Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ryan's Whoppers

Politicians often stretch the truth. They come up with spin that is less than genuine, or they leave out important details that might affect the way constituents feel about their position on a particular issue. But rarely do politicians tell outright lies, or at least this was true in the past. The reason I bring this up is because the Very Serious Paul Ryan seems to have awakened the fact-checkers:
NBC “Meet The Press” host David Gregory said after Rep. Paul Ryan’s convention speech Wednesday night that the GOP’s vice presidential nominee suffers from “ideological amnesia.”

“There is a kind of ideological amnesia here on the part of Paul Ryan,” Gregory said on MSNBC. “He represents this new generation, a new strain of the Republican Party which at its core is about fiscal rectitude and responsibility, and yet he did not stand up to the Bush administration on two wars, on major areas of entitlements, as Tom [Brokaw] suggested, on the prescription drug benefit.”
That's David Gregory, not some wild-eyed left-wing activist who is saying this. The Washington Post's James Downie makes a similar observation:
Yesterday, at an ABC News panel, Mitt Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” Wednesday’s speech from Paul Ryan certainly took that disdain for truth to heart, as his address was filled with falsehoods from start to finish.
So, political reporters are calling Ryan out for these outright falsehoods, as one might expect them to do. But the automotive press is also a bit PO'ed at Ryan. Here's what car enthusiast website Jalopnik had to say:
Usually, when politicians mislead people about the auto industry, the audience vaguely nods and forgets about it. That didn't happen last night. Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan attempted to blame President Obama for failing to support the General Motors plant in his hometown, Janesville, WI. Except that the plant, for all intents and purposes, closed in December 2008, before Obama was inaugurated, and GM made the plant closing announcement in June 2008, before Obama was officially his party's nominee. And Ryan got handed his hat for it by every political fact checker in the country (including Fox News).

In his address to the Republican National Convention, Ryan zeroed in on an Obama speech from February, 2008, when Obama was still neck and neck with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. At the time, Obama said that if the government could support the auto industry, the plant "will be here for another 100 years." Ryan said, "Well, as it turned out, that plant didn't last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day." Yes, it is, and it's legitimate to ask, why didn't Ryan himself do more to save it? Back in 2003, Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt and one-time presidential candidate managed to convince Ford to spare a plant suburban St. Louis. You have to figure Michigan's John Dingell went to bat numerous times to keep car plants open. And by the way, it was Senate Republicans who kept GM and Chrysler from getting a Congressional bailout in 2008, which is why both the Bush and Obama administrations stepped up with aid to the auto industry. Couldn't Ryan have used his dairyland charm to change some Senate votes?

The most puzzling thing about Ryan's effort to blame Obama for Janesville is that it's so easy to check. That plant was on the bubble for YEARS before it closed, basically because it made SUVs in a market that had turned away from SUVs. It's quite possible Ryan couldn't have convinced GM to close it no matter what he'd done. But rewriting history, when so many people were around to document what really happened, is probably not a good idea. As Ryan now knows.
What I find so interesting about all of this is not that Ryan isn't telling the truth, it's that the media actually seems to be concerned that Ryan isn't telling the truth. Let's hope they keep this up.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hurricane Terry

You can see her from outer space!

Charter Commission Slams UC Legislature

As I said, a bunch of rubes are undoing the hard work of people who actually know what they're doing:
Ulster County Charter Revision Commission members on Tuesday issued a report with a warning to their successors that work done to make county government responsive to residents will in the end be subject to political whims.

The report came on the eve of a public hearing about proposed revisions that left some commission members upset over compromises with county legislators.

“I would not characterize much of our interaction with the Legislature as reasonable,” said Charter Revision Commission member Rod Futerfas.

[. . .]

Commission members said they were not prepared for disputes with legislators, who earlier this month demanded that the Legislature retain final say over the redistricting process as one of more than two dozen proposed changes to the county charter.

“If the next commission is as naive as we were it’s probably good to let them know that their nine months of work is going to be eviscerated and it could be by a group of people with no knowledge of what they’re talking about,” Futerfas said.

Commission member Jim McGarry said the closing report from the 11-member panel should serve as a “caution to those who come after us” when trying to make changes to the government. However, he added that future commission members may not read comments from the first group of people assigned to the task of finding charter weaknesses.

“I don’t think we’re going to have any lasting affect,” he said. “One wonders how many will read the thing in 10 years anyhow.”
No comment from Gerry Banjamin, who was likely too busy throwing up to make a statement.

Quigley's Garbage

This story in the Freeman leaves out a number of important details:
Supervisors from the towns of Ulster and Saugerties contend Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency officials are assuming too much about how municipal contracts should be handled.

The disputes were brought Monday to the county Legislature’s special committee on the trash agency’s future.

[. . .]

Ulster Supervisor James Quigley contends the trash agency violated terms of a contract by extending from 2016 to 2025 the payoff date of bonds used to close the town landfill.

“We were in contract with the RRA as long as the original debt was outstanding,” he said. “When the debt was refinanced in 2002 ... (agency officials) unilaterally extended the town of Ulster’s obligation.”

Agency attorney Stephen Wing said he believes the change in bond payoff date keeps the town under contract through 2025.
So here are my questions: How much is still owed on the principal of the original UCRRA deal? How, exactly, were the the ToU's annual payments affected by the refinancing? Did their payments go up? Did they go down? I assume the deal was refinanced in order to take advantage of historically low interest rates. So, if the rates were cut from, say, six percent down to two percent, this would cut interest rate payments on this deal by two-thirds. How much money is actually being paid out?

The reason we need to know answers to these question is that the refinancing should be saving the taxpayers money, perhaps quite a bit of money. But the article doesn't mention this is all. Ask Quigley to show how this deal is costing residents of ToU more money. Pretty simple.

My guess is that the refinancing did the opposite and is saving money, and that Quigley is once again talking out of the lower portion of his anatomy and looking to score cheap political points in order to keep his name in the paper.

Maybe someone at the Freeman could ask Quigley these questions. My guess is you'll have to do a FOIL request because Quigley won't cooperate.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Public Hates GOP Abortion Plank

It's like watching someone walk into a propeller:
A new DailyKos/SEIU/Public Policy Polling survey finds that 75% of American voters are opposed a constitutional amendment banning abortions without exception -- even in case of rape or incest -- while 13% support such an amendment and 12% aren't sure.
It doesn't get much more lopsided than that. So why is this even in the platform when it's apparent that a fairly high percentage of Republicans oppose this? Ask Pat Robertson. As one commenter at the first link suggests, the Religious Right has extracted its pound of flesh.

Pew: Voters Scrutinize GOP Platform

According to a Pew poll, it appears that the message regarding the out-to-lunch GOP platform is gaining traction:
As the Republican convention gets underway, more Americans express interest in learning about what’s in the GOP platform than in the speeches by either Mitt Romney or his running mate. About half of the public (52%) is interested in learning about the Republican Party’s platform, while 44% are interested in Romney’s acceptance speech and about the same percentage (46%) in Ryan’s convention speech.
You can chalk this up to two things. The first is that platforms matter. When you buy the candidate, you buy the whole party, lock, stock, and barrel. So beware buyer's remorse.

