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Hudson
Taghkanic, NY
Hudson Valley troublemaker.
Interests: media, the environment, civic affairs, small-town life, culture and government.
Recent Activity
Hi, Carmen... I will be glad to post the documents you sent when the details of Plan W are made public. Until then they are of limited use to readers, as they speak to a Plan which has not been disclosed. Regarding the cats, that is terrible if a creature was harmed because of personal disputes. Sounds like you have some problem tenants.
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Oppo researchers for Republican Congressional incumbent Chris Gibson got another early Christmas present this week, as Sean Eldridge’s own team handed over more material which helps his opponent paint the Democrat as a standoffish outsider. The campaign’s latest missteps are detailed by Alex Isenstadt at Politico, in a long piece entitled Chasing Sean Eldridge. Like several other publications, Isenstadt got some rather high-handed treatment from the staff of Eldridge for Congress: “Congressional challengers typically seek maximum media exposure; Eldridge allows few chance encounters with the media. His campaign frequently posts pictures on his Facebook page of the candidate out and about in the district, but local reporters say they’re usually not made aware of his public schedule ahead of time. He declined to be interviewed by Politico, and the door to his campaign headquarters in Kingston was locked on a recent visit. No one answered a call on an intercom.”... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at SamPratt.com
Carmen, thanks for posting. While I think the Board voted correctly, I also think they should have let you speak. That said: Easements which permit tree-cutting on Meadowgreens were there when CN Productions purchased the property. Moreover, those easements remain under all proposed plans. The County could have exercised its rights to trim or take down trees at any time since 1966. The very limited additional easements sought under the Porrreca Plan do not have to be a problem for either the golf course, or your future development plans. If you work with the Committee and neighbors to enact it in a thoughtful way, this can indeed be a win for all.
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The Columbia County Board of Supervisors voted tonight by a wide margin to approve the “Porreca Plan,” limiting negotiations with Meadowgreens to easements on a small number of acres. Only Supervisors Michael Benson of New Lebanon, John Reilly of Gallatin and Erik Tyree of Taghkanic voted against the resolution, with Matt Murrell of Stockport abstaining due to his conflict of interest. Hudson’s Rick Scalera, who was a rumored “no” before the meeting, qualified his “yes” vote by saying he hoped the plan could be modified at a later date. The vote came after Benson made yet another morning-before-the-meeting attempt to stall the process—the same process he had once tried to accelerate or short-circuit. This time Benson had the planning firm Clough Harbor do what he called a “voluntary peer review” of his preferred airport plans, based as best as one could tell solely on information he had spoonfed them. Apparently... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at SamPratt.com
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Stuyvesant dog camp owner and local activist Will Pflaum has won a round in court in his long-running struggle to compel Columbia County to disclose public records. This ruling from the State Supreme Court (3rd Department) involves the denial access to records demonstrating what work was done for the Columbia County by lawyer Tal Rappelyea. Pflaum sent a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to the County, which was denied by County Attorney Rob Fitzsimmons. The denial was made on the dual basis that Pflaum allegedly did not adequately describe the records specifically enough, and that they constituted privileged work product. The court rejected both bases, instructing the County to allow Pflaum to inspect the records (in person if necessary to protect any redactable material). Pflaum had researched and published billing records gathered from around the region which appear to show a backbreaking workload by Rappelyea, including bills from a... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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Three Columbia County committees have voted this past month to proceed with the so-called Porreca Plan for the Ghent airport. Yet one lone supervisor, Mike Benson of New Lebanon, is continuing his Baghdad Bob dead-ender routine, trying to extend a process in which he has barely participated (and in fact tried to short-circuit at its outset). Despite missing more than 70% of his airport committee meetings, Benson continues to fire salvos from the virtual safety of his computer keyboard. In a Wednesday email, Benson railed against the use of eminent domain, calling it “a trampling of constitutional vested property rights and the eventual destruction of an enterprise.” But any supervisor who harbors an ideological objection to eminent domain had a golden opportunity to vote their conscience in October 2013. That’s when Art Bassin introduced a resolution to table the use of eminent domain in its negotiations with Meadowgreens. Supervisor Benson... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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At the Hudson (NY) waterfront. Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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The Iron Horse (formerly known as the State Grill before the crew from Nobody’s Fool replaced the sign) is holding an estate sale today, Saturday, from 10-4 pm, and again tomorrow morning. Free pens with the legend “Stolen from Frank Martino’s Iron Horse” are available. The bar is rumored to have been sold to the same couple which bought The Warren Inn, who apparently have also bought a house on Willard Place. Above: My purchase, the scuffed cue ball from the pool table. Below: Frank Martino with Paul Newman and Melanie Griffith during the shooting of Nobody’s Fool; Frank and Sue with the crew of The Cake Eaters; phone numbers written on a kitchen staircase wall for taxi services and other Hudson bars. Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2014 at SamPratt.com
A third committee of the Board of Supervisors has now signed onto the decision earlier this week to move ahead with the “Porreca Plan” for the airport. Finance Committee member Mike Benson of New Lebanon launched yet another last-minute campaign to derail the Plan’s momentum. (The Airport and Economic Development committees voted to advance it to the full Board earlier this week.) Less than 24 hours before the meeting, Benson attempted to argue that the Porreca Plan, which would, slightly shorten the Ghent runway at the north end while lengthening it at the south end, was “go[ing] backward”—and somehow would “devalue a County asset.” Benson, who missed some 75% of the meetings of the Airport Committee two which he was appointed, fired his salvo as usual via email. But Benson then skipped the actual meeting. Had he attended, he would have heard County comptroller Ron Caponera back up Airport chair... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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By a vote of 4-1 this afternoon, the Columbia County airport committee approved the referral of the draft resolution known as the Porreca Plan to the full Board of Supervisors. Chair Art Bassin, Ghent Supervisor Mike Benvenuto, Hillsdale’s Art Baer and of course Greenport’s John Porreca voted yes. Only David Crawford of Crawford Engineering voted no. Hudson Supervisor Sarah Sterling asked how it was that others of her colleagues seemed empowered to negotiate independently with Mr. Nero, specifying emails from Benson as an example. Vehement plan opponent Mike Benson, Supervisor of New Lebanon, was absent—prompting audience questions about his whereabouts. Crawford was challenged by the audience about his vote. These included questions from attorney Ken Dow as to why he would want the County to shut down a viable, established business (the golf course) and take more property off the tax rolls. Crawford replied, none too convincingly, that he suspected... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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According to two aldermen who had just left tonight’s meeting, the proposal to allow dogs in the Hudson Waterfront Park was shot down tonight by the Common Council meeting. Interestingly, 1st Ward Alderman Nick Haddad and his son Henry (now representing the 3rd Ward) were apparently on opposite sides of the issue, with the father in favor of dogs at the park, and son opposed. Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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According to one well-placed source, the Harney & Sons tea company may be the next occupant of the huge North Bay factory building recently abandoned by Phoenix Hudson. Since the departure of the Emsig Button factory in 2001, the building has seen a long series of potential suitors and short-term tenants come and go. Harney & Sons would presumably use the space for production, storage and distribution. However, the rumor is somewhat tempered by the fact that the company has long been ensconced in Millerton (and founded over the State line in Salisbury). In addition to its flagship retail store and café, Harney & Sons already has over 150 employees and a 90,000-square-foot warehouse in Millerton. So put this in the wait-and-see file. Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2014 at SamPratt.com
Lance Wheeler is reporting that the historic Blue Stores inn at the corner of 31 and 9 in Livingston had a catastrophic fire at around 2 am last night... His video of the aftermath is at this link. Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2014 at SamPratt.com
Posted Mar 14, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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IMAGE: LinkedIn Ken Dow, the former Columbia County Democratic Elections Commissioner and attorney representing neighbors of the airport in Ghent, has joined the ranks of those publicly criticizing the Register-Star’s incomplete and often slanted coverage of the issue. Dow sent the following commentary to the Register this morning, regarding Joe Gentile’s latest stenography article, erasing most statements which would challenge the “official” storyline: This article gives an extremely misleading picture of what went on at the meeting. The article dutifully recites Mr. Benson's claims and talking points, but barely notes that the bulk of the meeting was one speaker after another—both members of the public and Supervisor members of the Airport Committee—questioning, criticizing, or downright ridiculing Mr. Benson's eleventh hour “proposals.” The article does not mention that Mr. Benson's plan would require the elimination of the Meadowgreens Golf Course. That omission may be understandable, since Mr. Benson failed to mention... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2014 at SamPratt.com
