Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Coming Democratic Tide

With 70 days remaining until the elections of November 7th, it looks as if the United States will experience a major political shift. The Democrats will make big gains. They will pick up half a dozen governorships. They will gain five or six seats in the U.S. Senate. They will gain an outright majority in the House of Representatives, with seats to spare. They will pick up scores of State and local offices that currently are held by Republicans. This bold forecast is not quite consistent with what the professional political forecasters have said. It foresees a bigger Democratic sweep than has been projected elsewhere, so far. It is the product, at any rate, of diligent study by Seeing Greene’s hard-working staff. While chronicling events in GreeneLand we have paid heed to opinion survey reports, to professionals’ projections, to likely formative events and, of course, to entrails of sacrificed birds. Multiple forces have worked to the advantage of the Democrats, who need but to take full advantage of them. GOVERNORSHIPS On November 7th, voters in 36 of the 50 States will decide who gets to be governor. Their votes will hand the Democrats a net gain of at least five seats. A net gain of six seats is more likely than a gain of four or fewer. At present, 28 governorships are occupied by Republicans, 22 by Democrats. Of governorships that are subject to electoral contest this year, 14 are held by Democrats, and all will remain in Democrats’ hands (even where the incumbent is retiring). As for the 22 Republican-held governorships that are open to contest, Democratic candidates are in excellent-to-good position to win contests in New York (Eliot Spitzer beats John Faso), Ohio (Rod Strickland thrashes Kenneth Blackwell in scandal-pocked State), Maryland (Martin O’Malley beats Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr), Arkansas (Michael Beebe over non-incumbent Asa Hutchinson), Colorado (Bill Ritter over non-incumbent Bob Beauprez), Alaska (Tony Knowles beats Sarah Pallin, who won the Republican nomination over incumbent Republican governor Frank Murkowski), Massachusetts (if Chris Gabrieli wins the Democratic nomination, facing Republican nominee Kerry Healey), Rhode Island (Republican incumbent Don Carcieri leads Democratic challenger Charles Fogarty by a few points in straw polls, but the state is heavily Democratic and the Republicans are split), and Florida (Gov. Jeb Bush is not seeking re-election; the party’s nominees will emerge from primary elections in September). A Democratic sweep of all nine of those races would be momentous indeed. The more likely gain is seven governorships—which are exceedingly valuable prizes, politically (what with publicity, patronage…). And incidentally, it’s not often that a Republican-held governorship gets classed as a sure Democratic bet. That is the case in New York in 2006. SENATE RACES Democratic candidates will pick up at least four seats. The current lineup is 55 Republicans, 44 Democrats, and one independent who is allied to the Democrats. Thirty-three Senate seats are being contested. Of these, 15 are held currently by Republicans, 17 by Democrats, and one by an independent (James Jeffords, who is retiring and will likely be replaced, in Vermont, by another independent, Bernie Sanders). None of the seats that are currently held by Democratic senators will pass to Republicans. Republican-held seats that will pass to Democratic hands are located in Pennsylvania (Bob Casey Jr ousts Rick Santorum), Ohio (Rep. Sherrod Brown over Sen. Mike DeWine), Missouri (Claire McCaskill over Sen. James M. Talent), and Montana (Jon Tester beats scandal-scarred Sen. Conrad Burns). In addition, the Democratic nominee for Senator from Rhode Island will win in November if the incumbent loses the Republican nominating election on September 12th. Moreover, it would not be far-fetched to anticipate that the Democratic senatorial candidate will capture a Republican-held seat in Virginia (Admiral James Webb knocking off Sen. George Allen), Tennessee (Rep. Harold Ford Jr over Robert Corker, Republican candidate to succeed contest to the retiring Republican, Bill Frist), or in Arizona (Jim Pederson edging Sen. John Kyl). HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES To gain