Monday, March 31, 2008


I get a kick out of some of the promotional material we get in our City Hall mail box. The latest gadget is the TASER gun for law enforcement. This post card caught my eye.

The statement that officers are 68% more likely to get hurt by a fist than a bullet made me pause and consider the point. Officers aren’t supposed to fight. So, this made sense.

I checked out their website. The info was geared for the positive of course, but to state the obvious, officers wouldn’t have that hesitation to protect themselves and others if there was less opportunity to make a mistake in a deadly way.

Police Chief Keller said, there are two Tasers ordered. They will arrive shortly and our officers will get the training just as Town of Ulster officers have. Ulster has had two in use for over a year. The rare times they were used were a great success and avoided the permanent damage that a gun would do.

Fewer Officer Injuries Mean Fewer Workers’ Compensation Claims and Less Officer Downtime. Now that’s an Alderman’s dream come true. We have too many officers out for physical reasons and seventy percent of the major claims were incurred during interventions with mentally disturbed and/or impaired subjects. These instances occurred when officers were forced to physically engage subjects at close quarters. The city could cut down on lost time and injury claims overnight.

These non-deadly weapons are not reserved for just Law Enforcement either. Civilians can have them for self protection as well. Imagine feeling secure knowing you have the most effective self-defense option available, but without resorting to lethal force. However, they are restricted to just Law Enforcement in NY State.

To the right is a fella who volunteered for the receiving end of a test. As you can see, it didnt tickle.

I wanted the yellow & black Dirty Harry model.


This is a picture of the new facade of Park Opticians on Broadway in Kingston.

This upgrade was accomplished with the design and financial help of the City of Kingston. Say what?

There are programs designed specifically for the betterment of our streetscape in our commercial districts. The tree commission, the sidewalk program and the Facade Grant.

This peticular renovation stems from CDBG monies that were slated specifically for Facades and dispersed through the Kingston Midtown Business Association. The end result puts a fresh face on a current business. Job well done.

Here are two additional candidates for the program, but have resisted to take part because of the language barrier and a distrust in government programs. Im sure the money will be used along the Broadway corridor in some positive manor if the two storefronts dont accept it, I just hope they continue the progress they have shown so far.

KMBA, with the help of, Valieri Consulting, a design firm out of Saratoga, has developed a Midtown Revitalization Building Plan which is poised to rethink the future of Broadway. From hight specifications to acceptable building materials at the sidewalk. The goal is to have our expectations known at the onset when a developer invests in our commercial district. What better way to promote a stable growth initiative to outside sources than to have a plan in place?

Good work KMBA!

Saturday, March 29, 2008


When you drive along Washington Avenue, you can’t help but notice this statue in the middle of our Firefighters Memorial Park at Hurley Avenue.

It depicts four firefighters carrying someone from the hell that was Ground Zero, NYC on 911.

That person was Father Mychal Judge, aka Victim Number One. After five years of the Iraqi occupation, and 4,000 of our troops lost, we sometimes forget the tremendous loss we felt at home and the courage of our local heroes. But who was Mychal Judge to New York’s firefighters?

Searching through past online articles, I discovered Mychal Judge was a devout, openly gay recovering-alcoholic Catholic priest, a fabled New York figure who had a knack for telling great stories and would burst into old Irish standards at the drop of a hat. Judge had a Clintonian talent for making people feel as though they were the only ones in the room and a bartender's gift for bringing strangers together.

A New York Magazine feature article from 2001 followed the origin of his Myth: the first wisp of real poetry to emerge from the devastation of the World Trade Center was the tale of Mychal Judge's death. Within hours of the collapse, a story began circulating that he'd been hit by falling debris when he took his helmet off to give last rites to a firefighter, a man who himself had been crushed by someone who'd jumped from Tower One.

Seven years later, it seems that the story is at least partly myth, though perhaps a myth necessary to the demands of the day. For one thing, Judge's body was found in the lobby of Tower One, not on the sidewalk outside. But it's understandable how the myth bloomed. Those who knew Judge, wanted him to die gorgeously and aptly, in a way that expressed the depth of his faith. It was how they imagined him. Such a death suited a legend.

