Thursday, January 27, 2011


The Huffington Post has an article about the recent Kentucky proposal to do random drug testing. Drug testing on those participating in the SNAP program. 

If you receive Welfare, Medicaid or food assistance (SNAP), you would be subject to random testing. This would indicate whether you were using the system to fund your habit on the backs of the taxpayer. The same taxpayer that funds the very police department burdened with your illegal activities.

This bi-partisan bill was introduced by Kentucky state Rep. Lonnie Napier who told HuffPost would "get people off drugs" and save money for the state. I'll tell you this conversation has happened everywhere people gather to discuss our municipal budgets. 
To hear about someone actually bringing this to the floor somewhere intrigues me. I'm going to be paying close attention to this one.

Napier quoted in HuffPost: "I believe there is a place for public assistance for those that really need it, but I don't think there should be public assistance for those using it to buy drugs. It's widely known here and all over the country that they'll take the food-stamp card and buy good groceries with it, and then swap them for illegal drugs. My deal would only be random testing, and this would put the fear in people to keep them drug-clean because they would lose their public assistance if they show up with illegal drugs in their system."

I see the bill would not alert authorities for prosecution when the results turned up positive for drugs, but the intent is to get people off drugs with the threat of losing assistance. Works for me.

It was also pointed out that Michigan did testing in three welfare offices. Out of 258 clients, 21 tested positive. Mostly pot. 
They thought the effort wasn't worth the cost, but I'd say the testing caused the clients to stop doing drugs once the law went into effect. Think of the savings in law enforcement. 
Napier also quoted: "I think it's time somebody stepped up to the plate and tried to help people get off of drugs. If you're continuing to let people have free handouts and they're using it for illegal drugs, then I guess we're helping them do it."

Considering the recent sting in Kingston and the millions in SNAP funds that Ulster County will never get back, this might be a worthy discussion locally.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


With the unexpected shake-up of committees and participating members, I have found myself on the Governmental Services & Admin Committee. (GSA) Chaired by Kevin Roberts.

Monday evening was my first formal committee meeting for this year. The meeting was held at the UCRRA complex on Rt 32 in Ulster, NY. 
Kinda nice to meet outside of the County building considering the hours we spend there already. 
The renewed Board of RRA had just closed their meeting when I arrived, having finalized their Resolution proposal authorizing a joint commission to Study the Agency. That resolution was waiting for us when we got there. 

The agenda was short on paper. Four items. We addressed those resolutions after getting an update on the operations regarding the RRA. Leon Smith, the Chair of the Board and Tim Rose, Operations Director, stayed on to answer questions.

The Paterson Grinder that suffered damage from misuse is back and functional, but discussions revealed to us that the unit is too big for what RRA needs. Estimates from experts claim we could still sell off the Grinder for Hundreds of thousands of dollars and purchase a proper version for a third of the cost. 
Another large ticket was the lift. It turns out the truck lift that was sighted in the Comptrollers Report as broken is actually obsolete. Repair of the mechanism would be lost money. 

We did receive fines from the DEC  recently regarding the unregulated storage of fuel and antifreeze tanks on the compound. Remedies are in the works as plans for a cement base structure have been submitted and bids gone out for the work come spring. That should end that threat.

The scale in New Paltz has been repaired again with the intent to replace the whole unit in 2011. The estimate for the design of that scale is around 13K. I failed to ask how the weight of the trucks was handled during the times it didnt work, if they were in operation during that period. Perhaps a comment here will explain that.
We discussed the single stream revenue dilemma that faces the agency. The current procedure still keeps certain resources separate during the process. The raw materials are a higher grade while handled this way. Worth more to the buyer clean. Single stream puts glass, cans, plastic newspaper & cardboard together. The paper product is exposed to contaminants rendering the combined bulk product a lower grade. It may be worth less on the selling side but the manhours and fuel spent to collect and ship separately make the lesser product desirable. 

Its only a matter of time before the RRA falls into this form of operation. Speaking of time, Its not that far off that the past debt payments from "dump closings past" will come to an end. In just a few years to come, monies currently allotted for that service will cease to budget.

