Thursday, February 25, 2010


Let it be known that the last week of February of 2010, the NY State Senate passed the Family Health Care Decisions Act (FHCDA). According to their website, it passed 55-3. Meaning something somewhere was bipartisan. Shocked? I know what you're thinking...who were the three?

According to the report, only 20% of us sign a health care proxy, leaving the majority of patients without any opportunity for decisions to be made on their behalf if they become incapacitated. With just over a year in the majority, the Democrats moved the issue out of committee and thus, voted in favor of the legislation.

Senator Thomas K. Duane, the bill’s lead sponsor, said "This is vitally important legislation that protects those who are incapacitated and powerless. The FHCDA eliminates the uncertainty that caregivers face when a patient is no longer able to make decisions for him or herself, assuring that the best interests of that individual are respected.” This proposal lingered in committee for over 17 years.

Senator John Sampson said "I applaud Senator Duane for his leadership and commitment to giving all New Yorkers a health care system that cares for their needs.” These sentiments were echoed by a number of his colleagues and all expect Paterson to sign the bill.

For New Yorkers, this legislation will help families during their most vulnerable times. If you viewed the Olberman video I posted before this, you can see w
here decision making for a loved one can have the most intimate impact on several levels. I fail to understand why this didn't happen before 2009?

I pulled this next quote right from the report: David Gregorie, Executive Director of the Northeastern NY Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association said, “The FHCDA will change how health care decisions can be made for hospital and nursing home patients who lack decision-making capacity. I have seen firsthand that the progression of Alzheimer’s disease directly impacts a patient’s decision making capabilities. Most individuals with Alzheimer’s disease that seek services from our office believe that their family member or close friend can make these kinds of decisions for them, if necessary. And indeed in most states, that is the case. But it has not been the case in New York. The FHCDA will reform that.”

Alzheimers is in no way the only ailment that debilitates people this way, but it's a good example of how this is an overdue tool for our health guardians throughout the state.

Senate candidate Lawrence Delarose said: "Until now, New York has been one of the two remaining states in the nation that bared family members and domestic partners from making treatment decisions for incapacitated patients. This change brings the State in line with the rest of the country."

Allow me to paste another quote from the report; Daniel Sisto, President of the Healthcare Association of NY State, said: "These patients and their families are lost in the loopholes of existing law, too often resulting in terrible, unneeded suffering on the part of the patient and the patient's loved ones. Beyond the tragic human costs there are also the tremendous financial costs associated with providing care that neither the patient nor the family may support. We need to free them from these terrible dilemmas and give the patient every opportunity to have his or her own wishes fulfilled. It is an essential right for all of us."

Here are some details from the bill:

Appointing a Surrogate:
· To appoint a surrogate, the FHCDA requires a determination by an attending physician that the individual lacks decision-making capacity.
· In a nursing home, this determination must be confirmed by an independent determination by a health or social services practitioner that the individual lacks decision-making capacity.
· In a hospital, the independent determination is required only if the surrogate’s decision concerns withdrawal or withholding of life-sustaining treatment.
· If there is disagreement about whether the individual lacks decision-making capacity, the matter is referred to the hospital or nursing home ethics committee for resolution.

Potential Surrogates (in order of priority):
· Court-appointed guardian;
· Individual designated orally by the subsequently incapacitated individual;
· Spouse or domestic partner;
· Adult son or daughter;
· Parent;
· Adult brother or sister;
· Close relative or friend.

Medical Decisions by a Surrogate:
· The surrogate has all the powers an individual has to make their own medical decisions, including the decision to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment.
· The FHCDA directs the surrogate to make decisions in accordance with the patient’s wishes, including the patient’s religious and moral beliefs.
· If the patient’s wishes are not reasonably known and cannot be ascertained, the FHCDA directs the surrogate to make decisions in accordance with the patient’s best interests.

