Thursday, December 27, 2007


JUST OUT: an updated version of GreeneLander Dennis Wepman’s lavish study Immigration. In the words of the publishing house, Facts On File, the volume “examines the history of immigrants in the United States,” updating their stories to cover the years after the closing of Ellis Island, focusing on such contemporary issues as the experiences of illegal immigrants and the transformation of immigration law since September 11, 2001.” Each chapter “begins with a detailed narrative section that chronicles the experiences of those who traveled to the United States as well as the reactions of religious and political leaders, social workers, and more. A chronology of events highlights important dates in the history of immigration. Eyewitness testimonies include passages from...hundreds of accounts from immigrants, social workers, politicians, and many others.” Also, “more than 110 black-and-white images, portraying immigration and immigrants in this country.”

SOLD OUT: Laser torches/lights designed by Rudie Berkhout, at the opening of the dazzling Play Of Light gallery ( in Catskill. Rudie and partners Hudson Talbott and Vincent Seeley weren’t even planning to sell stuff on that occasion. They graciously yielded to appeals, sold the dozen on-hand torches for $85 apiece (plus tripods, optional at $15) and took orders for more.

OUT and circulating around independent film festivals: a 35-minute movie “Jimmy’s Café,” in which GreeneLand’s Joe Capone plays a key part. It’s about “a love-starved matchmaking waitress in a small American town where nobody talks about the things that make us human.” Made last year, chiefly in a Greek diner in Poughkeepsie. For a teaser, with J C in foreground:

OUTBOUND, from The Daily Mail, as signaled by its Help Wanted advertisement for a “full-time crime and courts reporter” who also would “cover the Catskill Village Board and Catskill Town Board”: the paper’s best young reporter, Andrea Macko.

HONORED by GreeneLand's legislators,on advice of the County Planning Board (chaired by Wayne Deyo), with achievement awards named after Ellen Rettus: Hudson-Athens Lighthouse Preservation Society (chaired by Louise Bliss); Cairo Bicentennial Committee, led by Robert Uzzilia and Linda Larsen, who compiled a pictorial history of the town; Catskill Chamber of Commerce, managed by Linda Overbaugh, for the vitalizing Cat ‘n Around promotion); Commonwealth Construction Co., led by Scott Purdy, for the restoration, aided by Twelve Tribesfolk, of 18 South River St, Coxsackie.

GRANTED recently:

  • To the Catskill office of the Eddy Visiting Nurse Association: $62.000, from Hudson River Bank and Trust Co. Foundation. The money, according to a Daily Mail story (12/20; repeated verbatim on 12/21) will equip nurses with portable blood-testing equipment, so that they can learn immediately how patients who are taking blood thinning (clot-forestalling) medications are doing. For more on the grant and the foundation, see
  • To the Windham Community Food Pantry, the Windham Foundation and the Adaptive Sports Foundation (of Windham), from the charitable foundation of Legacy Banks (Yes; it’s plural): $2500 in total. As reported by Michael Ryan (Windham Journal and Daily Mail), the grants marked the opening of a branch of the Pittsfield MA-based financial institution, which recently has acquired five New York State outlets. The new Legacy outlet, formerly a First Niagara branch on Route 296 between Hensonville and Windham, is managed by Christine Hall.
  • To Catskill’s Community Center: $500 from the Rotary Club, $150 from Kiwanis.
  • To the Thomas Cole National Historic Site (=the Cedar Grove estate on Spring Street in Catskill), by the New York State Council of Arts: $20,300, in aid of the Site’s 2008 exhibition and its Sunday Salons. The latter are monthly conversations, led by guest speakers, about topics relating to the Hudson River School of art. For more information, google ‘Thomas Cole’ and follow the leads.
  • To 32 organizations in the 20th Congressional District (which includes GreeneLand), from the United States Treasury, thanks to earmarks that U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand succeeded in having included in the omnibus appropriations bill that Congress recently approved and the President signed: $19.2 million in total. As is usual in these matters, appeals from many more applicants, for many more millions, did not make the cut. Incidentally, Representative Gillibrand has announced that she is due to give birth to child (her second) in the spring. And one constituent--Ron Blackhut; NOT a GreeneLander--cites this incipient event as proof that women, or fertile women anyhow, are unsuited to hold Congressional office.


  • to artists “who have an affinity for the natural world,” from The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development: residency, for a few days or a fortnight during June 15-October 15, in a “tranquil and rustic workplace and retreat,” amid “the living landscape where American art began.” Home would be a two-floor cabin in GreeneLand’s Platte Clove Nature Preserve. Resident artists (graphic, literary, dramaturgical, musical, performing) would produce work, “traditional or experimental,” that could be exhibited in May 2009 at the Catskill Center’s Erpf Gallery. For details, guidelines, applications (due by March 1): (not .com).
  • to GreeneLand non-profits that foster low-income housing, education, health, social and civic service, and/or culture and the arts, from the Bank of Greene County’s charitable foundation: grants for 2008, from a purse of about $60,000. Deadline for applications is January 15 (!). Details:
  • to GreeneLand teachers imbued with good ideas about designing programs that foster learning about historic Hudson Valley sites, from the Federally funded Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and Greenway Conservancy: grants of up to $10,000. Applications are due by next March 17th. For more information: (We owe this note to a Daily Mail story (12/22) that alluded to “Franklinn” Roosevelt, to “Environmental Copnservatoin” and to “…Oraged, Rokland, Ulter and Westchester counties”).

BTW: The Teaching the Hudson Valley project got started locally last year, with an ambitious “Landscape Connections” program which brought Catskill and Hudson high schoolers together for field trips (Cedar Grove, Olana, the Mountain House site…) and learning exercises. As designed by Ed Synan and Lorraine Ferrara of Catskill High, Carri Manchester of Olana, and Marilee Hobbs of Hudson High (at the instigation of Amy Bruning, late of Cedar Grove), the program elicited from participating students sketches, landscape paintings, essays and poems, including this, by Catskill’s Vasyl Hereha:

At times ambition gets the best of man.

When our great Earth, with living sunshine gleams.

We make a darkness with our narrow dreams,

Heading the wrong direction with no plan.


With no conscious thought of preservation

This derelict planet is torn to pieces.

As time rolls by, hope only decreases,

Stemming from neglected obligations.


An iniquitous quirk starting at birth,

A fatal blemish spanning all races,

Finding delight in all the wrong places;

In the perishable setting of Earth.


We ask what good it will do us mortals

To salvage a planet that should serve us.

Yet, there’s no incentive in speaking thus

Of the land that always opens portals.


Selfishness holds back the promise of change.

With attitudes mended we’ll open doors

And with sky majestic blue, birds will soar.

A concept that should not seem out of range.


And dragging down the next generation

Will not raise any of us the higher.

Plan to rid our lives of foolish desire

And say ‘bye to Earth-harming temptations.


Fear not to touch the calm seas or oceans

And live in pure harmony with our

Earth Let’s work to give the planet a rebirth.

A deed that will cure our souls and emotions.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Snowless News

HOT COLE. The National Endowment for the Humanities, months ago, earmarked $320,000 for a package of projects at GreeneLand’s Thomas Cole National Historic Site. But most of the grant—all but $49,500--was contingent on local procurement of matching funds. Latest news, however, is that the terms have been reversed, so that the project can move ahead promptly. As reported by Betsy Jacks, executive director of the Cole Site, to her board of directors, “We now officially have $270,900 in OUTRIGHT funds, requiring NO match, and $50,000 in matching funds, requiring $50,000 match.” That came about because the key NEH people “love our project and don’t want t to take five years to happen.”

DAILY MAUL. The December 8th issue of GreeneLand’s foremost (qua only) daily newspaper consisted of 18 pages of advertising and editorial matter. Pages A8 and B2 contained exactly the same wire-service story.

ELECTED to chair the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation: Alexander “Sandy” Mathes Jr, whose full-time job is executive director of GreeneLand’s semi-public Industrial Development Agency. The HVEDC’s purview embraces nine counties, from Westchester northward. Established in 2003, it is a public-private partnership devoted to bringing enterprises to the region.

STOUTER DEFENSE? Two part-time attorneys in the office of GreeneLand’s Public Defender will soon be succeeded, if the county legislators agree, by a new full-time hire, Joseph Meaney. In the words of Chief Public Defender Dominic J. Cornelius, “We are extremely fortunate to have recruited Joe. He’s eminently qualified and he’s extraordinarily versatile, so that he can handle Family Court and major felony cases.” Mr Meaney, an Albany Law School graduate, worked for the Child Protection Service of Albany County, then as a prosecutor in the office of the district attorney, and then for the eminent Albany defense attorney, James Long. As a full-time assistant Public Defender, at a salary of $50,000 per year, he will fill the vacancies created by the retirement, after 28 years, of Ralph Lewis, and the departure of Dale Dorner, a nine-year veteran of public defender work who also is the mother and the partner in private practice of another assistant public defender, Jon Kosich. Promoted to the rank of chief assistant to Mr Cornelius, meanwhile, will be Catskill’s Joseph Stanzione, who has been a part-time public defender for 19 years and is Mr Lewis’s partner in private practice.

NOTICE. Motorists approaching Catskill Village from the east, on Jefferson Heights Boulevard, pass a sign declaring (warning?) “Codes in effect and enforced. Building Permits required.” Do those words draw a contrast with rules or practices in other communities? with previous local practices?

THE TRIAL. Summations in the criminal trial of James Pine did not commence this morning at 10am as scheduled. Instead, while the jurors were sequestered and the spectators—relatives and friends of the defendant and of man he is accused of killing—milled about on the second floor of the county courthouse, the lawyers and the judge conferred privately until lunchtime. Mainly at stake in their prolonged interchanges was the matter of how the judge shall instruct the jury: verdicts they can reach, weighing evidence, appropriate findings with regard to the defendant’s intent, what doubts on what points are (un)reasonable…. District Attorney Terry Wilhelm and Defense Attorney Richard Mott advocated competing instructional points. And they needed to know Judge George R. Barrett III’s decisions so that they could shape the terms of their summations.

