Friday, December 23, 2005

Notty News

NOT HIM. Genesis of the fire inside Frank McDonald’s old Water Street, Catskill, bookstore and model train repository last Friday is still being investigated. Somebody evidently put cardboard against the door and ignited it. Smoke was soon detected and the matter brought under control. The perpetrator, as noted by Seeing Greene’s ace roving correspondent, was an “underachieving arsonist.” And that evidently clears a local pyrotechnician who otherwise would be a suspect. If he had been done it, police investigators say, the job would not have been botched.

NOT FOR SALE: Birdland Music, 350 Main St, Catskill, notwithstanding the Win Morrison Realty sign in the window. What IS for sale is the whole building (3 floors), by Tom Thornton, who, having disposed of the Community Theater at long last, is marketing more of his abundant Main Street holdings.

NOT LOVED: Rep. John Sweeney, whose congressional district includes GreeneLand; by fellow Republicans in Columbia County. According to Sally Hallock, Chatham Republican stalwart, in a letter to The Independent of 12/16/05 , “the Columbia County Republican Party leadership has turned their back on this man who has worked so hard and done so much for our county.” She’s “appalled”; “We have this caring, dedicated Republican in our midst,” this “honest and dedicated friend” who is “still the same, still out there, still fighting the hard fight, doing the right thing,” and yet “we shun him.” Ms Hallock does not shed light on the controversy. She alludes vaguely to strains over filling the county chairmanship. Translation: after Tod Grenci was pushed out of that office, Sweeney pressed hard for the election of his erstwhile chauffeur, Paul Kisselbrock. The bullying (provided generously by Sweeney’s former chief of staff, Martin Torrey) did not sit well with other Republican wheelhorses, who supported (successfully) Copake supervisor Angelo Valentino. Peace has not broken out. The rupture probably will not suffice, however, to generate a serious challenge to Sweeney in the 2006 GOP primary. As usual, the intra-party squabble has nothing to do with public policy issues, such as the USA Patriot Act, or with family values.

NOT SATISFIED: customer of the PriceChopper fish department; but not because of the merchandise. It seems that John Caramanika, 52, of Leeds, approached the counter last Saturday and ordered, from Anthony Joseph Bell, a whole croaker fish cut into three pieces. According to the police report that grew out of subsequent events, “Victim Bell wrapped said fish in paper while suspect Caramanika watched” and “handed over said fish to suspect Caramanika without incident.” But then, as he started to leave, Mr C asked Mr B “Is your name Joe?” Upon receiving an affirmative reply, Mr C “began to yell at victim Bell and threw said fish at Victim Bell…striking victim Bell in the chest area of his body…. Suspect Caramanika then proceeded to cause more of a scene by yelling profanities…. Victim Bell’s co-workers then…escorted suspect Caramanika out of the store.” Mr B filed a complaint, and Mr C now faces a charge of harassment (second degree; physical contact). And by the way: Suspect C, notes the reporting officer Chris Sprague, “is the ex-husband of victim Bell’s girlfriend.”

NOT MOVING : N & S Supply, from its Cauterskill Road, Catskill, outlet for selling plumbing and heating supplies. Instead, Rob Nussbickel is adding a facility, namely, the company’s fourth bathroom supplies showroom, on Main sStreet. To get an idea in advance of the opening, google nssupply.com.

NOT CORRECT: our allusion in previous blog to “incumbent Village justices Forest Cotton and Jim Chewens…” Make that trustees. Thanks to commentator Unknown (12/18, 2:48 pm.) for the heads-up.

NOT PRUDENT: the behavior of Michael J. Sameisky, 46, of Coxsackie, at the time he reported to the Catskill police station. Mr S was responding to a call about illegal dumping. Complainant Carl Moore, according to the police report, had protested when Mr S, on December 15, deposited a load of garbage in a car wash’s dumpster and, in response to the protest, had invited Mr M to bestow a gesture of affection or deference on his (S’s) corpulent posterior. When he arrived at the station, Mr S reportedly stank of marijuana and failed a sobriety test. To the initial charge of illegal dumping then was added one of operating a motor vehicle while being impaired by drugs.

NOT TIMELY: report in The Daily Mail of December 18th, that Sarah Saccoccie and Jason Patrick Curns were married in Latham last July 8th; and that they “will” honeymoon in Florida. Also in the December 18th edition is the news that Amy Helen Brough of Valatie and David Joseph Palmerino of Wakefield MA were married last April 23rd.

NOT TOPICAL: 19 of the stories that filled three full pages of Bridal News in that December 18th Daily Mail. Two stories mentioned people with GreeneLand connections.

NOT ACCURATE: news report (Daily Mail; where else?) that “David Lloyd, 47, of Chatham, was arraigned…for issuing a bad check” and “was released in lieu of $150 bail” until his court appearance. According to the relevant police report, Mr Lloyd is a Catskill denizen and he was released from incarceration upon payment of bail. According to a second police report, moreover, the bad check charge came two days after--as indicated by store surveillance videotape—Mr L evidently stole two cellular telephones from Radio Shack.

NOT CONFIRMED: renewed rumors that The Daily Mail is about to expire. The latest talk could be based on nothing more than cancellation of the paper’s Christmas party. If the collapse occurs, Greenville publisher Linda Fenoff will likely jump into the opening, reshaping her paper into a county-wide weekly or semi-weekly. She already has expanded coverage of GreeneLand matters (courts, legislature, State police, sheriff’s office, property transactions) and is even commissioning stories that are Catskill-specific. And her paper’s name, as we pointed out earlier, is bannered as The Greenville Press.

NOT ANTICIPATED: the hornet’s nest stirred, the can of worms opened, the firestorm ignited on October 25, by Seeing Greene’s “Secret Lawsuit” story. Hey guys, let there be peace on Earth and good will among men, even firefighters.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Friends & Foes

THE STROLL. “How does this compare with other years?” That’s what a new GreeneLander asked an old-timer last Saturday, during the “Holiday Stroll” along Main Street in Catskill (conjoined with parties at Beattie-Powers House and Cedar Grove). Hundreds of people were visiting galleries and crafters and food stalls, caroling, partaking of refreshments provided by hospitable merchants, gift-shopping, schmoozing, dancing, wishing each other well. “Wrong assumption,” said the old-timer. “We’ve never had anything like this before. Never.” So successful was the event that a sequel will be held next spring.

GALLERY RECOUNT. Our latest revised count of art galleries in downtown Catskill is seven. Welcoming Holiday Stroll participants last Saturday night (12/10) was previously unheralded Gallery 384. It’s in the northern half of what formerly was Ann Stewart’s kilt shop. Proprietor Peter J. Griffin says (www.gallery384.com ) the 384 will show “emerging artists” who “make statements on our changing world, the impact of man on his environment, the grand mystery of nature….” Favored works will demonstrate how “the changing natural world…is altered by the artist” and will, moreover, transcend “the hyper-real” and “the banality of the contemporary digital age.” Conspicuous in the gallery’s first show are topical pictures that are, well, embedded in pictures. The artist is Roberta Griffin.

IMMINENT Sunday (12/18) and free at 3: Richard Dorr, distinguished operatic baritone, reads Dylan Thomas’s “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” and then John Mace, illustrious vocal coach, leads Christmas caroling, at Catskill’s Brik Gallery, 473 Main St, Catskill; 943-0145.