Decisions to Withhold or Withdraw Life-Sustaining Treatment:
· Decisions to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment are governed by additional standards under the FHCDA.
· A surrogate may withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment for an individual if that individual will die within six months with or without treatment, as determined by two independent physicians, and treatment would be an extraordinary burden to the patient.
· A surrogate may also withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment if the patient has an irreversible condition, as determined by two independent physicians, and treatment would involves such pain, suffering, or other burden that it would be inhumane or extraordinarily burdensome to provide treatment under the circumstances.
· Decisions to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment for minors are made by the minor’s parents.

Medical Decisions for Individuals Without a Surrogate:
· The FHCDA authorizes the attending physician to act as surrogate for routine medical treatment.
· For major medical treatment, a physician may act only upon the concurrence of another physician that such major medical treatment is necessary.
· A physician may withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment for individuals without a surrogate only upon the independent concurrence of another physician that life-sustaining treatment offers no medical benefit to the patient because the patient will die imminently and the provision of life-sustaining treatment would violate accepted medical standards.

Individuals with Mental Retardation/Developmental Disability:
· Under the FHCDA, individuals with mental retardation or developmental disabilities are within the class of individuals for whom health care surrogates may be appointed.

As you can see this is change is as significant as it is overdue. Congrats to our State Senators for finally pulling this proposal off the shelf and acting on behalf of all New Yorkers.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


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Monday, February 22, 2010


Lets lend support to our Congressman Maurice Hinchey as he introduces H.R. 4618, the bill that would grant my friends Emilio and Analia Maya the ability to stay in this country.

Everyone knows my stance on the issue of undocumented immigrants an
d the seemingly lack of interest of local law enforcement when it comes to illegal immigrants with criminal histories threatening our communities. This is not the case with the Mayas in Saugerties.

I have patronised their eateries in Blue Mountain and the Village of Saugerties for years now. I know they pay their taxes and obey our laws. I also know of several instances of undocumented employees being brought in by other business owners with absolutely no interest by law enforcement. So what gives?

Here is our chance to offer civilian support for Emilio and Analia as they ask Ulster County residents for permission to continue living in Saugerties and operate their Cafe. With files full of documents, these siblings represent the immigrant participation that all of us are asking for in new applicants. For the INS to play games with their residency status after using them in immigration stings for years, is truly a sad testament to what our departments stand for.

Follow this link and lend your support to my friends Emilio and Analia. Thank you.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


"Well, you know, to me I find it interesting that you have a lot of the Republicans running around and pushing back on the stimulus money and saying this doesn't create any new jobs," said Schwarzenegger. "Then, they go out and they do the photo ops and they are posing with the big check and they say, 'Isn't this great?'"

This video is from ABC's This Week, broadcast Feb. 21, 2010.

Download video via

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Here is a short clip from Bill MahEr's show where Eliot Spitzer, Seth MacFarlane, Wanda Sykes and Laura O'Donnel discuss Dont Ask Dont Tell and fat people on planes.

Ending with the subject of the Tea Party Cult...

Friday, February 19, 2010


The University of Texas just published a poll conducted with the help of the Texas Tribune. The following was taken right from the report:

Nearly a third of Texans believe humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time, and more than half disagree with the theory that humans developed from earlier species of animals.

I don't think the same of New York Republicans, but is anyone surprised that Republicans in Texas are more likely than Democrats to believe this stuff? When you combine the two categories; Conservatives and supporters of Kay Bailey Hutchison, the numbers go up dramatically.

Here are some other fun "facts" taken from the report:

  • 38 percent agreed with the statement "God created human beings pretty much in their present form about 10,000 years ago."
  • 22 percent said life has existed in its present form since the beginning of time
  • 51 percent disagreed with the statement, "human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals."
  • only 41 percent know that humans did not live at the same time as the dinosaurs

This is why I've always said that you couldn't run a New York Republican in Texas any more than you could run a Texas Democrat in New York. I will close with the funny comment at the bottom of the article from the comedian Lewis Black: Texas should focus on teaching kids that "The Flintstones" is not a documentary.

Check out the Tribune article here...

Meet the Flintstones | The Texas Tribune

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I just discovered that there is a petition with thousands of signatures being passed through the internet pressing our elected officials to demand drug testing for recipients of all state and federal assistance programs. Below is a copy of the letter that accompanies the signatures:

I am writing to you to express my support for testing all recipients of State and Federal Assistance, for the presence of illegal drugs. Nowhere in our state or U.S. constitutions is it mandated that financial assistance is a right.

