Saturday, February 27, 2010

Down & Up

NAILED THIS TIME: Timothy J. (“Teejay”) Hall, former Catskillian. Back in 1998, Teejay underwent prosecution in the Greene County courthouse on suspicion of murdering one man and wounding another. His trial came about in the wake of shootings that occurred just across the street from the Quarterback night club, an establishment (owned and run by the local postmaster) that is located just north of the Catskill High School/Middle School campus and is now the county’s drug rehabilitation center. Evidence compiled from witnesses in pre-trial interrogations was all but conclusive against Teejay. In court, however, key witnesses disavowed their statements, contradicted those statements, or refused to testify. In addition, Teejay was represented by a masterful defense attorney, Richard Mott of Albany. His jurors brought in a Not Guilty verdict.

Teejay subsequently got into trouble for lesser crimes in the Capital region and spent time in prison. Then, early last year, State troopers arrested him and three suspected accomplices in connection with the invasion of a home in Leeds. Among the 22 criminal charges they lodged were robbery and kidnapping. This time (with no Richard Mott at the defense table) Teejay did not get off. [CORRECTION (3/1/10): Richard Mott DID represent Teejay at this trial]. This panel of jurors found him guilty of multiple crimes, and on Tuesday (2/23) Judge Daniel Lalor sentenced Teejay to a term of up to eight and a half years in prison, to be followed by several years of supervised probation. Judge Lalor imposed the same sentences on the accomplices: Tyquan Hall (Teejay’s cousin), Melvin Lett Jr, and Duane Dixon. Those men had been close associates of Teejay at the time of the Quarterback Club murder. [FURTHER CORRECTION (3/18/10): The case did not go to trial. Under Mr Mott's guidance, TJ entered a plea of guilty to the felony of burglary (2d degree; home invasion) on the understanding that the sentence would call for a maximum prison term of 81/2 years].

DUMPED ON: the trash hauling firm County Waste & Recycling, which does substantial business in GreeneLand and in 18 other counties. The company has agreed to pay about one million dollars in settlement of a lawsuit. Most of the money, as reported in The TimesUnion and then picked up by The Associated Press, will go to Colonie. According to State Attorney Andrew Cuomo, County Waste “undercut its financial obligations” to that town and “ignored its environmental protection obligations to the state and its residents." Its “scams” consisted of under-reporting the volume of waste it dumped by contract in Colonie’s landfill and breaching certain requirements concerning putrid solid waste. The case dates from whistleblower service performed by a County Waste manager, Ralph Hunter, who will receive a $163,651 share of the settlement. According to its web site ( ) the 180,000-customer County Waste is “the largest privately owned waste collections and recycling company in the capital region of New York, with operations from Harriman to Ticonderoga. Our friendly drivers are a familiar sight in every neighborhood we serve.”

ASSEMBLED in the Catskill High School cafeteria, on Tuesday evening, in spite of the soggy snowfall: 74 local business operators, elected officials and public employees. They gathered to participate in the “Business Summit” instigated by Village Board President Vincent Seeley. At one stage of proceedings, they were invited to name low-cost courses of remedial or vitalizing action for Catskill commerce. The winning suggestion, by acclamation, was “move the farmers’ market to downtown Main Street.’’ That would be a transition from the popular Catskill Point Warehouse site.

Mr Seeley made a point of dwelling on assets and positive proposals at the expense of recurring complaints, which he readily identified (traffic snarls, idle Sundays, traffic lights ill-timed, taxes too high…). For that reason and others, the subject of Village-Town consolidation did not come up.

IN PROSPECT for downtown Catskill: a clothing store for plus-sized women (Tina Gagliardy); a taxidermy shop; an upstairs enterprise called Brain-Go; and—the big one--a boxing museum. This facility would celebrate Cus D’Amato and the fighters and trainers that he coached here. As depicted to Village Trustees on Monday by Sandra L. Smith, president of the board of the Cus D’Amato gymnasium (still punching in the Village government building), the museum would display a rich assortment of memorabilia that is now in storage, and it would be a beacon for tourists.

