Friday, October 31, 2008


Several weeks after each general election, I go to the Board of Elections office on Wall Street and get a copy of those who voted that last Election Day.

The list is prepared as a walking list, so I can see who, at each address, actually bothered to vote.

Each year, I am shocked when I see the names of some of our most vocal, missing from that list.
What am I, or anyone in public service, to think when some of our "squeeky wheels" dont have the drive to perform their civic duty?

So, in photoshop, we created pictures of what we see when we meet one of these non-voters.
I hope to see your names on the list this year.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Oh yeah, just what the Larkin campaign needs now is a finance scandal swirling around Federal Campaign finance laws.
You would think, with all we learned about handling campaign contributions after that now famous Tom Delay fiasco that “Good Ol Boy” Bill would know better.

For those who don’t know about campaign financing, there are limitations as to the amount of money a single person can give to a PAC, or Political Action Committee.

In this case, the Larkin Campaign has been accepting donations from corporate interests such as AIG [yes the one that WE just bailed out] and other banking and Insurance companies and then funneling the contributions to Congressional Candidate Kieran Lalor and Judge Robert Onofry as well as Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt presumably for the purpose of funneling even more to Lalor.

The limit for donating funds from a campaign like Larkin's to all federal races, even for a sitting Senator is $1,000.
This past October 22nd, Larkin cut a check for $2,300 for Lalor’s federal congressional campaign through a corporate fund.
This is a double negative. Larkin's donation is a direct federal violation for both Larkin and Lalor and should be investigated further.

Even if the funds were presumed personal, Lalor should be instructed to return $1,300 to Larkin, however, the mere suggestion that the funds were of corporate sources, passed through his campaign coffers, puts Larkin, even if he didn’t know about it, in the hot seat, much that same way of Tom Delay.

To see these numbers on display, simply look up the FEC website and search the Congressional candidates. You won’t see this transfer on Larkin’s latest financials because he hasn’t posted it…yet.

I will end this just the way I started. You would think that with 12 years in the Assembly and 18 in the Senate, Larkin would know better. I’m guessing this isn’t the type of scandal that any of these candidates wants in the press a week before election, but hey…If it’ corporate money handled illegally by public officials, then it’s our right to know.

Special Note: Fliers for Larkin’s re-election are arriving in mail boxes all over Town of Ulster. It seems his staff doesn’t know where the district lines are.


Tennessee is lovely this time of year, so they tell me. So what should I wear when I visit? A white hood perhaps?

Oh yes, Bells, Tennessee is now infamous. Finally a reason to spruce up tourism. And yes the press has gone wild over the neo-nazi white Supremist plot to kill Obama and supporters. Just what we need in the last throws of a 18 month long presidential campaign.

Trouble is, there are so many people across this nation that harbor these hateful thoughts privately and some not so privately. What the electorate in all these battle ground states will reveal themselves on November 4th because the curtain will provide privacy in its most sacred civic action we can perform. Our private vote.

So some 18 and 20 year old skin-heads with half their teeth missing decide to shoot Barack Obama at some rally. Didn’t either of their moms notice the guns in his room and “bulls eye” Obama posters on the wall? [kidding]

The fact that neighbors never thought of these young men as a hateful beings, shows that we don’t always know who is harboring thoughts of harm toward others. We see it occasionally even in our blue, more enlightened state of New York, but never suspect in our own neighborhood.

The two campaigns haven’t really addressed this “assassination plot” in any great detail because it is a distraction from their message in the last week, but we, as caring citizens should be cautious, even as we reach out to help one another.

And inspect your children’s candy at home before feasting on the evening’s collection.

Monday, October 27, 2008


With only a week before Election Day, I can tell you, the masses have awakened. There is a buzz throughout the Hudson Valley that something just short of a movement is about to sweep through every level of government.

Do I dare say a progressive movement?

I had the pleasure of spending time with both Congressmen John Hall and Maurice Hinchey this Sunday.

Hall was the guest speaker at the Monroe Committee fundraiser for Larry Delarose. He spoke at great lengths about the financial crisis they are dealing with in DC as well as the need to have a more responsive advocate for the well being of the 39th district when he calls for help in Orange County.

He reminded everyone just how much of a hassle it is to connect with our incumbent when immediate issues arise. He expects to work much better with Delarose.

Maurice was the guest speaker at the Stoutridge Winery in Marlboro, raising funds for Frank Skartados for his race for Assembly.

Marlborough has closed the registration gap between the two parties. No longer the republican stronghold that it once was, this town is now back in play for either campaign.