Make no mistake, it is a privilege afforded to those in need by the taxpayers via our federal and state governments. Also, unemployment compensation premiums are currently paid by the employer, not the employee; however that may change very soon. We should also remember that illicit drug use is illegal. It is a crime that has criminal penalties.

I think it's time that we get serious about the problem of illegal drug users abusing our public assistance system. We should require random drug testing for every individual receiving welfare, food assistance or unemployment benefits. After all, more and more employers are requiring drug testing. Why not make sure that people who are supposed to be looking for work are already prequalified by being drug free?

Furthermore, encouraging just one drug addicted, welfare supported mother or father, to get clean, would save potentially thousands upon thousands of dollars. For every child born who is inflicted with a lifelong drug abuse related disease, the taxpayer’s incurred expense could be in the hundreds of thousands and potentially millions of dollars.

Opponents claim that this legislation will hurt the children. Evidence clearly indicates that drug addicted parents are the ones truly inflicting the harm. This bill actually helps to protect the children. Someone who fails a drug test will be given two months to get clean before assistance is cut off. Any good parent would clearly choose their children’s best interest over illegal drugs. And, maybe financial resources or the lack there of will be a greater cessation motivator than the addiction itself.

Remember, the upfront drug testing expense is minimal compared to the backside taxpayer incurred burden.
As for the constitutional issue, it has never been considered by the US Supreme Court. Furthermore, “Big Brother” already invades welfare recipient’s lives by requiring proof of need via payroll receipts and bank account information. Interestingly enough, employees can get fired from their job for drug usage, yet receive unemployment compensation benefits which in turn drives up the cost of employer paid unemployment premiums.

In essence, I believe that this requirement will be constitutional. Opponents of this bill are either enablers of bad (illegal) behavior, drug abusers or the most despicable of all...have a personal financial interest/gain in the demise of a certain segment of our society. And, they’ve yet to offer a viable alternative to this legislation. It’s time we start respecting the taxpayer and get serious about fixing this problem.

Can we investigate this further and see if this could be implemented here in Ulster County?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Truth be told, Ulster County is indeed better with the separation of powers provided by the new Charter. The restructured government is just over a year old and with Michael P Hein serving as the first County Executive, he has accomplished just about what any County Exec would under these circumstances.

After a one week delay in the address due to snow, his report on the State of the County felt a bit pressured, like it was a hurdle that needed jumping. W
hat needed jumping was the economic optimism that an annual speech like this is supposed to inspire. But times are tough. People in leadership positions like us Legislators and the folks in executive positions across New York State are feeling the financial mis-steps of our State Senate and the heavy tax burden passed on to our counties.

Executive Hein declared a spending freeze for whatever departments he controls; a good start. He also hit on subjects like the Golden Hill Healthcare Facility and the new blood in the county Health Department as continuing progress points. But I wanted to hear more.
But I'm a realist. It's not so much who was giving the speech as much as what the limited options are in 2010, and the task is huge. Hein and my fellow Legislators know that we need to provide life support to Ulster County in-spite of what the state throws at us in unfunded mandates, increasing health costs, anaemic sales tax revenue and unrelenting tax increases.

Holding off on expenses is a good start, but Michael, we need details as to what you visualize as achievable goals before the budget cycle of 2011 comes around. I'd like to hear about better public transportation, tourism investments and promoting our art and military history better. Sure, I like that the road maintenance issue has started the conversation about shared services, but it cant stop there.

At one point, I felt the mantra of "The Buck Stops Here" was replaced with "Step Up Legislators", like some of Mike's bounce was diminished. That could be attributed to the change in leadership, but again, I have faith in the system and that Executive Hein and the Legislature will make the best of what comes at us this year together.

Politicos of every stripe need current and future leaders to be successful in our goals to make Ulster County a thriving bustling place to live, work and visit. So, you can fully expect me and my colleagues to be working together to do just that. Executive Hein can count on it.