As it happens, the unembellished story of Mychal Judge's death, standing in the lobby with firefighters of Tower One is just as moving -- and an even more telling tribute to the chaplain, as well as to the men he served.

Back in the early eighties, Judge was one of the first members of the clergy to minister to young gay men with AIDS, doing their funeral Masses and consoling their partners and family members. He opened the doors of St. Francis of Assisi Church when Dignity, a gay Catholic organization, needed a home for its AIDS ministry, and he later ran an AIDS program at St. Francis. Last year, he marched in the first gay-inclusive St. Patrick's Day parade, which his friend Brendan Fay organized in Queens.

So, needless to say, the attack on the World Trade Center touched every strand in the fabric of our country. When I see that statue in our firefighter’s park I am reminded of the heroes in our midst and I continue to say THANK YOU.


During the last Finance Committee meeting at City Hall, Wednesday, March 19th, the Councilmen, Department Heads and representatives of the participating towing companies came to an agreement on a rate increase for City summoned towing services.

The City of Kingston doesn’t have its own towing service so we utilize several local operators to remove disabled or seized vehicles. These companies are on a rotation call-in list and are in full compliance with the City and State regulations required.

The rate for storage at the operator’s place of business was the key motivator. At $8 per day, the temptation to let it sit for weeks causes a work space problem on site.
The rate for storage will now be $35 per day, so car and truck owners are warned that the bill will be staggering if you procrastinate.

Fees for all forms of towing will see a hike as well…daytime car tows from $65 to $100 and night towing from $85 to $150. This will put Kingston in the same fee schedule as Ulster.

Here is the killer issue: ABANDONMENT. People sometimes abandon their car. It takes a month to file the paperwork to render a vehicle junk and get $100 out of it at the crusher. The next logical step is to attach the fees accrued by the operator to the owner of the vehicle, rendering him/her liable.
Everyone has a Social Security Number, right? Make it impossible to get a job, rent an apartment or another car with a judgment against your Social Security Number.

In this throw-away society, we see an ever increasing trend in a lack of responsibility and the burden is usually on the taxpayer. I will work with Law Enforcement and Corporation Council to see what is available to the Council as a means to fix this problem.

And thank you Tim Halpern for keeping this issue alive.

Friday, March 28, 2008


This is the Train Tunnel under Delaware Avenue. The Channel that leads to the tunnel, skates along the back of properties along Hasbrouck and Delaware avenues.
What you see here, is the result of years of dumping. In a city that collects trash weekly at their curb, I don’t get it.

For several years, I have teamed up with the Woodstock Day School volunteers and occasionally solo in an effort to clean up this mess. The task is
huge, and no city department has laid claim to the responsibility of cleaning it up. So I make my pilgrimage a few times a year and fight the rising tide of trash.

What can I do? Plenty of trash is new, since my visit last fall. Our Trash Enforcer Larry Bergati had issued an edict to stop dumping on the tracks last summer, but here it is.

I have asked the Trolley Museum to ramp up their Grant Applications in the past to consider extending the line and help clean, but have heard nothing for years. Catskill Mt RR promissed the Mayor a trash collector rail car last summer…that never happened.

So, I would like to know if anyone would like to join me this year to help clean up this mess, a joint effort of local citizens who know the value of a clean city. You will need water proof boots, gloves, and a
strong back. There are 100 tires, enough recyclables to keep RECYCLEBANK busy and trash enough to fill eight city trucks.

Clear your weekends and lets make this happen.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I have to join my colleagues, Polacco and Teetsel in their apprehension of using Eminent Domain for this property. I voted in favor of hiring the special attorney to draw up the initial action, with the intent that the Motel owners would get the hint, but since the back taxes issue has come up, I have to believe Eminent Domain is overkill.

The Kings Inn is closed up and has become less of a focus of the police department than in the past. With the lack of people, there is less opportunity to invite trouble.

Polacco is right when he says the eminent domain proceedings are likely to cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars. He is quoted in the Freeman: "It is already over. We got them shut down. We won." I have to agree with him here.

