Next DSS meeting is Thursday at 4:15 p.m.

Franceseca Olsen in the Register-Star reports that Columbia County Board of Supervisors’ Space Utilization Subcommittee, which is trying to find a location for Department of Social Services within 60 to 90 days, meets today at 4:15 p.m. at 325 Columbia St., Hudson. Olsen reports that at a Columbia Economic Development Corporation meeting this week, BOS Chairman Roy Brown, R-Germantown, and Supervisor (and county budget/corporate compliance officer) Art Baer, R-Hillsdale, “vocally opposed the CEDC’s plan to use $14,000 to fund a study of the economic impact on moving DSS out of Hudson.” The CEDC will pay Camion and Associates from New York City, “for the purpose of conducting a study on the economic impacts derived from the location of … DSS.” Read the entire story in the Register-Star.

UPDATE: Register-Star’s Olsen attended meeting and says, “the Board of Supervisors’ Space Utilization Subcommittee Thursday evening… voted unanimously to, ‘limit site selection to only within the city of Hudson without documenting the need for DSS to remain within the city limits.'”

Pay raises for Columbia County employees

The Register-Star reports that the Columbia County Board of Supervisors voted for a two percent pay raise for county employees Wednesday night. Supervisors voting “yes” on the pay raise were: Chairman Roy Brown, R-Germantown; Jeffrey Braley, R-Austerlitz; Reggie Crowley, R-Copake; Deputy Chairman Larry Andrews, R-Ghent; Art Baer, R-Hillsdale; Ed Cross, D-Hudson2; William Hallenbeck Jr., R-Hudson3; Deputy Chairman Bart Delaney, R-Hudson5; Pat Grattan, R-Kinderhook; Kevin McDonald, R-Livingston; Leo Pulcher, R-Stockport; and Valerie Bertram, R-Stuyvesant. Voting against: Art Bassin, D-Ancram; Robin Andrews, D-Claverack; Ray Staats, D-Clermont; Minority Leader Jesse DeGroodt, D-Chatham; Lynda Scheer, R-Gallatin; Ed Nabozny, I-Greenport; John Musall, D-Hudson1; William Hughes, D-Hudson4; and Margaret Robertson, D-New Lebanon.

DSS back to Ockawamick?

After months of protests, accusations, anonymous internet slander, and controversy, Columbia County’s Board of Supervisors chairman Art Baer held a love-in press conference last July announcing the county was bidding on One City Centre, on the corner of Green and State streets in Hudson, to use the building for county office space and make room at two other county office buildings (401 and 610 State St.) for the Department of Social Services, allowing DSS to remain in Hudson after the county’s lease on DSS’s home at 25 Railroad Ave. ends in 2011. Now we are back where we started, as the county’s bid of $2.6 million was significantly lower than three other bids. “I guess the question of what happens with DSS goes back to the (county space utilization) subcommittee for further review and research,” new BOS Chairman Roy Brown (Germantown) told The Daily Mail today. Which means several supervisors will be trying to move DSS to the Ockawamick property several miles outside Hudson, which caused all the initial controversy. Brown recently would not rule out such a move in an interview with The Register-Star.

Today’s local headlines

Proposal leaves DSS in Hudson
From The Register-Star

HUDSON – Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Art Baer (R-Hillsdale) and Hudson Mayor Rick Scalera stood together at a press conference Tuesday and announced a new proposal that would keep the Department of Social Services in Hudson. The county would buy the One City Centre building on the corner of State and Green streets in Hudson; departments currently in the County Office Buildings at 401 and 610 State Street would move to City Centre. The total square footage of 401 and 610 State Street is 36,000 square feet, 24,000 at 401 and 12,000 at 610 State Street. DSS would stay in its current building on Railroad Avenue for the duration of its lease, which ends in 2011; and then move to One City Centre. Baer called the proposal “a great solution for a difficult problem” and said “I’m looking forward to implementing it.” “The logistics of the planning — there’s a lot to discuss,” said Scalera. “The commitment to keep DSS in the city of Hudson is what we’ve been working for.” Baer previously opposed such a plan, but switched positions because of falling real estate values. The Register-Star says One City Centre was going for $5 million last year, but now is selling for $2 million. “This is not a done deal,” Baer said. “We are only in discussion with the bank. There are still many pieces that have to be put together in the puzzle.”