a majority in the House of Representatives, the Democrats need a net gain of 15 seats. They will surpass that quota. We anticipate a net gain for them of 21 seats. The Democrats will add two or three (probably three) House seats from Ohio, two or three from Connecticut, two from California, two or three from New York (district 24, 29 and 20 in that order of probabilities) and from Pennsylvania, and one or more from Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas (district 22, Tom Delay’s former fief) and Arizona. In the meanwhile, judging from past experience, local circumstances may generate a countervailing turn or two, with Republicans replacing Democrats in House seats. Even if two of those anomalies do occur, the Democrats will capture control of the House.
The prediction that a Democratic victory will emerge from the counting of votes on November 7th is consistent with expectations voiced by “conservative” commentators as well as by neutral prognosticators. Our forecast is distinctive only for the scale of projected Democratic gains. We are guessing that trends that have helped the Democrats so far will persist and that formativeintervening events are more likely to work to the Democrats’ advantage. Some particulars: OPINION SURVEYS Harris Pollsters in early August asked respondents how they would vote if the Congressional elections were held “now.” The responses were 45% Democratic, 30% Republican. The Democratic preference was especially strong among women (50% D, 28% R). Among respondents who said they were Democrats, 87% said they plan to vote for the Democratic candidate(s), whereas only 81% of their Republican counterparts planned to remain steadfast. Among independents, the Democratic edge was 37 to 25. The majority of respondents described themselves as pro-Democratic (55%), as distinct from pro-Republican (37%) or Undecided. Similarly, an Associated Press/IPSOS survey in July indicated that of respondents who voted for George W. Bush in 2004, about one in five says he or she will vote for the Democratic candidate (for Congress or Senator) this time. Disapproval of the Botch Administration’s overall performance continues to surpass approval. These returns from sample surveys may not get any worse for the Republicans. But other figures are likely to hurt them. They are gains in the numbers of respondents who feel informed about the character of challengers to incumbents. In Virginia, for example, two months ago the incumbent Republican senator, George Allen, looked unbeatable. He generated some hurtful publicity, which the Democrats energetically exploited. At the same time, his challenger became a known quantity (with especially strong credentials in the domain of national security). In the latest Zogby sample survey, he actually out-polled Allen (by just one percentage point). MONEY The groundswell of support for Democrats (or distaste for Bush Republicanism) has been manifested in, and accelerated by, substantial contributions of campaign funds. The Democrats are no match for the Republicans in this matter. But they are closer than usual. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee actually out-raised and out-spent the Republican committee in July-August. In 17 Congressional districts, in the January-March, the Democratic challenger surpassed the Republican incumbent in funds raised and/or in total funds on hand. The Republicans won’t be able to swamp the Democrats with full-page advertisements, television commercials, direct mailings, billboards and telephone banks. TURNOUT Rates of registering to vote, and of actually voting, have usually been higher among Republicans than among Democrats. That advantage will not be wiped out in November but it will be diminished. Organizing efforts by official Democratic leaders have been stronger than usual; and they have been augmented if not eclipsed by efforts on the part of independent supporters such as MoveOn.org. In addition, and in spite of highly efficient organizing, we expect Republican turnout to be lower in some area than usual. It will be a product of active abstention. The abstainers will be stalwart Republicans who style themselves moderates or centrist. They feel that their party has been hijacked by goofy ideologues. They can’t quite bring themselves to vote Democratic. They will stay home.

