Thursday, September 27, 2012

Disqus it Amongst Yourselves

Just as an FYI, I went ahead and installed the Disqus commenting system on the blog. It's the same system used by many thousands of blogs and websites, including the Freeman, so it should streamline your experience a bit; your user name from over at the Freeman should work over here as well.

Please let me know if there are any hiccups you happen to notice. Also, too, the old comments should be imported to the new platform within the next day or so.

Brinksmanship From Saugerties' Myers

You have to wonder what it is the GOP hates about democracy. The latest example is Saugerties' Town Supervisor Kelly Myers, who brings us a little constitutional brinksmanship in refusing to sign a negotiated PILOT agreement:
Town Supervisor Kelly Myers said Wednesday she will not sign an amended payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement for the Birches at Saugerties housing complex that reduces the amount of money owed to the municipality by more than half.

Myers said it would be illegal for her to sign the amended payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, agreement because the town would essentially be giving back $80,000 in already-budgeted revenue. The town would have to find another way to raise that money, which would put it over the state’s 2 percent property tax cap limit, she said. Myers said the Town Board would have to pass a local law to override the tax cap.
But that's not what her fellow town board members are saying. They think she's gone off the deep end:
“I was in shock,” Councilman James Bruno said. “I couldn’t believe what she was saying.” He added that Myers never told him, her deputy supervisor, that she planned to address the Town Board.

Town Board members Bruce Leighton and Fred Costello said they felt Myers was grandstanding by refusing to sign the agreement. Bruno and Leighton also said Myers’ refusal to carry out the will of the majority of the Town Board sets a bad precedent, while Costello said her refusal to sign the deal is a failure in leadership.
You know what this is? Yet another example of a GOP leader saying that he or she doesn't like the results of the democratic process. I liken it to the game of chicken the GOP played in congress last year when they refused to raise the debt limit. Congress had already legally appropriated the funds, but Boehner and the nihilists in his caucus decided that hurting our credit rating would be a good way to damage the president and prevent his reelection. How's that working out, guys?

Anyway, in the case of Skate Time 209, the main reason for the PILOT was because the principals claimed it would create jobs and economic activity. That hasn't happened. Senior housing, on the other hand, is a totally different animal that should be measured by the quality of the product. And unless we come up with a new system to provide quality housing to the aged and infirm, this is the system we have.

Myers doesn't have a leg to stand on. You can't simply subvert a 4-1 vote by the town board.

That's a Lot of Hits

Congratz to Robin Yess over at the Liberty Coalition. Her blog recently passed the 40,000 hit milestone:
It’s hard for me to believe, but the counter is correct. Two days ago I received a congratulatory email from Manuela Michailescu telling me that this blog had surpassed 40,000 pages views. Considering we started this blog only last December, I think for local politics that’s a remarkable milestone.
I agree. The Cloakroom surpassed the 30,000 hit plateau just a few days ago, this for a blog that was started in early February. Not bad.

The Cloakroom has also recently been put on the list of NY Newsday Westchester's list of featured Hudson Valley blogs, so it's nice to see one's writing getting noticed.

I think what our blogs are proving is that there is a market for this kind of thing. People want to feel engaged in the local community, but doing so in-person is often difficult. People have families, sometime more than one job that cuts into their scant free time, etc. Blogs give people a chance to vent on their own time. You don't have to agree with everything that's written; in fact, you can't have a debate unless you have disagreement.

The need to feel engaged, and to participate in discussion, is something we all have in common.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bernardo Watch: Throwing Pebbles in the Crystal Cathedral

Interesting piece in today's Freeman about the back-and-forth between Terry Bernardo and Mike Hein. Bernardo accuses Hein of "pay-to-play" because the county executive's campaign received a $3000 contribution from an Albany law firm that is now doing county business. As I said in a previous post, this is chump change and Hein should simply return the contribution.

On the flip side, however, we have the Bernardos, who have managed to pig-out on close to $500,000 of the taxpayers' money. First, you have the $160,000 in tax breaks Skate Time 209 has received, despite the fact that it hasn't produced meaningful employment in Accord. Then you have all the crony appointments Bernardo has made, which to date have cost the taxpayers in the county ANOTHER $250,000-plus. This includes the appointment of Fawn Tantillo at $50k per year, whose only real claim to fame is that she, too, knows how to spend the county's money like a drunken sailor (see: prison), while at the same time rewarding herself with golden-parachute jobs when the voters get sick of her and send her packing. We have Frank Reggero, who has taken a few higher education courses, which somehow makes him qualified to be a budget analyst, also to the tune of $50k-plus (though Reggero, it should be noted, was removed from this position and is now essentially acting Bernardo's personal valet). The list goes on.

Having Bernardo accuse Hein of cronyism is a bit like having a Soviet Commissar lecture Lech Walesa on democracy.

(UPDATE: Typos fixed. Hat-tip to JDM.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Freeman: Voter ID Laws are the Real Fraud

I have to hand it to the Freeman for a truly excellent editorial on the rash of voter disenfranchisement laws that are popping up across the country, one that spells out in plain English exactly what these laws are really designed to do:
FOR a century, the nation has expanded the right to vote.

This has been accomplished, in part, by inclusion -- the Amendment giving women the right to vote; the Voting Rights Act, guaranteeing blacks the right to vote; and the Amendment lowering voting age from 21 to 18.

It has also been accomplished by removing barriers -- such as the poll tax and unreasonable restrictions on the casting of absentee ballots -- and by the innovation of early voting in some states.

Still, actual participation has tended to lag that of most other developed, democratic nations. The American problem of elections, which legitimate democratic governance, has not been voter fraud, but, rather, lack of participation.

But the Republican Party has an existential problem: Its base of adherents is shrinking as a proportion of the growing voting-age population.

So, Republicans have concocted an ingenious solution: Promote the disenfranchisement of potential voters under the cover of protecting the democratic process.

That, in a nutshell, summarizes the cynicism behind the so-called “voter ID” laws and other restrictions that have sprung up in statehouses across the nation.
Many people lack state ID cards. The reasons vary, but they usually have to do with a lack of money (when you're struggling to stay afloat, purchasing an ID card isn't exactly a priority), mobility (some people don't have transportation, or for health reasons cannot stand in line), or some combination thereof. Enacting voter ID laws prevents these folks from voting. And Republicans know their demographics quite well. Poor folks (who are disproportionately minorities) and old folks vote Democratic, therefore voter ID laws prevent Democrats from voting. It's that simple.

And the courts have been doing a good job of unraveling a lot of the damage the GOP is doing to our democratic (small "D") principles. But they keep trying. I'm sure most of the GOP would actually be happy to return to the 19th century when only property owners could vote.

So, it's refreshing to see an editorial board provide to its readership some analysis of this situation. Go read the whole thing.

Is This Legal?

