Friday, September 29, 2006

Litigating, Agitating

SHERIFF OFFICE POLITICS. Three sergeants in the office of GreeneLand’s sheriff, Richard Hussey, have launched a court action in which they claim to be victims of “favoritism” and “abuse of discretion” in the matter of promotions. They are asking the State Supreme Court to annul a procedure whereby eligibility to take an examination in quest of promotion to sheriff’s lieutenant, at a salary of $51,480, was limited, illegally and/or arbitrarily and/or capriciously, to just one of the five men who otherwise would have been eligible to compete for the job. The suing sergeants are Andrew J. Macko (father of The Daily Mail’s Andrea Macko), John M. Stegville and Steven J. Worth. Their action, a request for judicial intervention in the form of annulling the examination (given September 16th), is being handled, through the New York State Law Enforcement Officers Union, by Albany-based attorney Matthew P. Ryan (whose proof-reading skills need remediation). The focal point of their complaint is a provision that was added by the county’s Civil Service Commission, at the behest of Sheriff Hussey, to the announcement of the coming lieutenant’s examination. The addition said “Due to some involvement with the Greene County Jail, basic training for Correctional Officer is required.” That proviso effectively limited eligibility to take the promotional examination to Sgt Tor Tryland. According to the filing of the protesting sergeants, the additional requirement was “arbitrary and capricious” in relation to the lieutenant’s tasks; framed “for the sole purpose of excluding all other eligible candidates,” it was a “pretext” designed to “ensure” that only Sergeant Tryland could (upon passing the exam, free of competition) get the promotion. The special eligibility requirement, Sheriff Hussey says in response, was “altogether appropriate and reasonable”: the new lieutenant would be working inside as well as outside the jail; special technical training is essential for regulating inmates’ and others’ communications; Sergeant Tryland alone has the relevant training and experience. In formal terms, according to some sources, the call for “basic training for Correctional Officer” amounts to a call for a training course that lasts three weeks. In response to the sergeants’ formal complaint, we understand, GreeneLand's civil service commission sought advice from the State civil service commission. Early indications are that the response will consist of advising that the special eligibility requirement is indeed improper.

TRUSTEE TANGLE. The Village Trustees of Tannersville have or have not decided to hire a lawyer to deal with “pending litigation with the village concerning appointments.” (The quote comes from a report by Jim Planck of The Daily Mail). By a vote of 3-1-1, the putative trustees did or did not decide to retain the legal services of Albany attorney Thomas Marcelle. The dissenting vote came from trustee Linda Kline. She is the plaintiff in the case. The respondents are the other trustees, or putative trustees. They are putative in the sense that Ms Kline claims that they are not legally authentic. According to Ms Kline’s petition to the State Supreme Court in Ulster County, the putative Village mayor, Gina Legari, is not legally the president of the board of trustees because the appointment which put her in office, to succeed the departed mayor, Glenn Weyant, was valid only until the end of last March, after which she needed a re-appointment but did not seek it. Ms Legari holds the contrary position. She accordingly claims that her actions after that date are within her authority. Among those actions was an appointment to fill another vacancy on the Board of Trustees, and then to join with the new (putative) appointee, Clifford Bertrand, in filling still other vacancies by appointment (it being legally obligatory that there be a five-person Board), and then (along with two other colleagues) to retain the special counsel. What if Ms Kline wins her case? If that happens, a Supreme Court judge rules that Ms Legari and the other putative trustees have been occupying, and exercising, office illegally. Accordingly, their action in allocating money from the Village treasury to retain counsel in response to the Kline lawsuit (which cites them is individual respondents; it’s not against the Board of Trustees or the Village) would seem to be illegal action. If so, could they be obliged to pay it back from their own pockets? Would that obligation extend from Ms Legari to the person she “appointed”? to the persons they in turn “appointed” (over dissenting votes by Ms Kline)? to the putative trustee who abstained from voting on the motion to retain special counsel at Village expense? And what about the costs incurred by Ms Kline in conducting her action? If she gets a favorable ruling—a Supreme Court judge’s decision that the putative trustees are not authentic trustees—would she be entitled to compensation for her action? If you think we are going to answer those questions, dream on.

