Friday, January 29, 2010

Gone, Gone, Going...

GONE abruptly and involuntarily from Catskill High School, as of yesterday: the principal, William Ball. According to sources, he has been suspended with pay after refusing to accept a Board of Education-framed choice between having the remainder of his contract bought out or facing charges having to do with willful destruction of school property (ripping out a telephone in a fit of rage). Some bits of the story were disclosed at a special meeting of faculty and staff members yesterday at 1pm, but attendance was spotty because, in anticipation of more bad weather, the school was closed at mid-morning. Old complaints about sexual harassment were not immediately involved. [NOTE: Mr Ball, through attorney Dennis Schlenker, says the foregoing sentence is “unequivocally false and must be construed to constitute libel,” having been “made with malice.. in reckless disregard of the truth.” He intends, says Mr Schlenker, to “seek legal redress…for the harm and all damages that have been caused through [the author’s] conduct.” (Posted 3/8/10)] For the remainder of the school year, the principal’s duties will fall mainly to Patrick Wemmit, whose present job title is Principal of Special Learning Programs. With regard to the rumors that generated the foregoing notes, Superintendent Kathleen Farrell and Board of Education President Randall Griffin voiced the following comment:

“No comment.”

GONE from the Board of Catskill Central School District, as well as from Catskill: Beverly Cotten. Formal acceptance of her resignation, dated as of December 11, took place at the Board of Education’s Jan. 26 meeting. Ms Cotten was elected to the Board only last spring. She and her husband, Forest, the county legislator and Democratic Party leader, have separated. She has moved with the children to Amsterdam, where she holds a job in school administration. As reported in The Daily Mail (Jim Planck, 1/28), the remaining Board of Education members have not decided how to fill the vacancy.

GOING from the office of Director of Tourism and Promotion for GreeneLand. as of February 28: Daniela Marino, Ms Marino is leaving because (i) her appointive position has been abolished, with its functions placed under the wing of what is now the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Planning, headed by Warren Hart; and (ii) she was not invited to remain as interim manager or to apply for the redesignated job. A call for applications for the "provisional" position of Tourism Marketing Manager has just been distributed (by the county Human Resources Department,, with a March 1 deadline. The incumbent, working under Mr Hart's supervision,, would be "responsible for planning, coordinating, and managing the tourism destination marketing plan and integrated campaigns of Greene County." Rich experience is required, along with multiple skills of the sort that Ms Marino possesses in abundance. According to reliable sources, Ms Marino’s work has been exemplary but for some local honchos she has been a bit too sophisticated, too literate, too (gasp!) cosmopolitan.

GOING downhill, at a rate that could be more than a bit troubling: pieces of land near Snake Road Extension in Jefferson Heights, close to planned construction of additional care facilities for seniors at the Greene Medical Arts Center and Kaaterskill Care.

GOING to State prison, following conviction for vehicular assault and related offenses committed when he drunkenly crashed his pick-up truck into an oncoming vehicle: Waldemar J. Zahn of Cairo. According to a Daily Mail account of trial proceedings (by Doron Tyler Antrim), the assault’s victim, Kevin P. Nicewornger of South Plainfield NJ, spent four months in Albany Medical Center being treated for a broken femur, a fractured pelvis, a broken clavicle, broken ribs, a fractured pelvis and a punctured lung. “During the five-day trial, Zahn testified that he had rapidly consumed four to five beers the morning of Feb. 21 before driving to a store to purchase cigarettes. On the return trip home he had dropped the pack of cigarettes on the floor of the truck cab. As he reached to pick up the pack the vehicle veered off to the right side of the road. In the act of correcting his steering he collided with Nicewonger.” Judge George J. Pulver Jr imposed the maximum sentence, of up to four years of incarceration.

