Tuesday, September 29, 2009


The members of the three business districts here in the City of Kingston, joined forces this Tuesday evening at Seven21 Broadway, to host the Aldermanic candidate economic forum. Almost all of those seeking a seat for the Common Council showed up.

With all the candidates seated along the side wall, the questions were handled by KJ McIntyre and administered by Kevin Quilty. In pairs or singled, they delved in matters of commercial taxes and the ability to continue doing busuiness within the city limits. Whether they answered the questions clearly or made their own statements close to it, they all made their individual impressions on the business community.

At one point, Kevin asked if I, as a current Alderman, or any of the other Legislative candidates would like to say something. I actually went up and found the others didnt follow. I floundered a bit, but got some points across. I think I stopped breathing at one point.

I told Jesse Smith of the Kingston Times, that if this successful turnout sponsored by the business community, is what we can expect in the future, then we are poised to see great changes at the merchant level.

Considering the economic road ahead, not everything said sounded like your typical canned "Lower Taxes-More Service" rhetoric you'd expect during a campaign. Everyone seems to be a realist and we all know that our expected budget is going to be real test.

Yes, the dual tax structure was an issue, as was the lower cost/sq ft operating costs in the neighboring town of Ulster, but the drive for all of those seeking the position of Alderman, to work with the business community was expressed well.

Look for many of the faces here tonight to appear on the newly revived Channel 23 primetime schedules during the comming month.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Hundreds of Kingston residents pass the famous Wine Cave on McEntee St every day. Very few know any of the history that surrounds this iconic location. So I made a point of looking for the history.

I found a few sites online that told the detailed story of the pre-prohibition breweries in the area. It seems our little town of Kingston was littered with them. This one had it's own story.

William Bertsche and his partner, Martin Uhle had a bakery at the hillside location [pictured right] where as a result of a contract between them and Dressel & Hauck Brewery in 1864, proceded to dig a huge cave in the back of the building to store beer. Uhle went on to open his own pub on Broadway and the brewery took over the location on McEntee. [formerly Holmes St]

According to Thierry Croizer's brewery website: They were soon producing 5,000 barrels of beer a year. Hauck
and Dressel ran the brewery until Dressel died in 1884. That same year that the main brick brewery building was built near the corners of Wurts St and McEntee St. Today, there is a freshly paved parking lot at this location. [pictured below]

Hauck then ran the brewery alone until 1890, the year the brewery was incorporated as the George Hauck Brewing Co.

George's sons, Adam and John, became company officers.

Hauck's "Rock Cellar Brew" was named after the cave that the held the earlier bottling plant. By 1912, the brewery was turning out approximately 35,000 barrels of beer a year.

Shortly after George Hauck died and prohibition set in, the brewery was remodeled for the manufacture of peanut oil production. It was marketed as "Salanut", "Refined Virgin Peanut Oil". The brewery was now known as the Hauck Food Products Corporation. On December 9th 1920, John Hauck, 62 years of age, died at his home after a long illness. In early 1922, the Hauck Food Products Corporation was sold to Bankers Underwriters Syndicate of New York.

We drive through these neighborhoods not knowing the history that formed our great city. The top picture shows you what the cave looks like today and empty parking lots are all thats left of historic manufacturing facilities. Why were these buildings torn down? Will we ever build up our city streetscape again? Probably not until we alter our dual property tax structure.

Friday, September 25, 2009


So, I'm checking out some recent articles pertaining to innovative measures to offset the never-ending cost to taxpayers, and I see this one about low risk inmates at the Pike County Jail in Pennsylvania. They pay $10 a night for room and board.

Sounds amazing doesn't it?

Those who cannot pay, may work off their bills with custodial or other tasks that can be done with a minimum of supervision. So let's think about this. Is there anything different in New York that would prohibit this program? If not, I'd like to start the research.

The article points out that motivating and supervising people who have wound up in jail will not be easy most of the time. But giving the inmates the chance to get out of the compound and work off their new housing fee might be the key to a well behaved crew.

One of the hopes embodied in our system of incarceration is that people will learn the value of work and start to understand what they need to do so they can avoid a return trip. Hell, I'm advocating for a tougher workfare system. One where you perform public service before getting a check. So of course I'd like to see the inmates working for the privilege of living off our hard won money.

Can this be done in New York State and would YOU want inmates working off the tax burden they afflict on us?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Our New York State Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, is once again ahead of the curve. I say that because, according to several reports, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is about to implement a ban on campaign contributions by any firms that deal with our pension funds. Tommy has made that reality as we head into the Comptrollers race for 2010.