CAMPAIGNS What messages will the candidates try to convey? Embattled Republican incumbents will struggle to distance themselves from their President. They will plead for challengers. They also will campaign against “liberalism”-- construed as heavy taxes, abortion, same-sex marriage, stem-cell research, spinelessness on defense, tolerance for illegal immigration, atheism, flag-burning. Those issues are salient mostly for the already-converted, and they serve to alienate Republican moderates. The Republican candidates also will urge the voters to rank national security against terror(ism) as their foremost concern. But since the dangers they cite appear to have increased during the Bush years, and since public opinion evidently has moved against “stay the course” in Iraq, that appeal will not provide much traction. Meanwhile, Democratic candidates will strive to make headway with their minimum-wage increase pledge and with tying their opponents to the Botch Administration.

LOCAL FORCES Although the November by-elections will be shaped by popular feelings about the general course of events (feelings of anxiety, tapped by pollsters in the form of questions about whether the country is going in the right or the wrong direction), they also will be shaped by local factors. Those factors favor the Democrats more than the Republicans. In New York State, overwhelming electoral support for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer will provide a coat-tail effect that, combined with other forces, could deliver four House seats to the Democrats instead of one or two (along with a host of normally Republican State and local offices). Ohio’s home-cooked scandals, coupled with fallout from the Abramoff/Delay scandals, will bring a bumper crop of support for Democrats. In Florida, the egregious Rep. Katherine Harris has made a fool of herself in her campaign for U.S. Senator; her evangelistic blather has worked to the advantage of all Democratic candidates, including the gubernatorial candidate in what the experts had construed as a safe Republican office. In Alaska, the drubbing of a sitting Republican governor in his own party’s primary made that State’s governorship a likely win for the Democratic nominee, Tony Knowles (who also happens to be an abnormally qualified candidate). In Pennsylvania, the ongoing Green Party senatorial campaign could do for Senator Santorum what Ralph Nader did for George W. Bush in 2000: deliver a victory to the Republican, and less popular, candidate. In two Congressional districts (in Nevada and Michigan), on the other hand, battles between “conservative” and “moderate” Republicans may put Democrats in offices which otherwise would have been out of reach. And in Rhode Island, a similar brawl within Republican ranks shows much promise of giving the Democrats an otherwise-unattainable Senate seat and governorship. If Stephen Laffey, generously supported by the “conservative” Club For Growth, succeeds in September 12’s primary election in wresting the Republican senatorial nomination from the incumbent, Lincoln Chafee, that seat will be captured in November 7’s general election by the Democratic nominee. The fall-out also will likely put Democrat Charles Fogarty in the governor’s chair. And the senatorial change may well occur even if Mr Chafee does survive--a weary, bitter, financially strapped survivor of intra-party sabotage.

EVENTS Elections are decided not only by past records and by campaigns, but also by events (such as 9/11). A “conservative” commentator named Michael Barone has opined that the Republicans need a salvational event and that it already has come. He names the terrorist plot to smuggle bombs onto civilian aircraft headed from England to America. That episode, he argues, can restore Republican fortunes because Republicans are more trusted than Democrats as military guardians. The advantage he cites, however, has dwindled over time. Support for Republicans has ebbed particularly among “security moms.” Meanwhile, the Iraq fiasco probably will persist, the Katrina relief fiasco will be remembered, more political scandals will come out, mammoth deficits will persist, gas prices will not ease much—in short, current Democratic prospects will not be dashed by supervening events. And President Bush will continue to be President Botch.

P.S. For more authoritative insight, google the latest Stuart Rothenberg report.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Greene Grime

Some interesting legal cases are alive currently in GreeneLand. They are additional to more mundane cases, such as that of the youth who stole from his employer (a MacDonald’s), the mother who neglected her children and violated a court order to stay sober, the confirmed drug addict and thief who is going once again into rehabilitation rather than directly to prison, the property-damaging drunk driver who already has lost her license, the street brawls, the domestic disputes…. Anyhow: POT BUSTS. Sheriff’s deputies struck three GreeneLand properties last Thursday, seized a quantity of cannabis plants, and made one arrest. Acting on confidential information and aided by helicopter sightings, they harvested marijuana from two Greenville sites, at 58 and 213 Scutt Road, and arrested Judith A. Moran, 49, on charges of unlawfully growing and possessing the prohibited weed. They also struck a weekend house property on Falls View Road, Cairo. According to Sheriff Richard Hussey, it is well equipped with electricity, hoses and pumps suitable for intense cultivation, and yielded a harvest of 70 plants. Further arrests would not be surprising. The deputies’ work followed by three days an arrest in Catskill. Acting on a tip and on direct observation, Village police arrested Ronald M. Patterson, 35, at his home at 33 Allen Street, which is a short walk from the police station. They reportedly found a four-pound supply of cannabis growing on Patterson’s back porch. The charges are unlawfully growing and possessing a prohibited substance.

BABY KILLER? Joshua Barreto, 23, has been arraigned in County Court on charges of manslaughter and murder in connection with death, in Hop-O-Nose Apt. 23, Catskill, of 3-year-old Jada Keyes. The accused was the live-in paramour, according to the police report, of the child’s mother. To that extent the case recalls the death in Coxsackie last year of 3-year-old Egypt Phillips, aged 3.

SOFTBALL SCANDAL. Dolores Gallagher, 29, of Catskill, has been charged with theft in connection with her management of funds collected from members of the Catskill Women’s Softball League, which she founded last March. Ms Gallagher must appear in Village court, but the case will then be shifted to County court, since the estimated mis-appropriation has crossed the $1000 threshold to achieve felony (grand larceny) status.

