Monday, February 28, 2005

Must there be a title?

ERROR. In debut blog (Dec. 13) we foreshadowed advent on Catskill’s Main Street of five art galleries (vs. present one). Make that six. And gallery we did not know about has already opened. It’s Wilder Art Space, located where adoptive GreeneLander Mike Tyson trained: top floor of what is now George Jurgsatis’s Townhouse Antiques, 375 Main. It’s run by two young couples: Maria Ornelas & John Peters, Hilary Manning & Earl Lundy. On March 12th (Saturday), from 5 pm, they unveil new exhibition. lnfo at (518) 653-6169 or by e-mail to

EXPECTING 4: GreeneLander Joe Konsul and wife Amy Ray. With quadruplets, former basketball standout Joe will be close to forming own team (The Konsulate?).

COMING SOON: second Bed & Breakfast for Catskill (after Caleb Street’s Inn, run by Rita Landy with help from Homer Hager).. Details at 15 (of March, or thereabouts).

“BOSTON YANKEES”= monogram on fashion baseball jacket available (for $350?) at Jennifer Johnson’s Purple Heart hip-hop boutique at 392 Main St, Catskill.

HITCHED AT LAST. On Thursday, Feb. 25, Yael Minor and Keith McMorrow closed Bell’s Café in mid-afternoon as usual, then strolled down Main Street to Greene County Courthouse where, after being joined by various kinfolk of his (hers are in Israel) and by Judge George Pulver Jr., they were married. When they returned (home is on the third floor) they found front door festooned with decorative good wishes from Heart of Catskill Association.

CHANNELED. At Meeting of the Minds Education Center, in Blue Pearl complex in East Durham, from 2 pm. this Saturday, proprietor Ulla Darni presents “Lois T. Martin and Adam F. Bernstein, Professional Psychics,” expatiating on “communicating with any consciousness that is not in human form, by allowing that consciousness to express itself through the Channeler.” For more information channel (518)734-6625.

SELECTED: “Spatial #1,” monotype print created by Freehold artist (and squash racquets ace) Michel Goldberg; for inclusion in juried show of abstract art works in Sarasota and in Venice FL during February-March.

HEEDED, in Las Vegas, at recent symposium of Appliance Therapy Practitioners Association: GreeneLand’s Dr Theodore Belfor, dilating on “The Homeoblock Appliance—Diagnosis and Treatment.”

UNBALANCED? Among Columbia-Greene Board of Realtors’ 11 directors, only two—Claudia Zucker and Liz Kistinger—are GreeneLanders. But that doubles our 2004 representation (by Jim Bulich).

BOOM in GreeneLand real estate prices has been charted by State Association of Realtors. Median price of existing single-family home here rose from 2002 to 2004 by whopping 54 per cent, highest of any county in New York. Also showing steep increases during 2002-04 were Columbia (43%) and Ulster counties (36%). GreeneLand’s big jump can be ascribed in no small measure to its low-cost starting point. Median price of a single-family home here in 2002 was only $90,000, as compared with $120,000 in Albany, $150,000 in Columbia,$155,000 in Ulster counties. Thus, although we’ve had a big price jump, homes here still may be relatively cheap, Among single-family homes that changed hands here last year, median price was $139,000, vs. $164,400, $215,000 and $210,500 for Albany, Columbia and Ulster counties, and with $232,000 State-wide. Oddest thing about figures distributed by NYSAR is showing of apparent big DROP in VOLUME of sales from 2002: from 655 to 346 (2003) and 370 (2004). Not plausible.

>MULIEBRITY=female counterpart of virility. For more verbal zingers--sitophobia, tribology, matrocliny--google A.Word.A.Day.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Presidents Day

