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Taghkanic, NY
Hudson Valley troublemaker.
Interests: media, the environment, civic affairs, small-town life, culture and government.
Recent Activity
This site has learned that a conference was held last Friday by Judge Dowd to discuss District Attorney Paul Czajka’s motion to dismiss Town Justice David Dellehunt’s demand for sanctions against him. At the conference, Dowd reportedly indicated that the Appellate Division’s decision compelled him to hold a hearing on the allegations, making it difficult to rule summarily on Czajka’s motion, which was first reported here last week. As a result, sources indicate that Czajka’s attorney agreed to withdraw the motion in hopes of securing a speedy hearing—likely in late this Spring—rather than waiting until the early Summer to resolve the dispute. Presumably the D.A.’s office employees who provided sworn affidavits as part of Czajka’s filing will instead testify at that time. Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at
Staff affidavits finger former Assistant D.A. as alleged culprit in alterations Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka has issued a stiff response to demands for sanctions against him brought by Kinderhook Town Justice David Dellehunt. While taking responsibility for his office’s actions, Czajka motions for a summary dismissal as he strongly denies “involvement in the alteration of a Court order… or somehow knowingly fail[ing] to inform the Court of that alteration.” Czajka’s rebuttal, which includes several affidavits from past and present members of his staff, can be downloaded here as a PDF [1.5 MB]. Two of the affidavits point to then-Assistant District Attorney Dominic J. Cornelius as allegedly making the key alternations in question. Cornelius is now listed as a County Attorney. Dellehunt and Czajka (now in his second stint as D.A., after an interlude as a County judge) have been engaged in a long tussle over their competing legal... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at
A reader in Claverack forwarded the news that (as predicted here last week) the rough patch in the proposed Lafarge/Holcim merger has proved to be more of a speed bump than a roadblock. Holcim’s posturing has indeed led to Lafarge making some concessions and the merger is said to be moving forward again. More at this link. Continue reading
Posted Mar 23, 2015 at
Image: According to the Wall Street Journal, the proposed megamerger of cement giants Holcim and Lafarge has hit a snag, with Holcim’s board rejecting proposed terms from Lafarge. Lafarge operates a large cement plant on the Hudson River near Ravena and Coeymans, while Holcim appears to have sold its interests in its former Catskill plant, Greenport quarries, and Hudson waterfront properties to smaller construction materials businesses. (This site is not 100% confident that they have fully relinquished all future mining rights or other options on its former Hudson Valley holdings.) Though the Journal characterizes this news as “cast[ing] serious doubt” on the merger, it seems more of a speedbump than a roadblock. Each company’s stock is down today, Lafarge’s substantially. The boards of these two massive industrial polluters have major incentives to see the merger through to completion, so Holcim’s move looks more like posturing to gain concessions than... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2015 at
Car hood, two hours after visiting the car wash Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2015 at
They also can’t spell south of Houston. Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2015 at
I was very sorry to learn of the recent death of Kinderhook’s John Pickett. I got to know John as one of the earliest and steadiest supporters of the Stop the Plant cause. A frequent volunteer and attendee of meetings, I remember especially vividly our trip to Albany to confront various legislators in the capitol building—such as then-State Senator Steve Saland, who looked like he’d prefer to fall through a hole in the floor rather than talk with us about St. Lawrence Cement. John’s calm but firm voice had a distinct Yankee credibility. He managed to deliver his opinions plainly but politely, in a tone that was neither strident nor deferential. His gentlemanly presence, along with his integrity will be greatly missed. An obituary can be found online at this link: Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2015 at
Image Source: ABC News The idea of a lodging tax for Hudson B&Bs and hotels is not, on its face, a terrible one. In theory, such a tax would raise funds for the City of Hudson via visitors from afar, rather than citizens locally. And (again, in theory) it would not be likely to keep people from coming to Hudson, since most tourists either expect such a charge, or else won’t realize that it’s going to be tacked onto their bill until they are here, and it is too late to back out. But if you are hoping a lodging tax will actually lower your taxes, don’t get your hopes up. Why? Simple: There’s zero reason to have an iota of confidence that any new City revenue—whether from lodging, or restaurants, or parking meters, or the discovery of a strongbox full of antique gold bullion unearthed from the muck of... Continue reading
Posted Feb 13, 2015 at
Above: Installation by Laetitia Hussain The New York Times has just published a long review plus a slide show of last weekend’s whole-house series of installations by 14 artists in the former Smith family residence on State Street in Hudson. The main article can be read here and the accompanying slideshow is here. Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2015 at
