Saturday, February 06, 2010

Judging Contest

With the imminent retirement of a sitting judge, together with the absence of a ‘logical’ successor, GreeneLanders will be treated this year to an unusually lively judicial election.

Daniel K. Lalor, who has been one of GreeneLand’s two County and Surrogate judges since 1991, is obliged by State age-limit law to retire on December 31st. A successor will emerge from November’s general elections. By common consent among members of the local bench and bar, the most appropriate successor, by way of biography and reputation, would be District Attorney Terry Wilhelm. This sequence would follow a precedent set by Judge Lalor himself: He was District Attorney (by way of election in 1998, following appointment to replace the deceased Si Meadow) before being elected in 1990 to his first ten-year term on the bench.

Mr Wilhelm, however, has let it be known that he prefers to remain in his present office. His decision has paved the way for a scramble. That scramble begins with bidding for the Democratic and Republican party endorsements.

Three GreeneLanders are announced or all-but-announced candidates for the Republican nomination (which is generally the more valuable one in this vicinity). They are Ted Hilscher of New Baltimore, who is a historian and part-time teacher (at Columbia-Greene Community College) in addition to being a former Assistant District Attorney and a Catskill-based attorney; Peter Margolius, who is a Catskill Town Justice and a veteran attorney in private practice; and Charles (“Chip”) Tailleur of Coxsackie, who is Mr Wilhelm’s chief assistant (as he was for Mr Wilhelm’s predecessor, Ed Cloke). Mr Hilscher threw his hat in the ring by way of a news release that was distributed on Monday. Mr Margolius and Mr Tailleur have affirmed their candidacies verbally (to Seeing Greene, among other respondents) with formal announcements soon to come.

On the Democratic side, no direct declarations of candidacy have been made yet, but four individuals have attracted speculation (intentionally or otherwise). They are Greg Lubow of Tannersville, attorney and former Chief Public Defender of Greene County before that office was made a full-time position; Edward Kaplan, Hunter-based attorney; Lee Allen Palmateer, attorney and Athens Town Supervisor; and Alex Betke, who in addition to being a partner in an Albany law firm is Coxsackie Town Supervisor and Catskill Village attorney.

The starting salary for the winner in the coming election would be $116,000 per year, plus substantial benefits. Judge Lalor, however, is paid at the rate of $137,000, and so is our other county (and surrogate) judge, George Pulver Jr. Both men often are assigned cases as Acting Supreme Court judges. (And this may be a suitable occasion to mention that in New York State, Supreme Court judges are not supreme judicially. They rank below Appellate Court judges).

BANK SHOT. While jobs are scarce, real estate prices are down, foreclosures have increased, stores are closing, and tax revenues have dwindled in GreeneLand, banking has continued to be a solid business, at least for the major local player. Greene County Bancorp, parent of the Bank of Greene County, whose operations are preponderantly GreeneLand-based, scored a 30 per cent gain in net income during the last half of 2009. According to a company news release, Bank President Donald Gibson ascribed that gain (to $2.4 million, vs. $1.8 million in the same period in 2008) mostly to “strong capital ratios.” He also pointed with pride to record volumes of BOGC assets, deposits and loans. The earnings rate, he added, amounts to 58 cents per “basic and diluted share” of company stock. The pool of shares increased by about 20,000 to 4,133,758. As usual the parent company, owning 56 per cent of the shares, will forego its portion of the dividend. Consequently, owners of a 44 per cent of Greene County Bancorp shares get 100 per cent of company dividends.

CAT TALES. Yes, there will indeed be another Cat ‘n Around festival in Catskill this summer, and there will be plenty of candidates for admiration. Chamber of Commerce manager Linda Overbaugh reports that more than 70 candidates will be offered for adoption by the 54-60 sponsors. The festival’s lead sponsors are Holcim Cement ($5000), Athens Generating ($2500), and Trustco and Scott Alarms ($1250). The regular sponsors pay $500 toward artists’ expenses. Among the catidates for adoption this time, as named and pictured by prospective makers, will be Ronald CatDonald, LepraCat (very Irish), lemony Sourpuss, Davey CrockCat, Cat-cher (masked and mitted) and Catman & Robin. (BTW, three of 2009’s champion fiberglass felines can be seen in the window of the Town Hall on Catskill’s Main Street, courtesy of owner Mike Ferro).

CLOSING, after 30 years in Windham, in consequence of a rent increase and budget squeeze: GreeneLand Arts Council’s Mountaintop Gallery in Windham. Council Director Kay Stamer made a point of acknowledging that the rent charged by the landlord over the years has been at a below-market rate. She holds out hope that another low-cost location can be found. Meanwhile, boutique items at the present gallery will be on sale at discount prices until the end of this month. (And, thanks to special grant money, the Council’s main gallery, on Main Street in Catskill, has acquired a comely new appearance).

IDENTITY CHANGE? “Kelly Richards” of Catskill, Cairo and other communities, as recounted in Seeing Greene, also seems to be “Marie Thompson” of Catskill. According to a pop-up advertisement that bears a remarkably close resemblance to what we reproduced here on January 24th, Marie has made a bundle of money working online, using a system that she ordered online. Her case seemingly elicited comments and queries that are identical to those posted on the ad starring “Kelly Richards.” The big fat Google check (with no recipient identified) is there again. According to ostensible direct quotations in the ad (touted as a “news article”), Marie makes “$7000-9000 per month with Google” or “$5000-6000 per month on Google.” This time the ostensible news source is “LA Sentinel” (not to be confused with The Los Angeles Sentinel, a black-oriented periodical) and the product is Quick Profit Kit ( ) Marie allegedly is a mother of three, and her success is portrayed as reaping $298 per day on average while working at home, on line, for 10-13 hours per week. “Marie” has something else in common with “Kelly”: residential versatility. According to a few variants of the “news” from “LA Sentinel,” she also lives in Kent WA, in San Jose CA, and in Hudson NY. What is more, she bears a remarkable resemblance to “Sally Vickers of Julian CA”, another mother of three who (thanks to “Home Job Placement”), testifies that soon after she got certified as an Auction Listing Specialist, “Money was literally flooding in.” This “news” from a “Jennifer Johnson” (; is accompanied down in the fine print by the stipulation that


DAILY MAUL. “On Feb. 1, 2010, state police charged Randolph E. Rosand, 47, of New York City with driving while intoxicated…and driving alcohol in a motor vehicle while on the highway.” “On Jan. 26, 2010, state police charged Robert E. Bender, 33, of Coxsackie, with…felony aggravated driving while intoxicated for a prior conviction within 10 years.” “On Jan. 30, 2010 the Coxsackie Police Department charged Brian P. Abitz, 34, of Freehold with third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and other traffic tickets.”

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