Friday, February 27, 2009

Shut & Open

-----A landmark GreeneLand business has expired. For 50 years it was Dunn Builders Supply, foremost provider of materials to the county's contractors. Seven months ago, after company president Steve Dunn sold the stock and the operation to Columbia County's Ed Herrington, it acquired a new name. From the Herrington standpoint,however, the timing was terrible. It came in the midst of tough competition from the new Home Depot outlet and from the newer, nearer Lowes, along with a construction slump. Mr Herrington shuttered the business--two big lumber-crammed buildings on Catskill Creek, another big supplies-stuffed building on the east side of Water Street in Catskill--last week. Remaing inventory has been trucked across the Hudson to other Herrington sites. The shutdown here, Mr Dunn told Seeing Greene, came as "a total surprise; no warning at all." But although he sold the Catskill business, Mr Dunn retained ownership of the 1.8-acre site. The county's Industrial Development Agency owns an option to buy the site eventually (as part of a dream to transform the whole east bank of Catskill Creek, from the Point to Uncle Sam Bridge?). Meanwhile, Mr Dunn is "actively looking" for new tenants. A warehouse? Sure. But what about a dance hall? an indoor sports pavilion? a marine micro-brewery? -----Another longestablished Catskill business will close tomorrow. After 20 years on West Bridge Street, Dan Berkowitz is terminating The Whole Donut. He traces the decline of business partly to the drop in appetite for his trademark product. That decline is illustrated by coupons distributed by competitor Dunkin' Donuts. Discounts are offered on coffees, hash browns, breakfast sandwiches, flatbreads--but not doughnuts. [Oops! A newspaper insert on Saturday 2/28 does tout deals on donuts] Anyhow, looking to the future, Mr Berkowitz plans to not be a couch potato at home and to not be a kibbitzer at wife Laurie's flourishing Pomodoro's restaurant. -----The news is not all about closings. As previously reported here, Catskill will soon host a new bakery, a new liquor store and a new furniture design shop. Also in prospect is a Furniture 4 Less outlet in the former Aubuchon Hardware building on Boulevard Avenue (whose name is as redundant as, say, Catskill Creek). NAMESAKE NEWS (1) Mark and Christine Richardson were arrested last month on suspicion of growing marijuana commercially--130 thriving plants, with sophisticated cultivation gear--in their basement at 1025 Route 23A in Catskill. That pavedthe way for additional charges of defrauding the Department of Social Services by drawing Medicaid benefits while concealing (self-)employment income. Another local Richardson--Patrick, of Coxsackie--was busted by sheriff's deputies last year on multiple drug charges. (2) Waldemar (or possibly Wilaelm) J. Zahn, of Ira Vail Road in Leeds, was charged last Saturday with vehicular assault and drunk driving after he evidently crashed his pickup truck into an oncoming vehicle driven by Kevin Nicewonger of New Jersey. (Reported in Times Union 2/22 & Daily Mail 2/23). Another local Zahn--Bernard J.--is the cited defendant in a foreclosure auction (lien amount $153,258.29) coming on March 5 against property at 7857 Main Street, Hunter. RECOGNITIONS (as reported mostly in local newspapers). >>Richard Selner, by his peers, as GreeneLand Deputy of the Year. Sheriff Greg Seeley credited Investigator Selner with "uncanny ability to develop information, locate witnesses and generate leads." >>Richard Hilgendorff, by the Cairo Town Board, for 40 years of service to the Round Top Fire Company. >>Neil Golub, president of the 116-link Price Chopper supermarket chain, by Grocery Headquarters magazine, as Retail Executive of the Year, for "enthusiasm, boardroom smarts and merchandising savvy." >>Richard Roberg, veteran Coxsackie Town Justice, elected to the presidency of the New York State Magistrates Association. >>The Athens Street Festival Committee (led for the past eight years by Herby Blasewitz), by the GreeneLand legislature, with the EllenRettus Planning Achievement award, for work going back 35 years. >>United Stationers Supply Company of Coxsackie, by the New York State Rehabilitation Association, giving employment to evelopmentally handicapped workers. >>Maira Kalman, Palenville- (and New York-)based artist, in the form of a two-page color spread in the January 29th New York Times, celebrating, under the heading "And the Pursuit of Happiness," the Obama presidential inauguration. >>Bonnie Maranca of GreeneLand, editor of PAJ, The Journal of Performance Art, with a Leverhulme Trust visiting professorship at the University of London, for lecturing, interviewing, theatre-going, and work on a book about "performance drawings." >>GreeneLanders Tom Bellino and Gary Bielske, by indirection, when "Monday Night Live at the Village Vanguard" won a Grammy for Best Large Jazz Ensemble album of 2008. Mr Bellino (of ) produced some of the tracks. Mr Bielske did the double CD's design and packaging. >>The Thomas Cole National Historic Site, by the Hudson River Valley Greenway and the H.R.V. National Heritage Area, in the form of a $5000 grant to enhance the Hudson River Art Trail experience with markers, leaflets, and pictures. >>Duane K.Dixon of Catskill, spotted by State police in Albany after being sought for two weeks as fourth suspect in that home invasion case in Leeds. He reposes now in Greene County Jail along with his alleged confederates. Each faces 26 criminal charges relating to treatment of multiple victims. >>A GreeneLand school trustee, by specators, for playing hookey. Out of 13 board meetings since last July, (s)he has attended seven. TOMORROW, among other events: --"A Nod to the Past," composed of art, antiques and textiles, opens at the Kaaterskill Fine Arts gallery in Hunter. --The Nerds (soul,rock, pop) entertain at Windham Mountain's Legends bar. SUNDAY --First session of art classes for teenagers, on painting with acrylics, opens under direction of Robert Lahm at the Athens Cultural Center. 945-2136. --A Bard College wind ensemble plays a free 2pm concert at Beattie-Powers House.

