Saturday, December 30, 2006

To Post or Not To Post

Dick, How come your affraid to comment on the dumb comments Vinny Seeley made in the Daily Mail in refrence to the lawsuit that has rocked the village and it's dissfuntional fire dept.? Looks like Vinny has screwed himself and every taxpayer in this town! His lawyer should buy him a roll of duct tape to help stop him from sinking himself and his convict friends!

The foregoing message is an example of what we hesitate to accept for posting in Seeing Greene’s Comments section. It also is an example of what fortifies our inclination to reject all anonymous comments. But as I write this I’m leaning in favor of posting. And one of the lines of argument is that the case is suitable for sharing thoughts about words and contexts, and hence about deciding what comments deserve to be posted.

Against posting is apprehension that ‘publication’ could be construed as endorsement or concurrence, and that it would give the comment an otherwise-unavailable boost in credibility. A naïve reader could be prompted to infer, from the fact of posting (by somebody other than its author) along with its substance, that key statements in this comment express what is common knowledge. In addition, the naive reader could be prompted to believe that the commentator’s value judgments are truth-valuable statements, are in keeping with reality, and express common sentiments. Those errors could be encouraged not only by the fact of 'publication' (even in a blog site) but also, oddly enough, by the absence of attempts to substantiate. When a speaker indulges freely in sliming people and in tendentious versions of events, we normally expect the speaker to take up the task of substantiation. If he does not bother to do that, we may infer charitably that what the speaker says, however scurrilous, is so widely and rightly accepted that substantiation would be idle. Consequently, that kind of reader would put some stock in the propositions that Seeing Greene's keeper has been silent on a cited topic and has been silent because he’s afraid to address it; that Vincent Seeley made statements to The Daily Mail and that they are self-screwing; that the village has been rocked (that being a figure of speech whose literal sense is so well known as to require no translation); that the fire department is dysfunctional; and that included in Mr Seeley’s friends are several convicts. Two of those propositions are readily verifiable; they are that Mr Seeley talked to The Daily Mail and that Seeing Greene has not commented on his words. They are true and trivial. The other propositions are far from being self-evident or substantiated. They are far from being common knowledge. Accordingly, the author is guilty of indulging in irresponsible sneering and smearing. But that status does not clinch the case for refusing to post the comment.

In favor of posting are several considerations: (1) Our basic policy is in favor of posting. The presumption then is against blocking. And we feel especially obligated to post comments that find fault with Seeing Greene. Moreover, this comment is no more vile than others that have been accepted. It falls short of being plainly, thoroughly scurrilous. It is not in the same league with some gross slanders (adulterer! thief! liar!) that are void of substantiation.

(2) For many readers the cited comment, with its mutilations of the English language, its casual smears and gratuitous assumptions, along with its craven anonymity, must be self-discrediting. And when a commentator's own words discredit his own position, readers should know about it.

(3) The cited comment may qualify as an instructive example of the casual responsibility-dodging smear. Thus: --DODGING *Vinnie Seeley’s comments in The Daily Mail are “dumb” (versus identifying what one deems dumb, and explaining). *Vinnie “has screwed himself” (versus identifying how his words are self-damaging). --GRATUITOUS ACCUSATORY EXPLANATION *Lack of comment on Seeley’s statements betokens fear (versus canvassing alternative explanations and eliminating them, or saying what is to be feared). --GRATUITOUS FACTUAL CLAIMS *The lawsuit has “rocked the village and its dissfuntional fire dept” (versus citing observed reactions to the lawsuit). *Mr Seeley’s friends, or a substantial number of them and particularly close ones, are convicts (versus identifying those people, the crimes for which they were convicted, their prison sentences).

The latter analysis, however, can be provided only if posting is accompanied by lengthy discourse about discourse.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

On the Eve

RUMORED AND FALSE: * That Dunn Builders Supply’s Catskill operation is for sale. The sprawling creekside property is not for sale, says company president Steve Dunn. Retail business dwindled somewhat when Home Depot opened, and it may dwindle more with the advent of Lowes Home Improvement at Catskill Commons. That could prompt a termination of Saturday trade at Dunns. But business with contractors is flourishing, and it will continue to flourish amid the local building boom. The false rumor hurts business a bit, by making regular customers nervous about ongoing and future commitments. Could it be coming from competitors? *That the Freehold Country Inn has closed, owing to financial problems of purchaser Sophia Goshal. Unanticipated problems have been encountered, but the gracious, popular, restaurant is OPEN. *That a historic riverside estate, where a Republican bigwig lived for decades before the place passed on to Hillaryians, is on the market. Trust Seeing Greene on this. *That the Catskill Masons are moving from their present lodge on Route 9W. The “building for rent” sign at the bottom of the lodge’s driveway, along the highway, is just an invitation to rent the place (fully equipped kitchen & all) for special functions.

RECOMMENDED, by Human Events, the proudly “conservative” magazine, as one of 10 ideal Christmas-gift books: Strategery: How George Bush is Defeating Terrorism, Outwitting Democrats, and Confounding the Mainstream Media.

ESTIMATED: that $500,000 will be the likely cost, to Town of Catskill taxpayers, of adapting the former Auto Parts Unlimited building, at 82 West Bridge St, for use as ambulance service headquarters. That would in addition to the $425,000 acquisition cost. And that is why two Councilmen Robert Antonelli and Joseph Leggio have opposed the whole deal. And well might they wonder. The building already is plumbed, wired, heated, roofed, solid-boned. It contains office space, a kitchen, toilets, storage space, and garage space enough to house several ambulances. Here’s hoping that Mr Antonelli and Mr Leggio get assigned to supervising the renovation.

SENTENCED, to a State prison term of up to 51/2 years, for peddling crack cocaine: school teacher Jodi Parker, 29, of Broome St, Catskill.

SALUTED, by various commentators, and by The New York Times (12/14 editorial, “Congress and the Benefits of Sunshine”) for her decision to “post details of her work calendar on the Internet at the end of each day so that constituents can tell what she is actually doing for their money,” thereby attaining “a rare level of transparency”: GreeneLand’s U.S. Representative-elect, Kirsten Gillibrand. Meanwhile, the freshwoman has been appointed to the powerful Armed Services Committee of the House. She’ll take her seat after formal swearing-in as a new Congressperson on Jan. 6.. That will be preceded by a ceremonial swearing-in at the Columbia County courthouse on Jan. 2, with neighboring Representatives (and fellow Democrats) Mike McNulty and Maurice Hinchey in attendance.