The jurors face a difficult problem. Pine is charged with felonious assault and manslaughter in connection with the fatal beating, on Halloween Night last year, in west Catskill, of Michael Formachelli of Hudson. Pine’s friend and fellow assailant, Michael Deyo, already has entered a plea of guilty to assaulting Formachelli. Pine has admitted that he too attacked Formachelli. But Pine and Deyo name each other as the wielder of the iron breaker bar that, according to expert testimony, produced the skull injuries that proved, three days later, to be fatal. No independent witness, and no physical evidence, has served during the trial to point conclusively to either man. Consequently, amid uncertainty on that part of the case, the jurors must decide whether Pine’s participation warrants a finding of Guilty of the crimes of first-degree manslaughter and/or first-degree assault.


In Athens: Craft & Story Hour for children, at D.R. Evarts Library, from 2:30pm.

Poetry (Robert Milby, Will Nixon, others) and music (Don Yacallo) for adults at the Cultural Center from 2 pm. Music (The Digits) as well as food at Yannis II from 8:30pm.

In Hunter, music (the Marc Belenfant Holiday Band, doing Jazz and Latin-infused holiday classics with singer and pianist Christine Spero) and dance (Sabina Starr’s Catskills Dance Theatre doing excerpts from “The Nutcracker”) at the Doctorow Center, from 7:30pm.

In Catskill, Main Street galleries beckon with art and wine. Among high spots: “Winter Showcase” at M (Polly Law, Jimmy James, Patrick Milbourn, one-name Natalici), with reception at 6pm (943-0380); Part II (landscapes) of the “Critical Mass” showing of Frank Faulkner works, at Terenchin Fine Art; and opening of new, brilliant Play of Light Gallery at 460 Main St (622 8733.

In addition, at BRIK (473 Main St; 943-0145), from 7pm, adventurer Albert Podell, co-author of Who Needs a Road?, will recount highlights of his and partner Harold Stephens’s longest, last motor journey around the world (in 1965). That talk, sponsored by Theodore S. Belfor, dentist, and Frank Cuthbert, strumming enterpriser, is a fund-raiser for the County Arts Council. Then there’s a first anniversary show, featuring the Betty MacDonald Trio, from 8:30 at Stella’s Lounge (; 943-3173). [Correction: it's been postponed].


Friday, December 07, 2007

Trials & Trails

DAILY MAUL. “A two car accident claimed Friday afternoon claimed the life of the driver of a Coxsackie Transport driver.” Those words opened the top story in last Saturday’s issue of GreeneLand’s foremost newspaper. And in an earlier issue, readers were invited to contemplate, to try to picture, this phenomenon: “E-Mail Flap Heats Up as Teachers Demand Apology.”

THE TRIAL. Will James Pine escape conviction in connection with the Halloween Night death of Michael Formichelli?

A GreeneLand jury of seven women and five men will answer that question on or about the end of next week. The jurors will decide whether Pine’s part in the fatal beating of Formichelli makes him guilty, as charged, of manslaughter and felonious assault.

Presiding over the trial in Catskill’s county courthouse is Judge George R. Bartlett of Schoharie County. He received the assignment after GreeneLand’s two county judges, George J. Pulver Jr and Daniel K. Lalor, recused themselves. They did so, Seeing Greene was told, because the defendant’s mother had been a long-time functionary in the court system.

Among witnesses scheduled to appear at the trial is Pine’s friend Michael Deyo, 37, of Athens. He already has entered a plea of guilty to criminal assault for his part in the pursuit with Pine, and the beating, in Catskill, of Formichelli. That pursuit purportedly began with a quarrel in the Dubois Road apartment of Mary Hyer Seeley.

Prosecuting the case is District Attorney Terry Wilhelm, who in his opening statement said “a vicious attack” and “savage beating,” including the use of a long club and motivated by intent to inflict “serious physical injury,” ended the life of Formichelli.

Representing Pine is criminal defense specialist Richard Mott of Albany. He is remembered most vividly among GreeneLand courthouse denizens for his success, against formidable obstacles, in winning an acquittal back in 1998 for Thomas J. Hall, who was charged with committing a murder outside a Catskill night club.

The prosecutor in the Hall case was then-District Attorney Edward Cloke. The acquittal prompted Mr Wilhelm, then an assistant district attorney, to seek the top job. When he won the Republican Party endorsement, Mr Cloke chose not to stand for re-election.

“FRIAR YUCK” is the alternate name that an October visitor nominates for GreeneLand’s foremost (=most capacious) resort. “We stayed 2 nights at the Friar Tuck inn for a convention of NY State Wildlife Rehabilitators,” the visitor recalls in a Trip Advisor message. “Luckily we are a benevolent, happy group that managed to laugh at how bad it was rather than get angry…. Most people in our group had to get the staff to re-clean their rooms, especially the bathrooms, before they could stand moving in. There were two confirmed reports of bedbugs….The floor plan had to have been designed by a person with mental deficiency.... Had our Board members not been smart enough to put up their OWN signs we would all have still been there today, still wandering.... The atmosphere is 1970's pseudo-Camelot kitsch and there is a smell of mold everywhere. As other reviews have mentioned, the desk staff is surly and yes, the guy screwed up my checkout as well because he 'couldn't find my record of having paid.... Finally, this may be nit-picking but they KNEW we were a group of wildlife rehabbers -- "ANIMAL PEOPLE" -- and yet they served (urk!) VEAL at every single meal. And told people it was chicken….”

“WORSE than anything in the third world," says another recent visitor, to another GreeneLand hostelry. Of the Quality Inn & Conference Center, a Trip Advisor correspondent says “I have stayed in hotels all over the world and in many developing countries, but nothing anywhere was as bad as this. I was promised Wi-Fi but it never worked and they said they couldn't get it serviced on weekends. The room smelled like a turkish prison. The heat never came on and there was no one to fix it, so we froze all night. They offered me another room to shower in the following morning, but we would have to drive there.” Moreover, a July visitor from Laguna Beach CA says the Quality Inn manager “tried to cheat us out of over $100 by charging us over the rate quoted and then being unresponsive to our requests for reimbursement. When I took it up with American Express, they wrote a letter justifying the overcharge. I then complained to Quality Inn Corporate, and they spent months researching it, saying the hotel needed to weigh in. When the hotel ‘became unresponsive’ with corporate, too, I finally (after 3 months) received a reimbursement check.”

TONIGHT (66 years after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor):

*Sawyer Motors’ holiday kick-off party, with tree-lighting, Santa, drawings for free kids’ bicycles, games. West Bridge St, Catskill, from 6pm.

*Lex Grey sings with the Will Smith trio at Catskill Point Inn, from 8:30 pm.


*Catskill Puppet Theater presents “Ivan’s Three Wishes” at Doctorrow Center for the Arts, Hunter, from 3:30pm. 263-2063.

*Divine Enlightenment store on West Bridge St, Catskill, offers “Afternoon with the Angels” from 3 pm. Free 10-minute chair massages by Maria Elena Maurin. Optional $25 “angelic guidance.”

*Merchants of downtown Catskill offer a special holiday stroll, with store and street decorations galore, Frosty and his Snow Angels, live music by Basic Instinct, drawings for big Christmas stockings, from 5pm, with fireworks at 9.

*Catskill Point Inn offers Arabian Nights party with belly-dancing, from 9:30pm


*Athens Cultural Center hosts a series of readings, from 2pm, by writers Annie Forbes Cooper, Becky Minew, Mary Lou Becker and Ed Bloomer, with musical interludes by John Williamson. or 945-3547.

*Thomas Cole National Historic Site, at 218 Spring St, Catskill, hosts Christmas party for all comers, from 3pm, with cookies, mulled cider, ice cream punch, and Hudson River School-related gift items. 943-7465.

DECEMBER 15. Adventurer Albert Podell recounts highlights of his and partner Harold Stephens’s motor journey around the world—the longest and the last. Sponsored by Theodore S. Belfor, dentist, and Frank Cuthbert, enterpriser, at BRIK gallery, 473 Main St, Catskill, from 7pm, as a fund-raiser for the County Arts Council. Admission at $20 includes autographed copy of Who Needs A Road? 943-0145.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Real News & Fake News

CLOSED, abruptly last Friday, without warning: The Fitness Zone, in Great American Plaza, Cairo. Vanished proprietor Josh Kelder leaves behind a 3600-square-foot space crammed with exercise equipment, overdue rental payments to Ellsworth Slater, unpaid wages, and scores of members who bought 12-month subscriptions. Some of the locked-out members have already found their way to the Summit Hill Athletic Club in Catskill.

CLOSING today: Beginner’s Mind gallery on Main Street, Catskill.

ALMOST OPEN: Play of Light, a new Catskill gallery featuring holographic (laser light-scattering) marvels devised by Rudie Berkhout. The gallery, at 460 Main Street, also will serve as headquarters for Novia Lighting Innovation, a new laser light-promoting company launched by Mr Berkhout along with his long-time collaborator, Hudson Talbott, and Catskill Village President Vincent Seeley.

TOUTED, in a “Perfect Weekend: The Catskills” piece in the current issue of Newsweek: the Bowerbird shop in Catskill. “If shopping is your idea of a perfect day,” well, here is “a hip housewares store in Catskill that sells vintage as well as modern goods.”

OPEN, as of last Friday, next door to Pomadoro’s restaurant in Catskill Commons: a branch of The Shoe Dept., which is part of the 1078-outlet Shoe Show chain that was started in 1960 in Kannapolis NC. The local manager told Seeing Greene that all information about the store must come from company headquarters—including her name. According to its web site, the company is “active in a number of charitable causes including Cooperative Christian Ministries, Bible Teaching Associations, Salvation Army, Gardner-Webb University, and Association of Retarded Citizens.”

