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Taghkanic, NY
Hudson Valley troublemaker.
Interests: media, the environment, civic affairs, small-town life, culture and government.
Recent Activity
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Anything can happen in life, especially nothing. — MICHEL HOUELLEBECQ, IN PLATFORM (2001) Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2015 at
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
A new installation of sculpture and paintings by Laetitia Hussain opens Saturday, August 22nd from 6-8 pm in the “barn” at John Davis Gallery. The gallery is located between 3rd and 4th streets at 362-1/2 Warren Street, and the installation will remain on view until September 20th. Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2015 at
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... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2015 at
Posted Aug 4, 2015 at
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... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2015 at
The long-vacant commercial property at the corner of 23 and 9H (once an outpost of the Video Cave, way back when people used dollar bills to borrow tapes of movies), has been under construction lately—fueling much speculation about what was coming next. At one point, a complex of shops was going to be built there, and then later plans were floated for a pizza place. With the Claverack Market still empty, people who pass through this intersection frequently have hoped for something fun, different, or at least useful. Now the word from someone working at the site this week is that it will be a Subway. (Guess it could be worse... Could be another gas station. Or a Long John Silver’s.) Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2015 at
Despite having no signed contract with the Columbia Economic Development Council (CEDC) for the past 18 months, Columbia County has until very recently been sending CEDC some $115,000 every quarter. Board of Supervisors chair Patrick Grattan The news raises doubts about whether County officials neglected to exercise due diligence, basic oversight, and fiscal responsibility for funding totaling $437,000-$460,000 per year. Funding allocations were approved each year by the Supervisors, but apparently contracts dictating the terms of their largesse stopped being signed. The County last had a contract with CEDC in 2013, according to documents obtained by this site, which can be downloaded [ HERE ] and [ HERE ]. In an email to colleagues this week, Ancram Supervisor Art Bassin characterized the situation as “sloppy management,” and that “common sense says you don't pay without a contract.” While waiting to find out whether the County “broke any rules, regs or... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2015 at
Stockport lawyer-turned-baker Louise Roback—who has been attending many of recent CEDC and County EDC meetings—has sent the following letter to her Town supervisor and others in County Government, reacting to the news that development czar Ken Flood has been pushed out of one of his three positions. DEAR SUPERVISOR MURRELL AND SUPERVISOR MEMBERS OF THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE: I wish to share my comments on the “reorganization” of the CEDC announced as a result of its Board retreat yesterday. That’s pretty terrible if the extent of the “reorganization” is to push Ken Flood out and not: Remove the conflicted board members, hire new counsel who knows what conflicts of interest are and so instructs the board members, impose term limits on board members, and open up the organization—and its board of directors membership—to public oversight and monitoring, including pledging to fully cooperate with the review of loans to be undertaken... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2015 at
BOS Chairman Pat Grattan (image adapted from: The public may want to bring some extra bags of popcorn to the County Board of Supervisors’ regular meeting on Wednesday at 7:30—where the ethics, transparency and other management issues dogging the Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) are likely to come up. Last month, the County’s separate economic development committee voted 5-0 to forward a resolution proposed by Hillsdale Supervisor Art Baer to the full Board, calling for an independent investigation into possible conflicts of interest during CEDC’s past five years of loans and grantmaking. Prompted by a State report on conflicts of interest related to the Ginsberg’s Food proposal, as well as violations of open government laws, the investigation (if approved) would focus on only grants of $25,000 or more. Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2015 at