I assume it must be, as one of them is, well, a prominent attorney:
I am pretty certain there were countless denials made by the Bernardos about Langdon Chapman ever being their personal or business (SkateTime 209 aka TLB Management) attorney. And yet, here it is in an article by Times Herald Record reporter Michael Novinson (see my previous post Kudos to Novinson):
“For any officer of the IDA to assert that my client breached any obligation is untrue and may warrant civil action,” wrote attorney Langdon Chapman in 2008. Chapman is now the Legislature’s lead attorney.
And so now we can ask – which one is it? Either he was or wasn’t. What say you?
It appears Novinson might have unearthed a serious nut here. If Chapman is has been (or is still; who knows?) the Bernardos' personal attorney, then his position as counsel to the Ulster County Legislature is rife with conflicts of interest. I wonder what the NY State Bar Association thinks about this kind of thing?

Quigley's Management Skills

By all accounts, Jim Quigley likes things his way or the highway. Which is why it's refreshing to see members of the Ulster town board stand up to him on the hiring of a new top cop:
The Town Board has put off hiring a new police chief after learning a second person is interested in the job, and board members are at odds over whether to interview even more people.

The board’s Personnel Committee, which comprises three of the board’s five members, voted unanimously earlier this week to recommend Lt. Anthony Cruise be hired as chief. Cruise has been overseeing the department since mid-June, when Chief Matthew Taggard was suspended after being charged with official misconduct. Taggard, who was accused of failing to report sex crimes of which he was aware, retired on Friday.

A vote on appointing Cruise as chief was expected at Thursday’s board meeting, but the matter was delayed after Personnel Committee members said their recommendation that only Cruise be considered for the job appeared to have been premature because Trevor Barringer, a sergeant in the town police department, also is interested in becoming chief.

The board did vote, 3-2, in favor of promoting from within the department when appointing a new chief.
Quigley wanted to rubber-stamp the new chief and move on. Nothing to see here folks, certainly nothing that could complicate Quigley's plans to run for county executive.

So, why didn't anyone know there was another interested applicant? Did anyone bother to ask? And why hasn't this job been advertized? There are no doubt many highly qualified law enforcement officials out there who would fit the job description. And hiring from outside after a major scandal is often a good idea, as the appointee wouldn't have any political baggage. Hiring from within might not be the best idea at the moment.

But why am I telling you this? Shouldn't Quigley be recommending a comprehensive job search? Or, does Quigley simply want to appoint someone he can control when the next scandal hits?

The town board should slow down and do a comprehensive search for Taggard's replacement. And Quigley is an autocrat who should never be allowed anywhere near the county executive's office.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Romney Thinks Airplane Windows Should Open

There are no words:
"I appreciate the fact that she is on the ground, safe and sound. And I don't think she knows just how worried some of us were. When you have a fire in an aircraft, there's no place to go, exactly, there's no -- and you can't find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don't open. I don't know why they don't do that. It's a real problem. So it's very dangerous. And she was choking and rubbing her eyes. Fortunately, there was enough oxygen for the pilot and copilot to make a safe landing in Denver. But she's safe and sound."
Kind of like submarines lacking screen doors. It's a serious oversight.

Bernardo Watch: No More Freeloading?

So, our favorite chairwoman of the legislature, and her would-be kingmaker hubby, have finally received some overdue media attention for their cozy relationship with the Ulster County Industrial Development Association, of which Bernardo towel boy David O'Halloran is the chair. Michael Novinson of the Times Herald Record began the bloodletting (warning: paywall):
Ulster County's job creation agency is considering scaling back future tax breaks to a business owned by the chair of the county Legislature for failing to hit job targets.

Terry and Len Bernardo's Skate Time 209 has come under the Industrial Development Agency's microscope for projecting the equivalent of 37 full-time jobs but generating only nine. The roller skating center and skateboard park has received nearly $160,000 in property and sales tax breaks since 2005. It's slated to receive another $35,000 in breaks between 2013 and 2016.
Nice to see these number put in such stark relief. These are the alleged captains of Rondout Valley industry, the Bernardos, nothing more than welfare recipients living off the county dime. And we're talking about a lot of money, nearly $23,000 annually of the taxpayers hard-earned cash going to pay for whatever -- and leaving the rest of us to pony up the difference to make the county's coffers whole. If you want to know why your property taxes are so high, one of the reasons is that you help subsidize the Bernardos' upscale lifestyle.

And, not to be outdone, that old fossil Hugh Reynold came out of his Washington Irving-induced coma to jump on the Bernardo-bashing bandwagon:
It seems the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency is finally getting hard-nosed about underperforming recipients of county-sponsored tax breaks and low-interest loans. At its meeting this month, the IDA board identified nine organizations (out of 45), including a Kingston church, that it said hadn’t lived up to job-creation forecasts made on their IDA applications.

[. . .]

Behind the feel-good taxpayer-first sound bites lurks the rancid smell of politics. One of the outfits on the IDA hit list, buried in eighth position on its “2011 under-performance review,” is TLB Management, headquartered in Rochester township. Though TLB is a combination of Len and legislature Chairwoman Terry B. Bernardo’s initials, it was husband Len who invested the $1.7 million to convert an empty field in Accord to the Skatetime USA roller rink he supervises. The IDA report says TLB underperformed in providing only nine of the 20 jobs it “promised” on its original application in 2005.
Reynolds then gives his readers a little background on the relationship between the Bernardos and Mike Hein:
The subject of job creation at Skatetime, or lack thereof, came up during Republican Len Bernardo’s 2008 campaign for county executive against Democrat Mike Hein, when Hein colleague March Gallagher paid a surprise visit on the skating rink and discovered that Bernardo had hired only a handful of part-time teenagers to operate the place. Hein publicly accused Bernardo of “lying” on his IDA application, and went on to run circles around the hapless rink owner in the 2008 election. Gallagher went on to a $100,000 job (with benefits) in the Hein administration as the executive’s chief of economic development.

Hein, seemingly permanently miffed about some of the things I’ve written about him, does not respond to Ulster Publishing inquiries, nor do any of his staff.

Feeling threatened by the executive, the Bernardos apparently decided to turn up the heat. Chairman Bernardo, who says Hein refuses to speak to her, has of late been accusing the executive of what she calls “pay-to-play politics,” citing donations to Hein’s campaign from Albany lawyers in quest of county contracts and from southern Ulster camp operators seeking the executive’s support in a dispute over camp control last spring.
I have to hand it to you, Hugh. "Hapless rink owner" is a pretty terrific moniker, as in Len Hapless-Rink-Owner Bernardo. But I digress.

The one thing Reynolds doesn't mention is very-much mentioned by Novinson in his article, the fact that IDA chairman O'Halloran is a Bernardo toady:
Terry Bernardo, a Republican, became chair of the county Legislature this year. She has feuded with County Executive Mike Hein, a Democrat. Len Bernardo ran unsuccessfully against Hein for county executive in 2008. Current IDA board Chairman Dave O’Halloran managed Bernardo’s campaign.
I wouldn't call it a "campaign," more like the rookie league getting schooled by the Triple-A affiliate. Bernardo didn't belong on the same field. Do you think, Hugh, that this connection to Bernardo might have influenced O'Halloran's past decisions? Maybe? Possibly? Surely, old timer, you know about the O'Halloran connection. Why not mention it? Pretty lousy journalism if you ask me.

