Friday, February 29, 2008

Marching In

CONVICTED of manslaughter, by nine female and three male jurors, on Tuesday, after six hours of deliberation and an 11-day trial in the Greene County courthouse, for causing the death of his 3-year old step-daughter: Joshua Barreto, 24. While declining to convict Barreto of the more serious charge of murder (second degree), which consists of bringing about a death by way of depraved indifference to human life, the jurors decided that Barreto negligently and wantonly caused the death on May 29, 2006, of Jada Keyes, by negligently and wantonly mistreating her in and around a bathtub in a Hop-O-Nose apartment where he lived with Jada's mother, Amy Fuller. According to local newspaper reports, defense attorney Greg Lubow was “extremely disappointed” with the verdict and plans to file an appeal. He will ask the appeals judge to rule that trial judge Daniel Lalor erred when he did not instruct the jurors that in order to reach a manslaughter conviction they must find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Jada died specifically from neck and head injuries inflicted negligently by Barreto. For respectable Press coverage of the trial (by Ariel Zenga), go to, then click Daily Freeman, then type Barreto in the Search box and go back 30 days. As for Daily Mail coverage, some excerpts:

>…Wilhelm and…Lubow engaged in dialogue with the group of Greene County residents to make their selections based on the jurors objectivity and indiscretion. >Wilhelm asked the group if they thought someone would be becoming after committing a serious crime. >An arm injury Keyes had sustained on January 30, 2006 was used as a tactic by Lubow to bring suspicion of abusive behavior by Fuller, however a testimony given by Hechanova proved that abusive behavior was inconclusive. >The new statement claimed that she was, in fact, not home and Joshua Barreto was supervising her. [That sentence would make sense if one takes the noun referents of “she” and “her” to be different females: mother and child. Ed.] >When Fuller was question…, she broke down into tears and court was called to a short recess. >The bruises on the chest and shoulders very indicative of grabbing and shaking which was then supplemented by an impact on back of the head, according to Ng. >There was overwhelming evidence that supported the child was shaken, Ng said. >There as no microscopic examination of the brain, which boggled Callery…” >“I don’t can’t say cause of death is cranial cervical dislocation,” said Callery.

>In September, 2006 Elias had told received a phone call from Fuller to get his advice on a CPS investigation that was pending against her, she was being charged with neglect and severe abuse of her children, Keyes and Cadence. >When Barreto took the stand, he discussed his background from his days in basic training with United States Marine Corps, where he injury his knee and was medically discharged, to the events leading up to May 29, 2006. >He grabbed her by the neck and shoulders to her out of the tub…. >…Barreto continued to deny that his documented responses were not verbatim but paraphrased. >He reminded the jury to step outside the gossip and examine the facts of the case and that it was not “a comparison.”

SUGGESTED by one Tom Swope, in letters to editors of mid-Hudson newspapers: convert the Hudson Correctional Facility, which is slated for closing, into a satellite college campus. If that could be done, it would make more $en$e than keeping the place going as a prison just to protect jobs and, through them, the local economy. Mr Swope says the Facility’s staff members out-number its inmates, and, anyhow, the place “was not built to be a prison. It was built to be a reformatory for girls, and looks like an Ivy League campus with elegant Georgian style brick buildings in a park-like setting….”

DENOUNCED by Coxsackie police captain Samuel Mento, for putative “toxic environment”-creating, “misstatements and misinterpretations,” “gross distortion of the truth” and possible “slander”: Village Mayor John Bull. The quotations (via reporters Linda Fenoff, Greenville Press, 2/21, and Dollie Gull, Daily Mail, 2/27) express resentment of words aimed by Mr Bull at the work and spending priorities of police chief Donald Meier. (The quotations provided by the two reporters are eerily similar. Also eerily similar is the absence, in each case, of information about when and where the Mento and Bull statements were made).

NOMINATED as finalists in “Tourism Executive of the Year” award by the State’s Hospitality & Tourism Association, for announcement at a March 10 gala in Albany: Peter Finn, who is founder and board chairman of the Catskill Mountain Foundation, and Orville Slutzky, who is president of Hunter Mountain. Neither man really is or ever has been a “tourism executive” in the sense of being a paid full-time promoter of tourism. Each man is much more than that. (Incidentally, the Tourism Association’s news release concerning Mr Finn’s nomination was published in the 2/19/08 Daily Mail and again, verbatim, in the 2/23 issue).

DEFLATED by arrest on suspicion of hauling coin-operated air compressors away from filling stations and convenience stores in GreeneLand and Columbia County: Michael J. Swenson, 46, of Cairo. He faces charges of criminal possession of stolen property and possessing burglar’s tools, as well as grand larceny in connection with the separate matter of thefts of pocketbooks from cars in the Leeds area. His arrest follows a month-long investigation by State troopers, whose hunch about the perpetrator seemingly was confirmed when, under Swenson’s house at 106 Cairo Junction Road, nine of the missing tire-inflating gadgets were found.