Friday, February 20, 2009

By the Numbers

57=number of Hudson Quadricentennial cat figures that, thanks to $500 sponsorships by local enterprisers, will ornament the sidewalks of downtown Catskill this summer. Among names assigned by submitting artists for designs exhibited at BRIK gallery: Half Moon Cat, Cat Van Winkle, CemenTom, Hyde Park Purr, H.A.L., Clearwater Cat, Cathexis, Hudson Hornet, Purr-lesque Dancer, Old Kaatskillian, Thomas Cole Copy Cat, Timeless Hudson Cat, Main Coon, Tiffany Tom,Bannerman CAsTle, Catue of Liberty. 61=Mexican dinners sold last night at the MOD Cafe in Catskill, on the occasion of the sixth trial of Thiusday night service. That's a new record. Average turnout, according to Dana and Mary, had been about 40 customers. We happily attest to the quality of the arroz con pollo and the Grande Mama burrito. In the same spirit, we heartily recommend the recently instituted Wednesday night fare at Bell's Cafe and the week night specials (chicken, veal, pasta...) at Tatiana's. 16=number of days, plus 7 hours, since Heart(of Catskill)throb Linda Overbaugh has smoked a cigarette. Citing a $225 laser therapy treatment ( she reports "pretty comfortable progress so far, and no weight gain" in battle against a 43-year addiction. 5=number of days per week that The Daily Mail will be published henceforth. Instead of an issue a day there will be a weekend edition, delivered on Saturday, and then weekday editions on Tuesday through Friday. That change may bring about a reduction in memorable images generated by GreeneLand's foremost news organ: residents gathering "to satiate their interest in...drainage system contamination"; "decadent" fiberglass cats "unleashed" on Main Street; a "pinch" that is being felt "on many fronts"; a judge who "sentenced Maceo Jones to...prison after being convicted of...grand larceny"; an "ordinance that will lift burden off" a subject's shoulders; an "amendment to village traffic" that "eliminates vagueness out of a law"; a "grimalkin quandary" that "has only been exasperated." 13=anticipated number of days before the inventory of DVDs at the new Wayne's World Video (65 West Btidge St, Catskill) grows from moderate to big. In the meantime, proprietor Wayne Murphy's new store is open daily from noon to 9pm, offers a few snacks, and does have a stock of new movie releases ($2.75 per night), regular movies ($1.49 for two nights), games ($1.99 for two nights) and naughty stuff behind the curtain. 39=number of days left until voters in the 20th Congressional District of New York (GreeneLand included) decide who shall succeed Kirsten Gillibrand as United States Representative. Activites and backgrounds of the main candidates, Scott Murphy and Jim Tedisco, are chronicled, less or more, on their campaign web sites: and They evidently agree in assigning paramount importance to jobs. They also evince special solicitude for "the middle class," to the point of implying that its membership encludes the whole population. They have accepted invitations to engage in "debates" but they have accepted different invitations. Mr Tedisco alone has said Yes, so far, to pospective encounters on March 3 (Saratoga Springs; AARP), March 9 (Poughkeepsie; P. Journal) and March 24 (WROW AM from a motel in Colonie). Mr Murphy alone has said Yes, so far, to a proposed match-up on March 19 (sponsored by The TimesUnion; broadcast on WMHT). UPDATE: According to a message from the Columbia County Democratic Committee, Mr Murphy, Mr Tedisco and