As for the freeloading Bernardos, hopefully the free ride is over.

Friday, September 21, 2012

And NY-18 is Now a Dead Heat

The AFL-CIO commissioned a poll that eliminates Larry Weissmann from the list of polling questions in NY-18 (Siena did not not do their homework on this race, apparently):
The state AFL-CIO has released a poll it commissioned on the race between Republican Rep. Nan Hayworth and Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney. This poll suggests a dead heat — which is very different from the results of a three-day-old Siena poll finding Maloney getting creamed by 13 points.

The poll, which was conducted by Public Policy Polling, has each candidate pulling 43 percent of the voters with 14 percent undecided.

This survey makes the rather large assumption that current Working Families Party candidate Larry Weissman, who drew 10 percent in the Siena poll, “will be replaced by Sean Patrick Maloney on the November ballot.” Indeed, one question is worded thusly: “The candidates for Congress are Republican and Conservative Party candidate Nan Hayworth and Democrat and Working Families Party candidate Sean Patrick Maloney.”
And it turns out that WFP will indeed be giving its NY-18 line to Maloney:
The Working Families Party plans to give Democrat Sean Maloney its ballot line in the Hudson Valley’s 18th Congressional District, which is expected to erode some of Republican Rep. Nan Hayworth’s lead in the closely watched race.

Hayworth led Maloney 46 percent to 33 percent in a Siena poll released Tuesday.

Ten percent of likely voters backed the Working Families Party’s current candidate, Larry Weissmann. Eleven percent were undecided in the redrawn district, which covers Putnam and Orange counties as well as parts of northern Westchester and the southwest corner of Dutchess.

The Working Family Party plans to nominate Weissmann, a lawyer, to run for state Supreme Court next week, said Dan Cantor, the party’s executive director.
I hope we see another poll like this very soon. If Hayworth is really polling at 43 percent, this race is over and Maloney wins easily. Hayworth is a known quantity, and 57 percent of the voters in her district would prefer someone else. This is very bad news for her campaign, and great news for Maloney.

They're Not Booing. They're Chanting 'Paaauuuul!'

Things didn't go too well at AARP for GOP Veep nominee Paul Ryan:

Keep making seniors angry, guys. It's the surest path to victory. And remember that you heard it hear first.

Why I'm Still Opimistic

So the Gibson camp is no doubt very happy to be polling at slightly over 50 percent. As I've said before, for an incumbent to be polling below 50 percent means big trouble. But there are still other indicators that this thing isn't a done deal. The generic congressional ballot, as you can see above, at this moment favors the Democrats by a hefty margin.

Sam Wang at the Princeton Election Consortium, a highly accurate predictor of election results, says that, on average, for every point favoring one party, that party can expect to pick up six house seats. The Democrats having a 4.3 percent lead can expect to pick up something north of 24 seats, The Democrats need 25 seats to retake the house.

But it gets even better, according to Wang:
Based on the generic Congressional ballot, the probability of a Democratic takeover is 74% with a median 16-seat majority. Whichever party is in control, the seat margin is headed for being narrower than the current Congress. Like any probability in the 20-80% range, this is a knife-edge situation. This picture may change over the coming six weeks as more information, especially district-level polls, becomes available.
Wang is saying that there is a 74-percent chance that the Democrats will retake the House; and that the average majority for the Democrats is 16 seats. That's a 41-seat swing, which means a bunch of GOP incumbents are going to lose unexpectedly this election cycle.

But will one of them be Gibson? And let's not forget about Nan Hayworth, whose polling is also quite weak for an incumbent. Will she be one of the GOP members of congress who will look like a deer in the headlights on the evening of Tuesday, November 6? My feeling is that both could very easily lose if Wang is correct. There is no way these two can survive if 41 House seats change hands.

And Wang isn't the only one who still sees this thing as wide open. Cook, Stu Rothenberg, and Larry Sabato each say that NY-18 and NY-19 are too close to call. In other words, they are tossups.

If Gibson and/or Hayworth do manage to squeak one out, it's not going to be by the margins the polls indicate. If Gibson wins 52 percent of the vote, for example, Schreibman will win 48 percent because there is on one else in the race. Zero sum.

Schreibman's numbers can only improve, as he's still an unknown. And there is no doubt that he could be doing a lot more at the retail level. Schreibman needs seriously to pound the pavement for the next six weeks.

The pendulum is swinging back, hard, against the Tea Party crazies. Let's give it as big a push as we can.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Act Blue for Schreibman

Act Blue is political action committee that allows individuals, such as yours truly, to raise money for progressive candidates. If you look over to the right side of the blog, you will see a little thermometer that indicates that this blog will attempt to raise $500 for Julian Schreibman. Please, take a few minutes and throw him a few bucks. Any contribution, large or small, will go to help unseat fake-moderate Gibson, who has tons and tons of cash.

Now is the time, folks. Just click the link.

Sen. Scott Brown, Wimp

Tonight is the night of an important scheduled debate between hunky Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, and challenger Elizabeth "Consumer Protection Agency" Warren. Everyone, of course, is looking forward to hearing what both candidates have to say. There was only one hangup: Brown needed to be in D.C. tonight for several Senate votes. So sorry to disappoint, yadda-yadda.

To Brown's rescue comes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:
“We have no more votes today. No more votes today. It’s obvious to me what’s going on,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the chamber. “I’ve been to a few of these rodeos. It is obvious there is a big stall taking place. One of the senators who had a debate tonight doesn’t want to debate. Well, he can’t use the Senate as an excuse. There will be no more votes today.”
I think it was really nice of Reid to help Brown like this. I'm sure Brown was heartbroken to miss the opportunity, and that he is now absolutely thrilled the debate will proceed.

Weissmann is a Placeholder

Tea Partier Nan Hayworth released a poll several days ago that appeared to show that she has a 13-point lead on Democratic challenger Sean Patrick Maloney. The poll showed 46 percent support Hayworth, 33 percent support Maloney, and 10 percent support someone named Larry Weissmann on the WFP line. Bummer, right?

Well, it turns out that Hayworth's "lead" isn't what it appears to be:
UPDATE: Apparently, Weissmann was a placeholder candidate for the WFP until after the Democrats got their primary battle sorted out.

A statement from Maloney’s campaign, which crows that today’s poll shows the Democrat “within striking distance” of Hayworth, includes the following quote from WFP Executive Director Dan Cantor:

“My understanding is that the our judicial delegates plan to nominate Larry Weissman for Supreme Court, in which case the Working Families Party Executive Committee intends to nominate Sean Patrick Maloney as our candidate to take on Tea Party Congresswoman Nan Hayworth.”