The second reason for this is that the GOP has a really weak bench this year. People seem genuinely interested in the Democratic convention, especially to hear Bill Clinton and the president's acceptance speech. The flip-side shows that there is a lot less enthusiasm for people to listen to Ryan and Romney. And, let's face facts: this is as unexciting a GOP ticket as Dole-Kemp when it comes to fire-breathing. Not going to be much red meat for the masses, I'm afraid, at least from the top of the ticket.

So, if you want crazy, you'll have to check out the seven "birthers" (those who don't believe the president was born in the U.S. and is therefore not legally president) who will be speaking to the delegates in Tampa. Here's a list of them via Think Progress:
1. Donald Trump. The famed billionaire/birther king Donald Trump has been the most vociferous — and most closely connected to Romney — person alleging that the President wasn’t born in the United States.

2. Actress Janine Turner. The Northern Exposure star who has her own conservative radio show wrote a long screed titled “Reasoning ‘Kenyan Born.’” In it, she complains that anyone who questions the president’s citizenship is deemed a racist: “If this were a legal case in court, [Obama's] book bio stating that Obama was ‘born in Kenya’ would be taken into consideration.”

3. Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens. During a town hall captured on video (at 3:5), Olens said, “You know the state of Hawaii says he’s produced a certified birth certificate… so on one hand I have to trust the state of Hawaii follows the laws. On the other hand it would be nice for the President to say, here it is, I have a copy.”

4. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. On one radio appearance during Huckabee’s bid for president, the former governor said, “I would love to know more [about where Obama was born]. What I know is troubling enough.” He later walked back the statement.

5. Florida Gov. Rick Scott. In 2010, the Orlando Sentinel reported than an audience member at one of Scott’s campaign events asked “what he would do about President Obama’s ‘birth certificate’ and whether he could legally appear on the 2012 ballot in Florida.” Scott responded, “I’ll have to look into it.”

6. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). The Vice-Chairman of the House Republican Conference once told reporters “Oh, I’d like to see the documents.”

7. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Jindal was willing to sign a “birther” bill into law. It would have required all presidential candidates to release their birth certificate in order to qualify for a spot on the state’s ballot.
And they wonder why huge chunks of the population refuse to take them seriously.

Terry in Tampa

Bernardo is attending the GOP convention this week as a delegate for New York. Did anyone notice whether the convention center has a high wire?:

Though, for this circus anyway, there are certainly plenty of rubber noses and inflatable shoes in the GOP clown car. And keep your eyes peeled for a pink pants suit. It ought to stick out even in this crowd of Bozos.

Monday, August 27, 2012

First, They Came for the Anchovies

And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a salty little fish:
"It’s worse to imagine a world with Obama getting a second term than it is to imagine a world without pizza. Because with Obama in a second term, there will be no pizza. For anyone." -- Herman Cain
Yes, but what about remote controls, Herman? I've heard that Obama wants to take them away, which will force Americans to have to get up to change the channel. Why is no one talking about this conspiracy to take away our right to bear IR devices? From my cold, dead hands!

Quigley Could Fire Taggard

I'd say that Quigley would have no choice but to fire him, as law enforcement officials are, and should be, held to a higher standard:
Ulster Town Supervisor James Quigley said Thursday that he is prepared to ask Ulster Police Chief Matthew Taggard to resign, even if he is found not guilty of official misconduct.

Taggard was charged in late June with official misconduct and put on paid administrative leave for allegedly being aware that sex crimes “involving underage victims” were occurring in Saugerties but failing to notify authorities, Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright said on June 28. Carnright said Taggard is not accused of personally committing any sexual crimes.

“Clearly, something has happened here that has resulted in a breach of trust with the citizens of the town of Ulster, the Town Board and the police department,” Quigley said.
Carnright's statement about Taggard not being personally involved in these alleged crimes was made back in June. I wonder if he'd say the same thing if he were questioned about it today.

But due process is an important cornerstone in a democratic society, so Taggard will have his day in court, the first part of which will happen this evening:
The District Attorney’s Office said that Taggard is scheduled to appear at Village of Saugerties Court tonight. No further details were furnished.
If any of this blog's readers happen to be in the Saugerties neighborhood, drop by the court and let us know what you saw (I'm sure the newspapers will be there).

Arizona Passes "Egg-Drop" Bill

This is really appalling:
Arizona‘s Legislature yesterday afternoon passed three harsh anti-abortion bills, including one that defines pregnancy as being two weeks before conception. Known in some circles as the “egg drop” bill, lawmakers apparently believe they are more knowledgable than physicians at determining gestational age. The attempt to redefine pregnancy of course is to reduce the legal window of when a woman may have an abortion. Arizona Republican “pro-life” Governor Jan Brewer would not comment on her intent to sign or veto the bill.
That's not a typo, nor is it a joke. Arizona is imposing a law that says pregnancy begins when when you have your last period, ladies:
A sentence in the bill defines gestational age as “calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman,” which would move the beginning of a pregnancy up two weeks prior to conception.
A commenter on several previous posts taking Chris Gibson to task for his waffling on the choice issue, said that this is a matter of settled law, and that we should get back to discussing what the Romney campaign wants to talk about the economy. Instead we're wasting valuable time talking about things the Romney campaign would prefer not to discuss silly things like women's issues.

Well, that's not going to happen this election cycle, as the GOP has come to find out. The Obama campaign has been absolutely masterful when it comes to shining a bright light on the backwards platform of the GOP (Missouri senate candidate Congressman Todd Akin was only saying out loud what the party platform says in writing). I expect this to continue right up until November 6.

A Solar No-Brainer

Cuomo agrees to state sales-tax exemption for solar, and Hein likes what he sees:
Kingston– Today, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein commended Governor Andrew M. Cuomo for signing into law a new New York State sales tax exemption for the sale and installation of commercial solar energy systems. This new law would make New York more competitive with other states and encourage significant private sector investment in solar installations, thereby assisting New York in meeting its renewable energy portfolio goals.

County Executive Hein said, “By spurring larger scale commercial installations, this new law will help protect the environment and will create demand for solar products. In so doing, it will retain manufacturing jobs at our existing solar manufacturing operations, such as Solar Tech Renewables located in Kingston,NY, as well as solar installer companies.”
This means that quite a bit of money that is currently spent here in Ulster will no longer be subject to state sales tax, and every little bit helps when it comes to getting the local economy moving. Tracey Bartels would like to take this a step further and also apply it to the sales tax the county collects:
County Executive Hein introduced a resolution sponsored by Legislator Tracey Bartels to the Ulster County Legislature that would authorize a similar commercial solar sales tax exemption in Ulster County. According to Legislator Bartels, “The commercial solar sales tax exemption will not only increase opportunities for Ulster County businesses, but will have significant benefit for our environment. I am proud to be able to sponsor this important resolution.”

