Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I had the privilege of visiting the City of Kingston Finance Committee this Monday night. Chaired by Charlie Landi, the agenda featured the KPFF as the main attraction as the city budget talks continue.

Once again, the subject of deferring their contractual raises that were deferred last year, one more time. I dont think it's going to happen this time. The President of the FireFighters 461, Tom Tiano, sat in the hot-seat for the duration of the interrogation. 
Although a prior vote of his membership indicated that they weren't willing to revisit such an act heading into 2011, he did open the door to one proposal that developed in the meeting. An idea of staggering the implementation of the impending raise in steps during the course of the year. 

Another key element to the negotiation was the proposal made by the Mayor and discussed with members of the County Executive's office pertaining to merging the emergency dispatch duties between the two municipalities. Bringing one or more employees from the City and placing them in the county 9-1-1 Emergency system. 

The big problem lies in the personnel area, in that the contractual obligations and retirement packages have to be compatible or at least sweetened through other means. Thats if the unions even deem the merger in their best interest. 
Tom helped paint the picture of complicated negotiations between the parties should the Council and Executive engage the move. When asked, I told the committee that although the Legislative body was barely aware of the depth of the negotiation, I had heard the leadership was eager to get the merger done.

Chairman Landi had heard the same thing. He and Hayes Clement said they had conversation with Executive Hein on the merger issue and got the same positive feedback as the Legislative Majority and Minority leadership. 
Whether the proposal makes it as a shift in both budgets heading into the final days of both of our cycles, remains to be seen. 
Executive Hein has yet to place someone from the current test list into the open position pending direction from the Common Council. 
How the new form of 9-1-1 dispatch will affect the city and the 6,000 calls we get annually will be the true test of the new system. Remember, thats just the calls for the Fire Department. KPD handles almost double that annually. 
Can one dispatch employee handle almost 20,000 additional calls and still keep the City of Kingston and the rest of the county safe at the level we feel today? I'm not sure. 
Might consider having yet another dispatch employee on duty once the shift is implemented and the probation period is evaluated.

And might I say, the issue of giving the CityBus routes to UCAT never came up. Damn!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


While expressing my frustrations with the lack of initiative from the Democrats in DC as they head toward the last few weeks in Majority, a friend of mine suggested I join in the Tea Party movement. Luckily I was not drinking anything at the time so I didn't force anything out through my nose.

I mentioned that there is a Coffee Party that has the same concerns of transparency and government waste as the Tea Party but without the dark un-American roots. He said what dark roots?

I proceeded to mention the astroturf history of what the original Tea Party had morphed into since its simple and identifiable beginnings. It's been bastardized by big money interests since then and those that spend that money have done a phenomenal job painting it as grass roots even with millions spent by a select handful of oil conglomerates.

I got the look of "I don't believe a word you're saying". So I asked if he'd heard of Dick Armey, Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers. Rove he knew, Armey...somewhat but Koch Brothers? Not at all.

Considering that the Koch Brothers, Charles and David, if combined as one: Koch Industries, rate as the third wealthiest being after Buffet and Gates. How is it that most of America doesn't know them?

Fred Koch, (pronounced Coke) appeared to have a dual personality where he was an active member of the John Birch Society and railed against Communism, while making his first millions working with Stalin's Russia developing oil refineries during the 30's. He and his sister were helpful in the rise of Hitler's dominance leading up to the US declaration of War. Sister Issa was later tried and sentenced to life in prison having been found guilty of making lamp shades from the skin of terminated Jews. 
(amazing what you'll find if you dig online)

Koch Industries relocated to Oklahoma where the boys took over the company in '67 when the old man died. Buying up numerous smaller oil companies, they've since become the second largest privately owned company in the US after Cargill.

So you ask, why did Koch Industries come up when talking about the Tea Party. Well, during the last election cycle, the Koch Brothers felt it was their duty to do whatever they could to stop any advanced form of energy and finance regulation heading into the 2010 elections. Hearing about the fledgling unorganized movement of discontent and seeing the opportunity to influence the outcome, they added financial support to what ended up being movement manipulated by Dick Armey and later Karl Rove.