Such prospects go some way to offset recent and imminent losses from downtown: a coffee shop, four homewares shops, seven art galleries….


Music, dancing, art sale, entertainers at the former Muddy Cup, 410 Main St, Catskill.

It’s a festive fund-raiser for community radio station WGXC.


OUT-PERFORMED again: GreeneLand’s schoolboys. Among 12th graders at Greenville High School who scored top honors during the last term were four girls and only two boys. At Catskill High School, top honors among 12th graders went to 14 girls and only five boys. Male retardation seems to be a chronic GreeneLand malady.

RECLAIMED by mortgage holder Bank of America (lien amount being $265,000) at foreclosure auction on Thursday (2/24): a house and land at 694 Warren Stein Road, Freehold, that had been owned by defaulter Michael Larosa, former proprietor of Larosa’s Market at 1 Brandows Alley in Catskill. That fumbled enterprise was followed by the hapless It’s A Wrap which in turn became, as of last June, the River Street Bakery (where Laura and Michael Reid do breakfast and lunch as well as baked goods, plus movies and meals on Wednesday nights and Sunday afternoons).

IN PROSPECT for Athens: an enterprise called Athens Hotel Enterprises. As declared in legal advertisements (Daily Mail, 2/26), “the purpose” of this Limited Liability is “to engage in the business of hospitality and restaurant, and to do any other lawful business and all things necessary, convenient or incidental to those purposes.”

DROWNED. One man died and another was rescued Saturday after falling through ice while fishing in northwestern Greene County. Conservation Officers are investigating the death of Delmar W. Scott, 77-year-old man whose body was recovered by firefighters from an ice-covered pond.

That happened in Greene County, Indiana. The local pond story is that David Sanson, 14, of Coxsackie, rescued an Athens boy who fell on February 11th through Hudson ice off Riverfront Park in Athens.

DAILY MAUL. “The trial of befallen Long Island horse breeder Ernest Paragallo has begun, hearing testimony from a veterinarian who treated some of the severely malnourished thoroughbreds he is accused of abusing.”

Thursday, February 18, 2010

News & Stuff

BAD NEWS. Included in a recent TimesUnion news story was a sentence that exemplifies a recurring journalistic malpractice:

Also present [at a gathering of New York State politicians] were Gov. David Paterson and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who is expected to run for governor.

By means of that sentence (Jimmy Vielkind; 2/15/10) the author pretends to identify (and thus to have succeeded in detecting) a mental state, an expectation, that exists apart from any particular cranial host. Embedded in what passes for a straight news story, the sentence accordingly conveys the metaphysical suggestion that mental states such as expectations do float independently of particular minds. Also conveyed is the suggestion that suitably trained reporters can detect such phenomena. In addition, the sentence conveys the suggestion (in the absence of a disclaimer) that the cited mental state, the named expectation, is true.

------Putative reporting of that sort—metaphysically goofy, presumptuous, evasive, pretentious--is no rarity in mainstream news organs. It occurs not only in ostensible accounts of what “is expected” –

Merrill Lynch Is Expected to Quit Downtown for Midtown

--New York Times

This year is slated to bring another record-setting crowd, with an estimated 20,000 people expected at the free festival.

--Daily Mail (Catskill NY)

A request for proposals is expected to be noticed in June.

--Daily Mail

Jerry Brown, who’s expected to become President in 1980, or 1984 at the latest, will not only make history. He’ll make it sit up.

--The Australian.

--but also in ostensible disclosures of what currently “is understood,” “is believed,” “is known,” “is seen,” “is regarded,” or “is perceived”—by nobody in particular, by everybody, by the ether.

BAD/GOOD NEWS. The Greenville Press, GreeneLand’s best weekly newspaper, may not be defunct. Yes, three issues have not appeared. The paper’s office in the Greenville town building is silent and rent payments are overdue. Telephone calls are not answered. No announcement has been issued. Attempts to reach Linda Fenoff, the paper’s publisher, editor and most prolific writer, have been unavailing. What has happened, Ms Fenoff told Seeing Greene (2/15/10), is that she suffered a collapse from exhaustion and was hospitalized for several days. Now she is resting at the home of a friend, is still weak and depressed, but is “absolutely” determined to get back to the job.

