Saturday, March 28, 2009

Why Murphy?

----For a voter whose principal value in approaching Tuesday's special congressional election here is to inflict on the Obama Administration a major rebuke, to advance the cause of "conservatism," to resuscitate the Republican Party, or perhaps to punish "Wall Street greed," the appropriate candidate is James Tedisco. -----Three of those values, or tests of candidate merit, have been conspicuous in fund-raising appeals made by national Republican figures, and by quasi-Republican group leaders, in support of the Tedisco campaign. They have NOT been conspicuous, however, in the campaign materials distributed to district voters by those support groups or by the candidate himself. Thus, while the National Republican Trust PAC, Our Country Deserves Better, and Human Events ("headquarters of the conservative underground") invite prospective donors to "express your outrage" at the Obama Administration's "socialist" proclivities by supporting the Tedisco campaign, their mailings to the voters do not voice those same appeals. They take the form largely of mendacious personal attacks on Tedisco's opponent. Similarly, while assuring their backers that Tedisco is a rock-solid "conservative," those strategists do not invoke that label, or invoke "conservative" values, in their pro-Tedisco campaign rhetoric. -----As for the plea to Punish Wall Street Greed thesis, that comes directly from Tedisco. Wall Street greed is his recently nominated cause (along with "Washington incompetence") of our current economic misery,, as well as his current rationale for opposing the Obama Administration's economic stimulus package. In addition, "Wall Street millionaire" has served Tedisco as a persistent way of stigmatizing his opponent. "Jim Tedisco...because A I G and Wall Street don't need another voice in Washington." Thus does Wall Street bashing come in this campaign from the Republican candidate. THE CASE FOR MURPHY ----- For voters who do not give top priority to Obama-shocking, "conservatism"--boosting, GOP-resuscitating or Wall Street bashing, Scott Murphy's appeal as prospective successor to Kirsten Gillibrand as our United States Representative seems to be formidable. It comes under three headings. -----CHARACTER. Murphy seems to be an extraordinarily intelligent and grounded young man. After graduating with honors from one of the world's great colleges, he achieved early success as an innovative, job-creating enterpriser. His business experience seems peculiarly appropriate for current conditions. Murphy could bring to the Congress a trained talent for distinguishing between sound recovery projects and junk. Meanwhile, Murphy could carry to Washington a distinctive up-State, down-home spirit. Although his natural base as a venture capitalist would be a big-city financial district or Silicon Valley, Murphy chose to settle with his wife and children, three years ago, in a rural community amid scores of in-laws. He embodies what we feel instinctively as family values. By way of contrast, his opponent got married, at age 57, last year. ---- OUTLOOK. Candidates for elective office are subject to evaluation on the basis of how they stand on a broad range of issues. In Murphy's case, information on many of the issues has been provided in the course of campaign stops as well as in the Issues of his web site, What emerges is the picture of a middle-roader--a fiscal conservative but not a right-wing "conservative," a Gillibrand-style centrist as distinct from a liberal or "progressive" poster boy. In contrast, while Tedisco isfl categorized by outside supporters as a rock-solid "conservative," he has been ideologically elusive. His campaign rhetoric has been devoted to flipping and floppng and evasive blustering. Tedisco ducked a chance to gain major exposure to 20th district voters by meeting Murphy in a March 19th "debate" on public television that reached the whole 20th district (and No, he did not have a previous engagement). Tedisco's web site ( ) is equally unenlightening. It does not contain an Issues section. -----CONNECTION. Scott Murphy's appeal as prospective Representative also derives from his affiliation with the winning team: the Gillibrand-Schumer-Obama team; the majority team in the Congress. That connection is a major asset. Members of the governing majority can do more for their constituents, more in the way of Federal stimulus dollars, more in the way of grants, for highways and bridges, hospitals and museums and parks.

