A newborn baby was found in a garbage dumpster outside the Bell’s Pond XtraMart, according to a clerk at another XtraMart location.
The clerk was unsure if the baby is alive, and also believes police have a lead on who dumped the baby there.
A crush of emergency vehicles began arriving shortly after 7 am, according to a Hannaford employee next door—suggesting the baby was left overnight.
As of 2 pm, the XtraMart is closed and yellow-taped off. Green cleanup vehicles are parked in front, with officials appearing to focus on dumpsters along the Route 82 side of the store.
UPDATE: Time Warner Cable News reports: ”Police say the baby's mother, a 20-year-old, gave birth inside the store to a full-term baby boy. When police were called to the store, they found the baby's body in a garbage bag inside the dumpster. The cause of death was homicide by asphyxiation.” Other rumors include that the mother is a past or current employee.
On Thursday, local Republicans sought once again to disenfranchise absentee voters—this time in Ghent. In doing so, the GOP not only tried to revive failed legal arguments of the past, they also raised doubts about their basic sense of decorum.
The days events make you wonder: Do County Republicans need a few cases of gingko biloba to help with their memory problem? And: Does Republican Election Commissioner Jason Nastke need a refresher course in the basic obligations of public servants?
GOP Election Commissioner Jason Nastke, hamming it up for a magazine profile in younger days
Back in 2010, the Columbia County Republicans were embarrassed in both the court of public opinion and in actual court. Their judicial smackdown came in Taghkanic, when County GOP chair Greg Fingar rehashed a long-settled legal question: Namely, whether people with more than one residence have the right to choose Columbia County as the one place they vote. (Answer: They do.) Well before 2010, courts had repeatedly said everyone can choose where they vote, as long as they have a dwelling there.
The 2010 attempt to re-litigate the matter did not go well for Fingar et al. And the GOP’s loss was doubly embarrassing, considering that the legal rebuke came from a Republican judge, Jonathan Nichols—complete with critical commentaries during the hearings about their attorney, James Walsh.
At that time, as reported by this site, Walsh was “admonished” for “misleadingly reading only a portion of an Election Law statute.” Nichols “twice stated that the Republican position was ‘completely unconvincing.’” And “Nichols expressed frustration that his repeated orders for the Republicans to produce specific objections to voters were repeatedly ignored... In many court observers’ view, the GOP operatives are fortunate not to have been found in contempt.”
Moreover, the hypocrisy of Fingar’s personal role in the failed 2010 disenfranchisment effort became an issue, as it was discovered that his family insurance company overtly solicits the home insurance accounts of second-home owners... The very people Fingar was trying to disenfranchise. In the wake of the election, some longtime Fingar policy-holders moved their accounts elsewhere.
Now, according to observers of today’s absentee vote count for two open Town Board seats in Ghent, the GOP is at it again—using the same lawyer, Mr. Walsh. Going into the count, Republican Pete Nelson and Democratic challenger Patti Matheney have leads over Republican Mark Huston and Democrat Koethi Zan, Matheney’s running mate. With well over 150 ballots to count, primarily from Democrats, there appeared a strong chance both Matheney and Zan could prevail—giving the Dems a majority on the five-member Ghent board, along with Mallory Mort.
Within minutes of the count beginning, the GOP’s strategy became clear, according to observers. The Republicans began challenging all ballots originating in New York City, claiming they were “not entitled to vote by absentee.” Citing no specific evidence, the attorneys nevertheless challenged the “qualifications of the voter” and the “veracity” of both the absentee application and the enclosing envelope. By 11 am, 15 such ballots had been set aside pending resolution of the challenges—more than enough to change the outcome of the election. By early afternoon, that number had climbed to nearly 30.
Adding to the absurdity of the proceedings was some stunningly unprofessional behavior from the GOP attorneys. An observer reported that they were “screaming” at one point; and when Dow was speaking about his understanding of election law as a former Commissioner, one of Walsh’s team actually started singing to attempt to drown out a Democratic lawyer.
