Wednesday, July 30, 2008


There has been a relentless push for Congress to have hearings regarding the actions of Karl Rove. The man who preferred the political shadows has become an icon for those who long for a legislative enema in DC.

With the House Judiciary Committee holding hearings Wednesday through Friday on the Bush administration’s use of executive privilege, public pressure is building to urge the committee to jail Karl Rove, the Bush White House political maestro.

A coalition of organizations gathered more than 125,000 signatures on a petition calling on the committee to hold Rove in contempt for his refusal to obey its subpoena. This current surge in support and subsequent press have caused even more progressive groups to get involved, including Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, The Nation, Campaign for America's Future, Progress Now, and People for the American Way.

Linda Sanchez (D-CA), who sits on the Judiciary, was impressed by the sheer number of signatures. "I think it's ridiculous that Karl Rove thinks that he doesn't have to follow the law," Sanchez said. "And nobody in this country should be above the law."

Anyone watching cable news and following political Blogs over the last 7 years are familiar with the slimy tactics that Rove & Company have used against their opponents. What isn’t known is the extent that corruption has played in every campaign for decades. Rove has mastered the art of slime.

So here’s the question; What do you think Democrats on the hill will do now that there’s a public movement to take action? We all accept that Rove is the worst kind of weasel out there. His contempt is amplified because no one has the balls to take him down in the court of law, and he knows it, which fuels his arrogance.

But, he has enough dirty laundry on our legislators to scare them into silence. DC is awash with special interest money that never has a problem finding a deep pocket and many of those pockets are located on both sides of the aisle. Besides, what if the hearings lead to his indictment, the President will just let him off the hook. We’ve seen it before. The rich and the powerful never get justice served to them.

You do have the opportunity to take part in the effort to hold Rove accountable. The campaign to
Send Karl Rove to Jail is easy to access and like I said before, it has picked up momentum. Check out the website, get a refresher course on the mounting evidence against him and pass on the link.

Town Boards and City Councils from coast to coast work their tails off at the municipal level, gathering financial scraps to keep their perspective townships in the black, only to have the mucky-mucks in Washington drag us down image-wise.

I have my doubts that you’ll ever see Rove in jail. The process is political. Every politician has something that can bring them down in Washington. And most people aren't willing to risk it all for an ideal concept in a town where the gutter is as high as it gets.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Paterson has given the State Legislature a two week notice that serious work has to be done to lessen the tax burden increase on New Yorkers. I can’t believe he’s cutting their summer recess short!

What do you think will get done in Albany?

Paterson called back the state Legislature to the Capitol on Aug. 19 to start tackling a $6.4 billion budget gap in the 2009 budget that threatens to disrupt state services.

This is a result of an estimated budget gap of $26.2 billion budget gap over the next three years.

Paterson said on TV: "Our economic woes are so severe that I wanted to talk to you personally this evening on where we stand, the fact is we confront harsh times. Let me be honest, this situation will get worse before it gets better."

Now, I don’t want to startle anyone, but since when do politicians tell it straight-up?

We may know what’s coming, but these guys in Albany and DC usually tell a rosy ”Everything will be fine” speech. Paterson called on lawmakers to come back to Albany to find remedies to the state's fiscal problems that are also impacting the current 2008-09 fiscal year, which runs until March 31.

Paterson continued: "For too long we have done less with more and paid more for less. Now government will do what families have done when their incomes have fallen: we will cut spending. Government will learn to do more with less."

Here on the local level, the city and towns are struggling to deal with the eminent energy expenses, while sales tax revenues and discretionary spending are down across the county.

Expect all town boards and the Common Council to tie down what little they can to weather this perfect storm. Preliminary figures for next year have me second guessing the worth of some programs and employees. Oh, imagine taking property off the tax rolls now!

The state is experiencing the most serious budget shortfall since 2002, when the deficit was more than $10 billion after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In the 2003-04 fiscal year, the state had to close an $11.5 billion gap. The City of Kingston had to hit the 7% mark that year, and did it hurt!

According to an article in the Albany Times: Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, said the test will be whether Paterson, unlike his predecessors, has the courage to override powerful special-interest groups.

I would second that concern for that is the true test here.


Who knew Alaska would be the focus of an already insane election season?

Ted Stevens, of all people, should know how to hide graft better than that! As the longest serving Senator in history, he’s been doing it longer than all the rest of them.