Murphy Will Win

---- With four days to go in the battle to decide who shall succeed Kirsten Gillibrand as U.S. Representative for Greene and other up-State counties, it now looks as if Scott Murphy will win. That prospect is indicated by the latest sample survey data and by other calculations. -----The latest Siena Research Institute survey, based on telephone conversations last Wednesday and Thursday (3/25-26) with 917 likely voters, gives Murphy, the Democratic candidate, a lead over James Tedisco, the Republican, of 4 percentage points. Ten per cent of respondents--enough to swing the election either way--were undecided. ----Murphy's 47-43 plurality reverses what the Siena pollsters found two weeks earlier. Tedisco led then by 4 points, with 13% of respondents not supporting either man. The latest score marks the culmination of a big one-directional trend. An early January poll sponsored by the Republican National Committee gave Tedisco an apparent lead over Murphy of 50% to 29%. A late-February Siena poll put the score at 46% for Tedisco, 34% for Murphy. Another sampling, taiken for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at about the same time, reduced Tedisco's estimated edge to 44-37 (and prompted Democratic strategists to make a big investment in the race). -----In response to the final Siena poll, the Tedisco camp has cited other ostensible survey data. According to a statement issued by a Tedisco spokesman, Republican-sponsored confidential polling "shows us continuing in the lead," and so does Democratic polling. -----The Siena interviewers also found that while a plurality of respondents favored Murphy, a plurality (of 45%) also guessed that Murphy would lose. Their guess probably is wrong. Murphy stands a good chance of out-performing the Siena estimate, thanks to these factors. >>The Under-Estimate Factor. Opinion surveys that rely on land-line telephone calls do not reach voters who only own cellular phones. Those voters, a growing population, are younger and, currently, are more pro-Democratic (or pro-Obama) than other voters. >>The Defection Factor. When elections are closely contested, the outcome depends crucially on different rates of turnout. Those rates in turn depend on the intensity of voters' feelings about candidates and issues, and on organizers' efforts at mobilization. Those forces carry extra the weight in the context of a special election, where voter participation normally is lower than in regular elections. In this special election, Murphy's and Teidsco's active supporters may be about equal in numbers and energy, but Tedisco's organizers are handicapped by softness in their political base. As indicated in the last Siena poll, the proportion of Republicans who plan to vote for Murphy (27%) is greater than the proportion of Democrats who plan to vote for Tedisco (11%). That makes it harder to Tedisco organizers to find their voters. >>The Independence Factor. When voters go to the polls on Tuesday, they will see James Tedisco's name on two party lines: Republican and Conservative. They will see Murphy's name on three party lines: Democratic, Working Families, and Independence. The latter designation will gain Murphy a few votes that otherwise would go to Tedisco. Murphy's endorsement by the Independence Party's executive committee, as pointed out by reporter Elizabeth Benjamin (New York Daily News, 3/1) came after "furious lobbying by other side" and qualifies as a minor political coup. In all his races for State Assembly, Tedisco stood as the Independence as well as the Republican party candidate (as had Republicans John Sweeney and Sandy Treadwell in their campaigns for Congress from the 20th District). >>The Sundwall Factor. One setback experienced by Murphy this week was rejection by the State Election Board of Eric Sundwall's application to appear on the ballot as the Libertarian Party candidate. The rejection was based on subtle flaws in the petitions Sundwall submitted. The Elections Commissioners were responding to complaints made by Tedisco supporters who anticipated, correctly, that Sundwall's candidacy would draw more votes away from the Republican candidate than from his Democratic rival. The prospective pay-off was reduced, however, when Sundwall came out with a strongly worded endorsement of Murphy. (See ) >>The Obama Factor. Although Murphy has campaigned as a keen supporter of President Obama's economic stimulus package, he was not in a position to trumpet an explicit presidential endorsement. That situation changed on Thursday. The President (whose local favorability rating is 65%) joined Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Chuck Schumer, and Vice-President Joe Biden in broadcasting a message of support for Scott Murphy. News of that boost came out after the last Siena survey was taken. -----On this showing, it seems probable that Murphy will win by at least 4 points. -----How Murphy came from so far behind, and whether that is a curse or a blessing, are topics for other treatments.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Greene Gloom

MOURNED by family and by legions of friends, following his death, at age 18, in a car crash on Route 9W on March 9th: Victor Armstead,Catskill High School senior class president, soccer team captain, Buddy Reader and prom king.