GOP commissioner Jason Nastke—who reportedly was getting up constantly from the table to speak on the phone to an unknown party—did nothing to restrain this childish behavior. And Nastke dutifully upheld the GOP lawyers’ objections to these voters, even though no specifics were provided.
The Republican challengers failed to make any concrete allegations as to why each was not entitled to vote at their local residence, why they were unqualified, what was untruthful about the envelopes or ballots, etc., using the same boilerplate objections each time. Yet Nastke sustained their challenges anyway, without explaining his reasoning.
The one-sided nature of Nastke’s rulings was thrown into relief as the Republican appointee (and former Valatie mayor) unexpectedly reversed course on a single ballot, not sustaining the out-of-town lawyers challenge to a lone New York City Democrat’s vote. Why the different treatment, attendees wondered? Nastke did not provide any reason for changing course. But the application for that ballot stated that it was “carried” (delivered) to the voter by a member of the Colarusso clan—influential in GOP circles.
In other words: If it’s likely a vote for a Republican, it’s OK to vote absentee at your second home. But not if you’re likely voting Democratic.
Former Columbia County Democratic Election Commissioner and State Legislature attorney Ken Dow was representing Matheney and Zan, made clear his astonishment at the brazenness of the Republican disenfranchisement effort. Dow suggested that Nastke’s failure to rule in favor of the GOP without facts could be an abuse of his power as an Election Commissioner, to the extent that he was making decisions to disenfranchise voters without being presented with a shred of evidence.
The Republican effort is not entirely surprising when one considers that Huston posted highly divisive messages on Facebook, attempting to pit “local” vs. “new” residents—echoing a somewhat subtler GOP-funded mailing campaign.
In the end, it appears the whole fracas raised by the Republicans will be moot. The GOP team got up and left abruptly once it appeared the machine vote ballots will stand, regardless of the absentees they had challenged, with one Republican (Nelson) and one Democrat (Matheney) joining the Ghent Town Board.
The gang of attorneys—who appear to have modeled their behavior after boorish GOP election lawyer John Ciampoli, Walsh’s mentor—left without saying a word about the 29 votes they had challenged—which will in all likelihood be opened after sitting in limbo for three days, since the Republicans will not bother going to court as it would not change the outcome. Once the absentees are eventually opened, Zan will likely fall 7-8 votes short of displacing Nelson.
If you received a lovely, handwritten Invitation to the Policemen’s Ball (as my friend Steve Sigler likes to call them), you won’t be able to pay your Hudson parking ticket online—unless you use this One Weird Trick.
Most Hudson parking tickets are now electronically-scanned and generated. But on occasion, the HPD for some reason still uses the older, yellow, handwritten tickets (probably because their system was down). But the City’s new online payment site requires you to enter a 10-digit ticket number, whereas these older ones only have a six-digit number.
According to Pat in the Parking Ticket Bureau, there is a workaround: put four zeros (0000) in front of the ticket number. Thus with the (fictional) number above, instead of just 212277, you would enter 0000212277.
This post is offered as an incredibly trivial yet essential community service.
Debates are great in theory. You’d like to think that voters care about how their potential leaders answer important questions of the day?
But honestly: When has a debate changed the outcome of a Columbia County election?
In nearly 20 years of following Hudson and outlying towns’ politics, I can't recall it happening. Many towns don't have debates at all. Or sometimes the loser of the debate wins the election.
For example In 2005, many thought Grandinetti was the more able debater. But Tracy won the race for Hudson Mayor. Voters are not necessarily looking for the same qualities in a mayor which make a good debater.
Generally what happens at these things is that the audience consists of each candidates’ partisans plus a handful of undecideds. These partisans write down leading, slanted questions which the moderator is often forced to read for lack of anything else. Candidates will bring prepared answers for these questions, or read from whatever notes they have for a list of issues.
More people will watch the debate if it is televised. But it’s usually pretty dismal TV; and few have the patience to sit through 90 minutes of lackluster debate (with poor audio and camerawork) when there is so much else to watch.
It would be better to have the moderator ask the questions, IMHO, and to disallow the use of notes. But again, for all the heavy breathing over debates each year, I doubt in local elections they carry much weight.