The recent surge in voter registration in both Kingston and Newburgh, have the opposition scared enough to drive through a number of towns and steal Obama, Delarose and Hinchey signs from roadsides and even some front lawns. We’ve never seen this at such a rate before. Someone is truly nervous.

I rounded out the evening clearing out blocked storm drains in the neighborhood. It really was a well rounded day.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


The American Association of University Women had a candidates Forum this past Friday evening in Saugerties.

The district covered by this chapter covers Greene, Ulster, Dutchess, Putnam and Orange Counties.

Of the long list of candidates for state offices, the seven who showed up were:

Kevin Cahill – Assembly (D)
Anne Rubin – Assembly (D)
Larry Delarose – Senate (D)
Peter Lopez – Senate (R)
Don Barber – Senate (D)
Jonathan Smith – Assembly (D)
Tim Gordon – Assembly (D)

AAUW offered this forum as they have every year, to provide the public and media an opportunity to define the candidate’s opinions on women’s issues.

Equal Pay, Health Care, School Taxes and Education, the list went on.
After three hours of grilling the candidates on all these issues, I have to say, we have a level headed & progressive selection of choices throughout the Hudson Valley region.

Although Saugerties is a bit north for some, since the AAUW district includes Orange and Putnam, but word from Greg Ball, Tom Kirwin and Bill Larkin that they weren’t coming would have been nice.

Portions of the forum will be broadcast on Channel 23 in the Kingston Area TWC district this Friday, compliments of Colin Evans of the KAPA Commission.

Larry Delarose will be my guest this Tuesday, October 28th at 9pm.

Friday, October 24, 2008



Once again, the Poughkeepsie Journal endorses the Good Ol Boys in the State Senate.

First, It was Larkin over Delarose for some misleading reasons pertaining to vagueness.

From what I understand, Larry went into great detail on some of the issues they focused on and yet, the Editorial Board sites that Delarose was vague. Whatever.

Now it’s Frank’s turn. Assemblyman Tommy Kirwin, has been weaseling through election cycles with the same tactics as if the formula will always work. Not this time. Just as with Delarose, Skartados has some sharp points for serious change in the Assembly, and his private sector success story? Untouched. What a paper!

The Editorial Board thinks Tommy’s “lack of” is reason enough to let him continue to “Fight on” for another term. Everyone knew going in, that the paper was going to do this…but why so brazen?

Tom's claim to fame? Voting against the budget! I also voted against the City budget twice. I was out voted and it passed, but I voted against it…should I tout that and run for Assembly?
Puh-Leez !

I read the papers editorial with dismay as they showed a second time who they serve…themselves. Albany needs an enema and the Poughkeepsie Journal isnt interested. Delarose and Skartados will be the ones who usher economic change to their two districts and will surely pay attention to their constituency in a different fashion than what you’ve seen of late.

What happens when one or both of these fine candidates of change wins and the board has to face them for the next term? Will they be shunned by the office holder like Kevin Cahill has done to the Kingston Freeman? Hmm, maybe there’s something to that!

100th Assembly District that includes the cities of Beacon and Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County and the towns of Marlboro, Shawangunk and Lloyd in Ulster County.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Wow. We had our first informal budget discussion Wednesday night. Let me tell you, we’ve got some real work ahead.

The Mayor’s budget offering raises the tax levy for residential properties about 8%. Compounded with the Tax Shift we implemented last month, you are looking at a 14% increase if we don’t do something.

This Council is not known for shrugging our duties so you will surely hear all the gory details through the month of November as we gut the services, dismiss personnel and skip a year of new toys.

Our Comptroller, John Tuey, gave us a power point review of how the budget numbers came to be. Our civilian audience of about 20 got a crash course on revenues, bond rates, contract provisions and the restrictions we Aldermen must contend with as we chew on these numbers.

Its just the wrong year to be Alderman.

The Mayor, like every other municipal executive across the country, is faced with a terrible economy, diminished revenues and accelerated debt. I don’t place undue blame on Sottile for these numbers. What I am upset about is the perfect storm of budget increase, inflated assessment and the tax shift all in one cycle.

Our intent is to slice all non-essentials and strip the expenses to their bare minimum operation ability. Leaving some departments thinking of bake sales as a means to bridge any additional expenses.

This isn’t going to be quick and easy. So hold onto your hats!

Monday, October 20, 2008


To the surprise of both the Obama and McCain campaigns, Colin Powell appeared on Meet the Press and offered his support for Barack Obama. Did anyone else see that coming? I thought he would just stay out of the fray of this one and wait for the winner, fully expecting Obama to pull it off.

But the wait is over and the resounding endorsement is out there, having a serious effect on the few undecided that must have been hiding in a cave. Who doesn’t know who they are voting for at this tail end of an 18 month election cycle?