“LIVING ON THE HUDSON,” says videographer Brian Branigan, “is like seeing a unique and beautiful performance on a daily basis. It creates conversation. It soothes the mind and fills the soul.” So: let’s get together and make a documentary. Let’s call it “Hudson—The River and the Man. It would be “fun, interesting, educational, entertaining and important.” It would be a not-for-profit venture because, like the river, “it doesn’t belong to anyone, but to everyone. And there’s plenty to go around.” There’d be 25 distinct high-definition segments, each well researched, made by floating {yuk yuk} teams of collaborators. Release date would be 2009, coinciding with celebrations, from Battery Park down in New York Harbor up to the locks at Troy, of the 400th anniversary of Hendrik Hudson’s voyage. Web address for the project is http://www.halfmoonproductions.tv. It is a glorious idea from a well qualified enthusiast. Count us in, Brian.

POLITICAL NOTE. After retiring from his two Hudson development offices at the end of this month, after ending a 35-year career in higher education and community development will Peter Markou file for election to the Catskill board of trustees? He’s eligible by residence, well known locally (as former chief of GreeneLand economic development), and not ready for a rocking chair in Florida. Local wags say he’ll run and he does not say No; but his target could be the Town board or the County legislature rather than the Village board. Anyhow, the terms of incumbent Village justices Forest Cotten and Jim Chewens expire in March. Both men will probably seek re-election.

FRIENDS’ NEW FOE. He co-founded the organization six years ago, gave it most of his time and energy, led it to a stunning victory, retired voluntarily from it in triumph, and then became its fiercest critic. Sam Pratt has mounted a stinging attack against the current leaders of Friends of Hudson. The directors, he declares in a widely circulated e-mail message, shut him out of “the transition” following his departure last September. They have failed “to carry forward the values and integrity that [we founders] tried to instill in the group.” Their president (Christopher Reed) and their present executive director (Susan Falzon of Athens, formerly Sam’s deputy director) merit “little confidence.” Members and supporters, he urges, should send their contributions elsewhere. To this indictment the directors respond that they are implementing plans that Sam and the membership formulated and that Sam has spurned invitations to participate in policy-shaping.

TOO DELICATE for words? “Newburgh City Police have charged a child advocate and Wal-Mart Santa Claus with asking a boy to with him.…[The suspect] is charged with allegedly showing a pornographic video to the victim, exposing himself to the victim and attempting to have the victim engage in with him.”—Hank Gross of MidHudsonNews.com.

DAILY MAUL. On the Daily Mail‘s“Greene County” page, under a “Catskill” deckhead: a story about a Hudson Valley Choral Society concert, in Chatham. But what’s really conspicuous is absence: of the choicest Sunday features (Ray Beecher column, Carl Collection photo, Yesteryear column); and of “Terez Limer, Assistant Editor” from the paper’s masthead).

DISSOLVING on Monday (12/19): Literacy Volunteers of Columbia and Greene Counties, at a special meeting in the BOCES office in Hudson, with assets to be distributed in keeping with Not-for-Profit Corporation law. LVCGC President Lynn Seftner-Bloomer (828-4157; 758-9765) did not respond to voice messages requesting information. The dissolution, incidentally, comes at time when (as reported in New York Times today), literacy scores of Americans in recent years have declined. [We subsequently talked with Ms Bloomer, who said the organization had shrunk to the point where the State's requirements could not be met. But the Literacy Connections of Dutchess County may set up a Columbia County operation, based at least in part on surviving LVCGC tutors. The organization's assets would revert to State control, for use on literacy promotion in Columbia and Greene counties. The LVCGC focus had been on fostering literacy in adults. Written Saturday, 12/17].

POSTPONED until February: Trial or pre-trial hearing for GreeneLand Sheriff Richard Hussey, on the drunk driving charge. Prosecution will not be handled after all by District Attorney Richard Winn of Washington County, because he’s preparing for a murder case.

FIRE FIGHTS. “I find it ironic,” says a Seeing Greene correspondent, “that as the town and specifically the Village is making a comeback,” “the Catskill Fire Organization is unraveling at the seams. Do I need to purchase a home alert system? Will the fire trucks show up?” That anxious assessment is based in no small measure on messages posted as comments in the wake of our October 25th blog. Most of those messages—233 at last count, and the daily dose seems to be increasing—relate to the ordeal that has accompanied consolidation. And most abound in casual slanders, accusations, vituperation. Could there be a reconciliation? Post your suggestions.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Snow Job

CONTRITE? When Martha Ivery changed her plea to Guilty of, in effect, serial swindling of would-be book authors, she did so because that was the “prudent” course of action, since the proofs of guilt “would be overwhelming” and “she wishes to demonstrate…she has full contrition.” Such are the words ascribed to her defense attorney, the redoubtable Richard Mott, by Alan Wechsler in the Albany Times Union. Martha could be sentenced to as many as 35 years in prison (when she’d be 92). Actual length of her sentence (to be meted out April 28th by U.S. District Court Judge Frederick J. Scullin) will depend substantially on terms of a probation report that is currently being compiled. Attention will be devoted substantially to the validity of the “contrition” thesis. And for Martha, that could be a hard sell. Stay tuned.

IMPENDING: Saturday (12/10). “Holiday Stroll” and more in Catskill. During 2-4 pm., at Beattie-Powers House, readings of holiday classics, plus Bill Trotman on classical guitar, plus cookies and hot cider, while at Thomas Cole’s Cedar Grove, “Voyage of Life” studio visits plus angel-making for children, plus light refreshments, from 4 pm. During 4-7 pm., caroling on Main Street, starting from First Reformed Church (310 Main St), with local choristers joined by State Street AME Zion Church of Hudson. During 5-7 pm. and later, many Main Street galleries, studios, stores and showrooms will be open, with fresh exhibits and gift items galore. Among new shows is “Social Distinctions: The Haves and the Have-Nots,” composed of original turn-of-century magazine illustrations, presented by Alyson and Patrick Milbourn at their M Gallery (350 Main). From 7 pm., moreover, there will be a “Living Nativity” procession from the Second Baptist Church (456 Main St) down to the First Reformed. Information: (518)943-0989. Most of the participating sites did not exist a year ago. Is Catskill reviving, or what?

BACK ON BLOCK: Our former County office building, at 288-92 Main Street, Catskill, is up for sale again, along with the nearby parking lot at the corner of Bronson & Main. It HAD been put up for sale, had received a sole bid above the minimum from Bank of Greene County ($390,000), had seemingly been cleared for closing. According to the legislative resolution authorizing the present sale, however, the bank’s bid was contingent on “remediation by the County of existing underground storage tanks containing petroleum” and the bid was withdrawn on the basis of that contingency. The County then performed the remedial work and the property was put back on the market—at no increase in appraised value ($385,000, with the parking lot appraised at $190,000). Thus, if the building gets sold this time for $390,000, the buyer will be spared a major expense. Meanwhile, the Specifications For Bidders sheet prescribes that the buyer must agree to “renovate the exterior…in accordance with first class commercial use, applicable building codes and with a fa├žade compatible with Main Street,” must “provide an economic opportunity plan” covering “job creation and or retention,” and must “indicate the use it intends for the property….” Deadline for sealed bids is Jan. 5, 3 pm. Info from Acting Clerk (of Legislature) Tammy Barbato; (518) 719-3270. Our call to County attorney Carol Stevens, in quest of further information, was not returned.