A powerful oil contractor conveniently financed the $250K renovation of his home in Girdwood, Alaska, a ski resort town outside Anchorage. It seems VECO Corp. loaned money and employees to the Stevens family as a “Thank You” for government aid.
Stevens told the AP: , "I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that."

This spells bad news for both he and his counter-part, Rep Don Young. They are both up for re-election this November and this wont help prevent what most assume will be the filibuster-proof power shift in the US Senate.
Senate Democrats, who now enjoy a 51-49 majority, need 60. Mind you, not only does Stevens have a Democratic opponent, but a Republican primary ahead as well.

The AP notes: Prosecutors said that work included a new first floor, garage, wraparound deck, plumbing and electrical wiring. He also is accused of accepting from VECO a Viking gas grill, furniture and tools, and of failing to report swapping an old Ford for a new Land Rover to be driven by one of his children.

Stevens said : "I have proudly served this nation and Alaska for over 50 years. My public service began when I served in World War II. It saddens me to learn that these charges have been brought against me. I have never knowingly submitted a false disclosure form required by law as a U.S. senator."

This year is in what has been viewed as the toughest race of his career against Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. Should I include a link to Begich-PAC?

Also in the AP stories: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.: "It's a sad day for him, us, but you know I believe in the American system of justice, and he's presumed innocent."
Harry, you have the duty to presume innocent. Public opinion is what matters in an election year.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Obscene: Dole tries to name AIDS bill after Helms

Last week, Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) introduced an amendment that would have added the name of Jesse Helms to the title of the HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria bill that is before the Senate.

Take a minute to think about this. Helms, who died a few weeks ago ago, was the nation's most vociferous foe of federal funding for HIV/AIDS programs from the epidemic's beginning until he left the Senate. So why would anyone want to include any mention of Helms in support of this Bill? Unless it’s strictly to insult everyone suffering or perished from HIV/AIDS.

Recall that Helms said that gays caused the AIDS epidemic and victimized Ryan White, threaten the survival of the American family, are in a battle against American values, and have the ultimate aim of having the American people accept "their perverted lifestyle". (WHAT A CHARMER)

Dole can be given feedback about her amendment here. She is in a tough race for re-election against Democrat Kay Hagan. Perhaps it's time Liddy went back to the Red Cross.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


In the last meeting of the Cable Committee, the Aldermen created a new management commission to guide the operations of Channel 20.

Channel 20 as you know, has been blue-screen forever. It has been reserved for the use of government and schools for information dispersal other than public opinion.
Public opinion programs are broadcast on the Public Access channel 23.

The new commission, Kingston Area Government & Education (KAGE) will be 5 members of the community, two from Kingston Consolidated, two citizens from the City of Kingston and one member of the Rondout School District. Superintendent Gerard Gretzinger is expected to be the first appointee.

The Kingston school curriculum already incorporates broadcast journalism as an elective and has an equipped studio that produces closed circuit programs on campus. This will open the programs to the subscribers of TWC in the 7 town district. This will also provide an opportunity for the towns and the city to air their municipal meetings.

The placement of members to the commission will be the responsibility of the Mayor and members must live in the viewing district. Quorum for doing business is three members and financial support will be through public funding.

Meanwhile Kingston Area Public Access (KAPA) struggles on without municipal support, strictly for political reasons of course. Commissioners, producers and supporters are searching the area for a new home.

It will happen! Channel 23 live programs will be back and the public service will resume. I just wish my colleagues on the council were as supportive as I am.


Neighbors around the proposed boarding house on Stuyvesant St are pleased to hear there will be a public meeting this Thursday at City Hall, sponsored by Alderman Robert Senor.

This quiet little street with limited parking is about to get a 12 member family at the cliff-side property of 35 Stuyvesant. A charming Queen Ann style home with a 4 car driveway, this single family home is the focus of "Common Fire" communities based out of Tivoli NY.

With 1 & half bath and an illegally renovated attic space, they plan on sharing expenses amongst the members of the home.

On the surface, the business plan sounds great, and there are some great people running the program, but the location is what has the neighborhood upset. Nestled at the end of this cull-du-sac, this home is slated for renovation. [The Greenification] Well, that means a standard home in “move-in” condition will be the source of additional waste at the dump. Correct? That wont help diminish the waste stream.

I have asked a few proponents of the boarding house to drive to the driveway and turn around, like a homework assignment. No-one has reported back with any pleasant stories. And not one has told me where the off-street dumpster will be located.