Copake Green project set to sprout again
From CCScoop

COPAKE – Large developers bring big projects to small towns in this area, and often get special treatment. Like in Copake last week, where Housing Resources Executive Director Kevin O’Neill got to re-introduce his 139-unit Copake Green project to a Copake Planning Board meeting even though he was not on the agenda. From the CCscoop story:

“Although O’Neill did not request to be put on the agenda ten days in advance of the meeting — the Planning Board requirement — [Planning Board Chairman Marcia] Becker explained that, because there was a light agenda in July and because Housing Resources owns land in the town, she believed allowing O’Neill to make his twenty-minute presentation was the right thing to do.’It caused an uproar that we let him speak. . . . So from now on we are adhering to the ten-day rule,’ Becker said.”

Medical center, bank storage get green light
From The Daily Mail

CATSKILL – The Catskill Planning Board approved site plans for the 3,000 square-foot Urgent Care facility proposed for Grandview Avenue and for a Bank of Greene County storage facility on Windsor Street after hearing brief presentations on each proposal. The medical facility used Architect Josh Pulver, a relative of planning board member Michelle Pulver. She recused herself when it came to the vote, but as an anonymous reader commented on the story, “Nothing assures the approval of a project better than hiring the relative of a judge and town planner as your architect, and paying him astronomical fees.”

Copake opts for outside budget review
From The Columbia Paper

COPAKE–The Copake Town Board hired a second accountant to make sure the first accountant’s figures of a estimated $175,000 budget shortfall are correct. “We all agree that our first course of action should be an independent audit to verify the numbers or find out if they are not correct. We have to know where we are,” Town Supervisor Reggie Crowley told the audience at the Town Board’s regular monthly meeting July 9.

Court Sides With GOP On Ravitch, Paterson Vows To Appeal
From The Daily News’ The Daily Politics

ALBANY – State Supreme Court Justice William R. LaMarca granted the Republican Party’s motion for a preliminary injunction that prevents just-appointed Lt. Govenor Richard Ravitch from “exercising any of the powers” of the LG’s office, pending a final judgment, noting there is no provision in the Constitution that allows the governor to appoint a replacement LG when a vacancy occurs in that office.

Today’s local headlines

New Department of Social Services proposal?
From The Register-Star

“There will be a press conference at 4:30 p.m. today in the Supervisors’ Chambers at the county office building on 401 State St., Hudson, on the future placement of the county Department of Social Services. Board of Supervisors Chairman Art Baer, the Board of Supervisors, the Hudson Common Council, and Mayor Richard Scalera will discuss the future of a new home for the DSS staff and facilities.”

Nonprofit’s report cites lack of slaughterhouses in New York
From The Register-Star

Andrew Amelinckx writes an excellent story based on a report by Washington D.C. based consumer watchdog group Food and Water Watch that finds not enough slaughterhouses in New York state and blames federal policies that, it says, favors larger operations. There are two USDA certified slaughterhouses in Columbia County, Van Wie in Stockport and Hilltown Pork, Inc. Robert Beckwith of Hilltown Pork says he is backed up with animals until 2010. “People want to know where their meat is coming from,” he said. “There aren’t enough USDA facilities to meet the demand.”

Murphy plans steps to help dairy farmers
From The Columbia Paper

With milk prices falling to 1979 levels and New York dairy farmers expected to lose $650 million this year, new U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy plans to introduce legislation to help. The proposed legislation would further subsidize dairy farmers, and create a herd retirement program meant to curtail supply. “This proposal works two-fold, by providing immediate relief to our struggling dairy farmers today, and stabilizing the dairy industry for tomorrow. Before more small farmers are forced out of business, we need to bring fast relief and stability to the industry.”

Lates poll: Maloney 33% Gillibrand 27%
From Rasmussen Reports

In a very early poll, New York City congresswoman Carolyn Maloney leads appointed Senator Kristen Gillibrand with 33 percent of the vote to 27 percent and nine percent preferring some other candidate. Thirty percent are undecided.