This posthumous portrait, painted by a teacher, Tee Jay Jones, was given to Victor’s parents, Ernest and Jan Armstead.

PREMIERING this very night (3/20) in Hollywood, New York, and CATSKILL: “The Cake Eaters,” a “quirky, small town drama that explores the lives of two interconnected families as they confront old ghosts and discover love in the face of devastating loss,” as filmed right here two years ago. At 7pm and at 8:45pm in the Catskill Community Theatre. Moreover, after Saturday’s 7pm showing, director Mary Stuart Masterson will be on hand for a question-answer session.

COMING TOMORROW also in downtown Catskill are an exhibition of new Patrick Milbourn art (see ) and a free live music party (SuperStringZ jazz the classics) at Imagine That!

VILLAGE VOTERS put Mayors Andrea Smallwood and Lee McGunnigle back in office in Athens and Tannersville on Wednesday, while replacing Mayor John Bull with Town Councilman Mark Evans in Coxsackie. As reported yesterday (3/19) in The Daily Mail, Ms Smallwood out-polled challenger Ron Coons by just 303 votes to 259, and ascribed the narrowness of her margin to opposition scare tactics and (in reporter Susan Campriello's paraphrase) “misrepresented facts.” Her Democratic running mates, Tom Sopris (incumbent) and Bob June, won Village Board seats by more comfortable margins, 302 and 308 votes to 221 and 202 for Republican candidates Richard Green and Arlene Halsted.

------In Tannersville, the voters who participated in the Village backed Mr McGunnigle by 71 votes, while giving 11 write-ins to former mayor Gina Guarino. They also went through the motions of returning unopposed incumbents Anthony Lucido and Gregory Landers to the Village board with, respectively, 70 and 65 votes.

------In Coxsackie, as reported in The Daily Mail, voters who turned out for the Village election gave Mr Evans 453 votes to 221 for Mr Bull, while also giving unopposed incumbent trustees Stephen Hanse and Greg Backus 537 and 528 votes. Judging from remarks quoted by reporter Billie Dunn, co-operation between local Democrats and Republicans shaped the election’s results, which laid the foundation for a period of comity between Village and Town leaders.

SELECTED to add her public health expertise to the battle against AIDS and other critical diseases in Africa: GreeneLander Deirdre Astin (aka Deirdre McInerney). Having accepted a three-month assignment with Global Health Partners, a U.S. government program, she will join a team of experts providing technical assistance and training to regional laboratories in the health care system of Tanzania. Her departure in May, however, will leave a gap. Since her husband, John, works in New York City as a psychotherapist on Mondays through Wednesdays, and there are two boys (16 and 11) at home in Athens, live-in household help is needed. Prospective helpers are invited to make contact at

SENTENCED by County Judge George Pulver Jr, to State prison for a term of at least seven years, for abusing young girls sexually: Dennis M. Johns, formerly of New Street in Catskill. One victim was under 15 years of age at the time; the other was under 17. The age difference affects the gravity of the crimes. Second-degree rape and oral sexual intercourse win an extra year of hard time each relative to third-degree felonies.

POSTPONED by GreeneLand’s legislators, pending receipt of advice from a search committee led by Dorothy Prest: choice of County Historian to replace the late, irreplaceable Raymond Beecher.


*A ground-breaking ceremony was held on Monday for the Empire Merchants North liquor distribution warehouse that is slated for construction—250,000 square feet on 21 acres, at a cost of $28 million—in the Kalkberg Commerce Park in Coxsackie. Employees would number 360. Many of them already work at the current EMN warehouse in Kingston. (Daily Mail, 3/17/09; I.D.A. news release, 3 /15/09).

