Friday, October 13, 2006

Swindlers & Other Newsmakers

THE BATTLEFRONT. GreeeneLanders who rely on local newspapers or radio stations for news would scarcely be aware of the fierce battle that is raging over who shall represent them in the United States House of Representatives. Consequently, Seeing Greene must make up for the deficiency. The material, however, is superabundant. We'll save it for a second blog, to be posted at the end of today or by tomorrow. Meanwhile:


TONIGHT (Friday the 13th) Opening of “Three Sisters” with a sterling local cast, from 8 pm., at Beattie-Powers House in Catskill. The play dwells on young adults who, feeling suffocated by provincial life, get awkwardly entangled amorously while longing for an imagined life of excitement in the big city. No, the setting is not GreeneLand in 1950, or 1960, or 1990. It’s rural Russia in 1900. Seating is limited to 40. Additional performances will be given tomorrow night, next Friday and Saturday nights and on October 27 and 28, plus matinees at 3 pm. Sunday and the following two Sundays. Reservations: (518)943-2680.

Screening of “Stephanie Daley,” the made-in-GreeneLand independent feature film; at the Catskill Mountain Foundation’s theater in Hunter,in conjunction with the Woodstock Film Festival; from 6:30 pm. Tilda Swinton! Amber Tamblyn! Timothy Hutton! Vincent Seeley! (263-4908) Also screened tomorrow night at Woodstock’s Tinker Street Cinema. TOMORROW (10/14) In Catskill, after the morning Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market at The Point, with music by folky/jazzy/bluegrassy Doug Marcus, comes the Village’s Second Saturday Stroll on Main Street, this one enhanced by Halloween costumes and festivities. Among the attractions will be a free movie, “Casper the Friendly Ghost,” at 1:15 in the Community Theatre. Local portrait photographer Rob Shannon will be set up to take shots of (not at) ghosts and goblins. Shops will be open, along with restaurants and galleries. Trick Or Treaters can hit Main Street stores until 5 pm. Two galleries will unveil three new shows. At the M, from 5:30 pm., the extraordinary photographic art of Fawn Potash and Thomas Teich will be on display. And up the street at the Arts Council, there will be openings of new exhibitions on the ground floor (“RSVP”; 6 local artists) and upstairs (“Playing with Fire”=Leslie Greist Yolen). NOT slated for this Saturday is another spectacular fireworks display sponsored by Cone-Y Island ice cream. Last week’s dazzling outburst (the final until next summer) was produced locally, by Rich Pilatich of Misbehaven Fireworks (755-4561), and was every bit the equal of the Village’s great explosion last July 4th. [ADDENDUM: make that 3 galleries with 4 new shows. The Wilder Gallery also has a show AND, after 9 pm., music.]

Best alternative to Catskill’s Saturday in the way of GreeneLand fun could be the Mountain Pumpkin Festival, from 11 am., at Bear Creek Landing in Hunter (Routes 214 and 23A). It’s a craft fair with pumpkin carving, hayrides, baking, vendors, mini-golf, horseback rides, prizes. (518)263-3839.

SCHOOL SUSPENSIONS. When a dozen Hunter-Tannersville High School students incurred two-day suspensions last week, Daily Mail reporter Jim Planck said they were punished for “expressing their civil liberties before the end of the school day.” But that is a quirky version of what happened. The students took part in demonstrations, in front of the school and then in downtown Tannersville, against the U.S. government’s Iraq ventures. To do so they walked off campus at noon, without permission, after being warned of the consequences. The kids did not just exercise their rights of expression. They broke rules. They accordingly earned their suspensions. For their evident concern with urgent public issues, they also earned applause.

GASOLINE in GreeneLand still is a price gouge. Regular costing $2.46 or so per gallon here sells for $2.29 in, among other places, ritzy Great Barrington MA. The national average yesterday was $2.26. GreeneLand prices were about equal to the State-wide average, to be sure, but New York City gas prices lately have been well below the State-wide prices; the latest Big Apple average is $2.274 per gallon.

SALUTED, by way of a big profile in The Daily Freeman’s People & Events section (8/10), not for surviving amid 11 siblings in Athens, nor for his sinister knuckleball strikeout record in Europe, nor even for achieving three retirements and chemotherapy before the age of 64, but for energetic, sustained immersion in good local causes: GreeneLand’s own Jim Riley.