41=percentage increase in tickets sold to visitors to the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill this year as compared with 2006 (which was a spectacular year as compared with 2005). So reports Executive Director (and new mother) Elizabeth Jacks.

RESURRECTION? “Fallen war veteran receives medals 62 years after death” says a Daily Mail headline (11/10/07), challenging conventional notions about what people can do or have done to them after they have died.

SOLIDARITY? Greg Seeley, newly elected to the office of Greene County Sheriff, “will begin his four year term January 1 and join District Attorney Terry Wilhelm in what some are calling a ‘law enforcement dream team’.” That’s the word from Daily Mail reporter Andrea Macko (11/7/07), who neglects to name one person, let alone several of the “some,” who voiced that opinion.

PURPOSEFUL PAPER? “The goal” of a certain bill that is up for consideration by State legislators, says a local journalist, “is to deliver a higher quality of public defense services and increase the efficiency of legally-required representation.” That bit of putative reportage invites us to believe (i) that legislative bills--pieces of paper—have goals, and that (ii) those goals are objectively accessible to journalists.


Tonight at 7:30, and Saturday (7:30) and Sunday (3pm.): “On Golden Pond” performed by Classics@thePoint troupe (Chase Crosby, Mike Steese, Lora Lee Ecobelli, David Fanning, Eileen Roehm, Dan Kirby) directed by Joseph Capone, at Columbia-Greene Community College theater. 828-4181.

Saturday (12/1):

*Catskill Garden Club’s holiday sale, from 9am at Beattie-Powers House in Catskill.

*Harvest and Holiday Forest Farmers Market, from 10am at Agroforestry Resources Center in Acra. Edible forest items (honey, ginseng, maple sap), local farm produce, locally crafted gift items, decoration materials.

*Holiday Fair at Catskill Elementary School, from 11am. Crafts, gifts, refreshments, raffles.

*Coxsackie’s Christmas by the river, at the Gazebo, from 6:30pm. Santa, caroling, gifts for tikes, refreshments. ….

*Hudson’s Winter Walk, on Warren Street, from 5pm. where (says Ellen Thurston) “dancing snowmen and walking grandfather clocks meet Victorian carolers and horse-drawn carriages.”

Friday, November 23, 2007

Post-Turkey Trot

DEPARTING, on Jan. 25th , after 17 years as Administrator of Greene County: Douglas Brewer. This will NOT, we understand, distress Legislative Chairman Wayne Speenburgh.

DEPARTED from St Luke’s Episcopal Church in Catskill, to a parish in Frisco TX, after a residence here of some 30 months as successor to Michael Gorchov: priest Diana Freeman. While searching for a new priest, the 115 St Luke’s parishioners will depend on part-timers dispatched, when available, from the Albany diocese.

STONEWALLING. At that infamous October 24th meeting of the Board of the Catskill Central School District, be it remembered (Seeing Greene, 10/19 and 10/24) President James Garafalo refused to allow any discussion of Superintendent Kathleen Farrell’s notorious “Please kill” e-mail message. At their October 17th meeting, he said, the Trustees had reviewed “all relevant facts,” had “resolved” the matter, and had expressed “confidence” in the superintendent. “That’s all the Board has to say,” said he; and the other Trustees mutely concurred--whereupon the 100 teachers, ex-teachers and friends who had come to the meeting expecting that the teachers’ union leader would at least be allowed to deliver a statement on the subject, walked out.

At that time, the minutes of the Board’s October 17th “Workshop” had not yet been posted. That gap has now been filled. And to the untrained eye, it is difficult to appreciate that the Board did indeed review the subject. Five “Personnel” matters were processed, but the Superintendent’s name was not among them. (Mr Garafalo had told a Daily Freeman reporter that he could not discuss how the Board handled the “Please Kill” episode because it was “a personnel matter”). The only possible sign of attention to the “Please kill” controversy is a note in the minutes reporting that from 8:30pm to 10:07pm, the Trustees went into Executive Session “for the purpose of discussing the employment history of a particular individual.” The Trustees did not use those 97 minutes, however, to make a thorough review of the “Please kill” episode. They did not talk to the teachers who were the immediate targets of the call, or to the leader of the teachers’ association, or to accidental recipients of the message.

Prior to the executive session, incidentally, Superintendent Farrell “thanked the Board for their commitment to the district and presented certificates of appreciation to the board members. There was a brief break,” according to the minutes, “to celebrate Board Appreciation Week with the board.”

MENDING, from triple bypass operation, with expectation of being back on the bench come mid-January: County Judge Daniel Lalor.

FORMING, from the ranks of talented local amateurs: a Catskill Community Orchestra. In the words of organizer David E. Woodin, ”talented amateurs, aspiring professionals, retired musicians, etc.” are invited to come forward and join the new ensemble, which will meet, starting in January, “probably on Friday evenings, in the rear of the First Reformed Church in Catskill.” “All you need is your instrument, your own music stand, and your interest.” Inquiries: or 622 0298.

INVESTIGATING for the GreeneLand Public Defender’s office, following retirement as a sergeant in the State prisons’ correction service: Morris Darling of Catskill (who served for many years as President of the School Board). According to Chief Public Defender Dominic J. Cornelius, thanks to his know-how about prison life and about firearms, Mr Darling has brought about plea bargains where prolonged court trials could have occurred, thereby saving the taxpayers a bundle.

PROPRIETY QUESTION: Is it okay for a Town Justice to serve as his or her own court clerk? Tanja Sirago, having been elected as Town Justice in Cairo, after being appointed for the brief remainder of Michael Flynn’s term, and having previously been the clerk, has announced an intention to handle both jobs.

“CLIMBING THE HILL” = title of cover story in the Nov.-Dec. Dartmouth Alumni Magazine about that college’s first female member of the U.S. House of Representatives: Kirsten Gillibrand (class of 1988), of our 20th Congressional District. Ms Gillibrand “scored a major upset” last November, says author Dirk Olin, “out-punching a powerful Republican incumbent in one of the nastiest congressional street fights” of 2006. However, “reelection may be even harder.” Given the party registration figures (80,000 more Republicans than Democrats) and the fact that the Republican challenger (probably “Sandy” Treadwell) will not carry the taint of the previous incumbent, John Sweeney, that forecast seems plausible. But Seeing Greene’s analysts predict that Ms Gillibrand will be re-elected by at least as big a margin (53%) as she gained last November. That will happen because (1) 2008 will be a banner year for Democrats in general; (2) Ms Gillibrand’s win in November 2006 coincided with enough wins for other Democrats to give their party control of the House of Representatives—a big asset when it comes to doing favors on constituents; (3) even though Republicans far and wide will support Gillibrand’s challenger with generous donations, Ms Gillibrand won’t be out-spent; (4) having been appointed to the Agriculture and Armed Forces committees of the House, Ms Gillibrand has been a position to make lots of friends among farmers and veterans, who normally lean Republican; (5) Rep. Gillibrand has done an exemplary job of making herself visible and accessible to constituents.


Tonight (Friday, 11/23): Parade of Lights down Main Street, Catskill, to tree-lighting ceremony at county courthouse. Organized by ladies’ auxiliary, Catskill Fire Company, it starts from Water Street at about 5:30pm. 943-9770.

Saturday. Concert by the Catskill Mountain Chamber Orchestra, at the Doctorow Center for the Arts in Hunter. New “Doctorow Center fanfare” composed by conductor Robert Manno, followed by works of Rachmaninoff, Boyce, Shostakovich, Mozart, Chopin. (263-2063)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Housing Glut Ahead?


These past months have generated an all-time record in number of property developments proposed for GreeneLand. These are in addition to the rapid pace of permits and constructions at Sleepy Hollow Lake and the renovation projects that are well under way. If everything that has been proposed actually goes ahead, then:

*Greenville will acquire “Golden Greens,” wherein 150 condominium units occupy a 140-acre Plank Road site, along with a new golf course, pool, tennis courts and clubhouse.

*Cairo will acquire the $50 million project “Alden Terrace,” with 140 town houses and a shopping mall disposed around a 30-acre parcel between Routes 32 and 23B.

*Tannersville will accommodate not only “Hemlock Knob,” a small housing development for seniors, sponsored by Catskill Mountain Housing Development Corporation, but also a new subdivision of 100 half-acre lots bordering on Rip Van Winkle Lake.

*Coxsackie is setting GreeneLand’s fastest pace in the way of property development—commercial, industrial and residential. In prospect as future home residences are “Hamlet on Hudson,” Mark Salomon’s proposal to put more than 500 townhouse units in small scattered around a new golf course and other amenities on a 587-acre site along Farm to Market Road, some of it with Hudson River frontage. Also in prospect—but subject to some fierce local opposition—is “Mountain View Estates,” where 280 modular homes for seniors, along with a central recreation complex, would be spread around 108 landscaped acres.

*In Catskill, ongoing transformations of the former Washington Irving Elementary School and the former Orens Warehouse will yield around 30 gracious apartments. In addition, three large residential developments are much in prospect. They include a condominium development for seniors, off West Main Street south of West Bridge; Cloverdale Estates, a 224-unit townhouse development on 100 acres fronting on Cauterskill Road; and Artists Ledge, another condomium development, hugging Catskill Creek and filling space presently occupied by Tatiana’s Restaurant.

Where will the tenants and the buyers come from? The residential property market here, as elsewhere, is already fllat.



RECOUNT of ballots in Catskill Town election yielded no change in outcomes but interesting details. Pat Walsh still led the field comfortably, but evidently had been given an accidental bonus of about 100 votes. His new total was 1231. Newcomer Michael Smith remained ahead of incumbent councilman Joe Leggio, with 1009 to 983 (vs. 992-973 in the original count). Bo Berzal still came in fourth with 829 votes. Mr Smith’s votes on the Democratic Party line (878) fell short of Mr Leggio’s votes on the Republican line (881), but Mr Smith picked up 131 votes as Independence Party nominee while Mr Leggio collected only 102 on the Conservative line. During most of yesterday’s recounting in the Elections Commission office in the County building, Mr Smith trailed Mr Leggio. But then Mr Smith scored big, percentage-wise, in his home district of Kiskatom, and again scored big in Mr Leggio’s backyard, Palenville.

