POLITICAL NOTE 1. The House Race. There won’t be a primary election contest to determine what Republican (or Conservative, or Independence Party) candidate will challenge United States Representative Kirsten Gillibrand, whose sprawling 20th Congressional district (10 up-State counties) includes GreeneLand. The choices on November 4th will be either the incumbent, Ms Gillibrand, whose name will appear on the Democratic and the Working Families party lines, or Alexander (Sandy) Treadwell, a Lake Placid businessman who in times past has been Secretary of New York State and chairman of the State Republican Party, and whose name will occupy the Republican, Conservative and Independence party lines. That prospect was confirmed early this week when the State Board of Elections ruled that too many signatures on petitions filed by John Wallace and Michael Roque, who were aiming to be candidates in September primary elections to pick a Republican and a Conservative nominee, were not valid. While complaining about “antiquated” rules that govern decisions about the legal validity of their petitions, Mr Wallace and Mr Roque did not accuse the Elections Board of candidate bias, and they decided not to appeal the Board’s rulings. --------Mr Wallace, a Chatham real estate agent and retired State Police officer, coupled his withdrawal statement with an explicit endorsement of Mr Treadwell. Mr Roque, a retired U.S. Army colonel who lives in Saratoga County, did not do so. “I had hoped to be able to continue in this campaign…to give the voters a real choice,” he said, but “the process allows the lawyers to have a greater say over who is on the ballot than the voters.”
POLITICAL NOTE 2. The Outlook. For Mr Treadwell the elimination of Mr Wallace and Mr Roque from the nomination race is a boon. Occasions for strains and recriminations among co-partisans have been removed. The use of Republicans’ campaign funds on intra-party struggles rather than for the general election campaign has been obviated. The new situation, however, does not make a Treadwell victory certain, or even probable. In the estimation of Brian Tumulty of Gannett News Service (Poughkeepsie Journal, 8/5), “he still faces an uphill fight” against “a popular lawmaker….” who has raised $3.69 million for her re-election campaign.” --------Back in November 2006, in what has long been a Republican fief, that lawmaker scored an upset victory. She benefited from popular disenchantment with the Botch Administration and from eleventh-hour exposure of incumbent John Sweeney’s personal character. In winning the office she acquired the advantages that go with incumbency plus, as it happened, thanks to the national results, the advantages that go with membership in the majority party, the governing party, in the U.S. Congress. Ms Gillibrand also turned out to be an extraordinary fund-raiser and an extraordinarily diligent communicator. ------Stuart Rothenberg, the professional election handicapper, says (according to Tumulty) that Mr Treadwell’s “problem” is that Ms Gillibrand “is so well liked” and “held in high regard.” That factor, coupled with continued distaste for the Botch Administration and with widespread enthusiasm for Barack Obama as Democratic candidate for President, prompted Mr Rothenberg to change his rating on the election in this once-solidly Republican district from “leaning Democratic” to “Democrat favored.”
POLITICAL NOTE 3. The Rhetoric. Exemplified in the terms of John Wallace’s statement of withdrawal from the Republican nomination contest and his endorsement of Mr Treadwell is a distinctive feature of contemporary political talk. “I’m a little more conservative” than Mr Treadwell, said Mr Wallace (as quoted by Maury Thompson of the Post-Star), “but he is more conservative than Kirsten.” Among active Republicans, that way of talking about issues and choices is pervasive. Candidates for Republican nominations for elective offices, from the Presidency on down, avow “conservative” convictions, and they engage in disputes over who is the “real conservative” or the “more conservative” contestant. Commentators on intra-Republican contests reflect and reinforce this verbiage—or rather, this way of seeing the world. The underlying idea is that policy alternatives on the important current issues, foreign and domestic, economic and social, procedural and substantive alike, can be understood as positions on a single scale (“the political spectrum”). In Republican activist circles, moreover, political virtue is identified with adhering to the “conservative” pole rather than the middle position (“moderate” or “centrist”) or the opposite (“liberal”) side. In Democratic activist circles, however, the equivalent verbal orientation does not seem to prevail. Contests for Democratic nominations are not waged explicitly in terms of imputed degrees of “liberalism.” When incumbent Democrats have been challenged in primary elections by fellow Democrats (Sen. Joseph Lieberman being the prime example in 2006), they have been accused not of being “too conservative” but rather of being wrong about the Iraq war and about supporting other Bush Administration policies. The Obama-Clinton-Edwards-Biden-Dodds-Richardson-Kucinich contest for the Democratic presidential nomination was not conducted rhetorically in terms of degrees of “liberalism.”