OFFERED at giveaway prices, by Greene County Soil & Water Conservative District in Cairo: wildflower seed mixes ($12 for 40-ounce bag) along with seedlings, transplants, specialty packs. (go there!); 622-3620)

ADVANCE-ORDERED by numerous bookstores, as well as by the Scholastic Book Club and the Junior Library Guild, all prompting a second printing ahead of its official launch, by publisher PenguinPutnam, in May: United Tweets of America. It’s the latest book written (fluently) and illustrated (beautifully—we’ve seen it) by GreeneLand’s Hudson Talbott. Yes, that’s the same H. Talbott who, in addition to having written and/or illustrated 15 other books for children, and being a pivotal hands-on supporter of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site and the Catskill Community Center, is well along with another project: an illustrated historic celebration of the Hudson River. This publication will connect to celebrations in 2009 of the 400th anniversary of Henrik Hudson’s riverine voyage. Meanwhile: In case you haven’t guessed, Mr Talbott’s current book describes and depicts the official birds of our 50 States.

ONCOMING Saturday (3/2): Benefits. For leukemia-afflicted Hilary Manning-Lundy, at Doubles II in Catskill (29 Church St; 679-8833), with music by the Voodelics. *For family of the late Howard (“Bud”) Praetorius, at the Fernwood Restaurant (678-9332) in Palenville, with live music. * For Catskill Little League, at Anthony’s Restaurant, with music by Steppin’ Out. (For details check -- whose last entry under the Little League News dates from October 2006).

Sunday (3/3), from 2pm: Cole House Rocks! Well, to be more exact: Robert Titus, professor of geological and environmental sciences at Hartwick College, will use Thomas Cole’s famous “Course of Empire” series to illustrate dawning painterly awareness of geology, and especially of the great antiquity on Earth of rocks. Previously, “old” had been ascribed chiefly to ancient man-made structures. (Oops! Almost mentioned Darwin. And evolution).

Friday, February 15, 2008

All in a Dazed Murk

HAPPILY, the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, after residing for 31 summers at a Columbia County hay farm, is moving to GreeneLand. As determined by organizer Mary Tyler Doub, the country music and dancing party, with instruction as well as performances on four stages, will take place on the 200-acre Walsh Farm in Oak Hill during July 17-20. ( )

UNHAPPILY, the announced days of Grey Fox bluegrass overlap with Irish Arts Week, which is scheduled for July 13-19 at the Michael J. Quill Irish Culture & Sports Centre in East Durham. That event, now in its 14th year, will be preceded by the venerable Irish Festival that comes on Memorial Day weekend (5/24-25). ( )

RE-GRANTED to Eli Joseph Hunter of Cornwallville, by and/or through the Arts Councils of Greene and Columbia Counties: $2500 in support of a contemplated “Year In Hand” project which would--in his words, as quoted in a Council release--“marry” the “media” of “earthwork, photography, and the moving image.” In addition to being a documentary film maker, Mr Hunter is the woody plant expert for The Phantom Gardener. Another $2500 re-grant for art work went to Michael Chameides of Hudson, who plans to make a video, “On Water’s Edge,” about local Bangladeshis’ use of his city’s waterfront park. His and Hunter’s awards are re-grants in that the money comes from the State Arts Council.

ACCEPTED for participation in America’s pre-eminent bass fishing tournament, to be held during February 22-24 at Lake Hartwell in Greenville SC: former GreeneLander Chris Loftus. As pointed out by Outdoors columnist Dick Nelson (Daily Mail, Feb. 10), Mr Loftus is the first mid-Hudson competitor to earn a spot in this 37-year-old, 50-contestant Bassmaster Classic. The former Lexington resident, now a chemical engineer based in Wilmington NC, graduated from Windham-Ashland-Jewett High School, where he was valedictorian (as was his brother). His father developed a flourishing real estate business in Windham after retiring from the New York City police force. His mother worked for Greene County. When remembering Mr Loftus as a young GreeneLander, former friends and mentors, such as Danny Powell and Tom Gentalen, use superlatives: “nice,” “honest,” “really bright,” “special person,” “true gentleman….”