ANNIVERSARY.“Hello anybody. Here's first, experimental, installment of intended notes about life in Greene County NY.” Those words opened, on December 13 last year, our first installment of Seeing Greene. And our first item—again showing aversion to articles (in grammar)--is worth remembering:

SOON TO BE FIVE. Art galleries. In Village of Catskill. On Main Street. Sole present gallery, in County Council On [sic.] the Arts building at number 398, soon will be flanked by showroom at southeast corner of Thompson & Main....
The item went on to describe other prospective galleries. But its projection was inaccurate. SOON TO BE NINE is the word now. We already have six; two more will open when renovation problems are overcome, and local artist Lee Anne Morgan has leased the ground floor of the restored Colterman building at 393 Main for use, starting in April, as a gallery. To learn more about yet another special GreeneLander—dancer, actor, singer, costume designer, choreographer, graphic artist, management consultant—go to her web site, leeannemorgan.com, and click Biographic Note.

DAILY MAUL. “I think you have a real unhealthy obsession with Daily Mail,” says a nameless correspondent (12/3/05). “Maybe it's because you were never really good enough to be real reporter! How did that stint with the Freeman go. Maybe you should be honest with the five people that read your site, that you were a failed journalist who could not do the job.” Well, honestly, boofhead, you know nothing about my vocational history. And, honestly, I feel unqualified to identify own motives. Beating up on The D.M. may be a bit cruel. But the paper surely is worse than it needs to be; and sustained exposure, in addition to being cathartic and perhaps entertaining, could trigger improvement. A headline such as “Syracuse usee [sic.] long-range shooters to subdue compensate [sic.] against TCU” betokens egregious inattention. So does crediting a dental hygienist with performing “between 750 and 800 dental extractions within five days.” So does attributing to a source the statement that “We need to be conscience [sic.] of the need to take care of our youth.” Reporters do err in accounts of events, and they do make blunders in writing. Editors should catch some errors, or at least should point them out after publication, so as to forestall repetitions. They could fret, for example, over allusions to “grounds of Irish Cultural Grounds,” to “areas of possibility” and to a “scenario” that could be “available,” as well as to confounding who’s with whose, role with roll, their with there and it’s with its. Daily Mailers set a bad example when they persist with numerical-agreement-mangling phrases such as “The panel of judges are…,” “Scenes from Athens…is clearly visible,” “An infestation of...caterpillars are devouring,” and “72 bruins have been taken since Monday—67 of which was taken on the opener.”

Monday, December 05, 2005

GreeneLand's Grifter Guilty

In Federal court today in Albany, GreeneLand's, Martha Ivery entered a plea of Guilty to multiple acts of fraud. To illuminate what it's all about, we reprint the June 17 issue of Seeing Greene. Except that when we posted, we got "There are Errors" in red from blog HQ. So we edited some of the profanity. Could that be the problem?
INDICTMENT. She “willfully and knowingly devised, and intended to devise, a scheme and artifice to defraud prospective authors and to obtain their money and property by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises.” In pursuance of that scheme, as United States Attorney Glenn T. Suddaby’s construes her Federal indictment, she

*pretended to be at least two GreeneLanders, a book publisher and a literary agent.

*“demanded and accepted a variety of fee payments prior to publication of a given book, including initial payments to publish, separate fees for representation by a literary agent, separate fees for editing, separate fees for illustrations, separate fees for a Special Markets Program, and separate fees for a prospective author to purchase copies of her own book prior to publication.”

*“offered a variety of excuses for non-publication years following the initial payment, including, problems with illustrations, problems with printers, lost manuscripts, computer viruses, failed computer disks, and production backlogs…”

*”made false representations regarding book signings, international book fairs and expos, complimentary cruise vacations and travel, as well as appearances on television talk shows.”

*filed for bankruptcy so as “to insulate herself…from the demands of dissatisfied prospective authors,” and then “reconstituted” her publishing operation under a new name and “continued to solicit payments from the same prospective authors under the auspices of the new entity.”

The alleged perpetrator of that alleged scheme is Catskill’s Martha Ivery, 56 (a.k.a Kelly McDonnell and other personae). Following a lengthy FBI investigation led by Special Agent William Chase, Martha was indicted (6/1) by a Federal grand jury on charges of mail fraud (15 counts), credit card crime, and lying in bankruptcy court. Arraigned in Albany (6/3), Martha entered a plea of Not Guilty and currently is free on a personal recognizance bond. Evidence is still being marshaled by Assistant U. S. Attorney Thomas Capezza) and by Victim Witness Co-Ordinator Rachel Feeber in Albany ([518] 431-0247).

SCAM CENTRAL, according to the prosecutors and complainants, was 291 Main Street in Catskill, across from the post office (and above the law offices of landlord Ed Cloke, the former District Attorney). There, for around five years until 2003, Martha operated Press-TIGE Publishing Company (later New Millenium); alter ego O’Donnell, the literary agent, made do with a post office box in Leeds.

THE SCALE. The charges against Martha stem from a sub-set of complaints that were voiced in recent years. Many of those complaints were relayed to the FBI after being voiced to Writer Beware, an organ of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (www.sfwa.com). “As usual with indictments of this sort,” says Victoria Strauss (writerbeware.com) “only a fraction of Ivery's fraud is included: just sixteen of her nearly 300 victims, $55,000 of her "take" of more than half a million dollars, and one of nine documentable instances of false sworn testimony before the bankruptcy trustee.” (The latter instance consists of claiming that “Claude Roussan” was a real person—a publisher--rather than a Marthian invention). Martha allegedly ran

a soup-to-nuts operation: writers came in through one of the agencies (which charged "marketing" fees and pressured clients to accept paid editing services) and were then passed on to one of the publishing companies (which charged several thousand dollars). The connection between the agencies and the publishers wasn't revealed; to further the deception, clients were encouraged to believe that the Kelly O'Donnell who ran the agencies and the Martha Ivery who ran the publishers were two different people. Writers who paid fees to Ivery--whether for agenting, book doctoring, or publishing--frequently didn't receive the promised services. Manuscripts submitted for agenting were never sent to publishers, or were placed with vanity publishers…which paid kickbacks to agents…. Promised editing was never completed or was poorly done. Books contracted for publication were never produced, or if produced, weren't marketed. In addition to whatever fees had been agreed upon, Ivery bombarded authors with demands for even more money for nonexistent services: publicity, warehousing, even a Press-Tige cruise (not surprisingly, the cruise was canceled and authors never got refunds). Ivery was notable for her attempts to intimidate dissatisfied clients and people who attempted to expose her activities. Authors were told that she would "blacklist" them so that publishers wouldn't look at their manuscripts. Writer Beware staff received death threats. She was also adept at fabricating outlandish excuses to explain her habitual nonperformance. For instance, in the aftermath of 9/11 she variously claimed to have been "seriously burned" in the disaster, or to be in mourning for relatives who'd been killed. She had numerous heart attacks. She frequently got cancer. As both Martha and Kelly, she died several times. Of course, with so much to remember, once in a while she got her lies mixed up. One pesky author, shocked to learn of Martha's sudden and tragic death, was later somewhat taken aback to receive a call from her. As a result of numerous author complaints (and lobbying by Writer Beware), a criminal investigation into Ivery's activities was launched by the FBI in 2001. Writer Beware assisted the case agent…. Under pressure from the investigation and dogged by increasing public knowledge of her scammery, Ivery decided to fold the business. On June 19, 2002, Press-Tige Publishing filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York…. At her first bankruptcy hearing… Ivery testified under oath that all the authors listed on Schedule F of her bankruptcy petition had canceled their contracts with Press-Tige. This was a lie.... Ivery didn't provide any of the documentation that she was directed in writing to bring to the hearing. Ordered to present it at the second hearing, on August 20, 2002, she again failed to bring the material, and again perjured herself on a number of issues. She also admitted that much of the testimony she'd offered at the previous hearing was perjury....

