Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jackpots, Crackpots, Empty Pots....

  GreeneLand is the home of a newly minted multimillionaire.  As reported copiously in the news media, Stephen Kirwan of Purling hit the jackpot on a Powerball lottery ticket that he bought in January at the Clothes Pin Laundromat in Catskill Commons.  Beating odds of one chance in 295 million, among buyers in 42 States plus territories and the District of Columbia, he snagged what was billed as the prize of $122 million.  But his actual prize was a smaller sum.  After choosing to collect by way of a lump sum payment rather than installments spread over 29 years, he actually copped a prize of  $61.2 million, or $40.4 million after taxes. 
    His decision in favor of collecting a lump sum makes sense in light of the fact, among others, that Mr Kirwan is 68 years old.  He has retired from two jobs: 20 years as a South Bronx firefighter and then, after moving to Purling with his wife Catherine and two offspring, 25 years up here at the Stiefel Laboratories skin care products plant.
    Joining Mr Kirwan at the award ceremony, at Albany’s Empire Plaza on February 11, was another Powerball winner: Jeff Pintuff of Wilton, in Saratoga County.  The nominal $48.8 million jackpot he won at a Christmas day drawing, thanks to a QuickPick ticket bought on December 23 at a Stewarts Shop, yielded payments of $12.4 million to Mr Pintuff and to his wife, Christine, with taxes reducing those sums to $8.2 million each.
    (Publicity photos showed the winners holding blow-ups of checks in the amounts of $122 million and $48.8 million, but no checks of those amounts were tendered).
    Meanwhile, back at the Clothes Pin Laundry, proprietor Bhasu Patel reports that in the last couple of weeks, sales of lottery tickets have surged.
    Not so lucky in the quest for sudden wealth is Coxsackie resident (so to speak) Ronald Williams. Over the past four years, Mr Williams filed Federal tax refund claims totaling $740 million.  Instead of reaping a fortune from that paper work, he achieved a grand jury indictment on charges of filing false instruments—around eight of them, including one for the sum of $293 million.   As reported in the local press (and picked up by the Associated Press), Mr Williams submitted the claims while residing, in consequence of convictions for possessing stolen property, in Greene Correctional Facility.
    The number, the scale, and the effrontery of those claims may indicate an attachment of the prisoner to the “sovereign citizens” or “redemption” movement.  “Sovereigns” deem themselves free from Federal and State taxes and regulations.  They self-award their own ‘legal’ documents (licenses to drive, hunt, fish, own a car…), file nuisance property liens naming huge figures, occasionally make lethal attacks on law enforcers, and claim to be entitled to huge government-hidden sums that were allocated to their accounts at birth. If Mr Williams is indeed a local “sovereign” he might be one of the fools who have heeded the bloviations of “Dr Sam Kennedy” (a.k.a. Glenn Richard Ungar) of Clifton Park, who does or did have a radio show (Republic Broadcasting) called “Take No Prisoners.” (For more information, check web sites of the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League).

    And speaking of money, GreeneLand’s recent cases of double-dipping from the public treasury, when compared with what is emerging down in Kingston, look trivial.  The head of that city’s detective bureau has been charged with grand larceny, to the tune of $9000, and more charges, involving lots more money and perhaps more police officers, seem to be imminent.  Lt. Timothy Matthews is suspected of drawing pay from the city, including overtime, while simultaneously drawing pay from the school district, working as a security guard at special events.  As reported in The Daily Mail, the investigation is spreading so as to cover other police officers who have worked as school security guards (at $24.50 per hour), as well as other officers in Lieutenant Matthews’s police division.  Federal Bureau of Investigation agents reportedly are sifting files relating to the Ulster Region Gang Enforcement Narcotics Team (URGENT).  Lieutenant Matthews reportedly drew pay from the city and the school district from 2007 through 2010 of $707,000 (plus benefits).  Before being placed on unpaid leave, he was due to receive in 2011, as a police lieutenant, $118,000 in salary and benefits.  Apart from overtime.  And outside work.

    Oh, and speaking of money,  State financial aid to GreeneLand (among other counties) is shrinking just as local demands for county services, prompted by hard times, are growing.  Workloads of county employees, including overtime, are up.  Obligatory payments to retirees from public sector jobs continue to grow.  Given likely revenues, at present tax rates, GreeneLand faces an excess of spending over income of $5 million.  To meet anticipated costs, even after strict economies, would require a 7 per cent hike in the local tax levy.  But the State’s new governor, Andrew Cuomo, advocates the imposition on county governments of a 2 per cent limit on tax levy increases.   Such is the picture presented in his annual status report (Feb. 16) by the chairman of the county legislature, Wayne Speenburgh.
STRIKEOUT.  The lawsuit brought against the Catskill Central School District by the high school’s former principal, William Ball IV, has been dismissed. Judge Joseph Teresi of State Supreme Court (which is not judicially supreme) ruled that Mr Ball’s termination by the district’s trustees at the end of the 2009-10 school year did not manifest “bad faith and subterfuge.” Mr Ball had contended, through attorney Richard Mott, that the trustees were punishing him for union-like activities as head of the State principals’ association.  Judge Teresi spurned that theory, giving credence instead to the trustees’ economic, budgetary rationale for the termination (which was followed by the appointment of a replacement principal).   Little attention was paid to the abrupt suspension last Spring, and to the earlier staff muttering, that preceded Mr Ball’s termination.

TWOFERS.  Now available are “Greene Cards” entitling bearers to mid-week two-for-one deals at GreeneLand resorts and attractions.  They are free and are valid for Hunter Mountain (zip line as well as ski slopes), Windham Mountain, and—come Spring--nine local golf courses.

GENDER SCORE.  Latest reports from GreeneLand high schools on Honors achievers show boys almost catching up in two cases out of three.  At Catskill HS, the ranks of High Honors-achieving seniors for the second term contained nine boys and ten girls.  At Coxsackie-Athens, the score was ten boys, twelve girls.  But at Cairo-Durham, where 32 seniors scored High Honors in second term, only nine boys made the cut. 

DOG STORY.  A sheriff’s raid on a mobile home in Ashland achieved the rescue on February 8 of 20 Golden Retriever puppies that the town animal control officer, Bruce Feml, described as “walking skeletons.” 
       According to Ron Perez, president of the Columbia-Greene Humane Society, the raid followed a tip from a State police officer who had gone to the mobile home, at 580 Sutton Hollow Road, on an unrelated matter. The animals were taken to the Humane Society shelter in Hudson, given a medical checkup, fed, and made available for adoption.   (518)828-6044. Offers of adoption have poured in, to the point where no more applications are being taken.
       The puppies had been under the care of George Leary and Emmaretta Marks, veteran rock musicians,.  Mr Leary told a News 10 reporter that he feeds his dogs “holistically” with emphasis on “natural foods.”  Mr Perez said the dogs’ mistreatment seemed to be “not malicious,” only “misguided.”          
       Ms Marks was a featured player (as one of The Supremes) in the original cast of the Broadway musical “Hair.”  She has performed with such luminaries as Jim Hendrix, Ike and Tina Turner, Levon Helm, Paul Butterfield, Melba Moore and The Rolling Stones.  She and Mr Leary, a drummer with roots in Albany and Woodstock, have recorded music with Mambo Daddy, Agitated Bovine and other bands.  As Marks & Leary & Friends, they produced an album, “Rockin’, Rhythm & Soul,” that, according to the promotional material, delivered an “urban elite sound…of super soul Woodstock dance music” that “leans you to the groove.”

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