People tend to vote on personal allegiances, friend recommendations, direct outreach by the candidates (e.g. door to door), general impressions of the candidates' characters, and sometimes (lastly) hot-button issues if there are any.
Formerly The Warren Inn and before that the Royalton, The Rivertown Lodge in the 800 block of Hudson’s Warren Street held an open house Friday night to show off its understatedly clever renovations.
Realtor Steve Kingsley, who was involved with the building’s sale, recalled renting a room at the Warren Inn in the 1980s with six friends in order to watch a Mike Tyson fight they could not otherwise see on TV.
This writer stayed there one night in the 1990s, sleeping in his clothes on top of the coverlet, and praying there wasn’t a fire—given the very complicated route necessary to reach the upper rooms.
A couple who grew up in Hudson lamented the decline from better days as The Royalton (which had, they said, a nice banquet room) into “more of an hourly place” They seemed gladdened by the new owners’ work.
With the closing of The Iron Horse, the bar—with its oldschool jukebox, pool table, semicircular booths, and shuffleboard—in its final year was frequented by both an older crowd and younger hipsters, despite some well-loved cats making themselves more than at home.
But the clean, stylish renovation is both appealing and overdue, given both the previous condition of the place and the lack of enough beds for visitors at many times of year. With prices expected to be comparable to The St. Charles but with far more amenities, The Lodge ought to do well.
A major sale in Hudson was just announced via the press release below. The asking price by seller David Crawford, who is understood to have owned the building via a corporation, had been $2 million; but the purchase price is not known.
Colin Stair Announces Purchase of 551 Warren Street
It is with great pleasure that I share the news that I have recently purchased the building at 551 Warren Street adjacent to my business, Stair Galleries.
I am very excited to be part of the continuing growth and evolution of Hudson, where I have been part of the business community for over twenty-five years. The strong friendships and business relationships I have formed in Hudson have helped Stair Galleries to flourish. My family put down roots in this community many years ago and we have enjoyed raising our children in this close-knit, creative and diverse place that we call home.
I have watched our small city define its identity, growing from a post-industrial city with economic and social issues in the 1980’s into the multi-faceted and thriving city it is today. The restoration of so many of Hudson’s beautiful and historic buildings has been a pleasure to witness. I am proud to be a part of this fellowship, where residents and business owners share common interests and goals.
Hudson continues to grow in positive ways, attracting new businesses and entrepreneurs every day. It was with this in mind that I decided to pursue the purchase of 551 Warren Street with the idea of creating rental spaces for small businesses. I am currently working with a team of architects and designers to develop spaces that will allow small companies or individuals to work in a creative environment, possibly co-working shared spaces, with high-speed internet and proximity to everything that Hudson has to offer. My hope is that the street level will remain a traditional retail space for one or two tenants.
This is an exciting project for me and underlines my commitment to Hudson and its continued growth and success. I welcome the community’s input and ideas about how best to use the space at 551 Warren Street to best benefit those who want to make Hudson their home.
The City of Hudson has no further need for its Industrial Development Agency, according to a review and recommendations by New York State’s Authorities Budget Office (the “ABO”).
Though the report was issued three weeks ago, news of the State’s conclusion has been slow to hit the local papers, creating an impression that local officials may not be eager for word to get out. The report can be downloaded as a PDF file via this link.
Dated July 14th, 2015, the ABO report concludes that
“there is no demonstrable need for the IDA to continue in existence. The potential economic development functions provided by the IDA are being accomplished by other entities within the City of Hudson and any financial assistance benefits in the form of tax exemptions can be provided by the Columbia County IDA.”
The ABO’s main reasoning for this conclusion appears below:
“Since the IDA has only one active project, the project’s purpose is to provide low- income housing and not to create jobs, similar projects are administered directly by the City, the IDA is not actively marketing the property it owns for economic development, and other economic development entities are serving the City of Hudson, we question whether the IDA is needed.
Section 882 of General Municipal Law states that when all of the bonds or notes issued by an IDA have been redeemed or cancelled and all straight lease transactions have been terminated, the IDA ceases to exist and its rights, titles and interest and all obligations and liabilities are to vest in and be possessed by its sponsoring municipality. The IDA has no outstanding debt, and the existing lease and PILOT agreements could easily be transferred to the City, since the City already administers similar agreements.”