WINDFALL(S). Catskill’s reborn, thriving, and structurally crumbling Community Center has received a big boo$t. At a gathering on Tuesday (8/5) at the center, Town Supervisor Peter Markou announced that a $400,000 Community Block Development grant has been authorized by the State’s Office of Housing and Community Renewal. And State Senator James L. Seward announced a grant of $250,000 in State funds to help with renovating the center. The grants will pay for capital renovations: including new heating and cooling equipment, plumbing, and roof and exterior drainage repairs. That will help, said Mr Markou, to alleviate some of the Center’s “major infrastructure problems.” In addition, the Community Center will be getting about $2000 from the Catskill Chamber of Commerce as its share of profits from auctioning the 112 ceramic Kittis, decorated by local children as part of the Cat-n-Around project. ------As reported in The Daily Mail, Senator Seward also spoke of grants to other GreeneLand agencies: $15,000 for air packs for Cairo firefighters; $10,000 for Community Hospice, $10,000 for the Catskill Chamber of Commerce, and $23,000 for the Catskill Police Department.
GASOLINE PRICES in GreeneLand now are targets officially of an investigation. The county’s legislators have resolved to learn why prices at our pumps are higher, often or always, than prices in neighboring counties. (To say that they are heeding a suggestion from Seeing Greene would not be couth).
“YUCK!!!!!” says the headline on the latest (7/28) Trip Advisor review of GreeneLand’s foremost (=biggest) resort. Immediately preceding headlines on visitors’ appraisals of The Friar Tuck say “A Nightmare of a Stay,” “In Need of Repair” and “Avoid, Even if Stranded.” Although some condo units receive OK ratings, reviewers also say “old and dirty,” broken tiles, slippery floor, “disgusting odor from green lake,” surly staff, shabby, rundown, leaky plumbing, squealing TV (“with fear, I truly believe”) damp carpets, threadbare sheets, terrible service, “reminds me of ‘The Shining’”.
SATURDAY WHIRL. -------Mountainward: German Alps Festival at Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl (http://huntermtn.com ). Russian musical treasures performed by treasured pianists Vladimir Pleshakov and Elena Winter at Catskill Mountain Foundation ‘s Doctorow Center for the Arts. In Elka Park, Saturday and Sunday, the Horton Foote play “Young Man from Atlantic” (http://hortonbythestream.org). Over in Windham, art in abundance, with a tour of studios and galleries (http://windhamartsalliance.org ) and a quilt show (http://patchworkersquiltgroup.blogspot.com but the web site needs updating). In nearby Ashland, a Batavia Kill Stream celebration (http://gcswcd.com). Meanwhile, a day-long hike through scenes that enchanted the early Hudson River School painters started this morning from the Mountain Top Historical Society headquarters in Haines Falls. -------Greenville: A “Little Live Earth” festival devoted to environmental awareness, with music, is currently under way at the Town Park. -------Cairo: A two-day Renaissance Faire (http://caironychamber.com). -------Coxsackie: The Riverside Festival has returned, under Village Arts Council sponsorship, after a long absence, with parade & bands & vendors & fireworks. -------Catskill: The Village’s Second Saturday promotion offers shops and galleries (two openings at the Arts Council), “cat races,” a sidewalk wine tasting event, and fireworks. (Some public GreeneLand events do NOT get listed in the Greene County Tourism Department and the County Chamber of Commerce web sites. Not good).
PURGE THE P! Historian Ted Hilscher says, authoritatively, that Catskill’s Thompson Street should be Thomson. Village Trustees take note.