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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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A couple of times a month, I’ll tune into right-wing radio in the car to hear what they are saying. A singular theme has been constant across the years: The outrage of both hosts and callers at the mere thought that they should ever have to think before opening their mouths. Their repetitive rants about political correctness, or reverse racism, or “having to apologize,” etc., etc., all boil down to this... Not ever feeling compelled to consider the feelings or perspective of anyone else. Not even a little. Facts, analysis, research, sensitivity, decency, even common sense—these are deemed outrageous impediments to the instant gratification of shooting one’s mouth off, based on gut feelings. It goes beyond ordinary anti-intellectualism. There is a more selfish component, the notion that the first thought which jumps first into your head is inherently valid, and must be not just heard, but accepted as unquestioningly as... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2017 at SamPratt.com
Governor Cuomo has appointed Daniel Mackay, the former New Scotland councilman and political director of the Preservation League of New York State, to head up the State Historic Preservation Office, a/k/a SHPO. Mackay, who endeared himself to many Columbia County residents for his smart and principled work on the St. Lawrence Cement controversy last decade, announced the move on his Facebook page. Since leaving the Preservation League, Mackay has been serving as Executive Director of the Connectucut Trust for Historic Preservation. His return to New York is our state’s gain, and the Nutmeg State’s loss. Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2017 at SamPratt.com
Four top officers of the Columbia County Democratic Committee resigned Thursday morning. Chair Peter Bujanow announced by email that he, 1st Vice Chair Debby Mayer, 2nd Vice Chair Mark Leggett, and Secretary Angella Pace would step down effective on Friday. Newly-elected Treasurer Dave Berman, elevated just last week by a new faction on the Committee, will stay in place. With the CCDC being effectively defunct for the past six months, Bujanow was facing a sudden challenge to his leadership, and evidently decided to leave rather than fight. His email resignation alludes to the brewing struggle by saying: “Due to the shift in sentiment among some of the rank and file of the Columbia County Democratic Committee, we, as Officers of CCDC, are of the view that a change in leadership may rejuvenate the Democratic Party within Columbia County.” Bujanow was expected to face an effort to remove him as Chair... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2017 at SamPratt.com
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Can social media predict NFL game outcomes? To answer that question, this site collected more than 200 random fan predictions from Twitter over the past few days. The aggregate of those crowdsourced numbers predicts that the Patriots will win Sunday’s Super Bowl 30-27. This is almost exactly in line with Vegas, which posits that New England will win by 3 points, with an over/under of 58.5, 1.5 points higher than the Twitter mean. 61% of posters who included a specific score pick the Patriots to win, against 39% for the Falcons. (Coincidentally, 538.com likewise gives New England a 61% chance of winning, 39% for Atlanta, though this is mixing apples and oranges...) However, that average (mean) score hardly tells the whole story. There are many other ways to break down the numbers. The most commonly predicted combined score is Patriots 27, Falcons 24 (9 times), followed by Patriots 34-Falcons 31... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2017 at SamPratt.com
“The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. “The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. “Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. “This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. “Find out just what any people will quietly submit to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 22, 2016 at SamPratt.com
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Who did better in your Columbia County town, Trump or Clinton? Below is Board of Elections data this site has tabulated to answer that question, showing what percentage of the vote Trump got in each place. Note that towns in blue went for Hillary, towns in red went for Donald; in some of these towns, Trump won with less than 50%, since some votes went to Stein, Johnson, or write-in candidates. Countywide, Clinton won by 1.4%; Interestingly, however, Trump would have won by 3% countywide if not for the overwhelming result for Clinton in Hudson. PERCENTAGE FOR TRUMP: Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2016 at SamPratt.com
UPDATE, WEDS. A.M.: Teachout has conceded to Faso, and Barrett has prevailed. Results posted at the Albany Times-Union site indicate that Zephyr Teachout is trailing John Faso substantially for the NY-19 Congressional seat, while incumbent State Assembly representative Didi Barrett is narrowly ahead of GOP challenger Terry Sullivan. But both races await large numbers of returns to come in yet, and thus can’t be called. Link to Assembly results Link to Congressional results Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2016 at SamPratt.com
According to Hudson’s Peter Jung, Proposition 1 in Hudson—which would alter the boundaries of the City’s wards to give each Alderman an equal vote share on the Common Council—passed tonight by a vote of roughly 1440 to 560. Jung believes it prevailed in all five Hudson Wards, with the vote being close in only the 5th. Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2016 at SamPratt.com