*Bank of Greene County‘s “merchant bank card processing business,” according to a statement from the parent Greene County Bancorp, Inc., has been “transferred” to a company called TrasnFirst LLC, for “a cash payment of $1.65 million.” The buyer “will continue to provide merchant bank card processing to merchant customers of the Bank but will now bear the costs, responsibilities and associated risks of administering the processing service.” The deal does not pertain to depositors who get Master, Visa or other credit cards through the bank. It relates to the 600 merchants who have used the bank, at the cost of a fee, to process payments made by their customers using credit cards issued by many banks.

*Port Of Call is owner Frank Guido's name for the restaurant he will (re)open, come spring or early summer, at Historic Catskill Point.

*Anything Works is Patrick Reith’s name for his recently licensed business in Oak Hill.

*Jerry’s Deli, now awkwardly located on Boulevard Avenue near Catskill Commons, may move over to the recently closed Whole Donut site on West Bridge St. Meanwhile, at the nearby Dunkin’ Donuts, they’ve put up a banner welcoming Dan Berkowitz’s former Whole Donut customers. 943 3542

*Old Soul Music reposes at 241 Main St, Catskill.

*Amy Serrago, the luscious, vocalizing component of Nite-Time, the party band, has launched a wedding planner blog: For evidence of wit as well as experience, see the Pre-Nuptial Syndrome text.

*Coldwell Banker Prime Properties no longer operates GreeneLand offices (in Catskill and Greenville). Nearest CBPP agency is in Delmar.

*ELCO, the electric boat company in Athens, seems to be altogether defunct. The story may go something like this: Robert J. Lievense of Beaufort SC, former president of the A.C. Nielsen audience rating company, bought into the firm, forced out partner Charles Houghton, borrowed money from a semi-governmental Village fund, sold not a single boat, lost $3.5 million or thereabouts. Pathetically, a company web site still exists:

* Unemployment in January soared to 14.1 percent of the labor force, anincrease over December’s already huge 11.2 per cent and the January 2008 figure of 9.2 per cent. In Greene County, TENNESSEE.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Village Elections

