Friday, July 06, 2007

The Litigation Front

--Coxsackie’s mayor, John Bull, is suing three of his fellow Village Trustees. He says the trio illegally took upon themselves the authority to fire the police chief, Robert Helwig, and to hire a replacement. Those deeds in turn seem to be interwoven with Off-Tracking Betting Corporation business in Albany, with intra-Republican Party wranglings, and more. The defendants voted to use Village-funded insurance to meet their legal fees. Mayor Bull hopes to tap the same source but probably can’t marshall the votes.

--New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation is suing Peckham Materials Corporation, along with three co-defendants, for alleged deviations (explosive, fiery, trashy deviations) from authorized uses of its limestone quarry site on Fyke Road in Catskill. That action in turn stems from a Fyke Road resident’s suit against Peckham and the D.E.C. (reported in Seeing Greene of 2/15/07). Plaintiff Lee Ann Morgan in the latter case treats the D.E.C. as passive abettor of the alleged offenses perpetrated by Peckham and its business associates. The D.E.C.’s action offers a kind of confirmation.

--A father and son are suing the Village of Catskill’s Trustees and Fire Company (as reported in Seeing Greene, 3/17/06). That proceeding has contributed in some measure to an initiative to promote conciliatory dialogue among village firefighters and ex-firefighters, with a view to healing wounds suffered in the course of the consolidation of Catskill’s fire companies. In the meantime, the Shanks suit has not reached trial (or acknowledged negotiation), but one development is noteworthy. Joel Shanks claimed that he was made the butt of punitive maltreatment in retaliation for whistle-blowing, or complaining (secretly) to a State agency, the Public Employees Safety and Health Bureau, about health and safety problems in his company. His complaint was dismissed, and even mocked, by the PESH investigator. He appealed that judgment to another government agency, the Occupational Safety and Health division of the United States Department of Labor, whose regional administrator dropped a bomb on the PESH treatment. The PESH investigator, said Patricia K. Clark, failed to gather manifestly relevant evidence, much less to evaluate it. “PESH did not gather facts as they stated and PESH failed to test the assertions made by Respondent and Complainant. All assertions made by Respondent were accepted at face value.” “PESH did not consider all the evidence nor did PESH test any of the assertions made by Complainant and Respondent.” PESH pretended that Complainant concurred with “administratively closing” the case when in fact he dissented explicitly and persistently. PESH did not properly notify Complainant of his right to appeal its findings. With regard to the Whistleblower Program investigation, PESH was afflicted with “systemic program deficiencies.”

--Two children are suing GreeneLand’s Department of Social Services, claiming that the agency bears a portion of responsibility for the wrongful death, back in November 2004, of their 3-year-old sister. The civil suit was filed by attorney Eugenia Brennan Heslin, of Hunter, on behalf of Nyasia Smalls, 8, and Neisha Rose, 9. Although the live-in lover of Egypt’s mother, is doing prison time for murdering the child, Egypt Phillips, aged 3, and the mother, Tanya Rose, is doing time for negligent homicide. The plaintiffs maintain that the DSS people were well aware of the mortal danger under which Egypt was living and failed to fulfill their duty to intervene effectively. Other county agencies are named as defendants, along with a pediatrician. The plaintiffs seek financial compensation. Their claim has gained indirect credibility from the terms of an opinion recently voiced, in an altogether different case, by the Chief Judge of the State Supreme Court along with a judicial colleague. According to Judge Judith Kaye (as reported by Chris Garifo, Daily Mail, 6/13), our Social Services Department failed utterly in the other case to meet its duties of care, advice and protection.

Each of the foregoing cases deserves a more thorough exposition, by Seeing Greene’s small, ill-paid, beleaguered staff.

BEST BET for GreeneLand fun this weekend is the Catskill Mountain Foundation’s Mountain Culture Festival—music, films, heaps of crafts, food—in Hunter, from noon on Saturday and on Sunday. Also in prospect tomorrow is the Kelly Miller Circus (out of Hugo, Oklahoma) at the Upper Rip VanWinkle Lake grounds in Tannersville. Tickets are $5 (kids) and $9 in advance, $6 and $12 on site. An advertising insert touts, for “more things to see and do in Green [sic.] County,” the web site www.GreenTourism.com , which actually is a source for the conservation-minded (in contrast to www.greenetourism.com)

TOO BIG? Some GreeneLanders are voicing distress calls about the prospective giant retailing center in Coxsackie. “It would destroy the Mom & Pop stores we have in Coxsackie, Catskill and Ravena,” says local resident Betty Becker. Coxsackie “could use another grocery store,” she adds--and a YMCA, a theatre, a playground, a skating rink—“not more retailers." “Let’s support the people and the stores we already have.”

NOTE TO ANONYMOUS of 7/4/07, 6:20pm: Your plaint about the paucity of information about events in Coxsackie is eminently post-worthy. Too bad you did not sign it.

PRIMPING is under way at the historic building (with “Edgar Peelor” plaque on the wall) that stands at the Y between West Main and Broome street in Catskill. (Edgar died, at age 35, back in 1880, and is buried in Catskill Rural Cemetery. Parents William and Caroline outlasted him). Owner Albert LaBonte has already moved his beauty supplies business down to Tampa (hoping for more pedestrian traffic past his stock of wigs, hairpieces and extensions). Paint is going on outside the building, along with remodeling inside. The 3900 square foot building contains a two-story shop and a separate-entrance apartment. Asking price: $199,000. Inquiries: (845)313-8664.

FORMED in Greene County: a company called The Catskill Fig. We are inquiring.

RECOGNIZED, YET AGAIN: Greene County Historian (and philanthropist, fount of information, nonagenarian and consummate gentleman) Raymond Beecher, this time by the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, in the form of the Alf Evers Award, to be conferred July 14th at the Center’s Arkville headquarters.

4 D’S. What forces bring goods to auction houses? According to Russ and Abby Carlsen, they are Death, Desperation, Debt and Divorce.

“OUR” PAPER. In the June 19th issue of GreeneLand’s only home-grown daily newspaper, five of the A section’s 14 pages were devoted (as announced by successive giant space-eating headlines) to “Arts & Entertainment.” The stories on those pages told of events in Spencertown, Hudson (4), Austerlitz, Craryville, Greenport (2), Annandale-on-Hudson and Tivoli. Nothing artistic or entertaining in GreeneLand, it would seem, met The Daily Mail’s criteria. Meanwhile, one of the A section’s pages was billed as “Greene County.” It contained the Calendar of Events and two articles. The calendar’s first item cited a Hudson event. The top story emanated from Albany and contained no Greene County angle. The other story—Eureka!—dealt with weekend programs at the Mountain Top Arboretum in Tannersville. (Reference to those programs was absent from the Calendar).

1 comment:

bill mc said...

Exactly what "Mom & Pop" stores would be devastated by this growth??? How many years was it that we could not buy underwear in the county??? (Walmart is here like it or not) Where were the "Mom & Pop" underwear stores?? All the upscale stores in Catskill will do fine until the economy turns down (as it will) and then we will have empty galleries on Main Street, its all cyclic. Phooey on people who say that growth is bad, the stores in Coxsackie are few and far as are the dwindling stores in Ravena, catskill will swing upwards.