ASSEMBLY. Daniel J. Hooker, whose 127th State Assembly district includes most of GreeneLand plus parts of four more counties and all of Schoharie—in short, a goofy seat, made to give a Republican life tenure—has announced that he will not seek-re-election later this year. He has only nominally been ‘in office’ since last April, when he was called up as a Marine Corps reservist to report to Camp Lejeune. According to reporter Joe Prout of Hudson Valley Newspapers, he made a parting statement affirming “fundamental virtues of free enterprise, limited government, individual liberty and traditional American values.”
Four men have emerged so far as prospective candidates for the Republican nomination to succeed Hooker. One is Peter Lopez, Schoharie County Clerk, who is rumored to be Hooker’s preferred arch-“conservative” successor. Another is James Powers of Butternuts, a dairy farmer and Otswego County legislator. Two are GreeneLanders: Michael J. Camadine of Cairo, who is a furniture store manager and a member of the Greene County Legislature; and Matthew Tully of Hunter, a lawyer with offices in Albany and Catskill. Tully came to public attention when he took on pro bono, and won, the case of a Muslim law enforcement official in New York who had been the victim of workplace discrimination in the wake of 9/11. As a major in the National Guard, Tully served in Iraq; but he also denounced the war. He also succeeded last July in winning an administrative ruling that entitled thousands of National Guard and Reserve members who also were government employees to back pay for certain days spent on weekend training. Furthermore, Tully is evidently a man of candor. Speaking to Seeing Greene about normal realities in Albany, he said "Let’s be honest: this is the best part-time job in the country ($79,000 to work a couple of weeks a year in a dysfunctional body)."
VILLAGES. Catskill Republicans meet Jan. 31 (Tuesday) in Town Hall to endorse candidates for Village Trustee (two terms are expiring) and Village Justice (Charles Adsit’s term is expiring), and the Democrats meet for the same purpose the following night. We expect incumbents Forest Cotten (Democrat) and James Chewens (Republican) to seek re-election. Economic development guru Peter Markou has announced a bid for Republican endorsement and Chewens may solicit Democratic cross-endorsement.
Coxsackie's Joseph Zanchelli, most vociferous of opponents of the United Mobile Homes scheme, has been appointed by Mayor Dianne Ringwald to complete the late Bob Baker’s term as a Village trustee; and he will run for a regular term at the March 21 elections. Mr Zanchelli, 43, is a Republican, a bereavement counselor at Community Hospice, and an ex-Marine whose career got a nice write-up by Terry Brown last December 12th in the TimesUnion. With regard to the UMH controversy, Mr Z was quoted by Anthony D’Arcangelis (Daily Mail, 1/13/06) as saying “I know people may not believe this, but I am going to be fair about this.” That could be a challenge. His faulty policy reasoning was dissected in the Nov. 18 issue (“Rationality-Hunting”) of Seeing Greene. That blog elicited a lengthy rejoinder (click Comments; see the 10:42 am. Entry). It was heavy on ad hominem twaddle (my motives are pure, so my position must be sound; your motives are suspect) and light on cost-benefit analysis..
THE CONGRESS. Kirsten Gillibrand of Hudson seems to be making a serious effort to challenge our incumbent Republican Congressman (20th District), John Sweeney. She has family roots in Albany politics and, in addition to being a wife and mother, is a high-powered New York lawyer (with the David Boies firm). She’ll make a formal announcement of candidacy for the Democratic nomination on Monday in Saratoga Springs, with Attorney General Eliot Spitzer as star attraction. Her campaign has claimed that the seat is no longer a Republican sinecure; but it is still rated “likely Republican” by the authoritative Cook Political Report. The Gillibrand forces will attempt to tie Sweeney closely to Tom DeLay and the corruption scandals. Already in circulation is a video publicizing “how Congressman Sweeney spends his weekend: skiing with lobbyists!” Expect more about weekending.
HEALTH BENEFITS. Should local government employees and elected officials be given free health insurance? Cairo’s Taxpayers Association thinks not. Judging from two reports in The Daily Mail (Andrea Macko; 1/18/06, 1/19/06), Taxpayers Association chief Charles Umbach says the town’s councilors gave themselves, along with the full-time workers, full health insurance in what was virtually a stealth action. He estimates the cost to local taxpayers at $700 per beneficiary. Query: what are prevailing local policies on health insurance for employees and (especially) for part-time elected officials?