Persons close to Powell say he’s been paying attention all along and waiting for the right time to make a serious impact on the race. Well this would be the right time. It’s been two days and the buzz is still out there. Of course here in New York, none of this matters, so the question is, how will it affect the battleground military states?

It has taken a long time for some of us to get past the misleading role he played in the case for going to war where we didn’t need to, especially after years of proof otherwise and the tremendous cost in blood and treasure for America.

But getting past that, Powell has always had the respect of the military commanders and those who accepted the fact that he acted for the Bush Administration at gun point while in office. I have certainly gotten over it.

Powell made it clear that that he doesn’t think McCain/Palin is the team prepared to lead this country. He used the term “transformational” to describe Obama and pressed the need to show a fresh face to the rest of the world.

Like so many other centrist Republicans, they see McCain becoming less that what they first “signed on” for as the campaign season comes to a close. To send this idea home in a more local example, we have Republicans working the phone banks and stuffing envelopes in Democratic HQ here in Kingston.

I guess Colin and like minded centrists have seen what McCain and his friends at Fox News and Newsmax have been doing and decided its just not Kosher. What do you think?

Sunday, October 19, 2008


The Kingston Professional Firefighters had their annual awards banquet this past Friday. Celebrating their 100 years of service as the premier firefighting team established in Kingston.

The theme of the evening was focused on the family lineage and the tradition within those families since its inception. With a brief video/slide show following the early years on up to today, the proud service of many local families beamed from the faces around the room.

With most of the Council, a few County Legislators and candidates Delarose and Hein, in attendance, the banquet room at Wiltwyck was filled to capacity with current and retired firefighters. Many of whom had received awards in the past.

This night was different. While we did have high regard for the men and women who put in 20 & 30 years, as we had experienced before, we did have the privilege of meeting and honoring Seamus Reily, a young man who, while in route to school last January, discovered an older gentleman who had fallen, broken something and couldnt get off the icy street.

Seamus quickly notified a neighbor and had our rescue team there in minutes. Without Seamus’ quick thinking, this could have had a sadder ending. Seamus received the “Berardi Humanitarian Award” for this thoughtful act and will probably join the KFD in the future.

Congrats to the firefighters who reached the goals of service that brought us to this happy gathering:

Vince Hart – Retiring
Mike Lefevre – 30 years
Maryanne Misasi-White – 20 years
Tom Chase – 20 years
Mike Glotzl – 20 years
Wayne Platte Jr – 20 years.

To our friends in the Local 461, we thank you for your years of service. Providing Kingston and the surrounding area with competent and passionate safety. We sometimes we forget what we have invested in as taxpayers, but when the smoke rises and the sirens wail, we see you in action and we are proud.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Ok, so Wednesday night’s debate proved to be quite a show. I have to say the volley of hard hitting jabs between McCain and Obama were worth my cable bill this month.

I have to say, from my partisan perspective, I half expected John to lose his temper at some frustrating points during the 90 minute exchange. That would have made for better television as well.

I had the pleasure of watching the event in a like minded crowd of 90 who attended the Debate Party sponsored by fellow Alderman Hoffay, future State Senator Larry Delarose and myself.

Back Stage Productions was the place to be. The space is very accommodating for a list of uses. I must plug BSP for their hospitality and ability to throw a good party on a short notice. I would also be short sighted if I didnt say thanks to Beth and Stephen for the HudsonValley4Obama backing for this event.

You can imagine the funny comments shouted from the crowd everytime McCain said something odd, but the repetitive use of “Joe the Plumber” as his new mascot talking point got the crowd in a fit of laughter. Like; “Where is he going with this?”

Oh, and then the “Palin as VP” question. Did you have your seat belt on for that one?

A friend came up to me today and asked; “Mike, of the 360 million people in this country, how did we end up with these two?” I said, first…you’ve got to want to do something to make change rather than just complain about it. Then you have to have the nerve to run for a local office and open your life to the electorate. Then you have to be willing to listen, learn from those who know more than you, and sometimes make unpopular decisions for the good of the community and have the drive to aspire to higher office. It’s not easy.

To see both McCain and Obama as our choices for president not only galvanizes our polarized views in this country but also shows us that not all of us are up to the challenge both personally and financially to be full of ourselves enough to think we are worthy of such a title.

So, to wrap this up and from my partisan perspective, I have to say Barack Obama is by far the better choice and considerably less dangerous than the alternative.

There…I said it.
Isn’t this where I say “Vote Row A – All the way!”