GASOLINE PRICES have come down in recent weeks, but GreeneLand stations have dropped prices less than our neighbors have; and they are higher now than in substantial parts of New York City. At the two stations close to Rip Van Winkle Bridge, Citgo and Getty (formerly Ampol), the price per gallon of regular, on Thursday (9/28) was $2.60. The range here, for regular fuel, was from about $2.55 per gallon to $2.70. That’s well above the current U.S. average ($2.37) and it is substantially above the New York City average ($2.45!). In the Albany area, most stations were pricing regular yesterday at just under $2.50 per gallon. That’s true for Hess and Cumberland Farms stations, among others; so the GreeneLand outlets of those companies are 10 cents or more higher. How come? The costs of doing business here aren’t higher than in neighboring counties. Neither are delivery costs. (To fill up on information on the subject, google Gasoline Prices).

NEW BUSINESS keeps on coming to downtown Catskill. Patricia Hinkein has opened a real estate office at 362 Main Street, formerly occupied by the Heart of Catskill Association. Resident manager David King worked for Columbia County realtor Peggy Lampman. --Waterstreet Recording (221 Water St; is open for business, managed by Bobby Eichorn as “a creative space designed with the musician and songwriter in mind.” “where ideas and inspiration can be fuly realized….” --BowerBird home wares shop has already been accessible on a special occasion or two (as has the tasty Catskill+Co, in the former Mayflower CafĂ©), but its festive formal debut is scheduled for next Saturday (10/7). --Last Tuesday’s Daily Mail touted three “new” businesses, all at 464 Main Street. The pivotal one, Upholstery Unique (Tom Moore and Carrie Underwood) has been visible for quite some time. The others there are Bill’s World (furniture repair by Bill Rider) and Sheryl Wnenta’s Sew Happy. (Hail to thee, Ms Wnenta, for the titular word play. And when do we get a restaurant called The Happy Cooker?).

SIX SICs. “For Walter Birmann, owner of the Rainbow Golf Club, said the tourism industry in the county, which, following what is regarded nationally ‘rule of thumb’ within the business, generates for around every dollar spent at a tourist attraction spent at a tourist attraction, seven dollars spent elsewhere in the county.” --“A professor at Hartwick College in Oneonta, Titus’ chapter describes Catskill’s primordial origins….” --“Greene County Historian and Raymond Beecher discusses “The Legacy of Cedar Grove and…’” --“…Euro-Centric expectations many think the opera world revolves in….” --“…Festival draws a crowd with attractions abound.” --“Bluesman consummate Guy Davis, center, lets the folks know, on blues harp and guitar, why he is….”

OLD BUSINESS. Q: And what do you think is the best thing about being 104 years old? A: No peer pressure.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Coming Attractions & Detractions

CATSKILLIANS and visitors thereto this weekend will have plenty of diversions. They can start Saturday (9/23) at mid-morning with the Farmers & Artisans’ Market at The Point, move up to Cedar Grove (the Thomas Cole National Historic Site off Spring St) for a look at the Jasper Cropsey exhibition, or go over to the Elks Lodge to watch the kids’ soccer shoot-out, then take advantage from mid-afternoon of the “Fall Walk-About” on Main Street. Shops and galleries open, taste treats available. Of special viewing interest are early-evening openings of new shows at the M Gallery (paintings by Latina artist Ximena Hormaza D., and yes, D. is part of her nom de canvas) and at the BRIK (“Couples” or works by pairs of artistic partners). In the municipal parking lot, meanwhile, of special viewing as well as listening interest will be live entertainment by Lex Grey and the Urban Pioneers (and Lex is about as live as live ever gets). As for Sunday, the novel Catskill treat is a concert by a trio of Juillard School of Music stars at, again, the BRIK .