Resolution #1 asks the Legislature to appoint a Joint Committee made up of Legislators and appointed personnel to review, and implement solutions to help in oversight. A mirror of the resolution request of the Board.

Resolution #2 asks that the Rules of Order be changed to require a first & second reading of all resolutions affecting Labor agreements. Submitted by Ken Ronk, he asked that Rule 3 B be altered to include an additional paragraph B (1) indicating as such. The committee decided this should be reviewed yet another month and come back in March.

Resolution #3 asks that the Legislature consider changing the appointment process for future Board members of the RRA. Requiring the nomination of members by the Executive and confirmation by the Legislature. The five member board would be installed with a staggered serving period initially but followed by only one appointment in following years. All starting in 2014, having little affect on the current board appointments. The Committee asked if the sponsors would postpone this request. No action.

Resolution #4 asked the Legislature & it's Chairman to consider splitting the current Government Operations and Environment committee into two. Thus bringing the Efficiency portion back into play and relieving the chair of the burden of Mandate review. The Committee asked if the sponsors would postpone this request. No action.

I had coffee and crackers while participating. It was cold out. My car ran properly and actually got me home.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I stumbled upon the GIZMODO website where I saw this post: 
Taco Bell doesn't use beef in their "beef"-based pseudo-Mexican delicacies. They use a gross thing called "Taco Meat Filling" as shown on their big container's labels—which customers can't see. The list of ingredients is gruesome:
Water, isolated oat product, salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, oats (wheat), soy lecithin, sugar, spices, maltodextrin (a polysaccharide that is absorbed as glucose), soybean oil (anti-dusting agent), garlic powder, autolyzed yeast extract, citric acid, caramel color, cocoa powder, silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent), natural flavors, yeast, modified corn starch, natural smoke flavor, salt, sodium phosphate, less than 2% of beef broth, potassium phosphate, and potassium lactate.
Oh, and 36% beef. Thirty-six percent—plus all the above making up for the other 64% of the party in your mouth.

The comments that followed were aimed not at Taco Bell, but at the author for making a big deal about the 36% beef factor and that no-one wants to know what's in this product or hot dogs or any other fast food delicacies that we consume without thinking.

They go on to describe how any decent drunk in need of a taco at 1am isn't going to care what's in it. 
I thought that was funny enough to bring this treat to you today since I usually have heavy political opinions here. If you want to continue eating this stuff, feel free. But make a point to avoid watching "How its Made" when they get to the production of Hot Dogs. Whoa.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


An issue that's all over the Web, Facebook and Twitter is the Net Neutrality deal that the FCC negotiated and Congress passed. The outlook isn't very clear and by the alarming accounts I've read, could have a negative affect on the services we are used to.

The most notable alarmist who has done his best to waken the public of these fears is  Al Franken of Minnesota. In an article in PC Mag, Franken states:
"I believe we are facing and will continue to face a growing threat of corporate control on the flow of information in our country. These rules are not strong enough." "This is the first time the FCC has ever allowed discrimination on the Internet."

For internet savy folks who are paying attention, we have been following the best we can, but details are coming out now after the December decision. The discrimination that Franken speaks of is the wealthy corporations flooding our normal search-engines with "Preferred" links and bolstered downloads while pushing competitors aside and dampening their download times. Smaller companies and/or entrepreneurs would be pretty much shut out.

This may not be big chatter on the street, but the new rules apply to fixed internet providers and not wireless companies. The hope is that the FCC will come back to this issue and modify the new rules in small steps in the near future now that the bulk of the law is established.Thus providing equal protection for wireless geeks everywhere. 
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts & NBC's Jeff Zucker pictured below.
Although the deal was granted by congress, it was passed by party line vote. Other than Franken, all the minority Republican Congressmen voted against having any forced equalization of internet neutrality. So while Al claimed the bill didn't go far enough, they thought it intrusive and went beyond their duty.