KELLY AT WORK. Among self-described victims of Martha was a woman who grieved through the web site called ripoffreport.com, which also is badbusinessbureau.com run by Ed Magedson. This author tells of signing a $3000 contract with “Kelly O’Donnell” in 1995, going through dodges galore, eventually rejoicing to see actual publication (with “shabby editing”) in January 1998. But no distribution. A listing on Amazon came and went in one week. And “I know she has many other victims,” says this dejected customer, because Martha (qua Kelly) “had the nerve early to have them call me for a reference.”

BOLD MARTHA? Another aggrieved writer, alerted by that message on ripoffreport.com, credited Martha with being “crafty, brazen, and audacious.” In the words of Mike, of Woodstock KA, Martha

strings people along as long as she can and milks them for as much money as possible. To her credit, her best selling book was about Bill Clinton and his plan for a better America, a book of blank pages (which closely commensurates with the promises she keeps with contracted authors). Her attempts to placate are amateurish and childlike at best. When no longer able to appease, she releases clients from their contracts (most of them) but they never see their money, because ‘the artists quit’ or other ‘problems’ beyond her control.

MORE KELLY. An additional, major channel which would-be authors used to air complaints was (and is) the Whispers and Warnings forum run by Angela Hoy as part of an ezine for free-lancers (http://writersweekly.com). Correspondent John Shriver, for example, responded to an earlier alert in these terms (5/2002): If this Kelly O’Donnell is the same one who misrepresented herself several years ago to me, she supposedly had a literary agency at Round Top, NY. After only one query letter she was telling me how great my book was (send me $2500) and that she wanted to see the entire manuscript (send me another $1000 for copying) and had several publishers in mind (send me $500 for postage). It did need some serious editing (send me $2000) but that could be taken care of in-house….The supposed contract offered to publish my book for a sum of $3990. Turned out it was a subsidy publisher in deep trouble with the [Utah] Attorney General plus 49 other states. When I requested the return of my manuscript, Ms. O'Donnell wanted $100 for postage and handling….

DITTO. “I entered into a publication contract with Press-Tige in August, 1999,” recalls Charley Scholl in a message aired on Writers Weekly.

Contract stated that my book, Dustin's Debut, was to be published in 6-9 months, with a 3 month clause for unforeseen circumstances. I was sent one copy of an unsigned, undated, contract. It was to be signed, dated, and returned within a specified time period with a cashier's check for $3950.00, the author's share of publication costs. I fulfilled my end of the contract, however, it took several e-mails from me from August through October before I actually received a copy of the completely signed and dated by both parties contract. I finally received that after sending an e-mail telling Press-Tige that I had, in fact, made a copy of the signed contract before sending it. Believe it or not, Press-Tige sent me the original contract and asked me to make a copy of it and send it back, she claimed her copy machine was down. Press-Tige asked for an initial disk copy, cover blurb, author photo, and other promo stuff in October, which I promptly sent. Nothing happened after that…

REJOINDER. Countering such moaning was another message received early in 2002 by Writers Weekly. It came from Jack Powell and voiced warm praise for Martha Ivery. After posting it, however, editor Angela Hoy noticed that the testimonial had come from Martha’s own word processor. She deleted the message, posting an explanation. Martha reacted with a touch of asperity:

For your information, Mother F----, Jack Powell was staying at my home as he visited Howard Stern in NYC last week. Assh---. You're not to [sic.] smart when it comes to anything, are you? especially people in general. Why don't you go back to the country you came from? No one in this country likes Japs and that is what you are, a stinkin, f------ Jap. Ms. Hoy. what kind of a name is that? if I had a name like yours, I'd shave my ass and walk backwards.

Martha followed that message with another in the same vein:

Ms. Hoy, or whatever the helx you call yourself. I hate Japs, let it be known to the world. Your grandfather probably was the one that bombed the American sailors as they were on their ships. That's why I can't stand you. You come to this country and think you can get everything for free, you are a terrorist. Scumbag. Put that in your mouth and suck on it. Assh..

(Angela Hoy is, as it happens, a WASP).

FICTIVE MARTHA. Before disclaiming interest in works of fiction (in favor of “How-to, New Age, Self-Help, Spirituality, Witchcraft/Wicca”), Martha ostensibly put out (“available in 1998”) Lilac and Lace, whose protagonist, according to the publisher’s clumsy blurb, is stirred with “inner feelings of love lost buried in her hurt spirit. Could she resist the temptation which aroused within her?” The story, prospective readers were assured, is told “with grace, authority and compassion” By whom? No author was identified.

MARTHA ON MARTHA. Among titles for which Martha takes credit as author and publisher are two in a series aimed at children. The first, Pickles and Peanuts, is touted falsely in the publisher’s blurb as “non-fiction” and, sub-literately, as “an exciting adventure for one little girl, and the discovery of events that take place on a horse farm, and how to take care of your horse or pony.” The sequel, Pickles and Peanuts Meet Sandpiper the Wonder Horse, is said by publisher Martha to be “written from first hand experience who are a third party to an emotional conflict.”

MENTAL MARTHA. “At one time or another, almost everybody has had a premonition come true. What if there was a way to harness this sixth sense and use it to fundamentally improve one's life?” Those promising words (1999) invite attention to a 222-page guidebook called What's Your Psychic I.Q? How to listen to your inner voice and let it guide you to a better life. The putative guide is Martha herself, who, says publisher Martha, “shows readers how to evaluate and enhance their intuitive ability through a series of creative exercises. She shows that psychic ability is a natural and beneficial component of everyone's personality--and when explored, it can open the door to knowledge that is hidden to the other five senses.” Copies are listed for sale on Amazon (new, $14; used, $34!) and on Barnes & Noble (current sales ranking: 604,706). What is more, a Portuguese translation seems to have materialized. Meantime, What’s Your Psychic I.Q.? has the distinction of being the only Ivery-authored book that is catalogued in Catskill’s public library. The listed copy, however, was checked out in January 2004 and not returned.

TALK AROUND TOWN. Since Martha has been a GreeneLand personage of long standing, Seeing Greene trolled for comments following the news of her indictment. Some excerpts: “How come it took them”—the investigators—“so long?” “We blacklisted her after getting calls and complaints….” “She took a one-year lease on a storefront for a news agency, and was in and out in a few weeks.” “What about the bigamy rumor?” “Which Ivery did she marry?” “She was a wonderful inventor of schemes that would bring untold wealth.” “What about her ‘Hollywood contracts’ and her ‘television contracts’?” “We had to stop doing business with her; she kept fiddling with the terms of her policies.” “I didn’t know we had such a clever, creative swindler in our midst. Makes me kinda proud.”