PROMISING NEWS. The Watershed Post, a new Web site that is based in Delhi and aimed at covering events and people all around The Catskills, was launched just recently. It is accessible Blog mistress Lissa Harris, a refugee from a collapsed alternative weekly in Boston, harbors “this quixotic idea of a Catskills-wide outlet that both locals and NYC types are reading. Something a little more cosmopolitan than the weeklies, a little more gritty than the various Hudson Valley lifestyle pub[lication]s, and a little less touristy than the [faded Catskill Mountain Region] Guide.”

“FRAUDULENT FUNDRAISERS” is the headline on an item in the February 6 edition of the Cairo-Durham school district’s newsletter (on line at ). Superintendent Sally Sharkey warned of “two individuals going from door to door selling flowers. They were claiming to be Cairo Durham cheerleaders. These individuals have no affiliation with the school district and are not fundraising on behalf of any school organization.” That heads-up led to the arrest on February 9th of Floylene Smith, 18, of Catskill (5281 Route 32). Ms Smith has been charged with perpetrating a scheme to defraud (2d degree). (She was not tagged with a charge that, according to The TimesUnion, was filed against some Colonie massage parlor employees: unauthorized practice of a crime. That prompts us to ponder the identity of non-criminal, authorized practice of crime).

OMISSION? After a Durham police officer was convicted of sexual misconduct, and after the jurors’ Guilty verdict was based clearly on their rejection of alibi testimony provided by fellow Durham police officers, the Town Council’s regular meeting took place (on Tuesday, 2/16/10). The case did not come up.

DWINDLING: the school population of Cairo-Durham Central School District. According to Educorps consultant John Yagielski, as reported in The Daily Mail (Doron Tyler Antrim, 2/4/10), the current K-12 population is 1493—down from 1820 in 2001-02. Extrapolating from that change leads to projecting a population of only1265 by 2013-14 (but there’s nothing iron-clad about the recent rate of decline). The reduced school population brings a reduced amount of site aid from the State, necessitating a search for ways to cut expenses.

GRANTED to 15 GreeneLand organizations, in allotments made by GreeneLand’s Arts Council from the State’s Decentralization Program Project Support funds: grants totaling $22,517. The sum is less than half the value of applications. Amounts ranged from $892 (to Oak Hill Preservation Association for Oak Hill Day) to $2700 (to Greene Arts Foundation for musical stage adaptation of the book O’Sullivan Stew). These “re-grants” must go through established organizations to individuals. That requirement generates some odd connections, such as a mountain wolf center and a pet sanctuary being conduits for theatrical projects. Anyhow, the total grants amount to a pittance compared with allocations made by the Athens Community Foundation to projects in that town: $153,000 in grants last year to 22 local groups. The money comes from a $3 million pool that was started by a big PILOT (payment in lieu of tax) payment by Athens Generating Company.

FRIDAY: opening performance of DragonFly Performing Arts production of the Tennessee Williams play “The Glass Menagerie,” in Cairo (973 Main St) at 8pm. Additional performances will be given Saturday (2pm; 8pm) and Sunday (2pm).

SATURDAY: Open house at Banner Hill woodworking and pottery school, 741 Mill St, Windham, noon-4pm. Demonstrations.;

----- >Opening reception for “Lumina,” an exhibition of photographs selected by Fawn Potash and Jill Skupin, at the Arts Council gallery in Catskill (398 Main St), 5pm. With Greene County Camera Club sponsorship. For a slide show of the works, go to

SUNDAY: To regular services in churches all over GreeneLand, the Peace Village Learning & Retreat Center offers a “Special Get-together and Meditation for World Peace.” The event seems to be connected to Shivatri, which a Center message calls “a commemoration of the Night of the descent [sic] of Shiva,” and/or a “celebration of remembering and reclaiming our inheritance of Peace, Power, and Protection.”