Libertarian Erik Lundwal have agreed to take part in a "town hall" encounter on March 26th, sponsored by the League of Women Voters, broadcast on WROW (590 on AM dial) from a motel in Latham starting at 7pm. ----- On substantive issues, one difference has emerged so far: Mr Murphy endorses the $787 billion Recovery and Reinvestment law that the Congress adopted (over heavy Republican opposition) and President Obama signed; Mr Tedisco, according to a TimesUnion editorial (2/19), delivered a "filibuster-length non-answer" (whose full text was memorialized in a 2/18 New York Observer story). Meanwhile, Mr Tedisco touts unidentified "values we share" and his record, as chief of the State Assembly's Republican minority, of leadership in "the fight for tax relief, a real property tax cap, a stronger economy, more jobs and a better quality of life." -----In recent years, candidates for national office were subject to evaluation by reference to their stands or evasions on all sorts of issues or problems: climate change, embryonic stem cell research, foreign wars, Roe v. Wade, same-sex marriage, Affirmative Action, school vouchers, guns, illegal immgrants.... What happened? COMING EVENTS ---Tomorrow in downtown Catskill. Scott Murphy visits Democratic headquarters (Main Street at William) at about 2pm. Later, the Catskill Gallery Association's 'Saturday Studios' promotion animates Main Street. ---Tomorrow in Windham. "re," a new show of art objects made by re-cycling, re-conditioning, re-designing, re-integrating and re-interpreting opens at the Arts Council's Mountaintop Gallery, from 2pm. ---Tomorrow and Sunday in Hudson (but we choose to mention it here): clown workshop for women. Led by Laura Geilen (North American Nose to Nose Clown Facilitator Team) and Benedicta Bertau (outreach director, Walking the Dog Theater). it promises help that "lets your challenges become opportunities, your mistakes celebrations, and your confusions states of enlightenment." So: " haplessly ever after." 518 929 5392. ---Tomorrow night: dinner dance with silent auction at the Elks Lodge in Catskill, to raise funds for needy and deserving Community Action of Greene & Columbia Counties. ---Early March. Opening of custom furniture business (indoor and outdoor; original designs) at 396 Main St, Catskill (former home of Imagine That!) by international veteran (with Diane von Furstenberg) Kurt Andernach. His new shop (518 943-WOOD) adds more than a mite to downtown Catskill's appeal as a home improvement Mecca, what with furniture restoration, antiques, custom tiles and kitchen cabinets, carpets, original textiles, upholstery, Indonesian furniture, appliances, plumbing supplies, homewares and art. ---July 1. "Merger" of Immaculate Conception Church (Haines Falls) with Sacred Heart (Palenville) "with both to stay open." That elusive change is part of a comprehensive plan (see and then Called to BE Church) announced by Howard Hubbard, archbishop of the sprawling Roman Catholic diocese of Albany. Also in prospect is a "merger" of "parish facilities" of St Patrick's Church of Catskill with its namesake in Athens). But consolidating the congregations could be difficult. The Athens church is too small. The Catskill church, though capacious, has been unusable since the collapse of the interior ceiling. Worshippers meet in the annex's basement. Cost of restoring the church, we understand, would exceed one million dollars.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Not Ahead in '09