As a result, Maloney’s spokeswoman Evangeline George claimed Hayworth’s lead is actually three percentage points, not 13, which assumes all of Weissmann’s votes will go to Maloney – not necessarily a foregone conclusion.
The article rightly points out that not all of those WFP votes will go to Maloney, though I can't imagine that too many progressive voters would support Hayworth. Some might choose to stay home, or they might skip that part of the ballot, I suppose. And the fact that Maloney moved to the district only recently highlights his biggest problem (the same problem Schreibman has): Name recognition.

But here's the thing: Hayworth is an incumbent. Like Gibson, she hasn't cracked 50 percent. As such, she's in deep trouble, hence the "carpetbagger" ad.

Hayworth can, to borrow a phrase, crow all she wants about her huge "lead," but she's being totally disingenuous when she does. Hopefully the DCCC knows about this and will spend some money on this race.

All the momentum is with the Democrats right now. Time to run up the score as much as possible.

How Can Anyone Be This Stupid?


Transcript: "I've been on foodstamps and welfare, did anyone help me out? No." -- Actor Craig T. Nelson, who appears to have been dropped in his head one too many times.

Hey! He should run for president in 2016. It'll be like the second coming of Ronald Reagan.

(hat-tip to Jon Stewart)

Out of Context

It's a term used most often by people who have no idea what it means. So, the Obama campaign has decided to create a helpful educational video that clearly illustrates "out of context":

So, now the Romney campaign knows how it feels when the opposition makes stuff up about you. The difference here, though, is that the Obama campaign, unlike Romney's, isn't pretending that their candidate actually meant any of the out-of-context things he said in the above video. There's another term for this. Let me see if I can remember what it is. Oh yeah; it's also called "telling the truth."

T-Paw Says 'Adios'

The former governor of Minnesota knows a sinking ship when he sees it:
Onetime Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty is stepping down from his role as co-chair of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign to become head of the bank lobbying group The Financial Services Roundtable.

Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor who was on the short list of candidates to be Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate, will replace Steve Bartlett, who earlier this year announced he was stepping down from his post as the group’s president and chief executive officer. Bartlett is a former member of Congress and mayor of Dallas. Pawlenty will take over effective Nov. 1.
Tim Pawlenty just threw Romney under the bus. I know, I know, he says he'll stay on till November 1 -- which is five days before the election, so T-Paw won't be around for any of the futile GOTV -- but why make the announcement now? He couldn't wait a few more weeks? Nope. This is Pawlently telling Romney in no uncertain terms that the latter needs to take a long walk off a short pier.

And other members of the GOP are starting to have problems with the Romney Gaff-Bot. Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts now trails Elizabeth Warren, so he's trying to distance himself:
"I think that people who are in those situations are not there by choice. They want to work," Brown told reporters. "My mom and dad were married and divorced four times each. [I] lived in 17 houses by the time I was 18.

"My mom did get assistance, and it's something I remember very clearly," Brown said, linking his trip down memory lane to his current service. "That's why I've been fighting for LIHEAP [Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program], and food stamps, and unemployment benefits for people to give them that helping hand that they need."
Wow. So Brown's mom was one of those moochers that Romney so despises. Whoodathunk?

And you know who else was a Welfare moocher? Romney's own grandparents:

Makes you wonder what might have happened to the Romney scion had the government allowed his father to starve to death, as Romney now appears to want for the 47 percent of us who mooch off the government. This mooching includes things like mortgage tax deductions. How many homes does Romney own again?

On a more serious note, anyone who thinks that the social safety net in this country is a gravy train is either woefully misinformed, a complete idiot, or both (they don't have to be mutually exclusive, do they?). Being forced to negotiate our humiliating, byzantine welfare system is something I would not wish on my worst enemy.

And Romney is a demagogue. On top of that, he a rotten human being.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chris Gibson's War on Women

We keep hearing from the GOP that they're not engaging in a War on Women. Of course, the party's record on women's issue is absolutely appalling, so pro-choice voters who are reacting negatively to the Republican brand are simply well informed.

Which brings us to our own Chris Gibson, faux moderate Republican who is trying to hoodwink the voters of the newly drawn NY-19 into believing that he'll be just swell when it comes to women's issues. But don't be fooled. Gibson is as radical an anti-choice zealot as there is. Don't believe me? Gibson has a "zero" voting record with NARAL Pro-Choice America. Zero:

U.S. House of Representatives

House Votes Pro-Choice
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
01 Rep. Timothy Bishop (D) + + + + + + + + 100
02 Rep. Steve Israel (D) + + + + + + + + 100
03 Rep. Peter King (R) - - - - - - - - 0
04 Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D) + + + + A + + + 100
05 Rep. Gary Ackerman (D) + + + + + + + + 100
06 Rep. Gregory Meeks (D) + + A + + A + + 100
07 Rep. Joseph Crowley (D) + + + + + + + + 100
08 Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D) + + + + + + + + 100
09 Rep. Robert Turner (R) I I I I I I - - n/a
09 Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) + + + + + A I I n/a
10 Rep. Edolphus Towns (D) + + + + + + + + 100
11 Rep. Yvette Clarke (D) + + + + + + + + 100
12 Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D) + + + + + + + + 100
13 Rep. Michael Grimm (R) - - - - + - - - 0
14 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D) + + + + + + + + 100
15 Rep. Charles Rangel (D) + + + + + A + + 100
16 Rep. José Serrano (D) + + + + + + + + 100
17 Rep. Eliot Engel (D) + + + + + + + + 100
18 Rep. Nita Lowey (D) + + + + + + + + 100
19 Rep. Nan Hayworth (R) - - - - - + - - 5
20 Rep. Chris Gibson (R) - - - - - - - - 0
21 Rep. Paul Tonko (D) + + + + + + + + 100
22 Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D) + + + + + + + + 100
23 Rep. Bill Owens (D) + + + + + + + + 100
24 Rep. Richard Hanna (R) + - + - + + - + 55
25 Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R) - - - - - - - - 0
26 Rep. Kathy Hochul (D) I I I I I + + + n/a
27 Rep. Brian Higgins (D) + + + + + + + + 100
28 Rep. Louise Slaughter (D) + + + + + A A A 100
29 Rep. Tom Reed (R) - - - - A - - - 0
And here is the legend detailing the votes in question:
  1. Family-Planning Services. FY’11 Continuing Resolution, H.R.1. Pence (R-IN) amendment to disqualify Planned Parenthood and its affiliates from receiving funds appropriated by the bill. The proposal would deny basic, preventive health-care services, including birth control and cancer screenings, to millions of Americans. Passed 240-185. A pro-choice vote (+) was against the amendment (2/18/11).
  2. Appropriations. FY’11 Continuing Resolution, H.R.1. Final Passage. The bill reinstated the D.C. abortion ban, eliminated the Title X family-planning program, defunded Planned Parenthood, reinstated the global gag rule, and eliminated funding for the United Nations Population Fund. Passed 235-189. A pro-choice vote (+) was against final passage (2/19/11).
  3. Family-Planning Services. Enrollment Resolution to FY’11 Continuing Resolution, H.Con.Res.36. Proposal to disqualify Planned Parenthood and its affiliates from receiving funds appropriated by the bill. The proposal would deny family-planning and basic health-care services to millions of Americans. Passed 241-185. A pro-choice vote (+) was against the enrollment resolution (4/14/11).
  4. No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. H.R.3. Final Passage. Smith (R-NJ) bill to ban effectively abortion coverage in state health-insurance exchanges, penalize small businesses and many individuals who purchase private health plans that include abortion coverage, and permanently codify the Hyde amendment, D.C. abortion ban, and other current-law bans. The bill also could spur the Internal Revenue Service to audit sexual-assault survivors who seek abortion care. Passed 251-175. A pro-choice vote (+) was against the bill (5/4/11).
  5. Abortion-Training Restriction. H.R.1216. Foxx (R-NC) amendment to prohibit federal funds from being used by teaching health centers for training in abortion care. Passed 234-182. A pro-choice vote (+) was against the amendment (5/25/11).
  6. Medical-Abortion Funding Ban. FY’12 Agriculture appropriations bill, H.R.2112. King (R-IA) amendment to bar the use of federal funds for prescription or discussion of medical abortion (RU 486). Telemedicine, a small but growing system of phone, teleconferencing, and Internet networks, helps patients link remotely to health-care providers. Passed 240-176. A pro-choice vote (+) was against the amendment (6/16/11).
  7. Refusals for Emergency Abortion Care. Protect Life Act, H.R.358. Capps (D-CA) motion to send the bill back to committee to fix a provision that allows hospitals to refuse to provide emergency abortion care, even when a woman’s life is in danger. Rejected 173-249. A pro-choice vote (+) was in support of the motion to recommit (10/13/11).
  8. Protect Life Act. H.R.358. Final Passage. Pitts (R-PA) bill to ban effectively abortion coverage in state health-insurance exchanges. The bill also would allow hospitals to refuse to provide emergency abortion care, even when a woman’s life is in danger, and gives states the ability to undermine coverage of many health-related services, such as contraception. Passed 251-172. A pro-choice vote (+) was against the bill (10/13/11).
Gibson voted with the Tea Party to defund Planned Parenthood several times, and he consistently voted against funding for a range of other women's health and reproductive services. But the worst of these, the ones that should disqualify Gibson from ever serving in Congress, are number seven and eight on the above list. Gibson voted to allow hospitals and health exchanges to deny abortion services to any woman they choose even if the woman's life is in danger. Did you catch that? Even if the woman's life is in danger. As in, she might die. This is not a moderate position; this is the position of a right-wing radical. There is no other way to massage this, other than the possibility that military war hero Gibson is a political coward when it comes to standing up to the idiots who control his party.