Here are some properties on the market that would better serve such a large group of people:

This one on Delaware ave is going for $330K and has 5 bedrooms, all of which are bigger than those in the Stuyvesant home. With a circle driveway around the house, it’s better suited than the proposed site. You could park 10 cars on-site easy.

This one is on Greenkill Ave is close to the three bus routes and houses 5 apartments with enough parking spaces to store five school busses. Going for $450K, the “Fire” people could double their occupancy and greater diminish their dependence on energy. An acre of gardening space would make them the “Garden Co-op” champions of the city.

These are just two examples of better suited properties within Kingston. I’m sure if we look in the Town of Ulster, we would find even more.

All of these choices would be excellent if full taxes were offered. Think about it...People in regular single family homes throughout the city are paying property taxes. They are families struggling to make ends meet.

This proposal intends to take the property off the tax rolls. What effect do you think that has on the greater community?

Some proponents of “Common Fire”, as well meaning as they are, are also touting that they would be happy to pay higher property taxes if it meant this boarding house moved into their neighborhood. I suggest the folks in this income bracket should wear a T-Shirt with that sentiment printed on it and walk around their neighborhood.

In conclusion, the scouting for property and negotiations with the departments could have seen more sunlight long before it got to this stage. Coming to the city or town with pride at the start would have prompted a helping hand from everyone. Now, with lawyers and angry neighbors, it will be hard to shift public sentiment. And thanks for letting the Aldermen know. No, really!

Note: the Tivoli location is in a less dense neighborhood and parking is a non-issue.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Eight pounds of pot! Do you know what a bag of pot like that must look like? How do you acquire the nerve to drive around town with a bag like that?

U R G E N T snagged another drug dealer in Saugerties this past Friday night. The amount of the undercover sale is what shocks me. I’m sure the Narcotics Team was eager to get anyone this brazen off the street.

The dealer, Andrew Bruno, drove up from Poughkeepsie, and once the deal was made, was arrested and charged with possession and sale of marijuana. They seized about $1,400 in cash and a 1999 BMW 740i. Not a bad day’s work!

I’m sure the car will fetch a good price at auction and proceeds will go toward drug use prevention through some school programs.

Either way, the public should be aware that drugs are everywhere and come from Poughkeepsie, Newberg and NYC on a daily basis.

Eventually the dealers get caught, but after selling death to how many of our kids?

Thank you U R G E N T for your continued service.

Friday, July 25, 2008


There was a meeting Tuesday morning from 10am to noon regarding the Inter-Modal Transport Terminal that the City & County have been developing for months.

I, as Traffic Committee Chair, attended the meeting in hopes to better understand the county and state plans for the future traffic management along the Washington corridor.

How people are moved, treated, and long term car storage handled, have an impact on the traffic safety in the uptown & plaza neighborhood.

With representatives from the UCAT, Trailways, UC Economic Dev, Chairman Donaldson and orchestrated by Dennis Doyle, the meeting reviewed the final three locations proposed for the terminal.

Without ruling the Schwenk Drive/Plaza location out, we saw artistic renderings of several styles. Each specified to either the Wash Ave site @ Schwenk or the Round-a-bout site in Ulster.
When the final choice is made and the State signs off on the plan, then we will know what amount of funding the Fed and State will offer and what portion the City and/or County will cover.

Just another mid-day meeting to fill my otherwise empty day.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


During Wednesday’s meeting of Laws & Rules, we discussed the Sexual Harassment case that has plagued the DPW Department and City Hall for months.

The Human Rights director, Tawana Washington, said that the final report was nearly complete. Alderman Charlie Landi jumped in first, asking that the Aldermen get a copy as soon as it is finalized. Hoffay echoed the opinion as did the rest of the Council.

We all feel, as Landi was quoted, that the public should know what we’ve spent all this money on in court. The outcome, should be aired out regardless of the commission’s verdict. However, the Mayor disagrees.

On another note, Tom Hoffay, with some verbal inspiration from me, proposed changes in some language in the “protected class” descriptions.

The original language states in section one; unlawful to discriminate based on sex, right in the first paragraph. That has been changed to: unlawful to discriminate against Gender, Gender Identity, and so on. The word SEX has been relegated to a verb only in this context.