ELSEWHERE in GreeneLand, meanwhile, the Blackthorne Resort will host a gathering of Mustang devotees (Ford Mustang, that is), while Hunter Mountain hosts a regional beer and wine tasting party (noon to 5 each day; $15 for a round of slurping and a souvenir glass; not recommended for the drivers, as distinct from passengers, of vintage Mustangs). On Sunday the Catskill Mountain Beekeepers Club will conduct a tour of exemplary hives (check it out via ) while Windham Golf Club hosts a tournament for seniors.

WHO’S ON THE MAP? Latest (10/06) issue of National Geographic includes a big map of the United States. The New York State portion shows Catskill, along with Saugerties and Hudson and Ravena, but not Kingston.

PILLOW TALK. If prospective visitors were to ask you where to lodge comfortably in GreeneLand, what advice would you give? One approach to finding an answer is to check the Web site called Trip Advisor. It is a repository of notes that patrons have chosen to contribute. But most transients do not write such reports. Consequently, many places do not get written up, and the representativeness and reliability of what does get said can be doubted. At any rate, we can report that Catskill Motor Court, B & B Lounge, and the Red Ranch Motel, have been commended in recent months by visitors, and have not been faulted by other visitors. And then there are the warnings. In a December 2004 issue of Seeing Greene, we cited excerpts from Trip Advisor comments on the Friar Tuck, which is self-billed as a “full service luxury resort” and as our region’s “foremost resort.” Commentators said “Dirty, dangerous, and smelly.” “Unsafe.” “Horrendous.” “Travesty of hospitality.” “Reminded me of ‘The Shining.’ The only way I could sleep in the room that was deemed newly renovated was to get totally intoxicated. This way, I did not care about the flies..., the mildew covered walls, the noisy bathroom and what was under the sheets.” In more recent months, some Advisors have said the place “isn’t as bad as some of these reviews suggest”; “Could have been worse”; and “pleasantly surprised.” Those are the positive comments. The latest one strikes a familiar note. It was voiced last fortnight by an Eastchester patron, who said “My husband and I were…expecting a 3 star hotel but got a 1 star hotel. We spent the first hour of our stay searching for an appropriate room because the one we were initially assigned smelled so badly of mildew we couldn't stand it.” That reaction is dismally consistent with what most of the Trip Advisors have voiced. Thus: “We had a terrace…but I was afraid to stand on it after I saw gangs of wasps flying in and out of the rafters above our room.” “…big patches of blue mold….” “The place was under construction--destruction comes more to mind.... so bad [that] accepting reservations "bordered on the criminal." "Dirty, Lousy, Smelly, Disgusting, Run Down, and Did I mention BUGS." “Graffiti on the doors, blood in the bathroom.”Our kids feet were black from the dirt on the floors, I mean BLACK. The hotel manager…told us that the other condos were in worse shape and that ours was the cleanest of them all. The blankets smelled… like they were taken from a homeless person….The couch had stains all over it….” “I actually wonder about the food safety preparation as several of our group were sick after meals. The glasses and silverware were so dirty at each meal that we used the plastic provided for soda on the buffet. The glasses had mostly food residue, but one meal the glass actually had lip marks! I am not a picky eater, but it was seriously hard to find something that tasted good. The carpets are dusty and dirty and patio doors may not lock or screens are broken.” “This inn needs a major renovation and the idea of it as a resort is laughable.” “The best part of our trip to this resort was leaving…. A public outhouse is cleaner and safer….”

WHODUNIT. “Hey,” exclaims a no-name Seeing Greene commentator, “I like the way Dick perpetuates [sic.] a hypocrite! Attack Joe for a few minor mistakes while his own editorial [sic.] wreaks [sic.] of misspelled words and/or unedited spell check corrections!”