DIED, on Wednesday, in Sarasota FL, at the age of 63, of cancer, after a sterling business career in New York and energetic participation in the cultural life of GreeneLand: Carol Theodos Savage. After retiring in 2001 as a global and communications executive with American Express and then Citigroup, Ms Savage became a full time resident, with her husband, Michel Goldberg, of Cairo, and in 2005 she ran for a seat on the town council. In addition to indulging her enthusiasm for boating, tennis, golf and skiing, she served on the advisory councils of Hudson Valley Technology and Commerce, the Hudson River Classics Showcase Theater, and the Manhattan School of Music. She sat on numerous committees of the Olana Partnership, and she chaired the board of governors of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. Donations in her memory can be made to The Raymond Beecher Fund for Programming at Cedar Grove, P.O. Box 426, Catskill NY 12414. [Added to blog at 3 pm. Friday]

MARTHA CHRONICLES III. Sentencing of serial GreeneLand scam artist Martha Ivery has been postponed for the third time. The new date is November 29th, in the Federal District Court, in Syracuse. Which means that a year probably will elapse before Ms Ivery, having been convicted of multiple counts of defrauding would-be authors of books, sees prison bars. If she ever does. Defense attorney Richard Mott has filed a memorandum with the court, arguing that although his client plucked at least $400,000 and as much $1 million from at least 50 suckers, she should not be incarcerated, except perhaps on weekends when she’s not working or being treated. Instead of heeding official guidelines that point to a five-year imprisonment, Mr Mott urges the court, put Ms Ivery on probation for five years, under stated conditions. Among conditions proposed by Mr Mott would be performing some community service, undergoing psychotherapy, and accepting an obligation to compensate victims of her book publishing/literary agent frauds. If she is not imprisoned, she’d be able to continue working (as a flagger on road construction crews at $1600, for example) so that she could make restitution payments. If, at the age of 58, she is consigned to prison, then by the time she is released she would be limited financially to Social Security checks. That menu of obligations, Mr Mott respectfully submits,would “bring adequate deterrent to others, reflect the seriousness of the offense, promote respect for the law, and provide just punishment for the offense.” In further support of that correctional recipe, Mr Mott points out, Mr Mott points out that Ms Ivery has not committed crimes of violence, was not drunk or stoned while defrauding would-be authors by pretending to be an authentic publisher (and editor and literary agent), and, until these last few years of scamming, does not have a criminal past—except for passing bad checks and bigamy. Ms Ivery’s childhood, she recounts, was wretched. Her first pregnancy (of three) came at the age of 17. Husband number one was a brute. When she married number two, bigamously, she did so to avoid testifying against him on an arson In the estimation of psychologist James Thalmann, as submitted by Mr Mott, Ms Ivery's career as scam artist was rooted in a “delusional disorder” which impaired her grasp on reality, including her own status as a lawbreaker. Ms Ivery was or is subject to “the flux of her own enigmatic attitudes and contradictory behavior.” “The end result is substantial impairment” of ability “to understand the wrongfulness of her behavior and thus to exercise control over her ongoing behavior.” That assessment will be pondered by Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. It could pave the way for a sentence that, in relation to the offenses, is lighter than normal. It also could support an apprehension that if she were at liberty to do so, Ms Ivery would readily revert to the habit of delusion-bound swindling. That apprehension would be fortified by an FBI finding that even while she was under indictment for fraud, Ms Ivery tried to work her wiles on another would-be author.

SECOND SCAMMER STORY. While Martha Ivery (of Catskill) preyed on would-be authors, Christine Owad (of Windham) evidently bilked undocumented immigrants. She has been ordered to pay them back. Responding to evidence presented by the staff of New York’s Attorney General, State Supreme Court Justice Thomas J. Dolan ruled that Ms Owad owes $198,000 in remuneration to 55 identified victims of her Green Card scam, plus additional remuneration to additional victims who make themselves known by December 15th, along with $105,000 in civil fraud penalties. The civil judgment was meted out three weeks ago. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer characterized it (in a statement to The Irish Echo) as “a good day for those concerned about protecting immigrants” against “scam artists like Christine Owad” who “preyed upon peoples’ desires to make better lives for themselves.” According to Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Garin, a “handful” of additional claims have eventuated so far. Each one cites a payment to Ms Owad in the $2000-$4000 range in return for the false promise of being allowed to remain and work legally in the United States. Potential claimants may be inhibited by fear of expulsion as undocumented visitors, but they are offered assurance of confidentiality, with their identities redacted from court records. (Inquiries can be voiced to the Consumer Helpline at 800-771-7755 or, for confidential talks with the attorney general’s staff, to 845-485-3913. The attorney general’s web site is No payments from Ms Owad have been received so far, Mr Garin told Seeing Greene; and it seems likely that the obligation will eventuate in the seizure and sale of Ms Owad’s main asset: a farm in Prattsville. Ms Owad said last August (to The Daily Mail and to Irish-American periodicals) that she has defrauded nobody, and instead is being made the victim of a witch hunt conducted by Russian Mafiosi who want to grab that farm. A telephone call on Thursday (10/12) by Seeing Greene had not been returned by noon today.


Anonymous said...

I'm sure the ladies at Writers Beware would be interested in your summary of Martha's situation. You know, lots of people end up relying on Social Security without having lived the scam life first.

Anonymous said...