Also added to the long list of “protected class” descriptions is the term, sexual orientation. Although it is included in the New York State statute on non-discrimination, we had it placed front-and-center with the rest.
As you will recal, Gov Pataki signed the SONDA legislation years ago. It has altered the employment landscape here in NY since. The security of employees who are or perceived to be gay/lesbian in the workforce has caused a noticable decrease in employee dismissal and diminished sick time.

I expect to see a better workforce serving in our DPW as a result of the revised Non-Discrimination Policy as well as the harassment course everyone took. Take these tough lessons to heart and be mindful of your co-workers boundries.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Blackwater Diversifies to Protect Itself.

Articles in the AP are hinting that Blackwater is planning to refocus its operations to prepare for a shift in the market; the securities market.

Blackwater is looking to aviation, logistics, and security training, even though the security work has earned the firm hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts since 9/11.

Erik Prince, the company's founder and CEO, told the AP in several interviews that despite the company being a constant magnet for controversy and the subject of negative news coverage, he still defends its “shoot-first-ask-questions-later” reputation.
He states that much of the good that the company does is overshadowed by the bad rap.

Blackwater operators have been at the center of a number of questionable incidents over the years. Last September's shooting in Baghdad, Its aviation branch, Presidential Airways lost one of its planes in Afghanistan because its pilot took the plane on a low altitude joyride and then there’s Blackwater's shadowy sister company, Greystone, which has scoured the Third World for discount soldiers who act like thugs in uniform.

Don’t think they’re hurting just yet: Presidential Airways has snagged at least three Pentagon contracts, worth close to $160 million, to provide its services in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan.
Our very own State Department has renewed Blackwater's contract to provide security to diplomats in Iraq. Great!

The Washington Post announced yesterday: "Iraq Points to Pullout in 2010". Prince probably sees the writing on the wall and he’s plotting a graceful exit strategy. For the perceived image damage Blackwater has done for the US, falling profit margins is not enough of a punishment for the mercenary hunting party he has created. Bad things happen with the American flag embroidered on their uniforms.

The world community doesn’t see the difference between Erik Prince’s trigger happy punks and our proud military personnel.

They want to build planes and abandon the sniper profession, fine by me.

Here is a short YouTube documentary from last year. Not much has changed.


Has anyone heard any proposal for a commercial parking garage/retail development on N Front St before? I have…Oh yeah, I mentioned it quite a while ago.

The City of Kingston owns the two level parking lots on N Front which, on a single surface, offers a limited number of spaces. As a two or three story garage with retail in the front, you can better utilize the footprint.

So, even as recent as May, I posted options for a sale of the two properties to big names like Kinney, Pro-Park and Central Parking. All would gladly invest in the City of Kingston.

The structure, for whom ever submitted plans, would have the historic conforming look from the street and be a height more conducive to Stockade specifications than the Teicher Project did.

City Planner, Sue Cahill, has put out the "Request for Qualifications" or RFQ to all developers which informs all prospectors of the building stipulations in this district.

The active effort to attract a developer to the other North Front Street site is new. The process will be through several meetings and deadlines from August to October. Which means nothing will break ground until the summer of 2009.

My point, in May’s posting, is that the City should get out of the off-street parking business. Leave the commercial parking management to those who would know better. If we continued as is, we would require personnel, maintenance, insurance, security and would remain off the tax rolls. A private company would provide the opposite.

Between my being the Parking Guru and Tom Hoffay being the reining Alderman of Ward two, I would have expected contact to either of us from the local daily paper regarding this issue. What happened?
Perhaps a more detailed request from the local weekly?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


R. I. P. Artie Traum.

Its been years since I saw him in Woodstock. Artie played with many of the greatest performers of my youth, from Dylan, James Taylor, the Band and dozens more.

I grew up in the Woodstock of the 80s when bands still played live at the Joyous Lake. As a youngster with a new drivers license and fresh out of school, weekends at the Gin Joints in Woodstock were the sht.

He and his brother Happy, were often a duo at many gigs and both have a long recording history. I still play his vinyl LP of CAYANE from way back when.

Artie will be missed, in a big way. The news is a shock. I, having lived in Kingston for so long and with no contact with musicians of my youth, have been unaware of his struggle with cancer. 65 is too young.
Local greats like Tony Levin here in Kingston and Warren Bernhardt in Woodstock will tell you of his great talent, but the locals will tell you of his great spirit.

Monday, July 21, 2008


What influence will Tom Golisano have on this year’s Senate race? Well, if money has influence, Golisano will have sway in this year’s election.