The general term that everyone refers to regarding influential donations is "Pay-To-Play". DiNapoli will not have a repeat of the disaster that haunted Hevesi during his last years in the office.

The SEC is truly concerned with the appearance if impropriety when large corporations pay off politicians looking for good favor in the future. The public needs to have confidence in the investments of the pension fund.

The one point that I disagree with Tom on, is it's limited to companies that are looking to start doing business with the state now, rather than those who have already been doing business here. Sounds like a loophole to me.

I read this paragraph on the SEC website:
Cuomo and the SEC have been investigating the use of politically connected placement agents tied to the fund. The middlemen received millions of dollars in fees for getting business through the fund under former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi.

If only I could only snap my fingers and reveal all of what I've been hearing on the influence of big money and the ties to business contracts once a candidate wins. It's really quite sad, but it's all too often that that's how it is. Tom's position is no different. I'm glad he's made this bold step.

With about a million retired and employed employees, looking for the state comptrollers office for a secure retirement, DiNapoli and all who work within that function have to keep contributing interests and the challenge of their office separate. As dismal as the numbers are now, we don't want his office to resemble the State Senate now would we?

Monday, September 21, 2009


Every once in a while, we get to witness the DPW crews performing some of their expected tasks. Friday, I stumbled upon the storm drain vacuum crew digging away on Andrew Street. You cant help but hear the machine in action when that shoot is poking around the drains.

Here you'll see just what is clogging this storm drain. Tree roots. There's no limit to what you'll find in one of thes
e, but when organic destruction like this plays a significant part in the continued repair cycle, you begin to understand why we visit them so often.

Eric Wiley and Louie Palen managed to scrape this one clean, but I know there is no end to the repair list that's waiting for them. My hat is off to the unsung heroes that keep this city working in every department.

May you all survive this next budget crisis.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


It's unfortunate that it takes so long to make a good case when getting scum off the streets. But if that's what it takes, I say keep up the good work.

URGENT nabbed two dealers Friday evening up in
Saugerties. Confiscating over 12K of cocaine. The two are from out of the Hudson Valley; the Bronx and Schenectady. Typical right?
This trash comes into our neighborhoods, sells their death and then goes along their merry way back to their source for more. Just look at the reports in the paper, you'll see the city address listed daily.

It took several months for URGENT to buy enough to secure a watertight case against the two. How many more are still out there?
I guess it's just another example of how some of our tax dollars are actually working. And to think Newburgh is laying off half their police officers.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Interesting news in the world of union leadership. Richard Trumka, second in command to retiring President John Sweeney, has taken over the AFL-CIO Presidency. [almost in a coronation manner]
I'm reading in several accounts that it was pretty much pre-ordained.
In the recent past, the AFL-CIO has spent most of their war chest on candidates that have been friendly to labor. That is not expected to change.

What's interesting is, I got this email about UNITE coming back to the big family at AFL-CIO and walking away from SEIU. Any of us who get such emails and twitters, know there has been a move to leave SEIU for quite some time. Maybe UNITE shouldn't have left in the first place, But I don't know all the details. With a few friends in the hotel business, I would get to hear some of the in-fighting that their representation was going through, but not to this extent.

What I did see in the New York Times, was that Arlen Specter has made a complete turnaround on the Employee Free Choice Act. Shocking isn't it? What got into him? Well the opportunity to insert some stipulations of his own of course. That's the Specter we remember.

To close: I say congrats to Richard Trumka in leading the troops back to the home team. Its only a matter of time before those you left behind rejoin as well.


The Kingston waterfront was treated to a special arrival of the flotilla of historic Dutch sailing ships. These gorgeous boats are making their way up the Hudson River to mark this month's 400th anniversary of Hudson's trek up the river.

Among the fleet is a replica of the Half Moon. Mixed with other replicas and newer flat-bottom boats, they all navigate the ancient waterways that provided a source of livelihood for the indigenous dwellers as well as important trade routes after it's discovery by explorers from Europe.

The boats came over aboard a much larger sea worthy carrier, then released to the calmer waters of New York Harbor in early August. Serving as a backdrop for the arrival of the Netherlands Prince Alexander and his wife, the flotilla became it's own reason to celebrate.
I wish I had been there.