QUEERIES CORNER. What disease did cured ham actually have? Why is bra singular and panties plural? Can a hearse carrying a corpse drive in the carpool lane? If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, what is baby oil made from? Once you're in heaven, do you get stuck wearing the clothes you were buried in for eternity?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Just Mid-September

JUSTICE HUNT. Four candidates to fill the remainder of Veronica Kosich’s term as Catskill Village Justice will be interviewed by the village trustees on Tuesday. Alphabetically, they are Morris Darling, who is about to retire as a senior Correctional Officer at the prison in Coxsackie and formerly was president of the board of the Catskill Central School District; Peter Markou, the veteran economic development and planning expert; Christopher Murray, who has worked as an administrator in Columbia County courts since 1993; and Bill Wootten, who among other things has been manager of Catskill cemeteries. That is a strong field. GOING from downtown Catskill, in a couple of weeks, after a sell-off of current inventory, after a stay of 106 years: Day & Holt Hardware, at 349 Main St. But Pat Walsh, who so perfectly inhabits the character of the avuncular, patient, personal service-giving small town merchant, won’t be going out of business altogether. He plans, with wife Stephanie, to continue operating the adjoining Swamp Angel Antiques business. GOING TOO, from several Catskill sites, targeted by the Village Trustees in keeping with their “ever-improving” resolve: billboards.

COMING to downtown Catskill: another addition to the home improvement stampede. This time it’s an Oriental carpets emporium (wholesale and retail) at 449 Main Street (once a bowling alley), to be opened in time for the Christmas trade by entrepreneur Muntaz Amhad.

COMING SOONER to downtown Catskill, this Monday (9/18), a day-long, moving forum devoted to how-to’s of revitalizing commercial centers of small towns…. Organized by Greene County Planning and Economic Development agency, directed by Warren Hart. It starts with a walking tour led by Linda Overbaugh. For information: 943-0989.

ASSAULT STORY. A resident of up-scale Prospect Avenue in Catskill was carried by ambulance to Columbia Memorial Hospital last Sunday night after a fight in his front yard. The episode makes quite a story. We would like to tell it straight, but do not have all the relevant information. The immediate victim, we understand, was Rick Shanks, a railroad engineer who has long been involved in local firefighter companies and controversies. The assailants were Jerod and Amber Lane, who also have long-standing connections to local fire companies. They have been charged with assault at the misdemeanor level. According to what we have been told, the Lanes went to Mr Shanks’s house after making three previous stops in a determined effort to track down either (i) the perpetrators of vandalism against an incipient new enterprise of Ms Lane’s (“Studio 69,” a dancing school in the former Jimmy’s tavern), or (ii) the pseudonymous “Sherlock Holmes” who operates a blog that has subjected Ms Lane and many other GreeneLanders to vicious unsubstantiated smears; or (iii) the main author of both offenses. The episode generated some gossip to the effect that the assailants received unduly soft treatment from Catskill’s police officers. Because Ms Lane is the sister of one police officer and the sister-in-law of another (who also has been a favorite target of smears from “Sherlock Holmes” and his claque of craven commentators), says a putative informant, the police may have been slow to respond to a call for help; may have charged the Lanes only with misdemeanor rather than felony-caliber assault, and may have waived standard procedure by not handcuffing Ms Lane and not barring her from using a cell phone while inside the police car. In an interview with Seeing Greene yesterday, Police Chief Dave Darling equated that gossip with bovine excrement. The three officers who responded to the call for help, he said, “acted promptly” and they proceeded in “a professionally exemplary” manner. Far from being scolded, they were explicitly commended. Those events and issues are of special concern to Seeing Greene. They are of concern because some people have imagined a complicit relation between this blog and the “Sherlock Holmes” operation. In point of fact, we do not know who this “Sherlock” is and we deplore his output. His clever graphics and sometimes-promising lines of local criticism are vastly out-weighed by a perverse devotion to voicing unsubstantiated slanders and to publicizing even more odious smears emitted by a squad of also-anonymous, hence cowardly, mud-slingers. With regard to the Shanks/Lane episode, meanwhile, Chief Darling refused to allow Seeing Greene’s reporter to read, or to have read to him, the official Arrest and Incident reports. He said that his refusal was firmly grounded legally. He also suggested that reporting the incident could aggravate a dangerous local situation.

