Monday, March 30, 2009


If you check out the City of Kingston website, you'll discover a link to the cherished accolades from Forbes magazine.

Kingston, N.Y. was just named one of the top places for “small business and careers”.

Just in time to reap the possible shift in the economy. Or am I a little early in my assessment? Ah, I'll run with it.

We grabbed spot number 90 out of 179 cities. Right smack in the middle isn't bad considering the thousands of towns & cities they ranked for this coveted prize. 24 thousand to be exact.

The site explains the criteria: crime rate, education, income growth and “net migration”, among other things such as culture and leisure, and housing. When you think about the vastness of our country, I think it's astounding that Kingston has charmed it's way into the hearts of those seeking the ideal city.

The article continues: "The ranking reflects Kingston’s quality of life, public safety and prospects for small businesses and technopreneurs". I am sure the recent embrace of the Digital Corridor concept and the goal to use the Carnegie Library as a digital learning center helped in their selection.

You can sneak a peek at the and the exciting direction Kingston is growing.

Our city site also notes: Business Week magazine ranked Kingston high on a list of desirable cities for artists and creative types considering relocation.

The housing crash has slowed the realestate market a bit, but that is only temporary. Those who wish to escape NYC, are sure to find those bargain homes throughout the Hudson Valley in the months to come. We are just hoping the Forbes and Business Week ratings and Technopreneur name tag will giude those looking to create a geekdom in the Catskills toward the City of Kingston.


This store on the corner of Broadway and Elmendorf is closed. Not the type of establishment any of us frequent on a daily basis, but I'm curious about the cause of the closure. Any clues from the public?

Could this be the first challenge for the new Main Street Manager?
It's right across from Seven/21 Broadway! Hello people!

Sunday, March 29, 2009


The Washington Times just did a story focused on the increase of terrorist entry into the U S through our porous border.

It has bee
n a long winded arguement that our unguarded and under-funded patrols have left the door wide open for just about any group to smuggle people, guns and drugs in to the States from Mexico.

The only tired rhetoric we hear from the amnesty/open borders advocates is that everyone is racist and xenophobic. Now, with the press finally catching up with reality and actually reporting on the killing spree and drug trafficing, we hear less about their imagined assumption. I wonder why?

It's become known that the Iranian-
backed Lebanese group Hezbollah has been smuggling drugs and people into the U.S. using the same methods of the Mexican cartels.

The Times reports: Hezbollah has long been involved in narcotics and human trafficking in South America, and is now using the same routes into the U.S. They rely on the same shadow facilitators. One way or another, they are all connected.

You have read past posts here where I advocated for the border fence and an increase in border patrols. Some of you w
onder why anyone in the northeast would care. Well, the strain on our healthcare system, our already diminished job opportunities and the potential threat to our security through terrorist means should be enough.

This has finally escalated to a point where no-one can ignore the threat anymore.
The cross-border flow of guns, drugs and people has intensified since the U.S. reduced access to the country by air and water following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

However, our last administration felt the influx of cheap labor from the south would help the corporate backers that put President Bush in office. I have no excuses for the Democrats that followed suit.

The drug wars between the cartels has destabilized the Mexican government and, as one member of Obama's team quoted: Mexico is a failed state. This has prompted Obama to send additional agents to the border. Will this emergency measure allow the fence installation to continue?

According to that same article
: Adm. James Stavridis, commander of U.S. Southern Command, recently told a House committee that the connection between drug traffickers and “Islamic radical terrorism” is a growing threat to the U.S.

And a senior U.S. defense official said that in addition to Hezbollah,
al-Qaida could also use the Mexican cartels’ trafficking routes to smuggle operatives into the U.S.

Finish the fence, implement the E-Verify system and require all landlords to insure legal status of their Tenants. France and the Netherlands, two of the most liberal countries in the world, have entry standards that make us look like chumps. It's time we tried to secure the border and the well being of those who already reside here.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Anyone trying to navigate Broadway in Kingston during the mid-day lunch periods were in for a shock. We experienced what you would call a civil protest by the High School students sparked by the plan to close the campus next year.

Several Emails between students were intercepted before the day got started and the police department was prepared. You would think the
situation was dire, based on the number of officers, but you can never be too prepared for something unexpected.

Superintendent Gretzinger made the announcement that starting
next fall, the students will not be permitted to leave the campus grounds during the days operation.

Like most of my immediate neighbors, I am thrilled to hear this. We have begged for this action for as long as I can remember. The school dominated the Watch meetings from 1997 to 2003, while I was chair. Now, even with only slight contact from the neighborhood, the School Board is doing what we asked.

