CASH Courier > 1997 Spring Issue

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The C.A.S.H. Courier

ARTICLE from 1997 Spring Issue


On Tuesday, April 29th, during the middle of the day and after the usual lunch hour, 400 people poured into the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center to see Hollywood star Alec Baldwin host a press conference on the Canada geese. “He stormed into Clarkstown to save the geese,” the newspaper front-page story reported the following day. In a packed theater, every TV and radio station in NYC and the lower Hudson Valley was in attendance with three glaring exceptions, the local cable TKR and two local papers that did not cover the event. Why? We leave that for speculation. Alec Baldwin and nine other panelists, who were chosen for high impact, spoke out forcefully against the killing of Canada geese by the Town Supervisor of Clarkstown, NY. It was a powerful performance, we were told. The pressure was on. Many confirmed our guess that this would be a major turning point in what we can superficially refer to as “the goose wars,” but is in fact a struggle to appropriate the control of wildlife from those who don’t care about the individuals that comprise it. Perhaps we can refer to this as a “custody battle.” This afternoon it was different, no longer were only the “animal rights” people speaking out. This time the entrenched powers themselves in the county and outside came to speak against the heinous act, those who could not be relegated to the lunatic fringe or discounted. They gave courage to those who came to join the outspoken.

Our speakers were the following:

Roger Caras, President of the ASPCA, Author of numerous books and host of radio and TV programs on animals, spoke. His catchphrase revolved around one word for what this supervisor had done and threatened again to do: DUMB!

The Hon. Dr. Felicia Deyrup, Mayor of Upper Nyack, which is a town within Clarkstown, talked about how acts such as these desensitize children and how violence of any kind has a negative impact on society.

The Hon. Thom. Kleiner, Supervisor of Orangetown, which borders Clarkstown, said that Holbrook has to be commended for having the courage of his convictions, but he just had the wrong convictions. [That boils down to Roger’s keyword: “DUMB!”]

William Heinz – Golf Course Superintendent of the Hampshire Country Club in Mamaroneck, NY, said he had been asked to shoot the geese, but got May, his Border Collie, instead, and has been free of problems ever since!

Margaret Hayes Young, Wildlife and Conservation Chair, Sierra Club, talked about how during her childhood, the Hudson River was so bad, there wasn’t a single goose on the river, but that now they are there, it is thrilling to see these magnificent and precious aristocrats of nature.

Dr. Gregg Feigelson, Chair, Coalition to Prevent the Destruction of Canada Geese, spoke about the solutions that are proposed as being an insult to our intelligence [echoing Roger’s word: DUMB!]

Dr. Mark Lerman, a well-known Rockland veterinarian and wildlife rehabilitator, talked about what to do if you wanted to attract geese – which is everything this supervisor is doing! [DUMB!]

Marc Berkowitz then came up to speak. Marc was someone who could have had maximum impact had we sufficient time to give a history lesson on the Holocaust. Marc was Mengele’s real “messenger” during the Holocaust and a consultant to Steven Spielberg for his movie Schindler’s List. Marc was a “survivor” who wanted to speak out for the geese. A reporter called that evening and asked, “So what’s with Marc Berkowitz, why was he there?” “He was there to speak against the casualness of killing,” “Yeah, in what way?” “He had a message to deliver from Mengele about how killing is killing, and how easy it is to kill once you get started.” “I’m just going to drop it,” he said. “I don’t get it.” No one wrote about it or picked up.

Then, Mary Brosnahan, the Executive Director of the Coalition of the Homeless, reiterated what she had written a year ago, which also never got picked up by the local press. It is this:

The Coalition objects, in the strongest possible terms, to the plans by Clarkstown officials to slaughter hundreds of Canadian Geese and to the use of homeless New Yorkers to achieve that end. The plan to feed homeless people the potentially tainted carcasses of these birds through a local soup kitchen sets a dangerous double standard in which poor men, women and children will eat unregulated and uninspected flesh.

We believe that there are many non-lethal methods available to repel the geese from areas in which they are not wanted and we urge both local and state officials to utilize these methods immediately. As has been our experience so often over the past fifteen years, when responsible people gather to examine complex problems, solutions that are both compassionate and cost-effective can be forged. Our paramount fear, as the proposed slaughter date approaches, is that innocent, wild animals will be needlessly killed and that poor New Yorkers will be injured in the aftermath.

Finally, Baldwin spoke. “Don’t think you’ve done your job by coming here today,” he said. “There’s a lot more to do. Pick up the phone or a pen and make your feelings known.” Those words gave people the courage they needed. There will be a town meeting after this printing at which scores of Clarkstowners have promised to go to publicly state simply and truthfully that they do not want the geese killed. Believe it or not, that’s a first and will go far to dispel the myth that the supervisor has unanimous support among Clarkstowners. We have been told that the County Executive’s office was flooded with calls to the point where he called the Supervisor to ask that he call it off. So far he hasn’t.

The following day an article in our favor covered the front page of the Rockland Journal News. It showed Baldwin with a goose framing his face.

The local radio station bashed the supervisor of Clarkstown and his plan the entire day following the event.

We have continuing plans including trying again to get the geese out before the slaughter. Please, wish us and the geese luck!!

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