ARRESTED, on suspicion of embezzling $45,000-plus from the Order of Red Men, while serving (so to speak) as treasurer of that lodge’s New York chapter: John Walde, 60, of Catskill. As reported in The Daily Mail (11/30; Andrea Macko), the fraternal Red Men take their name from the Sons of Liberty, who disguised themselves as Mohawks while perpetrating, in 1773, the Boston Tea Party.

REVOKED, following a long-delayed Department of Motor Vehicles hearing, at Columbia County courthouse, as required by law, for anyone who refuses to submit to a chemical test after being charged with driving while intoxicated, on Wednesday (12/20), as reported in The Daily Mail: the driver’s license of Greene County Sheriff Richard Hussey. That action is independent of the pending trial on the misdemeanor DWI indictment.

RUMORED: *That downtown Catskill will soon acquire a bookstore. *That a venerable, big, decayed Victorian mansion near Rams Horn/Livingston sanctuary will be converted into a Bird & Breakfast. *that a county legislator is waging a punitive campaign against people in his district who supported his opponent at the November 7th election (from signing the opponent’s petition to be placed on the ballot, to more active support). *that Bank of Greene County has scored a coup by hiring First Niagara’s star commercial loan officer. *that serious people, with serious backing, are seriously pursuing the project of making GreeneLand a citadel of the fine arts. Of performance and training. Summer long and beyond. At several sites. Seriously. *that the Big Boxes at Catskill Commons will be opened soon—Lowes on Saturday, Jan. 6, and Wal-Mart at 6 pm. on Thursday, Jan. 18. *that Catskill Commons shoppers will be offered free bus rides to downtown Catskill and back. *that, contrary to empirical meterological evidence, winter has not been canceled. So:

“Summer is gone! – the summer days are ended!” A voice mysterious struck my wakeful ear, As o’er the hills through the vales I wended. Rejoicing in the glory of the year.

* * Yes, they are gone! Summer and Autumn too! But shall I therefore sigh the winter through? Bears he no chaplet on his frosty brow? Unfading Ivy, thou dost surely know,

And faithful Evergreens, his temples bind; Pluck them, and cast thy sorrows to the wind! Beside the hearth, when winter winds are wild, Domestic peace, and love, and friendship mild,

Those evergreens shall bloom; they flourish best When by the storm heart nearer heart is prest. Wait God’s own seasons; it would be a curse, Perennial Summer: Winter is the nurse

Of Virtue: ‘tis the hour to intertwine Holy affections, and to look within The soul; to strive to win from Time A wreath that withers not by change of clime --Thomas Cole

*that “the day is upon us on which we commemorate the Birth of our Saviour. It is a blessed day to those whose lives are steadily in accordance with the teaching of Him who in lowliness and humility took upon himself our form and nature in order that we might live. God grant that if it is permitted me and mine to see another return of this day it will find us farther advanced in holiness than this day has found us.” --again, Thomas Cole.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Downtown Doings

IT PAYS TO STRIP. In the course of refurbishing the ground floor of the Catskill building that formerly housed the Mental Health Association office, proprietor Michele Saunders has unearthed treasures. Beneath “layers of linoleum and crap,” parquet flooring. Behind plaster panels, “magnificent” radiators, fully wainscotted walls, and stylish windows. Behind the false ceiling, pressed tin. Soon the place at 377 Main St, Catskill, will be a gracious setting for ex-Hudsonians Jim Deskevich and Corbett Marshall, who, as Variegated Inc., create textile designs.

COMMUTERS. Bruce and Lynn Anderson, new Catskillians, run a high-tech design and engineering business, Datapak Associates, inventing stronger-but-lighter carbon fiber gadgets for aircraft and other uses. They commute to work. That trip consists of walking down the back stairs of their new CPC apartment on Main Street, crossing the alley, thereby arriving at company headquarters: the refurbished carriage house.

SHIFTING. Day & Holt, having sold out most of its hardwares stock, will close altogether at the end of the month, in preparation for moving in the stock of Swamp Angel Antiques from the adjoining (less spacious) part of the double storefront building. Then, according to Pat and Stephanie Walsh, the vacated space at 347 Main St will be available for lease.

STOCKED BUT not signed or opened for business yet is the new N & S bathroom supplies showroom at 352 Main St, Catskill.

DENTIST Ted Belfor is now fully installed in offices formerly occupied by Dr Leonard Niad, has already added staff, and now has his presence touted by a toothsome Karl Anis-made sign on Bridge Street. (Actually, toothsome does not have anything to do with teeth).

GONE from 342 Main St—and not a moment too soon—is the Columbia-Greene Beauty School, which moved to Latham.

NOW LICENSED to sell spirituous beverages at Doubles II, the new tavern on Church St, Catskill (corner of Water St), are partners Michael De Benedictus and Sam Arvi. The new dispensation was celebrated Friday night (12/15). The place, holographically illuminated by Rudi Berkhout, will serve drinks and snacks on Friday and Saturday nights until January, then from Wednesday through Saturday nights, with special music programs on Wednesdays.

SOLD already are two of the 20 condominium apartments that are being created inside the former Orens Furniture warehouse on Water St, even though they won’t be habitable before mid-2007.

KEEPING TRACK. $4.5 million in State subsidies will go to CSX Transportation for track improvements and siding construction during 2007-10 in Catskill. Additional big sums from the Rail Freight and Passenger Assistance Program, Gov. George Pataki announced on Thursday, will go to CSX for work in Kingston, Saugerties and other places in the State. The outlays are part of $60 million altogether for railroad maintenance and improvements. Yes, this is a clear case of giving taxpayer money to private companies. The particular case weakens the force of the idea that railroads suffer unfair discrimination in competition with truckers, since the latter do not have to create or maintain the roads on which they travel. No, the old train station, now occupied by Haines Garage, won’t be re-opened.

SALUTED by Architectural Digest, as one of the “top international architects and interior designers whose work we have featured on these pages over the past several years”: Steven Shadley, who heads a six-person firm in Manhattan and is a long-time resident of Leeds. In addition to serving clients such as Diane Keaton and Matthew Modine, Mr Shadley has taken the time to conceive and in large measure to implement, personally, adaptation of the old storeroom at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, in Catskill, into a visitor center and book store. Pro bono.

LAUDED by The New York Times, in an editorial (Dec. 14) entitled “Congress and the Benefits of Sunshine,” for deciding to “post details of her work calendar on the Internet at the end of each day,” thereby enabling constituents to learn “what she is actually doing for their money” and achieving “a quiet touch of revoloution”: our newly-elected U.S. Representative, Kirsten Gillibrand.

APPOINTED by unanimous vote of Catskill’s governing Trustees, to the newly created office of Village Historian, in recognition of his services as editor of and contributor to the commemorative bicentennial book Village, as well as of his editorial savvy and historiographic enthusiasm: Richard Philp.