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ABOVE: Columbia County Fair images posted this week on Instagram Just as the Columbia County Fair was about to open, a top local Democratic official stated on Tuesday in the midst of a testy email exchange that the popular event “always attracts lowlife.” The official, County Democratic Committee Treasurer Deb Shakotko, is said to be resigning her post later this year. A request for comment from Shakotko has not been returned at the time of this post. The inflammatory comment arose in the context of a seemingly benign suggestion that Democrats join efforts to help a young leukemia sufferer in the community. That mild suggestion touched off a touchy internal wrangle among committee members—eliciting Shakotko’s eyebrow-raising remark, while also shedding a rather dismal light on the CCDC’s internal dynamics. The wrangle began as a simple request from Ghent committee members Patti Matheney and Judy Rusk, urging the County Democrats to... Continue reading
Posted Sep 2, 2016 at SamPratt.com
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The Valley Alliance has created an archive of essential background documents and links for understanding the history, development and future potential of the City of Hudson Waterfront. The archive can be viewed at this link. Documents will be added from the Alliance’s extensive records over time. Currently, they are organized... Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2016 at The Valley Alliance
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View of Hudson’s South Bay in the 19th Century by Hudson River School artist Sanford Gifford, looking southwest from what is now 3rd Street/Route 9G Alliance presents new research and past precedents to new Hudson Waterfront Advisory Steering committee HUDSON, N.Y. (4/14/16) — Aldermen in the City of Hudson unanimously... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2016 at The Valley Alliance
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UPDATE #4: Da|Ba was packed on Saturday night for dinner and drinks for a remarkable, impromptu gathering of friends and family. The restaurant’s final service was Sunday, with people invited to visit with the family today (Monday) from 2-6 pm. UPDATE #3: Over $45,000 in donations have been raised from the community as of Sunday at 1 pm to assist the Nilsson family. You can donate here. UPDATE #2: Bob Rasner posted the following message on Facebook from the Nilsson family: A Message from Daniel Nilsson’s Family We are very grateful for the outpouring of affection for our Daniel. We all miss him. We invite everyone who wishes to share their memories to meet on Monday, February 8th between 2pm and 6pm at DA|BA. The funeral will be private and no charity has been designated. We are planning a memorial service open to everyone in the community for Daniel’s birthday,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2016 at SamPratt.com
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UPDATE #4: Da|Ba was packed on Saturday night for dinner and drinks for a remarkable, impromptu gathering of friends and family. The restaurant’s final service was Sunday, with people invited to visit with the family today (Monday) from 2-6 pm. UPDATE #3: Over $45,000 in donations have been raised from the community as of Sunday at 1 pm to assist the Nilsson family. You can donate here. UPDATE #2: Bob Rasner posted the following message on Facebook from the Nilsson family: A Message from Daniel Nilsson’s Family We are very grateful for the outpouring of affection for our Daniel. We all miss him. We invite everyone who wishes to share their memories to meet on Monday, February 8th between 2pm and 6pm at DA|BA. The funeral will be private and no charity has been designated. We are planning a memorial service open to everyone in the community for Daniel’s birthday,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2016 at SamPratt.com
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Option #1: Clinton wins in Iowa, and the media declares that Sanders must drop out; Option #2: Sanders wins, and the media declares that Iowa doesn’t really count. Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2016 at SamPratt.com
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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. Voted 2429 1/2 Yandik 624 1/2 Teachout CCDC endorses... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2016 at SamPratt.com
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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.”... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2016 at SamPratt.com
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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... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2016 at SamPratt.com
Anything can happen in life, especially nothing. — MICHEL HOUELLEBECQ, IN PLATFORM (2001) Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2015 at SamPratt.com
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.”... Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2015 at SamPratt.com
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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? To review: 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... Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2015 at SamPratt.com
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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. Continue reading
Posted Oct 20, 2015 at SamPratt.com
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... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2015 at SamPratt.com
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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... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2015 at SamPratt.com
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... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2015 at SamPratt.com
If Donald Trump had a weekend house in Columbia County, local Republicans would call him a “citiot,” instead of “our frontrunner.” Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2015 at SamPratt.com