DAILY MAUL. “Athens Supervisor Lee Allen Palmateer said the candidates, which included Nora Adelman,…and Howard Zar, was a ‘talented group of people’.” The Athens Community Foundation’s “total assets in December 2009 was $3.079 million.”

Friday, February 12, 2010


Readers of GreeneLand’s principal newspaper were given a heavy dose the other day (2/5/10)of slanted journalism. The editor of the low-budget Daily Mail chose to publish, verbatim, without attribution or by-line, in the guise of straight news, a lengthy handout from a political party’s publicist. In committing that unprofessional deed he served the salutary purpose of facilitating a case study of news media spin-mongering. Here is the text of the putative news story (about an event not covered anywhere else), interspersed with comments.

Local GOP leaders meet potential state candidates

ALBANY — Republican county chairs from the Greater Capital Region came away from a recent dinner meeting with several potential statewide candidates optimistic that their party is poised to end the Democrat stranglehold on New York State government.

*Presumptuousness. The author pretends to be a mind-reader. (S)he ostensibly records the feelings (“optimistic”), as distinct from the words, of these “Republican county chairs.” And she happens to depict a common feeling that is peculiarly convenient for the Republican side. He indulges in a variety of Bandwagonizing, insinuating that the “optimistic” feeling is warranted.

*Loaded label. Instead of speaking conventionally of “the DemocratIC stranglehold…” or “the Democratic Party’s stranglehold…”, the anonymous author resorts to a device that goes back to the days of the notorious Sen. Joe McCarthy. (In resorting to that pejorative, incidentally, (s)he gives early evidence—to knowledgeable readers, at any rate--that the putative news story does not come from regular reportorial ranks. For more evidence, see the discussion below of When-lessness).

*Loaded diagnosis. By means of this opening sentence, the author argues (with the help of the newspaper’s editor and publishers) that New York State’s government is afflicted with a “Democrat stranglehold”—a potentially fatal condition for an imaginary victim.

*Anthropomorphism. That contentious way of characterizing the present plight of New York government depends for its credibility on the device of equating a loose aggregation of people who share a common party label with a single, single-minded (and two-handed?) organism. Readers are deterred from remembering the abundant daily news about quarrels among Democratic law-makers, disputes between Democratic law-makers and Democratic executives, and varieties among incumbent Democrats of sources of nomination and support. The author’s image of a single New York Strangler could be suitable for a by-lined essay in situational appreciation, published under a label such as “Analysis.” It is delivered here in the guise of reportage.

The meeting took place at the Desmond Hotel in Colonie. In attendance were: Brent Bogardus of Greene County; John A. Graziano Sr. of Albany County; John “Jasper” Nolan of Saratoga County; Jack Casey of Rensselaer County; Ron Jackson of Essex County; Susan McNeil of Fulton County; Lewis Wilson of Schoharie County; and Joe Emanuele of Montgomery County.

The chairs heard from Daniel Donovan, the District Attorney of Richmond County (Staten Island), who is considering a run for State Attorney General, Bruce Blakeman, who has announced his challenge to U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Johnstown native Harry Wilson, who is preparing to run for State Comptroller.

*Whitewash? Those two paragraphs qualify as straight reportage, and they may function contextually to give an aura of objectivity to the whole article. (To well informed readers they also may serve to raise politically sensitive questions. The questions would be about how the named candidates were present and other prospective Republican candidates—Rick Lazio, for example—were not present.

*When-lessness. Noteworthy about the foregoing paragraphs, as well as the subsequent ones, is a matter of information not supplied. Something is missing. The author has broken with standard journalistic practice. While addressing the what, the who, and the where of an event, she omits the when. Readers are told only that the event took place “recently.” This evasion seems worth mentioning, although it does not exemplify politically slanted journalism, because it exemplifies a kind of omission that can be informative. To experienced readers as well as to trained journalists, the resort to “recently” signals that (i) in all probability, the cited event took place earlier than “yesterday” (earlier than 24 hours prior to the time of publication) and (ii) the article was not staff-written, but instead came from an interested party’s “news release.”