CROSSING. The semi-weekly Independent, which is based in Hillsdale, Columbia County, and is owned by the parents of the Kingston-based Daily Freeman, is coming to Greene County. First issue of a planned quarterly supplement devoted to this side of the river, or at least to burgeoning Catskill, is slated, says publisher Grant Cover, for this February. (Wouldn’t it be better if Mr Cover were a magazine publisher?)

CAIRO “offers both a dramatic past—it was once both a thriving tannery town and a tourist stop on the famed Catskill Mountain Railroad, and gangster Jack ‘Legs’ Diamond was shot in a bar there—and a small town atmosphere,” says writer Al Desetta. Moreover, its Main Street “is studded with gift stores rather than its former resorts, boarding houses, and saloons” and Cairo home prices are “among the most affordable regionally.” Those words appear in the current issue of in New York House. The Real Estate Magazine for Smarter Living. The magazine’s cover page promises to show, as a “featured listing,” an “equestrian and skier’s paradise” in Greene County. But no such property is presented inside the magazine.

“HARK the HArOld Angels Sing” could appropriately come from the duplex stores operated at 386 and 388 Main Street by the neighboring Harolds: Hanson (of Verso) and Gondrez (of Dream).

SEEING REALITY. “There are views of the Hudson’s tree-lined riverbanks, of the gossamer blue Catskill Mountains, of ancient willows bent over woodland brooks that appear so idyllically beautiful,” says travel writer Nicole Cotroneo (Washington Post, 12/17) that “I was forced to swallow all the criticisms I'd had of the 19th-century artists who painted this region. Previously I had dismissed the work of the Hudson River School -- the landscape painters whose collective work is widely recognized as the first coherent American art movement -- as unrealistically pastoral. Now I saw that they were extraordinarily accurate.” The writer also hails Olana, the Moorish castle in Hudson, as “the architectural star of the heritage area. It stands in stark contrast to Thomas Cole's home, Cedar Grove, on the opposite bank, a modest yellow Federal-style home... Cole was not only the founder of the Hudson River School but also [Frederick] Church's teacher. If homes are indeed an indication of success, it seems the student outshone his master.”

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Village Fire Company & Trustees Sued

Two Catskill firefighters have brought suit against the Village Fire Department and the Village Trustees, claiming that they have been deprived of basic Constitutional rights. They seek Federal court orders confirming their complaint and awarding them compensation for deprivations allegedly experienced at the hands of the defendants and for costs incurred in seeking justice. Named as defendants in the action, filed last week in Northern district Federal court in Albany, are ten men who were officers of the volunteer fire company during 2005-06, along with the five men who served as Village Trustees during the period. The plaintiffs are Joel Shanks and his father Rick Shanks. According to the complaint filed by their attorney, Evan Foulke of Goshen NY, they contend that they have incurred “humiliation and anguish” from being harassed, abused, threatened, stigmatized and shunned by fellow firefighters since late 2005. That treatment betokens an “ongoing, intentional policy and practice of punishing the plaintiffs for the exercise of their First Amendment rights’ [sic.] to free speech and to deter plaintiffs [and others] from exercise that right in the future.” The deed that triggered this retaliation, the plaintiffs say, consisted of a report that went to Federal and State authorities in October 2005, alleging that Catskill’s fire company was rife with safety violations. Suspicion that he was the confidential report’s author, according to the plaintiffs, unleashed a campaign of verbal abuse (“scumbags,” “rat,” “troublemaker,” “piece of shit”), of “false and frivolous charges” against Joel Shanks, and of threats against Joel Shanks, as well as against his father, his brother Brian, and his closer fire company friends. Unconstitutional conduct on the part of the Village Trustees, according to the plaintiffs, consisted of voting last March to suspend Joel Shanks from membership in the fire company. This decision, made without inviting him to be heard, purportedly violated the plaintiff’s 14th Amendment right to due process of law. The case has not yet been assigned to a judge. Text of the complaint is provided below. Commentators on the case, or on other matters, are urged by the SeeingGreenekeeper to sign their offerings.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK -----------------------------------------------------------------------X JOEL SHANKS and RICKY SHANKS, Plaintiffs Index No.












Plaintiffs, JOEL SHANKS and RICKY SHANKS, by their attorneys, FOULKE LAW OFFICES, complaining of the defendants, alleges as follows:


1.At all times hereinafter mentioned, plaintiff, Joel Shanks (“Joel Shanks”), is an individual residing in the County of Greene, State of New York.

2. At all times hereinafter mentioned, plaintiff, Ricky Shanks (“Ricky Shanks”), is an individual residing in the County of Greene, State of New York.

3. At all times mentioned, the defendant Village of Catskill Board of Trustees is and was a municipal entity acting under color of state law located in the County of Greene and State of New York.

4. At all times hereinafter mentioned, defendants Village of Catskill Fire Dept. and Village of Catskill Fire Company Inc. (“Catskill Fire Company”) are municipalities and/or municipal agencies acting under color of state law located in the County of Greene, State of New York.

5. Defendant Randy Ormerod was at all times relevant to this action the Chief at the Catskill Fire Company in the Village of Catskill. Randy Ormerod is being sued in his individual capacity.

6. Defendant Floyd Prince Jr. was at all times relevant to this action the Assistant Chief at the Catskill Fire Company in the Village of Catskill. Prince is being sued in his individual capacity.

7. Defendant Jack Ormerod Sr. was at all time relevant to this action the 2nd Assistant Chief at the Catskill Firehouse in the Village of Catskill. Jack Ornerod Sr. is being sued in his individual capacity.

8. Defendant Neal Russell was at all times relevant to this action the Captain at the Catskill Fire Company in the Village of Catskill. Russell is being sued in his individual capacity.

9. Defendant John Dees was at all times relevant to this action the 2nd Lieutenant at the Catskill Fire Company in the Village of Catskill. Dees is being sued in his individual capacity.

10. Defendant John Darling 3rd was at all times relevant to this action the 1st Lieutenant at the Catskill Fire Company in the Village of Catskill. Darling is being sued in his individual capacity.

11. Defendant Fire Chair Person Jim Chewens was at all times relevant to this action the Fire Chair Person for the Village of Catskill/Village Trustee and a Board Member and Trustee of the Village of Catskill. Jim Chewens is being sued in his individual capacity.

12. Defendant Steve Schultz was at all times relevant to this action a Board Member of the Village of Catskill Fire Company . Schultz is being sued in his individual capacity.

13. Defendant Hank Coons was at all times relevant to this action a Board Member of the Village of Catskill Fire Company. Coons is being sued in his individual capacity.