I believe other Blogs have the address in video form for viewing and the transcript is available on the county website. For me, it's still a bit surreal that I was actually sitting in the middle of the room during session as a Legislator.

UC Jobs Update from Lance Matteson:


Former Governor Mike Huckabee will have the privilege of conducting the first interview of Michelle Obama on Fox News. They will record it in Philadelphia on Friday and be aired Saturday and Sunday on the cable channel.

Mike is known for his dramatic weight loss as well as his attempt at running for president, so he was the likely choice for the First Lady to discuss her "Lets Move" campaign to fight children's obesity. They are sure to talk about the workings of Washington and what it's like living in the White House, but I think it's smart to take this mission to all outlets to get the message out there.

Should be an interesting show.


This is a video of our Junior Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand at the February 6th GALA Dinner in NYC:


The New York State Consumer Fraud Bureau has just tweeted a link to their followers an update of the eleven most successful scams on the internet. Beware of those who would prey upon the most gullible among us and alert the NYSCFB of examples you encounter.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Both State Senatorial candidate Larry Delarose and I were guests on the Sunday radio program on WKNY this past weekend. Our host Art Ricter tends to focus on the state and national healthcare issue during his program each week. The recent news of Blue Cross in California and the 39% rate hike proposal gave us plenty to talk about. Here's just a taste of what's to come as the debate gets re-energized by their actions. Have a look.

As you can see in the interview, the hosts are more concerned that it could boost support for health care reform than the impact it will have on the policy holders.

Fluegel downplayed the company's $2.7 billion profit in the final quarter of 2009.

Did you hear Payne say: "But Brad this is like Jaws 2, just when you thought it was safe to get out of the health care debate, you brought everybody back into it, why didn't you wait for this to blow over and maybe a year from now try to hike rates."

I thought it was funny when Varney said: "You handed the politicians red meat at a time when health care is being discussed, you gave it to them... You couldn’t see this coming? I mean really, you couldn’t see this coming?"


The first Westminster show was held on May 8, 1877. No other continuously held competition in the United States is older except for the Kentucky Derby, which was first held in 1875. The show originated as a show for gun dogs, initiated by a group of hunting men who met regularly at the Westminster Hotel at Irving Place and Sixteenth Street in Manhattan. They decided to create a Kennel Club called the Westminster Kennel Club specifically for the purpose of holding a dog show.

Today, there are more than 2500 dogs from over 150 breeds being shown. It is considered by many to be America's most prestigious dog show. I watched the Toy and and Hound portion of the Westminster Dog show Monday night. I am always amazed at how riveting the event is. Even in today's tough economy, the sale of pet supplies and pampering treats for our four legged family members remains steady if not increasing. This means many of you are just as attached to our pets and this competition as I am.

The top winners of the Toy breed this year are The Toy Poodle, the Pekingese, the Shih Tzu and the Papillon. Although the Bichon Frize, Pug and Chi Hua Hua still deserve attention in my book. If I could afford it, I'd have dozens of them all. But as time passes, I realize my dog breeding days are long past.

I still have my last Lhasa Apso, Brandy, and she is 20 years old. However, I know that If I decide to get one or more dogs in the future, they will be rescued from the shelter locally. I suggest everyone else to do the same. In the mean time, Day Two of Westminster will provide dog lovers everywhere our guilty television pleasure one more night on USA channel. Go will know.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Saturday evening, Terry Bernardo and I had the privilege of attending the Winter Explosion Fashion Show at the Hudson Valley Resort in Kerhonkson. Joined by 350 of the guests in the grand lobby, Terry and I witnessed not only a runway of delight, but several vocal artists and of course the unmistakable banter from Miss Reisi camping it up as the Emcee.

It was a treat to hear from Gordon Chambers at the beginning of the event. A singer songwriter known for penning hits for Beyonce, Whitney Houston and Anita Baker. Pulling four of his entourage from the audience as back up, the four of them had the crowd in shock. Sheer power in vocals I havent heard in quite a while.
With designers such as Karl Trogdon, Earle Bannister, Terrell Mason and Andrew Nowell, we saw a variety of styles. Finally, the "Next Top Model" portion of the show was allot of fun, with one of the models/designers getting a fashion spread in one of the national mags out of New York City.