PRAISED, by Wall Street Journal reviewer Terry Teachout: the latest revival of “Moby Dick—Rehearsed,” a stage play written by Orson Welles and first performed in London in 1955. “Greatly impressed” was Mr Teachout with this “surprisingly postmodern piece of lyric theater,” as performed by members of the eminent Acting Company of New York and directed by GreeneLander Casey Biggs. With “seamless stealth” did Act I’s “naturalistic” style give way to Act II’s “expressionistic” mode. With subtlety did acting, lighting, sound effects, directing and script (in blank verse) coalesce so as to “ease us out of the everyday world into the vortex of Ahab’s obsession.” Back in 1999, when the Berkshire Theatre Company did “Moby Dick—Rehearsed,” Mr Biggs played Starbuck, first mate to Captain Ahab on the whale ship Pequod. That was before he won international fame (behind heavy makeup) as Damar the Cardassian on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”

BUYING LOCAL. For every 20 gallons of gasoline that we buy somewhere other than in GreeneLand, the county loses about $2.50 in sales tax revenue. We hurt ourselves when we buy elsewhere. But when prices in neighboring counties (even on the Freeway) are lower than in GreeneLand, it’s hard to pump locally. Could our legislators do something about that? Make regular inter-county price comparisons. Ask regional managers of Getty, Hess, Citgo, Sunoco, Stewart’s Shops, Cumberland Farms and the like to account for the inter-county, anti-GreeneLand disparities. And use local radio outlets to broadcast tips—already available on the Internet—about where the local price is “lowest today.”

SLIPPAGE. Greene County Bancorp Inc., parent of our Bank of Greene County (as distinct from The Greene County Bank of Battlefield, Missouri), underwent a drop in net income during the last quarter of 2007 as compared with the same period in 2006: $626,000, or 17 per cent. According to company president Donald Gibson, the slippage was due largely to non-interest expense increases and to the fact that the higher 2006 quarter included a one-time gain from the sale of a former Coxsackie branch site.

SLUMPAGE? Coinciding with that decline in GreeneLand bank business during 2007 was a drop in real estate activity. According to the New York State Association of Realtors, the volume of sales of single-family multiple-listed homes in GreeneLand dropped by a whopping 19.3 per cent. That figure is one of the highest among counties in the State, and much higher than equivalent figures for Albany, Columbia and Ulster counties. The figure is based on numbers supplied by the Columbia-Greene Association of Realtors. But the local transaction numbers coming from the same source, broken down by agency, show only a modest (5%) drop from 2006 to 2007 in GreeneLand transactions—a drop that is about the same as in neighboring counties. We called the local Association in quest of clarification. The lady wasn’t interested. (“We don’t do statistics”).

DAILY MURK. “During the cell search, inmate Quincy Palmer assaulted [Correctional Officer Chris] Fernandez after discovering a toothbrush that had been sharpened to a sharp point.” “Upon finding the toothbrush Palmer allegedly lunged at Fernandez and proceeded to reign blows down at the back of his head and back. Fernandez fell forward and struck his head upon a sharp object that caused multiple lacerations, one in the middle of his forward….” “A fellow officer…ran to his aide after hearing the commotion.” Fernandez only recently “recovered from shoulder surgery from an injury suffered by an inmate….”

UPCOMING. > Saturday (2/16) in Athens: Poetry from 2pm at the Cultural Center. Barbara Adams and Guy Reed, with piano intervals by Don Yacullo, plus open mike. >Saturday in Catskill: Gallery-hopping along Main Street from 6pm. “Paint-In” (everybody dips and daubs) at M Gallery; with refreshments. Winter group show at nearby Gallery 385. Ceramic shapes and assemblages at Open Studio. Astounding artistry with laser light at Play of Light. Closing party for the Frank Faulkner “Critical Mass” exhibition at Terenchin Fine Art. >Sunday. Pancakes breakfast for all at West Athens fire house, on Leeds-Athens Road just west of Route 9W, from 8am. >Sunday in Catskill: “Music Mosaic” at Beattie-Powers House (just off Prospect Avenue) from 2pm. Bard Conservatory students play music of Milhaud, Poulenc, Bach, Ibert and one Alberto Ginastera. The musicians hail from Tasmania (south island State of Australia), Taiwan, Guandong (China) and exotic Detroit. or (518) 943-4764.

REST IN PEACE. Diana Zamorano, 16, a junior at Catskill High School, who on Monday hanged herself in a barn near the Friar Tuck resort. She was at least the sixth CHS student to commit suicide since 1997.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Super News Day

PRIMARY ELECTION VOTING. 5675 GreeneLanders turned out for Tuesday’s presidential primary elections, and their voting patterns resembled what took place in the State as a whole. John McCain won decisively in the contest for Republican presidential nominee, with 1500 votes to Mitt Romney’s 774. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton out-polled Barack Obama, with 1408 votes to 909. (246 absentee ballots remain to be counted). The Republican voters gave remarkable support to candidates other than their two front-runners: 343 votes to Mike Huckabee, 285 to Ron Paul, and 103 to Rudy Giuliani (still on the ballot even though he had withdrawn). Consequently, while he out-polled Mr Romney by a two-to-one margin, Mr McCain picked up only half of the votes cast by GreeneLand Republicans. Meanwhile, in the 20th Congressional District, of which GreeneLand is a part, Mr Obama’s score was enough to earn two of five delegate seats at the Democratic nominating convention. That ratio eventuated in most of the State's Congressional districts, with Ms Clinton winning 139 convention delegates to Mr Obama’s 92. Those delegates will be joined by 49 other New Yorkers who, by virtue of being elected legislators or party officials, are entitled under party rules to seats (and votes) at the nominating convention. They are not formally pledged to any candidate.

