Wednesday, November 30, 2011



The Ulster County Legislature had a public hearing on the Animal Abuse Registry this Tuesday evening. People convicted of animal abuse through the court process would be required to register with the Sheriffs department just as if they were on the sexual predator list.
Through decades of study, several organizations have found that there is a strong link between people who abuse animals and those who would do the same to other people. Usually leading to unspeakable crimes. This only moved members of the Legislature to act with more determination.
Anyone on such a list would be restricted from buying or even adopting domestic animals from dealers, shops, breeders or even through the shelters. Those who would be caught selling domestic animals without the proper background check could be fined up to $2,500 for each occurrence.

There is one note of resistance. PETCO is concerned with their staff being persecuted for selling feeder mice, gold fish and crickets because of this law and is asking that it be struck down. 
For a company that has no intention of ever coming to Ulster County, they are simply worried that if this passes, other counties will follow suit and their staff will have to actually know how to run a computer when selling one of their mill puppies.
I want to thank the team: Supervisor Carl Chipman, Legislators Kevin Roberts and Terry Bernardo for making this happen. I appreciate the passionate support from the public speakers and I'm thrilled that the Legislature is ready to make this a reality.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


While most of America was either feasting or shopping over the late November weekend, middle class people continued to occupy strategic parks in major cities across the country. The 99%, who represent all households making less than $300K/year, have finally manifested a tax plan for public consumption. 

   This is a simple concept of tax fairness. Just the idea makes certain media moguls quiver. Its central component is that it is based on current US income distribution. These are the figures from 2011 as of September.  
This plan will increase U.S. Federal Government annual revenue from $3.4 trillion to $4.7 trillion for a net gain of $1.3 trillion per year. Depending on what our leadership decides to do with this additional revenue, it could be used for deficit reduction or economic stimulus. Either way, it would help jump start this country's economy. But then you'd have to want that to happen.
Anyone making less than $125K/year as an individual or $250K as a couple would see a tax rate drop from the current 36% cap to 33% but no lower than 1%. This may strike anyone paying attention as odd since all we hear about from the advocates for the wealthy is that they pay more than their share of taxes. That rate shown here has them shifting from as high as 51% to about 33% with us 99% paying 66% of the tax burden. 
If you study the graphic above you'll see the tax plan is designed to run the Fed on one-third of all American income to include income made from estates and personal investment. It would also be useful in enforcing social responsibility upon multinational corporations whom would then be forced to compete with smaller firms. As the new tax structure matured, you'd see increased hiring in the American small business world. Our small business community provides most of the jobs in this country. 
In one WaPo article they mention that the bottom tax rate for the Top 1% of all earners is 42%. Taxation does not approach 50% until individual AGI is $500,000 and remains at 51% until $312M Individual AGI. 
Another issue that would be addressed is that the Federal government offers well over $1 Trillion every year in tax breaks, subsidies for individuals and companies that are often substitutes for direct government spending. The bank bailouts fostered by the previous administration because they were "Too Big To Fail" is a prime example. They got their assets saved through public funds while the middle class saw drastic cuts to vital services and those in most need are left to the curb. The little graph on the right shows green for current rates, blue for what would be added if those subsidies were to go away.

Again, the graphic at the top shows how income distribution consists of exactly the middle-third of current American income distribution and provides a wide and deep tax net. It was pointed out in the NYTimes how the lower-third of the Tax Revenue Diamond consists of the lower middle class and the poor. Persons living in poverty, or less than $22K/year are exempt from taxation in this model. Essentially leaving them to offer government revenue in the form of sales and property taxes.
For a nomadic herd of individuals seeking economic justice, they have come up with a fair and sustainable tax structure that may actually address what ails this country. Income and wealth disparity in this country has never been this extreme and the fact that so many people in position of power are shifting the tax burden even further to the middle class has prompted this public outcry. Not that you'd hear this on the GOP channel, but it's grown none the less. 
Lets see this tax plan implemented and get our country going again. Lets live up to the American Exceptionalism we hear about in all those speeches, shall we?