There were arrests made. A few students did get aggressive with the authorities and were taken downtown. A smaller number were taken in for "J" walking. That offence didnt require cuffs, but the example was made of a few that such a large crowd on a busy street obstructing traffic, someone couldhave gotten hurt.

My take: These students provided the School Board with just the example they cited when issuing this ordinance. Had the students simply crowded the lunchroom to the breaking point instead, their message would have been better received.

Assuming the campus is closed next fall, you'll find the neighborhood from Staple Street to Hoffman Street to be quite nice and litter free. No more Wendy's and Burger King wrappers on our lawns, no more speeding on the streets and best yet, the mid-day clubs that formed on our dead end streets will come to a close.

I expect our property values to increase. Dare I tip off the assessor.

I saw the Cheif and spoke with the officers during the chaos, but got the sense that the students did little to cause alarm. Once the seniors are off starting life in the jobless market this summer, the incoming crop will harbor less angst on this issue, having little off-campus history to reflect on.


Many of the faithful readers of this Blog are familiar with the two News Papers that cover Kingston. The Daily Freeman and the Kingston Times.
The relationship with the staff at either ebbs and flows like the issues they cover. This week is no different.

There is an article in the Times this week focused on Ward Nine and my two primary challengers. Simple enough story with a little tension and intrigue. But, like so many other tech savvy public figures and the advent of mass rebuttal, the need to print with less of a sway is imperative because we can respond more quickly.

Funny thing with me, I have a daily Blog with hundreds of visits per day. So I get to respond to not only what is said about me, but correct the misquotes that are generated.

In the Kingston Times, Jesse Smith states: Madsen said he is not worried about the challengers and believes he will enjoy broad support for his
re-election among both Democratic Party officials and constituents. I can embrace that quote.

Here's the strange one: He also had harsh wor
ds for his opponents. That's an interpretation to help fuel the paper sales. I don't blame Jesse, the print media is suffering financially.

Jesse forms my quote as: Halwick just wants to be an Alderman so badly that no one can talk him out of it. Actually I said: "I just DJed a party for Mark and his family last fall, I mentioned his desire to run for Alderman to his mom and she said there's no talking him out of it, he just wants to be Alderman. No reflection on your job"

I'm willing to bet, the quote attributed to Mark regarding my attention to the residents was just as altered. So, I have no reaction to anything I read coming from Mark, because I no-longer trust the source.
And it's true, Mark and I were making phone calls for GOTV together at my friend Amee's house last week. We shared Pizza and soda while having a few laughs. Not quite the picture you'd expect from this article.
I consider Mark a friend.

Here's the other quote: Debbie Brown is motivated by anger over his failure to attend Ward 9 group meetings and give more attention to the group's agenda. Not so, I think certain members of the Ward Nine group are mad at me for my stance against allowing a commune on Stuyvesant St and that, compounded with my support for the Main Street Manager, motivated their leadership to push Ms Brown to run. I don't recall using the word AGENDA either. I hold no hard feelings toward Debbie and have had a terrific rapport with her over the years. As I said on the phone: Deb and Gerry are good people.

As for the number of meetings Aldermen attend...I do attend many more than the minimum requirement, simply because I'd rather be informed when I get to the council floor. For that, I'm sorry...what was I thinking?
The opposite has come up recently pertaining other Aldermen, but that's a different issue.

The quote: "I think she's upset because I'm not showing up at the Ward 9 group to talk about victory gardens, considering that I'm going to 10 or 15 meetings a month to discuss council business, to work on budget issues, I think I can get away with it." Fascinating.

Sitting close to Debbie in the chambers before the last Council meeting, my friend and I were laughing at the workload and the 12-16 meetings I attend monthly. Not including the daytime visits to City Hall and constituent homes. I repeated this to Jesse on the phone. Perhaps the phone signal was breaking up.

"I think I can get away with it?" As if.

Indeed, I do have my hands full. The Aldermen have so much to do to stave off the financial catastrophe that threatens Kingston. Meanwhile we are working with Legislators Dart & Provenzano on revamping our health insurance options, while promoting the Quadracentennial and Biannual sculpture exhibit this summer.

Where this ends, well the primary I guess. I promised Mark I would help him with petitions if he asked. That would be contingent that any flaws you may see in me are offered without malice. Just listen to the reporters questions more clearly before answering.

It hurts to think I have to second guess all the statements by all public officials in the paper from now on. I've had a very different impression of the Kingston Times for a while now, and I'd hate to change that over this episode.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Last month, If you recall, I made a bold assumption that Andrew Cuomo would challenge Governor Paterson for the nomination to run for the office in 2010. I think that possibility is inching closer every day.