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


The Ulster County Legislature, at the urging of Administrator Mike Hein, voted almost unanimously to formally request a full investigation into the workings of Lower Esopus River Watch, back in 2006. So who voted against?

The office of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo finally filed the lawsuit they asked for, this past Friday.

According to a report by Paul Brooks from the Record, The state attorney general is suing former Ulster County official Rick Fritschler, saying he made more than $800,000 in "unsubstantiated" purchases, including $48,000 on meals for himself and others. You would think the former Chairman of the UC Legislature would notice right? Well the LERW dissolved shortly after the 2006 elections.

So, why Fritscher? He was the chairman of the UC Environmental Management Council at the time in question.

The Record reports: The county Legislature contacted Cuomo's office in January 2007, after a general audit of county finances raised questions about Fritschler and the environmental council. County Administrator Mike Hein directed the audit when he took the job in 2006. Two years later, like Government, AG Cuomo and staff finally announce the investigation.

These “Good Ol Boys” knew what they were doing, or so they thought. They concealed their dual board posts and quietly transferred assets from the taxpayers to the LERW. Our Money!

My question, with the Legislature dominated by the Republican Party for so long, and the close ties to our Republican State Senators, what level of involvement or complacency did Bonacic and Larkin have? These guys have been around enough to know where untraceable money is hiding and with a willing county leadership playing along, the access would be too easy.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Sunday, October 12, 2008


For those of us who have been on the front lines of dog rescue and fighting Puppy Mills, we have great news.

Governor Ed Rendell just signed HB 2525 into law. This is the proposal that could radically change the way the dogs are treated as they are inhumanely breed in captivity.

Why Ed Rendell? Pennsylvania is known as the Puppy Mill capitol of the east. Most of the puppies you find in pet shops in malls and Main Street are from there.

The regulations regarding the handling of “your” puppy’s mother, were extremely lax, and millions of exhausted, over bread dogs were just beaten to death when they stopped producing.

HB 2525 doubles the cage space required for dogs in commercial breeding facilities, prohibits wire flooring and the stacking of cages, mandates exercise and twice-yearly veterinary exams for all dogs, and requires that animals be humanely euthanized by licensed veterinarians. Current law does not require dogs to ever be taken out of cages, much less given access to exercise areas.

For some of us, this law represents years of lobbying several local states to change their laws.

Here is a Puppy Mill body storage area for the bitches that slow down in production. [pictured right]

Joining the ASPCA in their organized efforts, we finally have victory in Pennsylvania. Three years of effort and thousands of Emails and petition signatures sent to the Department of Agriculture will force an increase in enforcement and upgrade the standards of care for dogs in the state’s commercial kennels.

While so many people are focused on the GOTV in Pennsylvania, Many others were spending much of the past several months in Harrisburg, the state capital, promoting the bill to legislators. I didn’t have the free time, but of the few I knew that went down…thank you.

Dog Law Action

Thursday, October 09, 2008


What a good year to be Dutch. It seems this is the year we really see what a friendly sovereign country from old Europe can do with a party. What party? The Quadricentennial celebration that will happen throughout 2009 from Manhattan to the far navigable reaches of the Champlain.

It is confirmed that Crown Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands will visit New York during the many events commemorating the 400 years since the 1609 voyage by Henry Hudson. Now Hudson may have been an Englishman, but he was working for Holland when he made his famous journey.

Queen Beatrix, the prince's mother, visited the Hudson Valley's Newburgh area for events marking the 350th anniversary. It is customary that a member of the royal family is urged not to visit the same foreign region twice. Thus Prince Willem is the perfect choice.

The Dutch government has committed to spend $8 million on New York's quad events. This comes at a time when most of us are looking for any excuse to smile during adverse times. One way all of us can take part in the preparation for next spring is to join Evy Larios, Me and many others Saturday, Oct 18th, at City Hall as we distribute thousands of tulip bulbs and set out to plant them in designated patches throughout the city.

If you would like to know more about next years events or to join us Saturday, Call the Clerks Office at 845 334-3916, Kathy, Arlene and Mimi [Our blue ribbon staff] will be glad to help.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


I almost can’t believe how Paul Kirby worded the article from the monday night Caucus. There is a huge disparity in the tax structure that places a business-buster like burden on Commercial properties. We all know it, If you haven’t been subjected to this dialog by now, you must live in another county.

Less than 20% of the city of Kingston is non-homestead [commercial]. Yet they pay more than 50% of the taxes.

The Mayor made the proposal to shift the whole difference so that the tax burden is equal for all properties based on their assessment. We said “Where did you come from?” That wouldhave offered an instant 28% tax hike for residential.