The boats head out today destined for Catskill and then on to Albany for the final shindig on September 26th. I hope ya'll got a chance to visit the fleet while they were here in Kingston.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


For some of the residents in Ward Nine, the appearance of the macadam applicator along Montrepose Avenue is a site for sore eyes. Arrold Paving is finally laying one of the two layers on the disaster zone we've had to endure for months.

As you can see, the curbs, although cement, are finally prepped, and the thin cheap bluestone is about to be installed. But the pain and suffering of the neighborhood during the process is about to end.

Here are some pictures I took Monday afternoon.

The work will continue as the crew extends the progress down to
W Pierpont toward McEntee St. I expect traffic difficulties and dust for a few more weeks. But until then, we just have to embrace another successful task for our city engineers.

The work undergound doesnt get the accolades it deserves, when compared to projects on the surface. Bravo and many thanks to our engineering staff.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Well, Primary Day is upon us. Registered voters have the chance to pick whom they prefer to represent their party's values when we head into the General election this November.

I guess this would be my last time to express my desire to represent the Democratic Party for the U C Legislature.

My tenure on the Common Council has been a real crash course on how we should and shouldn't manage the affairs of the people. My eight years representing Ward Nine has been a challenge and very rewarding. Serving as the conduit for the people and their government has toughened me as well as made me intimately concerned with the good people in Kingston.

I have had nothing
but positive feedback from all the people I've met during this process. Let me tell you that the weather has been a real issue. I'm sure the others will tell you that dodging the rain clouds has diminished our ability to hit every home in the district, but I have done my best.

The petition pro
cess, the mailers, the fundraisers; all of it exhausting, but exhilarating. I've built a small group of determined supporters who have been both fun to be around and a pain in the... I wouldn't have it any other way.

I have done my best to keep my race out of the posts I publish here on the Blog, hoping to keep the two separate. But this is the small exception. For those readers who live in the 6th District, I need your support. You know who you are. I know where you live!
Well, I have a list of registrants anyway.

For the rest of you, wish me well this Tuesday as this summer's hard work will come to fruition, one way or another. Is it the time for change? Or more of the same. The Democrats will have their say on Primary Day.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


Taken right from the Humane Society website:

From dogs whose owners had to move and weren't able to bring their faithful friend with them, to cats whose owners brought them to the shelter because of allergies, your local shelter is full of pets looking for love and a second chance.

In fact, between three and four million dogs & cats are euthanized each year in animal shelters across the nation. If more families looking for a pet, chose to adopt their new furry friend from a shelter, we could put an end to this tragedy.

Bottom line: Shelter animals make great pets!

Monday, September 07, 2009


I've been looking at all these different arguments for and against the public option in the forthcoming Health Care bill. Frankly, I don't get all the drama. The details have been pointed out to us in numerous articles and the whole document is available online.

I guess the point is, you'll see what you want to see. If you're looking for the evil that the insurance companies told you was there, you'll look until you find something that fits your needs. Pretty simple really.

Health-care reform may be defeated this year because people have no faith in the government achieving anything. As if our American government has yet to prove itself worthy of running a program such as healthcare.

And yet more than 60 percent of people in [government-run] Medicare rate it a 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale. Quite astonishing really. And those with private policies? Less than 40% gave theirs such high numbers. So someone's not happy.

Truth is, we already have what the private insurance lobby calls socialist programs. Our Police, Fire and Public School systems are all single payer. Just the concept that frightens the bejesus out of the Tea Party folks. But the system works. Just don't point it out when someone is yelling at you about the "death panels".

The truth is that government, for all its flaws, manages to do some things right, so that today few people doubt the wisdom of public police or firefighters. And the government has a particularly
good record in medical care.

One article in the NY Times mentioned "The track record of the government with the hospital system run by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the largest integrated health system in the United States. It is fully government run, much more "socialized medicine" than is Canadian health care with its private doctors and hospitals. And the system for veterans is by all accounts one of the best-performing and most cost-effective elements in the American medical establishment."

Now if only Congress took notice of this success story, it would be a major step toward improving the quality of care across the U.S. health care system. But as I stated before, you have to want to change the system for the better. When you are beholden to the Insurance and Pharma Industries due to decades of campaign contributions, you tend to block reform that would diminish their profits.

The President is expected to have an impact on the Health Care debacle this Wednesday night when he addresses the joint houses of Congress. Let's hope there are more answers than questions.

Friday, September 04, 2009


I purposely delayed attempting this posting until now. It's not often that we are faced with a sudden loss of such a dynamic force in so many lives. Kathy's absence will affect so many people. Mine included.