SPLINTERED BOARD. Tannersville Village Trustee Linda Kline claims in a lawsuit that her putative colleagues are not legal office-holders. Gina Legari isn’t legally the Mayor, Ms Kline claims, because her appointment last March to succeed Glenn Weyant, who had left town and had resigned, was only valid until the end of Mr Weyant’s term, namely, last April. After that, another appointment was required legally but was not obtained. Consequently, Ms Legari was not entitled to fill a village board vacancy by appointing Clifford Bertrand; and the two of them were not entitled to complete the office-filling business on August 9th by appointing, and approving the appointments of, Peter Firmalino and Dale Covey. The case has not come to court. Village attorney Tal Rappelyea, according to Daily Mail reporter Jim Planck, says that since the matter is under litigation, he must not comment.

FREEHOLD FRACAS. State Trooper Patrick Cullen of Freehold has been accused by Greenville Town Board members of two misdeeds, and by a local pub owner of harassment. A friend of the publican has in turn been accused of engaging in harassment. The compound case has received extensive publicity in The TimesUnion as well as in GreeneLand papers. From the Greenville Town Board comes a two-pronged complaint: that Sergeant Cullen illegally removed some 6 tons of bluestone paving from in front of his current home, trucking it to the site of his new house-to-be; and that he dumped construction material illegally, on an old site. In addition, publican Wayne Nelsen complains that, in retaliation for the aforementioned complaints, Sergeant Cullen has waged a campaign of harassment against Nelsen and his Freehold Country Pub customers. The Town Board’s complaints are currently under investigation by Capt. William Ranigan’s Internal Affairs Department of the State Police. They also have been pondered by GreeneLand’s district attorney, Terry Wilhelm. Mr Wilhelm told the Town Board that there doesn’t seem to be enough evidence to warrant prosecution, and that if the Board is not satisfied with that judgment, he will, if they request it, give “serious consideration” to appointing a Special Prosecutor to pursue the matter. On behalf of that response, Mr Wilhelm cites these considerations. (a) Although blue stone of the cited kind is indeed present on Sergeant Cullen’s second property, the quantity of it exceeds the volume of ‘missing’ bluestone, and there is credible evidence that Sergeant Cullen procured a shipment of that material from a Saugerties quarry. (b) Although Sergeant Cullen did dump construction materials on the ‘wrong’ site, he evidently had permission to do so from a Town employee who has granted that permission, however improperly, to other townsfolk. The Town Board has not accepted or declined the Special Prosecutor offer. Conspicuous among the accusing Town Board members was the publican, Mr Nelsen. And Mr Nelsen complains additionally that, in retaliation for his role in the Board’s action, Sergeant Cullen has subjected him (Nelsen) and his customers, directly and indirectly (through other troopers) to a campaign of harassment. That complaint also is under investigation. There’s more. Robert Meringolo, a friend of Mr Nelsen’s, took an active part in gathering evidence bearing on the harassment claim. And he has been accused of subjecting Sergeant Cullen’s pregnant wife to a pattern of harassment. She reportedly has taken out an order of protection against Mr Meringolo. The case has spilled over into the Comments section of Seeing Greene. A “Sister Mary Catherine” voiced apprehension about police corruption in GreeneLand, and particularly in the Freehold/Greenville area. Another commentator says “Sister Mary” is in fact Mr Meringolo, who allegedly has been charged with stalking (4th degree) by way of tailing Sergeant Cullen’s pregnant wife, and who also, allegedly, has threatened harm to a man who complained to him about an unfinished paint job. Could the latter man be the anonymous unmasker of Sister Mary?). Did you think we were going to resolve it all?

