Tuesday, September 30, 2008


So, you’ve all been following the eventual exodus of Empire/Colony Liquors from Kingston to Greene County. What a loss for our Kingston workforce and our tax base.

Empire Merchants North announced plans Monday to consolidate its operations to the dismay of our economic development teams in both Kingston and the county. You know this is a blow to all the families whose bread-winner is employed here.

According to our City Hall personnel, they are moving to a shovel ready Industrial Park in Coxsackie where they can consolidate their two distribution centers into one. I’m guessing no amount of negotiating could have pressed them to stay since the only thing that matters to most companies is the profit margin and not the welfare of the community.

Kingston will be losing over 200 jobs because of this corporate move. The option to commute is open to most of the current employees, but who expects that all of the local staff can do that?

On one side, I know that we shouldn’t expect these bigger companies to play the role of a not-for-profit employment center, but there has to be an incentive to stay on our part. This brings me to the tax burden transfer issue.

As we all know, we have a dual tax system here in the City of Kingston. It has been long overdue for a serious course correction for the overburdened commercial properties that struggle to make a profit. As it sits now, we, the Common Council, are poised to shift a small portion of the disparity away from commercial properties as an incentive to stem the exodus of jobs from the City limits.

In the case of Empire Liquors, it wouldn’t have had any difference. They needed to consolidate their distribution efforts, but for small business in the City of Kingston, this offers a sense of acknowledgement by the administration that business is struggling locally and we are finally prepared to do something about it.

But let me warn you here and now…no amount of magic is going to make this year’s tax increase pleasant. Not for residential or commercial property owners. It’s lookin pretty ugly out there.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Great news! Julian Schreibman has won the chairmanship of the Ulster County Democratic Committee.

With a last minute rival, Roy Hochburg of Hurley, we got to see a showdown between the ways of the old guard and the brave new direction of Democratic politics.

It seems the persistent drive toward open and ethical government once again forced the members to rally around a candidate who embodied change.

Rejecting the conventional ways of politics of yesteryear, the crowd of about 300 made the loud statement that they’ve had enough of the Good Ol Boys, by voting 3 to 1 in favor of the brash new face of leadership.

I have to say the evening offered me the glimpse of what’s to come nationally. With the distinct move toward change, the Committee is now poised to take more seats in the County Legislature in 2009.

This year’s races needed some chutzpah considering we are chartering new territory at the county level and the opposition isn’t playing games with this one.

Schreibman and the new County Treasurer Ian Brody of Saugerties, both did amazingly well with the final numbers. Julian truly won the hearts of the Democratic Committee with the weighted votes totaling 17,000 to 6,000 in his favor.

Ian did an outstanding job with 13,000 to 5,000 against his opponent, having campaigned for the position for about four days.

Kathy Mihm’s campaign was really a coronation in that with her qualifications, and 27 year history as the number 2, she was destined to play the role of Elections Commissioner. She got not only a unanimous vote, but a standing ovation.

In all, it was a good night for the Party. The jubilation at the thought of a clean break from what ailed us as a party, also gives us the bounce we needed to kick ass this November.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Down in the Hamlet of Wilbur, a seemingly forgotten area by my fellow City of Kingston comrades, there is still the remnants of a bygone era of barge and ship repair in operation.

Feeney’s Boat Yard has been operating here along the Rondout for decades, with little or no impact on the neighborhood around it; until lately.

The recent intensity of their repair schedule has pushed the crew to work later hours and sometimes through the night. I heard they were rushing to satisfy a government contract on time. Problem is, their work creates noise. Loud noise.

The pounding of steel and shifting of materials through the yard has cuased the firm to consider building a more insulated metal building along Abeel Street. Though closer to the road, it is expected to dampen the banging associated with their work.

The Building Dept has cautioned them on the noise ordinance several times and at times, the decibels dwindle, but then hot nights and open windows prompt the public outcry as the 3rd shift carries out their duties.

The building’s foundation is done, the metal ordered, and the planning Board has signed off on the plan. Yellow walls, blue roof, and landscaping will be something to see, but will it settle the noise problem? We will have a neighborhood meeting specific to these neighbors needs late November to assess their success.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


About 80 adults and their 30 kids attended the Montessori dedication at Washington Elementary Friday morning. We all witnessed an auditorium stage with the Kingston School Board and key operators of the program sitting in a row, basking in their accolades, as the Mayor gave praise to the persistent organizers.