“The voters have seen what happens when the Democrats control our entire government – more spending, higher taxes, bigger deficits and complete dysfunction,” Bogardus said. “The Republican Party is more committed than ever to supporting bright, talented and experienced individuals who will return our government to the people.”

Donovan has served as Richmond County District Attorney since 2003. He was reelected to a second term in 2007, garnering nearly 68 percent of the vote in a county where Democrats hold a 5-3 ratio advantage in voter registration.

As District Attorney, Donovan has implemented innovative policies targeting crime and enhancing public safety. Known as a tough and fair prosecutor, the Staten Island District Attorney’s Office has lead [sic] the City of New York in felony conviction rate each quarter since Donovan took office.

Donovan has aggressively targeted drunk driving, illegal guns, sex offenders and domestic violence and he has advocated for stronger laws to protect our most vulnerable citizens.

*Editorializing. This sketch of Donovan is shot through with tendentious, presumptuous, interpretive claims: “innovative policies,” “enhancing public safety,” “aggressively targeted,” “advocated for stronger laws to protect our most vulnerable citizens.” Such words again illustrate presumptuousness, wherein a putative reporter pretends to know far more than (s)he is in a position to learn. Words of that sort would be eminently suitable for a candidly evaluative essay, such as an editorial endorsement.

*Ghosting. The sentence starting with “Known as,” in addition to being sub-literate, exemplifies a frequent form of dishonest journalism. The device consists of pretending to report what is believed, what is understood, what is known—by no identified believer. The informant pretends to identify a sentiment that somehow is harbored by nobody in particular, perhaps by everybody that is In The Know. And in giving the cited sentiment an independent, rootless, pervasive existence, the informant argues implicitly that it (the Known) is correct. Thus, the default meaning of “known as a tough and fair prosecutor” is is a tough and fair prosecutor and therefore You should believe he’s a tough and fair prosecutor.

Bruce A. Blakeman, a 54-year-old attorney from Manhattan, is a dedicated public servant with extensive experience in legal, financial and budgetary matters in both the public and private sectors.

A lifelong New Yorker, Blakeman served as the presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature from 1996 to 1999. In the Nassau Legislature, Blakeman chaired the Budget Review Committee and was vice chair of the finance committee, overseeing a county budget of more than $2 Billion. In 1998, Blakeman was the Republican candidate for New York State Comptroller.

Blakeman also has strong credentials in the area of homeland security. He holds a certificate in Homeland Security Management from Long Island University and as a former commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey served as vice chair of the agency’s security committee. He currently serves on the faculty of Long Island University as a senior fellow in the Department of Homeland Security Studies. In addition, Blakeman is associate director of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Foundation and is its deputy counsel.

Blakeman also was an adjunct assistant professor of business law at Hofstra University and is a frequent commentator and panelist for a variety of media, including Fox News Network, WCBS, CNBC, CW11 (WPIX), WLIW (PBS), News12 Long Island and Court TV.

*More spin. The author blends objective, topical information with presumptuous evaluation (“dedicated public servant,” “strong credentials”). Thanks to the collusion of the newspaper’s editor in publishing this prose, the difference between descriptive and evaluative verbiage (and the rules of evidence that govern…) is obscured. Verbiage suitable for an endorsing editorial is delivered in the guise of straight news.

Harry Wilson, 37, was raised in Johnstown, Fulton County, the son of Greek immigrants. His father served in World War II and worked as a bartender; his mother was a stay-at-home mom and later a sewing machine operator when the family needed a second income. He was the first in his immediate family to go to college and worked his way through Harvard and Harvard Business School.

After college, Wilson built a successful career in the investment and finance industry, developing a reputation as a strong money manager and expert in restructuring and fixing troubled companies. Last year, Wilson agreed to serve on the President’s Auto Task Force – the group responsible for the overhaul of General Motors and Chrysler. As a staunch fiscal conservative who believes in free markets, Wilson felt it important to have a say in how the auto bailout plan was administered. Wilson was the only Republican in the leadership team of the Task Force.