Not too long ago, Dave's former fundraising queen Cindy Darrison, made the move to link her firm with the Attorney General. Good for her. I expect that, unless Paterson's numbers turn around like a scene in "Twister", the coronation is all but over.


Darrison told the AP: "Having worked with the previous attorney general for eight years, I've been very impressed with what Andrew Cuomo has been doing in the attorney general's office, his cases involving the health care insurance industry and Wall Street are particularly impressive," she continued. "I'm looking forward to working with him."

Her move is just one strong indicator of what's to come.

There has been a plethora of independent polls taken across the state for weeks, showing Dave's popularity slipping, with no end in sight.
One reporter on PolitickerNY actually framed Paterson's retreat from re-election as a McGreevey moment. The difference is Jimmy actually won the governorship through his own campaign before screwing it up.

With the spread wide enough to make even Eliot Spitzer jealous, Paterson can just give it up. Funny, I almost feel sorry for the guy.

The combination of the banking collapse, the MTA meltdown, the squabbling between Smith and Silver on the state budget, Paterson has nowhere to turn but Lame Duck Bliss. He can do what he wants without repercussions.

But what about 2010? Do you know how many offices are up for election next year? More than all your fingers on your pampered latte sipping hands. And lets say Andrew runs and wins, what happens to the AG spot? Is is an appointment? Special election, like the Congressional seat next week? What a mess!

On a final note: Remember I threw Pataki's name out there for US Senate in 2012. I still have a sneaky feeling, he'd be willing to jump back in, if his family will let him. Some readers said absolutely not to both predictions. Lets watch and see.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Several months ago, it came to my attention that we had a registered sex offender in Ward Nine. A few of the immediate neighbors were excited to discover the proximity of the man through the Sheriff provided websites, and thus, called me about it.

Having sat through countless meetings with enforcement personnel, and listening to the rational behind open placement in mixed neighborhoods over and over, I understand the need to keep these offenders where authorities can track them.

However, like the folks on O'Reilly St, I found it odd that the probation officer found it tolerable for him to reside next to Kingston High School. And what about the landlord? Is the guarantee of rent by the state is so much a prize that he'd willingly house someone of this ilk near the school?

The 20 something in question, is a level 2 offender and should have been placed somewhere further from youth. Sorry, just my opinion.
Note: This has no connection to the issue of "district banning" either.

After separate conversations with Chief Keller and Don Ryan of the Sheriff's Department, the months long process of finding alternative lodging began. He is now living in Massachusetts in a facility designed just for this situation.

Even without incident, I would like the officers in charge of housing/placement to consider the schools, daycares and youth centers when guiding these men and women in the system. Yes, I know every case is different. But there has to be a little forethought when location is considered.

Perhaps the facility in Massachusetts could provide us with a template for further housing studies in New York. The desired result of such a study may have to travel to Albany for any action to occur. More on that later.


Has anyone noticed the increased attention to the words of Eliot Spitzer lately? This would be the former Governor who was notorious for pursuing the slimy business tactics at AIG, the sub-prime mortgage brokers and the Wall Street investment moguls.

I made the point several months ago, that I suspect the investigative efforts of our Governor, made certain people in the banking indust
ry uncomfortable, which lead to his scandalous outing of HookerGate.

Sure, his deeds were the cause of his own undoing, but the unorthodox investigation tactics that continued well after his election to the Governor's seat forced Wall Street execs to silence him.
Oops! I sound like a conspiracy theorist.

But with populist anger at AIG
and all things stinky in the world of finance, the Steamroller's dire warnings are hauntingly reappearing, much like himself.
Eliot continues to write columns about the financial mess on, he's been on national TV and on the radio. (even quoted in the NY Times and Newsweek)

I saw a quote on WAMC's site where Spitzer stated on the Brian Lehrer show. "As you suggested, there was a period when as Attorney General of New York I was pursuing issues that nobody else wanted to pursue. We pursued AIG and Wall Street’s structural failures in a way that others shied away from because it was politically unpalatable for them to address those issues. Now it is the flavor of the month"

I would echo THE NATION's Katrina Heuvel's suggestion that Obama replace Geithner, whom I supported at the onset, with Eliot Spitzer as Treasury Secretary.

Me? I am willing to look past the scandal and the forced "temporary" faux leadership of his Leutenent as Governor. (I think Cuomo will remedy that)
Just put the talent where it's most useful and get this country out of this mess!