So, I have an idea for you, Chris. You want pro-choice voters to support you? Stand up at a press conference and tell the voters of NY-19 that you were wrong to take these votes against women's health, and that you promise that you will never again make the same mistake. Tell the voters that choice is the settled, constitutional law of the land, and that you will do everything in your power to undermine your party's relentless War on Women.

But you won't, I realize. You're a "man of conviction," or something -- though these convictions appear to include some pretty odious misogyny.

And what the hell is up with Nan Hayworth? If she weren't a multimillionaire who can afford to travel to another country when she or her loved ones might need outlawed family planning services, you could say that she hates her own sex. But we know that's not really true -- though there's no question that she loves power more.

Schreibman Better on Women's Issues, Internet Infrastructure

I think the writer hits the nail on the head:
Social tensions have risen over time as power has skewed the distribution of wealth toward the top. The Clean Air Act has been undercut and weakened. Money-making Big Oil still gets tax break subsidies.

Incumbent Congressman Chris Gibson supported these changes. He also tries to depict Obamacare as a government takeover that will interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. That’s a distortion. It protects patient rights over insurance company rules that already interfere. Gibson invokes a boogieman image of government controlling us. But he voted to make Medicare a voucher program, and to defund Planned Parenthood to the detriment of women’s health care.

[. . .]

In contrast to such shell-game issues, Julian Schreibman is creatively involved in promoting healthy people and a healthy local economy. He opposes what more and more looks like Republican warfare on women’s issues.

Schreibman opposes federal subsidies for oil and gas. But Schreibman is fully focused on creative ways to support and grow local small business by investing more in our infrastructure. Significantly, this includes building up a network of broadband services throughout our rural area.
We already knew Schreibman is a strong supporter of women's issues, so that's nothing new.

But broadband internet is a huge issue in this area. I could never live somewhere in which broadband access was not available. Some local town governments have been doing a really good job in dealing with this issue by upgrading their infrastructure, while others have not. Broadband is going to be increasingly important as more and more people telecommute. And for seniors and others who lack mobility, access to the internet can really be a godsend. Conversely, communities with scant broadband access are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to the housing market. It's good to see that Schreibman fully understands this issue.

Romney Hoped to "Take Advantage" of Crisis

Wow. Just, wow:

"[If] something of that nature presents itself I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity." -- Mitt Romney

Now you know why he was smirking at that press conference a few days ago. This was his "Jimmy Carter" scenario on a silver tray, or so he thought. And if Romney had simply waited two or three news cycles before going on the attack, he might have pulled it off.

If Romney's handlers thought it couldn't get any worse, it just did. And there's always the possibility that things could get worse tomorrow. I wouldn't rule out anything at this point.

Eastwood Calls Romney "Dumb"

It just keeps getting better:
Clint Eastwood isn't taking much time to reflect on his unique endorsement of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at last month's Republican National Convention, after all he says if they're "dumb enough" to ask him, they'll take what they get.

"If somebody is dumb enough to ask me to go to political convention and say something, they're gonna have to take what they get," said Eastwood in an interview Tuesday with the television show "Extra" about the convention speech that won rave reviews, puzzled looks and slacked jaws.
How's that for a ringing endorsement?

And, I have to say, this has to be the most inept, off-message, clueless, and tone-deaf national campaign for president since McGovern/Eagleton.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Free Trees for Kingston Residents?

This is a great idea:
Officials are examining the possibility of offering some free trees as part of the annual city-sponsored street tree planting season.

City Planner Suzanne Cahill said Monday that a decision about whether to give away trees will likely be made by the city’s Tree Commission by the end of this week.
The presence of trees in a neighborhood, especially if they're older trees with a nice canopy, pays enormous dividends. They make the neighborhood far more attractive, they enhance property values and tax revenue, and they make businesses want to locate in that particular area -- all for a very small investment. Planting trees is a win-win for everyone involved.


Just as an FYI, the Ulster County Cloakroom is now on Newsday Westchester's list of featured blogs (scroll down to "Associated Blogs").

Going Negative in NY-18

Nan Hayworth went negative on Sean Patrick Maloney this week. Here's her ad calling Maloney a "carpetbagger":

Not to be out done, Maloney has responded with his own ad pointing out that that Tea Partier Nan isn't quite as warm and fuzzy as she would like us to believe:

This one is going to go down to the wire, folks.