14. Defendant Rick Chewens was at all times relevant to this action a Board Member of the Village of Catskill Fire Company. Rick Chewens is being sued in his individual capacity.

15. Defendant Forest Cotton was at all times relevant to this action a Board Member and Trustee of the Village of Catskill. Forest Cotton is being sued in his individual capacity.

16. Defendant Angelo W. Amato was at all times relevant to this action a Board Member and Trustee of the Village of Catskill. Angelo W. Amato is being sued in his individual capacity.

17. Defendant Joseph Kozloski was at all times relevant to this action a Board Member and Trustee of the Village of Catskill. Joseph Kozloski is being sued in his individual capacity.

18. Defendant Harold Rivenburg was at all times relevant to this action the President of the Village of Catskill Fire Company. Rivenburg is being sued in his individual capacity.

19. Defendant Paul Overbaugh was at all times relevant to this action a Board Member of the Catskill Fire Company. Overbaugh is being sued in his individual capacity

20. Defendant Vincent Seeley was at all times relevant to this action the President of the Village of Catskill. Seeley is being sued in his individual capacity.

21. At all tmes mentioned herein, defendants and each of them acted under color of state law.


22. This is a civil action authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages to redress the deprivations, under the color of state law, of rights, privileges, and immunities secure to plaintiff by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Jurisdiction is conferred by 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1343, and 2201. Plaintiffs also invoke this Court’s supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiffs’ claims under N.Y.S. Executive Law § 740.

23. This action is properly filed in the United States District Court forthe Northern District of New York, as authorized by 28 U.S.C. § 1391, inasmuch as jurisdiction of this action is not founded on diversity of citizenship, each claim arose within the Northern District of New York and the defendants’ principal place of business is located in the Northern District of New York.

STATEMENT OF CLAIMS 24. Since 2001, Joel Shanks, has been and continues to be a volunteer firefighter for the Village of Catskill and the Catskill Fire Department and, as such, an “employee” of said Village and Department within the meaning of Labor Law § 740(1)(a).

25. Since 1997, Ricky Shanks has been and continues to be a volunteer firefighter for the Village of Catskill and the Catskill Fire Department and, as such, an “employee” of said Village and Department within the meaning of Labor Law § 740(1)(a). He is a graduate of New York State’s Ladder Truck Operators Course and has more than six years experience as a ladder truck driver and over two years experience as Chief Driver of Catskill Fire Department’s 110 foot ladder truck. Ricky Shanks is Joel Shanks’ father.

26. On October 4, 2005, Joel Shanks reported to the United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) and the New York State Department of Labor, Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau (“PESH”) numerous safety violations committed by the Catskill Fire Company. These reported safety violations included outdated aerial ladder inspection, lack of safety equipment, firefighters with facial hair wearing “SCBA’s”, outdated equipment, lack of training and standards and failure to follow OSHA standards. The online OSHA complaint form used by Joel Shanks is attached as Exhibit A.

27. Also on or about October 4, 2005, defendant Randy Ormerod stood up at a monthly meeting and told the firefighters at the Catskill Firehouse to keep their mouths shut and mind their own business. Defendant Jim Chewens then stood up and stated that when they (the defendants) found out who “was trying to start problems” they were “going to take care of business”.

28. On or about October 26, 2006 defendant John Dees approached Joel Shanks at a PESH audit/investigation and told Joel Shanks, “someone turned us into the board of health, one of our own”. He then stated that when they (the defendant’s) found out who made the complaints they were “going to throw them out”.

29. In or about October, 2005, while attending a funeral for a fireman in Cairo, New York, defendant Randy Ormerod stated to firemen and civilians that if he ever became a paid Village Fire Chief “the first thing he would do is throw out the scumbag Shanks’ boys”.

30. In October 2005, defendants repeatedly refused to issue firefighter shields for plaintiffs’ helmets while providing such shields to other firefighters.

31. Since October, 2005, defendant Jack Ormerod has refused to place Joel Shanks, Brian Shanks, Rick Shanks and Tom Birk on the Fire Department website list of members.

32. Since November 2005, defendant Randy Ormerod has refused to qualify both Joel Shanks and Ricky Shanks as a drivers on the ladder truck even though both Joel Shanks and Ricky Shanks took the road test and passed several times.

33. From about November 1, 2005 to March 14 2006, defendants Hank Coon and Harold Rivenburg frequently stated that they were in the process of creating a disharmony law in order to “throw out” anyone who caused disharmony at the Catskill Firehouse by “turning them in”.

34. From November 1, 2005 to March 14, 2006, during monthly Fire Company meetings, firefighters, including the defendants, would advise anyone who did not like the way the department was run to quit and described what they were going to do if they found out who turned them in.

35. On December 13, 2005, Joel Shanks e-mailed PESH concerning harassment by defendants. A copy of this e-mail is attached as Exhibit B.

36. On January 20, 2006, Joel Shanks mailed PESH a formal harassment complaint. A copy of this complaint is attached as Exhibit C.

37. In January 2006, Ricky Shanks submitted to PESH a complaint about safety violations at the Catskill Firehouse. These reported safety violations included vehicle maintenance, operator qualifications, un-repaired equipment, falsification of paper work/reports and outdated aerial ladder inspection. A copy of this complaint is attached as Exhibit D.

38. All or some of the aforementioned reports, complaints and information provided by plaintiffs to OSHA and PESH involved matters of public concern and dangers to public health and safety, including, but not limited to activities, policies and/or practices of the Village of Catskill and the Catskill Fire Department that are/were in violation of law, rule or regulation which violation(s) create(d) and present(d) substantial and specific dangers to the public health or safety, and plaintiffs’ acts of providing such reports and information constituted speech protected by the First Amendment and N.Y.S. Executive Law § 740.

39. In retaliation against plaintiffs for their having exercised their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech by providing the aforementioned reports, complaints and information to OSHA and PESH, and for the purpose of deterring plaintiffs and others from providing such information in the future, defendant Catskill Fire Company, with the assistance and cooperation of the defendants Randy Ormerod, Floyd Prince Jr., Jack Ormerod Sr., Neal Russell, John Dees, John Darling 3rd , Jim Chewens, Steve Schultz, Hank Coons, Rick Chewens, Harold Rivenburg, Paul Overbaugh and Vincent Seeley, continued to threaten, harass, intimidate and punish plaintiff by engaging in the following.

40. Since January of 2006, defendants have carried out a persistent policy, practice and course of conduct designed to ostracize plaintiffs from any meaningful participation in Catskill Firehouse activities and events.