Monday, March 23, 2009


Wilbur has been scrubbed and swept!

My helper and I spent a little time last week and today, preparing the hamlet of Wilbur for the city's street sweeper. I was worried that the frosty weather was going to force the rig back to the warm garage since it requires water usage. But victory was ours!

We raked enough of the sidewalk debris into the street to give the vacuum a bit of a struggle, but the result is terrific!

Having the sweeper cruise through a neighborhood is nice enough, but if you know the schedule, you can really take advantage of the machinery we've invested in.

I'm thinking the wooded corner of W Pierpont and McEntee this weekend. Any volunteers?

It's marshy, so waterproof boots are required and I'll be separating the recyclables from the trash.

Happy Spring!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Hunter Mountain, like so many other ski resorts, is impressive in any season. Early spring is no exception.

This past Saturday, after an afternoon of canvassing for Scott Murphy in Catskill, my friend Amee Peterson and I were invited to attend the "Meet Scott Murphy" event at the base lodge. The gorgeous setting was appropriate.

It was one of those rare moments when timing worked in our favor. A number of key guests were there as well as plenty of familiar faces from Ulster County and Kingston. We had joined what was considered a regional movement toward economical stewardship through the potential leadership of Scott Murphy.

Before 100+ attendees, Scott demonstrated how his meteoric rise in popularity took hold. His charisma, grasp of the issues and charming good looks have made this long shot seem inevitable.

Sure, I've followed the feeble attempt to link Scott with AIG bonuses and "All things depressing in NY" during the campaign, but when you meet the real deal in person...All of the negative rhetoric washes away.

Amee had his ear for quite a while after the speaking session and I just know Scott is aware of what she thinks of his opponent. I had to shake my head and smile while the immediate crowd nodded in agreement as she spoke. Funny stuff.

This special election has captured the attention of the nation. The values of the electorate in the 20th Congressional district are going to provide a platform for the election season to come. With a 2 to 1 Republican registry in the 20th district, the numbers were expected to be something other than 50/50.

March 31st is closer than you think, and yet this will feel like the longest yard. Why all the effort? Having someone help Maurice Hinchey, and John Hall in Congress is a worthy goal. There's comfort in knowing that Amee and I are not alone.

The district includes Delaware, Greene, Columbia and the northern half of Dutchess Counties. It also extends north-west of Albany.

Friday, March 20, 2009


In a recent communication from Mayor Sottile, he asked the Common Council to support and embrace a grant application to the State for the demolition of the former cement plant located on the Hudson.

Forming a partnership with Hudson Landing to take advantage of the Restore New York Communities Initiative grant would have a tremendous affect on the pace of the project.

Most of the city is weary of the drawn out planning stage of this housing development and would like to see some action on the part of Perna and Company.

According to Gov. David Paterson, local municipalities can now apply for Round 3 of the Grant, totalling $150 million. The intent of the program is to spur growth by providing municipalities with financial assistance for revitalization of commercial and residential properties.

Over $300 million is estimated to be dispersed when all is settled.

The City of Kingston will be able to compete for funding to aid in the demolition, deconstruction, rehabilitation and/or reconstruction of vacant, abandoned, condemned and surplus properties.

Paterson told the AP: "During difficult and challenging economic times, the innovative Restore New York program will be crucial to rebuilding our economy and launching New York on a path towards full economic recovery, I look forward to announcing Round 3 recipients and witnessing the positive transformations that these projects will stimulate."

Malcolm Smith said: "The single best way to get New York's economy back on track is to attract new businesses and jobs by investing in our communities. Restore New York is the kind of program that provides immediate results."

I have to say good thinking on the part of our Mayor Jim Sottile for taking the initiative on working with Hudson Landing to speed things along. This has been a painfully slow process to which this effort by this administration can only help.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


In an effort to reach across the aisle on the issue of VA Funding, President Obama was almost fooled into privatizing Veteran's Health Care.

As of Wednesday evening, word has gotten out, that the continued efforts of our many veterans advocacy groups to steer the administration away from this potential disaster, has worked. The proposal is no-longer on the table.

American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) has made the case for full VA funding, even in the face of this economic crisis. The main sponsor of the private/voucher system of veterans healthcare? Sen John McCain.

There have been efforts to dismantle the VA since it's inception. We know what political party has continually pressed for the elimination of this department.
They insist this notion that if the government provides, manages and subsidizes health care to any US citizens, regardless of the military service they provided our country, reeks of socialism.

For the last eight years, the level of funding has dwindled in hopes to push the level of service below public tolerance with the intent to sway public opinion to their view. It almost worked.