When Polacco says that the whole matter should take a natural course, either by the owners selling or the city foreclosing on the property for non-payment of taxes, he’s right. SN Management (who owns the Kings Inn) owes over $115 thousand in combined taxes. With the track record of this council, related to delinquent taxes, I don’t see SN Management getting away with any extensions or payment plans.

The special permit to operate as a shelter for the county’s homeless will never be granted, so the desire for a future developer to purchase the building with that as a business model is closed.

A public hearing on the King's Inn eminent domain effort will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall, 420 Broadway.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Last Thursday evening, March 20th, a crowd of 45 people braved the brutally cold weather and gathered on the front steps of the Kingston High School. Not for sports, not for band practice, but for a Candle Light Vigil in memory of a slain Californian student - not unlike so many of our own children.

Lawrence King was murdered for one reason…because he was born gay and he let it be known in a public setting. This 15 year old is the victim of what’s known as a “Hate crime”.

King was shot in the head on February 12th while in class by a classmate, who undoubtedly grew up in a household full of ignorance and hatred toward people they don’t understand.

This event demonstrated what an impact a “Hate Crime” can have on communities throughout this nation. . The vigil was co-sponsored by the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center and GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network).

A quote on the center website: “The murder of Lawrence King is an American tragedy that cannot be allowed to go unnoticed," said Ginny Apuzzo, president of the Center. "Every student has the right to be safe at school. This vigil is intended to honor the memory of a courageous young man who was killed simply for being himself, and to call attention to the deadly results of looking the other way when homophobia makes itself known in our schools."

Among the list of organizations that supported the vigil are PFLAG (Parents, Friends, and Family of Lesbians and Gays) of Kingston, YWCA of Ulster County, the Ulster County Mental Health Association, and Planned Parenthood of the Mid-Hudson Valley.

The evening program that followed, included addresses by representatives of the Center, GLSEN and the Kingston High School Gay-Straight Alliance, as well as the Rev. Ralph Merante, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Kingston. For more information visit

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


New York lawmakers are pushing to adopt a two year old proposal aimed at sending Email alerts to residents in the neighborhoods where sex offenders take up residence.

What triggers the system is the zip code. Then the automatic alert Email is sent to those who sign up for the program. This eliminates the arduous task of searching the websites on some self made schedule.

If you have young kids, you’d like to be informed. This doesn’t mean they are necessarily a threat, and you aren’t supposed to harass anyone on the list, but just knowing is the best tool that parents have.

This was introduced back in 2005 by State Sen. Jeff Klein of the Bronx and State Assemblyman Rory Lancman of Queens. They felt, like I stated, the process of frequent online check-ups is too time consuming, so the alert system would take the effort out of the concerned parents.

This system is intended for statewide use and the City of Kingston is not immune to the relocation of sex offenders. Mind you, there are different levels of offense regarding what these people did to get on the list, so be mindful of those who may have done something stupid as a youngster vs. someone who did the unthinkable.

Quoted in Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan's Law and the Crime Victims Center, said the system, funded with a $593,000 federal grant, should be in operation statewide in April and nationally by May 1. She said she expects "hundreds of thousands" of parents nationwide to sign up to get alerts.

All men and women on this list have served their time. They are free citizens and protected by the same rights we cherish. They just happened to be on a list for the rest of their lives. Consult your Police Chief if you have questions rather than jeopardize your own freedom by doing something rash.

Here are just two sites already working in different locations. Lawmakers are looking for a state managed version to eliminate any loopholes and/or duplication of services.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Armor Dynamics will occupy this 15,000-square-foot building this spring where they plan to manufacture explosive-resistant materials, intended for our military and law enforcement personnel. Landing this manufacturing opportunity was no doubt due to the connections of the Sottile administration and the Pataki administration...And we are thankful.

Steve Finkle, the City of Kingston’s Economic Director says the building is about 40% done and has room enough to employ the first 20+ jobs by summer.
Located in the Business Park just off Delaware Avenue, it is close to Route 9W and has an impressive entrance that it shares with the only other tenant: ALCOA Fastening Systems. (Formerly HUCK International)

With the floor about to be poured, I have to wonder if this was built green? I will have to ask Steve, since that seems to be the trend these days. Finkle stated in the Freeman last week that the blue glass window panes were installed. This sounded interesting, so I had to get a look myself (see above).