  While I'm writing about Al Franken, I can note the continued chatter all over the same outlets regarding the Comcast-NBC merger. The FCC gave their blessing to the merger last Tuesday, creating the biggest TV/Internet Provider in history. Franken is also ringing the alarm on this as well. Sure the FCC and the DoJ did their best to lay out stipulations and safeguards throughout the the deal, but how long before these firms order their lawyers to dissolve any consumer protections they deem monopoly deterrent?
In the WashPost, Franken said: "A combined Comcast-NBCU will lead to higher cable prices, hurt small providers, and prompt cable channels to accept fewer licensing dollars just to reach Comcast's 23 million customers.  I'm hearing that Comcast is already intends to pull NBC's programming from Netflix when it's next up for review. It will only be a matter of time before we see AT&T trying to buy ABC-Disney or Verizon trying to buy CBS-Viacom." 

Only a week ago, I posted a YouTube link here to provide access to an online petition that Al Franken initiated. It had no affect on the FCC. We can only watch from the consumer's perspective now that these deals are done. 
I can only say Thank you Representative Franken for your attempts. 

Friday, January 21, 2011


So, Let's talk about the Freeman Editorial regarding the RRA Board. The press is suggesting County Executive Michael Hein has exhausted his patience with the Legislature over this RRA Board appointment process and thinks it would be in better hands if it were under the purview of the Executive. 
Editorial staff suggests the Legislative leadership is unfit to handle the appointment process and have mismanaged the RRA since it's inception. I am not about to argue with that.

The last Board of the RRA did their job as they saw fit pertaining to the Bemis case. Members closest to the agency chose this time to replace those members who voted for his dismissal. Leaving the two who didnt remaining. Sweet! So what do we do?

Rather than bring in the State Attorney General, as some suggested, the leadership brings in our local District Attorney. Believe it or not, that report isn't due for a few more weeks. Good thing we kept it "in house", right? Ughh, I wish we weren't so incompetent.

The staff continued: The recent replacing of the very agency board members responsible for firing Bemis sent a very odd message to the community, especially given the entanglements of Legislature Chairman Fred Wadnola, R-Ulster, and Kevin Roberts, R-Wallkill. Former board members, Wadnola and Roberts claim to have neither seen nor heard of evil while Bemis was executive director.

I'll say it's odd to see an Editorial Board basically mimic the recent suggestions offered by a select few members of the Legislature who happened to submit such a resolution. The sharing of the power to appoint works so well in so many other areas, that it shocks me to hear any resistance to the idea.

The Bernardo-Zimet Resolution offers a shared appointment structure with a staggered service period. Those nominated by the Executive would then be approved by the Legislature. Sound familiar?
Without any surprises, this remains one of the big three issues facing the County in 2011: The RRA, Golden Hill and the district re-apportionment process. If we let this debacle define us as a governing body, we have no-one but ourselves for the lousy public perception of the County Government.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Hank Gross of MidHudson News reports that Legislator Terry Bernardo has submitted a resolution to the Legislature asking for a change in how we appoint members to the RRA board. As it stands, the leadership of the Legislature decides who will serve on that board. 

Executive Hein touched on that subject for a few minutes during a meeting I attended the other night. 

I admit, giving his office the power to appoint agency members is titillating. When I heard of the proposal, I contacted his office to get a better feel for how he felt regarding Terry's resolution. I expect that return call Today.

According to the report printed in the Freeman, our esteemed Chairman Frederick Wadnola, said he was open to discussing the issue but the matter should wait until after the investigation. Fair enough. I think we'd all like to dive into that report.
I think it says plenty about Bernardo, that she would trust a first term Executive of the opposite party with the sole responsibility of placing the board members. Considering the banter leading up to the Leadership appointment process, I guess it lends itself to open trust on her part.

Hank got a quote from Terry: “The taxpayers have a man who is willing to lead. I’m really glad we have a full-time executive out there who has the time to dedicate to this sort of matter.” That is why we went to the current charter is it not?
In an additional twist, Legislator Susan Zimet (D-New Paltz) has signed on as co-sponsor of this resolution. Showing once again that whatever issues some members of the Legislature may have had with each other or the Executive branch can be put aside for the greater good of the county taxpayer. 

The article is right to point out that it needs Legislature approval before it can be sent to Albany. It would have to be carried by Senator Bonacic and one of the Assembly members representing any part of Ulster County to see any action by the state Legislature and the Governor.
On another note, when asked if the Environment and Efficiency Committee should be split into two, Brian Shapiro, the current Chair of that combined committee said he would review the resolution before signing on. More on that later.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


So Mike Hein, our County Exec plans to contact AG Schneiderman's office asking them to investigate the turbid water release into the Esopus. I think this is a wise move on his part as we head toward another 30+ days of pollution in our precious waterways. 