GOING to Coxsackie Court on Monday, to face a charge of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle (meaning that he had already lost his license for a previous misdeed): a young mean from Gloversville whose actual name, according to the local Press, is Matthew D. Cuckoo.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Kelly's Green

According to an “advertorial” that popped up recently on some GreeneLand computer screens, a Catskillian named Kelly Richards has been making $6397 per month “working online”, part-time, from home.That is the gist of a “New York Job Report” concerning “Google Work At Home Programs.”The Report emanates from “Online News 6,” whose narrator says “I read Kelly's blog last month and decided to feature her story in our local job report. In our phone interview she told me her amazing story. ‘I actually make about $5,000-$7,000 a month using Google [although] I only work about 10-15 hours a week from home.’"

“I asked her about how she started her remarkable journey. ‘It was pretty easy, I filled out a short form and applied for a work at home kit. There is a small shipping and handling fee…. I got the Kit and within four weeks I was making over $5,000 a month. It's really simple…. I post links that are given to me, I don't even have to sell anything and nobody has to buy anything’.”

The narrator/reporter goes on to dwell on the scale and quality of Google as a company, to warn about on-line “scams” touting big returns, and to provide links that give access to ordering the lucrative Google Profit and Black Belt Profits kits.

To see the full text of the advertorial in legible size, click on the advertisement.It runs down through a series of ostensible comments and then through some small-print stipulations.Getting back out of the invitation requires a special step:with your cursor on the ad, click your Delete button; instead of exiting the site, you will be offered a choice between Cancel and OK; click OK.

Some features of this Advertorial are remarkable.Additional matters come to light after a bit of on-line snooping.Thus:

*The sponsoring agency, “On Line News 6,” is site-less.

*The putative investigative reporter for “On Line News 6,” though writing in the first person (“I read Kelly’s blog…”; “I asked her….”), is anonymous.

*The reference to Kelly Richards’s blog is not accompanied by a link thereto.

*The posted “Responses For [sic] This Article” seem to be dated prior to its publication, and they are shielded from verification.

*The prices of the touted recession-busting kits are not shown. Tucked into the fine print, however, references to application fees and monthly payments, as well as s to “negative option” or “continuity billing” and “Active Credit Card.”

*The source of payments to be received from this kit-guided on-line work is not identified.Although the Advertorial contains a picture of a big-dollar check from Google, the recipient’s name blocked out and nothing is said about what service the payment is for.No actual claim is made that Google pays for services rendered by Kelly Richards.

*In the small print, readers are advised that

this site and the stories depicted above is to be used as an illustrative example of what some individuals have achieved with this/these products. This website, and any page on the website, is based loosely off a true story, but has been modified in multiple ways including, but not limited to: the story, the photos, and the comments. Thus, this blog, and any page on this website, are not to be taken literally or as a non-fiction story. This blog, and the results mentioned on this blog, although achievable for some, are not to be construed as the results that you may achieve on the same routine.

Those words are followed immediately by a change of voice, in which the sender ventures, in capital letters, to put words in the mouth of the receiver:


That stipulation may help to account for the fact that nobody named Kelly Richards lives in Catskill.It also may help to account for the terms of near-duplicate Advertorials that have popped up on the screens of people in various locations.These “reports” from “On Line News 6” vary by date and by the identity of the home town of “Kelly Richards.” In addition to Catskill, it would seem, Ms Richards resides in Cairo NY, in Highland NY, in Lompoc CA and Hayward CA, in Black Diamond WA, and so on--depending on the whereabouts of the recipient’s internet service provider

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


“GREENE POLICE BLOTTER” is the title of a regular section of GreeneLand’s almost-daily newspaper, The Daily Mail. On choice occasions, this compilation yields memorable reports, such as

The Coxsackie Police Department charged Sean Moorhus, 35, of Saugerties with driving while intoxicated by drugs and other traffic tickets.


[State police] charged a 17-year-old male of Oak Hill with unlawful possession of marijuana and other traffic tickets.

Rarely do Blotter readers get invited to contemplate the criminality of possessing, and being intoxicated by, traffic tickets. Meanwhile, in less amusing and more insidious ways, the Blotter is a faulty, deceptive collection.