County Executive Hein added, “I want to recognize Legislator Bartels for caring about our environment, for helping local businesses and residents, and for her persistence with this important matter. I would also like to recognize the entire Ulster County Legislature for being a strong partner in growing the solar industry in Ulster County.” If approved,Ulster County would join the State of New York in exempting the sale and installation of commercial solar energy systems effective January 1, 2013.
I know a lot of contractors who would love an opportunity to get back to work converting people over to solar. And businesses, particularly manufacturers, can often really benefit from a conversion. Factories typically have big, flat roofs with plenty of southern exposure that are ideal for solar. If the state and county can help nudge local companies in that direction, it's good for all of us in the end.

p.s. I don't know who edits your copy, guys; but the text of this press release on the county website is a formatting disaster. Proof read, people (like I should talk; but, hey, I'm not the county executive).

Friday, August 24, 2012


Lopez Gets Off Easy

God, I wish there was a strong Democrat to primary this swine:
Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez, the Brooklyn Democratic leader and longtime political power broker there, has been stripped of his committee chairmanship, barred from employing young people, and censured after an Assembly committee determined that he had sexually harassed two female employees this summer.

[. . .]

“There were multiple incidents of unwelcome physical conduct toward one complainant, wherein you put your hand on her leg, she removed your hand, and you then put your hand between her upper thighs, putting your hand as far up between her legs as you could go,” Mr. Silver wrote, describing the committee’s findings.

He also said, “There was pervasive unwelcome verbal conduct by you toward both complainants from early June 2012 until the time they made complaints of sexual harassment in mid-July 2012, including repeated comments about their physical appearance, their bodies, their attire, and their private relationships.”

He said that Mr. Lopez “required” one of the women to travel with him to Atlantic City last month, where he attempted to kiss her, and that “she struggled to fend you off before you stopped, and that on the drive back from Atlantic City you again put your hand between her legs.”
I hope the women he harassed file criminal charges against him. Lopez is unfit to hold public office.

Does Gibson Support a Constitutional Amendment Banning Abortion?

A good pro-Schreibman letter to the editor in the Times-Union a couple of days ago. In it, the letter writer asks where Gibson stands in relation to the GOP's extremist agenda on Medicare:
In the editorial "Mr. Romney vs. Mr. Ryan," Aug. 14, on Mitt Romney's selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as running mate, the paper stated: "More elaboration from Mr. Romney is required to determine if he'll be running with Mr. Ryan or, at times, from Mr. Ryan."

May I suggest that when the Times Union editorial board meets with the Capital Region's candidates in the coming weeks, that similar hard questions are put to them, especially the incumbents.

Most notably, Republican Rep. Chris Gibson who, in April 2011 voted for the devastating cuts offered by the Ryan budget, which would end Medicare as we currently know it in exchange for a health care voucher system that will leave Medicare patients penniless.
Excellent idea.

But I have another question I want to ask: does Congressman Chris Gibson favor a woman's legally protected, constitutional right to choose whether to terminate a pregancy? If not, what are the limitations Gibson favors? Or, does Gibson side with Romney/Ryan/Akin when it comes to making abortion illegal even in cases of rape or incest?

If you don't believe that the GOP platform includes this language, try this on for size:
With little discussion, the committee on Tuesday adopted the same anti-abortion language it included in GOP platforms in 2004 and 2008. It seeks passage of a constitutional amendment that would extend legal rights to the unborn, essentially banning abortion.

The language in the platform includes no exceptions for rape or incest.
Voting for Gibson means that you are voting for the agenda of the GOP, which wants a constitutional amendment banning abortion. Of course, such an amendment would never pass, as you would need three-quarters of the state legislatures to ratify it (I wonder if the anti-choice crazies have ever bothered to look this up). There are simply too many blue states for this ever to occur.

But that's hardly the point, is it? Where does Gibson stand on this issue? He's been mealy-mouthed about supporting certain planks in the Tea Party platform, so is be betraying his base, or is he betraying his overwhelmingly pro-choice constituents?

Gibson cannot have it both ways. And it's the job of newspaper editorial boards to ask such questions. Lets see if the Times-Union's board is worth its salt on this one.

Sectarian Implications

Which is why I always assumed Benedictine would be the one to get the ax:
Benedictine and Kingston hospitals, both located in the City of Kingston, were merged into HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley in 2007, when the Pataki-appointed Berger Commission mandated downsizing of hospital bed capacity throughout New York State. At the time, Benedictine was directly threatened with closure, because the Catholic-run campus prohibits abortion and related services – deemed by law to be an essential reproductive right for women.

Five years later, fiscal shortfalls are causing the HealthAlliance to consolidate resources, and shut down Kingston Hospital instead. Officials announced the decision in July. This leaves Benedictine as the surviving facility, and officials are being questioned about the sectarian implications.

“The campus that we use as a single site will have the ability to provide all levels of reproductive services, including terminations,” according to HealthAlliance Board Chairwoman Cynthia Lowe. “We have to be able to have a full service facility in this community, and it will be the surviving entity. That's why it can't be Catholic.”
Right. You cannot have a publicly funded hospital that doesn't provide reproductive services. We're talking about basic things like contraception before we even get to the abortion issue.

But, it's all good. Benedictine will simply be re-flagged as secular facility:
Benedictine is expected to be renamed, and the religious sisters who currently run the Catholic facility will no longer be in control of the future campus.

“We tried our best in this community to maintain two missions; it didn't work,” Lowe said. “Did anybody here predict that recession? Did anybody have any idea how intense and long term and how much it was going to impact all our lives? None of us knew that, but that’s one of the things we are all dealing with, and we deal with it in our daily lives and we deal with it in the life of the hospital, and we will continue to do that.”

Lowe said the choice now is how to make one hospital survive to provide health care for the community.
This makes sense, as Benedictine is a better facility overall. But I think we can definitely expect to hear some squawking along the way.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


I'm wondering why Bernardo would expect cooperation from those she consistently vilifies. To wit, she accuses Mike Hein of "sandbagging" on her ill-conceived UCRRA commission:
But Legislature Chairwoman Terry Bernardo, a Republican, accused County Executive Mike Hein and other Democrats of sandbagging a bipartisan effort last week to establish a legislative commission to examine three possible options.
Accusing Democrats of practicing "petty political games," Bernardo said that despite getting "almost miraculous" cooperation between Democratic and Republican legislators, a telephone campaign by Hein and other Democrats essentially killed the commission.

"I held out an olive branch and they beat me with it," she said Tuesday.
Sandbagging, typically, is a deceptive practice in which someone plays a game in a manner below their real playing ability in order to goad an opponent into raising the betting stakes. It can also involve intentionally holding back information from someone in such a manner that they are compelled to make a bad decision because they don't have all the facts. Though I suppose that Bernardo simply meant that Hein was being mean to her, which is also an accepted usage of the term. If so, then here's a suggestion, Terry: grow a thicker skin if you want to play at this level.

Whining about Mike Hein being mean isn't going to do anything when it comes to fixing the situation with the UCRRA, so maybe Bernardo and her fellow legislators should take Hein's (very reasonable) chiding to heart and get busy.

And maybe this is sinking in. Patricia Doxey's article in today's Freeman says that Bernardo now wants to implement flow control while the legislature decides whether to, or if it legally can, sell the agency:
Ulster County Legislature Chairwoman Terry Bernardo said implementing flow control laws in the short term could protect county taxpayers from a potential multimillion-dollar subsidy of the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency in the upcoming year.