Over at the Millbrook Times, Peter Krulewich (coincidentally, my father’s best friend from grade school) remembers his brother-in-law, CBS newsman Sandy Socolow. Peter recalls: [Sandy] was in the Millbrook Diner in 1963 when he saw people running down the street. President Kennedy had been shot. There were no open phone lines to CBS so Sandy got in a car and went immediately to CBS headquarters in New York where he was with Walter Cronkite covering the story. For some years, Sandy had a house in the 100 block of Warren Street, in the building now occupied by The Gilded Owl. A couple of times, he asked me to buy copies of local newspapers if he was not in town; turned out the reason was that he would drive them up every week to his friend Andy Rooney in Rensselaerville. Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2015 at
If you’ve ever wanted a large old map of Columbia County, but didn’t want to shell out $300+ to buy one at auction, you’re in luck. The Library of Congress has a high-resolution scan of the 1858 Beers map which can be downloaded for free at this link. To download the largest version, use the bottom-most file link on the left hand side. (This could in theory be printed as large as 20 feet square at 72 dpi, but would look better at about 40 inches square and 300 dpi.) If you just want to inspect the map without downloading, the site also has a handy viewer that lets you zoom in to a specific part of the county. Two of the more intriguing uses of these maps is either to identify who owned a historical house 160 years ago, or to find the sites of houses which have since... Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2015 at
Dear Casual Football Fans and Less-Casual Patriots Haters: The Super Bowl is a week from Sunday, and millions of people who have not watched a single regular-season game will tune in to see the Seattle Seahawks take on the New England Patriots. In the long two-week runup to kickoff, scores of reporters who normally don’t follow football also have been writing and talking about a supposed scandal involving the one-point favorites, the Patriots—particularly about their coach, Bill Belichick. (It does not help that most of the influential sports media is based in the territory of the Patriots’ most bitter rivals, the New York Jets and Giants.) So far, the DeflateGate “investigation” has looked a lot like a trial in the court of public opinion, using incomplete and thirdhand evidence, by a jury of one’s enemies. The NFL itself has come to no conclusions, despite interviewing over 40 Patriots staffers, and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2015 at
ABOVE: Red area shows the lands previously owned by SLC/Holcim, recently purchased by Colarusso for $8.75M. The 1,800 acres is 50% larger than the entire City of Hudson. Colarusso Ventures LLC paid $8,750,000 to acquire 20 parcels of land from Holcim (US), according to new records recently posted by the County. The parcel sales—3 in Hudson, 17 in Greenport—were concluded on October 27th, 2014, but were not reflected in County records as of late December. No RP-5217 sales records were on file with the Real Property Department at that time. And documents then in the Clerk’s office merely showed Colarusso acquiring easements and title to a railroad overpass. But sometime between December 24th and today, records of an actual sale have made it into the County’s system. The price of $8.75 million is far less than most would have predicted. Proponents of the deeply flawed Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP)... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2015 at
The D.C. insider publication Roll Call today reports on a head-scratching rumor that Rep. Chris Gibson will “retire” (step down) today, with the likely intent of running for Statewide office. From the report: “Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., will announce his retirement Tuesday, according to two GOP sources. [...] Last year, Gibson annihilated venture capitalist Sean Eldridge, the Democratic nominee with deep pockets, by nearly 30 points. Initially, Democrats were optimistic about defeating Gibson in the lush and rolling Hudson Valley-based district north of New York City. But Eldridge’s candidacy quickly flamed out, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee never reserved airtime in the 19th District to support his campaign.” Link: Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2015 at
The Poughkeepsie Journal says that Rep. Chris Gibson will serve out his term, but not run for a fourth time. Gibson is quoted as saying this was his plan all along, to “self-term-limit.” Previously, the D.C. insider publication Roll Cal reported that Gibson would “retire” (step down) today, with the likely intent of running for Statewide office. However, the Kingston Daily Freeman writes that Gibson will serve out his term, and will just announce that he will not seek another term. From the Roll Call report: “Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., will announce his retirement Tuesday, according to two GOP sources. [...] Last year, Gibson annihilated venture capitalist Sean Eldridge, the Democratic nominee with deep pockets, by nearly 30 points. Initially, Democrats were optimistic about defeating Gibson in the lush and rolling Hudson Valley-based district north of New York City. But Eldridge’s candidacy quickly flamed out, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2015 at
Taghkanic resident Scott Stackpole took the three photographs above of a milk truck which “overturned on the icy hill in front of our house on Saturday evening.” Stackpole writes that there was “a lot of spilled milk, but no injuries (or crying).” While the tractor itself “remained upright” and the driver was apparently uninjured, “another vehicle came along and collided with the truck before traffic could be stopped on the icy hill.” Responders included the Stalker wrecking crew from Hillsdale, Taghkanic Volunteer Fire Department, the Columbia Co. Sheriff's Office, New York State Police, New York State Department of Enviromental Conservation, the Greenport ambulance squad, and Columbia County Highway Department, which cleared ice from the road for the others. Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2015 at