Nationally, as conservative columnist Robert Novak says, “The overriding story is that twice as many Democrats as Republicans voted on Super Tuesday, and the gap in enthusiasm was even larger. McCain as nominee faces a massive task ahead.” That observation also fits the GreeneLand situation. Turnout on the Republican side amounted to about 25 per cent of party registration. The Democratic figure on turnout was about 38 per cent of party registration. And in the matter of absentee voting, Democrats actually surpassed Republicans, 125 to 118.

BIGGEST BUSINESS NEWS this week, locally, is the announcement that Dyna-Bil Industries will soon be undergoing a major expansion, with a $6 million new investment and anticipated addition of 120 new employees. This was announced Monday night (2/4/08) by company president Paul Burton. Physical expansion will be into 33,000 square foot space in the Greene Business & Technology Park. It is in the Empire Zone, whose business occupants get tax breaks for 10 years. Much of the money comes from grants from State Office for Small Cities and from State’s Empire State Development fund. PUMPED UP. While the nationwide average for regular this past week has been $2.97, the East Coast average $3.01, the New England average $3.08, the State average $3.21, GreeeneLanders are stuck with prices of $3.24 per gallon at best. In New Jersey: $2.88. (Elderly GreeneLanders can recall when the price went up to 40 cents a gallon, as well as when cigarettes went up to 25 cents a pack).

HELP SOUGHT. Local members of the New York Correctional Officers union, campaigning to keep the Hudson minimum-security prison operating, contrary to announced plans of the State’s prison commission, have asked Catskill’s Village trustees to support their campaign of resistance, by calling for all sorts of impact studies. This action is reported in The Daily Mail (1/29/08) as calling for studies “to evaluate overcrowding” and study “the oversized capacity of the prison”. As to how the Village Trustees have responded, maybe you can work it out from this verbiage:

The village of Catskill has already taken the necessary steps to support this action [not identified] and will be mailing letters supporting the opposition of the facility’s closure in the days ahead [sic.] presented before the Catskill Village Board of Trustees from a representative of the Hudson Correctional Facility, in the hopes that it would support the opposition against closing the facility.
HONORED by American Coin-Op magazine, with “special honor” designation in its Coin-Op Beautiful 2007-08 selections: Mr. Sudz Laundromat, owned and operated by Jeffrey Nucey and Clinton Bugg at 491 Main Street in Catskill. Although the honor is based on exterior look as well as interior layout, it surely is not based on compatibility of exterior look with the period style of neighboring Main Street buildings.

DISHONORED. “Mophead” posted on Trip Advisor this review of a GreeneLand hostelry:

Myself and my girlfriend came out [to Friar Tuck] for new year's celebration. First when, we check in our room. we found following problems, toilet doesn't stop running, Lack of pillows, No remote for tv. I call front desk to report These problems. Two hours later the maid show up for extra towels. Later that evening When we report to our room. About 130am. There Is loud Rude Noises. Of teen-agers. Music blasting from nightclub on 1st floor Note my on 3rd floor. Loud Couple Next to our room. I Called Front Desk Twice. Told Me There Is No noise Going on. The music Stopped 4am from Nightclub. Slept for 4 hours. I Would Not want to experience this again. I felt I Got Ripped Off.

PUMPED UP. While the nationwide average for regular gasoline this past week has been $2.97, the East Coast average $3.01, the New England average $3.08, the State average $3.21, GreeeneLanders are stuck with prices of $3.24 per gallon at best. In New Jersey: $2.88.(Elderly GreeneLanders can recall when the price went upto 40 cents a gallon, as well as when cigarettes went up to 25 cents a pack).

NIMBY NEWS. Local rock diva Lex Grey will NOT be part of a “Kiss and Tell Burlesque” show here tonight, along with Miss Asstrid, Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey, Tigger and Bambi, plus kissing booth and spanking booth, presented by Kate Valentine and Thirsty Girl Productions, and billed as “Worth the walk of shame in the morning.” She will, however, be part of that show at The Zipper Factory on West 37th in Manhattan. And on Saturday, from 3pm to 7, Lex and the Urban Pioneers will rock the Windham Mountain Lounge.

PUNDITRY NOTE. “So,” said Associated Press writer Dennis Waszack Jr last Saturday, “you think it’s easy explaining, without hesitation or reservation, why the New England Patriots will complete a perfect season and win the Super Bowl? Well, you’re right. It is.”