The three day event was partially sponsored by Swerv Magazine; A national Gay & Lesbian publication for the black community and brought guests from the west coast, Atlanta, DC, Philly and Chicago. All three days were filled with festive workshops which included over 100 guests hitting SkateTime 209 for several hours of "old school" disco. You had to see it. They even did a 70's fashion theme at the rink.

The weekend came to a close Sunday night with a performance from Ledisi (pictured above) in the Manhattan Theatre. The Summer Explosion will take place the last weekend of July. I understand the attendance for the warmer events is double. Terry and I were wondering why there weren't any other representatives from the town or county present this weekend? Did our county tourism department know anything about it?


Thursday, February 11, 2010


Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal owns almost 10% of News Corp! That's the leading sentence in a news article that reveals the distinct displeasure of Joseph Farah, owner/publisher of the far right WORLDNETDAILY. News Corp, as you know is the parent company of Fox News.

CEO Rupert Murdoch is the only shareholder with more control. What's funny is that this news, which isn't really new, has Mr Farah in a real tither because he is only now finding out just how close the Prince and Mr Murdoch have become.

You see, Prince Alwaleed owns the Saudi equivalent to Fox News in his country: Rotana M
edia. There have been recent reports that expose the number of times the Prince influenced the reporting of international uprisings that he felt placed a negative light on Taliban rebels in Europe. I know what you're thinking.

Joseph Farah noted the incident where Alwaleed had boasted in the past about forcing Fox News to change it's content relating to its coverage of riots in Paris. Poor Joseph. You see, this brings a whole new level of suspicion on the validity of Fox News.

While speaking at the Constitutional Coalition Conference a few days ago, Farah noted correctly that such foreign ownership of American media is “really dangerous.”

I looked up this Farah character and the conference and found this quote from the man:

There’s a flaw, a real compromise in Fox that you need to understand. And if you care about national security, you especially need to be attentive to it. And that is that Fox News parent company is News Corp has a significant ownership by a Saudi prince that many of you will be familiar with because right after 9/11 this prince very famously offered Rudolph Giuliani a big multi-million dollar check to rebuild and Giuliani told him to stick the check where the sun don’t shine because this guy was basically blaming America for what happened on 9/11.

So then I looked up Alwaleed and found he had just been interviewed by Neil Cavuto as he reaffirmed why he has a personal stake in influencing American politics. Nice.

The Saudis need America to continue it's addiction to foreign oil. The Prince intends to keep Saudi Oil the number one source. What the connection with Fox News is, I don't know. Commentators on that channel continually confuse terrorists with the average Muslim on a daily basis, which is no different than the Amnesty/Open borders advocates when they confuse Immigration with Illegal Immigration. So I would have thought they would be less friendly toward each other.

It would be prudent to also expose that Alwaleed owns almost $5 billion dollars worth of Citigroup so he intends to help defeat any additional taxing of the major lending institutions proposed by the Obama administration. Remember the new rules of campaign finance that the Supreme Court just gave us? Get ready people! What's more...If you think that 15% limit on credit card rates has a chance, think again.


When criminals decide to attack each other in our neighborhoods, everyone suffers. What happened Wednesday on Cedar Street should have been in a TV drama only. With one young man dead, four in custody and another on the run, you'd think we were living in the Bronx. Well, surprize! You're in Kingston.

Problem is, you cant make this a case of failure on the Police force, the Administration or the neighbors. I wish it were that simple. You see, scum like this live in cities, small towns and rural homes across the state. Gangs thrive during times of severe hardship, and this is definitely a time of hardship.

The victim, Charles King of Henry Street, was no angel himself. Guns, drugs, violence and prostitution are a fact of life for many in our urban stressed neighborhoods, however, an execution of this sort has no place in our city.

The Freeman and Record have done a good job of reporting the details of the murder, but the citizens of Kingston have to figure out what more we can do to discourage the gang mentality of our local youth. Because URGENT has it's limits and the taxpayers scream that they can no-longer afford to fund additional law enforcement or intervention services. So what do we do? Fingerprint everyone who enters the city? Hell, we cant even deal with the undocumented residents in our multi-family dwellings.