SERIAL SWINDLER? GreeneLand’s Martha Ivery bilked aspiring authors of books. GreeneLand’s Christine Owad has been accused of bilking foreigners who hope to remain and work legally in the United States. The accusation comes from the office of New York State’s attorney general, Eliot Spitzer. It imputes to Ms Owad, 59, of Windham and Prattsville, multiple perpetrations of a “Green Card” scam: extracting fat fees from scores or hundreds of people, mostly Irish and Ukrainian, mostly New York City or Hudson Valley residents, who had out-stayed their authorizations to live and work in this country and who believed her false promises that she could enable them to stay and work indefinitely, without needing to marry an American or to go back home and then apply. The case has been covered extensively in the Irish-American Press (most recently in the August 16-22 Irish Echo; see http://Irishecho.com) as well as in The Daily Mail. According to their accounts, Ms Owad turned to immigration counseling a few years ago after working as a grant writer for Greene County and other agencies. She is of French or of Ukrainian descent. She denies that she has misrepresented herself as a lawyer rather than as a paralegal, or that she made any promises that she could not keep. She acknowledges that she has not actually completed a procedure whereby an undocumented, out-of-status worker applied successfully, while in residence here, for a permit to stay and work here indefinitely. She contends, however, that procedural success can be obtained: “It’s not a miracle…. [T]here is a law….” It is about "dual intent." The suit filed by the Attorney General is civil. The plaintiff seeks financial restitution for the alleged victims. To that end, a court order was sought and granted whereby Ms Owad is prohibited from disposing of assets that could be a source of restitution money. But what is really going on, says Ms Owad, is persecution. As reported by Andrea Macko in The Daily Mail, Ms Owad contends that the political authorities are conducting a witch hunt, “demonizing” her and her kinfolk. The Assistant Attorney General who is handling the prosecution, Nicholas Garin, is linked with Russian gangsters. “Masquerading under the guise of an investigation” is "an attempt to seize…our family farm…and sell it to the Soviet Mafia.”

Friday, August 18, 2006


Another uptown business is set for downtown Catskill. The ground floor of the former, venerable Mayflower Coffee Shop (355 Main St) has been leased by proprietor Andrea Lowenthal to Jean Andzulis and Ellen Dudley, who will make it the headquarters for their "inspired by the Catskills" specialty food business, Catskill + Co. "Bean" and "Dudley" made themselves known to GreeneLanders this summer by selling their “Trail Truffles” (fruit & nut & chocolate treats) at the Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market. They also are making Wild Marshmallows (“because they come from bees and trees”) in a variety of flavors. Plus chocolate honey sauce, maple hot fudge, maple roasted nuts—“made with local honey, made with local maple syrup, made with organic ingredients, made by hand, made by love.” The new shop, they anticipate, will open in time for the promotional Main Street “second Saturday” event, September 11th. Bean, husband Troy and their five children are fully transplanted New York City folk. Dudley and her family are still part-time GreeneLanders. Their web site is (you guessed it) www.catskillandcompany.com

ALSO NEW to the downtown Catskill scene is DanceFit, a studio occupying the second floor of the old County Courthouse at Franklin and Bridge streets. That’s where Krisna Creque Godig teaches hip-hop gyrations, tango, pilates and ballroom dancing. She did her thing in Catskill High School last year, and has been invited for a return engagement. 943-0306.

MET MEZZO MARGARET TO MOUNTAIN TOP. How’s that for a headline? The story is that Margaret Lattimore, mezzo-soprano who has performed with the Metropolitan Opera and many other great companies, and who has been hailed for an “opulent” tone and “ravishing” sound), will sing this Saturday at the Windham Performing Arts Center. She will be joined on the program by pianist John Churchwell and by the Windham Festival Chamber Orchestra conducted by Robert Manno. For more information, call (518)678-9309. The show is part of the Windham Chamber Music Festival (www.windhammusic.com) and, for more about this weekend’s many mountaintop doings, check out the Catskill Mountain Foundation’s web site.

TALENT WANTED, thespian type, especially female, to fill parts in the Anton Chekhov play Three Sisters; in October; inside and outside Beattie-Powers Place in Catskill. To audition, contact the deft, experienced, talented director, Joseph Capone, at (518)943-2680.

MEMBERS WANTED, preferably affable and sporty, by Catskill Golf (& swimming & tennis & dining & schmoozing) Club (943-0302). People who join after September 1 get the remainder of 2006 plus all of 2007 for one year’s payment, namely, $1125 for a single player, about $1500 for a couple. There are no extra charges. And be assured that this warning is NOT posted on the Catskill course, or on any GreeneLand course: “any person (except players) caught collecting golf balls on this course will be prosecuted and have their balls removed.”