-- Posted by Dick May to SeeingGreene at 6/17/2005 08:11:00 AM

Friday, December 02, 2005

Bother; Don't Bother

IMPENDING Today (Friday, 12/2) from 6 pm.: Sawyer Chevrolet’s Holiday Festival, with Santa in residence, refreshments, Radio 98.5FM, and prizes, including 100+ bikes and scooters (to kids under 12). Route 9W, Catskill. Tomorrow (Saturday, 12/3) *From 2 pm.: Zucchini Brothers, inter-active musicians (& magicians, & ventriloquists) perform at Greenville Cultural Arts Center. *From 3 pm.: Festivities at Cedar Grove (=Thomas Cole National Historic Site), Catskill. Premiere of filmed interview with Raymond Beecher, county historian and ace raconteur, richly illustrated, crafted by GreeneLand video artist Brian Branigan. At 4 pm., holiday party in the main house, with homemade cookies, flaming punch, and schmoozing. Admission for both events is free, but non-members can expect to be urged to join the Cedar Grove support group. *From 5 pm.: Winter Walk along Hudson’sWarren Street. Wine tastings, book signings, cheese tastings, chili, dancers, puppets, carriage rides, egg nog, music…. Yes, we know it’s not a GreeneLand event, but judging from previous years it will be grand fun. Sunday. Coxsackie’s Christmas By the River. Crafts, music, food, fun at Reed & Mansion Streets. THE MOVIE. The Catskill scene for “Stephanie Daley” (or whatever it gets titled, eventually) was shot Wednesday morning (11/30), again and again, with plenty of local notables on camera. The sturdy backs of sheriff’s deputies appearing in the scene at the doorway of the county courthouse belong to Darren Smith and Travis Richards. Playing a strong on-screen role, as lawyer and virtual bodyguard for the accused, was Hunter Village Mayor William Maley. Also conspicuous in the scene will be Catskill Village Mayor Vincent Seeley, along with Daily Mail reporter Andrea Macko and Channel 6’s Lance Wheeler. They play pesky newsfolk, clamoring for The Story about an alleged infanticide. As the camera follows the crowd down the courthouse steps (surrounding the defendant, played by Amber Tamblyn), three policemen move toward their periphery; they are Chief Dave Darling along with Sgt Scott Talay and Patrolman Brian Koslowski. Rick and Denise Satarala, taking time off from work across the street in Tony’s Luncheonette (and doing their third movie gig in the past 15 months) walk diagonally, hand in hand, ahead of the crowd. And coming the other way in the background are Maurice Latimer, furloughed from being inside the courthouse attending to a jury; and Seeing Greene’s copy editor. Shooting for the picture (budgeted at under $1 million, vs. $300 million for “War of the Worlds”), following early shoots at Hunter Mountain, Phoenicia, and Tannersville High School, is nearly done. They are talking about showing the picture at this January’s Sundance Film Festival (along with around 16 other movies, including “The Night Listener,” made last March in Ulster and Orange counties, with Robin Williams). That doesn’t leave much time for post-production. WINDFALL? Widewater Property Management Co. (of Syracuse) has requested a six-month extension on its option to buy the Grandview School site for development adjoining Catskill Commons. For $200,000. Payable to Catskill Central School District. Bringing return on the deal to $1.2 million. The district’s trustees, at Wednesday night’s meeting, did not act on the matter. The initial offer on extension of option, we understand, was $10,000. Widewater has been payinjg $1500 per month on an option, expiring Dec. 31, to buy the site for $1 million, with a view to building accommodations for tenants such as Mens Wearhouse, Starbucks, Ruby Tuesday, and even Walgreens. If the Widewater deal does not close, we understand, Nigro Constructions would love to add that piece of turf to its main plaza…. HOLDUP? Leaseholders of the Family Dollar store in Catskill Commons are resisting offers from Nigro to vacate their premises for new space nearby. They could seriously stall the WalMart super-store project, thereby postponing the day when GreeneLand’s taxpayers can expect relief thanks to this new source of revenue. The Family Dollar people don’t want a good price for terminating their lease and moving to new quarters in the plaza; they want $2.5 million. If they remain adamant, we may need to organize a boycott. WAYWARD PRESS. Banner headline on page 1 of Greene County edition of Kingston’s Daily Freeman of Wednesday (11/30) blares Grandview May Be Youth Site. The story imputes to Hudson Talbott, spokesman for an “ad hoc committee,” the news that Catskill Central School District Superintendent Kathleen Farrell “was more than willing to open the doors and gave us a big welcome” when (presumably) approached about the idea of putting a new community center in that vacant, old school building. Thursday’s D. F. imputes to Dr Farrell the statement that she has never met with or talked with Talbott, and thus did not make any welcoming remarks. And to Seeing Greene Talbott confirmed that version of matters. *Thursday’s D.F. ascribes to grant writer Steve Kirk the opinion that sidewalk improvements could be included in “upcoming”Catskill application for a $400,000 community development block grant. But Kirk was talking about an application that already had been made and accepted. **Misnomers Dept: “The Hudson Valley has a high instance of HIV/AIDS.” --MidHudsonNews.com, 12/2/05. MOVING? Soon to join the parade of new home improvement business and art galleries on Catskill’s Main Street, we understand, is N & S Supply Co., now quartered on Cauterskill Road. TAXING MATTERS Should church-owned facilities be exempt from property tax? That question has been raised by the leaders of GreeneLand’s chamber of commerce, who use it as a lead-in to pondering whether regular buyers of resort properties should be given tax breaks. The question and the proposal grow out of local experience. Most buyers of GreeneLand resort properties in recent years have been non-profit, mostly ecclesiastical, organizations. Each sale has brought a subtraction from the stock of facilities that are liable to property tax, thereby putting a heavier burden on the rest of us. Maybe the condition could be alleviated, the chamber suggests, by granting discounts to private buyers of resorts. The discounts could be spread, in diminishing increments, over ten years; it would be 90 per cent of the normal tax based on appraised value in the first year, and only 10 per cent by the ninth. But resort properties have been going to non-profits here because they have ceased to be profitable. Even if they can be bought at bargain prices (relative to their assessed valuations and past worth) they may not be viable commercially. The traditional resort industry is depressed and is not likely to revive. Given the choices that are available now for city dwellers, the only measure that could rejuvenate tourism--as GreeneLand’s real property tax expert, Fred J. Algozzine, dryly suggests—would be imposing a ban on second homes and condominiums. If that is indeed the reality, then the contemplated tax breaks would not produce the desired result. (In the meanwhile, they would discriminate against owners of surviving, unsold resort properties). On this showing, the wisest response to the chamber’s scheme probably is: Don’t Bother.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Rationality-Hunting

IMMINENT Today (11/18) from noon, and tomorrow. Sneak Preview of GreeneLand’s newest store: “Dream…home furnishings,” featuring Balinese-crafted teak and mahogany imports, at 388 Main St, Catskill. Tomorrow (11/19), from 7 am. Opening of firearm deer-hunting season (and bears become fair game on Monday). Information: www.dec.state.ny.us. Tomorrow, from 4 pm.: Opening of “All Through the House,” exhibit of holiday crafts by regional artisans, at Catskill Mountain Foundation gallery. Hunter Village. Monday, from 6:30 pm. Public hearing on proposed Greene County budget. In County Courthouse, Main & Bridge Sts, Catskill.

EMINENT. Coxsackie’s Robert Porter, elevated (with sword, epaulettes, chevrons, medals, boots) to rank of Most Eminent Grand Commander, Knights Templar, State of New York.