Speaking of Bob Dole

This is what a true statesman looks like:
On a long drive through Kansas last year, Brian Walker and other Kansas Food Bank employees came up with what he calls a far-out idea:

No elderly Kansan should ever go hungry again.

It’s far-out because it takes money, he said. He’s president of the Kansas Food Bank, but he can’t make a million and a half dollars magically appear.

But there is one Kansas war hero who probably can do that, he decided.

On Friday the Kansas Food Bank announced a new statewide program to feed poor elderly Kansans.

The man who made it possible, Walker said, is Bob Dole, a Russell native, war hero and national leader who grew up in poverty himself.

The Food Bank says it will use a $250,000 matching fund pledge from Dole to create the “Bob Box,” boxes of food to be distributed throughout the state within five years to alleviate “food insecurity” among the elderly.

The Food Bank needs $1.6 million to make sure hundreds of boxes of food get distributed throughout the state at least once a month, within five years. He hopes Dole’s pledge will entice other donors to match it, and then to exceed it, bringing in the money needed to get it set up.
Dole is now in private life, so he's not out to score political points. He's doing this because he wants to help his needy neighbors.

Of course, according to Romney/Ryan, these parasite seniors are sucking the lifeblood out of the body politic and should be left to fend for themselves.

Negative Coattails

It's time to start speculating on whether Romney's gaff-riddled campaign is going to affect down-ballot races. Normally in a presidential election there is something called the "coattail effect": the presence of a popular president on the ballot cannot help but influence races on the state and congressional level. When people turn out enthusiastically to vote for the top of the ticket, it means votes for all those other candidates.

But what if the candidate at the top of the ticket is such a hapless boob that he poisons everything he touches? Let's face it, GOP: if you guys had put up a half-viable candidate, say someone like former Senator Bob Dole, you would have won this thing in a cakewalk. The economy is weak, so all you would have needed to do is articulate a clear alternative that people actually like. Instead, you chose one of the least likeable people on the planet as your nominee (not saying he's a bad guy, just that it's really hard to like someone who acts like such an entitled jerk all the time), and then had him campaign on one of the least-likeable ideas to come down the pike in decades (the Ryan Budget). Add to this the fact that Romney has continually stumbled when it comes to responding to the opposition. Hell, even a few Republicans must be wondering whether it's wise to trust Romney with that 3AM phone call.

Obama's personal popularity continues to hover around 50-50. This is down from a few months ago when a clear majority liked the president (this is personal approval as opposed to job approval, the latter of which is also hovering around 50-50). This should be an opening for the opposition to make headway.

But that's not how it's turning out. SuperPACs have spent upwards of a half-billion dollars running negative ads against the White House. It hasn't worked. State-by-state, the Electoral College remains almost totally unchanged from where it was six months ago (it makes you wonder how long it will be before the billionaires turn-off the cash spigot and cut their losses). And while Obama isn't the most popular president in history, he's doing much better than his opponent (from the Washington Post/ABC News):

13. (ASKED OF REGISTERED VOTERS) Regardless of who you may support, who do you think [ITEM] - (Obama) or (Romney)?

9/9/12 - Summary Table*
                                                     Both    Neither     No
                                                 Obama   Romney   (vol.)   (vol.)    opinion
a. Better understands the 
   economic problems people              
   in this country are having            50       40        3        4         3
b. Is the stronger leader                  50       42        2        2         5
c. Seems like the more friendly  
   and likeable person                      61       27        5        3         3
d. Would work better with both
   (Democrats) and (Republicans) 
   in Congress                                   46       41        1        8         4                 
*Full sample asked items a-b; half sample asked item c; other half sample asked item d.


a. Better understands the economic problems people in this country are having

                                   Both    Neither     No
                 Obama   Romney   (vol.)   (vol.)    opinion
9/9/12     RV    50           40        3           4         3
8/25/12   RV    47           40        1           9         2
7/8/12     RV    51           40        2           5         2
5/20/12   RV    48           40        2           8         2
4/8/12     RV    49           38        2           8         2
2/4/12     RV    52           37        2           7         2

b. Is the stronger leader

                              Both    Neither     No
                 Obama   Romney   (vol.)   (vol.)    opinion
9/9/12 RV         50          42        2        2            5
7/8/12 RV         46          44        3        2            6
4/8/12 RV         48          42        1        5            5

c. Seems like the more friendly and likable person

                               Both    Neither     No
                     Obama   Romney   (vol.)   (vol.)    opinion
9/9/12   RV          61       27           5              3         3
8/25/12 RV          61       27           6              4         2
7/8/12   RV          63       26           5              2         4
4/8/12   RV          64       28           3              2         3

d. would work better with both (Democrats) and (Republicans) in Congress                    

                              Both    Neither     No
                  Obama   Romney   (vol.)   (vol.)    opinion
9/9/12      RV    46           41        1           8         4
There's lots of other interesting data if you follow the link. The bottom line, though, is that Romney could have beaten Obama on the economy -- if he had been more likeable. If, for example, the GOP had nominated someone with a polished media persona -- someone like former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee -- it could have been a rout. But that didn't happen. In fact, all of the true heavy hitters on the GOP bench chose to sit this race out. I wonder why? Maybe it's because they're smarter-by-half than occupants the GOP clown car that toured the nation over the past year. Better to keep your powder dry for 2016 (we can anticipate Huckabee to mount a formidable challenge).

So, unless something major happens to shake this race up, the numbers are not going to move much between now and election day. People simply don't like Romney, even if they have reservations about the president.

But Romney's lack of personal charm -- or, more accurately, negative charm; he seems to keep spinning gold into straw -- could be an issue when it comes to the GOP getting its people to the polls. Romney/Ryan's presence at the top of the ticket is poison for those GOP candidates who are in close races.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Romney: Half the Country are Moochers

At least that's what he's saying:

Though, given how he changes his positions at the drop of a hat, who knows what Romney really believes.

For context, this video was recorded at a Romney fundraising dinner. The video has been obscured because it was a private event. More background from David Corn over at Mother Jones.

Governor Granholm on The Dating Game

This has been making the rounds:

That's former governor of Michigan and (last week) Democratic National Convention speaker Jennifer Granholm, as 19-year-old, on The Dating Game. My god, the hair! Though (politics aside) she was, and still is, pretty damned adorable. For the four people out there who watch Current TV, she apparently has her own show (that I have never watched, though maybe I should start).

Retaking the House

Not that it isn't going to be a difficult proposition, but there are signs that it could be within reach. The Dems need 25 seats, and there are 30-35 competitive races out there. Houston Chronicle columnist Richard Dunham notes that our own NY-19 is a bellwether district when it comes to this possibility:
Democrats must win districts like the Capital Region’s congressional contest if they have any hope of picking up the 25 seats they need to regain control of the House. Gibson was a beneficiary of the GOP’s 2010 tidal wave — one of five Republican freshmen from New York. He is generally viewed as one of the most effective and independent of the GOP first-termers. But he’s running in a presidential year in a district that is, as a result of redistricting, more Democratic than it was two years ago. And much of the territory is new to Gibson.
This district is currently "lean Republican" (as opposed to "likely Republican") on most of the lists I've seen. And the fact that both the DCCC and other groups are spending money on this race means that Gibson hasn't made the sale. Most polls show Gibson below the 50-percent barrier that would ensure victory (though one puts him over 50 percent, and another ranks the race as a "tossup"). And independents, according to surveys, appear to breaking toward the Democrats in much greater numbers than they are going for the GOP. Conservative readers of this blog can bluster all they want about their boy Gibson being a shoe-in, but this one is going down to the wire.