-----Local elections in GreeneLand's five Villages will take place this Wednesday (3/18; not on the usual Tuesday, which is St Patrick's Day). At stake are seats on governing boards, some mayoralties (where they are decided by direct election rather than trustees' choice), and judicial offices. Four of those elections are treated in The Daily Mail of 3/14: . CORRECTION. The Catskill Village election does not take place until March 31st (coinciding with the date of the special Congressional election) In HUNTER, one Village Trusteeship is subject to election this year, and one candidate has taken the field. Michael Tancredi, proprietor of High Peak Landscape Company, seeks a fifth three-year term. He is an enrolled Democrat who is identified on the ballot (as in previous elections) as the Independent Mountain Party standard-bearer. A single vote will enable Mr Tancredi to re-join Mayor William Malley and Trustee Alan Higgins on the Village governing board. In TANNERSVILLE, Mayor Lee McGunnigle seeks re-election, and he almost faced a challenge, a vocally strong challenge, from ex-mayor Gina Guarino. Mr McGunnigle defeated Ms Guarino at the last election, when her last name was Legari and she stood as the Republican incumbent. This time she announced that she would run as an Open Government Party candidate, and she contended (to Daily Mail reporter Jim Planck, 1/28) that Tannersville's finances have gone into a "downward spiral" under the present regime. ------The nominating petition that she presented to the county Board of Elections, however, was ruled invalid. The election commissioners found that the dates of signatures of purported witnesses to endorsements of the Guarino candidacy preceded the dates of purported endorsements. Ms Guarino then declared that she would carry on as a write-in candidate. "I'm still interested in being a voice of the people." ------Ms Guarino formerly worked in the Elections office as a Deputy Commissioner. She left in the wake of legal troubles arising from her use of Tannersville Village checks to make official purchases after she had lost the March 2007 election. ------Mr McGunnigle is the endorsed Democratic Party candidate. He is running in tandem on the Democratic line with incumbent Village trustees, Gregory Landers (who in terms of enrollment is independent) and Anthony Lucido (an enrolled Republican). The terms of the other incumbent trustees, Linda Kline and Mary Sue Timpson, run to March 2010. The local Republicans did not hold a caucus and thus are not fielding Village candidates this year. ----The winning candidates, incidentally, could prudently consider up-dating their Village's web site, whose Events link yields news about a Halloween curfew and a Christmas tree lighting, while its board meeting minutes terminate in May 2008, and its Notices & Announcements are dated 2005. In CATSKILL, three candidates are vying for two Village Board seats. They are Jim Chewens and Patrick McCulloch, incumbents, and Eileen Porto Rosenblatt, wife of a former trustee. Mr Chewens, a prison correctional officer and veteran local firefighter, is standing for a third two-year term. He is a registered Republican but has been endorsed by the local Democratic committee as well as by the Republican committee. Mr McCulloch, an enrolled Democrat, will be listed on the ballot as a Liberty Party as well as a Democratic candidate. At the Republican caucus he came close to winning that committee's endorsement. He is well connected with local firefighters and police officers, and was praised warmly by Mayor Vincent Seeley. ------Ms Rosenblatt's name will appear on the Working Women's Party line as well as the Republican line. -----Meanwhile, incumbent Village Justice William Wooton, who came into office by appointment to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of David Leggio, is unopposed in a bid for a regular term on the bench. He has been nominated by the Democratic and the Republican committees. In COXSACKIE, Village voters will decide a contest between two candidates for mayor: John Bull, the incumbent, and Mark Evans, who is currently a Coxsackie Town Council member. In addition, the voters will go through the motions of re-electing Village Trustees Stephen Hanse and Gregory Backus, Republican candidates who are unopposed. ------Mr Evans's name will appear on the ballot on the Taxpayers' Choice Party and the Republican Party lines. Mr Bull, who won the mayor's office in 2007 as the Democratic candidate (out-polling long-serving incumbent Dianne Ringwald), did not seek local Democratic endorsement this time. Just before the deadline for filing, however, he filed petitions that served to put him on the ballot under the Citizens for the Preservation of Coxsackie banner. -----Mr Bull's time in office has been characterized by Linda Fenoff, editor of The Greenville Press, as "rancorous." Two trustees quit. Mr Bull suspended and locked out the police chief. He incurred legal bills which the trustees had not authorized. ------In a letter to constituents, as quoted in The Daily Mail (Billie Dunn, 3/14) Mr Bull sais "I've demanded that the Village and its officials act in a legal, ethical and