Friday, October 26, 2012

Predictions? How About Disclosure?

Ridiculous piece in this week's Shawangunk Journal. In it, author Terrence Ward interviews UC Independence Party boss Len Bernardo in relation to latter's ownership of Skate Time 209 and the county tax subsidies he receives (that's money you and I give to the Bernardos to keep Skate Time afloat):
Len Bernardo, owner of SkateTime 209 in Accord, told the Ulster County Development Agency that his plan to hire twenty-six people for the roller rink was a prediction, not a promise. Bernardo appeared with his attorney at the IDA's October 24 meeting in order to address whether or not his business has been underperforming on promises made to get property tax breaks.

The question of underperformance for SkateTime 209 was raised once before, in 2008 when Bernardo, whose wife Terry is currently serving as chair of the Ulster County Legislature, was a candidate for County Executive. The application for tax breaks stated that there would be twenty-six jobs, but there are in fact only nine full-time equivalents, or FTEs, employed there. However, Bernardo maintains that the only promises made were in the contract with the IDA, not the application, and have been fulfilled: that the vacant land was bought, and the building erected and outfitted with all the necessary equipment. The venture was self-financed; the IDA did not loan any money.
Well, no one has been talking about loans. We've been talking about tax breaks. And the Bernardos have received $160,000 of such breaks since 2005, and are slated to receive another $35,000 between now and 2016. So, yes, Bernardo is right. They didn't receive loans. Instead, what they received are essentially grants. And grants don't have to be repaid. We're just giving this money to the Bernardos for free. This is somehow better than if we had loaned them the money?

But we've been over all of this, haven't we? What I find troubling about this piece is that the author appears to be the same Terrence Ward who ran unsuccessfully for the New Paltz town board as a Republican last election cycle. And guess what? Ward also received the Independence Party endorsement from -- drum roll, please -- Len Bernardo, the subject of his superficial piece. Shouldn't this newspaper, at the very least, disclose the fact that Ward has a political relationship with the Bernardos? Maybe? Better editors, please.

UPDATE: One of our Town of Rochester GOP friends reminds me that it was in fact county legislature Ward ran for, not town board. Thank you, Manuela, for the heads-up.


  1. Ward's article is nothing more than gratuitous fluff. Not only irrelevant, but just plain wrong. Taxpayers are tired of paying taxes for these grifters -- I don't get any tax breaks on my property. A real journalist would've contacted March Gallagher, who, as president of the IDA at the time, investigated the Bernardo's application. Isn't a tourist designation mean that it's a place that brings ppl into town to spend their dollars locally? If they bus in Jewish kids from NYC for the day, it's highly unlikely they'll be spending those tourist dollars on anything other than Bernardoland.

  2. Actually
    Terence didnt get the I line for himself.
    I got it for him.
    As NP Town Chair I handle all party endorsements.
    Terrence Ward is NOT your typical republican & has supported many democrats in the past, much to my extreme consternation

    You are pissing up the wrong tree Cloaky on this one!
    Terence Ward's journalistic ethics are beyond reproach, sir.
    Thank you

  3. What does it matter what religion the campers are?
    Blatant anti-semitism again raises its disgusting head on UC blogs.
    If the busses had WASP kids would Maddie comment on that?
    No way.
    BTW the Camps chose Skatetime for their kids due to the proper music there
    no rap no thug music
    Also the rink is totally safe for the kids thanks to stringent safety standards the Skatetime staff insists on for their clientelle.
    Shame on you Maddie

  4. I would be pleased to discuss my integrity with any blogger who posts under his or her own name, as I have since 2005 in the New Paltz Gadfly. In fact, it was the craven tendency towards swathing political posts in a cloak of anonymity that spurred me to that higher ethical standard. Until you're willing to put your name and reputation behind your words, they beneath the notice of the adults in the room.

  5. No antisemitism here, Mr. Dener. If they were busing Catholic kids, I would've specified. Fact is, a bunch of kids bused to a skate park is not tourism. They won't be spending money anywhere but Skatetime. Apparently, Mr. Dener has no problem with Bernardo's skating away with the public's dime. Let's talk about racist. The good skate park has Rondout kids bused to their business, but NEVER extends the same "deal" to Ellenville students with their large minority population.

    I'm sorry, Ward's article was so one-sided, it's laughable. "Beyond reproach?" Good buddy of yours, Mr. Dener? Or is his writing only beyond reproach when you agree with him? What a joke.

  6. On another note (pun intended), Mr. Dener. Isn't it just a tad racist to refer to rap music as "thug" music?

  7. Last I checked, Len Bernardo was still IP chairman for Ulster County, so he had to at least sign off on Ward's candidacy. But this is beside the point. Ward's story was nothing more than a press release that might have been written by Bernardo himself. There is no opposing viewpoint. This could have been corrected with a simple Google search, as the Freeman has covered the Bernardos' PILOT handouts in great detail. All Ward had to do was add a sentence or two stating: "According to articles in the Freeman, Skate Time has received $160,000 in tax breaks from Ulster County over the past decade, and is scheduled to receive another $35,000 in the next three years. And it is these subsidies that have riled critics." There. That wasn't so hard, was it? If you say Ward is above reproach, fair enough. I'll put this error down to sloppiness rather than intentionally bad journalism.