Hein had a press conference last week to announce the first step his administration is taking to file a suit against the NYC DEP for the release. Flanked with bi-partisan support of the Legislature, his office put the issue out there and demonstrated just how serious we are about the long term damage to our waterways. Damage to our ecology, agriculture, tourism and community drinking source.
William Kemble has a great article in the Freeman with much of the details, however I'd like to than Exec Hein for taking such a firm stand on this issue. Ulster County is but a part of the overal NYC watershed, but we have rights as well. 

At a recent gathering, Michael spoke about the frustrating absence of action from DEC officials despite acknowledgement of the Esopus Creek damage. Almost 600 Million Gallons are being artificially sent down the creek from the Ashokan. This has been going on for over 100 days with no end in sight.
Hein also spoke of the impact that the contaminated water would have on our irrigated crops heading into the next growing season. This is pristine farmland with award winning produce. What farming that survives such a disaster will be faced with different sales avenues, such as providing feed for animals instead of at market. Not good.

Hein was quoted in the paper: “I want them to pay for an independent evaluation of the damage they’ve already caused by polluting our water for the past 100 days in a row and to delivery a legally binding commitment to never do it again. They are taking the easy way out." 

Hein continued: “New York City DEP had a history of dealing with turbidity by using alum and New York state DEC has precluded them from using alum. Instead of examining other options they took the easy way out to dump concentrated, polluted water down the waste channel into the lower Esopus.” 

On another point, using the AG's office for this isn't un-heard-of. The Legislature has toyed with the idea of contacting the office to help with the RRA issue. Depending on where our County Comptroller's Report on the agency goes, will determine if we seek help from Mr Schneiderman. 

In closing, I ask will the threat of lawsuit from Ulster County help or hinder our case against NYC? We have no way of knowing. We do know we will spend money making the case, but that's what the fund balance is for.

Monday, January 17, 2011


 As one of the most admired Americans in our county's short history, Martin Luther King Jr certainly deserves so much more than a single holiday to commemorate his legacy. 

I was looking through the archives online to give me some highlights that I could post on the Blog respectfully. The amount of information and the details of his life and vision far exceed anything I could write with any sense of honor.

Perhaps it is one of those life celebrations that allows each of us that chance to research and reflect on where we've come and where we're going. 
Something worth noting from Wikipedia: In 1968, shortly before his assassination, King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference organized the "Poor People's Campaign" to address issues of economic justice. The campaign culminated in a march on Washington, D.C. demanding economic aid to the poorest communities of the United States. King traveled the country to assemble "a multiracial army of the poor" that would march on Washington to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol until Congress created a bill of rights for poor Americans.  

King and the SCLC called on the government to invest in rebuilding America's cities. He felt that Congress had shown "hostility to the poor" by spending "military funds with alacrity and generosity". He cited systematic flaws of "racism, poverty, militarism and materialism", and argued that "reconstruction of society itself is the real issue to be faced".

You could say the issues that face America then still face her today. There is still much to do and precious little time to do it. You could argue that in a way, his death accelerated the possible achievements that followed. However, we will never know what realities lay ahead had he lived. So take this time to look at our continuing fight for equality while embracing the events that got us to this point today.

Thank you Dr King

Sunday, January 16, 2011


John McCain: "He (President Obama) is a patriot sincerely intent on using his time in office to advance our country's cause. I reject accusations that his policies and beliefs make him unworthy to lead America or opposed to its founding ideals."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011


Republican Party officials chose Wisconsin's Reince Priebus as their new chairman on Friday, thus ousting Michael Steele pictured above.

Priebus, who served as general counsel of the Republican National Committee, was voted the new RNC chair after seven rounds of voting.
He won after current chairman Michael Steele gave up his bid for a new-two year term.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Any of us could have gone off the deep end and called Joe Wilson out for letting a gun manufacturer continue their engraved "You Lie" ammo clip. When It came to everyone's attention, the internets went berserk, mostly because of the recent gun incident in Arizona. 