Today’s local headlines

The local and statewide deadlocks took tiny steps toward resolution Wednesday. The Register-Star reports that Supervisor Doug McGivney, D-Kinderhook, introduced a resolution at the last minute at the Columbia County Board of Supervisors Full Board meeting Wednesday that the Board of Supervisors will “endorse the concept of exploring the obtaining and retention of the services of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) for the purposes of review, study and recommendations concerning all aspects of building or capital needs of Columbia County.” It passed unanimously. But don’t think this means the kerfuffle between Columbia County Supervisor Art Baer (R-Hillsdale) and the city of Hudson, largely over where the Department of Social Services ends up, is over. “That’s one of the areas I think they would provide us potentially with some assistance,” he said. “I think we’re going to expose them to the process that the Board went through, let them take a look at the data, and if they can come up with some other option, then we’re certainly going to listen to it….At the same time, we’re not going to pull the emergency brake and stop all our actions with respect to engineering and design with respect to Ockawamick,” said Baer. “How could you invite people in to study something while you are moving forward? I don’t think that’s acceptable to this problem,” Linda Mussmann of the Bottom Line Party and TSL said. “The reality is we need a plan that’s going to work. That, I think, finally, everybody has understood.”… New York Govenor David Paterson appointed Richard Ravitch to fill the vacancy in the office of lieutenant governor, according to Capitol Confidential. Ravitch is a former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. There will clearly be legal challengers to whether the Governor is allowed to appoint a lietenant governor, as potential Governor candidate Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has already announced the move is illegal. Columbia County Assemblyman Marcus J. Molinaro (R,C,I-Red Hook) wasted no time calling the move unconstitutional, and said, “Ravitch…masterminded the $2.3 billion MTA bailout plan that include[d] a devastating payroll tax which disproportionately hurts Hudson Valley businesses, school districts, municipalities and not-for-profits.”… The Town of Athens implemented a resolution to add a $150 fee to all 50-foot non-commercial wind turbines, according to The Daily Mail…. The Times Union gives Hudson’s Baba Louie’s a “pretty serious rave.”… The Times Union terminated 15 full-time and three part-time employees, including 11 full-time employees in the newsroom, according to the paper. Among the employees let go were Monica Bartoszek, a senior editor and the newspaper’s reader representative; Alan Wechsler, author of a regular column about the outdoors; Bill Callen, sports editor; and Marlene Kennedy, business editor and a weekly columnist. The Newspaper Guild said, “the Company’s actions come while the parties are supposed to be negotiating layoff criteria, talks that resume at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Last week, the Guild filed two information requests over the proposed criteria, which the newspaper has yet to answer.”

Today’s local headlines

Register-Star reporter Jamie Larson claims Columbia County Board of Supervisor Chairman Art Baer, “asked the Register-Star to get [Hudson Mayor Rick Scalera] to sit down with him today to reopen the discussion about [using the] Charles Williams [School] or other sites as possibilities.” The story begins with the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce holding an emergency economic forum Thursday at Hudson’s Stageworks Theater. Larson gets Baer on the phone to comment on all the outrage from the Hudson business community about his plan to move the homeless into the city’s St. Charles Hotel. “Baer said St. Charles wouldn’t be on the table if Hudson Mayor Rick Scalera hadn’t ‘stiff-armed’ talks two years ago to use the old Charles Williams School as a homeless shelter,” the story says. Scalera, reached by the reporter, agrees to meet Baer anytime. Scalera says talks to use the Charles Williams School for the homeless broke down when Baer began pushing for the Department of Social Services to move out of Hudson to the Ockawamick school in Claverack. Baer then calls this typical political dealing “blackmail,” clearly raising an even bigger fight instead of trying to solve an issue. Linda Mussmann from TSL and the Bottom Line Party says Baer’s actions are, “the dismantling of Hudson as the county seat.”… Baer also visited Washington D.C., according to the Register-Star, to lobby New York representatives for federal stimulus funding for $4 million in improvements to the museum and visitor center at the Olana State Historic Site; $3 million for an emergency communications system; $9 million for the Greenport water and sewer system; $200,000 to study a countywide broadband initiative; and $1 million to extend wastewater and sewer systems to Hudson Park on Route 23 in Livingston…. U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy put in a $15 million federal funding request on behalf of the Greene County Industrial Development Agency for “transportation infrastructure improvements to State Route 9W” and an “expansion of Exit 21B/New York State Thruway, a flyover Bridge connecting 9W, and an internal public road system connecting the flyover bridge and Kalkberg Commerce Park,” according to the Daily Mail…. The Kinderhook Republicans endorsed Patrick Grattan as town supervisor, Patsy Leader and Glenn Smith for seats on the Town Board, and Lisa Mills for town justice and cross-endorsed Democrat incumbent Highway Superintendent John Ruchel Jr. for a second term in office, according to the Register-Star….While the New York State Senate Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on anything else to start working, they can agree to keep taking your money. From the Albany Times-Union’s Capitol Confidential blog, Marissa Shorenstein, spokeswoman to Gov. David Paterson is quoted:

“The Governor’s office earlier today looked into the question of whether or not members of the Senate are eligible to receive their salaries with no presiding officer agreed upon to authorize payment. It turns out that both conferences have come together and signed appropriate documentation to continue receiving their salaries. So there is a power sharing agreement — but it only includes getting paid. If the leadership of the Senate can agree on a way to keep getting paid, they can reach an agreement to get back to work for the people of New York.”