Most of those who claim allegiance to the movement today have no idea how big energy, pharmaceutical, insurance and foreign interest groups have helped guide them. What started out as random groups of disgusted and exasperated citizens with genuine angst about where their tax dollars were going, soon became a body count for the special interests to rely on. I actually feel a little sad for them.

I looked up some of the company history available on the web. They've bought so many other companies engaged in oil and gas exploration and refineries as well as chemical research and development. But what I found most disturbing was the vast number of EPA violations they have either fought or paid out in the millions. It's extensive and shows a piss poor concern for environmental standards here in the US. I guess this would be another reason to try to diminish the reach of the White House heading into the 112th Congress.

The Koch Brothers allocated $96 Million during this last election cycle, much went to the US Chamber of Commerce which ended up supporting the candidates for Federal office who best served the interests of big business. What came out of the Rove and Armey fundraising organizations I do not know.

The Supreme Court decision in Citizen's United opened the door to unchecked and un-traceable donations by domestic and foreign corporations. With little hope of changing that before 2012, the Democrats have decided to create their own PACs to engage in the same shameful fundraising efforts heading into the Presidential race. 

Just think, I started out telling about the Coffee Party and the more noble virtues they espouse and ended up talking about one of the darkest aspects of our modern election system. Unless something changes in a drastic way in the near future, I think we are in for darker times ahead. My fear is that even after reading about the Koch Brothers and the astroturf base of the Tea Party, my friend will still just go off and hold on to the artificial image of what the movement means. But I forgive him.


Pictured with me at the County Legislative chambers is Mary Saksa. One of the few close friends who joined me during our "swearing in" ceremony last January.

We just lost Mary this past Friday morning to cancer. A good friend and positive advocate for all things progressive. She will be greatly missed by friends, family and our congregation.

Friday, November 26, 2010


We are about to witness the final weeks of the 111th Congress as they wrap up final legislation heading into 2011. The LameDuck session has plenty on their plate. Kinda like what I did at our family gathering on Thanksgiving.

So, I discovered a link online today from the Coffey Party website pointing out the PolitiFact article on the "Bush Tax Cuts". I decided to just paste what I could because, well, enough people in the area actually do spark up this conversation that maybe a little added exposure might help those of us who have to engage in this daily. 

Top 5 falsehoods about the Bush tax cuts
By Angie Drobnic Holan

After lots of talk and debate about extending the Bush tax cuts, it's now crunch time:

The lower rates are scheduled to expire on Dec. 31 unless Congress acts to extend them.

President Barack Obama supports making the current tax rates permanent for most Americans, but he wants to let the lower rates expire for couples that make more than $250,000 or individuals who make more than $200,000. Many Republicans say the tax cuts should be made permanent for everyone. Lately, though, different compromise measures have been floated. One idea is to make the tax cuts permanent for the middle-class and extend them temporarily for higher incomes. Another option would be to pass a two-year extension for everyone. Still other options call for repealing the tax cuts for the wealthy and giving tax breaks to employers who create jobs. We'll have to wait and see what sort of bill Congress actually votes on.

In the meantime, we have fact-checked many claims on the tax cuts and we've noticed some falsehoods keep getting repeated. So here are our top 5 falsehoods, plus a few runners-up.

"Should Democrats get their way,every income tax bracket will increase on Jan. 1, 2011. Every single one." We've noticed that those who favor extending all the tax cuts will sometimes say that their opponents want to see all the tax cuts expire. But this is not the case. It's not President Barack Obama's position, nor of the Democratic leadership in Congress. And some Democrats think it might be a good idea to extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone, at least until the economy has recovered. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., said this one, and we rated his statement False.