The Industrial Park had a rocky start in the 90’s when the late Mayor Gallo first proposed the concept. Several opposition groups formed and fought the measure, but without success. I remember a large fundraiser concert held at the Cordts Mansion next door, and experienced the forest preservationist theme of the event, but the evidence of “progress” is there for all to see.

Steve Finkle also told the Freeman: “Once the shell is complete and the building is closed in, the floor will be poured and the interior work of fitting up the office areas, installing the elevator and the building systems will get started”. My take? I’m sure the building in phase two (the other 500 jobs) is in the design stage with our planning department. I would expect nothing more than a green manufacturing facility on that pristine property. It may as well serve as an example of what the City of Kingston is looking for. Don't you think?

Sunday, March 23, 2008


The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H. W. Bush. The ADA is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. It affords protections similar the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made discrimination based on race, religion, sex and national origin illegal.

Disability is defined as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity."

This is where the problem lies. Throughout the City of Kingston, about half of the sidewalk corners are impassable, causing grief for the physically impaired that are still able to navigate our streets everyday. We are stuck in non-compliance with a federal law and continue to ignore the possible consequences.

Back in 2003, I submitted a communication to the Mayor and clerk’s office emphasizing this hazardous situation, which put the City of Kingston on notice. Since then, I have seen some effort on the part of the administration to rebuild the hundreds of corners throughout the city; usually done thorough CDBG monies during larger projects.
The sidewalks that have been altered are terrific, and worthy of praise, (see above) but we must be vigilant in this effort.

The planning department could force developers to comply when submitting the plans for curb modifications and sidewalks. The medical building on the corner of Broadway and Foxhall Ave has a back entrance. The Foxhall sidewalk reaches the Jansen corner, but swings around to the door rather than the curb. (See below) I informed the building manager, Karen Vetere , a few years ago, but to no avail.

This problem is pervasive and an awareness campaign needs to be heated up. Let’s use some of the 2008 CDBG monies to bring the City of Kingston back in good standing with the ADA.

Those meetings will commence in April. Let’s make this happen.


The Eostre Hare arrives!

In pagan times, the "Easter hare" was no ordinary animal, but a sacred companion of the goddess of spring, Eostre.

The Easter bunny has its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore. The Hare and the Rabbit were the most fertile animals known and they served as symbols of the new life during the spring season.

Since long before Christianity developed, parents told their children that the magic hare would bring them presents at the spring festival. The presents were often painted eggs, as these represented the new life starting at this time of year.

Hares are animals which look like rabbits, but are larger and in many countries quite rare. In most places, the Easter rabbit (bunny) has replaced the Easter hare completely.

The bunny was first used as a symbol of Easter in 16th century Germany, where it was first mentioned in German writings. The first edible Easter bunnies, made primarily of pastry and sugar, were produced in Germany as well, during the early 1800s. Children made nests of grass and placed them in their yards, believing the Easter Bunny would fill these baskets with brightly decorated eggs during the night. With any luck, their parents knew where they placed these nests the day before.

The Easter bunny was introduced to American folklore by the German settlers who arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 1700s. The arrival of the "Oschter Haws" was considered "childhood's greatest pleasure" next to a visit from Christ-Kindel on Christmas Eve. The children believed that if they were good the "Oschter Haws" would lay a nest of colored eggs.

Thus the custom of making nests also spread to America. Children would build their nest in a secluded place in the home, the barn or the garden. Boys would use their caps and girls their bonnets to make the nests. The use of elaborate Easter baskets would come later as the tradition of the Easter bunny spread through out the country.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


If you can recall, there were two trees removed from the pedestrian island across from the YMCA last summer. What were left were two unsightly stumps and hazardous brick humps for all to trip over.

What you may have noticed this week is the yellow work sight horses at this corner and the brick pavers are reset to a smooth contour.

This will provide even more space for us to enjoy our morning coffee in front of Muddy Cup. Perhaps the city will install additional benches for us to sip and watch traffic.