41. In January 2006 at a fire company meeting, defendants Vincent Seeley, Randy Ormerod and Jim Chewens and Harold Rivenburg all threatened and/or affirmed that they were going to punish whoever made the safety complaints while staring directly at plaintiff Joel Shanks.

42. On or about January 10, 2006, defendant Second Assistant Chief Jack Ormerod conspired with Probe Firefighter Craig Turczyn to trump up false charges against Ricky Shanks to the effect that Ricky Shanks had violated safety procedures in responding to a fire call.

43. On a daily basis since January, 2006, the defendants and volunteer firefighters have cursed, yelled, threatened, and harassed plaintiffs with statements such as, “The Shanks are fucking rats and are going to get their asses kicked,” “If the scumbags don’t like it here they should leave!”, “Their turn is coming”, “Why did Joel do this, he is never going to hold any office in this company now!” and “If Joel ever says anything about me I will beat the shit out of him.”

44. Defendants have continuously tolerated, permitted and encouraged other firefighters to make derogatory comments toward plaintiffs at company sponsored breakfasts.

45. Plaintiffs have been called scumbags, troublemakers, disgruntled and “pieces of shit”, among other things. Plaintiffs are often glared at and subjected to veiled comments. Firefighters often cease talking whenever plaintiffs are in their presence. When plaintiffs approach firefighters, firefighters will get up and walk away and otherwise ostracize them from participation. Line officers and chiefs ignore plaintiffs and refuse to talk to plaintiffs or to give them meaningful work and orders.

46. Catskill Fire Company officers, with the intent to humiliate and belittle plaintiffs, require that plaintiffs perform menial tasks typically assigned to probes or less qualified firefighters. Because of the Catskill Firehouse’s refusal to permit plaintiffs to participate meaningfully as firefighters, plaintiffs have often found themselves standing around at fire scenes and not properly utilized unless absolutely necessary.

47. Defendants and voluntary firefighters at the Catskill Firehouse have labeled Joel Shanks, Ricky Shanks, Brian Shanks, Tom Birk, and George Lackie “rats”, “scumbags”, “trouble makers”, “pieces of shit Shank boys”, and “disgruntled firemen”. This would take place when the plaintiffs would walk into a room full of fellow firefighters during monthly meetings, drills, alarms and fundraisers and when the defendants would refer to the plaintiffs amongst line officers while giving out tasks at fire calls.

48. Defendant Neal Russell would assign Joel Shanks tasks which were normally assigned to probationary firefighters or less skilled firefighters. Joel Shanks was ordered to direct traffic at “jaws” calls even though he was certified on the “jaws” and other firefighters were not. At a different auto accident plaintiff Joel Shanks was attempting to help EMS crews place a patient on a back board when Captain Russell advised him to “go sit in Engine 3-21 and stay there!”

49. From about January 2006 to March 14, 2006, defendant Steve Schultz would often call plaintiff a “rat” and a “scumbag” at Sunday morning breakfasts. Fire Department leaders, including defendants, would listen to the verbal harassment and allow it to continue.

50. In January 2006, defendant Seeley stated that he was going to find out who turned in the Village and “they were going to have hell to pay”.

51. In about February 2006 , defendant John Darling 3rd told Mike O’Connell, a firefighter at the Catskill Firehouse and friend of Joel Shanks, that he was not to mark Joel Shanks off on attended alarms and if he did he would be thrown out of the Department.

52. In February, 2006, defendant Rick Chewens, while in a Rite Aid in Catskill, NY, told Joel Shanks’ girlfriend’s co-workers that Joel Shanks ruined the Fire Department.

53. On February 16, 2006 defendant John Dees told Joel Shanks that he had to wear a new shield on his helmet. When Joel Shanks pointed out that three other helmets had the wrong shields on them, John Dees began cursing at Joel Shanks in front of others including defendants John Darling and Harold Rivenburg, who laughed at Joel Shanks. John Dees stated to Joel Shanks that he was nothing but a troublemaker and he should “report him to the village or PESH”.

54. On March 2, 2006 Joel Shanks received a letter stating he had to appear in front of the Board of Directors of the Catskill Fire Company in regard to his helmet shield. A copy of this letter is attached as Exhibit E.

55. On or about March 1, 2006, firefighter Mike O’Connell heard other firefighters state that Joel Shanks was going to be “thrown out” of the Catskill Firehouse because of the helmet shield incident. Defendant Harold Rivenburg told. O’Connell that if he told Joel Shanks about what he had heard he would be kicked out of the Catskill Firehouse.

56. On March 13, 2006, at a meeting of the Village Board of the Village of Catskill, the Trustees unanimously carried a motion to place Joel Shanks on administrative leave from the Fire Company pending completion of investigation of his allegations of being harassed and not feeling safe. A copy of the Minutes of the March 13, 2006, Village Board Meeting is attached as Exhibit F.

57. The aforementioned action by the Village of Catskill Board of Trustees at its March 13, 2006, meeting suspending Joel Shanks was taken without serving Joel Shanks with any Notice of Charge and without providing him with any opportunity to respond. This failure to give Joel Shanks an opportunity to contest his being placed on administrative leave was in violation of the Catskill Fire Company Bi-laws.

58. By letter from the President of the Village Board dated March 14, 2006 (attached as Exhibit G), Joel Shanks was put on notice that he had been suspended and that such suspension was “effective immediately”. The letter further advised Joel Shanks that he was to “not participate in any fire company or firematic activity until further notice”, and that he was being “removed from the active firefighters list for the Catskill Fire Department/Company. . .” Although said letter stated that a letter would be forthcoming outlining the next steps and a proposed meeting to date, no such “forthcoming” letter was ever sent.

59. Since March 14, 2006, firefighters from the Catskill Firehouse routinely give Joel Shanks the finger when they drive past him.

60. On or about March 27, 2006, defendants Randy Ormerod and Jim Chewens advised all other firefighters that if Joel Shanks was to step foot in the Catskill Firehouse they were to call the cops and have Joel Shanks arrested.

61. On May 16, 2006, at the Catskill Westside Station on 1 Central Ave., Catskill, New York 12414, defendants Jim Chewens, Randy Ormerod, and Vincent Seeley held a meeting about Joel Shanks. They advised firefighters that if Joel Shanks showed up at the firehouse he was to be arrested. Defendant Randy Ormerod stated he would like to see plaintiffs “disappear from the face of the earth”, and his goal before his Chief term ended was “to get rid of the last two Shanks”. Joel Shanks was banned from playing on the firehouse softball team.

62. On May 28, 2006 a volunteer firefighter at the Catskill Firehouse named Richie Overbaugh parked in front of Joel Shanks’ home and then drove slowly around his home.