Two of the three youth involved in the murder, were from our midtown west area. If convicted, they'll have their whole lives thrown away as a result of getting involved with gangs and their dealings. What a waste. And where the frak are their parents?

There are numerous accounts of local residents claiming they see illegal actions occur on the streets infront of their homes daily, but wont report the actions because of retaliation. Will this spur more action from the residents or push them to ignore the issue even further? I'm just saying, this retaliatory hit on the streets of Kingston will have more of an affect on our quality of life than you may initially expect.

My thanks goes to KPD, UC Sheriff, URGENT and the District Attorney for swift action in these tough times. Now how can we insure that this wont happen again?


Wednesday, February 10, 2010


This past Monday, a number of newly elected Legislators made the journey to Albany to attend the NYSAC Legislative Conference held at the Desmond. It was an all day affair divided into 45 & 60 minute lectures on the proper structure of county and state government and what's expected of us while we serve.

Joining me was Legislators Wadnola, Bernardo, Frey, Belfiglio, Hayes & Maio. We reviewed the latest revisions in the legal requirements of elected and appointed officials regarding policy & procedure, responsibilities and requirements for adopting local laws, and an in-depth look at codes of conduct & ethics.

It was during the session on open government and sunshine laws where I was enlightened on the mandatory taking of minutes during all committees. Having served as Alderman for the City of Kingston for eight years with absolutely no minutes written for all the committees, I was concerned that there might be issue with my past attendance on that body. I think they are addressing that issue as we speak. You can find the minutes of county committee meetings on the county website dating back almost 3 years.

What was interesting was the County finance and budget issues that, for some of us, have never had exposure to. The county's relationship with the State and it's late budget was also a highlight, as was the timing of the state funding source and the affect it's schedule has on the workings of the county. It was quite the note book full. Yes, they supplied each attendee with binders full of detail for anyone to look at. No doubt, those who were re-elected and still serving weren't required to attend this review, but for those of us who spent this time together, it was good to do it together.


"I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes and in another tax which is far more easily collected and far more effective."

- Teddy Roosevelt

Monday, February 08, 2010


Last week, I attended the Committee for Government Operations & Efficiency chaired by Terry Bernardo. During which the agenda focused on The structure of the county government, duties of each division and the options available to the Legislature to streamline their departments.

After discussing the methods of communication between the Elected and the staff, we asked about Wi Fi on the sixth floor as well as getting meeting minutes posted on the website. You can find the minutes of all county committees posted on the county website. Believe it or not, the issue of wireless access for the whole building is addressed in the Capital Projects package that is scheduled for review two months from now. Yes, I said Capital Projects.

Brian Shapiro helped review the prior leaderships attempt at Ethics legislation while Terry engaged the the attending members on the more positive ways we all could interact with each other and the staff while serving the electorate. We know how the discourse between legislators can get, well, not so respectful. Lets see if we can alter that this year.

Chairman Wadnola has placed the committee with the daunting task of reviewing the current "personnel policy" specifically the request of the County Executive regarding nepotism in departments that he has no control over. You've heard all about it in the press. Well, it may actually be looked at! I know I will.

The inaugural meeting of this committee was relaxed in that we were just getting to understand the role of it's duties. However, this committee will have it's hands full as the year progresses. Having seen the draft template created by Terry on how the County operates, I can see why this issue is in dire need of attention. Its a mess.

The make-up of this committee isn't final yet. Who knows who'll be on it next time we meet.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


Fox News Military Analyst Endorses DADT Repeal, Criticizes McCain For Flip-Flopping

This morning, Fox & Friends Weekend hosted Col. David Hunt, a Fox News military analyst, to discuss whether to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

According to his bio on the Fox News website, Hunt is a retired colonel with “over 29 years of military experience including extensive operational experience in special operations, counter terrorism and intelligence operations.” Hunt generally adheres to the conservative line on national security matters. For instance, he was an advocate for attacking Iraq. And instead of encouraging dialogue with Iran and Syria, Hunt said in 2006, “I think we can talk to them when we line them up and kill them.”