"Ninety-four percent of small businesses will face higher taxes under the Democrats' plan." Republicans often say they're opposed to the tax increases because they will hit small businesses, but the numbers don't really support that. Under the Democratic plan, a small business owner would have to report profits of more than $250,000 before the tax increases kicked in. (Rates would rise for the top two brackets, from 33 percent to 36 percent and from 35 percent to 39.6 percent.) But most small businesses aren't nearly that profitable. In fact, Internal Revenue Service data shows that of all taxpayers who declare business income, only 2 to 3 percent declare that much. We rated this Pants on Fire when Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, said this back in August.

Small businesses that have "$250,000 in gross sales for the business ... They're the ones that are looking at massive tax increases." This is another variation on the claim that tax increases will hit small business. This statement is wrong because gross sales are all the money a business takes in. Under longstanding IRS rules, businesses get to deduct most expenses before reporting their final taxable income. That includes things like employees' pay, supplies, a car or truck, fuel costs, advertising, and more. Rep. Michele Bachmann said this on Nov. 16, and we rated it Pants on Fire.
"Democrats are poised now to cause this largest tax increase in U.S. history." To examine this statement, we looked at tax increases measured as a percentage of the entire economy, a method that takes into account inflation and economic growth. If the current tax rates for the wealthy expire, it will raise their taxes, but it will not be the largest tax increase in history. In fact, a 1982 tax increase signed into law by President Ronald Reagan would be larger. If all the tax rates went up in 2011, that would be larger, but the evidence shows that tax increases passed to pay for World War II were larger still. Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, said this, and we rated it Pants on Fire.

"If all of the tax cuts expire on schedule, the budget will be close to being balanced in four years." Would budget shortfalls be less if you let all the tax cuts expire? Yes, definitely. Would it bring you close to a balanced budget? No. You would still have a deficit of about 3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, a measure of the entire economy. That might be a sustainable deficit, but it wouldn't be a balanced budget. Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, D-Va., said this; he supports letting all the tax cuts expire. We rated the statement False.

So, any thoughts?


Below is a video response to HP's lousy service department. It was sent to HP in 2006. Since then HP has stepped up and has changed their policy to better support our troops serving around the world.

I sometimes wonder if this approach to poor quality and lacking service would help in every aspect of our lives.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


What could be considered ancient history at this point, is the discussion held during the November 2nd Programs & Community Services Committee. Without recording the meeting myself, I have to wait for the minutes to be transcribed and sent out before I can effectively report on what was said with confidence and back up.

Chaired by Wayne Harris and Deputy Donaldson, we were faced with the same dilemma as every other committee in the Legislature: The impending cuts to each department. We were accompanied by representatives of some of those services we had to address. They are listed below.

GRACE THOMPSON, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
CHRIS SILVA, Bardavon 1869 Opera House, Inc./ UPAC
BENJAMIN KREVOLIN, Dutchess County Arts Council
JAMES COSGROVE, Ulster County Library Association
MARGIE MENARD, Ulster County Library Association
LEE REIDY, Executive Director, Cornell Cooperative Extension
MARY MARSTER, Director of Programs, Cornell Cooperative Extension
VIC MELVILLE, League of Women Voters

Larry Kithcart from Community Action couldn't make the meeting, but asked that the committee consider restoring the funding level to that service to where it was in 2009. 
(We are talking 15K here) 
After experiencing such a great Seniors Dinner at the midtown center in Kingston, back in October, you'd think the money invested would be worth it. NOPE. It was cut to 11K for 2011. Good grief. 

Margie Menard of the County Library Association was the next advocate to speak. For their department to function properly, they would need 12K annually. Margie noted that the 2011 budget set them at 67K. I find that to be unrealistic, but then we are dealing with cold numbers here rather than people and their quality of life. 
Margie said "The Board had made some cutbacks, but with incoming funds being held constant and with expenses constantly going up they were finding themselves worse off than last year."  
So it should be known that the cuts facing the County Library System will cause the elimination of, get this: tutoring programs and job search programs. Ulster County doesn't need help with job searches. I asked if I could see some figures on the job search program and would also like to know how many people use the Historic New York Times data base. Those details should have been in my mail slot by now.