Anyhow, we anticipate that the newly composed Town Council, led by Supervisor Peter Markou, who was elected without opposition to succeed the retiring Joe Izzo, portends a new era of good feeling between Town and Village leaders.

Messrs Leggio and Berzal, incidentally, were the Daily Mail-endorsed candidates.

COULD PEACE break out in Cairo? That would be a momentous change, and it just might come in the wake of the new election returns. Town Supervisor Joseph Calcavecchia and Town Councilman Gerard Aprea went down to defeat, at the hands of John Coyne and Janet Schwarzenneger. (Aprea came in fourth in a field of four, a very unusual thing for an incumbent). Those two men were the principal accusers of Town Clerk Tara Rumph, who won re-election by a comfortable margin. They also made a practice of riding roughshod over Council colleague Alice Tunison.


SATURDAY STUDIOS. Catskill’s Main Street galleries beckon today from mid-afternoon. At the Arts Council headquarters, visitors will be treated to a tribute to the life and art of the late Barry Hopkins as well as a big array of artisan items styled for the holiday market. At Terenchin Fine Arts, “Critical Mass” (not “Members Only” or “Only Members,” as suggested by local smartalecs) is the name of the new exhibition of works by Hudson artist (and gallery owner) Frank Faulkner. At Beginners Mind, photographic art by Susan Wides and by proprietor Lee Ann Morgan are on display, along with holiday jewelry choices. At BRIK, the subject is “Who Needs a Road?” At M Gallery, under the heading “Interpreting Paradise,” works by Debarry, Dill, Ferrara and Milbourn will be on show, ornamenting a Closing party from 6pm. (By identifying the artists only by last name, we bully the reader into believing that (s)he ought to know the full names of these famous people. Right?).

CHILLY WILLY TOURS of the historic Bronck estate in Coxsackie will be conducted today and Sunday, at 11am, 1pm and again at 3pm, by members of the Greene County Historical Society, with Dutch and Swedish refreshments served.

COMEDY SHOW. A new venture at Anthony’s Restaurant, tonight from 8pm.


SO WHY did young Steven Riley Jr change his name to Scooter? How did the local journalist come to write of a “descending plummet”? or of “homes…intended to be ascetically pleasing”? or of an event in which a “war veteran” received medals “62 years after death”? Don’t ask.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Showing GreeneLand

What’s distinctive about GreeneLand? A documentary film-maker, Jonathan Donald, addressed that question in connection with planning a television mini-series. As reported last September in Seeing Greene, Mr Donald ( ) plans to tap “notable speakers; heirs of the earliest families; live action photography of popular entertainments; old photographs; period drawings and engravings; and famous paintings” in depicting “the unique history of Greene County and events that shaped the commercial and artistic history of the early nation.” For this project Mr Donald compiled an inventory of distinctions. With his permission we have adapted that outline to shape an overview of the GreeneLand’s historical significance.

►Active agent in Hudson River history and witness to its great events, including passage of the Half Moon and its fateful encounter with Indians followed by centuries of river trade and a 150-year-long parade of day and night liners bearing tourists to Catskill Point and the mountains beyond.

►Archaeology, pre-dating by 10,000 years the arrival of Henry Hudson.

Principal source of flint for spear points used by Paleo-Indians in Eastern North America to hunt mastodons and other giant prehistoric animals.

►Literary setting for James Fenimore Cooper stories of the fabled Mohican tribe and for Rip Van Winkle and other stories by Washington Irving, America’s first great writer in the Romantic tradition.

►One of few areas to be granted a patent (the Bronck patent, 1662)), after settlement of Fort Orange and New Amsterdam. Some Dutch pioneered in the area without benefit of a patent by 1649 and, even earlier, agents of the powerful Rensselaerwyck patroonship attempted to settle Catskill illegally.

►Bronck House (Coxsackie, 1663) is oldest New York State house still standing.

►Catskill, as county seat and river port, became New York’s most important commercial center outside Albany and New York City when, by1810, the Susquehanna Turnpike became the first east-west road connecting its mills and shipping, with the Susquehanna River and wheat-producing regions of central New York. Continuing across the Hudson to Connecticut, the turnpike also sent wheat to New England’s interior.

►Art Mecca. Center of America’s first native school of art. Thomas Cole, founder in the 1830s of the Hudson River School of landscape painting, lived and worked here and was patronized by Lumen Reed, patriarch of a Coxsackie family of merchants.

►Tourist Mecca. With construction of the enormous, architecturally fine Catskill Mountain House, GreeneLand became, in the first third of the 19th century, America’s first tourist destination. Other big hotels (the Kaaterskill, Laurel House) arose later, accommodating European royalty, presidents, artists, merchant princes, and lesser escapees from the lowland summer’s heat and humidity. River boats, coaches, steam trains and an ingenious cog railway provided access to the heights. Elsewhere in the county, smaller hotels and boarding houses flourished until World War II.

►Commerce and industry. Exemplifying the vaunted American “can do” spirit, GreeneLanders plunged into logging, grain mills, paper mills, sawmills, the nation’s largest tannery, the country’s first malleable iron works, shipping and ship-building, commercial fishing, agricultural lime production, brick making, gas manufacturing…. The Winter ice industry on the Hudson was at one time rural New York State’s biggest money maker.

►Genealogy. Descendants of pioneering old families (Lampman, Houghtaling, VanSlyke, Van Loan, Rappelyea, O’Hara, Du Bois, Overbaugh….) make GreeneLand a time capsule of early America.

►Famous lawsuit. Aaron Burr helped Catskill resident Augustine Prevost in his dispute with William Cooper, who was represented by Alexander Hamilton. Their clash was one of several encounters that led to the fateful duel…

►Architecture. A great array of styles: Dutch/Medieval, Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Stick, Queene Anne, Tudor Revival, Colonial Revival, Craftsman….

►Migration waves. African-American slaves became “half free” and their families multiplied during Dutch period, but free black population shrank under the English, who had fewer scruples about slavery. Influx of Connecticut Yankees after Revolutionary War; then of Irish with the building of Erie Canal, then, around 1910, of Italians, followed by Germans and more Irish. (Michael J. Quill Irish Cultural Centre named after former chief of New York City transit workers’ union).


To illuminate these matters Mr Donald aims to interview a Mohican who wilI describe the tribe’s storied ancestors and the world that was altered so dramatically by arrival of Henry Hudson and the Dutch. County Historian Ray Beecher will describe the great scope of the County’s attempt to trump the economic clout of the Erie Canal. Bob Hallock, president of the Greene County Historical Society, will tell us how the County came by its name (for one of General George Washington’s best fighting generals, who may not have ever seen this part of New York). Charles Gehring of the NY State Library and an uthority on 17th century Dutch language, and author Russell Shorto (The Island at the Center of the World ) telling about the Danish Broncks and the early Dutch settlers in Coxsackie. Carrie Feder and Randy Evans, professional restoration architects, telling how the 1710 Van Loon house in Athens, through alterations made over nine generations, reveals the county’s changing history. John Bonafide of the New York State Historic Trust, an authority on New York State architecture, will show us the building styles that span two hundred years. Historian Ted Hilscher, on the county’s sturdy and beautiful Dutch and English barns. Betsy Jacks, director of The Thomas Cole National Historic Site, on the Hudson River School of Art and sites where Cole, Frederick Church, Asher Durand and others painted their great landscapes. David Barnes, docent of the New-York Historical Society, will recall the world in and around Catskill where America’s first novelists, along with poet William Cullen Bryant and painter Thomas Cole, gathered to exchange ideas. “Old Timers” like Cliff Baldwin who remember ice harvesting and ship building in New Baltimore, Athens and Catskill, and farms, tanneries, brick works, paper mills and saw mills in the interior towns of Greenville, Prattsville and the countryside. In this connection we will meet other historically connected people with long memories.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bulletin: Trustees Duck

The Trustees of Catskill Central School District refused last night to allow public discussion of an e-mail message written by Superintendent Kathleen Farrell, inadvertently distributed widely, requesting an administrator to "Please go KILL these people…..please please please.”

President James Garafalo opened the school board’s regular meeting, in the high school library, with the statement that the board members had reviewed “all the relevant facts” of the case at a closed-door October 13 meeting, had “resolved” the matter, and feels “confidence” in Superintendent Farrell. “That’s all the board has to say.”

When no board member said otherwise, most of the people who had come to the meeting—an extraordinarily large turnout, composed of teachers, former teachers, support staff and parents, most of them dressed in black--walked out.

They were followed by television and print journalists, who took statements from the head of the teachers’ union and from the teachers whose questions about policy concerning closed and opened doors had most immediately triggered Dr Farrell’s outburst.

Patty Houlihan, president of the Catskill Teachers Association, expressed “profound disappointment” with the board’s stonewalling. She suggested, as did several other teachers in the crowd, that if the “Please kill” message had been sent by a teacher or a student, it “would have probably sent us into lock down and the police would have been called.”

About 100 members of the Catskill Teachers’ Association, Ms Hulihan recalled, had voted unanimously to condemn the putative apology that Dr Farrell made for her October 3 message. It was addressed to Terri Dubuke, one of two teachers whose e-mailed queries about door policy had triggered the “kill” request. It voiced “sincere apology for inadvertently copying you an email correspondence to John Willabay [director of facilities] regarding your questions about fire doors, locked doors, etc.”