OOPS! We left out a zero. The Reading First grant that has been awarded to the Catskill Central School District is not $90,000, as stated in last week’s Seeing Greene; it’s $900,000 (nine hundred thousand dollars). That sum makes a lot more sense, what with plans that include hiring three new reading specialists. Anyhow, we venture to hope that the grant will not be spent entirely on the remedial program touted (in a 28 column-inch letter to The Daily Mail) by Barbara Hollis of Greenville, whereby children who are poor readers are encouraged to read aloud to dogs. The children are encouraged (by trained specialists) to believe that they are helping the dogs (specially trained to be good listeners) to become literate and smart.

MORE OOPS! In our canvass of grants for GreeneLand projects, we left out some biggies. An organization called Conifer Peppertree Associates LP gets $379,033 in the form or a Low Income Housing Credit to support a 48-unit residential development (in Coxsackie?). The non-profit, Stamford-based Western Catskills Community Revitalization Council gets a $400,000 grant to help lower-income first-home buyers settle in the rural western parts of GreeneLand. (For more information: www.westerncatskills.org or 607-652-2823). Moreover, the Heart of Catskill Association has been authorized to dispense up to $200,000 in grants that subsidize renovations of downtown buildings between Factory and Union streets. The dollars will come from the State and Federal governments. http://dhcr.state.ny.us/general/press/press67.htm

PLUS “As it is,” says newspaper columnist Dick Nelson the other day (8/20), the Village of Catskill “is going through a renascence of sorts, inasmuch as there is a resurgence to revitalize its ‘Main Street’ thoroughfare….” Consequently,. “the ancestors of [Catskill’s] aboriginals are reaping in all the wampum.” “In any event, you can help celebrate this momentousness event….”

BEST OOPSTER. Ernie Smith, head of the Hudson River division of Kiwanis, disseminated a dinner meeting invitation saying “PLEASE MAKE REVERSION BY AUG 16, 2006.”

Friday, August 11, 2006

Takings for Granted?

GRANTED, to GreeneLand’s Thomas Cole National Historic Site, by the United States Institute of Museum and Library Services, for cataloguing and otherwise organizing collected materials: a Museums for America award of $46,624. From among 448 applicants who sought $42 million in grants, the Institute included the Cole House among 177 winners of $17 million. According to the Institute’s Marsha L. Semmel, “a draft of your logic model” is due by September, semi-annual narrative program reports are required until the expiration date in mid-2008, and the Institute “will help you administrate your award.”

GRANTED, to Catskill Central School District, by the United States Department of Education, on recommendation of the State Education Department, to further the Reading First program (early literacy development): an award of $90,000. According to The Daily Mail’s Jim Planck (6/29), the three-year grant will help to fund the hiring of a reading co-ordinator and two reading coaches at elementary level. Here’s hoping they pay close attention to computer-based literacy programs.

GRANTED, to Columbia Memorial Hospital, by the Hudson Valley Foundation, $10,000 for school mental health screening, some of which will be done by GreeneLand’s Mental Health Center (in Cairo).

GRANTED: to Blackhead Mountain Lodge, by GreeneLand’s Planning and Economic Development agency: a Tourism Enhancement award of $25,000. The gift will help to pay for a new mini-conference center and fitness facility at the resort, whose proprietors, the Maassmann family, previously received a low-interest loan of $200,000 that helped to cover the costs of expanding the golf course to 18 holes. In the words of Warren Hart, director of the agency, the project is “precisely the kind of project we envisioned when the Greene County Legislature launched the Tourism Enchancement Program last year…. We are leveraging county funds against a significant private investment to help this vital sector of our economy grow and remain more competitive.”