School board President David Fletcher spoke of the individual uniqueness of each student and how the Montessori program provides the flexible learning model for each student. Each student learns at their own pace.

The teachers at Washington had to chose between teaching methods as this program was introduced this summer. Many teachers who desired to stick with the traditional teaching method had transferred to other elementary schools while some transferred from others to Washington to participate in the program.

Eligibility was also an issue. Students who’s parents thought the program was unsuited for their child were offered bussing to other elementary schools, while those families outside the Washington district are prohibited from bussing in. [That confuses me]

Believe it or not, They wrestled Sen. Larkin out of retirement to receive his KUDOs for the State Grant that helped propel this program to fruition. His action in the Senate was at the urging of his daughter, asking her father “ how much clout in the Senate have you got left, Dad?” The crowd chuckled.

Quoted in the Freeman: Washington Principal Valerie Hannum said “Even though the rest of the school still employs a traditional educational approach, you'll notice a touch of Montessori in most of the classrooms."

AnnMarie DiBella was the only other Alderman to join me at the dedication.

Friday, September 26, 2008


As an Alderman for the City of Kingston, I have done my very best to stay away from the legal ramblings of the DPW sexual harassment and contract pay scale issues until the process is completed. It’s the right thing for the Councilmen to do, since we preach to others about letting the rule of law take its course before judgment.

But the ability to resist venting our opinions is getting long in the tooth, considering the Freeman’s expose on the Police and Fire chiefs overtime rates.

First, the paper didn’t have to FOIL for the info. Both Keller and Salzmann are stand up guys who do their jobs well. The numbers make sense and there are no scandals in either of their departments that I’m aware of anyway.

I am amazed that the two submitted payments for less than $2,000 and $3,000 dollars for the last two years. And both offer clear explanations as to what caused the overtime. [stole their pictures from the Freeman]

My colleague Al Teetsel is suggesting a shift in process to make all the Department heads more accountable for their overtime by detailing their overtime reasoning and the Mayor having to sign-off on the extra pay. I agree, as do the rest of the council, but I would add that perhaps the DPW Superintendent have a cap on hours allowed like the Police Chief.

You’ll notice I still didn’t opine about the ongoing legal case that still plagues the city. The Aldermen will have that place in due time, even when some characters are screaming for us to interject on the matter. We are like jurors during a case. We have our speaking limitations when it comes to litigation and personnel matters like this one.

Bit the disparity in the overtime pay-out is worth noting, and the public will want to know more.

Freeman reporter Paul Kirby did point out that Kathy Janeczek, our City Clerk, also works obscene overtime hours without compensation. She and the whole staff at the Clerk’s Office are a tremendous asset to the Council and the taxpayer. They all surpass their expected duties and deserve recognition for their diligence.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Ok, so our State Senator Larkin secures a grant from the state [taxpayer’s money] and specifies a brand right in the application. What grant you ask? Guns with cameras for street patrol officers.
The brand is PistolCam, the concept is great and may help with post-mortem crime scene reconstruction, but the fun doesn’t stop there.

The Record did a story on the prevalent occurrence of insider deals and the lack of ethics in Albany, a shocking story I know, but it’s a story that has been swirling around the “Gang of 33” for quite a while.
But what got me, was I called the author of the story, Chris McEnna, and had a terse conversation with him, after praising him on the article, I asked him what possessed him to actually write something about the “Good ‘Ol Boys” after letting this stuff slide for decades? He finally said, “I can’t talk about this I am very busy.” So, I got nothing.

The grant gave the Orange County the money to buy these devices from Legend Technologies only. Now this might not seem much on the outside, but the company is represented by William DeProspo. He is also the Chairman of the Orange County Republican Party.
[You knew that was coming].

The purchasing agent for Ulster County or even the City of Kingston would never tolerate a grant specified to one company. There has to be a bid process with every major purchase. In this case...The OC Legislature put the brakes on the order and gave Larkin a homework assignment.

As you would expect: Legend Tech and its associates, dump a lot of money on Bill every election season. But we expect this from some of these guys, right?
What puts this over the top, is these PistolCams haven’t passed any rigorous testing period that I can tell and the OC Sheriff was quoted as “only using them in training”. What would taxpayers buy them for if not to protect the public in the real world?