Of course, if the Democrats do retake the House, it's going to be with a razor-thin majority. While this may bode well for setting a more people-friendly agenda for the nation, I wouldn't expect to be able to get much done, given that Blue Dog Democrats from the South (though their ranks were cut in half after 2010) will continually monkey-wrench whatever they can get their hands on.

And, by the way, if you've got a little extra cash, why not toss Julian Schreibman a few bucks?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Hein Should Return the $3000

Terry Bernardo is making a stink about $3000 in contributions Mike Hein received from members of an Albany law firm that was awarded a no-bid contract worth nearly $1 million:
The Ulster County Legislature is being asked to approve a $900,000 contract with an Albany law firm to provide legal services regarding labor relations, contracts and negotiations.

The non-competitive contract was proposed by the administration of Democratic County Executive Michael Hein, whose election committee has received over $3,000 in campaign contributions from its principals.
The article goes on to say that Bernardo isn't accusing Hein of any wrongdoing, but that there could be an appearance of impropriety. For once, I agree with Bernardo -- this, despite the mind-numbing irony of such a statement coming from an elected official who has become virtually synonymous with cronyism.

The easiest way for Hein to eliminate any appearance of impropriety would be simply to return the $3000. End of story.

And the Water Situation Gets Worse

You would think the rain we got over the past week or so would have improved the situation somewhat. You would be wrong:
The water level in the city’s Cooper Lake reservoir in of Woodstock has dropped even further since Kingston declared a “drought emergency” last week.

As a result, the city is consider buying water from other municipalities.

Kingston Water Superintendent Judith Hansen said the water level in Cooper Lake is about 13 feet below normal. That’s a foot lower than when the emergency was declared last week.
Not a record low, yet, according to Kirby's article. Let's hope it remains unbroken.

We can expect water emergencies for cities to become commonplace in the coming years.

More Healthcare Theater

I almost completely agree with Robin's post on legislator compensation. It's pretty outrageous that part-time elected officials get Cadillac healthcare benefits for themselves and their families given the time they spend on the job -- and that there are millions of folks out there busting their butts at minimum-wage jobs who have zero healthcare.

Robin, though, points out that the compensation review board has recommended that this system be changed as of January 2014:
It seems that after discussion of the salaries and compensation of Ulster County’s elected officials, members tentatively agreed to recommend that part-time legislators’ salaries remain the same and that when the next Legislature takes office in 2014 they will only be eligible for health insurance for a single employee and could pay out of pocket for additional dependents or family coverage. Amen!
Of course, the cynic in me will point out that January of 2014 is when Obamacare will kick in for real, so we can expect the healthcare landscape to change dramatically at that time (whether you agree Obamacare will be good a thing is a subject for another debate). And we can also debate whether Romney can repeal Obamacare (he can't) if he wins (he won't).

So, here's to our selfless legislators finally agreeing to give up their excellent healthcare packages -- on the very eve that healthcare will finally become available for virtually all Americans. I'm getting teary just thinking about their sacrifice.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bernardo Should Resign

This is utterly disgusting. Robin Yess has the goods:
On June 26th Clerk of the Legislature Karen Binder passed away after a tough battle with cancer. For those of you who paid attention there was a lot of “quiet” talk about Clerk Binder’s treatment by Chairwoman Bernardo and her immediate staff in the months immediately preceding her death.
Anyone who would use her position of power to harass someone who is literally dying of cancer is unfit to hold that office. Someone please stand up to this monster. Mike? Don? Hector? Where are you guys? This is beyond obscene.

Romney is Unfit to Serve

I'm sorry, but I remember a time that we were all Americans regardless of our political affiliations, and that we would pull together during international crises:
By slamming the Obama administration as the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed in Libya, the Republican nominee has given the appearance of exploiting an international tragedy. Whether his criticism is warranted or not, the timing seems insensitive—as if Romney is more interested in scoring political points than mourning the deaths of U.S. diplomats.
Romney just demonstrated that he is unfit to serve as president of the United States.

Condolences to the family of Ambassador Stevens and the others who were killed in the attacks.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

As Long as They're Artists

Affordable housing for some, but not for others:
City planners unanimously gave a conditional site plan approval Monday night to the Rural Ulster Preservation Company to renovate a former lace curtain factory in Midtown and turn it into an affordable housing project.

The Planning Board voted 5-0 to give Ulster Preservation Company a site plan approval with certain conditions attached such as supplying the city with particular plans for view by the staff at the Planning Office.

The affordable-housing agency plans to construct 55 apartments at the former United States Lace Curtain Factory building at South Manor Avenue and Cornell Street.

Those plans include lighting, landscaping, and storm water runoff, among others.
At the end of the day, converting old buildings into decent apartments is a good thing. But I have a bad taste in my mouth on this one, as there are people out there who are much more needy than the artists who will live in the new building.

And when developers talked about building affordable housing for regular folks, the response was a full-blown freakout about the city not needing any more affordable housing. Members of the council, mayoral candidates (including Shayne Gallo) were on the record vehemently opposing such projects. Yet this one is okay for some reason.

So, here's to all the hypocrites who are perfectly okay with affordable housing -- just as long as it's, you know, "educated" types that will be living there. You know what I mean, right? We don't want more "undesirables." Wink, wink.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Filling the Cracks

Looks like the aqueduct leaks will be the target of some experimentation:
Leaks from the 85-mile Delaware Aqueduct that carries drinking water from upstate New York to New York City are the target of a project testing a new way to seal cracks in the tunnel.

The city’s Department of Environmental Protection said last week the year-long, $4 million pilot project that just started will look at using lime and other chemicals poured into water flowing through concrete pipes to seal hairline cracks. It’s technology developed in a lab at Syracuse University and will be tested in a simulation at the Rondout Reservoir in Ulster County.

If successful, the technique could be used to help patch the Delaware Aqueduct, which was built between 1937 and 1944.

Leaks from the aqueduct have resulted in damage to homes in Wawarsing.
The Freeman article talks a lot about the home buyout for area residents effected, but it doesn't mention anything as to why the NYCDEP wouldn't simply caulk the cracks. If this is a new technique, why not explain to your readers why it's potentially a better way of effecting the repairs? Or, more cynically, are we bumpkins once again the guinea pigs for an unproven process? A follow-up story would be helpful, guys.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Bernardo and the IDA

Now that it appears the Ulster County IDA will be looking into Skate Time 209's probable default on the roller rink's PILOT agreement, Terry Bernardo's position as chairwoman of the legislature sets up the potential for a major conflict of interest, as Robin Yess very astutely points out:
And if I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now – Bernardo is a recipient of tax credits and benefits from the people of Ulster County for a business she owns and as Legislature Chair she should recuse herself from participation in any Legislative activity pertaining to the IDA Board, especially making appointments to the Board.
Damn skippy. This is a classic conflict-of-interest situation, as Bernardo's legislative decisions in this matter will have a direct effect on the balance in her personal checking account. There is no doubt whatsoever that Bernardo should do the right thing and recuse herself.