-----Having just described some likely ups and downs for GreeneLanders this year, we venture some noteworthy unlikelyhoods. ----*Teejay Wins Again. Timothy J. ("Teejay") Hall Jr returned to GreeneLand last Monday to participate--so it seems from police reports--to participate in a drugs-related burglary, armed robbery, assault and kidnapping at an apartment in Leeds. He was arrested along with his cousin, Tyquan Hall, 30, of Catskill, and Melvin Lett, 32, of Coxsackie, after an incomplete 911 call, a manhunt, and a roundup based on idneitifcations provided by the putative victims, Caryl Juste Jr and Richard Lebon. The arrest follows by ten years Hall's trial in Greene County court for murder. According to the prosecutor on that occasion (District Attorney Ed Cloke), shortly after a scuffle at the Quarterback night club in Catskill (at West Main Street and Maple Avenue, now the drug rehabilitation center) Hall shot to death Lensley "Panther" O'Connor. Thanks to story-changing witnesses and to ace attorney Richard Mott, however, the jurors returned a Not Guilty verdict. In subsequent years, in Albany and Columbia counties, Hall was convicted of lesser crimes. In the present case, his suspected confederates, both of whom have done prison time on drug-trafficking convictions, have been charged with multiple felonies and are presently in jail pending payment of $500,000 bail or $1million bond. But "Teejay" is at liberty, charged so far--pending further police investigation--only with parole violation. (Incidentally, Melvin Lett's defense attorney in the present case is Greg Lubow, former chief public defender, who represented Teejay Hall's sweetheart, Holly Bagshaw, in the Quarterback Club case. After refusing to repeat, on the stand, incriminating testimony that she had given to the police, she was jailed briefly by Judge Daniel Lalor for contempt of court).

-----*Revenues Rise. Tax collections in GreeneLand grow, in keeping with growth in the assessed value of properties. -----According to official Collector Michael DeBenedictus, however, tax payments in the Town of Catskill lag behind the same period in 2008 by 30 percent.

-----*Republicans Surge. On March 31, in the special election to decide who shall succeed Kirsten Gillibrand as United States Representative for New York's 20th Congressional District, the Republican candidate wins a lop-sided victory. That outcome, coming in the wake of multiple appearances by outside speakers, is hailed far and wide as a sign--the first since November 2006--of Republican Party revival. -----The more likely outcome, however, is a closely fought contest, with voters bemused by the candidates' affiliations: the former high school teacher whose vocation for many years has been politics is the Republican; the venture capitalist of humble origins, who touts himself as a seasoned job-creating enterpriser (see is the Democrat.

-----*Bank Saved. The Bank of Greene County gets Federal bailout money. It accordingly joins other regional banks--First Niagara, Legacy, Berkshire Hills, M & T--at the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) trough. -----Actually, Greene County's eponymous bank won't get a crumb. Won't get help because hasn't asked and doesn't need. Its expansive little operation (11 branches in three counties; enlarged commercial lending) is thriving. Net income for the last half of 2008 ($1.8 million) surpassed the previous half-year by 54 per cent, and the final quarter of 2008 was historically its biggest. The new Ravena branch, according to President Donald Gibson (in Seeing Greene interview) has doubled its target on deposits. Lending to fire companies is a new, solid niche business. Defaults? Well, the bank did experience an increase over 2007 in "charge-offs," to $293,,000. But its conservative policies (no sub-prime loans, no sell-offs of mortgages) have paid off. On January 22, incidentally, the bank's 120th birthday was marked in New York City when President Gibson, flanked by Board Chairman Martin Smith and by former president Bruce Whittaker, rang the opening bell at the NASDAQ trading fllor in Manhattan. No other company in Greene or Columbia county could have done that, as none is listed on a major stock exchange.

-----*Muddy Cup Replenished. According to a sign on the door, that coffee shop on Main Street in Catskill will reopen "after restructure and renovation." The nominated return date is "mid-January." The sign also says "We appologize [sic] for the inconvienance" (sic). -----Actually, no renovation work has been done. Let's pray for a conversion: a Mexican restaurant, an Indian restaurant, a rathskeler with mini-brewery(dispensing Catskale? Rip's Tipple? Greene Brew?).

-----*Gitmo to Hudson. Most of the international prisoners who are housed now at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba will be transferred to the spacious, under-utilized Hudson Correctional Facility. This transfer, which enlarges the ranks of warders and thereby boosts the local economy, comes about because local politicians wield more power than Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, who argues for stashing the prisoners at the moribund Federal prison on San Franciso Bay's Alcatraz Island. -----And pigs will fly.

