Will Yandik, Democratic candidate for Congress (Source: Campaign page on Facebook)
Livingston farmer Will Yandik was endorsed today by the Columbia County Democratic Committee (CCDC) to fill the soon-to-be vacant NY-19 Congressional seat currently held by Chris Gibson, according to several Democrats attending the meeting in Valatie.
Both Yandik and Teachout made half-hour presentations and took questions before the decision.
According to one committeeperson, the votes broke down 79.6% for Yandik, 20.4% for Teachout.
Another Democrat said that following that straw poll, the Committee unanimously endorsed Yandik by acclamation.
Teachout reportedly strive to focus on broadly-popular liberal issues, but faced questions about her short residency and very recent voter registration in the district. More than one attendee felt she dodged those questions and did not provide any real answer to concerns that her campaign would be hampered by allegations of district-shopping.
Zephyr Teachout’s tenuous connection to New York’s 19th Congressional District are already becoming a campaign issue, within moments of the national political activist announcing her candidacy for the open NY-19 seat being vacated by Chris Gibson.
Campaign finance records held by the New York State Board of Elections (see graphic above) show that just 5-6 weeks ago, Teachout made a $350 donation to the campaign of Sara Niccoli for Supervisor in the Town of Palatine in Montgomery County. The address listed for that donation is in Brooklyn.
Meanwhile, the conservative New York Post quickly reported that Teachout has only had an apartment in Amenia, at the southernmost end of the district, for about 10 months. Moreover, she apparently only registered to vote locally in the past two weeks:
“She said she began renting a house in Amenia in March 2015. Records show she registered to vote there on Jan. 12.”
While residency in a Congressional District is not required in order to run, it does pose at minimum a perception problem for Teachout—pretty much the identical problem faced by the past three losing Democratic candidates for this region.
Julian Schreibman, Sean Eldridge, and to a slightly lesser degree Scott Murphy were each painted by their Republican opponents as opportunistic interlopers with shallow or non-existent roots in the area. This allowed the Republicans to avoid substantive issues facing the district, and just focus (successfully) on drumming up a tired culture war between new vs. old residents.
Teachout has another thing in common with Schreibman: Both are lawyers who graduated from Yale in 1993. (The definition of insanity attributed to Albert Einstein might seem to apply.)
David and Nancy Ginsberg, in a photo posted at the company’s website
Agency denies release of funds due to failure to follow grant requirements
A $516,000 Federal grant for the expansion of Ginsberg’s Foods in Ghent has been rescinded by the State, due to the company and Columbia County’s failure to follow strict procedures set forth in the grant requirements.
According to a news release from the community group GhentCAN, which obtained a letter documenting the State’s decision, the final approval of funding was denied on January 11th. The main reason given was a regulation which prevents grantees from beginning construction prior to final approval and release of the funds.
The letter from the Vice President of New York State Homes and Community Renewal, which can be downloaded as a PDF via this link, states firmly that “the Request for Release of Funds cannot be approved [due to] the transfer of the property to the business and construction starting at the site… The consequence of [these actions] is that the Federal HUD funding cannot be used for the ‘project.’”
Furthermore, the transfer of land from the County to Ginsberg’s was also apparently performed prematurely—both action leaving the State no choice but to cancel the grant under its rules.
The findings by the State indciate that evidence of premature construction was found on the website of the Columbia Economic Development Corporation, or CEDC, which was involved with obtaining the grant funding and approved transfer of 33 acres to Ginsberg’s for just $1. (The value of the land has been estimated at roughly $275,000.) The State letter indicates it also performed site visits and obtained information from local residents.
The relevant State regulations are apparently both clear and strict, leaving the State no choice but to cancel the grant.
Numerous residents driving past the expansion site off Route 66 had noticed in November and December that work was underway at the site, without realizing that it was in violation of the grant regulations. According to GhentCAN, residents noted excavation activity, including the “removal of dirt and gravel from the site”; the creation of “an access road”; and the presence of “various construction companies and personnel.”
Trucks belonging to the Colarusso company were noted by some passersby, which was of note as the company’s president has been a longtime CEDC member who voted in favor of benefits for the project. Colarusso’s name no longer appears on the CEDC board roster as of its December minutes.
GhenCAN also noted that Columbia County appeared to be well aware of these rules, having signed an October 20, 2015 certification agreeing that“no physical alteration to individual sites can occur nor can funds for those activities be committed or expended until receipt of an environmental clearance letter.”
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.