But my guess is that Langdon Chapman will advise her that she has nothing to worry about. Thus, she'll happily vote on matters related to her own self-interest without batting an ethically challenged eyelid. Here's to hoping Bernardo proves me wrong.

And a commenter on yesterday's post suggested that IDA Chairman David O'Halloran will fold like origami when it comes to making the Bernardos pay their fair share of taxes. The commenter is probably right. But, again, here's to hoping that we're all pleasantly surprised and O'Halloran throws the book at Skate Time.

Drought Emergency in Kingston

Wow. I knew things were dry, but I didn't realize it was this bad:
For the first time in more than 30 years, the city Water Department on Thursday declared a “drought emergency” and issued mandatory restrictions on water use.

Kingston Water Superintendent Judith Hansen said the emergency, the first since 1980, is the result of the city’s Cooper Lake reservoir in Woodstock being just 50 percent full.

The water level in the reservoir is 12 feet below normal, Hansen said. In 1980, it dropped 15 feet, and Hansen said that number could be exceeded if the area doesn’t get significant rainfall in the next two weeks.
Access to fresh, potable water is something we Americans take for granted. Our grandchildren, however, will likely have no such luxury.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

No More Skating for Skate Time?

With the Ulster County IDA going after projects that have failed to meet the agency's job requirements to receive their respective, and quite lucrative, tax subsidies, many people have been waiting with bated breath as to whether Skate Time 209 would receive scrutiny. And it appears that the dam may be breaking. In today's THR, Jessica DiNapoli outlines the changes to the Hudson Valley Sports Dome's PILOT agreement. The owners will be on the hook for an additional $20k in taxes over the next three years, which is as it should be. Giving one person a tax break means that the rest of us will be picking up the tab. So, when we award breaks to certain companies, we need to perform due diligence to ensure we're getting our money's worth. The dome created just two jobs, when the original agreement had called for 16; however well-intentioned the original plan was, it's right and proper that the owners should be paying their fair share.

Then, DiNapoli finally gets to the elephant in the room:
The board will also then discuss other under-performing projects — John J. Lease's business park in the Town of Lloyd, Skate Time 209 in the Town of Rochester and Kingston Hospitality, the owner of the Hampton Inn in Kingston.

One of Lease's 7,500-square-foot buildings was projected to create 66 jobs on its original application in 2005 but has created only 42.

The IDA board is weighing whether or not to consider Lease's sister office building, Lloyd Park I, in its deliberations. That building has more than double the employees it initially projected.

Skate Time 209 — which applied to the IDA as TLB Management — projected 37 jobs but only has nine, according to IDA documentation.

The Hampton Inn reported 22 jobs in 2011, but initially projected employing 30.
So, Skate Time 209 will be reviewed. Good, as the taxpayers shouldn't be footing the bill for the Bernardos' failed projections.

And this could also give IDA Chairman David O'Halloran a chance to silence some of his critics. He's good friends with the Bernardos, so much so that he's been accused of carrying their water. Making Skate Time pay its fair share would show that O'Halloran is his own man and not Len Bernardo's caddy.

(hat-tip to Rochester Smoke Out)

Romney with a Little Face

Exactly what the headline says:

Man. Photoshop can do some hilarious, and slightly creepy, things. In the interest of fairness, I'll post a video of President Obama if one ever appears on the web.

Schreibman's New Office

A bit outside the Cloakroom's coverage area, but still in NY-19. If you're in or near Hudson this evening, drop by Julian Schreibman's new campaign office:
I want to invite you to a party!

Tonight at 6:30 we will be opening our newest campaign office, located in beautiful Hudson NY.

Please join us for food, friends and fun – and a little politics on the side.

And stay after the party to watch President Obama’s speech on the big screen.

The office is located at 1 Warren St. in Hudson.

And if you can’t make it out tonight, please sign up to volunteer for the last 60 days of the campaign – the only way we can win is with your help!
Phonebanking, GOTV, lit drops, etc., are very important this election cycle. Gibson is vulnerable and his campaign knows it. If you want confirmation of this, the DCCC is ramping up its campaign here in the Hudson Valley. Here is the ad going after Chris Gibson for voting to replace Medicare with a coupon:

I'm sure there will be howls from the Gibson campaign that the ad is hitting below the belt. Good. The more they squeal, the better it's working, I say.

Simply No Contest

If you compare the theatrics of the two conventions, even the most jaded political observer would have to concede that the Democrats actually look like a party that is ready to govern. Even Reagan hatchet man Alex Castellanos conceded on CNN that the GOP race to regain the White House is likely lost:
"You don't have to come back tomorrow. This convention is done. This will be the moment that probably re-elected Barack Obama."
For the cultural impact of Clinton's speech, Twitter offers an interesting way of looking at what's hot and what's not:
Unlike any other headlining prime-time speaker at either convention, Mr. Clinton was not carried by all the networks; NBC was broadcasting the N.F.L. season-opener game between the Giants and the Cowboys. Even so, according to Twitter’s blog, his speech reached a peak of interest that surpassed Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech last week. The company is promoting the metric T.P.M., or Tweets per minute – Mr. Clinton’s peak: 22,087; Mr. Romney’s: 14,289. Above them both, Michelle Obama from the night before: 28,003.
Let's face it. People don't like Romney very much. Even members of his own party think he's too mushy when it comes to conservative values (and they likely have a point, as Romney has been very mushy on his former liberal values; fool me once, etc). This dislike shows up in the Twitter numbers, a social network conservatives say they dominate. How's that working out, guys?

What's even more interesting is that the Clinton appearance at the DNC took place against the NFL season opener, so NBC didn't even show Clinton's speech. And, of course, Michelle clobbered everyone on the Twitter metric, yesterday, which is hardly surprising.

And today we get word that the GOP and several conservative super PACs are pulling out of several swing states:
The Romney campaign and conservative groups have pulled TV ads in Michigan, Romney’s home state, according to the Detroit News.

Nor are the campaign and super PACs running advertising in Pennsylvania, after unleashing a barrage there over the past five months.
Romney has a huge disadvantage in the Electoral College, thus he needs every rust-belt state he can get. To concede these two states means he's in very deep trouble. Sure, it's possible that events could change the electoral map between now and November. But if things remain as they are now, Romney loses by at least 100 electoral votes, the Democrats hold the Senate, and possibly win enough House seats to retake the chamber. The latter is a outside possibility at the moment, but a possibility nonetheless.

I don't see how Romney turns this thing around.