-----*Auctions Continue. Foreclosed properties will be sold at auction, as advertised, in the lobby of the Greene County Courthouse, at 411 Main St in Catskill. Thus, 151 Featherbed Lane, Hannacroix (James Lomanto, defaulter) will go to the highest bidder there next Friday (2/20) along with 309 North Lake Road, Haines Falls (Raymond C. Meyer et al. defaulters; liem of $245,377.29). On March 10th comes 42 Panicola Lane in Cairo. And so on. -----Except that the courthouse is closed for repairs. However, a foreclosure auction that is billed in standard legal advertisements as scheduled for February 25th "on the front entrance" of the courthouse may actually take place.

-----*Preacher Returns. Pastor Jim Finn will return to Catskill for the tenth anniversary of the End-Time School of Evangelism. That earlier drive "to compel lost sinners to come to the house of God," as recounted in a contemporary church bulletin, yielded multiple "miracles and healings," including a return to hearing for a woman who had been deaf for 45 years, abrupt ambulation for wheel-chaired believers, a spina bifida-afflicted child's return of ability to defecate and urinate, and even a homosexual who "hit the altar and was delivered from his lifestyle." -----Actually, Pastor Jim left town after bankrupting his church with extravagant spending. His former Full Gospel Tabernacle Church (originally the First Baptist Church of Catskill) has undergone a conversion whereby, as Snap Fitness, it is now, uh, consecrated to the saving of bodies.

----*Newspapers Rebound. Subscriptions rise, news stand sales go up, advertising lineage surges, doors are reopened. Yes, employees of the gigantic Gannett Newspapers group have been ordered to take one-week unpaid furloughs. Yes, Columbia County's semi-weekly Independent (often wrongly called a bi-weekly) got folded on February 8th (four days after its editor, Perry Teasdale,, won first prize in a national editorial-writing competition). Four days later, seven weekly newspapers (s-e-v-e-n) in Dutchess County and one in Putname County were closed, along with three magazines. All those publications were victims of the parlous financial state of the parent Journal Register Company, which also owns The Daily Freeman in Kingston, whose GreeneLand bureau has been closed for months. As for The Daily Mail (Catskill) and The Register-Star (Hudson), a complete merger, succeeding the current close integration, may at last eventuate, but an economic pay-off, ensuring survival, would not necessarily result. The financial condition of theiir parent company, Johnson Newspaper Inc. of Watertown NY, is not a matter of public record. Meanwhile, the ad-stuffed Mountain Pennysaver is owned (along with a Saugerties weekly and a shopper) by a big chain, GateHouse Media, whose share price has sunk from $10 in 2007 to a dime. -----So OK, there won't be an early revival of print journalism. Eventually, however, more enterprisers will notice the formula that works for provincial and small-town news. It is the content-loaded giveaway. It is the news- and features- and photo- and advertisement-loaded newspaper that, like the Pennysaver, goes to every household by mail and is given away at shop counters. Loaded with local news, it would not be discarded, unread, by recipients. Loaded with local news and distributed to everybody, it would fetch higher advertising at higher rates than a throw-away shopper could sustain. It also would earn the bedrock financial support that goes with being designated by local governments as classified legal advertising outlets. It's a viable formula, but it's not likely to catch on here in 2009.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Down and Up in '09