Some of you might not know that Ulster County uses the services of the Dutchess County Arts Council to help our Artist organizations better seek and manage the resources available to them through state and federal grants. The DCAC also needs financial backing by both Dutchess and Ulster County taxpayers to administer these offices.

Benjamin Krevolin chimed in to say: "Ulster  County grants have been a huge boon to the arts and to the County itself.  Many of these artists and arts organizations have been under-funded for many years.  He said Ulster County, in all of the Mid-Hudson area, has been putting the least amount into the arts but has the most to gain in general." 
So I'm looking at the agenda hand-out and I see we are cutting the investment to the DCAC from 55K to 41K for 2011. So lets see...If the money spent is delivering a multiplied level of revenue in sales tax and tourism, we should put a stop to that?  That makes sense.

The funding by the county is used to administer the grant application process. The 2010 grant cycle offered 18 applications. Due to cuts in the 2010 budget, they were only able to reach for seven. Think for a second. If cutting the DCAC funding to 55K diminished the tens of thousands of Grant dollars coming to Ulster County, why would we jump at the chance to pull out even more? This is ridiculous.   

Ah, but don't worry, it gets better. We then went into the issue of defunding CASA. That's the Court Appointed Special Advocates. 
This is a service where child advocates (volunteers) invest their time and energy to help in family matters that would otherwise break up the family unit. In this I mean, troubled youth, unconcerned parents and the education system . 
Grace Thompson elaborated that for a small sum of $1,300 annually per child, we attempt to divert the more detrimental process of foster-care. Detrimental to the family members and the taxpayer's pockets. A year in foster-care costs the county 200K annually. 

At this time, CASA is attending to 110 kids. The cost is 85K annually. The department is seeking the same funding from the county it had in 2010. (Thats 25K) The Executive's proposal, having seen the numbers, offered 15K. Rendering the CASA team to attend to fewer troubled youth. Mind you, these clients are referred to CASA through the county Court system. It's not some band of gypsies seeking clients door-to-door to make them feel needed here. 
If this is a proven money saver, keeps kids out of our jail system and possibly keeps families together longer, then why would we cut something rather than increase the funding? I don't get it.

We touched on the UPAC funding issue quickly. Director Chris Silva spoke about the seating capacity of the two regional theaters and how UPAC closes during the summer because the AC system is inadequate. Other than that, having seen the lack of financial wisdom in the proposed budget and non-movement by the majority, we just passed over the slacker funding of 18K for what could be considered the anchor of midtown tourism. Who the hell cares, right? How short sighted can we get?

Getting back to grant writing, we got the scoop from Lee Reidy on Cornell Cooperative's financial standing and the diminished funding heading into 2011. From $275K to $266K, the cuts in programming will come from the 4H portion of the department. Granted, the county portion of their budget is less than 20%, but it's the part that subsidizes the grant writing operation. Without that, they lose much more, so once again, our youth will be cut out of the budget of yet another quality program. 
You must think I'm making this stuff up at this point. Noone can possibly cut programs that yield a higher revenue or diminish the potential expense for taxpayers with such disregard. Well, welcome to the 2011 Ulster County Budget.
Taken right from the minutes:
Dep. Chair Donaldson made a motion to restore some of the cuts made to these agencies.  He said he found the cuts to be penny wise but pound foolish, citing as an example, CASA where the cost of keeping a child in foster care can mount up to over $200,000 compared to spending approximately $1300 to provide  a CASA volunteer who will probably be able to keep that child in their home.

The motion on the floor made by Dep. Chairman Donaldson is to restore 2011 budget cuts  to requested funding as follows:

Court Appointed Special Guardians - cut from $25,000 to $15,00 – restore $10,000;
Dutchess County Arts Council - cut from $55,000 to $41,250 – restore $13,750;
Family of Woodstock Supervised Visitation Program - cut from $20,000 to
$15,000 – restore $5,000;
Bardavon 1869 Opera House, Inc./UPAC - cut from $25,000 to $18,750 – restore $6,250;
Ulster County Library Association – cut from $90,000 to $67,500 – restore $22,500; and
Cornell Cooperative Extension – cut from $275,000 to $266,475 – restore $8,525.