Nice job fellas.

Friday, March 21, 2008


New York drivers are subsidizing the Erie Canal waterways. The 542 miles of Canal and its 500 employees are sustained by your thruway tolls. Oh, did I mention rates for the NY State Thruway are going up again?

The Thruway Authority has diverted over $1 billion toward managing the lock system since it took over the operations in 1992. A shortfall in the State Budget prompted the transfer from the Legislature to the Thruway Authority.

The canal system is important to tourism and economic development in upstate NY, but I question, why commuters and small business owners who are already struggling with increased fuel prices, should foot the bill? Keep in mind, the most frequent users of the canal system are luxury pleasure boats and they travel free of charge! You heard me.

Taking the canal system out of the Thruway Authority budget would eliminate the need to raise rates and get back to its core job, maintaining the thruway. With the collapse of the bridge in Minnesota last year, the case for better care of our roadways is clear.

Tell our new governor, David Paterson that its time to undo this fiscal burden on the Thruway Authority. It threatens the safety and financial viability of our commuters and small business owners throughout New York State.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


TRANSART is a not-for-profit group that is pursuing the property on Henry Street for their location of an African-American Culture Centre. This past Wednesday, Greer Smith, representative for the group, showed up for the Finance Committee, only to find the needed documents and tax issues had not been satisfied by the current owner.

Jennifer Schwartz still owns the building and cannot hand over title until the council receives and accepts the PILOT agreement from the TRANSART group. That is negotiated between them and the Mayor. Sottile is out of the area until next week.

The Committee offered the group an additional 60 days extension to wrap up the remaining details, but with patience waning, this will be the last reprieve for the parties to settle.

The council has seen little progress with the property since the current owner has had it in her possession. We were looking for signs that there was structural investment and weatherproofing in the two years since Jennifer has been the caretaker of this Historic Designated property.

The Mayor’s task force still mows the grass and I collect the strewn debris along the front and side.

So, time will tell. Will Jennifer get the taxes paid in full? Will the PILOT meet the council’s needs? Will TRANSART finally walk away when they’ve tired of the empty promises? Maybe we should give them the Everet Hodge Center.

What do you think??

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


The City of Kingston is about to offer a Dog Adoption Package intended to streamline the process of acquiring a well deserved companion from the holdings of the city’s Dog Warden.

Administered through the City Clerk’s Office in City Hall, you can adopt a dog with all the necessary tests and doctor visits completed prior to the advertising. All the mandatory stipulations for offering your home to a loving rescued dog will have been done.

Matt Peters is the dog warden and he takes sincere pride in the care and placement of the many four legged friends who come his way. Whether they are lost, over-bred or confiscated, they are all “mans best friend” and should be treated as such.

People find the posted pets online through the petfinder website or through word of mouth, either way they drive from Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut after viewing the precious orphan online, and filling out the required forms.

Having the detailed process conquered ahead of time by the City of Kingston is a wonderful benefit, but requires a fee of $160 per dog, to offset the accrued expenses.

I am consistently impressed with the staff in the Clerk’s Office. Putting up with us councilmen, the Mayor, and hundreds of calls & visits from the public…and now this! Many thanks to Kathy Janeczek, Matt Peters and the rest of the staff.


Visionary Scientist and Sci-Fi Novelist Arthur C Clarke, dies at 90.

All of my adult life, I have admired a select few writers and have allowed them to influence my philosophy in life.
Clarke made some incredible contributions to science, technology and communications as well as his imaginary world in Sci-Fi novels. Like the late Isaac Asimov, I reflect on the novels I had read from these giants as friendly moments in my own journey.

Clarke has left written instructions that his funeral be completely secular, indicating that even in death, he would not compromise his secular vision. The AP has his recent quote: ‘Absolutely no religious rites of any kind, relating to any religious faith, should be associated with my funeral,"

If you haven’t read any of his fiction before, start with: Childhood's End, Rendezvous with Rama, and The Songs of Distant Earth. Those were fun to read. He wrote more than 100 non-fiction books on space, science and the future but is most remembered for his unnerving artificial intelligence screenplay Space Odyssey 2001.