----For GreeneLanders, this year promises abnormal doses of grief and joy. We will experience a shortage of bread (even though a new bakery will open) along with a feast of circuses.
-----The shortage of paid work already is severe. According to the State Labor Department, our unemployment rate is close to 8 per cent of the work force. The official figure of 7.7% last December, as compared with 5.7% in December of 2007, is the mid-Hudson region's highest, and it tops the State-wide figure (6.8%--highest since 1994) and the national figure (7.1%). Eligible job-seekers can collect unemployment insurance checks for 26 weeks, with emergency extensions that can add 33 more weeks. Service agencies, private and public, are coping with rising needs for help. Real estate sales are down, mortgage payments are being missed, and ambitious subdivision projects--in Greenville, Coxsackie, Catskill, Cairo--may be stalled, or abandoned. ----While the new Obama Administration is promoting an ambitious national recovery package in Washington D.C., a plausible stimulus idea has been broached here. The mayor of Catskill Village, Vincent Seeley, proposes that property owners be incited to make improvements now by being relieved of the raises in assessed values and hence of tax liability. Eligibility for the break would be contingent on using local tradesmen and suppliers. That could nudge owners to get going with improvements before the deal expires. -----In the meantime, for GreeneLanders this year will be extraordinarily festive. Along with riverbank communities from Albany down to Manhattan, we will be drawn into celebrations of the four hundredth anniversary of European discovery of the Hudson River. The roster of Quadricentennial events is far from complete. Certainly it will include visits from the replica of the sailing ship, The Half Moon, that brought Henry Hudson and his crew to this section of the New World. It will include a heightened emphasis on landscape and riverscape art in our many galleries (including the Agroforestry Research Center in Acra, where the extraordinary photographic work of Tom Teich will soon be on exhibited. A play written by GreeneLand thespian Joseph Capone, about Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River school of landscape painting, will be performed by the Classics @ The Point troupe. The County Historical Society's annual tour of historic homes, instead of being concentrated on one community, will put a string of river-hugging GreeneLand estates on show. Scores of high school students will take part in every stage of developing a theatrical production based on River of Dreams, the illustrated book by GreeneLand's illustrious Hudson Talbott, with songs composed by GreeneLander Frank Cuthbert and direction provided by GreeneLand's (and Hollywood's, and New York's) Casey Biggs. -----"Greene County USA," a documentary crafted by veteran film-maker Jonathan Donald, will be screened in two GreeneLand venues during September 12-13, before its two half-hour segments, tracing local history from the Paleo-Indians (11,000 years ago) to the present, are televised on WMHT. And this Sunday (2/8/09) a Harvard University superstar, Prof. John Stilgoe, author of Landscape and Images and eight other books, will be at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site talking about the years, the hundred years, between Cole's artistic eminence and his re-emergence from oblivion. That talk (see will be followed not by the usual on-site reception but rather by multiple receptions at galleries along Catskill's historic Main Street. At one of them, Gallery 384, Cole's birthday will be celebrated (a week late) with this Cole-tribute landscape painting by Roberta Griffin and with a cake whose frosting simulates the painting. -----That is just a sampling of things to come in '09, along with Irish and bluegrass festivals, and Mountain Foundation events. Winter sports at Hunter Mountain and Windham are thriving now. So, after a long time lapse, is ice boating off Athens's Riverside Park. So are Cornell Co-operative Extension's training programs in Acra: In this month alone, there have been or will be sessions on managing forests during climate change, beekeeping, pollen detection, bulb-forcing (to yield spring flowers before spring comes),, rural crafts, landscape maintenance, tractor operation and renewable energy. ( -----Springtime in GreeneLand will be punctuated by the usual village and school board elections, augmented by what shapes up to be a momentous special election to decide who shall succeed Kirsten Gillibrand as Representative in the United States Congress. Libertarian Party chairman Eric Kundle of Kinderhook says he'll join the race as an independent candidate. The National Republican Campaign Committee has already taken heed of the contest by finding fault with Democratic nominee Scott Murphy's tax payments, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has returned fire by accusing the Republican nominee, State Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, of gaming the taxpayers on his expense account. Mr Murphy made a quick trip to Washington D.C. in quest of campaign funds and a meeting with Senator Gillibrand. Mr Tedisco has announced that tomorrow (2/7/09) he will make appearances in four counties, outlining what he calls (inaccurately) his "principles for promoting economic recovery: real tax relief, a stronger economy and more jobs." (Those are not principles). His final scheduled stop is at the Duocommun Aerostructures plant (formerly DynaBil Industries) in Coxsackie. -----In Catskill, meanwhile, Lalli Vermani soon will open Catskill Liquors on West Bridge Street. Restoration of the Little Red Schoolhouse in Jefferson Heights will be celebrated. A bakery and a pub will open off Main Street. And Doug Kleeschulte is adding new bays to his Plaza Car Wash facility, plus a booth for washing dogs.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Special Election