63. On May 29, 2006, Richie Overbaugh and several other volunteer firefighters confronted Mike O’Connell and told him that he was not allowed to hang out with “that scumbag”, referring to Joel Shanks, and if he continued to he would “get kicked out” or have his “probation extended”.

64. On May 31, 2006, during a fire call to Broad Street, Ricky Shanks was verbally attacked, yelled at and screamed at by firefighter Richie Overbaugh. Ricky Shanks was subsequently brought up on false and frivolous charges arising out of the Broad Street fire call which were later dismissed for lack of evidence.

65. On or about June 1, 2006, firefighter Craig Turczyn told Ricky Shanks that “we know who made the OSHA complaints and we are going to kick them out”. Turczyn also made the statements “we’re going to kick their ass” and “we are going to take care of them!”

66. On June 3, 2006 Mike O’Connell received a phone call and was told that “the firehouse people were going to kick Ricky Shanks, Brain Shanks and Joel Shanks ass”. A few minutes later firefighter Richie Overbaugh appeared outside of Joel Shanks’ house in his truck.

67. On June 11, 2006, defendant Floyd Prince Jr. called Mike O’Connell and told O’Connell that “he hates the Shanks and that he is going to kill the Shanks”.

68. On June 14, 2006, Joel Shanks drove onto the Catskill Firehouse premises. After he pulled up, defendant Randy Ormerod called the police. After Catskill Police Officer Dave Deyo arrived at the Firehouse, they both approached Joel Shanks’ truck and told him he was not allowed on the premises due to his administrative leave. Defendant Randy Ormerod then told Joel Shanks that if he did not leave the firehouse parking lot, he would be arrested for trespassing. Joel Shanks requested a document proving that he was not allowed to be on the property and Ormerod and Deyo told Joel Shanks to “take it up” with defendant Vincent Seeley.

69. On July 4, 2006 Joel Shanks heard motorcycles pull up to his house and heard someone yell “fuck you scumbag”. When Joel Shanks looked out of his window he saw Catskill Fire Company firefighters Richie Overbaugh, John Dees, and Paul Overbaugh revving their engines and yelling. 70. On August 1, 2006, Paul Ormerod Jr. drove the Catskill Fire

Company ladder truck past the plaintiffs’ house on Scenic Drive after an alarm and yelled “Fuck You” and “Loser” at Joel Shanks.

71. On or about March 2005 after a small electrical fire had broken out at Ricky Shanks’ residence, Randy Ormerod told several firefighters at the firehouse bar that he wished plaintiff’s house had burned to the ground. When Randy Ormerod dispatched the call to plaintiff’s residence, he stated on the radio that it was the “Shanks’ house”. Hardly anyone showed up to the scene to render assistance. Only six members came to the house for the alarm. Normally structure fire alarms have over twenty men respond.

72. In or about August 2006, firefighter Craig Turczyn, in a threatening manner, stated to Ricky Shanks “as soon as we find out who is making the complaints we are going to beat the fuck out of him!”, “he’s done, he’s going to get the shit kicked out of him”, and “he’s done for”.

73. On September 30, 2006, at the Hill Street fire scene, Jack Ormerod selected Ricky Shanks out of approximately 65 firefighters to perform the menial task of carrying coffee, hot chocolate, and cups from one side of the fire scene across to the other. Such tasks are typically assigned to inexperienced firefighters or probes. President Vincent Seeley and Vice President Jim Chewens were standing on the other end of the street mocking Ricky Shanks as he carried drinks to the firefighters.

74. On or about October 14, 2006, Joel Shanks received a form letter from the Fire Company Banquet Committee (Exhibit H) inviting him and a guest to the Fire Company’s annual banquet. He filled out the RSVP on the form letter and sent it back. On November 3, 2006, defendant Harold Rivenburgh told Joel Shanks from a telephone at the Police Department that if he, Shanks, showed up at the banquet they were going to have the State Police arrest him. By letter from Rivenburgh dated November 2, 2006 (Exhibit I), this threat was confirmed in writing.

75. Defendant Jack Ormerod intentionally omits and refuses to name plaintiffs as firefighters on the Fire Department’s website list of members.

76. Firefighters who befriend or speak with plaintiffs have been told and instructed not to communicate with plaintiffs and have had their careers threatened.

77. All of the foregoing actions were conducted against Joel Shanks and Ricky Shanks in direct retaliation for their expressions of safety concerns to the Catskill Fire Company and to PESH and OSHA.

78. As a result of the unconstitutional conduct of the defendants as set forth above, plaintiffs have been stigmatized and caused to suffer humiliation and anguish.

79. The acts of defendants as set forth above constitute an ongoing, intentional policy and practice of punishing plaintiffs for the exercise of their First Amendment rights’ to free speech and to deter plaintiffs and other members of the Catskill Fire Company from exercising that right in the future.

80. The conduct of the defendants as set forth above has had, and continues to have, an objective chilling effect upon plaintiffs’ exercise of their First Amendment rights to free speech, in that a reasonable person in plaintiffs’ positions would perceive the defendants’ conduct as a threat of further punishment if he or she in the future reported wrongdoing committed by Catskill Fire Company officials and employees.

81. By virtue of the chilling effect which the aforementioned conduct and policy has had, and continues to have, upon plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, as well as the First Amendment rights of all members of the Catskill Fire Department, plaintiffs have been and continue to be irreparably injured and will suffer further irreparable injury if the defendants’ conduct is not declared to be unconstitutional.

82. In addition to the foregoing First Amendment violations, the defendants’ conduct has been arbitrary and capricious and has deprived plaintiffs of their rights to Due Process and Equal Protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.

83. The unconstitutional conduct of the individual defendants as set forth above was performed in bad faith and with a deliberate indifference to plaintiffs’ constitutional rights rendering these defendants liable for punitive damages.

84. In addition to the aforementioned constitutional violations, the defendants’ conduct constitutes an ongoing series of violations the plaintiffs’ rights under N.Y.S. Executive Law § 740.