Ms Dubuke told Seeing Greene last night during the exodus that “If [Superintendent Farrell] had truly apologized to me, I would not be here now.” The “apology,” she noted, was only for the inadvertent copying, not for the homicidal sentiment. And in point of fact, the message was inadvertently copied to scores of recipients. Among them was Lenny Collins, the other teacher whose e-mailed query about door-closing policy had most immediately provoked Dr Farrell. Mr Collins too voiced keen disappointment at the superintendent’s response to complaints and at the school board’s stonewalling.

Following the exodus, the board carried on with business as usual. Dr Farrell did step into the hall, however, to a bid for news media interviews library. She told a Channel 6 interviewer that “I have made a very sincere apology” for the “unfortunate language” that “unfortunately” reached “one person…by error.” For “private correspondence” to generate such an upheaval is a “true tragedy.” “I hope folks will recognize” the ”sincerity” of the remorse.

That corridor interview was witnessed by a seven students who were heads of Catskill High School’s student government. They were there, they said, because attending a School Board meeting is an obligation that goes with office.

Josh Hart, president of the student government, said that the students “generally” were “shocked at the way some faculty and staff have treated the act of humble apology” made by Dr Farrell. And “It is unfortunate that something as trivial as this could shake the foundation of trust of such an administrator.”

Veronica Hilcken, student body treasurer, estimated that Dr Farrell had “apologized well” but owed an apology to more than one individual. As for the action of the School Board, in refusing the “Please kill” episode a public airing, “If I hadn’t been required to be here I would have walked out with the teachers.”

The episode of the errant “Please kill” message was first reported last Friday in Seeing Greene. It was picked up by Kingston Daily Freeman, Catskill Daily Mail and Albany TimesUnion reports in Tuesday and Wednesday stories, as well as in regional newscasts.

When Board President Garafalo was telephoned by a TimesUnion reporter, he was unforthcoming, delivered a spurious version of the law concerning confidentiality of Board actions, and voiced abuse before hanging up.

Friday, October 19, 2007

New & Newer

NEW BUSINESS. The site vacated by Dollar Tree in Catskill’s Price Chopper Plaza is now a Label Shopper outlet. According to Manager Tracey Hicks and Assistant Manager Heather Viccaro (L74”), the Peter Harris affiliate sells name brands of ladies’, men’s and juniors’ apparel, plus shoes and some home furnishings, at a quarter or a third of regular retail. Among the brands are American Eagle, Columbia, Liz Claiborne, Levi Strauss, Nine West, New York & Co., Woolrich. And they do clearances of clearances; we saw intact, wearable slacks for women marked down to one hundred and fifty cents, as well as jeans and khakis for $15. They are having a $100 drawing next Friday (10/26) from tickets dropped in the box by Sunday (10/22). AND SPEAKING of new businesses, a big shoe retailer will be opening a store soon next to the Pomadora restaurant in the strip mall opposite Wal-Mart. And incorporation papers have been filed of late for various GreeneLand enterprises, including an Accent Group (in Windham), a Gwen Design Studio, Bellabrink, Compliance Advantage (Athens), Green Earth Farm in Palenville, Lighthouse on the Hill (Prattsville; Michael J. Conforti), Pervasive Technology Ventures (Freehold; Phillip Content), Total Fitness Group (Sleepy Hollow Lake), Patty & Kenny (Athens) and--what you’ve been waiting for—Garden of Eden (“11111 Route 23, Windham” says the legal notice). "KILL" PLEA. "Please go KILL these people…..please please please.” That request was voiced in an e-mail message last week (Wednesday, 10/3) by Catskill’s Superintendent of Schools, Kathleen Farrell. Its intended recipient was John Willabay, director of school facilities, but a little key-stroke error blasted it far and wide. The superintendent was venting over communications about doors. That subject, as it happens, is a big, fraught policy matter, having to do with security against berserk gunslingers, foreign and domestic. Anyhow, in an e-mail on the morning of October 3, a teacher, Lenny Collins, had asked Selma Friedman, the Catskill Elementary School principal, “why the children’s bathroom doors are propped open and unlocked. For safety and security reasons shouldn’t those doors be locked shut too?” Ms Friedman relayed the question to Mr Willaby, who advised that the rooms in question “do not meet the requirements as they are not considered ‘occupied’ spaces. The only time they are closed and locked is in the event of a lock down or shelter in place in which case they are inspected for occupants, cleared and locked.” That message in turn prompted another teacher, Terri Dubuke, to ask why “the copy and faculty rooms” are classified as ‘occupied’ spaces” when they “receive even less traffic than the ‘gang’ restrooms?” Those messages in turn came in the wake of discontent with standing orders that classroom doors be shut when occupied and locked when vacant. Why the Wednesday messages triggered a nominally homicidal reaction from Dr Farrell is not clear. In any event, when she inadvertently hit the wrong key, transforming private message into public broadcast, Consequences ensued. About the range and nature of those consequences, we are not sure. According to unconfirmed sources, Dr Farrell flew to Florida just after the episode; she went on family business but turned off her Black Berry; the school district trustees in emergency session meted out a letter of reprimand and a vote of confidence; teachers’ union members are mulling legal action; some teachers and staff members see the incident as a chance to strike back at what they take to be an autocratic, micro-managing, punitive style of administration.

When a Seeing Greene reporter approached her on the subject of “the incident,” Dr Farrell responded “What incident?” and “No comment.”

BOB PORTER was buried yesterday in Coxsackie. He died last Wednesday (10/10), at 71 years of age, after a sudden hospitalization. He was a retired State Department of Taxation supervisor, a professional saxophone player, president of the Catskill Kiwanis Club, Lieutenant-Governor of the Hudson River Division of Kiwanis, and a collector of Masonic Knights Templar titles. Among those titles were Worshipful Master, High Priest, Potentate (of Al Tabri Temple No. 121, Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of North and South America and Its Jurisdiction), Worthy Joshua, Royal Chief Engineer, Deputy Prior, Deputy Master, Deputy Thrice Illustrious Grand Master, Most Eminent Grand Commander, and Eminent Grand Master. To his Kiwanis friends, among others, he recited those titles with characteristic dry humor.


Riverside Farmers’ and Artisans’Market, at Historic Catskill Point, from 10:30am with music by one-man band Paul Slusar. >>> Bounty of Greene County, a “50-mile” fund-raising dinner, plus silent auction of selected local art, at Cornell Co-Operative Extension’s Agroforestry Resource Center in Acra, prepared by Ric Orlando (New World Home Cooking) and composed of foods grown locally, from 6pm. Queries to Angela Tallarico, (518) 622-9820 ext. 21. >>>Saturday Studios in downtown Catskill, from mid-afternoon. ”Interpreting Paradise: Views of the Catskills” at M Gallery, with autumnally accented landscapes by six artists, most of whom will be there for the opening reception. At DREAM Annie Fox, “healing stone” jeweler,” adumbrates “the deeper meaning of gemstones” and “what stones you should wear next to your skin and why.” Terenchin Fine Arts offers *”Fractions” by Andrew Amelinckx and by mid-century cubists. BRIK unveils ”Red October” qua 6 “emerging artists” who, according to the welcometocatskill web site, are “celebrating the creative either where the muse lives.” Chromogenic prints by photographic artist Susan Wides (“Kaaterskill” and “Mannahatta” series) bedeck the Beginner’s Mind gallery. At Gallery 384, four artists demonstrate painterly “nocturnes” showing “darkness in a whole new light.” Books & More offers photographs and words by William Gale Gedney on "Other Lives." The Open Studio displays works by members of Veronamerica, who hail from the Hudson Valley and from the Veneto and Lombardy regions of Italy. And chocolate samplings from Catskill + Co. will be dispensed at Main Street sites, along with wine. In the exact words of, “Sip and nibble as you admire this moth’s events.” >>>“Cole, Church and the Panoramic Landscape” is the title of a lecture to be delivered by Prof. Alan Wallach (College of William and Mary), using Thomas Cole’s The Oxbow and Frederick Church’s Niagara to elucidate changes in once-established conventions of landscape painting. From 4pm at Temple Israel, followed by reception in the Old Studio at Cedar Grove, 218 Spring St, Catskill. Free of charge, thanks to the Raymond Beecher Fund for Programming at Cedar Grove.

LATER >>>Sunday. “German Songs for an Autumn Afternoon” performed by Bard College students trained by Dawn Upshaw, from 2pm at Beattie-Powers Place, off Prospect Avenue in Catskill. >>>Tuesday (10/23). Michael Hayes, author of Oak Hill: Voice from an American Hamlet, Oak Hill resident and farmer, and Oak Hill Preservation Association president, will expound on and illustrate his favorite subject, at Greene County Historical Society’s Vedder Research Library in Coxsackie, from 7:30pm. 731-1033 >>>Thursday (10/25). Tour of Athens Generating Plant, 4-8pm but it may already be too late to sign up. To find out, try 945-3706 or

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Buzz

BROOKLYN BOUND: a 2500-square foot, inter-active, interpretive exhibit for a wing of the Brooklyn Childrens Museum, designed by Carol May and Tim Watkins, whose workplace is the former firehouse in Athens. The new facility will encompass “areas” devoted to water play, workshop, Bing Bang Bong (=learning about sound), sand play, reading, coral gardens, theater, Toy Town. This project is not quite on the scale of what the dynamic duo created for the Creative Kids Museum in Calgary (Mr Watkins just went up there to celebrate the first anniversary of that 10,000-square-foot facility). It differs too from their mutating murals, their functional sculptures, their Garden of Motion in Turkey Lake FL (20 25-foot high, painted, variously shaped giant weathervanes, dancing in the wind), their giant Glamour Dogs, their multiple 18-foot high squealing, swaying Sunbabies. But really, folks, we’ve only given a hint of their range. Check out

DITTO. Also Brooklyn-bound is another Athenian, Johnnie Moore, who is singing and dancing in the Irving Berlin review "I Love a Piano." The show goes next Sunday (10/21) to the Brooklyn Performing Arts Center, after stops most recently in Pittsfield, New Haven and White Plains.