Friday, November 25, 2011


Once we were done giving thanks for all that we had and the feeding frenzy came to a close, our families across America parted, drove home and got much needed sleep. Well, most of them did.
People actually camped out last night in front of big box stores and malls for the annual midnight opening of their Black Friday sales bonanza. Walmart, the most egregious of foreign goods proliferation, actually started their holiday sales Thursday evening at 9pm. One incident in California around 10:30 struck me. A woman used pepper-spray on a group of women around an electronics table where she wanted a few items. The security guard called it combat shopping. The women continued shopping refusing to let their impaired sight slow them down.
Meanwhile, the Target located in Ulster, had people camped out for the midnight opening. 
I had friends there texting the whole evening while I was feasting with family. (Priorities my friend)
Anyway, she texted me this picture of OWS protesters in the parking lot. They were chanting "Read The Labels, Buy American, Save American Jobs"
I guess they could have added "Shop at locally owned stores" too. 
Those of us who harp on the bleeding of manufacturing jobs here in the US usually feel comfort in knowing the big anti-American companies that ship those jobs to third world countries, can't do the same when it comes to municipal repairs throughout the country. Well, guess again.
There are examples cropping up where County Executives are awarding bids to repair bridges and roads to private companies with imported employees. Imported from... China. 
That's right, Chinese firms winning bids, bringing in their own workforce while locals are holding their asses trying to keep their homes. 
Who here thinks, (with Chinese steel already prohibited because it's below standard quality) that the bridges will meet DOT standards when completed?
The protesters at Target are right. You've seen my rants here about American Made products, American manufacturing jobs and the tax incentives given to large firms who send jobs to Indonesia. There's something very wrong here. Did the folks going into Target look at one label? Sure, the one with the lowest price. What no one realizes is the high cost at home for the low prices on the shelf.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


One of the many thing we should be thankful for in this country is the freedom of the press. Especially when it comes to keeping records of where candidates stood on major issues in the past.
Newt Gingrich is in the spotlight this week now that he has emerged as the leading non-Romney for the Republican nomination. So of course he gets a deeper look for the next few days. As recent as 2002, Newt was a different animal when it came to those who should have control and where leadership should come from.
While debating with Ralph Nader, Speaker Gingrich said: "You had better be siding with the people enough that the people don't get so angry they take you apart, because in the end in this country, if you are deviant enough from the people... they will." Now I could easily send that out as the mission statement for Occupy Wall Street couldn't I?

Newt is also on the record saying the wealthiest Americans cannot be plutocrats because ultimately, the sentiments of the majority of Americans will win out.He also said he thinks corporations have too much power. I think the old Newt was right on target, don't you think?
During one such debate back in the "Other Newt" days, he said "I'd be very happy to get corporations out of politics. I think it'd be better for America if you had no union and corporate donations, but individuals could donate of their own after-tax income." 
It seems all the GOP candidates have had a turn switching their core values during the last decade. Freedom of the press allows us to review what was said and where. 
Whether Republican primary voters care about where their candidates stood earlier is up to them. I guess the next question is, who will be the next non-Romney challenger to the nomination?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Does anyone else have concerns with the City of Kingston Bus service? Well, the city's finance committee is considering raising the fee from $1 to $1.25 starting in January.  As far as getting through Kingston a great distance, either fare is cheap, however, the taxpayer is really paying for the service through employee costs, maintenance and fuel. Our tax dollars.
Federal dollars subsidize most of our city bus system through transportation grants. The operation continues so long as we comply with the stipulations associated with those federal dollars. Problem is, Kingston taxpayers are merely adding money to an underutilized service. Count the passengers when they drive by.

The dilemma: How much do we spend annually? Could we give the routes over to UCAT? What would we have to give back in penalties? and Where would we shift the employees? These questions have always been asked during the frantic budget season. No-one wants to address this issue earlier in the year for fear of actually changing the status quo. Perhaps it's time to at least consider ordering smaller buses when the next purchase cycle comes around.

Don't get me wrong. I have ridden on our CityBus. They are clean, easily accessible, fairly on time and still the cheapest ride across town. Our drivers are courteous and helpful as well. However, more times than not, it's a lonely ride. 
It may be time to look at smaller buses in the future if only for the fuel savings. With the mandate that municipalities must have bus service and the resistance of the County willing to take the routes, we may as well change the expense dynamic. 


Followed by Keith Olbermann at 8pm, this little News Channel is about to make some news of it's own. 
Channel 118 on your Time/Warner service.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


New York's very own Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has submitted a bill that would address the issue of insider trading. Insider trading by members of Congress anyway. The act is already illegal for everyone else though we rarely hear about the frequent cases that occur everyday.
This bill, should it survive the process and become law, would enable the SEC, Securities Exchange Commission, to prosecute our state and federal elected and appointed officials for insider-trading cases as well as make insider trading against the rules of the House and the Senate.
Who, if any of us, have faith in Congress to police itself? Yeah, I didn't think so.  As you can watch in the video above, Kirsten told Chris Wagge from the CBS Early Show that “it’s incumbent upon us to make the kinds of changes that the American people would expect we would make so that we live by the exact same exact rules that everyone else does. While there is disclosure now, it has to be illegal, just like it’s illegal for everyone else.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Robert Reich never skips the chance to debunk the brainwashing talking points from the GOP.  He doesn't mince words.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


I think we have reached yet another turning point for the Occupy movement. In recent weeks the call for veterans to join the encampments has drawn a few members here & there, but in the last few days, the turnout has been impressive. Most notably at Occupy Oakland the 100+ vets of all ages and divisions formed a barrier between the occupants and the police force.