STILL CASTING. A few parts in “Three Sisters” have not yet been assigned. The renowned Chekhov play, set in a sleepy backwater community, will be performed at Beattie-Powers House, Catskill , under the direction of stage veteran Joseph Capone, starting on October 15th. Remaining to be filled are the parts of Andrey (about 35; brother to the three eponymous sisters, who falls in love with the wrong woman), Natasha (the wrong woman), Solyonly (who loves, desperately, one of the sisters) and Anfisa (old woman who had been the sisters’ nanny). To inquire about auditioning, call 943-2680. Already recruited and rehearsing are Jennifer Schilansky, Maria Moren, Lora Lee Eccobelli, David Khouri, Keith Muller and Gene Galushka. {P.S. For the first few hours after posting, we incorrectly said the play would be performed at Catskill Point}.

COMING, in mid-October or later: re-opening of Anthony’s Restaurant in Leeds. The place is currently closed on account of a MAJOR addition, described by Andrea Macko of The Daily Mail as “a multi-level reception and banquet wing,” the latter with seating for 250 people, a dance floor, crystal chandeliers…. Those words appeared in the September 14 issue, along with a note that the restaurant “will be closed for renovations beginning Sept. 11.”

FLOURISHING. That’s the story about the recently-opened City Lights store in downtown Catskill. Says owner Charlie Maggio, “Business has been much better than we expected.”

NEWBIE IN TOWN. At Cedar Grove, after interviews with some 20 applicants, the governing board has picked a successor to Amy Bruning as Manager of Education and Volunteers. She is Lana Davis Chassman. Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in art from Southern Methodist University (and the drawl to go with that). Thirty-year veteran of arts administration, museums, project management, arts-promoting broadcasting, and managing volunteers. Lives with husband in Woodstock. Incidentally, Cedar Grove could use more local volunteers to serve (after training) as docents or keepers of the visitor center and book store. Call Lana at 518-943-7465 extension 4.

GOOGLEBOMBING is the name of a game people play, in growing numbers. For a clever nasty example, go into Google’s site, then type in Failure or Miserable Failure.

PARTY OVER. Police broke up a raucous party last Friday night in Catskill, after two residents of an apartment at 1 Liberty St, Catskill, attracted scores of under-aged drinkers by means, according to unconfirmed report, of a MySpace summons. Although many participants escaped out windows and a back porch, the officers still collected plenty of names of suspected under-aged consumers. The reputed hosts, Jeremy Fiero and Eugene Carey, both 19, were charged with an assortment of offenses, such as child endangerment. When Mr Fiero put up a fight against being arrested, according the police report, he drew additional charges that landed him in jail for the night. (So we gleaned from the police department's Arrest report when it was made available to us on Thursday. The Incident report was withheld).

WHAT ELSE? Well, another party that took place in GreeneLand last weekend did not attract police action. It was a bi-confessional wedding, Christian and Muslim, conducted in English and Farsi, attended by 130 friends and relations, suffused with love.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

To the GreeneLand Station

UPDATE on Suspected Swindler story: Christine Owad blames the Russian Mafia not only for the lawsuit against her (for allegedly running a Green Card scam), and for the related court order (Don’t sell property that eventually could be used to compensate your victims), but also for the death, at her Prattsville farm, of a horse.

RESIGNING, effective October 1st, after less than a full term, as Catskill Village Justice: Veronica Kosich. Contrary to local babble, she’s not leaving on account of conflicts of interest (dealing with cases involving erstwhile law clients). She has just started an advanced legal training program (LLM degree) in trusts, estates and elder law. Meanwhile, she retains a private law practice. Something had to go. (In case you wondered, being a practicing lawyer and a judge, at the lowest judicial level, is eminently legal. Most Village and Town Justices are not lawyers. The three GreeneLand exceptions are entitled to continue their private practices).