Bernardo, R-Accord, said the majority of the Republicans who control the Legislature still want to investigate selling the agency’s assets, but said implementing flow control while they investigate whether a sale is feasible “may be the way to go.”
I personally like the idea of flow control for the simple reason that it will gives us the means to do exactly what it says it will do: control and regulate our refuse stream while we bring in some much-needed revenue. On the other hand, those who want to sell the agency would cite the one-time windfall the county would receive for selling the UCRRA. I suppose another option, which apparently hasn't been discussed, would be to license a third-party company to do the actual work, which would of course involve legislative oversight, but would also give the county a continuing source of revenue.

The least attractive option is to sell the UCRRA, for the simple reason that, if it were run properly, it would be a real asset to the community, in both a quality-of-life and fiscal sense. And once you sell a public asset, it's gone forever.

On a positive note, the UCRRA has made at least one major step forward, which is today outlined by the Freeman's Bill Kemble:
Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency officials on Wednesday dumped a ceremonial first load of fermenting food scraps on the agency’s new compost pile.

The unveiling of a 40-by-100-foot composting system was celebrated by about 50 agency employees, Ulster County officials, state Department of Environmental Conservation representatives and private groups.

“It’s good for the environment,” trash agency Executive Director Tim Rose said. “We’ll be taking a lot of organics out of the waste stream and diverting them here, where they can be composted and put to beneficial use.”

Material accepted through the program includes food waste, yard trimmings, and uncoated paper products such as paper towels and napkins. Bergkamp said fees will be $50 per ton, a 50 percent reduction, for program participants. Officials expect business owners will see a reduction in cost because haulers will be charged only $50 per ton for composting material instead of regular rates that go up to $100 per ton for solid waste items.
Who says government never does anything right?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What Did Quigley Know, And When Did He Know It?

I haven't checked in at the Ulster Report in a while, mostly because it hasn't been updated in months (you may remember that Ulster Report was mentioned in this Kingston Times story a few months ago).

But the Ulster Report has dusted off its keyboard and is keeping track of the Matthew Taggard investigation (the now-former ToU police chief under investigation for alleged sex crimes).

The Ulster Report is wondering how much Town of Ulster Supervisor Jim Quigley knew about Taggard, especially given that Quigley appointed Taggard over the more-qualified Joe Sinagra (who is now police chief for Saugerties, I should mention):
Supervisor Jim Quigley is in a politically pickle, pardon our pun, over what he did or did not know when he appointed disgraced Police Chief Taggard shortly after taking office in 2010. Taggard was recently placed on PAID leave by the Ulster Town Board after being arrested by state police on charges of official misconduct. While the charges allege that Taggard did not report abuse that he had knowledge of, there are rumors that much more serious charges may be coming down the road. Sources tell Ulster Insider that Taggard was charged quickly with the minor misconduct charge to get him out as Chief. Getting people to speak out against a sitting Chief can be very intimidating.

Taggard who was Quigley's inside man during his 09 race for town Supervisor was rewarded handsomely by Quigs, Taggard was appointed Chief after Chief Watzka was forced out. Taggard was also promoted over than Deputy Chief Sinagra who was much more qualified. Many Ulster police officers retired after Taggard's appointment. Rumors of Taggard's questionable relationships were well known throughout town for years, while nothing was ever proven you have to question why someone like Quigley with high political asperations (sic) would appoint this guy as his Chief of Police.
Taggard was Quigley's boy, no doubt. But how much did Quigley know about Taggard's alleged misconduct? That's why they have investigations. Certainly, many people knew about the rumors regarding Taggard, so this situation probably isn't particularly shocking to those who know the community well.

As I said in a previous post, this one could get very ugly before it's over. Let's hope, for the sake of the potential victims, that there is less hear than meets the eye.

Gibson Wants to Criminalize Abortion

As does Romney/Ryan:
Ryan, a staunch pro-lifer, was a co-sponsor of a controversial House bill last year defining life as the moment of fertilisation and granting "personhood" rights to embryos. Abortion rights activist say the Sanctity of Human Life Act would have outlawed all abortions, restrict some forms of contraception, in-vitro fertilisation and stem-cell research.

The bill never made it onto the floor of the house. All state attempts to introduce so-called "personhood" amendments into law have failed, even in conservative states. It was rejected in Mississippi in November 2011.
Of course, this means our own Congressman Chris Gibson doesn't have this vote that we can hang around his neck. But he did vote in favor a very similar measure at the end of July, so it turns out that we know where Gibson stands on this issue:
A bill that would ban abortions in the District of Columbia after 20 weeks of pregnancy failed to pass the House on Tuesday, but anti-abortion activists hailed the vote as a sign that their efforts ultimately would succeed.

The bill was based on the disputed claim that fetuses can feel pain at a gestational age of 20 weeks or older. The National Right to Life Committee, an anti-abortion group, made the legislation its top priority on Capitol Hill this year. Nine states have passed similar measures, and a federal judge upheld a similar law in Arizona this week.

The vote in favor of the bill was 220-154, with 17 Democrats joining 203 Republicans to support it. But because it was considered under special rules requiring a two-thirds vote for passage, the bill won't proceed to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it was unlikely to come up for a vote.
So, the D.C. bill, along with the national "personhood" bill are kaput for the moment. But we can expect to see the GOP make this a centerpiece of their agenda if they take the White House (which is looking increasingly unlikely, I admit).

Julian Schreibman's campaign, of course, took this opportunity to fire its own salvo at the former soldier:
“While Congressman Chris Gibson pretends to be a moderate, his vote to criminalize abortion even in cases of rape and incest is appalling,” said Jonathan Levy, campaign manager. “This vote is just another example of Congressman Gibson’s rhetoric not matching his record. Fortunately, his radical agenda did not win the day this time.”

“Health care decisions such as these should be made between a woman, her doctor, her family and her faith,” said Julian Schreibman, Democratic Congressional candidate. “Congressman Gibson and his Republican allies are out of touch with the way families in this country make these decisions, and the fact that this bill would put doctors in jail is extremely concerning. Even worse, this vote shows they are putting politics over common decency in these most horrific cases.”
I couldn't agree more.

But, hey, if you're in favor of putting doctors in jail for performing medically necessary procedures, then Chris Gibson is your boy. If, however, you are part of the vast majority of people who want government to keep its nose out of your private medical decisions, you should vote for Schreibman. The choice couldn't be any more clear.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Load of Garbage

Thanks to the fact that five UC municipalities have opted out, it appears that the rest of us will be paying more for the UCRRA:
Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency board members on Monday approved a $14.03 million 2013 budget carrying a 5.86 percent decrease of $874,212, but which will more than double the amount sought in taxpayer subsidies.

The spending plan was adopted during an agency board meeting, where officials said there would be $2.87 million sought from the county Legislature in net service fees representing a 110.02 percent increase of $1.5 million.