FEEDBACK. Anonymous commentator asks caustically, on basis of last blog, if “Dick May” is nom de plume of Greg Lubow. No. But readers should be alert to possibility that our account of Public Defender controversy was incomplete and gave short shrift to anti-Lubow case. NO TAKERS. Catskill’s town supervisors solicited proposals to convert former Irving Elementary School building (17,600 square feet, 3 stories, brick, with abundant off-street parking, one block above Main Street) into public offices (Town, Village, Library) but did not get any nibbles. Nor did anybody propose, within recent deadline, an alternate use that would be compatible with leaving Irving’s 8500 square foot annex intact for use as senior citizen center. Perhaps adaptation problems (handicap access; elevator; heating) are insurmountable. Meantime, Village trustees’ interest in three-cornered arrangement must be dampened by enlargement of present Main Street quarters, what with space left by departure of firefighter company. But Irving building is abundantly attractive, as well as being rich with history. Pray for a brainstorm (well capitalized). FOR SALE: Dionysos Restaurant at 11 Water Street in Athens; by owner Nicholas Patestas, via champion realtor Ronnie McCue; after little more than a year of operation; for (ahem) $2.39 million. Well, it’s newly built on .78-acre site; has outside tables; can seat 100 diners inside; offers 225 feet of Hudson River frontage; and boasts many NP’s carved in woodwork. An ultra-ambitious effort, over-capitalized, ill suited to surroundings. But hey, vendor can advertise “Tom Cruise slept here”--in trailer, during shooting of Spielberg movie “War of the Worlds.” REINCARNATED, on Route 23A in Tannersville: restaurant that in former lives was Elka Inn, Beowulf’s and China Wok (according to Daily Mail’s Jim Planck). If all requisite permits eventuate, it will now be Black Diamonds Grill. Owned by Bernie Zahn and Kris Gilly. Managed by Angelo Agosto, with head chef Richard Siderholt imported from Manhattan. NOT CIA. New owners of Bells Café in Catskill, Keith McMorrow and Yael Manor , did not train at Culinary Institute of America. Instead, they are graduates of Peter Kump and French culinary institutes in New York City. Which means that their talents go far beyond regular lunch counter fare—as consumers of their Sunday brunch selections (among others) can attest. The food’s way ahead of the décor. SNOW CADDIES await visitors to Ski Windham. Drive up, drop off skis or snowboards, then park, walk back up unencumbered. Caddies lug gear up slope to place where you can mount and go. It’s a free service, says marketing director Kurt Zimmer. (Who would fail to tip a caddie?). LEARNING CHANCE. “Birds in Your Backyard”=topic of program offered this Thursday (Feb. 24th) by GreeneLand’s Cornell Cooperative Extension, at Agroforestry Resource Center on Route 23 in Acra, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. For more info ring (518) 622-9820. SUMMITRY. During Christmas season at Summit Hill Athletic Club, according to manager Paul Mademann, sales of Gift of Health certificates, costing $49 and entitling recipient to a month’s membership and a T-shirt, have in the past numbered around 55. But for 2004, Paul promised that if sales reached 100, he’d spring for dinner for everybody on staff. Certificate sales vaulted to 124. Nice dinner party at Creekside restaurant. AWARDED: $5000 grant; to musicians Vladimir Pleshakov and wife Elena Winther; by Nakamichi Foundation of Anaheim Hills CA; for quality of performance and originality of content in public concerts presented in 2004 in Hudson, Hunter, Albany, Saugerties, Newburgh and Pittsfield. This signal honor was reported in Register-Star and Daily Mail of December 31 as Hudson story. But Pleshakovs had moved their extraordinary musical operation, including major collection of pianos, months before that to GreeneLand, under umbrella of Catskill Mountain Foundation. UP FROM GENERALISSIMO: Robert A. Porter, of Coxsackie. No longer is he Very Eminent Grand Generalissimo of Knights Templar of New York State (with sword, epaulettes, medals…). He has ascended to rank of Right Eminent Deputy Grand Commander. And for 2006 he’s in line to be Most Eminent Grand Commander of that Masonic order—as well as, incidentally, to be president of Catskill Kiwanis Club. The REDGC also currently holds office, in Prince Hall Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters branch of Knights Templar, of Right Illustrious Grand Principal Conductor of Works. No, we did not make this up. TRAVEL NOTES from our Caribbean correspondent (and seasonal GreeneLander), Ricardo Marlin, cruising in his vessel Frayed-ee-Cat: DIRTY DANCING. In Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, masqueraders covered selves in mud and motor oil for traditional dance opening Carnival. They were honoring predecessors who in 1881 had fought against British soldiers seeking to suppress that “primitive” romp. Then they showered and slipped into delicate jeweled bikinis, feathered headdresses and similar costumes for more festivities. Days later, King of Calypso title was bestowed on performer known as Chalkdust. IN MOGUL-RICH MUSTIQUE, new Environment Committee chairmale Mick Jagger has endorsed island-wide ban on use of phosphate laundry detergents. Seepage of phosphate-dosed wastewater into the sea evidently stimulates growth of coral-choking algae. Yes, that Mick. POLICE RAID in St Vincent fizzled. Night spot called Black Forest (snicker snicker) was not a front for illicit sex. Customers were enjoying a legitimate jump up. PRAEDIAL LARCENY is crippling economy of Barbados, says minister of agriculture and rural development. That problem, however, did not engage participants in week-long discussions, at Blue Horizon Hotel, of whether to revise Inter-American Metrology System in line with recommendations of the International Organisation of Legal Metrology. Neither did it manifestly trouble Bajan dignitary who bemoaned paucity of local pride, in contrast to Jamaicans’ manifest pride even in their “ackee, salt fish, mannish water, jerk pork and sorrel.” Meanwhile, Bishop Marcus Hinds opines, in a letter to Barbados Advocate, that “the only reformation that is needed” is “righteousness in the land. Therefore, we cannot get milk from air or iron.” Q.E.D.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Offing the Defender