OFF-BROADWAY BOUND: a GreeneLand-generated play, “The Prophecy of Isaiah,” written and directed by Isaac Klein from a monograph, Spinning Jesus, by his father, Art (the Tile Guy) Klein. The one-act drama, first staged last April in Catskill, at BRIK gallery, espouses a version of Christianity that, in contrast to the contemporary “fundamentalist” or “social conservative” orientation, is tormented by poverty, hunger, cruelty, torture, xenophobia, homophobia, bigotry, and degradation of Earth. Manhattan debut is set for November 16 at the Times Square Arts Center. Audience members and performers will share five tables that form a circle. Oh, BTW: the senior Klein is the author of ten books (so far); five were Book of the Month selections.

BOOKED for the “Today” television show next Friday (10/19) where she will concoct some dishes from recipes in The Relaxed Kitchen: How to Entertain with Casual Elegance and Never Lose Your Mind, Incinerate the Soufflee, or Murder the Guests: GreeneLander Brigit Binns (who also will be making an authorial appearance in Catskill tomorrow

BASS NOTE. “When bass are suspended and relating to baitfish this fall, turn your back on the shoreline cover and structure you’ve been targeting and switch to a blade bait to coerce the bite.” Got that? From Bassmaster magazine.

SELF-PUBLISHED recently is a book fetchingly titled Catskill, Greene, County, New York, Revisited. 1930 to 1960. According to a Daily Maul scribe (9/24), author Wanda West Traver wrote “in intermittent spurts” (not to be confused with regular spurts?); her account “transverses [!] life in Catskill during Traver’s life here”; and she believes that “Catskill centralizing its public schools was a progressive step forward”—in contrast, presumably, to a progressive step backward.

BEST BEANS & stuff. Judges in the recent two-county chili Cookoff decided that the tastiest dish came from GreeneLand’s Kristopher Rose (yes; with a k). Among tasters, who voted by depositing beans in appropriate boxes, the Peoples Choice iby a single bean at Catskill Point was Scotty’s Too Hottie (= Scotty Christman), followed by dishie Gwen Seeley's dish. Official judges were Paul Rother, Bill Dowd, Randy Hatch and Michael Hunter.

FOR SALE at foreclosure auction: house at 844 Leeds-Athens Road on which defaulting mortgagee Dennis Izzillo owes, according to the legal notice, “approximately $127,323.28.” As previously reported (Seeing Greene 6/15), Mr Izzillo ran the Firehouse Tavern on Main Street, Catskill, until his landlord ran out of patience over non-payment of rent. Also imminent for Mr Izzillo is a hearing in Bankruptcy Court.

METAPHOR MASHER. Jim Tedisco, leader of the State Assembly’s Republicans, has put out a fund-raising bid affirming that “We have drawn the line in the sand, and have turned back the tide in our favor,” and “stood up” to the Governor AND “proved that we would not be steamrolled.”

SWEENEY UPDATE. GreeneLand’s former representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, John Sweeney (affectionately dubbed “Congressman Kickass” by President G. W. Botch for his thuggery in the midst of vote-recount controversy in Florida in 2000) is now a bachelor. He and Gayle completed divorce proceedings in July, amid mutual accusations of brutality. According to the TimesUnion, moreover, they have admitted that, with regard to the State Police report about the 911 call (from her, about him) that they had claimed, during the 2000 election, was false, they lied. Meanwhile, the State Police union is mounting a lawsuit on behalf of Captain Frank Pace who, upon being suspected by his chief of passing that fateful report (that suppressed public document) to the Press, was consigned, in effect, to Siberia.

WEEKEND TREATS. Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market at Historic Catskill Point, Saturday from 10:30am, features music by the folk/country Rovin’ Cowboys. In the afternoon, kids are invited to don suitable costumes for an early Halloween, including a matinee showing of “The Witches” at the Community Theatre, along with “paint a story” doings at Imagine That. Then it’s Second Saturday, with galleries and shops enticing Main Street strollers. See the new “painted lady” (raspberry, key lime, whatever) that is 400 Main St, along with the flanking exhibits at the Open Studio and the Arts Council galleries. Get a pre-launch, autographed copy of The Relaxed Kitchen from Herself, at Hood & Co. Llater in the evening, back at Catskill Point, rock diva Lex Grey joins the Will Smith Trio at Stella’s Lounge.

Elsewhere on Saturday, GreeneLanders could try a soap-making workshop (with Kelly Tsakoumagos of “Old Thyme Soaps”) at the Agroforestry Center in Acra, 10am-2pm Saturday; 622-9820; a Hudson Lighthouse tour (828-5294); a Mountaintop Pumpkin Festival at Bear Creek (; 263-3839) site; or a creep through haunted Massacre Mansion (Blackthorne Resort; 6342341).

On Sunday, Susan Wides leads an autumnal photo hike to Sunset Rock on North Mountain, with foliage-aflame views of the Catskills+North Lake+South Lake+the Mountain House site, starting at noon from the Mountain Top Historical Society’s Haines Falls campus. (917-697-0334). For devotees of gregarious idleness, meanwhile, there’s a potluck party at Beattie-Powers Place in Catskill, with musical entertainment provided by the aforementioned, the inimitable Lex with pianist Al Garzon, from 1 pm. The organizers ( ask participants to bring a dish or $10. Make it $20. They have sunk a lot of money, as well as effort, into restoration of that gracious estate.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Albany: Restless Driving?

Republican politicians erupted rhetorically the other day over a policy change, announced by Gov. Eliot Spitzer on September 21, making illegal immigrants eligible to obtain New York State drivers’ licenses. Some Democrats, and many of the State’s county clerks, concur with the opposition.

The governor’s executive decision removes a rule that had been adopted by his predecessor in the wake of the 11 September 2001 World Trade Center catastrophe. The rule obligated applicants for driver’s license to prove, by way of a valid Social Security number or other evidence, that they are legal residents. Starting in December, foreign applicants “will provide a current foreign passport and other valid and verifiable documents to prove identity” to Motor Vehicles Department staff ( but need not be legal residents.

Coupled with the DMV policy change, the governor added, will be new “anti-fraud security measures.” These include fresh document scanning technology, a special document verification unit stuffed by trained specialists, and photo-comparison technology “to ensure the principle of ‘one person/one license’ is upheld.”

“Dangerous” and “absolutely absurd,” says Assemblyman Marcus Molinaro (Republican of Columbia County) of the new dispensation. “Astounded and flabbergasted” is how Sen. Steven Saland (R, Poughkeepsie) describes his reaction. A “stunned” Peter Lopez, who represents GreeneLand in the State Assembly, says the decision “puts our communities at risk.” According to GreeneLand’s State Senator, James Seward, the Spitzer ruling is illegal as well as being “a disaster for our national security,” placing “every New Yorker at risk….” It’s “Border Line Insanity” says a Conservative Party advertisement. Under the headline “License to Kill: Eliot’s Passport to Terror,” the leader of Republicans in the State Assembly, James Tedisco, says the governor’s policy poses a “clear and present danger to the safety and security of our entire nation.” It is “equivalent,” says Sen. Vincent Leibell, to “telling our military to ‘turn off your sonar and radar’.” In the estimation of Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), the Spitzer plan amounts to allowing “terrorists to go unchecked.” (The quotes come from Press accounts recorded the Internet).

Kirsten Gillibrand, GreeneLand’s newly elected United States Representative and a Democrat, was reported in one newspaper as concurring with the critics. At this time of writing (Tuesday, Oct. 8) Seeing Greene’s calls for (dis)confirmation had not been returned. [ADDENDUM. Received on Thursday (10/11) was a letter, dated Oct. 9, confirming Representative Gillibrand’s opposition to the governor’s policy, as well as to “any proposal that will allow illegal immigrants to receive additional taxpayer-funded services.” Instead, “I support the REAL ID Act which will require individuals to show proof of citizenship in order to obtain a driver’s license” and “I believe that giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants is the wrong approach to improving our national security.”]

Governor Spitzer accuses those critics of trafficking in “the politics of fear and selfishness” at the expense of “common sense and responsibility.” Their “hysterical rhetoric” preys upon public fears although in fact their contentions are factually, legally, morally and ethically wrong. The new system will enhance national security as well as public safety. New York contains as many as a million illegal immigrants. “Thousands of undocumented, unlicensed and uninsured drivers [are now] contributing to increased accidents and hit-and-runs as well as higher insurance rates.” Some of those drivers, responding to the new policy, would apply for licenses, pay fees, meet the obligation to buy auto insurance, and establish in the process an identity record.

On October 3, a resolution denouncing the governor’s new rule was presented to the State’s county clerks, who preside over local offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles. Thirty of them, including GreeneLand’s Mary Ann Kordich, voted to disapprove, with three dissenting, three abstaining, and 16 not participating. Some of them, led by Saratoga County Clerk Kathy Marchione, say they will not implement the new DMV policy.

Twenty-nine of the protesting 30, the governor pointed out in a news media release, are Republicans; and their stand-pat policy, he contended, makes New York “less secure and our roads less safe.”

“The simple fact is, increasing access to driver’s licenses, tied to increased anti-fraud security measures, is good for public safety and good for homeland security.” Roads are “less safe” when people drive “without a license and without insurance…. It is unlicensed drivers—not immigrants—who are a threat to public safety.”

As for homeland security, the new rule will help, says the governor, since it will "bring an entire population of people into a database that, when necessary, can be used to help law enforcement track down criminals and terrorists.”

Last Sunday’s TimesUnion contained a “debate” on the DMV policy issue. Clashing evaluations were voiced by Brian O’Dwyer, a Manhattan lawyer and head of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, and James Staudenraus, a leader of the Federation of American Immigrant Reform who was billed as an adviser to a group called 9/11 Families for a Secure America, a group that advances public policies to protect homeland security and public safety.