Officials said the figures can come down if the five remaining towns that have not signed one-year extensions to send municipal waste to the agency do so.
These five towns -- Wawarsing, Saugerties, Rochester, Marbletown, and Marlborough -- represent about a quarter of the UC population, with about 50,000 residents between them, so the revenue collected from these five constitutes a big chunk of the 110-percent increase the agency is seeking from the taxpayers (though I couldn't find figures of exactly how much).

So, thanks, guys. What you're doing is raising everyone else's taxes while looking out for yourselves.

But I'll go it one further with these five towns. Put your money where your mouth is and just secede from the county. You can then declare yourselves independent republics!

That would be pretty stupid, huh? Nearly as stupid as a few towns playing politics with a needed service.

Look, folks, civilization isn't a cost-free thing. We pay taxes so that we can provide things the public needs -- primarily to ensure the free flow of commerce on which our economy depends, at least part of which involves properly disposing of our refuse.

But I don't have good feelings about the resolution to this situation. Apparently, the move now is to starve Ulster County and the RRA of these fees, which means the rest of us will pay more, which will of course have the effect of making people in the remaining towns angry that they have to pay more because of someone else. Sooner or later, then, the opponents of the UCRRA get what they want and the county and/or state shut it down.

And then we go back to the bad old days of corrupt waste-hauling companies having individual contracts with each municipality, when instead what we need is to completely redesign our waste system to ensure that we no longer squander our dwindling resources. Killing the UCRRA, which appears to be the plan, would set this process back a decade or more.

I think the opposite of the Liberty Coalition on this one: while they think government shouldn't be in the waste business, I think that, eventually, there should be no private companies in the waste business and that government is the only body with enough accountability to ensure that our refuse ends up where it should. This need for accountability will become even more acute in the future.

Frankly, I don't at present know how best to resolve this situation. But I do know this: these five municipalities (all of which have Republican supervisors; it makes you wonder whether this bunch are having secret meetings to coordinate strategy) think they're doing right by their towns, while at the same time they're doing wrong by their neighbors down the road -- and, even more important, doing wrong by the future of their children and grandchildren.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Running Against Ryan

Romney really did the Democrats a favor by picking Paul Ryan to be his running mate. As others have noted, Ryan's selection means that down-ballot GOP candidates will have to scramble to distance themselves from national ticket. The reason? Ryan wants to privatize Social Security and replace guaranteed Medicare with a coupon seniors will use to purchase private insurance. Needless to say, most seniors don't want anything to do with these plans.

So, it's going to be an uphill slog for any GOP candidate in a competitive district. This will be even more true for those candidates who actually voted for one of these proposals. Enter, Chris Gibson:
Gibson voted for Ryan’s 2011 budget plan, which included the voucher system — Gibson has always insisted on calling it a system of “premium support” — but passed over Ryan’s Republican-authored budget plan this year in favor of the bipartisan Cooper-LaTourette plan, which is silent on the issue of vouchers v. fee for services, but sets cost targets to be worked out later. It also includes a framework for comprehensive tax reform and sets defense budget targets $500 billion less than Ryan’s plan.
No matter what he tries to do, Gibson cannot run away from this vote. But he has high hopes:
Gibson visited the Times Union’s editorial board Tuesday, and while he wasn’t as vocal about his advocacy for a voucher system, he didn’t repudiate it. He instead noted votes to strengthen Medicare in a funding extension last year as well as votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which because of predicted savings reduces funding for Medicare over time. (emphasis mine)
Uh, actually, that $716 billion figure that's being touted by the GOP are cost savings, not cuts, as we've been led to believe, and shame on the Times Union for not calling Gibson on this mendacity (if you don't believe me, try the Christian Science Monitor).

Given all of this, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is rolling out a new campaign in the districts of those candidates who have supported Ryan's plan, Gibson among them.

Here, for example, is an ad going after Congressman Dan Benishek (MI-1):

Whether Gibson can distance himself enough from Romney/Ryan to convince seniors in NY-19 that he's not out to kill Medicare remains to be seen. But the DCCC is going to do everything it can to remind seniors of the fact that Gibson wanted (or still wants) to replace their Medicare with a coupon.

A Casino in Every Pot!

Who says we can't gamble our way to prosperity? Not Senator Bonacic, who has never seen a roulette wheel he doesn't like:
Sen. John Bonacic, who heads the Senate Racing and Wagering Committee, is warning that New York City lawmakers shouldn’t look to add more than one casino in New York City without expanding the number statewide.

Bonacic, an Orange County Republican who has long advocated for casinos in the Catskills, said reports that a few sites are being considered for New York City shouldn’t infringe on plans to build casinos elsewhere.

“While existing harness tracks and Aqueduct are no sure bet to receive a casino license, the focus has always been a maximum of one in New York City,” Bonacic said in a statement. “We should not be expanding the number of casinos in New York City beyond one, unless the overall number is increased. There are many regions north of New York City that want world class resort destinations associated with a casino license. Those regions should not be deprived of that opportunity.”
Heaven forbid that people should be denied their rights, endowed by their creator, to play keno and blackjack. It's what Freedom™ is all about, right?

Actually, what Bonacic wants is a second casino for his own district. The racino on Monticello is one, and the second one would be at the old Nevele Grande Resort:
WAWARSING – A casino could rise on the grounds of the Nevele as early as Spring 2014, provided all obstacles are overcome — including state approval for gambling — the Nevele's new owner has said.

The public got its first look at site plans for the new Nevele resort at the Wawarsing Town Board meeting Thursday night, July 19. Nevele Investors LLC, a subsidiary of Claremont Investors LLC — which won a court-ordered right to buy the run-down property in February of this year — submitted to the town an Environmental Assessment Form and schematics for its proposed redevelopment.

Nevele Investors CEO Michael Treanor said a more thorough presentation will be available to the public in September or October of this year. A statewide referendum on non-Indian casino gaming is scheduled for November. If gaming is not approved, Treanor and Nevele Investors will not redevelop the property.
Full stop. Any hope that the Nevele will be redeveloped hinges on gambling being approved by the voters. Talk about long odds.

But you have to give Bonacic credit. He knows a cash cow when he sees one -- and big-time gambling being approved for his district would be the proverbial golden goose.

So why stop there? If gambling is so great, why not just legalize it across the board? Maybe municipalities can replace town board meetings with casino nights? It would bring new meaning to gambling away the tax money, no?

Paying the Piper

This was a really weird story that appears to have come to a full conclusion:
TOWN OF ULSTER, N.Y. — The Town Board is dropping its the lawsuit against Richard Ulloa, Jeffrey-Charles Burfeindt and Ed George Parenteau after being assured false liens filed by the three men have been cleared from the credit history of public officials.

The Thursday night vote to drop the suit was 4-0, with Councilman Eric Kitchen absent.

“The town, along with the affected officials, countersued for economic damage from the liens and also asked for a remedy for the court to have those liens vacated,” said town Supervisor James Quigley. “Well, the liens were vacated as the result of his federal sentencing in his (Ulloa’s) criminal case. So the goals were essentially achieved through the federal court action.”

