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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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Email leaked during the HBGary/Berico/Palantir scandal Got a second for a Stop the Plant war story? It will help explain why Patrick Ryan absolutely must not be your choice in Tuesday’s crowded Democratic primary, which will determine who runs against John Faso for Congress next November. * * * * * During the nearly seven-year fight to stop the massive, coal-burning St. Lawrence Cement proposal in Columbia County, I was spied on clumsily by a private investigative firm from the Albany area. This surveillance activity came to light after several ham-handed attempts to dig dirt about me from my neighbors and family. My neighbor Joanne Krasowsky (R.I.P.) was the first to report that a peculiar man was prowling lower Warren Street, asking odd questions about me. A man in a minivan approached Joanne near the corner of 1st and Warren. He claimed that he was from a finance company, and... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at SamPratt.com
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Normally, a political party wants its nominee to enter the general election race with a sense of momentum and a mandate from the people. But with seven Democrats vying in the June 26th primary to determine the party’s congressional nominee, it seems likely one of them will win with barely 1/3 of the vote, or even less. When this point was made to a prominent Columbia County Democratic Committee officer, he seemed surprised. But it’s just a matter of simple mathematics. With seven options, there just aren’t enough votes to go around for one to win with more than 33.3%, let alone a majority — unless most of them perform abysmally and one of them truly distinguishes him- or herself from the field. With only a few weeks to go, no clear frontrunner has emerged. So one can reasonably expect the winner to have trouble cracking even 30% unless several... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2018 at SamPratt.com
The New York State Committee on Open Government today issued an Advisory Opinion, disagreeing with a recent contention by Sheena Salvino of the Hudson Development Corporation that HDC is somehow exempt from the requirements of the State’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). A FOIL request was submitted by this writer a month ago regarding HDC’s controversial relationship with the Colarusso company. FOIL requires an agency not only to reply within 5 days, but to either decide on the request in that timeframe, or to give a reason why an additional 20 days are necessary. When only a terse acknowledgement of the request was issued by Salvino, the law’s deadlines were brought to her attention. Salvino then refused to give any firm timeline for responding, adding that based on the advice of “legal council” [sic] she believes HDC “is not subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Law.” As... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2018 at SamPratt.com
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“We have to prove to our own people that we are cognizant of the qualities that it will require to meet the future years. The courage, the vision, the imagination, the honesty… I know we need a united [Democratic] party, but it cannot be a united party that gives up its principles. I want unity but above everything else, I want a party that will fight for the things that we know are right home and abroad.” – Eleanor Roosevelt, responding to Harry S. Truman at a Dec. 1959 dinner Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2018 at SamPratt.com
“Every stable society imposes on the majority of its members the social and economic attitudes of its beneficiaries. “A corollary to this obvious, but seldom applied, law is that a society is constantly evolving a new language of automatic self-justification. “This language is to be found in its most polished and accomplished form on the leader-pages of all those newspapers which defend the existing social system. ... [It] is by scarcely disguised moral arguments that we are constantly urged to accept the present structure of our society.” – Philip Toynbee (1965), in Encounter magazine, Stephen Spender & Melvin J. Lasky, eds. Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2018 at SamPratt.com
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While Democrats put all their energy into checking for Russians under the bed, rather than organizing for the 2018 midterms, right-wingers are busy expanding their social networks. Every day on Twitter, one can find thousands of posts like the above, in which “MAGA Patriots” urge their contacts to follow other Trump fans. The movement is sometimes referred to as the Trump Train. Why should we care? Because today’s election campaigns are less and less focused on traditional persuasion, and more on identifying base supporters, then making sure they turn out to vote. By having one’s own contacts mutually follow like-minded friends (and friends of friends, and even strangers), Tea Partiers and other far-right groups are building a massive turnout engine. It also has other political benefits, such as reinforcing the feedback loop of ideological news, while providing adherents with a built-in network of contacts who will defend their politics and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2018 at SamPratt.com
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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