LUBOW FOR JUDGE? That campaign could come in wake of recent unpleasantness whereby GreeneLand’s long-serving Chief Public Defender, Greg Lubow,came to be succeeded by Dominic (“DJ”) Cornelius. Moves leading to that result--that ouster--left Lubow feeling more than a mite aggrieved. And some courthouse wags claim to have heard him voice a disposition to respond by running in November for County Judge, against incumbent George J. Pulver Jr. When queried by Seeing Greene, Lubow declined to confirm or deny that version of his future plans. If a contest does eventuate, insiders anticipate Trouble. Both candidates would be dogged by corps of long-time detractors.
“UGLY FROM THE GET-GO.” That’s how dissenting legislator Karen Deyo (R,Catskill) characterizes moves that culminated in the-9-5 vote that extinguished, after 27 years, Lubow’s tenure in an office whose attorneys, investigators and clerks handle about 1300 cases yearly of indigent defendants facing criminal charges. Backers of that judgment cite these considerations (and prudent readers would ponder possible counter-considerations). Enmity. Dislike of Lubow, on the part of some lawyers and law officers, goes back many years. One complaint is that the man is “nettlesome”/”abrasive”/“arrogant.” Another, voiced most aggressively by Alexander “Sandy” Mathes and Dorothy Prest, is that Lubow pushes too hard, giving his clients (at taxpayer expense) “Cadillac” instead of just appropriate “Chevy” representation. But those accusations in years past failed to win majority votes against re-appointing Lubow. They foundered on the absence of claims, let alone evidence, that Lubow ran an extraordinarily expensive operation or that, as litigator and office manager, Lubow was ineffectual. Indeed, a local judge says “I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Greg for 25 years…. He’s a pain in the neck—and an excellent lawyer. When he comes into my court, he’s thoroughly prepared and he’s tenacious.” Specious pretext. Crucial to Lubow’s departure from office was a proposal he made earlier this year to the county legislature, namely,that his office (five part-time attorneys, 3 investigators, 2.5 secretaries, big caseload) be given a full-time executive assistant. That request, so we understand, prompted key legislators to propose instead that Chief Public Defender be made a full-time salaried office. The proposal appeared (especially to rookie legislators) to be administrative, constructive, and divorced from implications about candidates. Actually, its sponsors anticipated—and hoped--that Lubow,with his well established private practice at home in Tannersville and kids to educate,would not accept the new arrangement. Lack of rationale. Sponsors of this administrative reform did not put it out for public discussion or study. They did not tout it as a solution to well-documented problems. They did not collect comparative data on jurisdictions having full-time (salaried) and part-time (billing by the hour) CPD’s. They adopted the reform without acknowledging or contemplating facts cited (tardily, to be sure) by Lubow, namely, that in New York’s less populous counties, most Public Defenders are part-timers in the sense that they are paid hourly wages rather than yearly salaries. Thus, in neighboring Columbia County, “which is about 50% larger than Greene County,” the CPD is a part-time functionary. The same applies (as Lubow noted in a letter of Feb. 2) to neighboring Ulster County, “3 times the size of Greene County, with more state prisons.” Spurned counter-proposal. Although Lubow initially declined to join the line of applicants for the salaried CPD job, he ultimately did make a proposal (in a letter of Jan. 27) that would enable him “to be the full time Greene County Public Defender and to maintain my private practice.” His offer hinged on construing the phrase “full time” to NOT mean putting in, literally, a 9-to-5 day in his Catskill courthouse office. Public defenders, he said, don’t work that way. For them “there are no ‘normal’ working hours.” Night work and weekend work often are required (even if mid-day work sometimes is not). Lubow proposed that he be hired on a full-time basis without the literal 9-to-5 stipulation,drawing a salary instead of being paid by the hour. If the legislators accept that interpretation, he would “perform the functions of the Public Defender” not for $70,000 per year but for $50,000—with the “remaining” $20,000 to be “used elsewhere within the personnel line of the budget.” In short, he proposed to function as full-time Chief Public Defender, for all intents and purposes, at a salary below what the legislators were offering. This scheme did not find favor with the Search Committee. The members did not say why. Blind choice? At the legislature’s meeting of Feb. 2, convened to complete the choice of a full-time CPD, the Search Committee nominated one candidate, who was identified only by name: D.J. Cornelius. That procedure elicited objections. Deyo (among others) demanded information about credentials. That demand eventually was met—to the extent of a half-page resumé. THE PROSPECT. GreeneLand’s new Chief Public Defender (as of Feb. 14) is well known locally (with deep family roots) and well liked. He has practiced law since 1996. Since mid-2002 he has been Second Assistant District Attorney under the direction and tutelage of Terry Wilhelm. By comparison with his predecessor, with the APD’s (assistant public defenders) he will supervise (if they stay on), and with some attorneys who applied for the job, DJ is short on trial experience and on supervisory experience. His strongest claim as candidate, Seeing Greene has been told, was firm support from his current boss. But with regard to future performance, that relationship could prove to be a mixed blessing. In the near term, Cornelius is precluded legally from handling cases he processed while working on the prosecutorial side. More durably, being ‘Terry’s protegee’ could make it hard for DJ to enter fully into his rôle as adversary of prosecutors (and, by extension, of law-enforcement officers). Compounding that problem must be DJ’s awareness of the “Cadillac defense” beef against his predecessor: beware of zealotry. Will GreeneLand’s newly constituted, newly led Public Defender’s office be a source of adequate counsel for its clients, and hence a true instrument of justice?