Check out Sir Arthur’s website: The Clarke Foundation

The AP also noted Clarke’s statement: "Sometimes I am asked how I would like to be remembered, I have had a diverse career as a writer, underwater explorer and space promoter. Of all these, I would like to be remembered as a writer."

I have to agree. He just finished reviewing his last collaboration with Frederik Pohl named, The Last Theorem, due out this fall. I will make a point to read this one in his honor. (when I find the time)

This prolific writer will be greatly missed.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


The Bigger Bottle Bill is being discussed in the NY State Legislature during this month’s session. Even with the changing of the guard, The Budget is slated to be offered April 1st.
I would like to see the Bottle Bill modified to include non-carbonated beverages.

There are over 600 organizations lobbying the New York State Legislature to include the "Bigger Better Bottle Bill" in the budget. I think our voices in the Hudson Valley should join those organizations.

The original Bottle Bill of 1982, requires a five-cent refundable deposit on carbonated drinks sold in New York, which means consumers can return their empty bottles and cans to their local grocery store and receive five cents for each can.Over 90 billion bottles and cans have been recycled and returned as a result of the bill, according to . However, the time has come to make two modifications:
1. Require beverage distributors to transfer any unclaimed deposits to the State Environmental Protection Fund. (beverage companies do not return the estimated $140 million a year in unclaimed deposits)
2. Include water bottles (no one thirty years ago expected water to be a big seller)

About 3 billion non-carbonated beverage bottles and cans are thrown away every year because they do not have refundable deposits, and these drinks are projected to exceed soda sales by 2010 .Who would lobby against this Bill? All the major bottling companies like PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and Anheiser Busch. Why? Because the beverage companies are currently keeping the unclaimed deposits which could total between $85 million and $150 million a year.

If that wasn’t enough, Joe Bruno is preventing the State Senate from voting on this advanced bottle bill. Why? Because of the huge campaign donations from the same bottling companies. What has changed? The Governor!

Paterson is a strong supporter of the bigger bottle bill. While everyone is still swooning over his comforting demeanor, the ability to convince Bruno to bring the bill to the floor before the Budget is done will be quite the challenge. But we can help…

Contact our NY Senators and demand that it is offered on the floor and voted on by the end of March.


Let me take this opportunity to make my first endorsement on my BLOG.
Those of us who are engaged in the process of politics, reflect on the lack of today's young people in our ranks. Their inability to play a role in their own future is unfortunate. We rarely meet young people who get active and seek to influence legislation that effects their lives. Then along comes Jeremy.
JEREMY BLABER is 20, but has put more effort into learning about the affairs that steer the course of our next generation, than most 30 year olds. We have worked on campaigns together, and attended numerous school board and community meetings to the point of exhaustion.
Mr Blaber has devoted plenty of time studying issues regarding the Kingston High School, its curriculum, campus security and the massive burden on the taxpayers. He has ideas and the ability to work with other members of the school board.
As an Alderman, I know the rigors of the job, representing a ninth of the City of Kingston. I would expect no less effort by Jeremy Blaber in the position of a School Board member. The countless hours of sacrifice that school board members offer the community are impressive. If Jeremy is willing to step up and run for School Board, I have no hesitation in offering my endorsement.
Jeremy's youth, energy, and drive should be an asset.
I am going to vote for JEREMY BLABER for Kingston School Board...why don't you join me?

Monday, March 17, 2008


Because of a confrontation I had with rabid shopper in the Kingston Plaza, I figured I would offer a little refresher course on FISA.

There are talking heads on some networks and some conservative BLOGs mixing up the eavesdrop programs we use for National Security. The way Bush worshippers portray the passed deadline for the wiretaps, makes me nauseous.

Bush was pushing Congress, to pass the extension of FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) or what he calls the Protect America Act (PAA) falsely suggesting that FISA and the PAA are one and the same.
The 1978 FISA law, which established the federal government's authority to eavesdrop on the communications of suspected terrorists, is different than the PAA, which expanded the government's authority to eavesdrop on Americans.
By confusing the two statutes, some media outlets are promoting the false suggestion that upon the expiration of the PAA back in February, the government no longer has the authority to spy on suspected terrorists. In fact, under FISA, it still does.