It is much too easy to just say, we aren’t going to make any changes to the tax structure because the people most affected by the increase, are those who are registered to vote. We always look like we are killing business in order to keep our electorate happy.

Here’s the problem. We are elected to create the best City we can. We are placed with the task of making our neighborhoods safe, our seniors and youth secure, engaging our constituents so everyone has their voices heard, and keeping the expenses in check.

Once in a while, a choice is before us that is not easy. You place all your trust in the nine of us to make the right decisions. This is one of those times.

Get ready for a tax increase. There, I said it.

We shifted only 10% of what the Mayor asked for. The letter you received last spring was a mistake. Those numbers do not apply. What has to be realized is the Mayors letter used a 3% increase as the base for 2009. We expect it to be a bit higher. I expect that you’ve all expected a financial tsunami to hit us this year…well, it’s true.

This post has no pretty pictures in it, because this isn’t a pretty picture. With a 0% increase in the 2009 budget, residential taxes will start with a 6% increase. I bet you just screamed at your computer screen.

With Central Hudson and fuel oil costs like they are, you’re already looking at a tight wallet. This bitter pill will not make this any easier. I saw a packed house at the Council Chambers. Thank you for being civil.

Monday, October 06, 2008


Saturday morning is usually a time to slow down for most of us, however, not all of us get to rest on the weekends.

Our firefighters were on the ready that morning when the call came in about a fire on Pearle St. Arriving on only minutes, the crew had their ladders against the house and bodies on the roof.

What they found was the chimney of 8 Pearle St. had caught fire. The flames billowed around the bluestone cap with little resistance. Most of the older chimneys throughout the city have no interior liner to prevent the flames from pushing through the cracks in the brick.

The fast call by the residents and the quick arrival may have saved this building from an unpleasant fiery end, but surely the families inside and the ownerwere thankful of the immediate response.

So, just as I had stumbled upon this terrific act of our Fire Department, let it serve as a warning. Get your Furnace serviced and chimney cleaned before this winter kicks in.
Chances are you too have an older and less secure chimney than you might think.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


Here is an excursion you shouldn’t have missed. I joined Friends of Rondout for a short trip on the Hudson on a WWII PT boat. It’s one of the FleetObsolete that are available at the docks behind the SteelHouse.

Joined by a number of active citizens, the cruise was intended to give us a close up view of the Hudson Landing and Sailors Cove housing development sites from the river’s perspective.

Any view of the shoreline from any boat on our majestic Hudson River is always a spectacle. Having the housing proposal and the groups history as a narrative during the trip brought the whole event together.

The PT boats earned their place in history due to their terrific speed and maneuverability, used primarily to antagonize the enemy ships in supply channels; they ended up being the last surviving fleet available during Pearl Harbor. As time passes, fewer people recognize their importance in the darkest days of the war.

The choice of PT728 was no accident. Use of our waterfront is the foremost concern for any of us who are paying attention to Kingston’s growth. Tourism on and off the water plays a part and the waterways are key to the revitalization of the Rondout; the PT Boats included.

While on the river, we got to review the importance of community involvement and the successes of Friends of Rondout, and the new site
The ability for the public to contact and interact with their elected and appointed leaders is vital. The trip on the river was a nice outing for those of us who volunteer in the trenches every day because it reminds us that we are more than just opinions at meetings.


Welcome to!

Friday, October 03, 2008


Orange County Legislature says NO to Larkin’s PistolCAM. That’s right, it’s dead. This little game he and Rep. Chairman DeProspo tried to play on the Orange county taxpayers didn’t bode well for the Legislature.

Good Ol Bill allocated a $20K grant to purchase mini-cameras for the SWAT team to use in training, but the whole notion that a specific company brand from a business buddy of DeProspo just smelled of bad politics. The money has since been funneled to other police counter-terrorism projects.

According to Chris McKenna’s story in the Record, the sheriff's unit wanted rifle models and only for training purposes, not the small pistol version that ended up in committee. The company, that manufactures these cameras has close ties to DeProspo and past Republican candidates in Orange County.

Delarose commented by saying "The county legislature showed courage in not getting involved with a situation that was obviously an attempt at political payback by Larkin and DeProspo. It’s sad that it got this far, but had McKenna not pursued this issue like he has, this bill have been passed like Business as Usual.”

Quoted in the Record: Public Safety Chairman Stephen Brescia, said “Complaints about DeProspo's involvement and his company's use of Orange County in its marketing had made the camera proposal untenable. The appearance didn't look good, and we were all concerned about that, but it looks like we're not going to lose the grant, so everybody's happy."

Well not DeProspo and PistolCAM.