Below are some points I’m volleying back at Carole Osterink’s Gossips of Rivertown blog, specifically in response to her informative post on the recent Greenport Planning Board meeting about truck traffic to the Hudson Waterfront...
Carole, here are several additional points to consider:
1. Anyone who has lived more than a couple of seasons in Hudson knows that 9G routinely floods just north of Mount Merino, which is precisely where this unnecessary and (I believe) unpermitted truck traffic is proposed. I've seen no mention of the flooding problem in published reports; maybe it was discussed and not reported. This raises the more general issue of emergency conditions: What happens if the road, crossings, or causeway are impassable for days, weeks or months? You can bet that in the absence of requirements from Hudson and Greenport, the trucks would resume their trips through downtown.
2. Speed is another non-trivial issue at the proposed 9G crossing. Even with one’s foot riding the brakes downhill, it is easy to arrive at the entrance to South Bay at double the posted speed limit due to the preceding long, steep incline. Warning signs and flashing lights would not prevent an eventual fatality. Hudson is already the Bermuda Quadrangle of traffic danger, with no route into or out of the City which isn't fraught with riskily-designed intersections.
3. Even those critical of the road plan and LWRP seem to be missing the big picture and allowing themselves to get bogged down in the minutiae of the issue. The root problem is not whether Hudson can get some picturesque piece of industrial wreckage landmarked, or even which “alternative” route is less horrible than the rest. No: The bigger picture is that waterfront plans are supposed to proceed from a long-range vision (articulated via the mundane terms of zoning law). It is not supposed to address short-term transitory conditions and demands of present-day developers, such as the owners of L&B in Queens or Holcim execs in Switzerland. Yet the current document is driven by and obsessed with those narrow, short-term pressures—rather than the broad and positive vision for a greener, more humane and more economically productive Waterfront for which the public asked. This version of what an LWRP should contain was espoused by none other than City attorney Cheryl Roberts and State Coastal expert Bonnie Devine at the outset of the process, before certain Hudson “leaders” caved to defeatist and small-minded political concerns. Those backing this plan want residents to get diverted into obscure arguments about minute details, rather than demanding that the big picture make sense. So we anatomize the finer details of O&G’s plans, rather than demanding that all truck traffic be barred from both the Bay and Downtown... They want us chasing fantasies about railroad relics, rather than demanding a far-reaching plan (one that will stand up long after the names Scalera, Mussmann, Osterink or Pratt are forgotten).
4. Speaking of history, my comments posted here last week highlighted a 1977 Federally-funded County Planning report. That report identified an irreconcilable “use conflict” in South Bay—a conflict between heavy industry and ecological restoration. It advised that Hudson needed to choose one or the other; that at such a unique and sensitive location, the two could not coexist peacefully. Yet that conflict was not tackled in either 1977, or even in 2005, when the Secretary of State issued a clear road map for ending it “immediately.” And still even some progressive voices who should know better bandy about empty buzzwords about “mixed use” and “working waterfronts.” The bottom line is people won’t have picnics, toss frisbees, or open small businesses if waves of noise and diesel exhaust are cascading over the Waterfront.
5. Speaking of Chris Reed, how come there is no notice of the LWRP comment period, meeting times, or a run-down of these pressing Waterfront issues on the front page of Friends of Hudson website? For an organization that claims to be still active— rather than just 2-3 people with a listserve—this seems like a glaring omission. The point of a citizens’ group is first and foremost to mobilize and empower citizens, giving them the tools to participate in a meaningful fashion.
6. In my consulting to citizens’ groups, I encourage discussion of such projects to use the verb “would” instead of “will.” (“The road through the wetlands would be 12 feet wide,” etc.) These projects are potential, not inevitable.
“I hope to hell that when I do die somebody has the sense to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody.”
Now bumping the iPad, Howard Zinn, James O’Keefe, Haiti and the State of the Union out of the headlines... J.D. Salinger is dead at 91.
Little Steven looks positively tiny next to that iPhone ... At right, see him shrink even more. Shortly after this picture was taken, he collapsed to the size of a pushpin and fell through a vent in the stage, never to be seen again.