--------For one thing, Blotter accounts of events are woefully incomplete. Readers are told what agent brings what charge(s) against what suspects on what date, but they are not told about the causal events. Thus, we learn that “State police” charged Timothy Gofmans Jr and Christina J. Stewart of South Cairo in mid-December with criminal mischief, but we get no hint about the alleged mischief’s nature or target. We learn that a Frank Cowan was charged on December 23rd with criminal possession of a weapon, with menacing, and with endangering a child’s welfare. We are told that Cowan is 36 years old, that he lives in Saugerties, and that his suspected offenses were classed as second- and third-degree felonies. We learn nothing about the incident: the location, the child, the weapon, the menacing, the complainant(s). Again, while a Blotter item recounts the age, residence, arraignment, jailing and calibrated charges lodged against Donald Parkinson on December 26th—“third-degree menacing, fourth-degree criminal mischief, second-degree obstruction of governmental administration, and disorderly conduct”—it is silent about the triggering events.

------- In another way too, the Greene Police Blotter lacks completeness. While its title appears to promise coverage of police work throughout GreeneLand, its cases actually come only from activities of State and some local (Cairo, Coxsackie) police officers. NOT recorded in the Blotter, for the past four years, has been work done by Catskill Village police. That omission--of news about the work of GreeneLand’s largest local police force; of information about daily life in GreeneLand’s county seat and most populous community--is due most immediately to Village Police Chief Dave Darling. He pretends, contrary to established law, that his officers’ incident and action reports are not public documents. For his success in sustaining that fiction, Chief Darling depends on the acquiescence, if not the active support, of his employers: the Village Trustees. And for the endurance of their collusion in this law-snubbing practice, the Trustees and the chief depend on the passivity of appropriate protestors, such as publishers of newspapers and, gulp, of news blogs.

Chief Darling disputes our version of his position. When asked (on Thursday, 1/14) to respond to the preceding paragraph, he said “It’s not fair, and it’s not accurate. I never said that our reports are not public documents.” He maintained, however, that “I have no way of giving you free access to our ‘blotter’. Our incident and action reports are now done on-line; no more ring binders full of paper. Internet access to the on-line reports is restricted to authorized personnel. And I’m not going to let just anybody come into a secured area at police headquarters, and sit down for an hour or more in front of one of our computer screens reading a day’s or a week’s reports.”

The obstacles cited by Chief Darling have eluded his counterparts in other GreeneLand municipalities. And in Hudson, for example, all arrest and incident reports that are filed by that city’s police officers go promptly to the Register-Star’s police reporter, Andrew Amelinckx, by e-mail.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Emerald Greene