U.S. District Judge Thomas McAvoy in December 2011 sentenced Ulloa to five years in federal prison and three years of probation and ordered him to pay $63,000 in restitution for seven counts of mail fraud.
I remember reading coverage about this a little over a year ago. These three were part of the so-called "sovereign citizens" movement, a group of people who believe they are not subject to our laws. The harassment came about when the trio filed a bunch of phony liens against local officials. Well, these officials fought back, and the trio are now paying the price for their actions.

Frankly, I'm glad that the federal judge threw the book at these guys -- because they are potentially dangerous people. From the FBI website:
They could be dismissed as a nuisance, a loose network of individuals living in the United States who call themselves “sovereign citizens” and believe that federal, state, and local governments operate illegally. Some of their actions, although quirky, are not crimes. The offenses they do commit seem minor: They do not pay their taxes and regularly create false license plates, driver’s licenses, and even

However, a closer look at sovereign citizens’ more severe crimes, from financial scams to impersonating or threatening law enforcement officials, gives reason for concern. If someone challenges (e.g., a standard traffic stop for false license plates) their ideology, the behavior of these sovereign-citizen extremists quickly can escalate to violence. Since 2000, lone-offender sovereign-citizen extremists have killed six law enforcement officers. In 2010, two Arkansas police officers stopped sovereign-citizen extremists Jerry Kane and his 16-year-old son Joseph during a routine traffic stop on Interstate 40. Joseph Kane jumped out of the vehicle and opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle, killing both officers.

The sovereign-citizen threat likely will grow as the nationwide movement is fueled by the Internet, the economic downturn, and seminars held across the country that spread their ideology and show people how they can tap into funds and eliminate debt through fraudulent methods. As sovereign citizens’ numbers grow, so do the chances of contact with law enforcement and, thus, the risks that incidents will end in violence. Law enforcement and judicial officials must understand the sovereign-citizen movement, be able to identify indicators, and know how to protect themselves from the group’s threatening tactics.
The whole page is well worth a read.

You never really know who your neighbors are, do you?

Friday, August 17, 2012

It's About Winning the House of Representatives

A local resident raises some good questions about Julian Schreibman in a letter to the editor in today's Freeman:
Although Julian Schreibman has prevailed over Joel Tyner in the 19th Congressional District’s Democratic primary, serious questions remain about the victor’s credibility.

Schreibman, D-Stone Ridge, boasts that as assistant counsel at the Central Intelligence Agency he successfully prosecuted four al-Qaeda terrorists. In the primary contest, he proclaimed that, if elected to Congress, he would continue to serve as a "watchdog" on behalf of his constituents, to protect our rights, our liberties, our security. But does his record support such a proclamation? What else did he do during his employment at the Central Intelligence Agency? And what was the CIA doing?
I've never been comfortable with the huge clandestine budgets of our spy agencies. And not just the CIA. There's a whole alphabet soup of agencies and departments doing our spy work, and I often wonder whether we can control something over which there is very little public scrutiny.

But I still support Schreibman. The reason for this is that American politics, as they currently exist, is a zero-sum game. The two major parties have huge institutional advantages over any third party, advantages that are unlikely to disappear any time soon. What this means is that we will be sending either a Democrat or a Republican to D.C. There are sometimes third choices, but in New York those third choices are frequently the same candidates endorsed by the major parties. It's either/or.

And at the end of the day there is no way that a good progressive should support the current GOP platform. It's anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-union, anti-Medicare, anti-Social Security. I could go on.

On the other hand, the Democrats (in the House, particularly) have continued to support issues important to working folks, LGBT folks, African-Americans, Hispanics, union members (though they've been a little mushy on this one in recent years), etc. There is simply no contest when you compare the two.

And this election will be about which party controls the levers of power in D.C. A Schreibman victory is very important if we want to give the speaker's gavel back to Nancy Pelosi.

While I understand the writer's feelings, the choice is clear. Schreibman, imperfect though he may be, as a freshman will support the Democratic platform, and Chris Gibson will have no choice but to continue to kowtow to the Tea Party, despite the fact that he wants to run away from them now.

This election is about which vision you prefer.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gibson Voted to Voucherize Medicare

There are no two ways about this. Gibson voted to voucherize Medicare when he was in a safe seat. But now that he has to please liberal voters in order to get reelected, Gibson conveniently changes his mind:
The 19th Congressional District Challenger Julian Schreibman is criticizing incumbent Chris Gibson for voting for Ryan's plan, which involves a complete overhaul of Medicare. The democratic challenger contends Gibson only began voting for a different proposal when redistricting created a tougher reelection battle for him.
Hard to argue with that. Gibson has never explained his about-face. What does he really believe? I thought he was supposed to be a man of principle, and not some finger-in-the-wind hack who is simply trying to hold on to his seat.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bernardo Watch: Legislating is Soooo Haaaard

So the UC Legislature has decided not to sell the RRA. You remember, the agency they probably can't legally sell in the first place? So they've come up with this face-saving bit of fluff to try to make others do the heavy lifting they should be doing themselves:
Ulster County lawmakers have scrapped an 11th-hour plan to solicit proposals for the purchase of the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency’s assets.

Instead, county legislators are expected to consider today a resolution crafted last week to form a 13-member “non-partisan” commission to make recommendations to the county Legislature on the future of the beleaguered agency.

According to the resolution adopted by the Environmental, Energy and Technology Committee, the “non-partisan” commission will consist of three legislative members appointed by Majority Leader Kenneth Ronk, R-Wallkill, three legislative members appointed by Minority Leader David Donaldson, D-Kingston, the Resource Recovery Agency director and chairman of the agency’s board, two supervisors or mayors appointed by the head of the Supervisors and Mayors Association, the county comptroller or his designee and the Kingston mayor or his designee and the county executive or his designee.
So, sounds good on paper, right? But this is the same leadership that is currently thumbing its nose at Gerry Benjamin and the charter commission's months of hard work. Why should we trust this bunch to follow the recommendations of this commission? And we need another commission like we need a collective hole in the head. Maybe we could instead have elected officials who show some actual leadership?

Up steps Mike Hein, finally saying what the rest of us have known for months and kicking this turd of an idea right back to its incompetent progenitor:
Hein called the creation of the Commission “another embarrassing example of failure to lead by the legislative chairwoman,” and said the Legislature has once again shown itself “to be either unable or unwilling to address this tough issue.”

“It’s a policy issue for the Legislature that has so far gone unresolved,” said Hein.
Damn straight. But where the hell is Bernardo? Off on a trapeze somewhere, I'm guessing:
Legislature Chairwoman Terry Bernardo, R-Accord, could not be reached for comment.
Of course she couldn't be reached for comment. She's in bunker mode. And to have something to say, you have to have actual ideas. We. Have. Heard. Nothing.

Bernardo is an empty pants suit, devoid of any substance whatsoever. I'm with you, Mike. I'm actually starting to feel vicarious embarrassment for her.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Gibson Runs Away from Ryan

As we all know by now, Romney picked Paul Ryan, author of the much-maligned Ryan Budget, as his running mate. Interestingly, Nate Silver at the New York Times makes the argument that Ryan is the most radical major party candidate since the dawn of the 20th century, and that he's at least as conservative as nutcase Michelle Bachmann:
Various statistical measures of Mr. Ryan peg him as being quite conservative. Based on his Congressional voting record, for instance, the statistical system DW-Nominate evaluates him as being roughly as conservative as Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.