(OK, so you can go to GDGT.com to see photos of the Jobs presentation of the iPad. Presumably Apple will post the entire video shortly. Also, if you scroll down on the Specs page, it’s worth checking out the several keyboard and case options, which allay some of my concerns about regular writing on the device, or just trying to stand the thing up while watching a movie lying down.)
After more than two months, the closely-watched absentee ballot controversy here in Columbia County was finally resolved in the voters’ favor. But the case may not be done generating headlines.
In early January, County Republicans filed their required campaign finance reports. And upon first analysis, it would appear that there may be a serious problem with the way the GOP paid for its failed effort to disenfranchise dual residency voters.
So, are you ready to digest some obscure-but-important campaign finance rules? Sure ’ya are.
In New York State, the major political parties are allowed to set up two main types of accounts. The more usual type of account supports candidates and campaigns by taking out ads, purchasing lawn signs, printing giant banners, mailing out flyers, and so on. The other, more specialized type is called a “Housekeeping” account, and is meant to handle the (even) more mundane, ongoing, overhead expenses of running a political party—such as renting copiers and hiring a secretary. And that’s where the story starts to get more interesting.
The State has clearly set forth limits on what a party can and can’t with Housekeeping funds. Here is how those limits are described on both page 7 and page 28 of the New York State Board of Elections Campaign Finance Handbook:
“Housekeeping” is a term that refers to the receipts and expenditures [...] used to maintain permanent headquarters and staff, and to carry on ordinary activities that are not for the express purpose of promoting the candidacy of specific candidates (see NYS Election Law Section 14-124 (3)).
These limits are again made explicit in the State Handbook’s definition of Housekeeping committees on page 111:
Housekeeping Committee – an optional “committee” that is only allowed to be registered by a party or constituted committee for the sole purpose of reporting “Housekeeping Receipts and Expenditures” made and received pursuant to NYS Election Law Section 14-124 (3), to maintain a permanent party headquarters and staff and carry on ordinary activities that are not for the express purpose of promoting the candidacy of specific candidates.
Got that? You can use Housekeeping funds to, say, pay the rent on your party HQ or buy some filing cabinets. You can't use them to advance the interests of specific candidates.
And that’s where it would appear that the Columbia County Republicans may have gotten themselves into hot water. Because—as previously reported here—the County GOP used its Housekeeping account to pay the costs of that failed two-month battle to disenfranchise absentee voters.
Court records show that the futile lawsuits crafted (I use the word loosely) by attorneys John Ciampoli and James Walsh were filed on behalf of:
Other than Fingar, all the folks listed above—Young, Kiely, Tyree, Dalrymple, Rogers and Waldron —were “specific candidates” in the Town of Taghkanic. And according to the County GOP’s own campaign finance report for its Housekeeping report, James Walsh’s legal expenses ($3,000 reported so far) were paid of that account. Likewise, the private investigation firm used by Fingar and Walsh in a failed attempt to bolster their feeble case was paid ($5,000) out of that same Housekeeping account.
It’s all there in black and white. And as we’ve just seen, Housekeeping funds can’t be used for “promoting the candidacy of specific candidates.”
So the moment that the County Republicans deposited a $6,500 check from the likes of PHR Inc. (a New Jersey corporation controlled by Alan Wilzig of Tribeca and Taghkanic) or a $5,000 check from the Cornerstone Group (another New Jersey corporation, this one apparently affiliated with Bob Raziano of Kinderhook), it would appear those funds immediately should have become off-limits for expenses like paying for a lawsuit on behalf of candidates such as Young, Tyree, et al. The same goes for all the other funds commingled in the County GOP’s Housekeeping account.
Fingar, Faso and the Republicans can’t plead ignorance of the rules, as those longstanding rules are well-known to old (and even some new) political hacks. Moreover, the difference between ordinary party funds and housekeeping accounts is not some pedantic, semantic triviality. that distinction exists because the sizes of checks which can be legally donated to the two types of accounts are very different.
The GOP might try instead to twist the language of the State’s guidance, claiming that their extraordinary lawsuit was somehow an “ordinary” party activity. But then they run into that small problem of all those “specific candidates” listed in court documents as co-plaintiffs...
... All of which looks to be a no-no.The question now is: Will anyone file a complaint to force a review of these campaign finance rules, and hold the GOP accountable for any violations?