responsible manner"--insinuating thereby that his demand was sorely needed. He also said that he had "determined it would be irresponsible for me to step away during this critical time in our community." ------A Coxsackie resident, Dolores Gori, accuses Mr Bull of circulating campaign material which improperly maligns Mr Evans and his employer, the locally owned State Telephone Company. His spurious conflict-of-interest warning, says Ms Gori (Daily Mail , 3/6; Greenville Press, 3/12)) diverts attention from real issues such as Village finances, water quality, policing, public works and "the very, very bad press that [Bull] brought to our village not long ago." ------Another local resident, Sandy Mathes, who manages the county's Industrial Development Agency, has voiced the hope that Mr Evans as mayor can "lead us out of this abyss of mismanagement." ATHENS is the scene this year of full-scale electoral competition. Two candidates are running for mayor, and four are vying for two Village Board seats. ------Nomnated by local Republicans for the Village Board seats are Richard Green (making a second run) and Arlene Halsted. The Democratic nominees are Robert June and incumbent R. Thomas Sopris Jr. (The other incumbent whose term was ending, Chris Pfister, chose to not seek re-election). -----Mayor Andrea Smallwood is standing for re-election. This would be a second term, following service as a Trustee. Ms Smallwood carries the Democratic Party endorsement along with support from residents who are loosely allied under the banner Friends of Athens. She was unopposed until a last-minute appearance by Ronald Coons Sr, a Planning Board member who attended the Republican caucus but did not seek endorsement. Subsequently he filed to run on a Concerned Citizens Party line. ------Mr Coons's filing marks the latest phase of a campaign waged against Mayor Smallwood and other local officials by him and by Dolores Hodges, who operates a web site called Concerned Americans for Reponsible Government ( . Its last entry dates from July 2008). They contend that current Village governors, in cahoots with newer residents, are fostering ominous changes in the community's character. -----Mingled with expressions of apprehension about change in permitted uses of properties in Athens are lamentations by Mr Coons about the state of civil society. These are expressed by means of rhetorical questions. In a newspaper missive (Daily Mail, 2/28/09; also in Mr Coons asks "Whatever happened to the things we were taught as youths in our schools?" "Who is better to determine what is best for us than 'We the People'?" "Where have these values that we were taught and cherished gone? Has the world changed so much that the people no longer have a say in what their government does?" ------(Also voiced in that letter is the opinion that "We often think that the problems of government will not hamper with us on the small village level but they do.") ------Those questions, signed by "...candidate for mayor," invite the inference that they are peculiarly relevant to the imminent local election. They prod respondents to accept the belief that traditional core values have indeed been lost. The author does not undertake to address the questions he poses. He does not say what difference would be made by local votes. Yet he insinuates that a vote for Coons would be restorative. ------Disputing that version of what is at stake, in addition to Mayor Smallwood are various Village officials and residents. According to Mr Sopris (in a Daily Mail guest column), Mr Coons persistently delivers claims that are "incredulous" and "outrageous." According to Village Trustee Herman Reinhold (Daily Mail, 12/15/09) Mr Coons and Ms Hodges make a practice of sounding false alarms, depicting open deliberations as secretive plots, confounding their small group with the citizenry at large, and otherwise "misrepresenting the facts." WARNING. Implicit in the foregoing treatments of imminent Village elections is an insidious suggestion. The suggestion is conveyed by way of what information is given and is not given. Any act of description is an act of selection, and hence of emphasis. In these reports, candidates are described persistently, and often solely, by way of party affiliations: Democratic, Republican, other. That verbiage reflects common journalistic practice. It derives legitimacy in some measure from election laws prescribing that candidates be listed on the ballot both vertically, by office sought, and horizontally, by party affiliation. Candidates can only get their names on the ballot by meeting requirements, mostly in the way of petition signatures, which oblige them to l be identified as the nominee of a named party, or of more than one party (even a fictive, no-members party). Thus, in describing candidates mainly by party affiliation, a reporter delivers a solid, factual, objective bit of information. At the same time, however, he makes a suggestion about the information's value. He suggests that for the purpose of choosing candidates for elective office, party brand is a meaningful and even sufficient basis.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Greeneward March

