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About that ‘threat’

By Judith Maidenbaum
February 16, 2012

Dan Sturm’s story about a “disgruntled local business owner threatening to blow up the assessor” in your February 2 edition is false. No threat was made. There is no terrorist in Bethel.

Let me state five truths:

1) Mr. Sturm’s wife works with and for the assessor.

2) Sturm does not protect long-standing and loyal town hall employees. He just let one go for no apparent reason. Furthermore, when our former building inspector came under fire, Sturm loaded up his own gun and took aim.

3) “Loaded up his gun” is a figure of speech. If, after a town meeting someone says, “I feel like hanging myself” at the brazen behavior of town officials, don’t call the suicide squad. “I feel like hanging myself” is a metaphor.

4) The so called threat to “blow up” the town assessor was not meant literally.

5) Mr. Sturm did not witness this so called threat, as he claims. I did. In fact, I am that so-called “disgruntled” “bully.” And what got “blown up” is the story, which translated into an intentional exaggeration by both Mr. Sturm and Mrs. Brown.

While refurbishing the Beekman House this summer I came in to the tax office and Mrs. Brown accosted me with a real threat: “Wait ‘til you see your tax bill.” This is how she encourages town beautification. No wonder Kauneonga Lake was a slum for so long. I countered with, “Mrs. Brown, you’ve got a lovely daughter.” She did not like this musical allusion. Her daughter and husband own two houses in Bethel that I felt were insufficiently taxed, one of which, on Puckyhuddle Road, was the subject of a recent letter to this paper.

I came in a second time that day to speak with the town clerk, and Mrs. Brown was seething. She stood between the clerk and me and would not let us speak. Just then, the highway supervisor arrived and asked, “Judith, do you need something blown up?” He was joking, and probably offering to help me blow up yet another eyesore in town. I joked back, asking if he was offering to “blow up the assessor,” implying that she was a town relic that had been there too long and needed to be removed.