The lapse of the deadline has little effect on intelligence gathering. Officials are able to intercept communications from terrorist groups for a year after the initial eavesdropping authorization for that particular group. The NSA can use its authority under Executive Order 12333 to conduct surveillance abroad of any known or suspected terrorist. There is no requirement for a warrant. There is no requirement for probable cause. Most of NSA's collection occurs under this authority as we sit here.

If a new terrorist group has been identified since February 17th, intelligence officials are not able to use the broadened eavesdropping authority that expired. However, they are still able to seek a warrant under the more restrictive standards in place for the last three decades through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

1-20-09 can’t come soon enough!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


It was just two weeks ago, we had snow everywhere, like the above picture. Has the sudden thaw altered the landscape at this infamous corner? Not yet!

WALGREEN’S isn’t here yet, but the prospect of commercial development on the corner of Broadway and E Chester Street looms in the near future. Even as we come to terms with the snails pace of action from our government, I have dabbled in the notion of hope that the former Laundromat site will become the treasured Pharmacy we were promised.

The prolonged brownfield recovery process was extended a few extra months due to the incomplete site work. Through some imagined breakdown in communication, the central slab portion of the property had been omitted from the testing and curing of the eco-disaster that it was.

In conversation with Mayor Sottile this week, I got assurances that WALGREEN’S would be breaking ground by the middle of April. I know I will post updates on the progress as it happens.
Will the new and well lit pharmacy diminish the ghetto image of the CITGO corner?

Friday, March 14, 2008


I got to witness something special this past Thursday. The welcome home ceremony at the Midtown Neighborhood Center for the New York Army National Guard's 104th Military Police Battalion. These brave men & women were stationed in Texas and Oklahoma then sent to Kuwait and Iraq. This Thursday they were greeted with an enthusiastic crowd along Broadway.

As they marched from Andrew Street, and passing the high school, we could hear the wild cheers and applause all the way from Hoffman Street. Mayor Sottile and I, like everyone around us, couldn’t help but feel choked up and proud as they marched closer.

I didn’t write anything down, but the Freeman has the Mayor opening the ceremony with "We're so proud of your service to the country," "I stand here as an elected official of a free society because of the sacrifices of people who wear that uniform."

He was followed by several commanders of the unit as well as our distinguished veterans with justified praise for the work they did as well as all who were the uniform. All of the unit came back unharmed.

To see the emotional embraces and hugging children up close and in real time takes your breath away…helping to better understand that the issue of personal sacrifice is so sacred an act and that everyone who serves is worthy of a sincere THANK YOU!

Sharing this moment with Jen Ringwood, Jim Sottile, Jim Noble, Michael Hein and so many of our friends was well worth it.

Now lets bring the rest of them home safely.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


The City of Kingston is getting grant money to help clean up our old brownfields to the order of $400 thousand. Regardless of the continual progress in our downtown revitalization, areas of our waterfront are still contaminated. Until this issue is addressed, serious development will continue its crawling pace. This grant will help.

Hats off to Steve Finkle, Amanda Bruck and the rest of the Economic Development Department for a job well done!

The Freeman reported that over $7 Million in grants was distributed from the state's Brownfield Opportunity Area program which raises the eligibility for additional development investments.

This would be one of the last actions made by Gov. Eliot Spitzer, state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and state Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno together! Mind you, this was in the making for over two years, so Kathy Maloney would have plenty to do with it as well.

My conversation with Steve this week included the possible development plans of Rob Iannucci, Who has acquired a great deal of the Rondout Waterfront property. Rob has yet to offer any significant plans for the future use of the land, but this soil reclamation in contaminated areas will surely speed things along.

At some point, this gem of a city will be discovered in a bigger, more accelerated way, bringing new jobs and stronger tax base, but most of all, a renewed sense of pride in Kingston. We all hope to see this happen before we have to sell and move.


I am thrilled to have this opportunity to vote on some form of a smoking ban. I had no influence on the legislation to ban indoor smoking, but I did ban smoking in the club I managed on Fair St for a year before it was mandated. I have no regrets.

