman concerned about our lack of knowledge of the Palestinian people in Israel and in the Occupied Territories."

About 25 people came out despite the snow to hear about Jane's trip to Palestine. A lively discussion followed the pictures and video clips.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rotron acticle in Woodstock Times

Bombs, banks, and buildings
Ethical issues at forefront of Woodstock board meeting

by George Pattison
Woodstock's image as an emblem of peace and idealism surfaced in sharp relief at the December 9 meeting of the Town Board, as a citizens group deplored the local manufacture of military weapons components, board members weighed the morality of the town's ties with a local bank, and a fair, consistent policy on the use of public buildings remained elusive.

In a presentation to the board, five residents - Dee Dee Halleck, Tarak Kauff, Laurie Kirby, Joel Kovel, and Ellen Povill - expressed concern over the Woodstock company Ametek Rotron's production of devices for military applications that include, according to the group, a missile launch system that is sometimes used to deliver cluster bombs, attack helicopters, tanks, and armored personnel carriers.

A statement to the Town Board, signed by 14 members of the citizens group, Middle East Crisis Response, read, in part, "We are surprised and dismayed to learn that Woodstock's largest manufacturing facility - according to its own promotional materials - makes components for many weapons systems. Some of these systems are being used to commit major violations of international law. . .We believe that the people of Woodstock can and should work together with local businesspeople and the town government to create a local economy that is sustainable and ethical."

The group emphasized that its goal was to persuade Ametek Rotron to convert its operations to the manufacture of "peaceful and environmentally positive products" and that it did not wish to jeopardize employees' jobs. The company reportedly employs more than 375 people at its Hasbrouck Lane facility.

In a subsequent interview, Kauff reported that he, Halleck, and another member of the group, Dutchess County resident Fred Nagel, met on December 8 with Ametek Rotron officials Charles Lohwasser, who is vice president and general manager in the parent company, Ametek's aerospace and defense division, and Larry Bruck to discuss their concerns.

Kauff described the meeting as cordial. "Both Charlie and Larry were very gracious and made no attempt to rush us. They take a lot of justifiable pride in the company's technical skills," he said. Kauff added, however, that the officials, who favored the term "defense" over that of "military," defended the company's activities as legal and legitimate and declined to dwell on the "ultimate result of their work." The meeting concluded with an agreement to continue the dialogue, said Kauff, who is a 17-year Woodstock resident and a member of the antiwar organization Veterans for Peace. Lohwasser could not be reached for comment on December 10.

Woodstock ponders kinder, gentler manufacturing

By WILLIAM J. KEMBLE
Correspondent Kingston Freeman

WOODSTOCK — The Town Board is considering acting locally while thinking globally. Specifically, members are discussing whether to try to prohibit the local manufacture of parts used for military equipment.

The concern arises from the fact that Ametek Rotron Inc. has a manufacturing operation on Hasbrouck Lane in Woodstock, and a letter submitted to the Town Board by 14 local residents notes the company makes parts for helicopters, rocket launchers, tanks and armored personnel carriers.

Rotron’s Web site confirms the company manufactures those parts, but it does not say which, if any, are made at its Woodstock plant. Company officials could not be reached for comment.

Councilwoman Liz Simonson, agreeing with the residents’ letter, suggested town officials ask the company for a list of items it manufactures in Woodstock.

“For a town that prides itself on trying to create a zoning law that protects the environment, I can sort of see that the environment has a global scale,” Simonson said. “We’re protecting our own little hub of livelihood here, but it doesn’t speak well of us to say we’ll protect our own resources from degradation but we’ll manufacturer things that we can ship to other parts of the world (that will) destroy other parts of the world.

“I like the idea of trying to start a dialogue,” Simonson added. “I don’t want to be the person who says, ‘No, we don’t want you here because you’re making this,’ but to make them understand that perhaps people of Woodstock don’t want to be shipping these things to the rest of the world so we can destroy their environment while we sit in a nice little tidy place and protect our own.”

The letter signed by the 14 town residents said: “We’d like to know exactly what weapons systems have components that are made in Woodstock. We believe that the people of Woodstock can and should work together with local business people and the town government to create a local economy that is sustainable and ethical.”

The letter said studies conducted by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts show “conversion from military to peaceful production can be done without jeopardizing jobs.”

Woodstock ponders kinder, gentler manufacturing

Thursday, December 11, 2008 3:05 AM EST

WOODSTOCK — The Town Board is considering acting locally while thinking globally. Specifically, members are discussing whether to try to prohibit the local manufacture of parts used for military equipment.

The concern arises from the fact that Ametek Rotron Inc. has a manufacturing operation on Hasbrouck Lane in Woodstock, and a letter submitted to the Town Board by 14 local residents notes the company makes parts for helicopters, rocket launchers, tanks and armored personnel carriers.

Rotron’s Web site confirms the company manufactures those parts, but it does not say which, if any, are made at its Woodstock plant. Company officials could not be reached for comment.

Councilwoman Liz Simonson, agreeing with the residents’ letter, suggested town officials ask the company for a list of items it manufactures in Woodstock.

“For a town that prides itself on trying to create a zoning law that protects the environment, I can sort of see that the environment has a global scale,” Simonson said. “We’re protecting our own little hub of livelihood here, but it doesn’t speak well of us to say we’ll protect our own resources from degradation but we’ll manufacturer things that we can ship to other parts of the world (that will) destroy other parts of the world.

“I like the idea of trying to start a dialogue,” Simonson added. “I don’t want to be the person who says, ‘No, we don’t want you here because you’re making this,’ but to make them understand that perhaps people of Woodstock don’t want to be shipping these things to the rest of the world so we can destroy their environment while we sit in a nice little tidy place and protect our own.”

The letter signed by the 14 town residents said: “We’d like to know exactly what weapons systems have components that are made in Woodstock. We believe that the people of Woodstock can and should work together with local business people and the town government to create a local economy that is sustainable and ethical.”

The letter said studies conducted by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts show “conversion from military to peaceful production can be done without jeopardizing jobs.”