By this measure, in fact, which rates members of the House and Senate throughout different time periods on a common ideology scale, Mr. Ryan is the most conservative Republican member of Congress to be picked for the vice-presidential slot since at least 1900. He is also more conservative than any Democratic nominee was liberal, meaning that he is the furthest from the center. (The statistic does not provide scores for governors and other vice-presidential nominees who never served in Congress.)
In other words, Ryan makes Dick Cheney look like Mr. Rogers.

Sensing that this could mean trouble when it comes to holding his seat, our own Chris Gibson today took a step back from the Ryan lunacy:
“I first want to congratulate my colleague on his selection to be the Vice Presidential nominee. Paul is passionate about our country, with strong views about where we need to move to create jobs and restore fiscal responsibility. Others have strong views too, and ultimately, I believe that we need to be able to forge a strong bipartisan consensus that unites Americans to get our friends and neighbors back to work and to make the right decisions to ensure our best days are still in front of us.”
Yep. All nice and bipartisan, Gibson says. And I can see why. Ryan wants to replace Medicare with a voucher system that's not pegged to inflation (and that Forbes Magazine finds ludicrous). Ryan believes that life begins at conception, period, and would criminalize abortion to such an extent that it would be considered first degree murder. Ryan wants to raise taxes on poor folks, and cut taxes for his rich pals.

This kind of thing won't fly in the Hudson Valley and Gibson knows it. I would expect him to avoid going anywhere near the national ticket. Doing so would only reinforce the fact that the modern GOP is dangerously out-of-touch with New York State.

And with Gibson apparently stuck in the low 40s, poll-wise, he's going to have to move to the left if he wants to win.

Whooping Cough?

Yet another 19th century disease making a comeback, this time almost entirely because of the anti-vaccination crazies:
Area residents are being urged as a precautionary measure to get vaccinated against whooping cough, a highly contagious respiratory infection.

The Ulster County Department of Health issued a press release earlier this month urging residents, especially those who live in families with infants, to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The release also said adults should consult their family physician regarding a possible booster vaccination.

“It’s certainly prudent to make sure everyone is properly vaccinated,” Ulster County Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Carol Smith said Friday. She said this is a precautionary measure as some counties south of Ulster have seen an increase in confirmed cases of whooping cough. Smith also said people may still contract whooping cough even if they have been vaccinated, so they should see their doctor if they develop a respiratory problem.

“The youngest are always the most vulnerable,” Smith added.
In recent years there have been all kinds of consiracy theories regarding vaccinations. This, in turn, has lead meany well-meaning people to forgo vaccinations for their children. And putting your own kids at risk is bad enough. But when you add the fact that these sick kids will expose other kids to the illness, well, it's easy to see how people skipping vaccines has an effect on society as a whole. Vaccines save lives, despite what that idiot Jenny McCarty says.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Throwing the Book at Her

Along with a few extra nouns and adjectives:
The Albany Times-Union is reporting via Twitter that Allison Lee Hinchey, wife of U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-Saugerties, has been sentenced in Albany County Court to 60 days in jail, three years of probation, and three years of a required interlock device on her automobile for her conviction for driving while intoxicated.
Of course, Hinchey thumbed her nose at the court, as she had been convicted of the same offense just eight months earlier. In that case, the judge let her off easy:
The Jan. 18 arrest was Mrs. Hinchey’s second for drunken driving in an eight-month span. The lobbyist for DKC Government Affairs also was charged with drunken driving in May 2011 in the Ulster County town of Hurley, though in that case, she was allowed to plead guilty to a reduced charge of driving while ability impaired by alcohol.

The penalty in the 2011 case was a 90-day suspension of Mrs. Hinchey’s driver’s license, a $340 fine and mandatory attendance at a DWI impact panel.
Prominent, or wealthy, people are often given the benefit of the doubt by our court system, as may have been the case with Mrs. Hinchey's prior conviction. But the second judge decided it was time to send a message. Good for him.

And we still love you, Mo, even if your wife is a bit of a ditz.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Hoo boy. David Donaldson, not one to mince words, is royally PO'ed about Queen Terry's RRA shenanigans:
At the request of Terry Bernardo, Chair of the Legislature, Legislator Carl Belfiglio as Chairman of the Environmental Committee arrogantly rammed through a party line vote last Thursday, August 2, 2012 to get Requests for Proposals to sell the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency.

“This was done either for foolish political reasons or out of total ignorance of the understanding of the relationship the County has with the UCRRA. This is yet another example of the inept and poor leadership demonstrated by the Republicans of the Ulster County Legislature. We need to explore solutions in a cooperative responsible manner”, said Minority Leader David Donaldson (Kingston).
Why not "Foolish Ingorance," Don? You know, the best of both worlds?

Anyway, read the whole thing. Bernardo is clearly in way over her head and needs to be replaced come January. It's like watching a six-year-old running with a pair of scissors.

(Hat-tip to the Liberty Coalition for the link)

Money Well Spent?

Redeveloping decaying waterfronts is a good idea, as many municipalities with decaying waterfronts (Poughkeepsie, Beacon) are beginning to discover. A nice waterfront -- with shops, restaurants, and touristy things -- is a good way to attract visitors who come and spend money.

But I can't help but wonder if the City of Kingston isn't going to be throwing state money away on the promenade which will be part of the Hudson Landing development:
The Common Council has voted to increase by $400,000 the size of a state grant being sought by the city to help fund the construction of a promenade along the Hudson River.

The council voted 7-0 on Tuesday to increase the grant request from $2.5 million to $2.9 million. (Aldermen Nate Horowitz, R-Ward 3, and Bill Carey, D-Ward 5, were absent.)

The promenade would be about a mile long and would sit along the edge of the riverfront property where AVR Acquisition Corp. of Yonkers plans to build a housing development called Hudson Landing.

The developer has agreed to match the $2.9 million.
The site location, which is somewhat far from the Rondout, means that it's unlikely people will see it as an attraction. And with only a couple of small commercial zones, shopping isn't likely to be a big draw.

The way I see it, the promenade will be of benefit almost solely to those people who purchase a property there. And if these folks want a promenade, more power to them. What I don't understand is why I should have to pay for something that is likely to be a net loss when it comes to tax revenue, and will generate essentially no meaningful commercial activity (after the initial real estate rush).

Am I missing something here? Someone please set me straight if so.