You've read the clinical review of her life in the paper, and yet it leaves out so much. We all knew Kathy in our own unique way. Co-workers, Coleman Alumni, Volunteers and the ever changing faces [and egos] of the Common Council.
She treated us all like family.

I smiled wh
en I read Fire Chief Salzmann saying she was the Ambassador of Kingston. Truer words have never been spoken. Kathy loved this city with all it's glory and all it's faults. Making up for those who held the city in less regard.

Mayor Sottile was right on target when he said this city has suffered a great loss with her passing. The ultimate public servant that we all strive to be. Very few come close.

We all remember her as the heart and soul of Kingston, with unlimited enthusiasm for the city. But there is a family out there that feels this more than we. I can only join the rest of you in offering my sincere condolences to them and in keeping our memories of her alive.

Thursday, September 03, 2009


Senator Schumer made a special visit to the City of Kingston today. With a perfect day as a backdrop, he spoke from the entrance of the Kingston Housing Authority to highlight some changes in Tennant screening abilities.

With a national estimate of 3,000 registered sex offenders unknowingly residing in public housing, the time to tighten up the vetting process is now. The waiting list for assisted living in this complex
is three years out. And that's for people who are struggling to raise families in our own community. No-one wants to house such criminals in that kind of environment, never mind use tax dollars to do it.

The announcement comes on the heals of some national tragedies that have reignited the concern about where to house men & women on the list.
Many facilities have limited access to the DATA that you would expect them to. Some date back only 10 years, some reach only within the state. This push opens up the availability of the registry in both back history and nationally. The new programs will be made at no cost to an already strapped housing program.

With little notice, the audience was made up of mostly officials and staff in the area as well as a few local residents. But the impact of the change offered by the good Senator, will rest the fears of many who live in housing units like Rondout Gardens for years to come.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Have you heard about our former Governor Eliot Spitzer? He is now a professor at City College in New York.

For the three hour class; once a week, the st
udents get to learn Eliots perspective on Law and Public Policy.
At $100/hour, it's not for the money. He has already made it known that he isn't going away any time soon. He's even doing articles for some online magazines.
But the college-age co-eds will have a bit of fun as they ponder how he came to be an ex-governor serving as their professor.

What many of the students might wonder, is if the state would be in better shape had Eliot stayed in office. Could have finished out his term and walked away. I dont think the drama in the State Senate wouldhave gone the way it did either. We'll never know.

For now, he's an adjunct political-science professor at City College. Where this flawed, but brilliant mind will end up, no-one knows. Right now, I'm jealous of those students. I bet they want to go to class on Mondays.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


On Monday night, Madsen said some other parts of the resolution were also “heavy brow.” Did you like that quote? Admit it, you did laugh when you read it.

Wheras: “The effects of climate change will significantly impact our infrastructure, economy, livelihoods, disrupt our ecological community, spread invasive species and exotic diseases, negatively impact our drinking water supplies and sewer treatment infrastructure and pose health threats to our citizens.”

Initially the issue that bothered me was the "matter of fact" nature of the paragraph. I agree with the importance of stemming the affects of climate change where ever we can, but we represent a vast number of viewpoints as elected officials here in Kingston. No one City Council is going to convince the world to change their behavior.

I know my friends in Woodstock voted several times to end the war in Iraq during the Bush presidency. Terrific idea, but you are the Woodstock Town Board for Pete's sake! This proposition felt equally neutered in influencing the national behavior.

Our goal in presenting a Green Jobs Pledge is to attract and embrace the new technologies that are emerging, giving them the incentive to locate in Kingston or close by. Publicly, there is a general sense that the review council will scare off those companies that may not fit the criteria set forth by the Green Jobs mission.

President James Noble said in the paper, that the city Corporation Counsel’s Office decided some language in the legislation appeared to make the initiatives mandatory, rather than voluntary.

To steal the quote right from the Freeman: “The Aldermen wanted it more like recommendations,” Noble said. I was not alone in these concerns and I'm glad it will get further review.

The City of Kingston is haemorrhaging jobs and population. Our dual tax structure and the business unfriendly atmosphere in New York State aren't helping the situation. Coupling that with a restrictive sounding business review board may prove fatal.

I fully understand the need to diminish our "carbon footprint" as citizens of this planet, but right now the only footprints I see are those of business and population leaving Kingston.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating for classic smokestacks and PCBs in the river, but Carbon neutral manufacturing would be welcomed in my back yard too.