AT ISSUE: PRUDENT POLICY-MAKING

If an ace defense attorney presents a woefully weak case for his client, an observer could infer plausibly that the client is guilty. Right? And if a profit-seeking company mounts a lavish advertising campaign on behalf of its product, but makes no definite factual claim indicating that the product is better than its rivals, a prudent respondent would infer plausibly that the product is not superior. Right? But what if the weak argumentation comes from an unsophisticated, poorly qualified advocate? That question leads to the case of Coxsackie’s most vocal opponent of That “trailer park.” He is Joseph Zanchelli. And with foes like him, we are tempted to say, the project should not need any friends. The target of Mr Zanchelli’s ire is a scheme to put manufactured homes on a 185-acre site (the former Schoenborn farm) that lies partly in the Town of Coxsackie and partly in the Village. As contemplated by the would-be developer—Sam Landy, president of United Mobile Homes Inc. of Freehold NJ—this gated community would ultimately contain 280 homes (“double wides”) occupying 100 acres of the site. Accordingly, each home would occupy about one third of an acre. Other parts of the development would contain infrastructure (roads, landscaping, sewers, electricity) as well a community center, a swimming pool, walking trails and other amenities. The dwellings would have interiors of about 2100 square feet, plus attached garages. Buyers would pay around $145,000 for an installed home and would additionally be charged lot rentals of $450 a month (for utilities and for use of [water, sewer and garbage service plus maintenance of] common facilities). They would be liable for property taxes on their dwellings (around $325 per month at current rates). The developer, as owner of the land and its improvements in a gated community, also would be liable for property tax.

Residence in the project would be limited to persons who are 55 years of age or older. (In strict legal terms, that rule means that 9 out of 10 residents must be seniors).

That restriction marks a change from what originally was proposed. Back in June, when he announced acquisition of the land (for $1.7 million), Mr Landy envisioned an all-ages community. He immediately encountered serious local opposition. Some of that opposition consisted of forebodings about a slum full of riff-raff. Some of it consisted of apprehensions about strains on local infrastructure—especially in the capacity of the schools to absorb a big influx of children. Amid doubts and uncertainties about costs and benefits, the Village and Town boards adopted one-year moratoriums on evaluating large-scale (i.e., more than five building lots) subdivision proposals. In response to the local opposition, Mr Landy retained as consultant (or liaison, or lobbyist) the former mayor of Coxsackie, Henry Rausch. Mr Rausch proposed the change in demographic composition. Mr Landy concurred.

Mr Zanchelli was not mollified. He maintained his active campaign of opposition. He collected signatures on petitions opposing the proposed “trailer park.” He. testified at Village Board meetings. He wrote letters to the Press. In the course of those activities he built a manifestly feeble case. Its main points (as recorded in the news media) rare these:

(i) Because “trailers…depreciate over time,” tax payments by project dwellers would gradually go down.

Here we have an example of jumping from a half-sound premiss to a hasty implausible conclusion. Trailers (or manufactured homes) do indeed “depreciate” over time, both in the sense that if they were listed as taxable assets, their imputed value would decline each year, and in the sense that they deteriorate physically. But so do new brick McMansions and the house of Zanchelli. It does not follow, however, that the appraised value of a conventional modular home would decline, along with tax payments. Residential properties generally have appreciated time market value, in appraised value, and hence in property tax costs. Has a contrary pattern marked gated retirement communities composed of manufactured homes? Has it marked old-fashioned, sleazy trailer parks? Mr Z does not address those questions.

(ii) The Over-55 Rule would not last. “When they begin losing money from lack of viable tenants they will quickly move to go after working families,” and then we’ll get “crowded schools and over-taxed municipal services.”

This line of argument suggests indirectly that having a gated retiree-populated community would be better for Coxsackie than having an all-ages community. It affirms directly that the less desirable type of community would eventuate.

To take the latter claim seriously, we need to believe that the developer would want to discard the Over-55 restriction and, furthermore, could readily do so. On behalf of his hunch about the developer’s interest, Mr Z claims that the costs of living in the contemplated project would, for most seniors, be prohibitive. But that claim is tenuous at best (and, incidentally, makes the project appear to be an up-scale development). The over-55 segment is a growing portion of the whole population. Prices of the contemplated UMH homes are not out of line with alternate retirement communities that are composed of “trailers.” Many prospective residents would be seniors who are down-sizing: selling larger homes, long since paid for, at prices far above initial acquisition cost. They would be well endowed with capital.

In any event, once the Over-55 commitment is made, it becomes difficult indeed to break. It gets written on sales contracts with buyers; if the commitment is broken, incumbent residents can seek a court injunction stopping the violation. They can sue the developer for breach of contract. Moreover, the obligation can be reinforced by local authority. The trustees of the host-Village can adopt a zoning ordinance providing that homes in the project occupied only by persons who are over 55 years old (perhaps with a few exceptions for grandchildren).

In short, Mr Z fails to establish either that the promoters of project would want to drop the Over-55 Rule or that they could do so at will.

(iii) Old people use more water than young people (so the cost of supplying water to the UMH project would be disproportionally high).

This claim is not substantiated by Mr Z, let alone given a numerical value. It is far from self-evident. In any event, even if it were true, the volume of water consumed by inhabitants of a hundred-unit Over-55 suburb would be lower than the volume consumed by inhabitants of a hundred unit All Ages project. The population would be bigger. The homes would contain families, not just couples.

(vi) Seniors would get tax breaks; other taxpayers would be obliged to make up the difference.

Some residents of this over-55 community would be over 65. Some of the latter would be eligible for property tax breaks by way of the STAR program. “That is a heck of a lot of cash flying out of other taxpayer’s pockets.” To “make up for all of this lost tax revenue” the “rest of the community” would experience an “increased tax bill.” Balderdash. Mr Z evidently wants to equate discounts on tax payments with actual treasury losses or with increases in taxes levied on other payers. Some of those seniors would indeed pay less in property taxes than other people whose property is equal in value. They would still be paying taxes. Whether the taxes they pay would cover the costs involved in serving them remains to be seen. Mr Z does not address that question.

(vii) Parasitic project. The UMH development would be “a festering financial drain on each and every resident of Coxsackie and ultimately Greene County.”

Strong words. If they are true, then surely the UMH project ought to be rejected. They are served up by Mr Z in the guise of a culmination. But in relation to his other claims (carefully identified here; nothing left out), they exemplify non sequitur.

So what?

Cooly rational but lazy Coxsackieans might well draw from Mr Zanchelli’s vacuous fulminations that the UMH project would be good for them. The short-hand reasoning here is that since the leading opponent’s arguments are manifestly weak, then his case must be weak; so the project must be OK. That inferential leap, however, could be dangerous. Maybe the advocate intended to sabotage his ‘client.’ Maybe his ineptitude as an advocate obscures what otherwise would be seen as a good case.

Less rational but equally lazy Coxsackians could cleave to the opposite conclusion. They would focus on the advocate--his character, his motives—at the expense of his advocacy. Thus, a respected old-timer opposes the UMH project, has expended personal resources in the cause of opposition, and does not seem to be actuated by a Special Interest. His sincerity offers assurance of cogency. Never mind the terms, the relevance of the cited evidence, the soundness of the reasoning—of his rhetoric.

As for rational and diligent Coxsackieans, they would take due note of Mr Z’s daffy fulminations, would credit him with raising some good questions, and then would frame an appropriate inquiry, along two main lines.

(1) monetary cost-benefit analysis. Make plausible estimates of what property tax revenues would flow to local coffers (Village, school district, maybe also town) from the developers (=owners of land and improvements) and the residents, if the project were approved as proposed. Calculate also what would be the added costs, to local authorities, of providing services to the prospective development’s inhabitants. If the latter sum is less than the former, then the project represents a net financial gain to the present inhabitants of Coxsackie. It can facilitate a reduction in local property tax rates or an addition of tax-financed services. And to it would be added gains for the county (in sales tax revenues) and for local businesses (from sales to the newcomers).

(2) non-monetary cost-benefit analysis. Would the UMH project disfigure the land? What other kind of development eventually would come to the site if the UMH project is rejected? Finally, would the new neighbors be likable people?