A drive on Newman Road this morning revealed several dozen new No Trespassing signs on both sides of the road, covering property owned since the 1970s by St. Lawrence Cement and its parent company, Holcim. The new signs bear the logo of longtime Greenport gravel mining company A. Colarusso & Sons. Similar signs are on both sides the Route 9G portions of the 1,800-acre property, and on the gates of the dock area. Multiple transactions between Holcim (and O&G Industries, which had deals with Holcim) are on file as of late October with the County Clerk’s office. A quick initial reading indicates that Holcim sold Colarusso a $1 quitclaim deed to the old conveyor structure over the railroad tracks between South Bay and the Waterfront dock area. It appears Colarusso has meanwhile obtained O&G’s 20-year quarrying lease with Holcim, and “permanent” easements on the rest. Continue reading
Posted Dec 24, 2014 at
More than one confidential source is whispering that having been denied necessary permits by the Ghent Planning Board, Ginsberg’s Foods is searching for a new location in Columbia County—and has been focusing on the Town of Greenport. The company still might go through the motions of a court challenge to the recent Ghent Planning Board denial on the off-chance they still can’t find another location in another 12-18 months. That’s the likely timeframe for obtaining a judicical ruling. But such a process is lengthly, costly, and by no means guaranteed to provide the company’s preferred outcome. Courts tend to give deference to agency rulings, and at best a judge might send the matter back for further review at the Town level... Meaning another 6-8 months after that, before having a marginal chance of maybe getting a more favorable decision. Even so, such a “victory” would likely result in a much... Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2014 at
On this date 34 years ago, I was in the upstairs bathtub of a house on Yale Hill Road in Stockbridge. I had just pulled the rubber drain stopper when from the hallway my mother yelled, “John Lennon's been murdered!” I sat in the tub watching all the water spool down the drain, and began to understand metaphor. Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2014 at
Yours Truly has an article in the new issue of Upstate House about modern wood stoves. The link is here. Continue reading
Posted Dec 5, 2014 at
The Ghent Planning Board tonight voted again on the proposed Ginsberg’s expansion project, this time on a resolution to deny the application. The previous vote was 5-1 against a resolution to approve the proposal. Though the second vote appeared redundant to many observers—their attorney having described the first vote as a “decision of a denial”—the result was the same: the Board voted 5-2 to definitively deny it, on various grounds related to emergency management, lot size, scale, lighting, noise, mining, and other impacts on both immediate neighbors and general community character. It is not believed that a third vote should be necessary. Ginsberg’s would now need to go to court to overturn the decision, if they wish to keep pursuing this location. Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2014 at
Some icing on Didi Barrett’s campaign cake: Final results indicate that once all ballots were counted in her re-election race, she prevailed in both of the counties which comprise her Assembly District. On Election Day, Barrett showed a decent lead in Dutchess, but Mike Kelsey made the race competitive by leading in Columbia. Now that absentee ballots have been counted, it appears that Barrett also narrowly won in the more northward county, by 15 votes (5,682-5,667). Continue reading
Posted Nov 24, 2014 at
A source close to the Didi Barrett campaign believes the Democrat’s lead in the 106th State Assembly race is now up to 350 votes. That figure includes tallies so far from both Dutchess and Columbia counties, neither of which has completed its absentee vote count. However, with Barrett's lead increasing in both counties, the likelihood of Kelsey catching her keeps getting dimmer. Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2014 at
Absentee ballot counting in the closely-watched 106th Assembly race between Democrat Didi Barrett and Republican Michael Kelsey is inching along. So far, Barrett has been steadily increasing her narrow 137-vote lead from Election Night. Going into the absentee count, Barrett trailed “on the machines” by a small amount in Columbia County, but made up those votes and then some in more populous Dutchess County. However (as expected by most seasoned election observers) Barrett has made up ground in Columbia County in the 11 districts counted so far. In those districts (which include Ancram, Clermont, Copake, Claverack, and Taghkanic), Barrett has picked up another 107 votes, according to estimates provide by an observer of the counting process. Moreover, Barrett has won 9 out of the 11 districts counted so far, with Kelsey only squeaking out 1-vote victories in two districts. Ballots reportedly are being closely scrutinized, and in some cases challenged,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2014 at
As predicted here on Election Night, absentee ballots in Taghkanic are swing the results to a different candidate than the one declared a winner that evening by The Register-Star. The 65 ballots opened so far heavily favor of independent candidate Linda Swartz over Republican Carolyn Sammons, in a special election for the Town Board seat vacated by Deborah Gilbert. Unofficial tallies shared by an observer of the contentious process indicate that 47 went to Swartz, and 17 to Sammons, a 30-vote pickup for the former. Sammons previously had a 9-vote lead “on the machine,” meaning that Swartz is now 21 votes ahead. Reportedly, some 27 ballots were challenged by partisans of the candidates, and thus have not been opened yet. In theory, Sammons could still win. But to retake the lead, Sammons would have to win almost all of those challenged ballots by a 25-2—a highly unlikely outcome. And since... Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2014 at