McCain serves as the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee. He offered an often attempted notion to introduce a voucher system to supply Vets Healthcare. An idea that is another thinly veiled step toward dismantling the current Veterans Health Administration. Until now, Obama was tepidly interested.

AFGE President John Gage told watchdog groups: “Senator McCain is one of the most prominent veterans in the country and should understand the severity of acting against the stability and well-being of his fellow veterans. We respect his years of service, we just hope that he can respect the service of the 23 million other veterans living in the United States.”

To get their message out clearly, the folks at AFGE put together this video in hopes to convince McCain and the other members of the committee to fully fund the VA and step away from the Voucher/Private proposal. The VA is ideal in that it focuses on problems unique to veterans issues. McCain, as their membership states, should know that he is jeopardizing the services of those he claims to support.

My hat is off to Obama for seeing the wisdom of a fully funded VA. With an expected 400 thousand peace-keepers, half ours, about to flood Afghanistan for the next decade, we need a reliable VA.


This is a picture of the upper side of Hudson Stree
t where it meets W Pierpont.

Now, I'm n
ot in the habit of just throwing random pictures of Ward Nine on the Blog without reason.

But the DPW crew responsible
for trimming brush in troublesome areas in the City have done a terrific job in a spot that always tested my ability to keep clean.

They did an equally terrific job in Ward Eight. The Abeel Street parking lot near Hone S
treet looks like it was parked out for pictures, so I took a picture.

When an action like this makes this much of an impact with little expense to the taxpayer, I have to applaud the crew.

Job well done. Keep it up.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Can I say that it was nice to see some of the commercial waste cans out on the curb for the big parade this weekend!

Thank you DPW for having them available for the slim group of spectators that chose to use them.

I am always amazed at the condition of the street
s and sidewalks after a parade or street festival. I get the impression we are performing for animals instead of the other way around.

However, there is one point I would ask of our municipal can maintenance crew. Please find a way to keep the bags from falling in the can at the first breeze. The instant the bag falls in, som
eone will run up and throw half a milkshake on top of the folded bag. This defeats the purpose and makes retrieval near impossible.

Above, you see a can with a bag falling in. Nice example right?
To the left, I am re-setting the bag. I know, there's a glare off my head.

Now, here's the best part. When attempting to steady a bag to prevent it from falling in as soon as you walk away, simply slap a 12 inch strip of duct tape on the outside. Adhere six inches on one side, pull the bag tight, and press the remaining six inches. This is enough to keep the bag stationary for the whole week.

If anyone needs a lesson in person, simply ask, and I'll see that the superintendent makes an hour available one Friday afternoon.


Could the negative "Gloom & Doom" rhetoric finally come to an end?
It seems Team Obama has shifted gears over the weekend with the intent to put a new face on this economy.

The number of economists who are falling in line to proclaim a shorter recession, has jumped in numbers and the tune they are playing is sounding a bit less painful.

Obama's staff, Geithner and Summers worked the weekend talk shows with a hint that the downward slope may level off this spring and hover through the year before creeping upward. This is a change from the talking points just three weeks ago.

The announcement today reveals a plan to reduce small-business lending fees and an increase on the guarantee to some Smal
l Business Administration loans. Definitely an upbeat start.

Will Obama's role of "
confidence-builder in chief" help the slight bounce in the market take hold? It certainly cant hurt.

While a guest on a Sunday Press show, Larry Summers, Director of the National Economic Council, quoted the president: "It's never as good as people say it is when they say it's good and it's never as bad as people say it is when they say it's bad."

Lets just say he's learned both how to speak "Capitol Speak" while sifting through the extreme mixed messages from self proclaimed experts on economic issues.

So this fresh attention to small business. Will it be enough? Will it reach the struggling merchants in small cities like Kingston? I'd like to hear from local bank managers, just what difference this proposal will have on their ability to loan money with confidence.

Washington expects to offer more than $10 billion aimed at unfreezing the secondary credit market, in theory, this will lubricate the system and get small loans moving again. Will it affect my ability to refinance my home? I'd like to take advantage of these great rates, but the industry has the jitters when it comes to refinancing anything.

Small business is the main engine that keeps this country moving. The administration intends to do something about spuring economic growth. Small business has got to be part of the equation, as well as those big banking bailouts, healthcare reform and individual home forclosures.

Granted, it's only March 2009. Obama's been in office a few months. I do my best not to expect a complete turnaround in the first 100 days while many of us struggle with the same delusion. Lets see if this break for small business will be enough to pump a little HOPE into the system.