UPDATE: Take a look at this interactive map of the project.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gibson is a Right-Wing Radical

How anyone of good conscience vote in favor of such an abomination is beyond me -- but it's not beyond Congressman Chris Gibson:
Julian Schreibman, Democratic candidate for the Hudson Valley/Catskills region, recently released the following statements regarding this week’s House vote to ban abortion in the District of Columbia after 20 weeks of pregnancy - even in cases of rape and incest - and slammed Congressman Chris Gibson’s vote to support the ban:
“While Congressman Chris Gibson pretends to be a moderate, his vote to criminalize abortion even in cases of rape and incest is appalling,” said Jonathan Levy, campaign manager. “This vote is just another example of Congressman Gibson’s rhetoric not matching his record. Fortunately, his radical agenda did not win the day this time.”
Any woman who votes for Gibson is voting in favor of the GOP controlling what she does with her own body. If that's what you want, go for it. The rest of us believe that adult women are capable of making their own decisions, and they don't need a bunch of puritan scolds telling her what she can do.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Follow the Money

Why did Sottile revoke the non-profit status for the Hudson Valley Senior Residence? Why does Gallo continue to support this obviously misguided policy? Someone with deep pockets must have plans for this site, because there's otherwise no reason for the city to intentionally destroy this facility:
If managers of the Hudson Valley Senior Residence at 80 Washington Ave. are experiencing that sinking feeling these days, it’s not just from the street collapsing out front. The senior facility, next to George Washington School on the border of Uptown and Midtown, is home to about 40 elderly clients. It is in what some board members have characterized as do-or-die negotiations with the city government regarding its taxable status.

Two years ago, the city revoked the facility’s not-for-profit tax exemption, resulting in an approximate $300,000 annual tax bill. Managers say the home is barely breaking even, and they can’t afford to pay the taxes.

Hudson Valley Senior Residence had been tax-exempt since opening in 1929. A non-profit operation, it is free from federal and state taxes. Its local tax status, however, is determined by the municipal assessor.

About two years ago then-city assessor Mary Ann Bahruth revoked the senior residence’s tax-exempt status. Protests to then-mayor James Sottile fell on deaf ears. Though both the assessor and the mayor have left office, their successors, Assessor Dan Baker and Mayor Shayne Gallo, have continued that policy.
I don't know what the plan is, but someone has a set of blueprints somewhere. And this facility is blocking this plan.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Bernardo Watch: It's All Politics, All the Time

The Bernardos' latest post at Mocking Robin is interesting, not for what it says but for what it doesn't say. In it, Terry takes Robin Yess to task because the latter has been provisionally supportive of Mike Hein:
Robin Yess has changed her tactics. Instead of fighting for smaller government she is backing county exec Mike Hein, a big government democrat.

Why, you ask?

Simple. Terry Bernardo and Mike Hein have been feuding and Robin is stupid enough to believe that the enemy of her enemy is her friend. Trouble is, Hein is a politician. He helps people who can bring him votes. That's the way the game works. This doesn't make him corrupt, it just makes him a politician.
Right. It's all just a big game, people. There are winners and losers. And what it really comes down to is, which tribe gets to feed at the trough, right?

But there's another way of looking at this: It's known as "reaching across the aisle." In simple terms, elected officials in the U.S. used to respect the opposition even if they didn't agree with them most of the time. The reason was that both sides knew, at the end of the day, that the opposition wanted what was best for the nation. The disagreements were about how we would get there.

But all of this changed about 20 years ago with the ascendancy of New Gingrich-style politics. It's not about good governance, nor about winning elections. It's about destroying the "enemy." It's about demonizing the other side to such an extent that compromise is seen as capitulation.

And this is why our system is broken. How can you compromise with someone you want to destroy?

And we won't hear anything about good governance from Bernardo. Instead, all we hear is about how Yess is selling out because she thinks Hein is a reasonable, professional individual whom she feels she can work with.

That's Bernardo's argument against Yess. That's it.

Others, however, including some Republicans (see ToR Councilman Cilenti's letter), have no problem working with the opposition.

This is how government in this country is supposed to operate, folks. For Mocking Robin to ridicule Yess for doing what this nation's founders intended shows just how radical and out-of-touch Bernardo truly is.

Political Theater

The latest shenanigans regarding the legislature's upending of the charter commission's work are fairly predictable. First they want to approve their own districts, an idea that is akin to putting children in charge of guarding the cookie jar.

Now they want to place approval of new district maps before the voters -- who, while well intentioned, know almost nothing about demographics. Can you tell me the breakdown of registered voters in your own neighborhood? In other words, how many are Democrats, Republicans, independents, etc? If not, then how would you know whether a district line is fairly drawn? Do you have time to do the extensive research that would be involved? No, you likely don't.

This is why we created the charter commission in the first place, to take self-serving knuckleheads out of the equation. Yet these same knuckleheads insists upon overriding the will of the people, and are instead doing everything to make sure they're protecting themselves.

Have you ever seen a sorrier bunch?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Schreibman Within Striking Distance

As I said yesterday, any time an incumbent is polling below 50 percent, his or her people start to sweat a bit. After yesterday's internal poll by the Gibson campaign, we have an internal poll conducted by Schreibman's people. The numbers are very encouraging:
NY-19 GSG for Julian Schreibman (July 2012)

As you can see, this poll has Gibson well below where he needs to be in order to be assured of a win.

Another thing that stands out, is the fact that Schreibman has such low name recognition. Only 19 percent of the voters know who he is at the moment. We can expect major movement on these numbers, which will definitely put this race in flux. And Gibson has double the name recognition Schreibman does, but isn't cracking 50 percent (if you average these two polls together). Not good for Gibson.

Another key finding: Gibson's favorables are under water, at 28 percent favorable, 39 percent unfavorable. Gibson can try to distance himself from the Tea Party, but the damage has already been done, apparently. Schreibman needs to take advantage of Gibson's association with these folks.

The near-even, three-way split among voters is also encouraging. Gibson will have to win over independents in a district that is now much more left-leaning, and that won't be easy given his record.

And there may be a mild coat-tail effect, for sure. Presidential races tend to bring out voters in large numbers, though New York State has been locked in the Democratic/Obama column since Reagan (and it certainly won't be going GOP this year).

Gibson's surrogates keep touting the strength of their candidate, and that he has a big lead in the polls. But they are whistling past the graveyard. Gibson is very vulnerable and they know it. The bluster we're hearing is an attempt to take the opposition off its game.

Bottom line: Schreibman can beat Gibson, and they're clearly very nervous about this.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Will Gibson Campaign with Bernardo?

And I seriously doubt Gibson is this far ahead:
A recent internal poll conducted for the campaign of Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., shows the freshman Republican significantly ahead of his Democratic challenger, despite other indications that Gibson's district is more competitive.

The poll, slated for release, shows Gibson leading attorney Julian Schreibman, 53 percent to 36 percent, in the newly-configured 19th Congressional District. Ten percent of likely voters are undecided, according to the memorandum from Gibson's pollster, Alexandria, Va.-based Public Opinion Strategies.
But when we get to "likely voters," the race is 49-40, which must really be causing fits with Gibson's handlers. Any time an incumbent is below the 50-percent threshold, he/she is vulnerable.

The big question, given that Gibson has the IP line, is whether he will campaign with the politically toxic Bernardo. I don't see how he can avoid appearing with her. You can't come into a county for the first time and avoid the local leadership from your own party, especially the first female chair of the UC legislature. He's probably going to have to bite the bullet and make at least one very uncomfortable appearance with her, which should be very entertaining to watch.

But if I were Gibson, I would run for the hills.

p.s. This blog is enthusiastically endorsing Schreibman. Of the two candidates, Schreibman will do a much better job of continuing Hinchey's progressive legacy.