Essentially making their stake in the demand to make banksters, politicians and corporations accountable for the ruination of our financial system and to establish the fact that at 30% unemployment (well above the national average) that they too are part of the 99%.
Pundits on one GOP PAC news channel have labelled these fine men and women of the armed forces as just another group of violent Marxist hippies. I just know they'll all be tuning in to watch O'Reilly, Hanitty and the rest of the FoxNews propaganda machine when they get the chance. Oh Yeah!

Friday, November 11, 2011


I just wanted to show off a little project I've been working on this week up in West Saugerties. 
A newly renovated bathroom with a stone & glass shower. It may take a great deal of time to assemble, but damn it's worth it.

I'm working on this project with my brother. He has the new wet saw that has been the dream tool that makes all the difference. You can follow a pattern all you want but anyone who's done slate knows deviations in the product can cause "creep" or an unexpected growth in the pattern.

Coupled with the bluestone floor, the glass shower walls will make this bathroom the envy of the neighborhood. Want one?


The only difference in this instance is one has hair. Now the question is, who makes more sense and which one does more damage?

Thursday, November 10, 2011


When a small group of us locals either rescue or breed dogs in our homes, you get to see the living conditions and meet the people helping/whelping the dogs. 
I recall almost 50 dogs going through my home in the years I've been here. They get happy homes when they leave. Pet store puppies don't begin their lives the same way.
Make the effort to find a local breeder, animal shelter or municipal pound if you intend to add a member of your family this holiday season.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


The votes have been cast and counted. Shayne Gallo and Jim Noble win the race for Mayor and Alderman-at-large in the City of Kingston. In the short month plus, he must assemble a fresh cabinet and prepare a strategy to lead this city in a prosperous new direction. 
Ron Polacco did a damn good job as the opposition candidate. I give him credit considering he had little help from his party. The fact that he kept it clean earns him the respect of the Gallo campaign. 

Facing a contentious primary while earning a living was daunting but Shayne still eked out a narrow win in September. I was not so lucky.
While the team doubled down for the General, I all but abandoned my campaign for the Legislature. That is until this past Friday when I put up my lawn signs. I figured, hey, why not? With no literature and avoiding doors throughout the district, I still got 400+ votes. For those who did so, I sincerely thank you for your faith in me.
While Gallo and company are set to advance our city starting January, I expect to get back to what I do best; Building homes in Ulster County. As someone who lost his seat on the County Legislature, I somehow feel free. Free from all that comes with county government and the malarkey that goes on at the 6th floor. Will we settle the fate of Golden Hill before my exodus, I dont know. To think we are trying to save it from the Death Panels that Sarah Palin warned us about is ironic since the Tea Party is now pushing to privatize it. 

I will continue this Blog long after I am out of office so that I may bring you info and internal insight that the local press may miss, or the far out articles that catch my interest. I'm not going away.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


Well it's finally here. Election Day 2011. What will the the electorate chose as we head into a new era in Kingston?

With five open seats on the Common Council, there is a guarantee of a majority of new faces. But what of the other four? Senor in Ward 8 is unopposed. The others face tough challengers. Will voters put up with Hoffay, Landi and Whitlock for another term, or will they go with the alternative? Just imagine Bob as the lone incumbent sitting there holding the title of Majority Leader. Funny.

Then there's the Kingston contingent of the Legislature. Congrats to Jeanette and Peter on their triumphant return. District 6 is a little more sketchy. With the four of us bananas running on different lines, no-one knows what the effect of my or Lenny's influence will have on the outcome. All I know is I had fun going to my faithful and placing signs this weekend.

Regardless of your political affiliation, get out there and vote today. Too many of our service men and women have bravely fought here and abroad so that we would have the rights we have today. Civic duty is a privilege. Don't waste the chance to exercise it.

BTW You can find me on either Row D or E.

Saturday, November 05, 2011


Ward One is about to make history. Faced with the choice between someone from council's past and the freshest face in Kingston politics, this district is poised to elect a Democratic Alderman. Endorsed by the Working Families and Independence Party, Matt could find himself in the new majority of the Common Council come January.
Taken right from his website: 
I am a proven advocate. I am a labor law attorney who represents workers across the country and helps them recover their unpaid overtime and claims for minimum wage. I am also a former Ulster County Assistant Public Defender. I am the vice-chairman of the City of Kingston's Complete Streets Committee and the Chair of the Ulster County Periodic Compensation Review Committee. I successfully campaigned for stop signs at a dangerous intersection in Kingston. In so doing, I protected pedestrians, dog walkers and children who play and ride their bikes in the neighborhood.