Multimedia work by Fawn Potash and Pat Horner at Oriole 9, 17 Tinker Street, Woodstock, 5-7 p.m.

Today’s local headlines

While Hudson city officials and activist continue to fight to keep the Department of Social Services in the city, Board of Supervisors chairman Art Baer has a new plan to move the main DSS offices to Ockawamick, The Register-Star reports. Yesterday the Board of Supervisors’ Human Services Committee approved a plan to put homeless housing and a satellite DSS office in the 139-year-old St. Charles Hotel on 16 Park Place. The arrangement could save the county $400,000 a year, Social Services Commissioner Paul Mossman said. In the Register-Star, Hudson Mayor Rick Scalera criticized the county for “deliberating and negotiating over something that’s going to take place in the city without including city officials. It isn’t done anywhere.”…The Daily Mail reports that Catskill town planners approved an “Concept Site Plan” for urgent care center medical facility, Urgent Medical Care, for 10 Grandview Ave. A public hearing for the Site Plan is set for 7 p.m. July 6….The unmuffled blog reports that Hudson City schools New York State Education Department test scores dropped in 2006-07 and 2007-08:

According to the recently released data, mean scores increased modestly for students in grades three through six, while scores for seventh and eighth grades increased by 10 and 18 points, respectively (see below). [Students are graded on a scale from the 400’s to the upper 700’s; 650 is the cut-off between Level 2 and Level 3 (meeting the learning the standards).]

Republicans press for judicial ruling

ALBANY – The battle for the state Senate entered a new phase Monday after Sen. Hiram Monserrate officially returned to the Democratic fold, leaving the chamber deadlocked, 31-31, with less than one week left in the scheduled legislative session. After a long day of back-and-forth at the Capitol and the state Supreme Court, both sides sat down to discuss the notion of power sharing — only to emerge less than a hour later with Republicans insisting that no progress could be made until a judge had decided whether last week’s dramatic coup on the Senate floor had been legal and binding. “I have always been clear about my loyalty to the Democratic party,” Monserrate said at a midday news conference, where he was joined by Senate Democrats. It came a week after he joined breakaway Democrat Pedro Espada Jr. and the 30-member Republican conference in a shocking coup that ousted the Democrats from their brief majority. Senate Democratic Leader Malcolm Smith began the news conference by introducing Brooklyn’s John Sampson as the new “conference leader” who will run its day-to-day operations. While Smith will retain his current title, Sampson is widely acknowledged as the new leader of the Senate Democrats.

TU employees reject company offer

ALBANY – By a more than three-to-one margin, employees of the Times Union voted today to reject a contract offer that would have given the company the power to outsource any and all jobs and lay off employees regardless of how long they had worked at the newspaper. Publisher George Hearst had insisted on the vote and strongly encouraged members to participate. The members rejected the proposal by a vote of 125 to 35. “Had the membership approved the company’s proposal, we would have respected their decision and been bound by it,” said Guild President Tim O’Brien. “The publisher sought this vote, told members how important it was to him that they vote and he needs to respect their decision. Our members were quite clear on what they found unacceptable in the company’s offer and they have been telling us what changes would make it acceptable. We intend to seek new bargaining dates and to go forward with a renewed spirit of flexibility.”

Central Hudson cuts back, files austerity plan

POUGHKEEPSIE – Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation Monday filed a mandated austerity plan with the New York State Public Service Commission. The agency in May ordered all utilities to present cost cutting plans. The plan outlines cost cuts proposed by Central Hudson through reduced capital expenditures and operating expenses that will provide savings to customers without causing immediate impacts to service, safety or reliability. Measures include temporarily postponing approximately $20 million, or 20 percent, of planned capital expenditures for the year to reduce the associated carrying charges; lowering research and development expenses by $350,000; and freezing executive base salaries.


Informational meeting about Task Force on Student Academic Performance 6 p.m. in the Hudson High School Library.