Congressman Joe Wilson did the right thing this week. He had his staff contact Palmetto State Armory and ask that they discontinue the what they thought was an honored gesture. The company's President, Jamin McCallum obliged.

Wilson then wrote: "I thank you for quickly suspending sales of the product that uses my words."

His words during the State of the Union were harmless if not good political fodder. However that connection with a firearm might not be. So let me say this may be the beginning of a much better tone in Washington. For this I give great thanks to a smart man, South Carolina's Congressman Joe Wilson.


In many of the ecology and alternative energy circles there is robust chatter about a less expensive means to handle wastewater. 
If you search for "sewage bio-domes" on the web, you'll find examples and pictures such as the one above. Nicknamed "Poo-Gloos" because of their shape, these little guys can clean up sewage just as effectively as multimillion-dollar treatment facilities for towns outgrowing their waste-treatment lagoons.

I bring this up because of the recent housing developments in the Hudson Valley including Ulster County. One of the main obstacles in the planning process for Hudson Landing in Kingston, was the threat of exceeding out treatment plant capacity in the possible future.

What to do with additional sewage is an important and challenging engineering task. Proper treatment includes disinfection and the removal of unwanted pollutants. We may have an efficient system here in Kingston, but most rural communities with municipal systems rely on wastewater lagoons as their primary method of treatment. 
So here I present an idea for future development in Ulster County. These underwater domes are filled with sewage-eating bacteria and considered a less-expensive, lower-impact alternative to wastewater treatment facilities.It's also noted that they treat the same amount of pollutant as the big mechanical treatment plants.

The examples I've shown here are from an American company based in Salt Lake City. The company, which seems to be getting all the attention is Wastewater Compliance Systems. Their director of sales was quoted in the treatment journals was: "Every day I speak with community officials who need to upgrade their treatment facilities. They come to us because they receive an engineering report recommending a $4-10 million mechanical plant project that is impossible for them to pay for with their existing tax base. Not only can our Poo-Gloos or Bio-Domes help communities comply with pollution limits, but most of the projects I quote cost between $150,000 and $500,000, and the operating expenses are a fraction those at a mechanical plant." described the domes in detail. Each of which have four domes inside of them, separated by plastic film, allowing for a large area for the growth of bacteria, which cleans up the wastewater. The domes are placed at the bottom of a sewage treatment lagoon, and tubes move air through the domes, moving water through them as well.

The Bio-Domes are now being used in six states, in both pilot projects and full-scale installations. Is there any way of tapping into the pilot project status to get an even better deal? I don't know, but it's worth looking into. As projects come to our attention in the County Legislature, the Environmental sub-committee of the GOE should encourage innovative treatment projects such as this. I think my colleagues would agree.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Earlier this week, Chuck Schumer made that announcement that he would introduce legislation that would mandate DNA testing and storage of that information for all persons charged with a serious offence.  

Our state is way behind on this issue. How it is that 23 other states have such a DATA base and the Empire State doesn't, escapes me. New York State has it's fair share of violent crime, so let's not kid ourselves. I suggest the state to, not only join the rest of the DNA network, but have the federal government mandate this system across the nation.
I personally don't see collecting DNA as some kind of personal rights violation, as some would suggest. Some have stated that the cost to our law enforcement system would be daunting. Schumer's plan would provide money to get states to use tools that could tie violent criminals to past crimes in which their involvement went undetected.

At a press conference in Syracuse, Senator Schumer said "Providing police officers and district attorneys access to a DNA database is like turning on a light switch. Much more is illuminated."

He continued: "Our bill would provide financial incentives for states to set up these databases. It will not only put criminals behind bars, but it will also save money. DNA is far more accurate and when our police and our detectives and our DAs have it at their fingertips, they can solve crime more quickly."
In the county's Government Operations & Efficiency Committee, we are set with the task of reviewing mandates that the State and Fed place on the local municipalities. This would no doubt affect the Sheriff's Department here in Ulster. Funding is always the issue and with this case, if our Senator can get the cost of DATA collection and maintenance covered financially, I don't see where the GOE would have any problems.