Dep. Chairman Donaldson said that the total cost of restoration of these budget cuts would be $66,025 which is .08 of 1% of the total budget.  He said he feels that these restorations can be made from sales tax revenues which he believes to be underestimated.

At this time Chairman Harris opened the floor for discussion on the motion. All of us made their case one way or the other. The majority struggling to hold onto the cuts as if the pennies saved were going to save the greater public anything but talking points. 
I ended up "|Seconding" Dave's motion to restore the anemic funding to 2009 levels. 

The results of the vote are: 
Donaldson, Madsen & Gregorius   -YES 
Belfiglio, Terrizzi, Hayes & Harris -NO. 
If this is where the county committees are going throughout the budget process, we are in a heap of trouble next year. |The short sighted actions of the Exec and Legislature will undoubtedly cause household hardship, diminished vital services and unforseen expenses down the road. Like Dave said, the revenue from sales tax estimates are super conservative and as recently as yesterday, CapTonight did a report on just how New York's consumer spending is drastically higher than expected. Ulster County included. Is this an attempt to force the department heads into future meetings to ask for funding from contingency? If so, it wont work, because those vital programs will not exist at that point.

Dave's latest amendment for an increase has dropped to 50K. His figure of .08 of 1% is even less that previously. This would have no affect on the 2011 budget. Where is the movement on the Legislature? 

Monday, November 22, 2010


As most of you know by now, there was a special meeting in Ellenville last Friday night. The meeting focused on the now famous, leaking water tunnel that brings half of the 900 million gallons of pristine drinking water to NYC residents daily. Originating from the Rondout Reservoir and it's Delaware watershed, travelling as deep as 700 feet until it reaches the West Branch and Kensico Reservoirs.
It was a bit odd to have a public meeting with regional residents and officials on a Friday night, but it was the scheduled re-appearance of or good friends from the NYC DEP. 
Commissioner Cas Holloway (pictured above) and his staff presented the Billion dollar plan to divert the tunnel for the four mile stretch where the severe leaking occurs.
After a $350 million study and repair plan, they returned to Ellenville to reveal what the locals already knew, the tunnel is indeed leaking and due in part to the miscalculation of the original engineers. Although they planned for the additional reinforcements in the limestone areas of the tunnel, they fell several hundred feet short of the possible trouble zones. Limestone interacts with the tunnel structure in a more corrosive manor than the rest of the encountered rock base.
It took decades for New York City to acknowledge what the locals have suffered for so long. The fact that the tunnel is leaking millions of gallons under the towns of Newburgh and Wawarsing is nothing new. In Wawarsing alone, the tunnel is 700' below the surface. 
The tremendous pressure in the tunnel forces the escaping water upward toward the surface. That soil deposit above the bedrock shown on the slide behind Commissioner Holloway is totally saturated with water. It has reached the sewers, wells and basements of the properties in the affected area. Rendering the property owners with worthless investments and diminished livelihoods. 
Believe it or not, there is a continuing federal study trying to confirm that the leaking tunnel, losing 40million gallons every day, is actually the source of the flooding in the areas affected. I just shook my head in disbelief when I heard that. If the officials in NYC had any sense, they would have bought out the 40+ homeowners in the Wawarsing area a long time ago and concentrated on the repair strategy instead. 
The tunnel diversion will extend 4 miles and allow crews to repair the cracked tunnel structure and inspect for other damage while the tunnel is dewatered. My concern, knowing that the tunnel hasn't been dewatered since '57, and has operated under high pressure since then, might the integrity of the tunnel be compromised with the excessive water reserve resting above the tunnel in the stressed areas of damage?
The Ulster County Legislature voted unanimously to urge New York State to compensate the property owners to do just that this past summer. A number of us Legislators and residents went to Albany with that resolution to lobby or representatives. The State Senate had already passed the resolution and had sent it to the Assembly. We did our best to convince our Assemblymen to bring it to the floor, but it went nowhere. Since this posting, Assemblyman Cahill made the effort to explain the daunting opposition in both the Housing Committee and the full body, would have pretty much killed the bill on arrival.
Langdon Chapman, (left) speaking on behalf of Senator Bonacic, informed the gathering that the Senator would indeed offer the legislation for a revote this year. Lets see what happens in the Assembly in 2011.
As you may have read in the Record, Freeman and NYTimes, construction isn't expected to start until June of 2013 and end by February 2019. The water pressure and leaking cracks wont be addressed until the dewatering around 2017. Thats going to further complicate the surface and above tunnel integrity until that time. There are no plans to artificially drain the saturated soil above the tunnel so the damage is unrepairable. The properties will never be made whole. the sink-holes will continue to plague the region and in the case of the repair crews underground, will threaten the lives of those who chose to work in the tunnel.
Commissioner Holloway said the project will create 1,000 to 1,500 jobs. Insisting that there will be a hiring office in this area. When pressed on this point, he said Town of Newburgh, followed by a request for a hiring post in the Ellenville area as well.
It's estimated that the leaks may have started as early as the 60's considering how long it would take to saturate so much soil above the tunnel. Andrea Smith dealt with her contaminated well and flooded basement a while before contacting the DEP and NYC authorities on the matter in '92. She asked the panel: "How is this going to affect us 20 years from now? I have been patient with the process so far, but I'm not getting any younger."