Mr O’Dwyer credits Governor Spitzer with “a rational response to the facts on the ground. The governor is reinforcing New York's traditional policies aimed at encouraging immigrants to seek police, health and school services without fear of being turned over to immigration authorities, regardless of the immigrant's legal status. That…controls crime, prevents epidemics and keeps immigrants from hiding their children in the shadows instead of sending them to school.”

Moreover. “we all benefit as well when the state encourages all drivers…to legally seek a driver's license, a process that requires passing a driving test and demonstrating an ability to understand the state's motor vehicle laws.”

Especially “offensive,” says Mr O’Dwyer, are “comments by those who suggest the governor's plan will undermine the fight against terrorism. To equate hard-working and productive undocumented immigrants with terrorists is the kind of broad brush bigotry that undermines New York's position as the capital of the world, where diversity should be embraced instead of shunned.

“Instead of criminalizing undocumented immigrants, we should be creating a path to legal residency and citizenship and bring them out of the shadows of economic and social exploitation.”

According to Mr Staudenraus, however, the Spitzer DMV policy “ignores anti-terrorist recommendations of the 9/11 Commission,” violates “the new federal driver’slicense law that sets uniform standards for states to issue licenses, “rewards and encourages illegal immigration,” “facilitates voter fraud through the Motor Voter law, “gives official ID to individuals we know nothing about” and “undermines federal immigration enforcement efforts.”

“Foreign terrorists covet a valid driver's license, because it helps them blend into our society.”

“When states suddenly allow illegal immigrants to get a license, DMV offices are flooded with applicants. Under pressure from a big backlog, homeland security will be compromised.”

The governor, says Mr Staudenraus, has “chosen to pull the pin on a political hand grenade that is entirely of his own making.” He proposes to aggravate instead of alleviating the present “illegal immigration crisis.” “Instead of…rewarding illegal aliens with a driver’s license,” Mr Spitzer “should promote sound policies that discourage illegal immigration.”

Friday, October 05, 2007

Leaves of Greene

TAX BREAK FOR IMPROVERS? Greenville’s Town Councilmen are evaluating a proposal that would soften the property tax burden for homeowners who make capital improvements. According to reports in The Greenville Local (Melanie Lekocevic) and The Greenville Press (Linda Fenoff), they will hold on October 15th a public hearing on a plan whereby owners would not be obliged to pay the full amount of tax that would normally be added when assessed value goes up in consequence of capital improvements costing more than $3000. Instead, they would be exempted from the whole increase in the first year following the improvement. They would pay 12.5% of the normal additional tax in the second year, with increases being added in successive years until the full amount is due in the ninth year. The deal would apply to single-family and two-family homes; the increase in assessed market value must be at least $5000; and the exemption deal would top out at $80,000.

AWOL. Meanwhile, Greenville’s Planning Board chairman, Jim Kudlack, has joined Town Supervisor Aldo Cardomone in being unapologetically, uncommunicatively absent. Peter O’Hara has filled in for Mr Kudlack, for months, and Jim Mulligan has done so for Mr Cardomone. Legalities of replacing them officially are unclear.

SHOT at an East Catskill home and garden, recently: “fashion” pictures for the next T. J. Maxx catalogue. The site was selected by professional locator, via many photographs and comparisons. But the pictures themselves have nothing to do with the house or the garden or the scenery. They will appear in the company’s Winter catalogue. The Christmas tree, the “snow” and the other settings could be anywhere. Similarly, Pottery Barn managers spent a fortune recently on location hunting, and then local shooting by a crew of 30, for a catalogue. For all intents and purposes, however, the beautiful homes and gardens are not in the pictures.

BOB’S BACK. He’s nothing if not persistent. Robert Meringolo set up shop in front of the county courthouse on September 26th, soliciting petition signatures in support of his sustained vendetta against a State Policeman as well as against all sorts of authorities who allegedly connive to cover or ignore GreeneLand’s corrupt condition. As reported in The Daily Mail (Jim Planck), Mr Meringolo was contending that Sgt. Patrick Cullen “has terrorized and broken the law against the citizens of Greene County” and he was distributing to passers-by a “position paper.” Ordered by Village Police Sgt. Brian Kozloski to move his sign and booth from their position along Main Street, he complied, while protesting to the sheriff’s department that he was not obstructing traffic (pedestrian or motorized) and was exercising his rights under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. His complaint may be legitimate. His crusade is something else. For pertinent information, type “Meringolo” in the Search Blog window on your screen (above left); that should lead to the March 2d edition of Seeing Greene.

“I’M NO DUMMY,” says Harry, ventriloquist Steve Charney’s loquacious pal; “I’m a wooden American.”

HOT TIP: “When bass are suspended and relating to baitfish this fall, turn your back on the shoreline cover and structure you’ve been targeting and switch to a blade bait to coerce the bite.” Got that? From Bassmaster magazine.

MEAN DOG? According to a headline in the CBC web site, “"Helmsley's dog gets $12 million, but leaves 2 grandchildren zilch." From WorldWideWords.

THE WEEKEND Oktoberfests at Hunter Mountain Resort ([518]263-4223) and at Blackthorne Resort ([518]634-2541). Banjo Burke-themed festival of Irish music workshops in East Durham ([607]225-0028). Autumn Affair in Windham with juried arts & crafts, live entertainment, Chinese auction… ([518]734-3852). Apple Harvest Festival at Angelo Canna Park in Cairo ([518]622-3939; ). Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market as usual on Saturday at Historic Catskill Point, this time with music by the Cabin Still string band. Ginseng Festival on Sunday at Historic Catskill Point ([518]943-0989).

Photo hike with ace photographer Susan Wides, starting at noon from Mountain Top Historical Society in Haines Falls, to sites that defined “picturesque” and “sublime” for Thomas Cole and the Hudson River School painters. About two hours. ([917]697-0334


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Albany: Political Reforms & Reform Politics

State Senator James Seward, who represents GreeneLand and other up-State counties, has endorsed some measures of reform for New York State government. His proposals offer a timely occasion to ponder what needs doing as well as to speculate about political forces shaping reform proposals. In newspaper columns and on his web site, Senator Seward has espoused two kinds of reform:

Term limits package. By way of constitutional amendment, limits would be placed on how long State-wide elected offices (governor, attorney general, controller…) can be held and on how long legislative leaders--Assembly Speaker, Senate Majority Leader, committee chairs—can serve continuously. The limits on tenure in State-wide election office would be two elective terms, amounting to eight years. For legislative office, the limits would be eight years for Senate Majority Leader and Assembly Speaker, and six years for committee chairs.

Initiative and Referendum. State laws could be adopted by means of direct popular election, after being placed on the ballot by way of large-scale petitioning; and laws passed by the legislators could be subject to ratification or rejection by direct popular vote. (See “Power to the People” at the web site ) Senator Seward has solicited public comment on these measures. Here are ours.

END RUN? In calling for constitutionally mandated limits on the tenure of Senate and Assembly chieftains, Senator Seward breaks new ground. The usual targets of advocates of statutory term limits are holders of elective public office. And in coupling his unconventional proposal with a conventional one, Senator Seward may be attempting to reach a desirable goal by roundabout means. The desired result would be restraining the powers of legislative chieftains such as Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. Compared with their counterparts in other States, those leaders do wield extraordinary power. They shape the career paths and perquisites of their legislative co-partisans. In large measure they decide who shall be allowed to deliver benefits to constituents. Formally speaking, they wield this power at the pleasure of their fellow legislators. They can be dumped by simple majority vote of their respective co-partisans (the Assembly Democrats, the Senate Republicans). Realistically, however, direct attempts by rank-and-file legislators to replace or muzzle them could be suicidal professionally. The perquisites that have been acquired by the entrenched leaders keep them entrenched. Thus, while no constitutional amendment is needed legally to impose limits on the terms of legislative chieftains, and their powers, maybe no other device would work.

Similarly, Senator Seward’s call for instituting the Initiative and the Referendum can be viewed as an attempt to create an avenue for achieving otherwise-infeasible reforms. In this case, the reforms would be counters to the disposition of incumbent legislators, in generously bi-partisan fashion, to feather their own nests. By way of referendum, the voters could negate measures that serve only the special interests of incumbent law-makers, measures that fatten the incumbents’ paychecks, expense accounts, pensions, and job security. By the same token, initiatives could be used to adopt salutary reforms that otherwise would be blocked because they jeopardize the (bi-partisan) interests of incumbent legislators. Prominent among those reforms would be curbs on the size and sources of financial donations to candidates for elective office. Such restrictions are more inconvenient for incumbent office-holders, Republican and Democratic alike, than for challengers. Perhaps Senator Seward has this kind of result in mind as benefits of the Initiative and Referendum. That line of thought draws upon sensitivity to political context. It is grounded on awareness of the facts that reform of State government has been much in the news this year; that public discussion has been focused chiefly on proposals made by the newly-elected governor, Eliot Spitzer; that those proposals call for reducing the power of big money in elections and for reducing the number of competitively safe districts; that the governor is a Democrat while the Senate’s Leader, Joseph Bruno, is a Republican, as is Senator Seward; and that Senator Bruno has responded coldly to Mr Spitzer’s program. Mr Seward has not openly differed from his Senate leader. But perhaps he is a closeted friend of campaign finance reform.

WRONG REMEDY? At any rate, the “end run” way of appreciating Senator Seward’s reform proposals could be unduly charitable. Meanwhile, we can guess plausibly that in supporting mandatory limits on the terms of elected officials, Senator Seward backs a bad cure for a genuine problem. The problem is entrenchment. Incumbency begets incumbency—and insularity. Turnover, as Senator Seward says, offers “a guaranteed mechanism to keep [our] leadership fresh and the exchange of ideas innovative.” There would be “more participation from government officials and lawmakers, “more creative and innovative policymaking,” “a greater level of openness, transparency and accountability for the people of New York State.” That appraisal, however, can be countered by way of attention to other effects of mandated term limits:

*Loss of experience. Mandatory limits on the terms that can be served by an elected official could deprive the legislature of expertise vis-à-vis the career bureaucrats. In Senator Seward’s own words, although mandatory term limits would help “to keep democracy fresh,” they also may “empower career bureaucrats because officials aren’t around long enough to develop an expertise in an area.” In addition:

*Lame Duckery. Mandatory term limits can be assessed plausibly as an obstacle to effective service. If the occupant of an elective office cannot be re-elected, she loses incentive to perform effectively. Skip the case work. Take the salary and sit. Take the lobbyists’ favors and ask for more. Never mind the voters.