WHAT’S HOOKING? Our absentee State Assemblyman, Daniel Hooker, recently distributed two mailings that have every appearance of being campaign documents. . One is a “special report” touting a “Hooker Plan” aimed at “protecting your family’s personal information.” Included in the flyer are five photographs ostensibly showing that Mr Hooker “works with local leaders to keep your family safe!” The other flyer, “A Special Report on Protecting Our Community,” warns that the Gilboa Dam “poses a serious risk to the Schoharie Valley” while assuring recipients that Mr Hooker is “teaming up with local officials…to assure your safety.” In addition, the flyer avers that Assemblyman Hooker “is fighting to: *Protect rural communities *Preserve home rule, end downstate influence *Protect family farms *Take a stand against New York City” and thereby, or additionally, “Save the rural way of life.” Both mailings encourage the impression that Assemblyman Hooker is actively on the job, is looking after his constituents’ interests and is keen to remain at their service. But he’s not. He’s not in Albany or in his district, warring against Gotham. He’s down in North Carolina, on active duty as a Marine Corps major. He has been on active military duty for more than a year. He announced back in January that he would not seek re-election. So why the mailings? His representative, “Chuck”, in his Catskill office, says Mr Hooker is just letting people know he’s doing his job and doing it well. For more information call (518)943-1371 or e-mail hookerd@assembly,state.ny.us . MORE POLITICS. Two up-scale gatherings in GreeneLand recently added to the coffers and to the hopes of Kirsten Gillibrand, the lawyer who aims to supplant John Sweeney in the United States House of Representatives. With regard to that prospect, professional handicappers have lately reclassified the district’s political coloration from “safely Republican” to “leans Republican.” Gillibrand has solid backing and she can talk (but is inclined to deliver blue-collar words to white-collar listeners). She is banking on attracting support from the district’s many “Rockefeller Republicans” (“conservative on fiscal policy, progressive on social policies” as she puts it) and who detest the Bush Administration. Those people evidently are numerous. Thus, although voters who are registered as Republicans out-number Democrats (by about 190,000 to 110,000) and miscellaneous others (about 100,000), majority support was given in the last elections to the Democratic candidates for U.S. Senator (Charles Schumer) and attorney general (Eliot Spitzer). Still, Mr Sweeney is the incumbent; he wears the brand of the locally dominant party; and he has brought bags of Federal money to needy local organizations. Viewed from the narrow standpoint of bringing home the bacon, the best result of the Sweeney-Gillibrand contest is either that Sweeney wins and the Republicans retain the majority of House seats, or that Gillibrand wins and so do enough other Democrats to produce a House majority.

NON-PROFITS. Organizations that are classed legally as non-profits can be important sources of jobs, hence of payrolls and retail sales and tax revenues. According to a story broadcast by MidHudson News, these aggregations differ substantially in scale of local importance. In Columbia County they account for a fourth of all jobs and wage payments in the private sector, and in Ulster County they account for almost one fifth. But in GreeneLand, non-profits account for only 3 per cent of private sector employment. Explanation: we don’t have a hospital and our private non-profit schools are few and small.

EVENTS. There’s a lot happening in GreeneLand this weekend. A Renaissance-themed fair. Music in Catskill and Athens. A stage play (“Six Characters in Search of an Author”) in Windham. German Alps Festival at Hunter Mountain. Lighthouse tours. Paintings by the renowned Jasper Cropsey. Photographic display of GreeneLand scenes (at Bronck Museum). Farmers’ and artisans’ markets (two sites). Special Saturday shopping & gallery-hopping & strolling in Catskill…. Best single source of information is www.GreeneTourism.com.

ALSO, we tardily report news of the renovation and re-opening of the Mountain Drive-In [!] Theater on Route 296, off State Route 23A, between Windham and Hunter. According to The Daily Mail, the cinema is owned by Moondance Theatres Inc. and managed by David Gage. This weekend’s nocturnal fare, costing all of $15 per car, is a double feature, “Cars” and “Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest.” There’s a web site: MoondanceTheatre.

NOT GROUNDED. The bulk carrier ALAM SEMPURNA, for most of last Thursday (8/3), looked to be stuck in the Hudson River just south of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge and directly east of Beattie-Powers Place. A GreeneLand sheriff’s team went aboard, determining that the vessel was not stuck in the channel, but instead was afflicted with engine failure. After the necessary repair was made, a tugboat turned the vessel around so that it could resume is southerly course. The story was duly reported in our local newspaper. A swift investigation by Seeing Greene staff yielded the additional information that the ocean-going, 178.2-meter, four-crane bulk carrier, with raised forecastle and poopdeck, was built in 1984 in Japan, and was christened “St Laurent” before it became the Malaysia-based property of Tekumata Sdn Bld. Moreover, 1.5 meters per minute, 0.70 rpm and 50 seconds are, respectively, its hoisting, slewing and luffing speeds. That’s what you wanted to know, no?