SAVED: The Shamrock House in East Durham, which evidently will remain in operation as an iconic Irish pub and resort, still run by the Kellegher family but under new ownership. A deal was struck in advance of the foreclosure auction that took place last week (1/6/10) in the temporary GreeneLand courthouse. The unpaid debt on the mortgage amounted to about $858,000 and the defaulting mortgagees, John and Neil Kellegher, had declared bankruptcy. John and Suzanne Quirk, who operate the popular Lawyer’s General Store in East Durham, struck a deal with the mortgage holder, Gaffken & Barriger Fund, to buy the mortgage for an undisclosed amount. In the meanwhile, they made a contract with the Kelleghers to continue operating the Shamrock on a monthly lease. (Much of the foregoing is based on Daily Mail reporting on 1/7/10 by Colin DeVries). IN SUSPENSE: the Union Mills Lofts project in Catskill. The historic brick building that began life as a Civil War uniform-making factory and most recently served as the warehouse for Orens Furniture has been undergoing extensive, sensitive restoration as the prospective site on three floors of high-quality creek-site condominiums. The project is “eighty-five percent complete and on budget,” says Jim Cunliffe, the project’s originator and hands-on manager; but the Long Island investors have declined to commit to supplying the last quarter of projected capital. Mr Cunliffe’s response is to book a trip overseas, where old friends with deep pockets know him as the builder (on budget, on time) of hospitals, laboratories, and schools. He will invite them to join in backing a package of historic renovations in northern New York. All being well, by Winter's the project will be revived, and Union Mills Gallery will again be available for choice events. [Final sentence added 1/14] CLOSED to the public, as of Tuesday (1/12/10): the Catskill Public Library. But the closing is only for three days, during which the staff will be engaged in shifting books and equipment in preparation for the festive re-opening on Saturday. All who come then will witness a major transformation. The whole downstairs is being refitted to serve young patrons. The old children’s room on the main floor is being shifted downstairs to the Carnegie Room, which is triple the space. And the facilities for young patrons will include the array of computers that previously occupied a portion of the main floor and were available to users of all ages. Meanwhile, adult customers on the main floor will be greeted on Saturday by a new array of laptop computers, donated by the Bill Gates Foundation, along with other improvements. ------ Absent from Saturday’s bibliophilic festivities will be David DeShong, who was the library’s Director until departing in early December, after a year on the job. According to reliable sources, his departure came about by mutual consent with the governing trustees. It followed absences that were necessitated by family obligations and by personal illness.The DeShongs have returned to their Southwest roots. The search for a successor is under way. GENDER NEWS. Judging by a report from Catskill High School, boys in the top grade have nearly caught up, in terms of high academic achievement, with girls. Eight of the 18 High Honor Roll achievers were boys. But in the lower grades, girls out-performed boys by a much bigger margin. Among High Honor Roll achievers in Grade 9 were nine girls and only five boys. INCINERATED: most of the town hall and firehouse of Ashland. According to Michael Ryan’s gripping account (Daily Mail, 1/12/10), a devastating Sunday blaze also destroyed or damaged important records as well a four fire trucks, a new ambulance, and a kitchen. TERMINATED, sort of: The Catskill Mountain Region Guide. That stout monthly magazine, published by the Catskill Mountain Foundation since August 2000, with feature stories about local cultural matters and abundant graphics, is being turned into a shadow of its former self. Publisher Peter Finn announced in the December (“final”) issue that the Guide will “continue as a monthly print publication” (keeping its unappealing title, presumably) but will be “much smaller.” It will retain the photography portfolio and will provide “detailed information…on the many programs of the Catskill Mountain Foundation” plus “synopses of articles that will be available in full on our Web site.” That site will carry “stories…on arts and other attractions in the region” and “over time” the site will provide comprehensive “profiles of the resources available in our region”--“information on performing arts venues, galleries, hotels and B&Bs, restaurants and other business that would be of interest to both residents and visitors to the area.” The professed aim is to make “the premier Web site of the Catskill Region.” Neither the Web site nor the shrunken Guide will carry advertising. ------Mr Finn attributed the changeover to the malady—plunging advertising revenue--that has afflicted the whole print media industry. He did not explain the decision to forego advertising altogether. IMPERILED too is GreeneLand's other home-grown monthly: InsideOut. Advertising has tanked, the drive for paid subscriptions fell short, and warm praise for the contents does not cover the costs of production. Publisher/editor Owen Lipstein feels "uncertain" about the future but is keen to sustain the magazine, perhaps as a quarterly and an on-line periodical.

Saturday, January 02, 2010


------After a 26-day interval, Seeing Greene returns for a sixth year. Items have accumulated. HE STAYS. County Treasurer Willis Vermilyea changed his mind about retiring on December 30th, a year prior to the end of his current elective term. His change was ascribed by Greenville Press chief Linda Fenoff 12/24/09), to a determination to thwart a legal action that “his political foes said does not exist.” Mr Vermilyea distributed a statement contending that GreeneLand’s “Democratic leadership” was plotting to ask Governor Paterson--un-elected, New York City-rooted, Democratic—“to appoint my replacement.” (Their imputed nominee: Amy Scuteri, who ran for County Treasurer against Mr Vermilyea back in 2004.

Feeding his suspicions of such a scheme were requests made by local Democratic leaders for a copy of Mr Vermilyea’s letter of resignation. (As it happened, he had not written one). Fortifying his suspicions too was a history of criticism aimed at Mr Vermilyea by Tom Poelker, chairman of the county Democratic Party.

