Palenville’s pagans

In The Watershed Post, Julia Reischel has an excellent, long feature about Cathryn Platine and The Maetreum, a three-story former inn once known as Central House, is run by a non-profit called the Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater (MCMM). While the IRS recognizes the Palenville pagan enclave as a non-profit religion, the Town of Catskill wants the $12,627.35 in property tax on The Maetreum, and Platine is taking them to court. Reischel’s story can be boiled down to a few paragraphs:

“We’re not saying they’re not a religious organization,” [Catskill Town Assessor Nancy] McCoy says. “We’re saying the property’s use does not meet the requirement for full tax exemption.” To qualify, a religious group has to show that it is using the property primarily for religious purposes — and that’s where the Maetreum fails, she says. According to [Town lawyer, Daniel] Vincelette’s report, the Maetreum is really a gender-bending housing project: “The primary purpose of the property is residential, to house and shelter transgendered individuals,” it concludes. “I read through that document and felt strongly that they were not entitled to the exemption,” McCoy says. Platine doesn’t deny that before formally becoming the seat of the Maetreum’s faith, the inn was used as an emergency shelter for homeless transsexual women. (Platine herself is intersexed, and has been a transgender activist for decades.) But the inn ceased functioning as a shelter years ago, she says, and now only three people, all priestesses of Cybele, live there. Vincelette says that the Maetreum isn’t the only religious group to have its land taxed; last year, he says, the town put land owned by the Catholic church that wasn’t being used for religious purposes on the rolls as well. “Every single religious group in the town of the Catskill is being treated the same,” he says. “Unfortunately, I think there is a lot of anger on Cathryn’s part. I don’t think she fully understands the legal issues.” Read the entire story in The Watershed Post.

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Ethically-challenged chairman used pseudonym

We have posted before about how common it is for local politicians to comment on articles that mention their public sector work, but wonder how many pols are using fake names. At least one, in the letters to the editors section, in Woodstock, according to Jim Romenesko’s Media News:

Woodstock, NY Ethics Board chairman James Dougherty — he used Jim Charles for his letters — threatened to sue the Woodstock Times if was outed as the writer. “He said that now he’d have to resign from the Ethics Board, and that was my fault,” writes editor Brian Hollander. “So be it.”

Hudson Farmer’s Market opens today

WGXC’s Kaya Weidman will have a table about community radio at the first day of this year’s Hudson Farmers Market, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today in the parking lot at the corner of Columbia and 6th Sts. Master Gardener Donna Peterson will be available on the market’s opening day to help customers choose and care for the right plants for Mother’s Day gifts or for the start of the new growing season.

Hatala drops out of Hudson school board race

Joshua Hatala

Lynn Sloneker at Unmuffled reports Hudson City School District Board of Education candidate Josh Hatala notified Superintendent John Howe that he was withdrawing his name as a candidate for election to a seat on the Board of Education at the May 18, 2010 Annual Budget and Election Vote. Hatala wrote on his candidate Facebook page, “Due to scheduling conflicts in the fall I will not be able to continue running for school board. I hope to take up the opportunity to run in the next election. I would like to suggest you think about voting for Justin Cuckerstein, a Hudson High School teacher who is losing his job due to budget cuts. He knows the inner workings of the school and truly cares about the kids and community.” Sloneker reports New York State Education Law requires that the deadline for submitting nominating petitions be extended to Tuesday, May 11, 2010 until 5 p.m., due to Hatala’s withdraw. “Official absentee and Election Day ballots will not be finalized until after the nominating petition deadline on May 11, 2010. In the event additional nominating petitions are submitted to the Board of Education Clerk by the deadline, another drawing must be conducted for the candidates’ positions on the ballot. The drawing will be held in the Hudson City School District Central Office on May 11, 2010 at 5:15 p.m. if necessary. Nominating petitions are available from the Clerk of the Board at the District Office at 215 Harry Howard Avenue, Hudson,” Sloneker reports. Carrie Haddad, Cukerstein, Peter Merante, and Mary Daly remain in the May 18 election for two seats.