OUT, IN, OUT, IN, OUT, IN. Michael Conine is back in jail after a four-day furlough. He was jailed last July on criminal charges arising from the disappearance of greenbacks--sacks of them--from the trunk of a car belonging to Catskill luminary Frank McDonald. (Seeing Greene, 8/15/08). Six weeks later he was released by county court order, on his own recognizance, pending disposition of those charges. Shortly after that, he was re-arrested on other, unrelated charges and returned, on order of Village Justice Charles Adsit, to his second home. After he entered a plea of guilty to the grand larceny charge, with sentencing set for April 22, Judge Adsit and Visiting County Judge George Bartlett III agreed to release Conine again, so that he could get his personal affairs in order before entering State prison. They stipulated, on February 18, that while at liberty Conine must not drink alcohol or drive a car. On February 22, however, Conine was arrested by State police on suspicion of driving while drunk and unlicensed. To those offenses, Village police added car theft. This time Conine was returned to jail without possibility of release. LAUNCHED officially on Wednesday (3/11), at Historic Catskill Point, was GreeneLand's participation in (to cite the full title)the Hudson-Champlain-Fulton Quadricentennial celebration. On hand to present the special flag to Legislature Chairman Wayne Speenburgh was the Quadricentennial Commission's executive director, Tara Sullivan, who has been making similar stops at other riverbank communities. As reported in The Daily Mail (3/12) Karen Deyo, who chairs the legislature's Government Operations Committee, recognized GreeneLand organizations that have been funded, by way of the Commission, to the extent of $45,000: the historical society, the Catskill and Cairo chambers of commerce, the Arts Foundation, Thomas Cole National Historic Site, the arts council, and Cornell Co-operative Extension's Agroforestry Resource Center. For an incomplete list of coming Quadricentennial events, click fthen Things to Do and Events Calendar. THE TRICENTENNIAL celebration in 1909 of Henry Hudson's arrival, says author Tom Lewis in The Hudson: A History (2005; and a great read) was the "greatest and longest celebration in the history of the Hudson Valley."
From New York City to Troy the organizers scheduled parades, flotillas, light shows, art and scientific exhibitions, and long-winded speeches. The people of Holland sent a full-scale reproduction of the Half Moon.... The navies of England, Germany, France and the Netherlands each sent a squadron of battleships, submarines, and torpedo boats, which joined the American fleet of more than fifteen hundred military boats and yachts. A million schoolchildren marched in parades that included floats depicting...the first sachem of the Iroquois, Minuit's purchase of Manhattan Island, the reception of Peter Stuyvesant, the capture of Major Andre, Washington's farewell to his officers, Rip Van Winkle, the legend of Sleepy Hollow, an Erie Canal boat, and the Statue of Liberty.... The aeronaut Wilbur Wright demonstrated the possibilities of flight by piloting his plane from Governor's Island to Grant's Tomb and back, an astounding distance of twenty miles. On September 25 a great electrical and pyrotechnic display bathed the Hudson River in light from New York City's Battery to Spuyten Duyvil. And on October 9 a chain of fiery beacons flashed up the valley from the river's mouth.
POETS WANTED. Cash prizes plus exposure can be earned by entries in the tenth running of the Rip Van Winkle competition, sponsored by All Arts Matter and the GreeneLand Library Association. For details, see The deadline for submissions coincides with the date of our 20th congressional district special election: March 31. VISIONARIES WANTED. An ambitious quest for ideas about revitalizing the heart (or is it the spine?) of Catskill has been proceeding of late. Under sponsorship by GreeneLand's Industrial Development Agency, representatives of the consulting firm Elan Planning and Design have met with members of all sorts of local interest groups. Next on the program is a public, everybody-welcome Workshop. Bold, bright (and feasible) ideas are wanted. Think about transforming the creekside, all the way from the fuel tanks at the Point through the marina and Main-Care and the former Waterfalls Laundry site, through Hop-0-Nose and the erstwhile Herrington's (and Dunns), past the Uncle Sam bridge and far beyond. Ponder what attractions, suitably developed and effectively promoted, could make Catskill a choice destination for visitors. A performing arts as well as a visual arts center? A home improvements mecca? A diners' delight? A marine recreation magnet? A historical museum? And if they come, where shall they stay? Join the conversation tomorrow, from noon to 5pm, at the Senior Center (15 Academy St). TOMORROW offers additional reasons to get out and mingle. It's Second Saturday Strolls day in Catskill, and it's almost St Patrick's Day. In keeping with the latter, many clubs are going public with corned beef specials. Among them are Veterans of Foreign Wars (Main St, Catskill, from mid-afternoon), the Masons (Route 9W), Knights of Columbus (St Patrick's Church, Catskil; Knights' Hall, East Durham), and GreeneLand Democrats (at Shamrock House, East Durham, with music). Meanwhile, for highlights of Saturday Stroll events (bappiper, openings, menus, discounts for greenwear...) click .