Jennifer Ringwood, with the help of Bob Senor, has offered a compromise to the city ordinance that was sent back to the Laws & Rules Committee. It restricts the smoking zone to beyond 50 feet of building openings and areas where families gather in our parks. This I can work with and can say I am happily on-board with this amended legislation.

To emphasize my enthusiasm for any means to stop others from starting this addiction, I have included the above and below pictures from a “stop smoking” campaign. Below, is commentary that explains the motive.

It is this second haunting image that 58-year-old Mrs Hamilton was determined the world should remember as she campaigned to shock others into giving up tobacco before it is too late.
Speaking from her sick-bed hours before her death last week, the mother of two said: "When I was growing up, smoking was glamorous. Film stars would pose for the cameras with a cigarette in their hand.
"I remember buying a single cigarette from the shop for threepence, then smoking it at a cafe, hoping the boys would notice.
"I moved on to a pack of five, then ten, and when I started working it was 20, and I would smoke a pack a day. I didn't realise it at the time but I was a pretty, young woman.
"It's only later, when you look in a mirror at what is left and see a photo as you used to be, that you realise how things have changed.
"I don't want anyone to suffer like I am. It is unimaginable and the pain is so horrendous I have to take morphine every day."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Governor David Paterson, is the first legally blind governor in United States history, and the first African-American governor of New York. Paterson is nationally recognized as a leading advocate for people with disabilities. You can visit the site American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) at .

In 2002, Paterson was elected Minority Leader of the New York State Senate, the first non-white legislative leader in New York's history who made history again by being elected New York's first African-American Lieutenant Governor. This, from a family lineage of firsts, his father, Basil Paterson, was the first African-American to be New York's secretary of State.

The New York's state Assembly is controlled by Democrats, its Senate by Republicans. The control of New York’s leadership is so tight, with one seat in favor of the republicans in the Senate, that any shift in position could change everything.

The state's lawmaking process is commonly referred to as "three men in a room” because of the method our leaders have taken during the budget process for decades. Here is a chance for a new approach. Can Paterson take his reputation as the “Great Compromiser” and bring the warring parties together before New York’s struggling economy implodes?

Paterson has good relations with legislators which will be sorely needed after this scandal. He has an easy manner that is disarming to both friends and political foes. I hope Paterson is the silver lining around this dark cloud in Albany.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Great news! Our new assessments are in!
Wait, what are you saying? There’s something wrong?
Now that doesn’t sound right. Are you sure?

This is what I have been hearing on a loop for days now.
Since the REVAL letters hit our homesteads.

GAR Associates and the Assessors Office have worked around the clock for a year now. The numbers are preliminary, so those of us who have seen our assessment and our taxes go up, must go to the GAR seminars being offered at City Hall and fill out the paperwork to grieve the new rate.

Mind you, I’m not getting angry calls from the residents whose taxes went down or stayed the same but this doesn’t mean the increased rates are justified. GAR acknowledges the short comings of assessing from the street during a period of dropping home values, but expects concerned taxpayers will make the effort to fill out the forms and get into their office on Grand Street.

A point that must be made…the city budget before the REVAL will be the same amount after the REVAL. There is no windfall of extra revenue coming to the city for us Councilmen to squander. (did I say that?) This is not a money grab. The misconception in the press and bloggosphere continues and needs correction. What increases "tax-wise" for one parcel, decreases for others.

The new estimates reflect more like Westchester than Ulster, considering the job situation around Kingston. I have the feeling GAR didn’t take employment stress into account when placing value to our homes.

You can find out more about the assessment process and have your homework ready when you show up Grievance Day. The last time a REVAL was done in Kingston was 1988. Assessments were set at 24% of assessed value. However, your current value is not four times the taxed rate. I wish it were that easy.
Through the month of March, I suggest, remeasure your living space square footage, compare like buildings online in the neighborhood you live in and get into the informal meetings at City Hall.
Grievance Day is May 27th. There will be a morning session and afternoon session.
Because of the mass disparity of the proiperties throughout the city, there will be a line around the building.

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