Filling the vacancy by gubernatorial appointment would be illegal, Mr Vermilyea maintained, but even so it could be politically subversive. The law pertaining to GreeneLand places authority to pick an interim Treasurer in the hands of the county’s legislators. But if the governor were to act pre-emptively, before the legislators could do so, the issue would be subject to prolonged litigation; and until a judge resolved the matter, the governor’s appointee might be occupying the office.

Mr Poelker characterized Mr Vermilyea’s scenario as “a lot of speculation, and rather entertaining.”

--------Sean Frey, leader of the minority Democrats in the county legislature, expressed surprise at the alleged speculations and gratification that Mr Vermilyea, with his rich experience, would be completing his term after all.

SHE LEFT. Although Mr Vermilyea changed his mind about leaving office, his long-time deputy did not change her mind. Madelyn Brandow did retire from the Civil Service post on December 30th.

HE CAME. A new Deputy Treasurer is already in place. He is Randall Griffin, who is best known locally as a Catskill Central School District trustee and, since last spring, president of the board.. Mr Griffin also holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees in accountancy-related disciplines and spent 28 years in financial management posts in State government.

HOT STUFF. Catskill’s school district is being sued by a Palenville mother who seeks compensation for damages allegedly suffered by her son when, in the elementary school cafeteria, he was injured by “overheated and excessively hot oatmeal.” According to the complaint filed in State Supreme Court back in March of 2008, plaintiff Barbara Green’s son Jacob suffered “serious and permanent injuries, including burns to the skin,” in consequence of “negligently and improperly prepared” cereal that was served by a District employee. What is more, Ms Green alleges, the “defective condition of the dangerous conditions” [sic] had “illustrated” themselves on occasions prior to Jacob’s experience. Ms Green, represented by attorney Alfred B. Manetti of Kingston, seeks compensation for her loss of “comfort, support and companionship” as well as for Jacob’s injuries. A conference between plaintiff, defendant, and Acting Supreme Court Judge George Pulver Jr., was scheduled for today (1/6/10).

HOT TIP. If you are fond of excellent literature for children, hasten to your book store or library and get a copy of The Phantom Toll Booth (1961), by Norton Juster (illustrated by Jules Feiffer). It’s a wonderful fantasy (Azad the Unabridged, king of Digitopolis, meets The Mathemagician, king of Digitopolis) and there’s a special GreeneLand reason to read it now: a musical version will be performed later this year, in Cairo, by a cast that will be selected soon. You may know a kid who would thrive as Officer Shrift (taller sitting down than standing up), The Whether Man, the Duke of Definition, the Minister of Meaning, the Earl of Essence, the Threadbare Excuse. . . . Auditions for the Dragonfly Performing Arts show in Cairo will be held on January 24th. Inquiries: (518) 731-3340.

HOT DEAL. On December 22, a top Bank of Greene County officer—Michelle Plummer, whose abbreviated titles are SVP, COO and CFO--sold 1080 shares of stock in the parent company at $14.59 per unit and bought 5000 shares for $3.94 per unit. She was selling on the open market while exercising purchase options that had been granted by the governing board from as far back as March 2001.

TUT TUT. Catskill’s school board members passed on November 18 a resolution saying

“the District owns 1,105 library/textbooks which are no longer useful or necessary for school district purposes and is of no value to the School District….”

WHISPER. Also noteworthy on the schools front is the rumor that a GreeneLand school board will soon lose, to resignation, a recently elected member.

DOWNFALL. The west (creekside) wall of what is left of the historic brick structure on Water Street in Catskill that in times past housed an iron foundry, an engineering headquarters and a second-hand book store owned by Frank McDonald. The restoration project mounted early in 2009 by purchaser Mike Ferro has turned out to be fraught with problems.

“THE LEAK STOPS HERE” says Dr Richard M. Wood, urogynecologist.