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Hudson
Taghkanic, NY
Hudson Valley troublemaker.
Interests: media, the environment, civic affairs, small-town life, culture and government.
Recent Activity
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Border of Livingston, Claverack and Taghkanic (NY). Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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Benson’s profile picture at his company's website, bciinc.com Columbia County Board of Supervisor chair Patrick Grattan has moved oversight of the Board’s Airport Committee into the hands of a former committee member who played hooky from over 70% of its meetings. Via email, Grattan announced that he was moving the same committee from which New Lebanon Supervisor Michael Benson resigned in a huff—after rarely showing up, and not getting his way—into Benson’s portfolio: TO: Airport Committee & Public Works Committee It has been brought to my attentions [sic] that there is a question regarding the status of the Airport Committee. First, let me thank all the members for their hard work on this issue. I know that this issue was very complicated and, at times, contentious. I respect your patience and understanding during the process. The County has several subcommittees: Negotiations, Salary Study, Pine Haven, Central Business Office, Labor Management... Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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This site will leave it to others to continue debating the Union Street Guest House’s $500 fine policy (with an intensity more usually reserved to debating Israel vs. Palestine). Was it a “joke,” a scare tactic, or a scam? We may never know, and probably shouldn’t care. Far more interesting to this observer is the question: Why did this particular story go “viral”? So far, the story has been covered in at least 200 online and print publications, many of them with a global reach, such as CNN. Reportedly, the inn has been beseiged with requests to appear on national morning programs, as well as p.r. reps pitching their crisis management services to its staff—as if the USGH were Union Carbide. The story likewise sparked an intense backlash against the Guest House, with over 1,000 fake negative reviews posted in the first twelve hours on Yelp. (Many of these have... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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NOTE: A follow-up on why this story went viral has been posted at this link. A Hudson lodging establishment has been slammed with a tidal wave of bad publicity after The New York Post’s Page Six described a policy of fining wedding parties $500 per negative reviews on Yelp. The Post’s story about the Union Street Guest House was quickly and gleefully picked up by Fox & Friends, TIME online, Business Insider, and others, leading to a raft of negative feedback on Yelp and Twitter. (This begs the question: Is all press really good press?) The USGH’s longtime owner, former 3rd Ward Alderman Chris Wagoner, responded around noon to the outrage, noting that the proposed fine was for weddings only, had never been levied, and in any case was “tongue in cheek”: The policy regarding wedding fines was put on our site as a tongue-in-cheek response to a wedding many... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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Bon Appétit magazine has a 10-page feature on Hudson eats and drinks in the current (August 2014) issue, with a ten-point sidebar of recommendations from Yours Truly. The issue is available at ShopRite near the checkout, and probably elsewhere. Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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Sustained rain over the past fortnight has caused an explosion of mushroom growth in the area. A half-hour walk on Thursday in the Taghkanic woods (sticking only to trails, and not specifically searching for anything) revealed at least 13 varieties of toadstools, some of them very poisonous. A few friends have helped with possible identifications, but if any readers are expert micologists, please don’t hesitate to share your theories. Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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Appearing to confirm its departure from the Town of Ghent, PCB-processor TCI of NY has withdrawn its application to following its catastrophic fire two summers ago. The company also (per the memo below) has withdrawn a specious lawsuit against the Town’s Planning Board, claiming that the Board could not regulate a rebuild. TCI is already embroiled in zoning controversies in its new location, across the river in Coeymans, whose residents may want to be on their guard—each of TCI’s past three facilities (Ghent, Greenport and Newburgh) exploded. Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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Found on Warren Street, presumably detritus from the renovation of the Warren Inn (formerly the Roylton, not to be confused with the one in Manhattan). Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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This Columbia County map has hung on the wall of the Bell’s Pond XtraMart for years. Over time, the map has become discolored, worn and even torn from people pointing to Bell’s Pond on the map. You can also faint, greasy lines along the roads emanating from Bell’s Pond toward likely destinations (the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, the Taconic Parkway exit, Lake Taghkanic, the Claverack light). This site will periodically feature other examples of wear and tear, erosion, and other patterns of use. If you spot an example, don’t hesitate to send your photo via email. Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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Hudson’s Columbia Memorial Hospital and Albany Medical Center are announcing plans today to form a long-term “strategic affiliation” or “alliance,” with the goal of “better coordination of care for residents of Columbia and Greene counties and greater operational efficiency for both organizations.” A draft agreement, still in negotiation, is said to stipulate that some members of CMH’s board would serve on Albany Med’s board, and vice-versa. But hospital officials stress that the two institutions will remain distinct, saying that “there will be no acquisition or merger.” On its Facebook page, Columbia Memorial is even more adamant about that point: This is NOT a merger. It is NOT a consolidation. It is NOT a sale, and it is NOT an acquisition or a takeover. We are working to align our respective organizations to take advantage of one another’s strengths. Potential benefits of the new partnership for Columbia County patients could include... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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History is the tale of man’s attempts to impose geometry on nature. Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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Route 66, Greenport (NY) Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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“We saw flames coming off of the wires,” said Hudson resident Zia Anger, describing this afternoon’s fire in the alley east of South 5th Street, between Warren and Union. The conflagration knocked out cable and internet to many Mid-Hudson subscribers, and to Verizon phone and internet clients in the southeastern reaches of the City. According to another witness, the blaze began in a narrow gap between two garages on the south side of the alley, at least one of which appeared to be completely gutted. He told the officers investigating: “I bet some guy took his last puff of a cigarette and flicked it right between them.” MHC’s Jim Reynolds surveys the scene Mid-Hudson Cablevision had several bucket trucks on scene by late afternoon, with linesman sorting out the many dangling loops of loose fiber. A man in sunglasses taking cameraphone pictures along turned out to be MHC President James... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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For more than a decade, officials have privately mulled changes to the Columbia County airport. Over the past year, contentious public debate raged at over a dozen meetings about how to bring the Ghent facility into compliance with safety regulations. But just this week, a surprise suggestion from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) may have rendered all of these arguments and explorations moot. According to sources familiar with a conference call this week between the FAA and the County Airport Committee, the Feds suggested a radically simple bureaucratic solution: Just reclassify the airport into a category requiring a much shorter Runway Safety Area (RSA). Due to the airport handling less than 500 jet operations per year, it is apparently eligible to downgrade its classification to a level which needs only a 300-foot RSA, not 1,000 feet. The longer 1,000-foot requirement has been the key factor driving endless controversy about compliance.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2014 at SamPratt.com
A longtime Hudson resident shared this email exchange with Hudson Mayor Bill Hallenbeck, on the current controversy over finding open space for dogs to be exercised in town: Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 2:41 PM To: Mayor@cityofhudson.org Subject: dog park Mayor Hallenbeck, As you know, we disagree on some current issues in Hudson and that is o.k. I feel we can still have a decent, productive conversation. I just wanted to invite you to go to some of the local dog parks with me and my family. They really are not bad places as some of the citizens of Hudson believe. We go to the Friends of Kinderhook Dog Park and the Athens Bunker Hill Dog Park frequently. I understand you have a new puppy and it would be great to visit the parks with him/her. These dog parks are self sufficient and I do not believe they would be... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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JACK SHAINMAN DEBUT DRAWS 1,000 TO KINDERHOOK For New York City art worlders of a certain age, the brass ring of their youth was to reach for a 2,000 square foot downtown loft. Now that they have attained maturity, that ambition has grown tenfold, to more like 20,000+ square feet. But for even the wealthiest 1%, that’s a difficult proposition in the five boroughs. And so the abandoned municipal, industrial, and educational buildings of the Hudson Valley beckon—to the likes of Marina Abramoviç, or the clerics of DIA:Beacon, or contemporary collectors Steven Johnson and Walter Sudol, or Studio 54 fixture Francine Hunter McGivern, or, most recently, Chelsea gallerist Jack Shainman. Call it the Hudson River School of Art Storage. Shainman debuted his vast new 30,000 square foot space, The School, yesterday in Kinderhook with an installation by Nick Cave. The event drew, without exaggeration, at least 1,000 attendees. The crowd... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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I was very sorry to learn this week of the unexpected death of Greene County resident Dick May. A professor of history with an abiding interest in the correct use of language, Dick’s gentlemanly manner managed to keep his searing wit from ever offending. I last saw Dick a couple of months ago at a charity poker tournament (in which he placed fourth out of a couple dozen players), and he seemed his usual acerbically-witty self. For several years, he posted wry observations about local politics at Seeing Greene. His blog posts will be missed—with hope someone will archive them—but their author will be missed far moreso. Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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The February 14th, 2014 minutes of the Columbia County Industrial Development Agency reveal that the County intends to make a “land donation” of approximately 33 acres to Ginsberg’s Foods. Former Claverack Planning Board member (and Churchtown firefighter) Nathan Chess dropped that bombshell research at tonight’s joint meeting with the Ghent and Claverack planners, as part of a a scheduled public hearing. The gift presumably is dependent upon approval of the company’s application for a new 300,000 refrigerated warehouse, office space and trucking center on Route 66, just north of the intersection with 9H on the Ghent/Claverack line. The IDA minutes found by Chess state that the County’s Economic Development Council (CEDC) “continued to negotiate with Ginsberg’s about the land contract.” The 2014 head of CEDC is David Crawford, the principal of Crawford Engineering—the same firm which is spearheading Ginsberg’s application before the two Planning Boards. David Ginsberg himself was listed... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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Ghent Town Hall, with the Claverack Planning Board Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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Bob Freeman (Source: NYS DOS) The Chatham Courier has an eye-opening account of a recent trip to New Lebanon by Robert Freeman, head of the New York State Committee on Open Government. As he has all over the State, Freeman was invited to give a run-down on how New York’s laws are intended to guarantee open meetings and freedom of access to public documents via FOIL. Missing from the well-attended meeting? Town Supervisor Michael Benson, who similarly missed some 70% of his County Airport Committee meetings. One infers from the account by reporter Katie Kocijanski that there have been many complaints in New Leb about Benson’s willingness to comply with the spirit, if not the letter, of these long-standing laws. Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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In the wake of his latest public relations debacle in April, Sean Eldridge’s Congressional campaign put out a call for applicants to serve as an “experienced, energetic Communications Director to manage the campaign's day-to-day operations of press strategy.” Magazine cover featuring Eldridge and Hughes That story was first reported by the national news site Politico, whose interview requests the Eldridge’s campaign had spurned—leading to another spate of bad press in a wide range of outlets, from the Huffington Post to the Kingston Daily Freeman. The development led to yet another satirical blast from Republicans. The GOP seized this as a fresh opportunity to highlight Eldridge’s lack of experience in running for public office, his lack of roots in the district, his overabundance of money to spend on his campaign. and other now-familiar talking points. Leading the charge was the NRCC’s Ian Prior (himself a former Congressional campaign manager) , who... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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According to this interactive New York Times map, Columbia County is deeply and irreconcilably divided: 47% of residents root for the New York Yankees, and 32% for the Boston Red Sox. (The Mets rate a lowly 8%.) As you zoom in, the breakdowns can be reviewed by ZIP code. Not surprisingly, the percentages for the Yankees increase as you head further south and west, and for Red Sox as you head further to the northeast. P.S. Go Sox! Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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LINE EXPECTED TO CARRY FRACKING GASES Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P., intends to add a new and larger gas pipeline through northern Columbia County as part of a Northeast Expansion Project. So far the proposal to expand Tennessee Gas Pipeline has received only cursory attention from the local media and public officials, even as neighbors in a nearby county have started organizing their responses. According to revised maps issued without fanfare by the company, the pipeline would follow existing rights-of-way through Chatham, New Lebanon and Canaan. The route (depicted above) is not set in stone, according to some reports, but would run roughly midway between I-90 and Route 20. The company projects that construction would begin in April 2017. The project is understood by some, including supporters, as a boost to the fracking industry. Industry trade publications have gushed about the possibility. In February, Capital New York reported that “The... Continue reading
Posted Apr 21, 2014 at SamPratt.com
This site, like thousands of others, was down for most of Friday and again Monday due to a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack on the company which hosts it. You may notice slower loads than usual, but things appear to be back under control. Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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Lance Wheeler submitted the above photos by Daniel Sanders, documenting the excavation of bones found during a building renovation in the 200 block of Warren Street. The bones are tentatively believed to be those of a cow, not human. Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2014 at SamPratt.com