[The text above is a slightly edited revision of what was posted 11/18, when Mr Z's name was spelled inconsistently and the UMH project was said to contemplate "single wides" as well as "double wides"].

Friday, November 11, 2005

Hot Stuff & Cold

HOT STUFF. Our blog about the Dushane v. CCSD lawsuit generated a firestorm of comebacks, which are still igniting. If you can stand the heat, scroll down to our 10/25 entry The Secret Lawsuit. If the comments are not immediately visible, click on the word Commentary at the bottom of the text.

IMMINENT *Tonight+: Festival of Trees. Fortnightly Club’s annual event, this one dubbed “A Nautical Christmas” and held at Elks Lodge, 45 N. Jefferson Avenue, Catskill. Opening gala from 7 pm. ($25 per person, tickets required in advance). Continuing Saturday and Sunday, daytime ($3 admission). Information: 943-2044, 943-5616 or 943-6242. *Tonight+. ”Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress” at Catskill Mountain Foundation’s movie theater in Hunter, from 8 pm. Also Saturday and Sunday night, and Sunday at 3. *Saturday & Sunday. "Chilly Willy" tours of Bronck family houses near Coxsackie, by Historical Society members, with tales about living in GreeneLand in the 1600's. Info: 731-6490. *Saturday from 6 pm.: “No Place Like Home” exhibition (“Petals, Photograms, Photographs…”) opens at BRIK Gallery, 473 Main St, Catskill. Runs to December 4. *Saturday, from 5 pm: Opening of exhibition of works by Gabe Brown and John Lippert at Wilder Gallery, 375 Main St, Catskill. Information: wilderstudios@msn.com; 578-3464.

BUSTED, for stealing $6586 from her dentist employer: former receptionist Christine Maddaloni, 39, of High Hill Road, Catskill. Her method consisted of accepting cash payments made by patients of Drs Catalano, Liefer & Bruno, recording the payments, then erasing the entries. She was caught and made a partial confession after, among other things, patients complained of being billed for payments they’d already made. Faced with a 49-count indictment for grand larceny and falsifying business records, she entered a plea of guilty to GL and is due on November 22d for sentencing by judge Daniel Lalor to a prison term of 3.5-7 years. The impending sentence comes in the wake of prior convictions for similar offenses.

BULLY RATES. The incidence of domestic violence in GreeneLand evidently is growing. According to Barbara Palmateer of Community Action, new cases handled by the Domestic Violence program during this year’s first nine months matched the load handled all of last year. And of course, the frequency of assaults against women and children is far greater than what gets reported. Have a nice day.

NEW CHEF at Stewart House, Jeffrey E. Marquise, 46, was not a student at the highly esteemed Culinary Institute of America. He taught there.

DAILY MAUL. “…brought down the house Saturday night performing at the Historic Catskill Point Saturday.” “…Rick Surrano has been chosen by the Athens Republican Committee to run for town supervisor in the November election two-term incumbent Albert Salvino” (8/24). “Every library in the county will be received some assistance, Seward noted” (11/2). “According to Ulscht, economic development is what is needed to bring tax relief and that a lack of business means higher taxes for residents” (11/4). 2=number of articles, in addition to the Calendar of Events, published Oct. 31 on the “Greene County” page. 0=number of articles on that page that pertained to Greene County. 4=number of articles appearing on 11/6 the “Neighbors” page. 0=number of articles that were not about Greene County. 7=number of articles on Monday (11/10) “Neighbors” page. 1=number of articles not about Greene County. 3=articles on Nov. 9th “Greene County” page. 0=articles about Greene County (while on “Neighbors” page, all 7 articles pertained to Greene County).

MYSTERY SOLVED. Among oddities in the late GreeneLand elections was a billboard facing eastbound motorists at the fork in Catskill of West Bridge Street and Route 9W. The billboard urged voters to elect Louis O’Connor to the Town Board and not Robert Antonelli. But O’Connor and Antonelli are fellow Republicans, they are pals, and they were standing for two vacant seats on the Board. The third candidate on the ballot, Evan Ulscht, is a Democrat and is not part of The Club. The key to solving the mystery is Sol Ferro, who paid for the billboard. He has a grudge against Antonelli.

RHETORIC DISSECTED. Also noteworthy about that billboard are the terms of Mr Ferro’s pitch. Preceding his endorsement of Mr O’Connor were three questions: “Are you sick of high taxes? Are you sick of being told how to live? Are you sick of being told what to do with your property?” Invited by those questions, in the context of a Town Council contest, is belief that electing the endorsed candidate will bring about, or will increase substantially the prospects of, cuts in taxes and in regulation. Invited too are inferences that your taxes are high, that you ought to be sick of same, that you are incessantly being thwarted, that you ought to be sick of same, that the pushing and prodding emanate from governmental agencies such as the Town Council, and that (consequently?) the election of O’Connor would alleviate the illness. With regard to property, the suggestion then must be that you have been bugged by regulatory constraints, that you should be sick of same, and that the election of O’Connor would be a liberating event. For sophisticated respondents, moreover, the message would be, specifically, that O’Connor would free you from the shackles of planning, zoning, permits and inspections. The blather was Ferro's, not O'Connors.

“DEAR KIWANIS. Thank you for the dictionary… It has all the words I need.” “I like using it for hard words.” “It is very usfull for our whole entire class!” “I can’t wait to meet the whole Kiwanis club. You help us get what we need. I really corrected correcting on this paper.” “They work really good. I like to use my dictionary because they have a lot of words in my dictionary.” “I’ll also use it for I think isn’t right.” “We also have been using them for when we don’t know to spell a really hard word.” “We like the realy much.” “Thanck you for the dictionary’s. I you’s mine for vocabulary. I you’s mine for spelling words correctly… “ “I’ve used it for reading and for looking up words I don’t know.” “I like to use it for when I don’t know how to spell a wourd.” “When we use them we use them with care.” “Dictionarys make you smart.” “They really come in handy! You are very nice to children. I just want to tell you.” “You are my favorite one who would give us dictionarys to the whole school. Please visit us another time.” “P.S. Thank you for coming all the way just to give us a dictionary.” ---from Abagail, Ada, Austin, Caden, Caitlin, Chase, Connor, David, Deborah, Glage, Joey, Kenneth, Megan, Meghan, Mike, Rachel, Seaver, Stephanie,Tyler and Victoria, of Mrs Brown’s 3d grade at Coxsackie Elementary School.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Loose Ends

SECRET LAWSUIT FOLLOW-UP. Tuesday’s blog about the Dushane v. School Board case prompted lively responses. Read them by going back to that installment and clicking Comment spot at the bottom. Unfortunately, you’ll encounter some ostensible responses that in fact are advertisements from cyber-polluting scum who are not readers at all.In addition: *The school trustees did not break their silence at Wednesday night’s meeting (10/26). *The settlement, we hear from a good source, calls for paying Mr Dushane the sum of $35,000. How will it be paid, without public explanation? *In settling, we hear, the Board went against advice of counsel. *Mr Dushane did return our call—Tuesday evening, after That blog was posted (but not after having read it). He declined to comment for publication on his feelings about the settlement.

