Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday Special

EXPOSED. Tomorrow’s (=Friday’s) Escapes section of The New York Times will contain a long-awaited article (by Lisa A. Phillips) about the character, the quaintness, the people (especially the Clever newcomers) of Athens (the near Athens, not the Greek one). Readers also are shown what sort of property can be acquired in the way of a low-end, mid-range or high-end home (e.g., a pre-Revolutionary War stone house on 90 acres, for $750,000).

EXCEEDED in previous item: prudential limit on parenthesizing.

BUSTED on Tuesday (12/9) on charges related to copulating with a minor: State Police officer Nathan Van Fleet, 30, of Durham. His arrest by fellow officers followed investigative evidence that Van Fleet, while on duty as well as off, collaborated coitally with a 16-year-old girl. After being arraigned in Catskill Town Judge Robert Carl, on charges of statutory rape, child endangerment and official misconduct, he was taken to the county jail where, after posting a $10,000 bond, he was released.

ALSO BUSTED this week was a former Muddy Cup employee who has been charged, along with a confederate, with stealing the shop’s cash register. According to a Daily Mail report (12/10) Terrence Jackson, 25, faces charges of burglary, larceny, and felony criminal mischief. Anthony Colao, 18,faces similar charges. Jackson, who was fired from the café last Friday, is suspected of using a key to enter the place along with Colao on Monday evening, of making off with cash register and contents (around $250), and of throwing the register into a Water Street dumpster.

GONE from downtown Catskill, after a hapless seven-month food operation by Denise and Steven Pilego at Brando’s Alley, is It’s A Wrap. A tastier successor, says landlord Michael DeBenedictus, is in prospect. That would be a fine improvement. So would be a relocation of the admirable Panini Café from its unfortunate West Bridge Street site to a Main Street location.

RECHARGED. Durham’s Code Enforcement Officer, Al Schmidt, was placed by the Town Board on suspension many months ago, pending a judicial hearing of charges alleging misconduct and incompetence. As reported in The Greenville Press, a judicial hearing was almost held recently, only to be postponed at the instigation of the Board, so as to make time to revise the charges. The Town attorney’s notice to Mr Schmidt included an instruction to stay away from work—as he has been doing, as previously instructed, while drawing pay and benefits, since June. When (if?) the hearing takes place, and if he were acquitted, he would be entitled to get what he is getting already: back pay. Get it?

CAIRO CAPERS. Michael Camadine (ardent Republican, former County Legislator, on-off State Assembly candidate) says (Greenville Press, 11/26) Town Board members Ray Suttmeier and Richard Lorenz should resign because (or/and that) they “have consistently lied to the taxpayers.” He neglects to identify their putative falsehoods. Anyhow, could his salvo be connected to a plan to run in the spring against John Coyne for Town Supervisor?

POLITIC$. The election battle here between U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand and Republican challenger Sandy Treadwell evidently was the nation's costliest Congressional contest. According to figures posted on the web site of the Center for Responsive Politics, the two candidates raised $11.67 million altogether and spent $11.4 million. Those sums surpass the next costliest race (14th district, Illinois) by about $1.5 million.

-----Spending on that scale is all the more remarkable in view of local contrasts. In the 19th Congressional district, Rep. John Hall—a first-term Democrat, in a previously Republican-dominated electorate, like Ms Gillibrand— won reelection handily with a $2.2 million spend (versus $608,000 by challenger Kieran Michael Lalor. In the neighboring 21st district, incumbent Rep. Maurice Hinchey raised some $697,000, and spent a lot less, in swamping his Republican challenger, George Phillips.

-----The Gillibrand-Treadwell race was unusual not only on account of the scale of spending, but also on account of the weightings. What normally occurs in Congressional (and State, and local) elections is that the incumbent office-holder raises and spends a lot more money than does the challenger. In the recent Federal election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics—drawing on figures supplied by the Federal Elections Commission—the 435 incumbent Representatives who sought re-election raised $582.5 million in campaign funds, or $1.34 million on average. Their challengers, numbering 645 individuals, raised $215.5 million, or an average of $334,000. Most the incumbents—would you believe?—were re-elected.

-----In the 20th Congressional District, however, the usual ratio was reversed. Mr Treadwell, the challenger, out-raised and out-spent the incumbent by ratio of about 3 to 2. He did so, most immediately, by self-funding his campaign to the tune of $5.9 million.

WHERE? Referee Marilyn Carreras will sell at public auction December 17th, at the Greene County Building, in a foreclosure sale against defendants Lorraine Bradt et al, “premises known,” says the standard legal notice, “as 601 High Hill Road, Catskill.” The property is “all that certain plot piece or parcel of land, with the buildings and improvements thereon erected, situate, lying and being in the Town of Coxsackie.”

TOMORROW (Friday, 12/12) at the Agroforestry Resource Center in Acra, the Cornell Co-Operative Extension will start a new program: art exhibitions. Starring in the first of what is planned to be a series of shows is locally renowned landscape artist (and author) Stanley Maltzman. Opening reception at 5pm. (While this event is touted in a press release, it is not mentioned in the Center’s web site,

YOGI SAYS. When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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