Adam Bosch had reported in the Record, that about 10 homeowners have an ongoing lawsuit against New York City, and Holloway said settlement negotiations have begun with a handful of them. I personally find it absurd that they would hesitate to make good on the claims that have come to them after so much evidence in the affirmative. It's equivalent to finding someone "not guilty" after years of imprisonment. How do you compensate for time lost fighting for a secure floodfree life?
The UC Operations Committee is poised to ask the NYC DEP to step up and pay for legal counsel to help property owners file claims properly as this issue resolves. The Commissioner encouraged residents to file claims for damage with the city's comptroller. If the Legislature approves, a contingent will again make the journey to the officials in charge to lobby that they do so.
This isn't over yet.

Sunday, November 14, 2010



Thursday, November 11, 2010


Taken right from the WNYC website:

Tax breaks are on the agenda in Washington, and Senator Charles Schumer wants Democrats to focus on tax cuts that help low and middle-income earners.
"Our first goal has to be to get the middle class that tax cut. They need it. Their income is shrinking. They will spend that money and get the economy moving again," Schumer said. "But I don't think millionaires should get that tax cut."
Democrats are committed to continuing the tax cuts for everyone except Americans earning more than a quarter-million dollars per household. 

But President Barack Obama has said he would consider a two-year extension on the Bush-era tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year, including those for the very rich. 
I think a full extension is foolish if you're serious about diminishing our national debt. But thats just me.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


This is a great video to show the trends and data behind social media. If you are trying to convince someone why social media is important watch this video.


Sometime during this past Sunday evening-Monday morning hours, the Midtown Barber on Broadway was burglarized. Kicking in the back door from the back parking lot, the culprits made off with clothing, sneakers and some hair cutting supplies.

Joseph Sanji, owner of the shop said he was shocked that someone would target a barbershop, but understands that it's hard to follow what goes on in the head of what was probably a "strung out" crack head.

The lights in the window were unplugged, the clothes were taken, hangers included, and the boxes of designer sneakers were part of the big haul. 
Joseph said: "The odd part; why would someone take half a bottle of shampoo, my expensive scissors and raid the candy dish?" 
Officer Powers dusted for prints and set out to get the surveillance footage from the Kingston Hospital who have a camera facing the back lot. What any of this will reveal, we don't know yet. But if anyone hears about a new barber wearing new sneakers and fresh urban wear looking to rent a chair at some salon, let KPD know about it.