McEnna goes on with his research on alternatives to the gun camera…Some are solutions for under $100 each, compared to the $1,000 purchase price stated in the grant. What about a HelmetCam? Don’t we already have cameras in police cars today?
The answer is simple. Orange County suffers the same problems that all counties face, whether it be Ulster, Dutchess or Erie.

Cronyism is alive and well. This is just one example of what’s really out there, and if you want more of the same…Vote for Bill.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


The fundraiser for Larry Delarose was a success. The crowd of about 30 was energetic and open to the idea of sending a human being from the private sector to Albany.

Larry surprised a few people with his wit and knowledge of the issues in the Hudson Valley. Including Kingston and our economic development hurtles. It seems the issues aren’t that different throughout the 39th Senatorial District, where under the control of Joe Bruno and the Republican Party, the Senate has offered very little for our area.

Sure, the incumbent tagged along when the Solar Consortium was introduced by Hinchey and Cahill, but coat tails on legislation doesn’t make a strong advocate for economic growth initiatives in our State Senate.

Mariner’s puts on a nice spread, for any of you looking to celebrate any occasion large or small. The food and staff are great which leaves the rest of us worry free. All who attended the gathering would agree.

Larry got some strong points of wisdom from some veteran politicians in attendance as well. With the mood of the electorate leaning toward cleaning house, and the shift in demographics in the Mid-Hudson, more people are seeing the possibility of a Delarose win in November.

Having served in the military, branch manager at both Prudential Securities and Smith Barney and worked for years in the local press and the AP, Larry has a well balanced resume’ worthy of this race for State Senate.

With a nice addition to the campaign fund, the reenergized group of faithful and an excuse to patron one of our local restaurants, the effort was worth it. And it gave me an opportunity to write about it here. So check out his website and make an educated decision this Election Day. Lawrence Delarose to New York State Senate - 39th District

Monday, September 22, 2008


The weather, the location, the huge crowd and of course the guest of honor: Andrew Cuomo [pictured right with Larry Delarose]

Saturday's Annual Democratic Dinner Fundraiser was a great success. The general mood in the general public leans toward an expected change in leadership nationally and at the state level. In the middle of this crowd, it seemed more like the inevitable.

Andrew Cuomo brought the house down. What a terrific speaker. Almost as good as his dad.
His warm demeanor makes you comfortable while his statesmanship sets you in awe. His is a presence that comes naturally to a select few.

We had a crowd of almost 300 at the Hillside Manor for this one. The Democratic ticket is strong this year, and I expect alot of wins come November. Everyone is enthusisatic about the new younger faces jouning the cause for Obama. For most, they understand the need to elect the rest of the ticket in order to implement the policies that Obama is offering. For that, I can only say "welcome to the party!"

Our County Chair, John Parete, was enthusiastic in that he is confident in all the races throughout the county. The momentum in Ulster, Orange and Dutchess Counties is gaining and we will see new faces in Albany in addition to winning the two new positions here in our county government. I would have to agree.

Its a winning ticket! Just look at the talent: Obama, Hinchey, Delarose, Cahill, Hein, Auerbach, and of course Tom Hoffay. What a line-up.

Yeah, this is the time of year I get a little partisan in my posts, but we've got 5 weeks to go and there's no stoppin now.

Make a point to read up on the candidates and where they stand on the issues that matter to the middle class blue collar workers and their families who face an uncertain future this winter.

Here are some links:

Maurice Hinchey For Congress

Lawrence Delarose to New York State Senate - 39th District

Re-Elect Kevin Cahill -- NY State Assemblymember -- 101st Assembly District

Mike Hein for Ulster County Executive

Auerbach for Comptroller

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Something that was pretty much assumed by everyone throughout the City of Kingston, drugs were being sold out of RJs Lounge on Thomas Street. No, say it isn’t so!

Located a stone’s throw from the Darmstadt Homeless Shelter, the pub, a typical speak-easy seedy gin-joint, was the scene of an URGENT raid last Friday. The raid yielded just what they were looking for.

Ronny Johnson, was busted on drug charges after the raid uncovered coke and paraphernalia used to package and sell it.

After undercover officers made several drug purchases at the bar, police raided it on Friday and found more than 2 ounces of cocaine, cutting agents, packaging material, scales and $5,000 cash.

After their successful catch from Wednesday, in Ulster, I’d say URGENT was on a winning streak this week. Unfortunately, the strong demand for illegal street drugs and the continual downturn in the local economy will keep the steady flow of willing drug dealers coming to the area.
To some, the risk is worth the reward, to buyers, the addiction goes untreated. That’s why we have URGENT.