IMMINENT. Today (10/28): Night of 100 Pumpkins. Downtown Catskill celebration. Pumpkins available for carving (especially by Halloween-costumed kids) at Hose Co. 5 on Main Street from 5:30 pm., followed by parade down Main Street, with creativity applied to modes of non-motorized transport of carved creations…. Sponsored by Begnal Motors and HOCA. *Saturday (10/29). Race for Rayann. Fund-raising foot races ($15 entry fee) of 19 kilometers and of 5 kilometers, from Creekside Farm, 1235 High Falls Road, Catskill, through Cauterskill Creek-side roads, up to a country dirt road and back. Information, from Michael & Sandra Smith: 678-5875. *Saturday. Halloween party and art show opening at Athens Cultural Center, from 7 pm. *Saturday. Wolf Fly Festival. Strings trio concert by Among Friends, from 7:30 pm. at Greenville Cultural Arts Center, sponsored by All Arts Matter. 966-4038. *Sunday (10/30). Halloween party for kids, at Hose # 5 station, Main St, Catskill, sponsored by Police Benevolent Association, from 1 pm. *Sunday. Auction (65 lots) +dinner sponsored by Kiwanis Club, at Catskill Golf Club, from 5 pm. All welcome. 943-3100. *Next Friday (11/4). Flu shots available at the senior center in Athens; from our Health Department; free for senior. Also available Nov. 18th at Acra's senior center. *Next Saturday (11/5). Railroad archaeology trek along path of the late Canojaharie & Catskill Railroad (1837-42), led by Ulster & Delaware Railroad Historical Society, from 8 am. at Park-n-Ride lot at Thruway Exit 21’s toll booth. Check it out at www.udrrhs.org/fall_tour. *Soon, in Tannersville: Tavern called O’Neill’s Public House, in former PJ Larkin building on Route 23A. They are hiring. The man to call (589-5568) is Tim Ohle.

PREMATURE DEATH STORY?  Maybe the Daily Mail is not on brink of extinction after all.  The company is
advertising for two reporters to replace departed Chris Smith and Deborah Travers.  But one successor, 
Andrea Macko, already is working. And another new by-line, Alvaro E. Alarcon, appeared under a local story
in today’s paper (10/28).  Editor Raymond Pignone invites submissions to editorial@thedailymail.net
or 943-2100 ext 3326.  
MAUL NOTES.  Inserted in all organs of Hudson Valley Newspapers last Thursday (10/20) was a supplement
entitled, in big bold letters, “Fall Care [sic.] Car [sic.] 2005.” One of the headlines says “Check Engine Light
Nothing to Ignore.”  The publication was an advertising supplement not only in the sense that it contained display
ads from local companies, but also in the sense that its editorial matter, offering advice on vehicle maintenance,
was chock full of explicit product-touting. The standard pejorative label for this odious practice is advertorial.  
    *And on pages A3 (“News”) and again on A8 (“Business”) of the same issue, the same story (from
Associated Press, on Republican gubernatorial hopefuls) appeared.
    *According to a picture caption on page A1 of Monday’s DM (10/24), “Town of Catskill Democratic [sic.]
Party Chairman Dan Howard, left, presents the Greene County Republican [sic.] Committee’s 2005 Man of
the Year Award to Greene County Judge George J. Pulver Jr….”  Howard is Republican town chairman.
They actually published a Correction of that bungle.
     *Not corrected so far was yesterday’s mutation of Margo Muller into Margo Mullen.
     *Read it and ponder (from Tuesday’s Maul):  “The basis for the project is to enforce a clean-up strategy
for residential properties within the village that meet property, maintenance, or building violations.”  “Among
the assessed problems include two or more motor vehicles, weeds or garbage in the year and general lack of
upkeep.” 
GOV POLITICS.  Who will be Republican candidate for governor of New York in 2006?If GreeneLand’s
Republican chairman, Brent Bogardus, gets his way, it will be John Faso.  That near-neighbor, former State
Asemblyman and former candidate for State Controller, was keynote speaker at last Saturday night’s GOP
dinner-dance at Hunter Mountain. Support for Faso means non-support for other hopefuls or possibilities, such
as William Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts (New York-born and –resident); Tom Golisano of
Rochester, former Independence Party bankroller and gubernatorial candidate, now registered as a Republican;
Patrick Manning, Republican assemblyman from Dutchess County; Randy Daniels, Secretary of New York
State; and our Congressman, John Sweeney.   We mention Sweeney because he once touted himself, and
was touted by some news people (using the “widely discussed” formula) as a likely candidate.  He too spoke
at the function, and was hailed by Bogardus as “one of the true shining stars in Washington.”  Not mentioned
was the fact, trumpeted by the Democrats in Washington, that Sweeney was the recipient of political largesse,
to the tune of  $4915), dispensed by his disgraced House leader, Tom DeLay.
Faso depicted himself as a “reform” candidate who would do something about Albany taxing and spending.
According to the report by Jim Planck in The Daily Mail, 10/23), Faso also characterized Eliot Spitzer, that
scourge of corporate crime who is the likely Democratic candidate, as one who “stands for the status quo” and
for “all the special interests who will endorse him.”   As for Randy Daniels, he’s a Republican odd duck in that
he’s black and that he has ingratiated himself with some upstate liberals.  As secretary of state he refused to
give St. Lawrence Cement Company a Certificate of Coastal Consistency for its proposal to build a giant plant
in Greenport and along the east bank of the Hudson River.  Thanks to that crucial decision, he’ll be featured
speaker at a meeting Sunday (10/30) of the South Bay Coalition (Basilica Industria, 110 Front St, Hudson,
from 2 pm.).  At the same time, Daniels is being touted to Republican stalwarts (including some who have
been dead for 10 years) as the man who can beat Spitzer.  And that victory is urgent.  According to Patrick
B. Donohue, Esq., in a fund-raising letter for Daniels, “Spitzer has waged a cynical one-man campaign
against businesses big and small and entrepreneurs whose only sin has been the pursuit of the American Dream.”
Spitzer and the diabolical liberals “want to raise taxes, increase spending and the size of government, and
impose regulations to a level that have [sic.] never been seen before in America.”   “I’ll guarantee you that if
Eliot Spitzer is elected Governor, you will be shocked and appalled by the assault that will inevitably occur on
the taxpayers, business community and the economy in [sic.] New York.”  What is more, and perhaps worse,
is that “The Governor’s Mansion is the key piece in Hillary Clinton’s Master Plan of becoming President of the
United States.” 
 METAPHYSICAL GAMING.  In a September issue of Seeing Greene we twitted
ace Saugerties writer John Thorn for opining that art, like play, “may
have no purpose but itself or it becomes no longer itself.” To that blather
we responded with piercing acuity that “Activities do not have purposes.
They may serve various purposes, and art and play serve many.” To
which John offered (via the Commentary key) the limp rejoinder that “Your
inner grammarian has stifled your reason. Play and art may be compelled to
serve purposes only when they are in thrall to a utilitarian power (Nazi
art, Organized Baseball, and kindred oxymorons). But art and play do not
serve willingly, for when they are yoked into service they are no longer
marked by the very thing that defines them,independence: art for art's
sake, play to no purpose.” This he boldly calls an “uncontroversial notion”
that is adumbrated by Johan Huizinga in Homo Ludens (1938). To which, with
devastating insight, we respond that Thorn has unwisely espoused the
notorious Pathetic Fallacy. He endows inanimate objects with animate
qualities. Play and art become not just activities but mobile, willful
creatures who (yes: who) can be “compelled” to “serve” a “utilitarian
power” (=master?) albeit unwillingly. But he asseverates contrarily that
they can’t be so compelled because if they are, then they are not—alive,
that is. In the meantime, John obfuscates the nature of oxymorons. Nazi
art is not a contradiction in terms. Neither is Soviet art or New Masses
art or commercial art. Your turn, J.T