This year’s 25th Annual Crystal Apple Award ceremony with be the last, Columbia County Chamber of Commerce director David Colby told me this week. While there have been a few worthy winners in the past (such as FACE Stockholm and Camphill Ghent), the award has a spotty past of picking longterm success stories. As reported previously here, “nearly 40% of the 1992-2013 award winners either defunct, disappeared, or discredited.” At times, the winner seemed to be whichever business had received the most government backing. A particularly weak pick of this type was the Chamber’s 2010 award to as-yet-unproven Local Ocean, which within a few years defaulted on its County PILOT plan, then then went out of business. Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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New Lebanon Supervisor Michael Benson missed 70% of Airport Committee meetings, but now expects to dictate the Committee’s decision. Six Columbia County Supervisors were appointed last Fall to a new Airport Committee. Months of intense debate and research finally produced a compromise solution for the Ghent facility, slightly reducing the runway’s length while reducing costs to address potential hazards. The Columbia Paper editorialized last week that the so-called Porreca Plan presented “relevant facts, precise goals and a reasonable, affordable plan for making the airport safer.” Even Richmor president Mahlon Richards favors the plan. But now, the Committee member with the worst attendance record is trying to re-wage the County Airport battle, well after it has reached the mopping-up stage. New Lebanon Supervisor Michael Benson attended just two of the seven public meetings organized by chair Art Bassin. The following chart, assembled from Airport Committee minutes, tells the tale: An eighth... Continue reading
Posted Feb 24, 2014 at SamPratt.com
Via fabled River activist Bob Boyle: Prompted by a vast uptick in rail and barge transportation of fossil fuels along the Hudson River, the 625,000-member Center for Biological Diversity put the Coast Guard and EPA on notice today of its plans to sue if steps are not taken to address the risks posed. The group warns of potential harm to “millions of people” in the region due to spill plans which have been rendered “inadequate” by the huge increase in fuels running south down the River—as well as major new storage capacity at sites like the Port of Albany, which handled an estimated “one billion gallons of Bakken crude oil alone” in the past year. “Given the unprecedented increase in rail and barge transport of oil through the planning area, and given the new products and wastes being transported, impacts to species hold far greater risk than was the case... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2014 at SamPratt.com
Local ideographer and newsman Lance Wheeler dredged up this old street footage of Hudson circa 1980... Note in particular the handmade sign which appears at the end on a building in the 500 block, which suggests that not everyone was on board with some of the Federally-funded schemes which reshaped the City in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. (Bill Lowenstein, still a Hudson resident, headed up many of Hudson’s “development” and renewal programs, working closely with then-Planning Board chair Art Koweek.) Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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Hudson resident Maureen Cassidy-Geiger shared this photo of the southbound Amtrak train stuck in the snow on Friday. Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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Remarkably, as of 3 pm there are no reported power outages for National Grid or NYSEG... Yet. But these links will likely get some use before the blizzard is through: • National Grid NY Outage Map • NYSEG Outage Central Continue reading
Posted Feb 13, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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Icicle on a wire, 7th Street, Hudson (NY). Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2014 at SamPratt.com
The previously-noted Greene County Council on the Arts charity poker tournament is tonight (Saturday) at 6 pm. Every player gets a deck of artist-designed playing cards, and there will likely be enough prizes for even the first person out to win something… Details are at the link below: http://www.greenearts.org/poker-party-details Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2014 at SamPratt.com
The wingnut freakout over CVS stopping cigarette sales exposes the emptiness of their supposed liberty-lovin’ ideology. If FOX-watching Republicans really believed in freedom, they would respect CVS’s decision as its own business choice. And if they really believed that “The Market” makes corrections to serve demand, then they would shrug and wait for cigarette stores to pop up in any neighborhood where cigarettes become scarce... One is left with the suspicion that they consciously or unconsciously like the idea of people getting cancer. Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2014 at SamPratt.com