Friday, September 19, 2008


The Thursday night Laws & Rules meeting was one to remember. The Conference room was standing room only. 40 plus people filed in at 7pm to witness the fireworks between two groups who both believe they are working for the betterment of Kingston.

I commend both Rob Iannucci and Mike Bernholz for the large amount of time and money invested in our precious waterfront. But the argument over docks and channel navigation took over two hours before AnnMarie DiBella called for a vote, which yielded the motion to table for next month.

The volley of accusations between the parties did not make a light evening out of this dilemma.
The channel, located between Island Dock and the city bulkhead along Dock Street has navigation issues that, until defined more clearly, pose a threat to the funding Iannucci is seeking for the impending development plans he intends to offer the city.

Bernholz insists his use of channel encroachment is grandfathered in and the city should resist legislating his current use. Where is the middle ground?

The City of Kingston is placing a lot of faith in our friend Iannucci, while he buys up significant acres of waterfront property without any plans, however, he is also responsible for cleaning up brownfields, and oil tank removals, as well as renovating some existing structures. All a huge positive.

Bernhols long history of providing dock space for an increasing population of leisure boaters has helped the tourism industry in an area that was once an unwanted death trap. He has a worthy status as a pioneer.

I rather like the idea of implementing the proposed channel use minimums to help with Robs finance speculation, with the intent to implement the Hideaway docking modifications when planning board approval is offered years from now.
Lets see what Bob Senor brings to Laws & Rules next month when he has had enough time to work with Rob and Mike toward a compromise. Enough of the petty infighting. Lets see this area developed already!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


It finally happened. The Board of Public Access Commissioners finally suspended Phil Cosme. After years of verbal abuse and occasional threats, Phil finally went over the line and found himself with a six month suspension of his producer rights.

This is the culmination of numerous confrontations where complaints have filed in over and over without sufficient evidence or a quorum to formally act.
It seems the Commission finally gave him enough rope.

There was a verbal exchange at the Channel 23 studio between Phil and another producer's guest and his wife. It quickly escalated when the [in your face] routine followed, as it usually does.

I did not witness the event, but after cross examinations and review of the evidence, the Commission decided to suspend Cosme for 6 months and the contributing party one month.

With the possibility of the Channel 23 studio moving to a new location with a fresh start, we all hope that the tension between producers and guests will subside and the programs will reflect a renewed sense of purpose.

The useful nature of Public Access is underutilized and my colleagues and other town boards haven’t the appreciation for the information dispersal potential that it is.
As far as not liking some programs that they may find disagreeable, I say get a show of your own and counter the charges.

You can find me most Tuesday nights hosting Valley Chat at 9pm. What is stopping other elected officials from producing their own show? I haven’t a clue.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


The races for leadership rolls within the County Democratic machine are starting to take shape as we head on into the final months of the campaign.

With Parete announcing his desire to vacate the office of Elections Commissioner in January, the field of contenders have a better notion of the odds of surviving a race internally within the party membership.

One race many people outside the political machinery don’t know about is the position of Elections Commissioner. It’s a coveted job within the two parties because if the tremendous impact on the methodology needed to get Democrats elected.

One gentleman who threw in his hat early, stepped up and said he would withdraw his bid for the position if Kathy Mihm were to seek the job. A very impressive gesture on Peter Laughran’s part.

Kathy has been the managing force in the County Elections office for enough years that her recent departure serving as the Clerk of the Legislature has left a vacuum. If I were to nominate anyone for this position, It would be Kathy Mihm.

Other contenders who might seek this influential position should think twice. The City of Kingston Committee just voted to draft Kathy Mihm for the Commissioner’s position. I would think that most of those of us who have had the privilege to work with Kathy in the Elections Office, will support her as the nominee should there be any choices at the next convention.

Kathy, I wish you the best of luck and offer my support.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


There has been a tremendous push by environmental groups to urge residents to replace incandescent light bulbs with the miniature fluorescent bulbs. The energy savings and diminished demand at the power plant are the main drive for the national campaign.

However, these new bulbs have mercury in them as a conduit for the bright chemical reaction in these bulbs. Although the bulbs have just a slight amount of mercury in them, the manufacturer urges the consumer to avoid vacuuming the broken glass should you break one.
Why? Because the substance will be dispersed throughout your home, that’s why. A professor, Robert Hurt of Brown University has created a product that absorbs mercury 70 times better than the best available technology. This is where the green industry is heading.