*Malrepresentation. Mandatory term limits can be assailed further from the standpoint of fidelity to democratic governance. They deprive the voters of what could be a preferred choice; and the preference may be based on the evidence of long, faithful service.

COP-OUT? Although mandatory term limits may be a bad remedy, they still can be seen plausibly as a way of countering a serious problem. The problem is being saddled with entrenched, unresponsive, virtually self-anointed office-holders. And this leads us to suggest that Senator Seward’s package of reforms can be regarded plausibly as a smokescreen. While touting mandatory term limits and the Initiative and the Referendum as prospective gains of “power to the people,” Senator Seward has been conspicuously silent on contemporary proposals that seem likely, without bad side effects, to foster responsive governance, namely,

*FAIR REDISTRICTING, in which the boundary lines of Assembly and Senate electorates make sense in terms of contiguity, compactness, respect for county and municipal boundaries and population size. As matters stand, the incumbent legislators control redistricting, and they habitually adhere to a bi-partisan master rule: making the world safe for incumbents. Thus, most of the Assembly, Senate and U.S. Congressional districts are safe for one party or the other. They are safe because the incumbent legislators, Republican and Democrat alike, want it that way. That condition deters challenges and even scrutiny. It can be alleviated, as Governor Spitzer has proposed, by putting the authority to re-draw district boundaries in the hands of a blue-ribbon commission. Reducing the number of electorates that are competitively safe for one party or the other (and hence for the incumbent) surely would contribute to the cause of popular control over representatives.

*CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM. Although Senator Seward touts his proposals as contributions to “power to the people,” he has been mute on the subject of campaign finance reform. Such silence is noteworthy in the context of news media attention to Governor Spitzer’s proposals. The governor urges downward limits on the size of any one contribution to a State-wide campaign, to a local campaign, and to political parties, as well as a ban on contributions by corporations to political party coffers. Surely an honest champion of ”power to the people” would want to address those proposals.

ODD OMISSION Similarly, Senator Seward’s call for adopting the Initiative and Referendum is noteworthy for its historical incompleteness. These “power to the people” measures tap into a rich vein of history. They evoke recollections of the Progressive movement that flourished early in the 20th century, in Wisconsin and on the West Coast. But the West evocation is curiously selective. The Progressives commonly advocated the Initiative, the Referendum, and the Recall. The latter measure formulated rules that prescribe how constituents, through petitions, could oust an incumbent from office before the end of her term. In disregarding that part of a traditionally three-part reform package, Senator Seward casts doubt on his devotion to people power. Meanwhile, experience indicates that the Progressive reform package, where adopted, has been a mixed blessing. All sorts of schemes have been promoted, with grass roots participation being essentially a sham. The most notorious negative case in recent times is California’s experience with disruptions caused since 1978 by passage of the property tax-slashing Proposition 13.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sic Transit September

YEOWLING SUCCESS: the finale of Catskill’s summer-long Cat ‘n Around promotion. 500 people—500!—jammed the warehouse at Historic Catskill Point, gobbled snacks contributed by local eateries, and jumped into the Cats’ Meow auction. First feline on the block, Ellen DeLucia’s “Rip Van Twinkle,” fetched $2100. As the remaining 49 were hawked by auctioneer Russ Carlsen, winning bids ranged from $750 to—take a deep breath--$4600 (by sponsor David Brockway, for Jim Cramer’s “Old Katskillian”). Average knockdown price, far beyond the most optimistic hopes, was $1800. Of the proceeds, $87,950, 25% will go to the artists, and the rest to the Chamber of Commerce, the County Arts Council, the Community Center, and the cat rescue organization Animalkind. At least one of the artists did not realize that she was entitled to a cut; she’ll get an unexpected check for $600. Yes, there will be a sequel. Organizer Linda Overbaugh already has been beset, happily, by would-be artists and by willing sponsors (people who paid $500 to have a design transformed into a finished feline).

NOTE ON PROVENANCE. Of precedents that inspired the Cat ‘n Around event, most pivotal was Moosefest. That 2005 promotion in Bennington VT yielded 58 fiberglass beasts, almost life-size. It culminated in bid prices of monumental scale and, incidentally, it demonstrated the fun of titular word play, e.g., “Driving Moose Daisy,” “Any Which Way But Moose,” “Mooselight in Vermont,” “Moose in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Moosemobile,” “A Moose For All Seasons,” “Metamorpho-Moose,” “Anonymoose.”

22=number of properties listed for sale at GreeneLand’s annual tax foreclosure auction, to be held this Wednesday (10/3) at the Quality Inn (as well as on-line; see ). The number is noteworthy in the light of history. Back in 2001, 115 parcels were advertised. These were properties whose owners failed to pay their taxes, thereby sticking the county with ownership, with the liabilities that accompany ownership, and with the costs of trying to sell the places and get them back on the tax rolls. The number of foreclosed properties declined in each subsequent year, to 98, then 88, 65, 42 and, in 2006, 34. That salutary reduction, says County Treasurer Willis Vermilyea, was no accident. It resulted from rigorous efforts to track down delinquent owners and to inform them about the values of their properties relative to the taxes and penalties they must pay in order to retain ownership. (Especially adept at this work, says Mr Vermilyea, has been Coxsackie’s Earl Scott). From the standpoint of GreeneLand taxpayers, the fewer the auctioned foreclosure properties, the better. And by Wednesday, the number will not even be 22. As of today’s final deadline, several more owners had paid up.

GREATER SENSE. During the past two days, students at Catskill’s Middle School took part in a dazzling array of extra-curricular activities. Thanks to a huge organizational effort (project selection, venues, permission slips, special arrangements, buses), thanks to help from scores of adult volunteers, the kids got to choose among 21 different half-day activities and 23 full-day workshops: picture-making, bowling or boxing or belly dancing or beautifying (one’s face), paddling (kayaks & canoes) &/or pedaling (on mountain bikes), pizza-making & other cooking (with experts), quilting, grooming & riding (horses), camping, dueling (with swords), scapbooking, skating, dragon- & damsel-fly-catching, video-making, playwriting+directing+set-making+acting, rescuing (heart attack victims), basket- and jewelry- and portrait-making, Monopolizing & Strategizing (on board games), and tramping (where Hudson River School artists once trod). Workshops called “Mountain Memories,” “Escarpment Trail,” “That Wilder Image” and “On the Artist Trail” would have been especially dear to the heart of the G S O P founder Barry Hopkins. Huge efforts were devoted, as Principal Marielena Davis put it, to imbuing participants with “with “deeper pride and understanding of the people, places and opportunities in the greater Catskill area.”

BTW, author(s) of the “Greater Sense of Place 2007” guidebook evidently could use a greater sense of difference, as between their and there, between your and you are (“Do you think your strong enough to ride your mountain bike on…”), and between here and hear. Also, if they were composing a new edition, the authors might re-think “using various create portraits,” “…discovery of the dramatic moments between each other and within themselves,” “TV is not where Casey put his focus on,” “Prior to his employment at Audubon, Larry is [sic.] also a professional musician,” and “…the gym Mike Tyson once trained.”

DELPHI, a GreeneLand-based Hanoverian, out-stepped competitors from seven Northeast States over the past season to win, among Level 1 participants in the sport of dressage, the Reserve Champion crown. The 7-year-old gelding, owned by Pamela King Belfor and ridden by trainer Emily Gershberg, won five blue ribbons in successive competitions starting last spring and ending September 15th in Saugerties. The rigorous and eminently civilized discipline of dressage, incidentally, goes back to cavalry warfare. Riders needed horses that would respond to cues emitted only by leg and knee pressure, leaving their arms were free to lay about with sabers. HOW IMPORTANT is GreeneLand's Thomas Cole National Historic Site? Well, it has been toured lately, or is about to be toured, by troops of visitors from the National Academy Design (Cole was a founder of that venerable institution), from the Wadsworth Athenaeum (the Hartford museum containing one of the great Hudson River School collections), from the Munson-Williams Proctor Institute of Utica NY, from the Hotchkiss School and the Dutchess Day School and Russell Sage College alumnae and American Cruise Lines and Kendall-on-Hudson, and from the Amon Carter Museum of Fort Worth TX. Some day, perhaps, it will even be deemed important enough to attract visits by governmental leaders of this county and its municipalities.

JUDICIAL LAW-BREAKERS? Some litigious GreeneLanders, we hear, have their sights set on the Greene County courthouse. They may test the legal status of a sign that is posted directly above the judge’s bench in each courtroom: “IN GOD WE TRUST.” Does that violate the Constitutional separation of church and state? Probably not. Past litigation and legislation have endowed that presumptuous affirmation with the status of a (or the) national motto.

JUST OUT: “Fall 2007” issue of The Messenger: Membership Newsletter of the Greene County Historical Society. Arriving in mailboxes on September 19th, its “Calendar of Events” anticipates happenings on August 25th and September 9th , as well as on September 23rd and thereafter.

IMMINENT: “Sytes,” a group exhibition of computer-related artworks, opens officially tomorrow, with a 2-4pm reception, at the County Arts Council’s Mountain Top Gallery in Windham. (518)734-3104. In Catskill, the morning’s usual Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market at Historic Catskill Point will be complemented not only by versatile musician Paul Slusar (many instruments, played well) but also by the GreeneLand segment of a Chili Cook-Off. And in the evening there will be a comedy show at the Catskill Point restaurant.