Monday, January 10, 2011


In recent months, we've had plenty of fun chatting amongst ourselves about FourLoko and the fight with the FDA. A number of us went out and sampled the drink with little praise for the taste. Obviously people werent seeking the drink for it's delicious attributes.  
The FDA eventually cracked down on the sale of the energy drink as more people reported falling violently ill after consummation.This lead to a ban on sales in most places. Those who still had large stock of the drink saw a mad rush of sales by the case load.
The company that made the drink still has millions of gallons of the stuff. What could they possibly do with it? Well, necessity is the mother of invention right? A Virginia recycling plant comes to the rescue. 

MXI Enterprises in Abingdon, VA is taking all the Loko it can get and turning it into Ethanol. Retailers who chose to stop selling the drink over the counter are sending the unopened cans by the truckload and getting some amount of compensation for it.
For those who dig recycling efforts locally and globally, you'll be happy to know they are sending all the aluminium cans to the proper facilities.
Now what do we do with all the FourLoko addicts on the streets?

Sunday, January 09, 2011


I found an interesting article on pertaining to the Filibuster Vote. The piece highlights the proposal by Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa where he breaks the number of votes for cloture into daily steps downward. Its quite thought provoking.

Sure, we all expect the Filibuster to endure the attempts co eliminate it, but what will it look like when all is said and done? Under Harkin's plan, the minority's ability to block legislation would diminish with successive votes. 

The site states: Senate leaders would still need 60 votes initially to impose "cloture"—i.e., to shut off debate. But if Senate leaders lost that vote, they could wait two days and call another vote that would require only 57 votes. If they lost that vote they could wait another two days and call yet another vote that would require only 54 votes, and if they lost that vote they could wait another two days and call a final vote that would require only 51 votes. The Harkin plan defers to the minority's desire for extended deliberation but upholds the principle that ultimately the Senate should conduct most of its business through majority rule. 

Here is where those of us who like this proposal can express our support. Use the links below and let our Senators know if you like this Filibuster change. It makes sense to me and well, having a Blog, I get to put this out there.
You could also tell Kirsten through twitter:  @SenGillibrand

At the time posted their article, it only had three co-sponsors. Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Could we help in some way? Only time will tell.


Saturday, January 08, 2011


Words have consequences. The people who track hate groups and terrorist cells have repeatedly warned people in authority that popular sites that promote violence online do incite weak minded people to act on those initiatives. Here is but the most recent example.
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is expected to pull though this tragedy, but a Federal Judge, 9 year old girl and several others didnt. Our thoughts are with their families and those who are wounded. 

A 22 year old man in Arizona is probably a fan of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and others who preach of the inevitable government takeover. The poster above comes from Palin's website. It has cross hairs to pinpoint where they should focus removing Democrats that voted for HCR. It seems this young man took the poster seriously.

Since the incident, Palin's staff has scrubbed the site of all mention of "taking out" their opposition through violence. I expect Congressmen who shared the poster hit list have beefed up their protection today. I would urge our own Congressman Hinchey to take extra precaution as well. 

They are still investigating the killer's motives as I post this. It's going to consume the news for weeks. I am feeling a mixture of anguish and anger as well as sorrow for those who died. With this and the mail room bombings in recent days, my hopes for a better 2011 are tenuous at best.


Thursday, January 06, 2011


Being an elected official in New York, we get to hear about how screwed up the finances are here and California. The debt and mismanagement are usually uttered in the same sentence as regulations, unions and safetynet. 
Well I was shocked to hear that the third of the big three trouble states was Texas. That's one state I didn't expect to hear about and frankly, don't expect to hear about on one of the news channels.
Looking at the Internets, I see several mentions that the Texas Legislature is facing a $25 Billion budget deficit. It seems annual rituals of slashing programs, personnel and the means to fund them through taxation have finally caught up to them. Now, with operating costs going through the roof and nothing but default on the horizon, Texas is left with raising taxes as their only option.

Texas has an economy of over $1 Trillion. But they've boxed themselves in by slashing taxes for their wealthiest residents and businesses. I only bring this up because mainstream media will only harp on those states that lean Blue and suffering with exploding benefits and safetynet programs. It's a titillating theme for New cycles that have t sell advertising time.

