Friday, November 23, 2007

Post-Turkey Trot

DEPARTING, on Jan. 25th , after 17 years as Administrator of Greene County: Douglas Brewer. This will NOT, we understand, distress Legislative Chairman Wayne Speenburgh.

DEPARTED from St Luke’s Episcopal Church in Catskill, to a parish in Frisco TX, after a residence here of some 30 months as successor to Michael Gorchov: priest Diana Freeman. While searching for a new priest, the 115 St Luke’s parishioners will depend on part-timers dispatched, when available, from the Albany diocese.

STONEWALLING. At that infamous October 24th meeting of the Board of the Catskill Central School District, be it remembered (Seeing Greene, 10/19 and 10/24) President James Garafalo refused to allow any discussion of Superintendent Kathleen Farrell’s notorious “Please kill” e-mail message. At their October 17th meeting, he said, the Trustees had reviewed “all relevant facts,” had “resolved” the matter, and had expressed “confidence” in the superintendent. “That’s all the Board has to say,” said he; and the other Trustees mutely concurred--whereupon the 100 teachers, ex-teachers and friends who had come to the meeting expecting that the teachers’ union leader would at least be allowed to deliver a statement on the subject, walked out.

At that time, the minutes of the Board’s October 17th “Workshop” had not yet been posted. That gap has now been filled. And to the untrained eye, it is difficult to appreciate that the Board did indeed review the subject. Five “Personnel” matters were processed, but the Superintendent’s name was not among them. (Mr Garafalo had told a Daily Freeman reporter that he could not discuss how the Board handled the “Please Kill” episode because it was “a personnel matter”). The only possible sign of attention to the “Please kill” controversy is a note in the minutes reporting that from 8:30pm to 10:07pm, the Trustees went into Executive Session “for the purpose of discussing the employment history of a particular individual.” The Trustees did not use those 97 minutes, however, to make a thorough review of the “Please kill” episode. They did not talk to the teachers who were the immediate targets of the call, or to the leader of the teachers’ association, or to accidental recipients of the message.

Prior to the executive session, incidentally, Superintendent Farrell “thanked the Board for their commitment to the district and presented certificates of appreciation to the board members. There was a brief break,” according to the minutes, “to celebrate Board Appreciation Week with the board.”

MENDING, from triple bypass operation, with expectation of being back on the bench come mid-January: County Judge Daniel Lalor.

FORMING, from the ranks of talented local amateurs: a Catskill Community Orchestra. In the words of organizer David E. Woodin, ”talented amateurs, aspiring professionals, retired musicians, etc.” are invited to come forward and join the new ensemble, which will meet, starting in January, “probably on Friday evenings, in the rear of the First Reformed Church in Catskill.” “All you need is your instrument, your own music stand, and your interest.” Inquiries: or 622 0298.

INVESTIGATING for the GreeneLand Public Defender’s office, following retirement as a sergeant in the State prisons’ correction service: Morris Darling of Catskill (who served for many years as President of the School Board). According to Chief Public Defender Dominic J. Cornelius, thanks to his know-how about prison life and about firearms, Mr Darling has brought about plea bargains where prolonged court trials could have occurred, thereby saving the taxpayers a bundle.

PROPRIETY QUESTION: Is it okay for a Town Justice to serve as his or her own court clerk? Tanja Sirago, having been elected as Town Justice in Cairo, after being appointed for the brief remainder of Michael Flynn’s term, and having previously been the clerk, has announced an intention to handle both jobs.

“CLIMBING THE HILL” = title of cover story in the Nov.-Dec. Dartmouth Alumni Magazine about that college’s first female member of the U.S. House of Representatives: Kirsten Gillibrand (class of 1988), of our 20th Congressional District. Ms Gillibrand “scored a major upset” last November, says author Dirk Olin, “out-punching a powerful Republican incumbent in one of the nastiest congressional street fights” of 2006. However, “reelection may be even harder.” Given the party registration figures (80,000 more Republicans than Democrats) and the fact that the Republican challenger (probably “Sandy” Treadwell) will not carry the taint of the previous incumbent, John Sweeney, that forecast seems plausible. But Seeing Greene’s analysts predict that Ms Gillibrand will be re-elected by at least as big a margin (53%) as she gained last November. That will happen because (1) 2008 will be a banner year for Democrats in general; (2) Ms Gillibrand’s win in November 2006 coincided with enough wins for other Democrats to give their party control of the House of Representatives—a big asset when it comes to doing favors on constituents; (3) even though Republicans far and wide will support Gillibrand’s challenger with generous donations, Ms Gillibrand won’t be out-spent; (4) having been appointed to the Agriculture and Armed Forces committees of the House, Ms Gillibrand has been a position to make lots of friends among farmers and veterans, who normally lean Republican; (5) Rep. Gillibrand has done an exemplary job of making herself visible and accessible to constituents.


Tonight (Friday, 11/23): Parade of Lights down Main Street, Catskill, to tree-lighting ceremony at county courthouse. Organized by ladies’ auxiliary, Catskill Fire Company, it starts from Water Street at about 5:30pm. 943-9770.

Saturday. Concert by the Catskill Mountain Chamber Orchestra, at the Doctorow Center for the Arts in Hunter. New “Doctorow Center fanfare” composed by conductor Robert Manno, followed by works of Rachmaninoff, Boyce, Shostakovich, Mozart, Chopin. (263-2063)

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