You may remember way back in May, four Democratic senators called on the Obama administration to halt spending on a renewable energy program in the economic stimulus package until rules were in place to assure that the projects use predominantly American labor and materials.

They were made aware that 1.5 billion of the stimulus package, slated for wind-energy projects had gone to foreign companies. Their reason? It undercut the whole purpose of the stimulus program.

The senators introduced legislation that would require that stimulus funds go only to clean-energy projects that rely on materials manufactured in the United States and create a majority of jobs here.

Fast forward to today. The stimulus package, like it or not, was passed. Some say too much, others, not enough. But the question comes to mind almost every holiday season, what are we doing to help our own economy? Do our actions have an impact on the job situation here in America? I say YES, they do.

We are so programed to buy the cheapest crap available to satiate our shallow means regardless of where it came from and who slaved over the manufacturing process. Like the recent expose' on how our iPhones are made. Sad really.

I harp on this issue annually. Pointing out that the big box stores are not America's friends. When 98% of what's inside is from overseas with toxic materials and government subsidized tariffs we do an injustice to ourselves, our workers and our national pride.

This shopping season remember these simple points I found on another site, if you want to help the job situation: 

1. Purchase locally. Buy from a store in your neighborhood or downtown. You will know the owner or manager. Easy enough to ask. Most will be glad to help. 

The products you need may not be 100% made in the states, and these days, few are. But America's promotion of Free Trade has worked too well. American made products are often higher in cost because our companies carry an unfair burden of taxes compared to many other nations. Still, the store is American. At the very least buy your foreign products from an American business.

2. Buy from Americans in your state. States have carried heavy losses in losing business to "free trade". When a national business moves, the offices and plant are often spread around several areas. Pockets of unemployment are left behind. Jobs are needed. 

States have major businesses still hard at work. One is agricultural. Farmers and ranchers do not move easily. Produce or meat is American-made. The local grocery will have the products. 

3. Buy national.  Shopping around may be necessary to find what is "Made in the U.S.A." Unfortunately national products may be expensive. Do what some cities are doing and exercise a preference. Buy American unless it is a certain percentage over the foreign product. Buy American but do not collapse your pocketbook. 

4. Use the Internet. Search for American products and services. A simple search will produce many pages. Search for "Made in the U.S.A." 

I only visit this issue once a year because it's painful to repeat. I've taken trips to the big stores to read labels and have come home depressed that 5% [at the most] was "Made in USA". 
Walmart, Target, BedBath&Beyond and others offer little choice in American made merchandise. 

If you want to know what you can do to help...read the labels and think about what you're buying. You have only to look at yourself and what's on the shelf to understand where the jobs went.

Monday, November 08, 2010


So I came upon this article on  RawStory.com. 
I looked at it with disbelief because its too far fetched to be real. But then the Raw Story site isnt known to create fantasy articles like The Onion.

The first sentence got me: Republican Senator-elect Mark Kirk may help push through a campaign-finance transparency bill opposed by Republican leaders during the lame-duck session. I don't recall Kirk running on this during the campaign.

For those who don't know, Kirk defeated Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias in Illinois. It's Obama's old seat. Kirk will be serving before all the other newly elected freshmen starting this lame duck period. Why is that a big deal? The rest of the Senate is still sitting there waiting to finish the year's dirty work. The DISCLOSE Act is on that list.

Kirk acknowledges that transparency was thrown under the bus during this election cycle as "Citizens United" altered the campaign finance donation laws.
The pending bill would prohibit foreign corporations, government contractors and TARP recipients from making campaign contributions.

What Mark Kirk did make clear was his support for the McCain-Feingold campaign finance laws. That infamous Supreme Court decision pretty much decimated that provision leading the way for the abuse we saw in 2010. 
Kirk told the AP that he may end the filibuster on the DISCLOSE Act once sworn in, thus forcing independent groups producing ads, to open their contributer books. All in the name of transparency.