The Republicans running for Legislature keep sidestepping the issue whether they agree to share the sales tax with the Towns and Villages. They say they want to hear from all the Town boards first (fellow Republicans of course) but that is just a delay tactic. How much are county taxes? A few hundred dollars a year? Better to pay the full County tax shot and get a reduction on the Town/village tax which are more.

Look how much money will be made in sales tax from the Walmart and Lowes. The Town and Village of Catskill will incur all the added expense because damage to roads because of increased use is a village/Town of Catskill cost, extra crime (stealing from store, kids hanging out) will mean more work for police and police and courts is a Town/Village of Catskill cost. More Water and sewer use means more cost to maintain and maintanence of the water amd sewar is a Town/Village of Catskill cost. The list goes on and on.

Do the People running for legislature from Catskill want to share the sales tax.

Cotten, Dombrowski and Dupuy all want the County to share sales tax because it helps the Town and Village of Catskill Taxpayers.

Deyo, Kitsinger, Prest and Valentine give the wishy-washy, we have to wait to see what the other republicans want answer.

Vote for the People who will work for the People of Catskill and not the Republican bosses.

Anonymous said...

10/13/2006 7:20 PM

Fuck You! Forrest cotton is the biggest dick head I've ever seen!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Here's how the legislature races shape up. Democrats basically want the county to pay for almost everything at the town/village level, but still let those communities maintain their governmental autonomy. Republicans on the other hand, see a broader picture of running the entire county and funding various departments, such as highway and public safety, which we all benefit from. Their decisions may come across as not benefitting their particular towns, but they are being careful because something that might be great for Catskill could have a devastating impact on a town like Ashland, for example. Rather than sharing excess sales tax, the legislature should look to put more of it into paramedic services, start putting away for a new jail and budget less conservatively and use what is certain to be increased sales tax revenues to pay off some of our indebtedness now, which in itself can help keep property taxes stable or even reduce them.

Anonymous said...

Interesting point about the sales tax issue being sidestepped by Republicans. Maybe they're sidestepping it because, as legislators for the ENTIRE county, they're trying to make decisions that benefit all of the towns and villages. Some facts for your consideration:

Fact: Until Forest Cotten decided to run for election to the Legislature, his involvement in the sales tax issue (among many other things) was limited to watching Vinny Seeley and others run with the ball; now he fancies himself a leading expert on the cause. Can we say "election year football?"

Fact: Although our Legislature does not currently return sales tax, only the Village of Catskill suffers from an outsize tax burden in comparison to communities outside Greene County. This is because the Village provides a full complement of services for a community with a very small population. It is not the responsibility of the Greene County Legislature to subsidize one individual community, and if the Democrats weren't trying to own this as an election year platform, this topic would be as dead as it's always been.

Fact: The Town and Village will bear added expense in infrastructure cost with the arrival of Wal-Mart and Lowe's. Really, that's about all they'll bear - water and sewer are paid for by the users, and appearance tickets and fines recompense the court and police systems to some degree. Talking about how much we're all going to bleed to death without sales tax revenue is, at best, exceedingly premature.

Fact: Our Legislature has demonstrated fiscal stability for years, with limited tax hikes, completion of massive capital improvement projects, and a healthy hand in the County's economic growth. County Democrats have done absolutely nothing to contribute to this record of accomplishment, for the most part, but they're all too willing to cry "fiscal irresponsibility" at the first opportunity.

Fact: None - not one - of the Democratic candidates for Legislature in Catskill have known large-scale ($5,000,000 +) budget experience to bring to the Legislature. What will happen next year if three green rookies show up to craft a $70 million budget? Will they be part of the solution...or part of the problem?

At issue is leadership. The previous poster's comment referencing "Republicans that have to check with Town boards" is indicative of exactly how government is SUPPOSED to be conducted; tilting at windmills and executing on a poorly defined countywide platform, put forth by folks that have never had to think beyond their own communities, is not.

This year, let's elect proven leaders with real experience making tough decisions, not election-year poseurs with borrowed agendas. Vote Deyo, Kistinger, Prest, and Valentine.

Anonymous said...

the Greene County Legislatures from Catskill are elected from the Town/Village of Catskill, not from Ashland, Durham or from the "entire county" and are elected to spearhead what is best for the people who have elected them and that is Catskill.

Your comment that sharing sales tax would only help the people from Catskill makes the point. Shouldn't the people elected from Catskill vote to help the People from Catskill instead of listening to the Republican party bosses who answer to the people in towns outside Catskill?

Anonymous said...

Did any of the Republican Candidates have prior experience with 50 million dollar budgets? Did any have a business go belly up?

Anonymous said...

Did you see the Town of Catskill Republican Party bosses letter to the editor in the Daily Mail?

More Proof that the Catskill Republican Candidates for Legislature do what the Republican Party bosses tell them. We don't want party bosses telling the Catskill people not to do things that will help Catskill because it might not be popular in Cairo, etc.