Thursday, April 13, 2006

News News Plus

GreeneLand, or a portion thereof, has gained a newspaper. Countering the national trend toward consolidation and extinction, The Coxsackie-Athens Courier came into existence March 23 in the form of a weekly that is richly endowed with local news & stuff. As described by Publisher/editor Richard G. Bleezarde, this Courier is cousin to The Ravena News-Herald and The Greenville Local and is “Devoted to the Best Interest of the People in Coxsackie-Athens and surrounding communities.” Eleven editorial, advertising and production staff members are listed; and the availability of a job in advertising is, well, advertised. The paper’s mail address is Telephone 756-2030 or -2087; fax 756-8555. As a local tabloid the newcomer resembles the Greenville Press (recent source of a headline promising “the tooth about fluoridation”). Credit for quaintness can be given to Courier obituaries, wherein decedents, surrounded by loving families, do not die but rather pass away or are called away by God. Not so quaint are such CACkles as “Voters casted their votes at the…school.”; “In a 14-0 vote, the Greene County Legislator unanimously voted….”; “lucky to have know him”; “requests to fix a drainage problems…”; and “Worth commented on clearing brush caused the water level to drop quickly.” Equally noteworthy is The Cairo Forum, a web site constructed recently, and elegantly, by local businessman Keith Graham who bills it as “a place to discuss what’s best for the town.” Would-be Forum participants are invited to register and in doing so to “agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening, sexually-oriented or any other material that may violate any applicable laws.” Participants also are urged to “Don’t hate, appreciate.” But there are heated exchanges aplenty, about the Town’s governors bestowing health benefits on themselves and about--would you believe?--“our fire company.” GreeneLanders who check out the Cairo site ( may well be inspired to try similar ventures in their home towns. Indeed they could get seized with the idea of establishing a county-wide equivalent. Well, a Greene County Forum already exists. It has been characterized aptly by one its stalwarts as a low-volume e-mail list that is open to people who have an interest in sharing information to build trust and accountability in Greene County. Its web site contains links to information about community demographics, regional development and open government. Forum members who own free Yahoo accounts can access much more information on the website, including the archive of messages and more links to information. People can join the Forum by e-mailing It needs an infusion of fresh recruits. Meanwhile, Catskill has been the locus recently of two new organs of communication. A Catskill Kids site was created by Village Trustee Forest Cotten, with astonishing speed and sophistication, to meet the felt need for a source of comprehensive local information about services—sports, arts, projects, events—for local youth. Here’s hoping the site can be sustained. Keeping up to date on scheduled happenings can be hard. Could be adopted by C.H.S. computer techies? Then there’s Seeing Greene Fire, a blog that was launched on March 18 in response, ostensibly, to “the overwhelming out cry of GreeneLand Fire Fighters” against abusive leaders, especially in Catskill. was created by a blogger who bills himself presumptuously as Sherlock Holmes. It is manifestly, explicitly modeled on Seeing Greene, is touted as a “subsiderary” thereof and as “a continuation”of the “original work” of Dick May, who is billed as “editor at large.” But Mr May, we have it on good authority does not know this “Holmes,” had no advance knowledge of outbreak of Fire, and does not relish the gratuitous Godfather designation. Early issues of Fire show a devotion to the Bandwagon Device, wherein the narrator invents hordes of screaming outraged Village voters and overwhelming GreeneLand-wide outcries. Also conspicuous is an excess of the one-eyed, skulking, one-track-minded verbiage that had poisoned the Comments section of Seeing Greene. Evident too, however, are touches of humor, a commendable avowed intention to illuminate fire company issues around the county, and (in the April 2 entry) a predilection for touching, eloquent words.

CONGRESSIONAL POLITICKING. Kirsten Gillibrand’s long-shot attempt to topple John Sweeney as 20th District Congressperson looks serious, at least financially. A serious fund-raiser will take place in Manhattan on April 18th, at a Park Avenue address, with multiple names of distinction heading the invitation list and Sen. Charles Schumer as special guest. Six days later and a few blocks away (on East 66th Street), comes a Manhattan fund-raiser for Mr Sweeney, hosted by Mimi and David Forer.

JUDICIAL POLITICKING. The imminent removal of disgraced State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Spargo marks the end of one story and the start of another. Judge Spargo, whose territory includes Greene and other up-State counties, squeezed money out of lawyers who had cases pending before him—money earmarked for his defense against other misconduct charges, namely that he dispensed $5-value coupons and bought rounds of drinks while running for a Town judgeship; took on as a private client a district attorney-elect whose electoral victory was under legal challenge; and flew to Florida in 2000 to lead a squad of pro-Bush election recount saboteurs. Spargo’s departure (he is not contesting the State Committee on Judicial Conduct’s recommendation that he be removed) creates a vacancy. The successor will be appointed by the Governor on the advice of local party chairpersons. And among possible/plausible successors would be GreeneLand judge George J. Pulver Jr. He rates as a prospect in that he is a seasoned jurist (with lots of experience filling in as a Supreme), he’s not too old for the job, he has been a contender for promotion in the past, he graciously withdrew from contention in response to pressure from fellow Republicans, and GreeneLand deserves a ‘turn’ at filling the district vacancy. On the other hand, GreeneLand’s claim to preferment is weakened by its small size and hence its lack of political clout. Anyhow, if the Supreme Court job does go to Judge Pulver, (who was just re-elected last year), we expect an interesting, though subtle and dignified, scramble among GreeneLanders to succeed him. Among plausible or likely contenders for consideration we understand, are Tom Fori of Coxsackie, former Town judge; Peter Margolius, sitting Catskill Town Justice; and Terry Wilhelm, our district attorney. Fori and Margolius have been avowed aspirants for Pulver’s seat in the past. And Wilhelm comes into the picture because the office of district attorney often has served often as a route to the bench. (The career of our other county judge, Daniel Lalor, is a case in point). Now then, if Pulver succeeds Spargo, and Wilhelm succeeds Pulver, who succeeds Wilhelm? The most likely candidate, as an interim appointee, is Charles (“Chip”) Tailleur. He is Chief Assistant District Attorney under Wilhelm, and he held the same job under Wilhelm’s predecessor, Ed Cloke.

ON REQUEST. Correspondent “Dave” asks that this interrogatory be posted on Seeing Greene: What has happened to this country? Everybody was very patriotic when 911 happened. Raised the American flag as high as it would go, and proud! Now look around, the flags that were raised are still raised and torn/faded. The biggest offenders are public buildings. Look over the Rip Van Winkle bridge when you return from Hudson. Look at the village buildings in Catskill, Coxsackie, and Athens. Where are our patriotic citizens now? Why don't our elected officials say something? I ask every person that reads this to stand up and defend our FLAG! If you are flying it, do it properly! As a veteran I am offended.....

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