I like the new terminology they use: Nanomaterial. It’s making the big promises about collecting the mercury vapours using [get this]: selenium nanoparticles.

If I didn’t read this in a report, I wouldn’t believe it either.

The report says: By covering the breakage with the selenium lined paper for two days, you can stop almost all of the release; they think it forms mercury selenide, which is a very stable compound. They think!

Without the paper, the mercury slowly evaporates from the broken bulb over several days.

Why do I want to shift over to these new lights? Where’s the up-side?

Despite the minor hazard in the home, CFLs use less mercury than incandescent bulbs running on electricity from coal, which releases mercury when burned. So you’re releasing less mercury into the general atmosphere by using less energy in the home.

What I want to know is where are we supposed to deposit these condensed and tube fluorescent commercial bulbs? I see them in household and commercial trash cans but I know of no provisions to collect and recycle them. The issue has never come up in any meetings at City Hall and the folks at UCRRA have no answers.

Perhaps we can designate a special truck on Fridays like the metal collection crew we have now and they can carefully place bulbs in the padded compartment, avoiding all potholes in the street and cruising out to some recycling facility based in New Paltz or Woodstock.


For those of you who have a service and price contract with a fuel oil supplier, I urge you caution.

The recurring complaint from so many people in the mid-hudson region is that fuel deliveries are postponed arbitrarily until the contract expires and the inflated cost is passed on to the consumer only days later.

While chatting with Larry Delarose during one of his campaign stops, he mentioned the questions come up throughout the district. From Monroe and Hamptonburgh to West Park and Kingston; the story is the same!

Delarose [pictured above with Tom Hoffay] said: “I’ve been hearing several complaints from local residents worried about the cost of home heating fuel this winter. They are particularly upset by the recent practice of some local providers who delivered fuel this summer in the off season at higher prices than the customer contracted for during the winter. The law in New York State should be amended to provide that any customer who has a price cap contract with a provider does not have to accept delivery of fuel after that contract has expired unless they know the price that will be charged at delivery and agree to it.”

Larry is absolutely right. There should be a law that will stop the widespread sandbagging by home heating oil companies. It shouldn’t fall on the consumer to guarantee their profit. Under the current system, with or without a contract the homeowner is totally at risk for rising prices at the whim of the fuel provider. This is unfair and it should be stopped.

This issue fell on the deaf ears of our State Senator a few months ago, so contact our State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill and ask that he sponsor a bill to address this issue.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


A few weeks ago, my colleague Bill Reynolds, expressed a desire to modify our charter regarding “definition of family” to better match the State Constitution. He wants to eliminate any reference to the traditional family structure.

Our current zoning regulation that states no more than five unrelated people can live in such a dwelling or it’s considered a rooming house. Here is one example of a rooming house located on Clinton Avenue.

Reynolds was quoted in the Freeman: “The group living together must be permanent and stable. The occupants must share the entire dwelling unit, live and cook together as a single housekeeping unit and share expenses for food, rent or ownership costs, utilities and other household expenses - all in a way that is the functional equivalent of a traditional family."

Regarding ownership costs, I would offer that the occupants should have a sense of investment into the real estate equity as in a contract that they are part owner of the dwelling, since they are not blood relatives, the stabilizer in this equation would be the long term contract and fiscal attachment.

Taken right from the article: Reynolds said in his e-mail that residents of such a dwelling could meet his proposed "permanent and stable" standard by:

* Having minor dependent children regularly residing in the home and attending local schools.

* Having a common address for purposes of voter registration, driver's licenses, motor vehicle registrations and the filing of taxes.

* Being employed in the area and not being transient in nature

Enforcement of the rules will be the real sticking point for the Council. All too often, laws are passed without the qualified staff or authorities to keep track or levy punitive fines on violators. If there is no provision within the Building Department to enforce the revised code, we will have to create new language to fit the provision.

Everyone will remember my initial opposition to the proposed “Common Fire” operation in my neighborhood. The density of the use of the property and the increased traffic on such a minimal street as well as the Tax issue really fired up the neighbors and brought the whole “family unit” definition to the public’s attention.

Reynolds supports the co-op plan. He says his intent in seeking to change the zoning law is not to accommodate the Common Fire Foundation. I suspect it is, but the issue needed to be resolved anyway.