GUIDES WANTED. On Sunday, at The Thomas Cole National Historic Site (also known as Cedar Grove), persons who may wish to serve as volunteer docents at the Site, or on the Art Trail that wends through GreeneLand, are invited to an open house (218 Spring St, Catskill) starting at noon. (For more information: 943-7465 extension 2).

AUDITORS WANTED. Slated to follow that orientation, and open to all comers, is a talk at the Cole Site on the cleverly worded topic “Paper View: Recent Research on Thomas Cole, Sanford Gifford, and Frederic Church.” Independent school Gerald L. Carr will expatiate on newly discovered writings by these artists.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Taking Stock

TAKINGS. In GreeneLand last year, according to Department of Environmental Conservation figures (, 55 black bears were taken, along with 1291 white-tailed deer. Eight of those bears were taken by archers. Most of the bears were taken at, or from, mountain sites: Lexington (8 takings), Jewett (7), Windham, Hunter, Halcott, Ashland, Prattsville. The 2008 takings exceed the 2007 takings, of 31 bears and 1244 deer(s). They contributed to State-wide takings, of 1295 bears and 222,979 deer, exceeding the 2007 takings, or harvests, of 1117 and 219,141. Taken, of course, means killed by hunters. So does harvested. The growth in takings, DEC heads calculate, attests to growth in the target populations. TAKEN: jobs. In GreeneLand, according to State Government figures (, the rate of unemployment rose in January to 8.5 per cent of the labor force. That is a jump from 6.2% in January 2008, and it is the second-highest figure in the mid-Hudson Valley (the highest being Sullivan County's 10.2%). The State-wide figure, meanwhile, was 7% in January, a jump from 4.7 in Januaryof 2008. TAKEN: expectations. At least three GreeneLand non-profit organizations were notified recently that State dollars they had been expecting, dollars they had more or less been promised, won't be forthcoming. The notices went "with much regret" from our State Senator, James Seward, to the Athens Cultural Center, the Catskill Chamber of Commerce, and the Greene County Historical Society. They involve sums of as much as $10,000. Senator Seward traced the disappointing news to the deficit reduction measure which Gov. David Paterson had proposed and the majority of legislators (not including Seward) had adopted. That measure "diverted or 'swept'" money from "funding projects set aside to pay legislative initiatives"--also known as member items--into the State Government's general fund. There is a chance, the senator stipulated, that the expected money will become available later. (We wonder, however, what leverage Mr Seward can exert, now that he is a member of the minority party in the Senate). HUDSON IN HUDSON ON HUDSON. At the Hudson Opera House on Sunday afternoon, author-illustrator Hudson Talbott will front a program devoted to his new book, River of Dreams: The Story of the Hudson River; to the current state of that majestic tidal estuary (expounded by Scenic Hudson's Ned Sullivan); and to the incipient musical show based on historic Hudsonian highlights (with composer Frank Cuthbert leading cast members through a couple of his new songs). From 2pm. WHEN? WHERE? On behalf of Jim Tedisco, the Republican candidate in the race to succeed Kirsten Gillibrand as U.S. Representative, publicist Joshua Fitzpatrick put out a news release yesterday that looked ahead and behind. Mr Tedisco, said Mr Fitzpatrick, "tonight conducted" a "Tele-Town Hall" "speaking with and hearing from, thousands of voters" in the 20th congressional district. Mr Fitzpatrick did not say where, or by what channel, that bit of "grassroots outreach" would occur or, alternatively, had occurred. NIMBY NEWS. A new housing development whose environmentally friendly features include "roof insulation, double glazing, lovers and wells" is not coming to GreeneLand. Neither is jazz musician Wayne Tisdale, who, according to Sporting News Today, "will make his first musical appearance since having a portion of his right leg amputated at halftime of the Sooners basketball month." Greene County judges, however, have been active in particularly newsworthy ways. One of them established a record when, for Chi Quang Du, who was suspected of stabbing his girlfriend and had been captured after being at large for 11 years, he set bond at $55 million. Another set a date for the trial of one Randy Sloan, who is charged with felony standing nude in his front yard and whistling at passing school children. Those judges occupy benches in Greene County, Ohio and Greene County, Misssouri. They accordingly were not present at Chatham House in Columbia County (NY) the other day for the annual Crystal Apple award celebration, where Assemblyman Marc Molinaro, according to reporter Seasame Campbell, gave the keynote speech "after hors'devours."