I don't know about you, but I'd be interested in finding out who donated to which group this past summer.


Step aside Sarah Palin, we found the 2012 Tea Party candidate for President.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


So it's up to the Ulster IDA to decide if the Partition Street Project will get their PILOT agreement with the town of Saugerties. This will of course have a delayed affect on school and county taxes in the district, but to what amount? What are they getting from the property today?

This is the exact thing so many people ask of our elected officials when they ask us to create incentives for business to start or move to the region. Tax incentives for new construction is the starting point. (original plan below) 

Saugerties is poised to see yet another resurgence in economy stimulation on the local level rather than on the federal level. Some see it as a good thing, others, not so much.

The Freeman article penned by Ariel Girard, explains that the taxes on the property would remain unchanged for the first three years after the multimillion dollar hotel and conference center is built. Then increase over a ten to twenty year plan. Those details are in the paper. (another plan below)

I'm reading that the Town Board modified the standard PILOT for the project to better suit their needs. If that is what the board feels is necessary, then by all means, have at it. Thats why we hire them in the first place. 

The quote in the paper by Mayor Murphy went: “It’s more money up front for the taxing entities. The village felt it needed to see revenue from the project from the first year it was built."

As a representative of Kingston, I'd prefer tax base development happening here, but as a Legislator, I welcome anything that helps the economy within our county. My desire of the IDA...Give your approval on the 18th and lets see something happen in Ulster County.

Friday, November 05, 2010


Just thought to post this graph and hear if readers have any thoughts on what could cure the chronic loss of Tech jobs in the private sector? 

Change the tariff structure and eliminate the tax break for companies who send these jobs overseas? 


Thursday, November 04, 2010


Just a few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the annual Best Of Hudson Valley party in Poughkeepsie. As a guest of one of the winners, Terry Bernardo invited me to come down and see this event for myself.

Terry was just one of the high percentage of Ulster County winners who had displays set up at the expo. I actually dared to experience the palates "rack" infront of an audience. Lets just say, I better get to the gym soon.
It was a good avenue for exposure for many quality merchants in the region and HV Magazine did a good job here and in their publication. With so many restaurants from New Paltz, Stone Ridge, Rosendale and Kingston as well as the wineries and breweries, there was plenty to sample through the night.

So I took a few pictures of my own to accompany the great video HVMag produced from the 2009 party. Many thanks to the sponsors and to the magazine staff for a steady source of what is available in the region. Looking forward to next year.


FREE 4-H Fall Festival Coming to Ulster County Fair Grounds!
“Fun for the entire family”

Join Ulster County’s 4-H Youth Development Program staff members and 4-H youth clubs from around the County as they gather for the inaugural 4-H Fall Festival coming this Sunday to the UC Fair Grounds located on Libertyville Road in New Paltz. 

The festival is FREE and will begin at 12:00pm and... festivities will proceed until 3:00pm. Lots of exciting hands-on activities, contests & educational demos for the entire family!

Come see & pet the rabbits, cows, chickens, horses & other animals raised by our 4-H’ers!
Watch our 4-H’ers as they demonstrate their expertise during Public Presentations, a tractor skills contest, a veterinary science demo, dog obedience, learn about Alternative Energy, pumpkin painting, pony rides, laser shot & more! Kids, participate in a photo contest, a baking contest, make a scarecrow with your friends, lots of fun & games for all ages!

Parents, come and learn about 4-H and how you and your family can benefit from one of the oldest and well known youth education organizations in the country!

Visit the 4-H Snack Bar, 4-H Milkshake Booth & Bake Sale! (all proceeds from the 4-H Snack Bar, 4-H Milkshake Booth & Bake Sale benefit 4-H Youth Programs in Ulster County)

The Ulster County 4-H Youth Development Program is the youth component of Cornell Cooperative Extension Ulster County.
For more information about Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County’s community programs and events call 845-340-3990 or visit us online at www.cceulster.org or follow us and Ulster County 4-H Youth Development on www.facebook.com.