IMMINENT. Saturday (9/8). -- Dress parade of volunteer fire companies from four counties, plus police & dignitaries & (we anticipate) candidates, from 2 p.m. starting on Sunset Boulevard at Stacy Avenue, up Stacy Avenue to Hose 3 headquarters on Bailey Street in Coxsackie. --‘Second Saturday Stroll’ on Catskill’s Main Street, from 5 p.m. Many galleries, specialty shops, antiques emporia, restaurants and cafes will be open, and the Dixieland-playing Saints of Swing will again cruise the boulevard. And late in the balmy evening, a rowdy, raucous party will rage at Wilder Gallery. --“By the Light of the Silvery Moon” event, from 7:30 p.m., at the Bronck Museum near Coxsackie. “The Pleasures and Perils of Night Life in Times Past” recalled by means of a story teller, live music and period refreshments. Adults,$6; members, $3; kids, $2. Queries: (518)731-6490. Tuesday (9/12). --State-wide primary elections, for U.S. Senator and Governor on down to county legislator.

NEWS BIZ NEWS. Daily Mail veteran Raymond Pignone has been demoted, titularly, from Editor to Managing Editor of that newspaper. Theresa Hyland now is billed as Editor; she previously was mastheaded as Executive Editor of the several Hudson Valley Newspapers operations. Terez Limer, who for a time held the title of Assistant Editor of The D M, left there (position abolished) for a new Ravena weekly, but now is out of the news game. Also gone from The D M is Debora Gilbert, who had been hired to replace Antonio D’Arcangelis as north county reporter; he left for press agentry in Albany, but still writes a weekly D M column about his golf (vs. golf events in GreeneLand). Ms Gilbert’s stay was remarkably short, given the fact that when hired she was treated to a special write-up (Wellesley grad). After weeks of advertising for a replacement, publisher Roger Coleman hired Donna Rich from within. Meanwhile, Christopher Smith and Deborah Travers, who had been the D M’s reportorial core before quitting together in disgust over upper-level shenanigans, and who then joined Vincent Seeley’s company while doing assignments for The Greenville Press, now are listed as Reporters (vs. Contributing Writers) for that paper. They do some assignments that formerly went to sterling scribes William DeVoe and Sean Springer, who recently moved on to an Albany Spotlight weekly and to Plattsburgh for a final year of college. Also reporting for the Press are two multi-taskers: M.A. Tarpinian, erstwhile manager of the Cairo Chamber of Commerce, thespian, and producer of the successful Renaissance Faire; and Jonathan Ment (google Ment Media), who is a Kingston Daily Freeman alumnus. (A Seeing Greene flunky worked briefly as GreeneLand correspondent for that paper until its managing editor, Sam Daleo, tried to cheat him out of his paltry earnings).

EXPIRED, after a short unhappy life, of inanition: the Greenville Chamber of Commerce. Its small core of founders did not grow. Indeed, shrinkage occurred after some early adherents quit after others took an “official” position on a local controversy (teachers’ contract) without putting it first to the members

POSTPONED, to October 2d: GreeneLand ex-prizefighter Kevin Rooney’s decision about whether to go to trial on felony charges, or to enter into a plea bargain. At a conference today, defense attorney Denis Schlenker was furnished by District Attorney Terry Wilhelm’s staff with discovery materials that will shape the eventual decision. Mr Rooney, arrested last April by Coxsackie police, was charged with felony drunk driving and with aggravated unlicensed driving (that is, driving after his license had already been revoked because of drunk driving). This one-time Golden Gloves champion (1975) and trainer (of Mike Tyson, among others) served jail time in 2004 for public nuisance (urinating on Catskill’s Main Street); at that time he also was on probation after a drunk driving conviction in Albany County. His former home on West Bridge Street was sold last year at a foreclosure auction. His case will be tried in Columbia County; GreeneLand’s judges, all too well acquainted with Mr Rooney, have recused themselves.