If you compare the US to Europe, Texas would be our Ireland right now.
Ireland was once praised as a model for economic growth until a year ago. It was hailed for its pro-business, anti-tax, low-spending strategy, and signalled the new way forward for all of Europe. Where is Ireland now? Leading the way for Texas. 

Now I don't fault their Governor and Legislature for attempting this route of governing. Some philosophies are as rigid as some religions. They cant help it. With the GOP solidly in control of all things Texas, this is the direction they chose and the Texas taxpayers embrace the same ideals. 
What I do take issue with is that most news programs focus on New York and California as if their operating model is the only one suffering. That's all.

The debt in Texas has doubled since Governor Perry took office. He has been re-elected. What I want to know is if the rest of the country is willing to bail out Texas like the European Union is being asked of Ireland?

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


 Let me first say, Congratulations Fred Wadnola on his re-election to the position of Ulster county Legislature Chair. It was a hard fought battle, but you came out on top. Well done.

So, having gotten that out of the way, let me say that the Tuesday evening session of the Legislature was very tense. I got to the sixth floor with a sense that anything could happen since Terry Bernardo's name was in everyone's mind as a potential candidate for Chair.

The real thrill was watching the Republicans heading for the elevator after Finance, to have their special caucus on the third floor. They seemed dishevelled as if no-one knew what they were heading for. One of my colleagues jokingly said to me "They're heading to another floor because there are fewer eyes and ears down there."

When asked in the Democratic caucus if there were opinions regarding the Chairman's race, not much was said except that it was nice that the Republicans were fighting like they were downstairs. Then we decided to leave the voting until session.  
So they marched in, sat amongst us Democrats and proceeded with the nomination of Fred. Nominated by Jim Maloney (R-Ulster) who said Fred Wadnola is the most honest and transparent of the members of the Legislature and urged all of us to join in unanimously to make him Chair. 
He was Second by Peter Loughran (D-Kingston) who echoed what Jim said but added that his friendship went way back and that he respected his honesty and willingness to work bi-partisan manor as Chairman.

The quiet few seconds when Temp-Chair Rich Gerentine asked if there were any other nominations seemed like an eternity. Finally the nominations were closed and Fred was escorted up to his coveted chair.

What was said among the Republican majority members during the last few days must have been unnerving because it put a few people on notice that things aren't as Hunky Dory as they may have thought. Our caucus could have really made a mess of this had there been another nominee. I think they knew it.
  I wrote about the cancellation of all January meetings for the Legislature in a prior post. Some of the Committee chairs came in and let their desire to keep their scheduled meetings be known to the Chairman where he said "Fine. Whatever. Have at it!" Walter Frey (R-Saug) didn't show up, so what happens to the Health Committee this month is anyone's guess.
Your tax dollars at work.


My condolences to the Tantillo family for their loss of Tony Tantillo January 4th. 
After suffering in and out of the hospitals for so long, he passed this morning with his family around him. 
Our thoughts are with his loved ones on this sad day.

Monday, January 03, 2011


There's an interesting Capital Tonight report on the leadership structure within the Democratic Minority of the State Senate. It seems Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) has grown tired of the leadership direction and has taken himself out of the Deputy Leader position.

The report illuminated Klein's "distaste" for what went on during their term in Majority, but decided not to bolt the party.

Klein told the Daily News: “I’m a Democrat and I still adhere to Democratic values, I just don’t want to be judged by the actions of others and I can no longer make excuses to my constituents for the behavior of this conference."
Klein had things to say about the current Minority leader John Sampson whom he served under during the very same period he's complaining about. The focus was mainly on the slim chance of gaining majority again unless they shake up their leadership and campaign strategy. This would be good news for the Republicans if they didn't have their own problems heading into 2011.

This story isn't limited to just our State Senate. You can read about this in almost every state capital across the nation. Sometimes in County Legislatures and City Councils. The unrest among the representatives and their inside hierarchy deals can push those who question the vision to consider alternatives.

CapTonight speculated; Sampson isn’t expected to have any difficulty retaining his position. He needs just 16 of the 30 members to vote “yes.” 

Liz Krueger is being mentioned as a potential replacement for Klein. That wouldn't be such a bad thing.