Matt says he decided to run for Ward One Alderman to help make the Ward, community, and city a better place to live. Below are some points how:

  • Address flooding issues throughout the Ward. Develop a city plan to do so.
  • Protect city services and address the overall appearance of our city streets & parks.
  • Advocate for law enforcement and preventative actions that reduce crime and speeding. 
  • Support Businesses Growth: We need more jobs. Kingston businesses pay a higher tax rate than non-businesses, which could be reducing the number of businesses in our City.
  • Availability: In order to be the best advocate and representative that I can be, I will be available to you via email and telephone. And I will host periodic Ward meetings. 
His emergence as a candidate took me by surprize. Once I got to know what he could bring to the Council, I have no doubt that Matt Dunn will be in the forefront of the effort to revitalize the City of Kingston. Bringing his personal experience and desire to make this community safe to raise his and everyone else's family, makes Matt the right choice for Ward One. 

Friday, November 04, 2011



Intelligence collection and analysis concerning gangs is critical to determine the relationship between the different gang members, the different gangs and specifically the relationship between the older and younger members.
Resources to be used in this critical step involve Ulster County Department of Probation, NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. Also includes the Kingston and Ellenville Police Departments, and the Ulster Regional Gang Enforcement and Narcotics Team.

Sounds like Jon will be be on the same page as Mayor Shayne Gallo come January 1st.

Thursday, November 03, 2011


Although the arresting officer did have to match the speed of the other cop, she deserves a medal for following through with the arrest. 
The final sentence is worth the wait. She explains that they finally caught him. Caught him? This was a regular occurrence?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


November 8th is finally upon us, so let me make a final push for my friend John Simek. John is running for Alderman in Ward Nine here in Kingston. My old council district.

There has been a need for new faces on the Common Council for quite a while. After eight years, I also felt like I had exhausted my abilities as Alderman. How the electorate put up with those who serve longer, I dont know.

I think it's imperative to get fresh blood in positions of lawmaking, if only to see the issues with a fresh perspective. Our city needs a fresh perspective. Personally, I'd change every current occupant, but alas, Senor is unopposed.
Getting back to John, I have to say, the folks in Ward Nine have no doubt met the candidates by now and have probably come to the same conclusion as I. His goals are simple...

  • Increase transparency by airing committee meetings on TV and/or live stream
  • Partner with the Mayor on Quality-of-Life issues
  • Bolster tourism
  • Cut waste in the city budget
  • Increase the City's taxbase through aggressive property marketing 
Serving on the City's Board of assessment review, chair of the Public Access Commission and a realtor in his own profession, I think John has a good grasp of where Kingston could develop further. With a little faith, I think the voters in Ward Nine will think so too.


Can any of you remember way back in the mid 90's when a small group of entrepreneurs re-opened that nightclub at the old Tropical in Port Ewen?  Yeah, those were fun times.
They had plenty of obstacles thrown in the way during the process. The Esopus town board, the local minister, and building inspector all leading the charge against. Well The place did open and run without much incident for about four years before business dropped off.

The fiscal drain on the partners at the onset made success a struggle. Eventually, a church bought the property, thus eliminating a much needed source of property taxes. That's a big chunk of commercial property too!
I bring this up in these last days before we head to the voting booth once more, because one of the lowest points in our County Legislature's history was also about this time.

Remember 1993? Yeah, It was only two years earlier when gay residents petitioned for a bill outlawing discrimination in employment and housing and the Ulster County Legislature refused even to debate it. One legislator, Attilio Contini, told his colleagues that homosexuality was "an illness and handicap." He added, "We don't pass laws giving special privileges to people who are retarded, criminally insane or demented." 
It's not really that long ago folks.

This Contini is running for the same position once again. His views on equality are no different today than they were back in those "Good ol Days". Ironically, he is running in District 19 (consisting of Rosendale and part of Marbletown) against incumbent Robert Parete, one of the Legislature's hardest working Democrats.

Let me say, in the short time I've been on the sixth floor, Rob has impressed me the most. As issues come up for review in committee, successful programs and past reforms have Rob's fingerprints all over them. The more I research, the more I appreciate the amount of work he and a select few accomplished in the 4 short years the Democrats held the majority.

The idea that someone like his opponent, who still harbours such regressive ideals, would feel his place is back on the Legislature is somewhat surprizing. However, after watching those GOP debates in recent months, maybe not.