One of the best results from the recent redesign of the web sites of The Daily Mail and The Register-Star has been the increase in reader participation through online comments. Lately, the politicians and officials at the heart of many stories on the paper’s web sites are writing their own comments. Or are being carefully impersonated in the largely unregulated world of online comments. First, Hudson Mayor Rick Scalera, or someone posing as the mayor, responded to a Feb. 11 Register-Star “My View” opinion column by Taghkanic-based activist Sam Pratt. Three days later, State Assemblyman Marc Molinaro, or an online simulacrum, commented on a Register-Star article about his recent vote against making it easier to cast an absentee ballot. Bob Sacks, or someone claiming the identity of the Copake Town Councilman, also commented on that article. And if The Daily Mail mentions the Cairo Planning Board, you can bet board Chairman Dan Benoit will comment. In a Feb. 11 “My View” column by Leeds-based businessman Bob Nappa, Benoit pipes in once the chatter in the comments section gets around to Cairo. In each case, officials leave e-mail addresses and phone numbers for constituents to get in touch about whatever issue getting is being discussed. Bravo!
The Hudson City Democrats and the Columbia County Common Sense message board both mention a public meeting at 7 p.m., Thur. Sept. 24 in the community room at Bliss Tower, that concerns redevelopment of Bliss Tower. The message board guesses that Hudson Mayor Rick Scalera; Exec. Dir of HHA Jeff First; 4th Ward Supervisor William Hughes Jr.; Omni housing developer, COO Duncan Barrett; a member of Congressman Murphy’s staff Benedict MacCafree; and others will attend the meeting about the housiing project between N. 2nd and N. 3rd Sts. and Columbia St. in Hudson. Anybody want to make a recording and upload it here?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.