The report found a number of reporting and accounting errors by the agency regarding rents and tax abatements issued to various project. The agency reports only one active project, the Hudson Terrace Apartments, though the State found five other affordable housing projects on its books as of 2013, but no longer generating payments to the agency.
For as long as the IDA remains in existence, the ABO further concludes that
“it should take appropriate action to correct the PILOT allocation and lease revenue errors that occurred during 2011 through 2014 as identified in the report, and obtain and ensure that all data is accurately reported in PARIS.”
The findings likely did not come as a complete surprise to IDA members, as the ABO noted that in March 2011, the City agency’s board “considered the possible dissolution of the IDA, noting that the City could continue to administer the IDA’s PILOT agreement and that the Columbia County IDA could take over the IDA’s duties. However the board has not taken any formal action to begin the process of dissolution since.”
The current Hudson IDA members are Mayor Bill Hallenbeck, Treasurer Heather Campbell, Common Council Majority Leader Tiffany Garriga, 5th Ward Alderman Bart Delaney Jr., Planning Commission Chair (and Taghkanic resident) Cappy Pierro, and assessor Cheryl Kaszluga. There is also one vacancy on the board.
The report notes that the Hudson IDA has “no staff since all functions are performed by board members or obtained under procurement contracts.” The agency’s auditor is Shallo, Galluschio & Bianchi, whose most recent (2014) audit also can be downloaded as a PDF via this link.
NOON UPDATE: According to GhentCANN’s Patti Matheney, Crawford did indeed resign this morning. (GOP chair Greg Fingar presented him with a bottle of gin as a farewell gift.) Retired realtor Mary Bartolotta, who has been outspoken about her distaste for the State investigation which prompted Crawford’s resignation, will serve as President for the next month as CEDC decides on next steps. Consultant Mike Tucker’s $6,000-per-month contract as temporary director was approved, taking on the role previously filled by Ken Flood, who remains in his County Planning/Development post for now.
According to a well-placed source, CEDC President David Crawford intends to resign at this morning’s meeting of the agency’s embattled board.
David Crawford with fellow CEDC Board member and GOP chair Greg Fingar (source: Crawford & Associates blog)
Crawford’s failure to disclose an obvious conflict of interest, while participation in CEDC decisions regarding his client, Ginsberg’s Foods, were highlighted in the recent State Authorities Budget Office investigation. The report was prompted by a complaint from citizen watchdogs GhentCANN.
Meanwhile, the five members (which includes Crawford) of CEDC’s new management committee have reportedly been meeting in private, without publicly noticing their meetings or posting minutes documenting them.
Failure to comply with Open Government regulations was one of the topics of the much-discussed State investigation of the agency.
According to New York State law, a public “meeting” is defined as “the official convening of a public body for the purpose of conducting public business.” A “public body” consists “of two or more members, performing a governmental function for the state or for an agency or department thereof, or for a public corporation...”
Since the management committee is conducting business for a public authority, and more than two members are present, its proceedings require public notice.
The ABO report noted regarding CEDC’s committees (prior to the formation of the new management group) that
Committees and subcommittees established by public bodies are also subject to Open Meetings Law. CEDC has established two committees, its Executive Committee and a Loan Committee that reviews loans recommended by CEDC staff and determines if such loans will be recommended for board approval. However, CEDC does not provide public notice of these committee meetings or allow public access to these meetings. The CEDC does not maintain meeting minutes for its Loan Committee. CEDC also did not maintain meeting minutes for all of its Executive Committee meetings in 2014. Of the nine meetings held, minutes were taken only for six of those meetings, and none of these meeting minutes are posted on the CEDC website. [Emphases added.]
So though the State chastised CEDC for failing to provide notice, allow public access, and maintain publicly-accessible minutes of its decisions for its two existing committees, the agency appears to not only have formed a third committee, but to be actively thumbing its nose at the State’s findings. No such notices or minutes currently appear at the agency’s website.