RAGING: local battle for a seat in the U.S. Congress. Some notes: Standings. According to fairly recent Siena College interviews, Rep. John Sweeney (R-Clifton Park) holds or held a 19 percentage-point lead over Democratic challenger Kirsten Gillibrand, in the contest to represent our district (New York’s 20th) in the House of Representatives. Many voters evidently feel they don’t know Ms Gillibrand, and for that reason, among others, are disposed to re-elect Mr Sweeney. Such is the normal plight of the challenger, especially when (s)he does not have a history of holding local public offices. Ms Gillibrand’s campaign countered today by citing a fresh “internal" poll showing just an 8-point gap between her and Mr Sweeney (39% to 47%, vs. 31-49 in May), along with gains in her familiarity and favorability ratings and in his unfavorability rating. Mystery Poll. Some local voters are being telephoned by a robot who purports to be conducting a “non-partisan poll” which consists of three questions: Does respondent think the country is going in the right direction, or wrong? Does respondent intend to vote for Sweeney, or for Gillibrand? Is respondent male or female? No sponsorship of this bit of sampling is mentioned. That is peculiar. So is the focus only on the House race. So is the query about sex, and about nothing else in the way of face-sheet data. Attack “Poll.” Another opinion survey (so to speak) that evidently has been conducted in the 20th district begins just like the aforementioned one; but it proceeds in a radically different way. It unfolds what is known in some quarters as a “push poll” and can as readily be characterized as a vicious attack masquerading as an opinion poll. As reported in the Capital Confidential section of The TimesUnion (Albany), its robot asks respondents about their Congressional voting intentions and then, to those who voice a preference for Ms Gillibrand, poses a special question: Would you change your mind if you "knew" that she does not live in the district, that her law firm represented an Enron crook, and/or that she has used the death of American soldiers in Iraq for political gain? Insinuated by this compound question, but not directly affirmed, are (i) that the foregoing assertions about Ms Gillibrand are true, (ii) that they are crucial in evaluating a candidate, and that (iii) they ought to be regarded as conclusive reasons for disavowing Ms Gillibrand. And yet the robot interrogator can deny responsibility for those claims. The source of that pseudo-poll was traced by reporter Elizabeth Benjamin to a firm called the Tarrance Group, which works for the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee. “The Sweeney campaign,” says The TimesUnion, “has denied all involvement.” Attack Ads. Mr Sweeney has been the target of attacks of another kind, namely, televised spots sponsored by the independent pro-Democratic organization Two “caught red-handed”ads were aired recently on local channels, although W-TEN (American Broadcasting Co.) responded to protests from the Sweeney camp (“false,” “inaccurate,” “misleading,” “defamatory”) to the extent of not airing one of them. One of the ads imputes to Mr Sweeney a share of responsibility for huge amounts of money that have been “dumped” in Iraq, as well as for willingness to dump more billions there. The other “caught red-handed” ad says Mr Sweeney “accepted three thousand dollars from defense contractor PACs” (political action committees) and then “missed votes to penalize contractors like Halliburton who over-charged the military in Iraq.” (Insinuated: he did wrong because he’d sold out to Halliburton or other contractors). Those “caught red-handed” ads have evoked censure from impartial analysts, namely, folks at the Annenberg School of Journalism’s site. Regarding the “Dumping Billions” ad, FactCheck makes the point that (contrary to what is insinuated) Mr Sweeney’s actions were much the same as those of most Republicans and Democrats. As for the “Red-Handed Defense” ad, FactCheck makes the points that Mr Sweeney received paltry donations from military contractors, that he missed votes on measures that would have increased (vs. imposed) penalties, and that in any event the proposed measures were flawed technically. FactCheck does great rhetorical analysis. Its people earn credibility not only for the immediate terms of their critiques in this case, but also for their incisive critiques of many Republican ads. (For texts of the “caught red-handed” ads and for a rationale--claiming essentially that Mr Sweeney bears responsibility for President Bush’s Iraq “fiasco”--go to MoveOn’s web site. The subject is not discussed on Mr Sweeney’s campaign site). Counterattack Ad. The Sweeney camp has put out a TV ad stigmatizing Ms Gillibrand as a “war profiteer” (owning shares in a military contractor) who is “backed by Washington groups bashing America.” Forthcoming. Between now and November 7th, Ms Gillibrand will strive to make herself better known, to intensify ethical questions, and to tie her opponent hard and fast to the Botch Administration. Mr Sweeney, while conducting an arms-length personal attack on Ms Gillibrand, will concentrate on reminding us of his successes in bringing tangible benefits to constituents.