----Contestants for the special election contest to succeed Kirsten Gillibrand as U.S. Representative from the 20th Congressional District, which includes Greene County,have been selected. The Republican nominee is James Tedisco of Schenectady, leader of his party's minority bloc in the State Assembly. The Democratic nominee is Scott Murphy of Glens Falls, a venture capitalist. ----(Eric Sundwall of Kinderhook, who is chairman of the Libertarian Party, has voiced an intention to stand as an independent candidate. To get on the ballot he will need to submit, to the State Commission of Elections, petitions containing signatures of 3500 eligible voters). -----The major party candidates were selected by the chieftains of party committees in the ten counties, or portions of counties, that compose the District. On the Republican side the main contenders, in addition to Mr Tedisco, were Elizabeth Little, State Senator from the northern end of the district, and John Faso, former State Assemblyman and former G.O.P. candidate for governor and for comptroller of New York. On the Democratic side, Mr Murphy emerged from an initial field of more than 30 prospects,from whom the ten selectors chose a short list of six contenders, two of whom withdrew from consideration just before the interviewing phase. The finalists in addition to Mr Murphy were Tim Gordon, the State Assemblyman whose district includes the northern part of Greene County (an independent who caucuses with the Democratic bloc); Ronald Kim, Saratoga City Councilman; and Carol Schrager of Hunter,an attorney. -----Mr Tedisco launched his career in politics in 1977, with election to the Schenectady City Council. In 1982 came his first of many elections to the heavily Republican 110th Assembly District. In November 2005 his fellow Republicans picked him as leader of their conference in the Assembly. Before entering politics, and after graduating from Union College, he was a high school basketball coach. -----On his newly established campaign web site ( > ( Mr Tedisco emphasises "fighting for real property tax relief, fiscal responsibility and more jobs." (He also commits the literary sin of Dangling Construction: "Serving as your voice in the House of Representatives,you can count on me to keep fighting the good fight..."). In the estimation of political scientist Alan Chartock, Mr Tedisco characteristically copes with the problem of being out-gunned in the Assembly by the disciplined Democratic majority by adopting a "fire and brimstone" approach to advocacy. (Best compilation of material on Mr Tedisco is contained in the Wikipedia biography, with links). -----A Round Top resident, Chuck Kaiser, opined in a recent letter to newspapers thatAmerica is currently embroiled not only in a war against "a radical group of militants" who would slay all non-believers but also in a domestic "battle for the soul of the nation." The latter is a "culture war" wherein sound "traditional ideologies" are being "assaulted" by "liberal socialistic ideology." Fortunately, "In the rising tide of socialistic ideologies stands one bulwark," one "God-fearing man who is sound in principle, strong in character and powerful in leadership." "His name is Jim Tedisco." ----Mr Murphy, 38, is a newcomer to elective politics (as was Kirsten Gillibrand just three years ago)but not to election campaign work. According to his campaign web site after graduating from Harvard College, Mr Murphy worked in his native Missouri as staff aide to two governors, then worked for Bankers Trust on Wall Street, started up two dot-com firms, and in 2001 joined Advantage Capital Partners. -----As affirmed on its web site,that venture capital firm uses "a dual bottom line" to measure success: "excellent investor returns" plus "significant community impact." It raises private funds "to invest in states and communities that are underserved by traditional sources of risk capital. [It] built a...record of public-private partnerships with state and federal economic development organizations, facilitating the flow of billions of dollars of investment capital into these communities. [It]provides equity and debt capital, along with value-added counsel and other support, to operating businesses...." "The 20th Congressional Discist," says Mr Murphy, "needs innovative leadership that will bring smart economic development and good jobs to our communities. That's what I've done in the private sector, and that's what I'll do in Congress." The by-election is bound to be closely fought. Mr Tedisco starts the race with greater name recognition. He also stands to gain from a big edge in Republican Party registrations in the district. He may benefit as well from the prospect that party stars--Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin--will jump at the chance to play visible roles in what could turn out to be a first sign of Republican resurgence. Favoring the Democratic candidate, on the other hand, is recent electoral history. The majority of 20th District voters, just two months ago, supported the Democratic nominees for Congress and for President. On this occasion, in the current climate of economic anxiety, the voters may be drawn to Mr Murphy's record as a job-creating enterpriser. -----One more factor could shape the election's outcome. It has to do with tangible favors. Delivering the goods. Supporting constituents' pet projects. Bringing home the bacon. It is seldom mentioned in campaign rhetoric,apart from vague "has done a lot for the district" remarks. -----To express the matter in brutally direct terms, rival candidates for elective office differ in prospective abilities to win government grant, subsidies and other material favors for their constituents. The crucial difference between candidates stems not from their skills, their diligence or their principles, but from their alliances. Of supreme value in this matter is affiliation with the majority party (in the legislature and, ideally, in the Administration as well). For many years, accordingly, the incumbent Republican Congressman was positioned to do more for the 20th Congressional District,in the way of material favors, than his successive Democratic challengers. In November 2006, and more completely in November 2008, that situation was reversed.