WHEREFORE, plaintiffs ask this Court to:

A. Issue an order adjudging and declaring that the defendants’conduct violated, and continues to violate, plaintiffs’ rights to freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution;

B. Issue an order adjudging and declaring that the defendants’ conduct violated plaintiffs’ rights to due process guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution;

C. Issue an order adjudging and declaring that the defendants’ conduct violated plaintiffs’ rights to equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution;

D. Issue an order adjudging and declaring that the defendants’ conduct violated plaintiffs’ rights under N.Y.S. Executive Law § 740;

E. Issue an order directing that the defendants expunge from plaintiffs’ personnel files any references to the complaints against the plaintiffs that are referenced in this action;

F. Award plaintiffs compensatory damages against the defendants;

G. Award plaintiffs punitive damages against the individual defendants; H. Award plaintiffs the costs and disbursements of this action; I. Award plaintiffs reasonable attorney fees; and

J. Grant plaintiffs such further and other relief as to this Court may seem just andproper.

Monday, December 11, 2006

New Shopping Center

A project for a 20-acre retailing complex in the north end of GreeneLand, adjoining the Greene Business and Technology Park in the Town of Coxsackie, was announced this afternoon at a news conference.

The corporate developer, Preferred Properties Inc. of Mount Vernon NY, bought the “shovel-ready” site from the county’s Industrial Development Agency for $4 million, under covenants that call for the establishment of a retailing complex that would complement the locality’s “rich regional heritage.”

Gathered for the mid-afternoon announcement at the Quarry Steakhouse were 53 State and local officials, along with business leaders and news media representatives.

Frank Stabile Jr, who is retiring after decades as a member and then as chairman of the county legislature, joined the speakers in hailing the project as a triumph of partnership among jurisdictions. He also cited it as one of the “many, many” projects that Sen. James Seward has facilitated, as a pay-off of work done by “tireless” Sandy Mathes (manager of the I.D.A.) and as a convenience that also will generate jobs along with sales tax revenue which will enable the county government to make another reduction in property taxes.

Working name for the project is (as shown on the web site ) “The Shoppes [sic.] at Greene Flats.” And the developers do speak of “enjoying the vast regional retail of the Hudson Valley.” According to the IDA’s announcement, “the theme and design standards will include historical barn and farmhouse style architecture,” with lamp lined streets and pedestrian walkways fostering an “upscale shopping experience.” Groundbreaking is anticipated for late next year or early 2008.

(If you put your mouse on the picture, and click, you may get a bigger picture)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Changing of the Greene

COUNTY RULE. Republican members of GreeneLand’s legislature evidently have opted for change. Faced with the imminent retirement of long-serving chairman Frank Stabile Jr, they caucused recently to decide who shall preside over their governing body. Instead of making their choice on the basis of seniority, which would have put Bill Lawrence in the chair, they agreed, after a brief shuffle, to back Coxsackie’s Wayne Speenburgh. Similarly, in choosing a captain for their group, the Republican legislators did not retain Dorothy Prest, but instead opted for relative newcomer Keith Valentine (who received far more votes at the November 7th election than any other legislature candidate). The choice of Mr Speenburgh portends change in the manner and the extent of supervision of county executives. It remains to be seen whether the Republicans' ideas about salutary change will jibe with the sentiments of the Democrats. When the post-election legislature convenes in January, the Republican contingent will shrink from 12 members of the 14-seat council to 9. The Democrats, including three freshmen, may have their own ideas about salutary leadership. In any event, the chairmanship decision will not be decided by a simple majority of the members. Votes cast by GreeneLand legislators vary in weight. As it happens, if the five Democrats were sgreed and were joined by any two Republicans, their seven votes would outweigh the votes of the other seven legislators.

LOCAL RULE. Also subject to substantial change may be the Village of Catskill’s governing body. The terms of two Trustees, Vincent Seeley and Angelo Amato, will expire next spring, and a third Trustee, Forest Cotten, will be resigning at the end of this year as he moves up to his newly won seat in the county legislature. Thus, three seats will be subject to contest. Mr Amato has said that he plans to run for re-election. Mr Seeley has expressed mixed feelings about serving another term. With regard to new candidates, our sonar detects stirrings of interest from former Trustees (Battaglino, Lewoc, Rosenblatt, Ulsht) as well as from the veteran manager of public enterprises, Peter Markou, and a firefighter, Patrick McCulloch.


  • The former Full Gospel Tabernacle, which in a venerable earlier incarnation was the First Baptist Church of Catskill, on Main Street across from the county courthouse, evidently is destined to become an up-scale dining and wine- and beer-tasting salon. A local couple, experienced restaurauteurs, just signed a purchase contract, with Wayne Kitchen (aptly named), of Rip Van Winkle Realty, as broker. Asking price for the spacious building had lately been reduced to $299,000.
  • "Squat & Gobble" is what folks are invited, by way of a Main Street sign, to do at O’Fratello’s, which opened December 1st, for breakfast and lunch, from 6 am., 7 days a week, in Catskill, two doors away from the erstwhile Tabernacle. The O is for O’Connor, as in Lewis O’Connor, the Public Works Department head and Town Council member. The Fratello is (are?) for Raymond and Carol. The partners are the latest in a long line of dispensers of food at that site. Before them, from late July to mid-September, it was Sonny’s (as in Sonny Ward). Before that, it was Tony’s Luncheonette, although it was Rick Saparata’s place. But we regress.
  • A gastropub--think bistro, tavern, saloon with good food, rathskeller--could be coming to GreeneLand. Among decisions not made yet by the prospective operators is what to name the contemplated establishment. In honor of its model, the Spotted Pig in Manhattan, perhaps it could be dubbed the Spotted Piglet, or the Spotless Pig. If its home is the county seat, it could be The Catskeller, where customers quaff the house brand beer: Catskale.


  • A small-construction equipment rental business on the east side of Maple Avenue (Route 9W) across from MacDonald’s.
  • A seniors’ housing development on the west side of West Main Street, south of West Bridge Street, behind the racquetball court.
  • A string of single-family houses along West Cauterskill Road.
  • A 20-unit apartment complex on Water Street, in the former Oren’s Furniture warehouse. New owners Andrea and Jim Cunliffe, Saugerties residents and veteran restorationists (in Europe more than in America) are moving along briskly with this project, which may include a rooftop promenade that takes full advantage of the vista, and meticulous restoration of the façade, even to the extent of retaining a blacksmith to bring back the ironwork ornamentation. Chief contractor Keith Abrams of Olde Urlton Construction Inc., is a veteran restoration specialist (and, we are charmed to note, has an address on All Peat Beds Road).


  • A subdivision of 100 half-acre lots for single-family homes south of Rip Van Winkle Lake, in Tannersville. According to Jim Planck in The Daily Mail (12/5), consultant Howard Bates, on behalf of Argent-Catskill LLC of New York City, has sought approval from Tannersville’s Village Board.
  • ”Hamlet on Hudson” (condominiums, lots of them, especially for part-timers, around a golf course) in Coxsackie. Extensive drawings have been submitted to local authorities. No action has been taken yet on, among other things, developer Mark Salomon’s request to have the development site annexed to the Village of Coxsackie. That would save him money on water. How it would benefit the Village is not readily apparent.
  • ”Mountain View Estates” is the name bestowed on a contemplated seniors-only development of 280 modular construction homes, with amenities, on a 108-acre site in Coxsackie. This project has evoked stout local resistance. The developer, UMH Properties of Freehold NJ, a specialist in manufactured home communities, has made headway to the extent of being allowed to erect a model, which opened for viewing on December 2d.