*More Presumptuousness. While those two paragraphs paint a flattering picture of Harry Wilson, most of the words qualify as objective, fair (and interesting) reportage. The exceptions are “successful career,” “felt it important,” and “staunch fiscal conservative who believes in free markets.” Those words represent a pretence of knowing far more than what an ordinary mortal journalist could learn from covering a brief presentation at a meeting. (Also noteworthy here, though not directly related to the subject of slanted journalism, is a kind of tease: while saying that Wilson served on the President’s Auto Task Force, the putative reporter does not say what part Wilson played. As “the only Republican in the leadership team,” did he support the Task Force’s recommendations?

The Republican Chairs were in complete agreement that these outstanding individuals will help lead the Republican Party to victory this fall and usher in a new era of fiscal conservatism and common sense in our government. Bogardus concluded by stating, “Just as Scott Brown showed with his stunning upset in Massachusetts, the political registration of a voter doesn’t matter. People are more interested in which candidate will fight to make sure the government stops taking so much of our hard earned money in taxes; which candidate is committed to ending the dysfunction in our government and which candidate is going to move government out of the way so small businesses can create good paying jobs.”

*Presumptuous mind-reading: “The Republican Chairs were in complete agreement.”

*Editorializing: “outstanding individuals.”

*Presumptuous prognosticating: “individuals will help lead the Republican Party to victory [and to] a new era of fiscal conservatism and common sense….” The use of will here imputes inevitability to a future event whose arrival actually is far from certain. The author prods (bullies?) the reader toward believing not only that the Republican Chairs believe that these outstanding individuals will contribute to a victory, but also that the belief is sound.

Greene Life

“MY LIFE changed forever on October 13, 2006,” says Sarah Gray Miller, in her editor’s note (“Finding My Way Home”) in the current Country Living magazine.

That’s the day my husband and I closed on our first home, a Victorian charmer in New York’s Hudson Valley. After some 15 years cooped up in teensy Manhattan apartments, Tony and I ran around our new old country house like two kids on Christmas morning…. There’s an upstairs! A porch! A yard! A freakin’ barn! honest-to-goodness linen closet….

Of course, mere square feet, even 3000 of ‘em, didn’t make the difference…. It took spring for Tony and me to discover the peonies and lilacs planted by previous owners—and a couple of years before we started coaxing heirloom tomatoes from seed. Slowly, we got to know our local farm store, drive-in theater, auction house, and bighearted neighbors. We hosted dinner parties, whiled away Saturdays at the creek, joined forces with like-minded preservationists…. Even our bonds with longtime city friends grew stronger, as a few hours of chitchat in the latest downtown restaurant gave way to whole weekends’ worth of genuine conversation over pajama-clad breakfasts and late-night marshmallow roasts.

The home to which Ms Miller refers is located, along with those bighearted neighbors, in Athens.

GOING from GreeneLand to Portland ME, to Portland OR, to Naples FL, to Brooklyn NY and to Manhattan NY: art works, largely in the form of BIG “public” installations, by the dynamic duo of Carol May and Tim Watkins. Emerging from the work bays of the former firehouse in Athens are a kinetic (swaying) construction, “Wind, Water and Sun,” that will grace the entrance to an elementary school; a 110-foot-long creation (lots of welded metal curves and swirls), “Leaf Dance,” for a County Government headquarters; a multiple-mobile “Sea Fancy” for a children’s dental clinic; solar-powered mobiles for the interior of a new library; and big structure for a gallery exhibit addressing the problem of childhood obesity. (To gain a better understanding, go to the web site Click on some of the pictured “public art.” Enlarge the pictures to a screen-filling maximum. The resulting sights do not do justice to the scale of May/Watkins art). While executing these formidable commissions, the May/Watkins team also have found to design sets for “O’Sullivan Stew,” the musical adaptation of the illustrated Hudson Talbott book, to be performed this spring and summer by a GreeneLand teen-agers.

