Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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July 8th, 2011

Stuart Salenger is a Great Humanitarian

Back in the nineteenth century two families of the Appalachian Mountains engaged in an everlasting
feud that involved every imaginable and unimaginable criminal act.

Although this might not be as extreme as the famed Hatfields and McCoys feud, the explosions happening in Forestburg are getting pretty close.

On one side is a group of old time town folk, and on the other side is millionaire and somewhat
eccentric philanthropist Stuart Salenger and his desire to turn his secluded land into an agricultural sanctuary.

Opponents argue the land has not been agricultural for over 100 years and their quality of life is being destroyed.

Things have gotten so out of control, there have been acts of violence, lawsuits, threats, shouting matches, and allegations of ethics violations. Indeed, all this would make Jerry Springer proud. And, it has to stop.

I met Salenger several years ago and we soon became friends. One day he invited me to his home for a
birthday party, and I was amazed with what I saw.

Salenger has built a virtual zoo with exotic animals surrounding his secluded home known as Philwod. Alpacas are bred for wool, while other animals such as camels and tortoises have been rescued. He cultivates orchids and has a dream of creating a botanical garden.

Salenger wants another parcel included in the agric-district. A normally easy processhas been filled with mudslinging. Opponents lambasted several members of the legislature at a public hearing accusing them with being friends with Salenger and sitting in his box seats at Bethel Woods.

The simple truth is that Salenger is not a Sullivan County vendor, and any vote the legislature takes on parcels of land for an agric-district is just a recommendation.

Obviously there is a fine line one crosses when mixing business and pleasure. However, we are a small county and many people have friendships that intertwine.

I have even been a guest of Salenger’s and others at Bethel Woods. They know very well this column will never be influenced by a ticket to a concert, and I expect the same goes for others invited to events.

Peoplem who purchase season tickets entertain, and often invite friends. This is done in the open and no one hides anything.

You would be amazed who sits with whom at Bethel Woods and the potential for conflicts of interests.

Legislators Alan Sorensen and David Sager have fought long and hard for ethics reform. Sager was hung to dry when he began touching on too many toes.

Legislators Jodi Goodman and Leni Binder attempting to turn the tables on their critics want an ethics commission to set guidelines. Probably the same inner circle who sits at Bethel Woods will soon be setting them up.

County Attorney Sam Yasgur said there was no conflict and that is all Goodman and Binder needed. They are digging a deeper hole by pretending they need further guidance.

Those throwing stones at members of the legislature should take deep and hard look at their own wheeling and dealings.

The Stuart Salenger I know is a good hearted caring person. From the revitalization of the Forestburg Playhouse, to all his charitable work, Salenger has done so much good for our county. He is indeed a Humanitarian.

Everyone needs to make peace and live and let live. Life is too short.

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