CATSKILL HUDSON BANK is located neither in Catskill nor in Hudson. Its seven branches are in Sullivan, Ulster and Orange counties. Until recently it was called the Community Bank of Sullivan County.

MARTHA CHRONICLES IV. GreeneLand’s premier grifter has been sentenced to spend 65 months in prison. She also has been ordered to pay $728,248 back to 231 victims of frauds perpetrated on would-be authors of books.

Martha Ivery, 58, who during 1995-2003 had run her bogus publishing enterprise out of an upstairs office across from the Catskill Post Office, received that sentence last Wednesday, in Federal Court in Syracuse. Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr also meted out a three-year term of probation following incarceration, which is to commence on January 9th.

The sentencing came in the wake of a conviction (a year ago) that based on a bargain in which Ms Ivery entered a plea of guilty to mail fraud and bankruptcy fraud. Judge Scullin also responded to investigators’ evidence indicating that the scale of swindling greatly exceeded what was immediately cited, and that Ms Ivery went on scamming even after being indicted. He imposed a sentence that fell mid-way in the range of possibilities (57 months to 71 months) that are specified in State guidelines for perpetrators of her kind and volume of white-collar crimes.

According to a report in The Daily Mail (12/1), Ms Ivery sent a letter to that newspaper on November 24th, apologizing for the “shame” of her “criminal wrongs” and lauding the local community’s “specialness.”

The Federal indictment that launched the prosecution charged that Ms Ivery extracted money from prospective book authors by making fraudulent claims and promises. She pretended to be a literary agent (“Kelly O’Donnell”) as well as a book publisher; extracted pre-publication fees for editing, illustration, special marketing and author copies, as well as representation by a literary agent; made false claims about book signings, book fairs, cruise vacations and television talk show appearances; and gave an inventive array of excuses for non-publication of manuscripts.

For more on the feats of this extraordinary swindler, check Seeing Greene entries of June 17, July 8, and December 9, 2005, and October 13 of this year.

SUPER SATURDAY (12/9) Up in Windham, the Greene Room Players will be staging a “Holiday Wishes” musical show at the Windham Civic Center, from 7:30 pm. Repeat performance on Sunday from 2 pm. But the place for GreeneLand action is Catskill.

The “Holiday Magic” stroll on Main Street (shops, galleries, goodies) starts at 11 am. A holiday party for kids starts at the same time at the Community Center on Main Street (Santa will attend) and afterward, at 1 pm., a live show unfolds at the Community Theatre, with Steve Charney and the Zucchini Brothers, skits and quips, followed by a “SpongeBob SquarePants” movie. At The M, a "Winter Blast" featuring the works of eight artists will open. Meanwhile, up the street at the Greene County Council of the Arts, Neil Smith and Patti Martin will conduct, from 1 pm., a writers’ salon. Two doors away, The Open Studio will be showing art objects that include, according to Dina and Julie, “a clock with time in abundance,” “a phone to call the moon,” “kitchen gods”and “gargoyles to protect you from bad neighbors.” Also starting at 1 pm., up hill at Cedar Grove (the Thomas Cole National Historic Site; Spring St), the holiday party will feature thespian Joseph Capone reading poems by Thomas Cole, together with cookies and punch and an open gift shop). A couple of blocks away, at the United Methodist Church (40 Woodland Avenue), roast beef dinners will be served, to seated diners and as takeaway treats, from 4:30 pm. Down on Main Street again, most galleries, shops and other retailers will offer Holiday strollers a rich array of merchandise accompanied by refreshments, while Swingshift, a barbershop quartet, conducts a musical patrol.. After nightfall, a new jazz joint, Stella’s Lounge, will open at Catskill Point, thanks to proprietor/musician Steve Tenner. Meanwhile, at the Wilder Gallery (375 Main St, upstairs) the art show (works by Carol Zaloom, Polly Law, Mikhael Horowitz, Jane Campbell) will be augmented after 9 pm. by live music (Lex Grey; Little Earl of Voodelic) and radical dancing.

SHERIFF STORY. GreeneLand’s sheriff, Richard Hussey, has entered a plea of Not Guilty to the charge of driving while intoxicated. That happened on Wednesday (12/ 6) in a brief arraignment hearing in the county courthouse before visiting judge Patrick McGrath (of Rensselaer County). It followed his indictment by a grand jury on the misdemeanor charge. The indictment came about after the special prosecutor, Kevin C. Kortright, who is district attorney of Washington County, decided not to go through with an intention to ask Town Justice William Simon, of Hunter, to hold a probable-cause hearing that would lead to a decision about whether the prosecution’s evidence suffices to warrant a trial. The arraignment before Judge McGrath, which is the latest step in a proceeding that dates back to September 2005, when Sheriff Hussey was arrested near his Jefferson Heights home on the DWI charge, evoked lengthy reports in local newspapers.

The Daily Mail story was distinctive in that reporter Andrea Macko said the prosecutor’s decision to seek an indictment from a grand jury rather than from Judge Simon came after the prosecutor learned that the judge had donated to Sheriff Hussey’s election campaign in 2004. In The Daily Freeman’s account, correspondent William Kemble reported that a special piece of evidence in the case—a videotape of Sheriff Hussey’s movements on the night in question—has gone missing. The videotape has figured prominently in accounts of the case. It was made by two civilians, Jeff Valentin and Damien Lameray, who had undertaken to follow Sheriff Hussey’s movements after learning of his departure from a party at the Elks lodge in Catskill. They had picked up the sheriff’s trail at the Creekside restaurant and bar, and had followed him to his home in Jefferson Heights. It was Mr Valentin, moreover, who called the State police barracks about alleged erratic driving, who guided the troopers to the whereabouts of the driver, and who said his videotape covered the sheriff’s driving and the police procedures that led to Mr Hussey’s arrest. The two trackers gave depositions about what they witnessed. Those depositions augment what the arresting officer’s report. Mr Valentin confirmed to Seeing Greene that he has indeed mislaid the videotape; “I wish I could find it.” He also suggested that it is superfluous; the report of State trooper Mark Prestigiacomo, including the sheriff’s refusal to take a Breathalyzer test, should suffice to clinch the case. The defense team now has 43 days in which to file motions and to prepare before a trial date is set.