“SNOW BALL fund-raiser for Columbia Memorial Hospital’s Kaaterskill Care Nursing and Rehabilitation Center brought in some $65,000, according to a Daily Mail report. ( This was the sixth and most lucrative year for the event, whose major sponsor was First Niagara Bank. Participants, who packed the Anthony’s banquet room in Leeds, waited and waited some more for the dinner’s main course.

VILLAGE POLITICS. Three men will be standing for two seats on the Catskill Village Board of Trustees at the March 30 elections, and one of them is a sure winner. Vincent Seeley, current president of the five-man Board, was endorsed on Tuesday (2/9/10) by the Republican caucus and then by the Democratic caucus (meeting separately). He will be turned to the board (and deserves it). The other seat will go either to Angelo Amato, 38, incumbent Trustee of six years’ duration, who was endorsed by the Republicans who met in the Town courtroom, or to Brian Kehoe, who was endorsed at the Democratic caucus that was held at Doubles II. Mr Kehoe, a relative newcomer to Catskill, is a trained urban and regional planner.

POLICE REPORTS: FEEDBACK. Our report about the inaccessibility of Catskill Police Department reports—public information that Chief Dave Darling shields from the public—yielded a thoughtful Comment which is posted at the end of our January 19th (“Blottery”) blog. Also generated were some anonymous comments, including “Chief Darling doesn`t want these arrests [publicized] because he is forming a network of snitches by not reporting who was or who wasn`t arrested. Without the help of these ‘rats’ there would never be any crimes solved in Greene County”; and “…it is unfair to make public an arrest when the person can not defend themselves and only one side of the story is usually seen in print leaving the public to speculate and ruin a persons reputation….”

-------Those remarks strike a contrast to the glib cynicism of other commentators, opining that Chief Darling doesn’t want the public to learn, from the paucity and triviality of cases, that his department is over-staffed and under-worked.

Meanwhile, the Village Trustees were invited, as the police chief’s employer, to join the conversation about access. That invitation drew a blank, BUT a funny thing happened shortly after our January 19 posting. On the last two Wednesdays, the “Catskill” section of The Daily Mail’s “Greene police blotter” contained accounts of activities of “the Catskill Police Department” as well as “State police.” Thus, six items in the February 3 “Blotter” reported that during January 26-30 the CPD charged Brandy Fiore, 36, of Cairo with trespass and disorderly conduct; Alice Meisner, 18, of Oak Hill, with petit larceny; Daniel Ciccarelli, 45, of Coxsackie,with unlawful possession of a noxious material; Jesse Malaney, 21, of Schenectady, with failure to appear in court as ordered; Noe Medina, 20, of Greenport with petit larceny; Robert Hacker, 26, of Catskill, with endangering the welfare of a child; and Candie Becker, 24, of Catskill, with driving while intoxicated and endangering a child’s welfare. Similarly, included in last Wednesday’s “Greene police blotter” were 11 items recounting charges lodged during February 3-6 by “the Catskill Police Department” (and only one alluding to State police activity). Various people were charged with disorderly conduct, harassment, larceny, forgery (of inspection certificate), failure to pay a fine. Apparently the technical barriers against public access to CPD’s public records have been surmounted.

VERDICT(S). Nathan Van Fleet, a former police officer in Hunter and Durham, was convicted by Coxsackie Town Court jury yesterday of sexual misconduct. The jurors agreed that the defendant was guilty, as charged, of engaging, back in September 2008, of sexual intercourse with a 16-year old girl. In reaching that verdict, as reported in The Daily Mail today (2/12/10) the jurors relied on physical evidence (semen, blood, DNA samples) and the girl’s testimony. Implicitly, they also found two Durham police officers, who had backed up Van Fleet’s alibi—couldn’t have done it; was on duty that night far away from the girl—guilty of lying.

DAILY MAUL. “The first day of proceedings also heard testimony from the girl, now 18, who confirmed that Van Fleet had sexual relations with him on Sept. 13, 2009.”

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.”