This morning, however, Hunt sided with progressives who are advocating repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Hunt called the discriminatory law “an abject failure” because “we’ve lost somewhere between 11 and 14,000 soldiers.”


Here's the shot on C-SPAN when Sister Sarah was trying to get through..."Reigning in spending" during her Tea Party address. I think she would be a great Republican Presidential Candidate for 2012. What say you?

Saturday, February 06, 2010


As many of you know, The President offered a federal spending plan that extends the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage (FMAP) last week, the federal share of the Medicaid program, for states and counties. What most of us don't know is that only about 30% of the first stimulus money has been allocated since the initial plan went into effect. Why is that?

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and was intended to help states weather the financial crisis. What we faced on the municipal level was acting on what we already had "shovel ready" regarding projects. Most towns weren't prepared for the first wave of deadlines. Kingston, Ulster County and New York State had to scramble to get the proposals finalized, just like the rest of the country. What's interesting is the impact it has had already.

Since then, Senator Schumer has stepped up to make sure counties across the state received the increased FMAP because of the financial Albany plays in the State's Medicaid program. The increased FMAP has helped our counties stave off property tax increases and mass service cuts and layoffs. Extending the FMAP increase for two more quarters will provide counties with an additional tool to get through this recession.

I think this also prompts the leadership throughout the state to have their planning departments close up any unfinished municipal proposals. Lesson here would be to be ready for the second round of grants. Schumer has pledged to lead this measure through the upcoming Federal budget-making process. I don't see any reason for the legislation to be delayed, pending anymore meltdowns on the Senate floor. Cross your fingers.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Tuesday evening, I had the privilege of sitting in on the Law Enforcement Committee as they reviewed much of what the departments had ahead of them in the near future.

One serious issue was the procurement of additional vehicles. with an average of 120-140 miles on the cars in service, the 6 month long process for ordering new cars puts the mileage and maintenance well past the effective level. Having been schooled well by Kingston Police Chief Keller and officer Tinti on the value of scheduled car replacement, I fully understood where the Sheriffs department was coming from.

We also got to look over the funding roll-over from 2009 for the Operation Impact line at the request of UCDA Holley Carnright. With an annual budget of over $200K, with the annual budget cycle ending in June, the program focuses on the inter municipal criminal activity connected to drugs & gangs.

We were strong supporters of Operation Impact while I was on the Council and will continue my support while on the Legislature. The amounts shifted to the 2010 spending cycle amount to less than $10 grand and looks to be gleefully accepted by the committee.

The Committee also reviewed and supports the continuation of the NYS Emergency Management communications program which, by the description I heard, has been working quite efficiently since 2007. Another easy endorsement.

Final assessment: I was quite impressed with the laundry list of enforcement departments that Chairman Hayes had visited in this new leadership position. His background in this area surely helps in his navigation of the issues. Well done Jack.


I had to laugh when I read in the Albany Times Union that there is a "Tea Party Birther" looking to steal the Republican nod from Rick Lazio as he attemts to run for Governor. Just like what we know of John McCain's predicament, Warren Redlich, a DWI lawyer in Albany, thinks Lazio is too much of a corporate insider.

Redlich is a Guilderland town board member. Being a year in which he doesnt have to secure his own position, he has decided to run, with the help of the Libertarian Party. He told the TU that he thinks he's got a good shot.

The article has Redlich assuming the average New Yorker as perceiving Lazio as a Wall Street exectutive with all the shady trimmings of a corporate lobbyist. Something that seems to be a theme among the rebels of the party. Question is, what are the chances of the New York Republican machine letting Warren even get his campaign started before they work their magic against him?

NYGOP is also trying to channel voter frustration with incumbents and the economy, Redlich will surely be in the way.

Redlich told the TU that he would work to limit public employee salaries to no more than $100,000, and would push for wholesale elimination of agencies such as the state's Office for Technology. That's a good start for a state that most believe operates in the 20th century.

At a news conference this week, Redlich said one of the most undeniable truths so far: "The first thing is to get on the ballot."