Every year, New York seems to inch closer to a democratic controlled Senate. Some people might not like the idea of the three branches controlled by the same party, but we all have diverse opinions on every issue, just like here on Kingston’s Common Council.

Joe Bruno is now gone, but don’t think his influence has dissipated. He still has almost 2 million in his war chest. And much of that will be spent on his endorsed successor, Roy McDonald of Saratoga.

The Republican machine in Albany has been dumping big money into the coffers of key races this year in hopes to stem the inevitable tide of Democratic take-over. The new chief, Dean Skelos of Rockville Centre, who took the departing Joe Bruno's place, is getting a lions share.

Malcolm Smith of New York City, the Senate minority leader, might be the new Senate majority leader this time next year if the Dems pull this one off. Golisano is the key.
Tom, like Elliott, pushed for reform in State government. How campaigns are funded, influence of lobbyists and timely budgets.

Tom has an agenda, and offers funds to those who aspire to help in this radical change. The Millions he plans on dropping on Senate races will greatly increase the viability of any candidate that steps up for his cause.

One key factor is the ridiculous shapes of the legislative districts throughout the state. Have you seen a Senate or Assembly district map? This has got to change. Golisano, with his Independence stripes, will be pushing this issue, and with enough support, might see a difference in how we draw the lines.

I will be working to replace Larkin this year. Larry Delarose is the Democratic candidate from Washingtonville in Orange County. The district includes Kingston, Esopus, Lloyd and Plattekill as well as all of Orange County where both he and Larkin reside.

The shift in leadership in the Senate, falls on the efforts of grass roots campaigns at this level. Members of town and city committees have serious work to do this and every year. No one is expendible and supportive volunteers are needed this fall to make this happen.

Bruno, Skelos and Silver may play games in Albany after the players are picked, but we get to pick the players. We damn well better put some money on some new blood.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


I know a lot of doll collectors in Kingston. Tonner’s distribution and manufacturing outlets in the Kingston area makes most of them swoon every time some new doll is revealed, but the queen of all dolls is still Barbie.
Barbie's always been the girl-next-door type. The cheerleader, prom queen or farmer's daughter you'd bring home to meet your folks. Definitely not the kind of girl you would want to dominate you with nipple clamps.

That's probably why people are up in arms about Mattel's new "Black Canary Barbie," which comes equipped with fishnets, a motorcycle jacket, black gloves and boots.

Mattel claims the new Barbie is modeled after the DC comic superhero Black Canary.
That doesn’t stop people from protesting and trying to block its September release.
Upon a little research, I found some history on Black Canary. (pictured right)

The Black Canary's courage, fighting prowess, and her sex appeal has resulted in her being referred to as "The Blonde Bombshell" in the comic world.Kidnapped and tortured, before being rescued by Green Arrow, left her with severe physical and mental afflictions. She and Green Arrow would have major conflicts in their relationship as a result of her struggles.

I pulled this one Wikipedia definition on this DC Comic Heroin:
Black Canary's name is derived from the seedy bar she works in; the clothes she wears while tending the bar comprise her costume. The male patrons of the bar relentlessly harass her verbally. Deciding that she has finally had enough, Black Canary beats up all of the male patrons in the bar. When her boss asks her what got into her, she simply replies "Batman," and then leaves the scene on a motorcycle stolen from one of the men she has just battered.

Welcome to the brave new world of abuse recovery therapy Barbie.

Next up:

Pooper scooper Barbie.


Thursday’s boat ride with the Mayor was fun. Sure it was a warm evening, but the river breeze howling through the boat made it a comfortable experience.

Everyone was in good spirits, the food was good and the crowd was ready to dance on the upper deck.

This year, a portion of the money raised will go to the Children’s Home of Kingston. As reported in the Freeman, the cruise raised about $14,000, with at least $2,500 of the total earmarked for the Home. Located on Grove St in Ponkhockie, the donation will offset the cost of capital improvement projects at their campus.

I invited Larry Delarose, the NY State Senate candidate, to this years event. Sharing the spotlight with Mike Hein, Elliot Auerbach and Jim Noble as the Mayor read the list of attending notables, we all experienced a positive applause this year.

What a difference a year makes.

With pictures of happy faces on and off the boat, you get to see what you missed this year.

Many thanks to Jim, Jim, the Rip staff and those who help make this happen year after year.

Its a rare chance to mix and mingle without policy issues as the cause.

And what better place to gather than downtown Kingston on a hot summer night?