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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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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 SamPratt.com
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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 SamPratt.com
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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 SamPratt.com
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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 SamPratt.com
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 SamPratt.com
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 SamPratt.com
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 SamPratt.com
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 SamPratt.com
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Last of the leaves, Greenport (NY) Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2014 at SamPratt.com
According to Patti Matheney of GhentCANN, the Ghent Planning Board voted 5-1 against the Ginsberg’s Foods proposal tonight. Details to follow. Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2014 at SamPratt.com
A series of media gaffes over the past five days has prompted Taghkanic residents to wonder: Why does the Register-Star seem to want a Republican candidate to be elected to the Town Board so badly? On Saturday, an article in the paper by Katie Kocijanski inexplicably reported that Republican Carolyn Sammons was running unopposed for the Town Board seat vacated by Deborah Gilbert’s resignation. But in fact, Sammons had an opponent: independent Linda Swartz, who was endorsed by the Democrats. The Reg-Star had every reason to know that its “unopposed” claim was completely untrue. On July 17th, it had reported that “Taghkanic Democrats nominated retired New York State Department of Transportation official Linda Swartz to seek the Town Board seat that is up for election Nov. 4.” Moreover, the Columbia County Board of Elections ran ads on that same day (as well as the Saturday before) which listed both Swartz... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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Here are some sources for results in various closely-watched races: * GIBSON vs. ELDRIDGE (NY-19 Congressional race) The Poughkeepsie Journal is reporting around 11 pm that Eldridge has conceded. The New York Times has Gibson ahead 65%-35% as of 11:15 pm, with about half of election precincts reporting—a whopping 30% lead. The Eldridge campaign had recently claimed that its polling showed it was “only” 10% down. The Times’ raw vote total is 124,428 for Gibson, 67,024 for Eldridge, a more than 57,000-vote difference. To put that in perspective, in 2012 Gibson received 138,657 (53%) and his opponent Julian Schreibman garnered 120,661 (47%). In other words: Fewer people voted in this cycle than the last—a Presidential year. Gibson actually got some 14,000 fewer votes than last time, yet increased his margin of victory by nearly 40,000, because Eldridge got 53,000 fewer votes than his Democratic predecessor, losing by substantially more than... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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Multiple news outlets are reporting that a 7,000-gallon oil spill occurred early Friday morning at First Fuel & Propane, located on Route 9H in the Town of Ghent. Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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It’s cute when a young child fibs. Most kids are very bad fibbers, so there is little risk of them fooling anyone. Plus their motives are usually harmless, and their alibis often hilarious. (“Did you eat all the cookies, Billy?” —No, the goldfish did.) Attorney Andrew Howard’s picture from his website The same can’t be said of grown men, especially grown men being paid upwards of $150/hour out of public funds... So what’s the excuse of Andy Howard, the former County Attorney turned lawyer for the Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC)? At this week’s CEDC meeting, Howard told an obvious whopper. During Tuesday’s meeting, the topic came up once again of Hillsdale Supervisor Art Baer’s request for legal confirmation that CEDC’s $1 land deal with Ginsberg’s food was aboveboard—free of any conflict of interest. Previously, CEDC (via Howard) had declined to issue the certification Baer requested, vaguely claiming that the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2014 at SamPratt.com
Posted Oct 27, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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Meanwhile, Poughkeepsie Journal endorses Gibson Last week, a poll commissioned by the Chris Gibson campaign claimed that the incumbent Republican Congressman (NY-19) holds a 26-point lead of 56%-30% over his Democratic challenger, Sean Eldridge. Now Eldridge—possibly concerned that any impression of being hopelessly behind could suppress his base’s enthusiasm—has swiftly released his own counter-poll, claiming to show him “just” 10 points behind, 36%-46%. Gibson’s result was in line with the only independent poll taken of the race this Fall, conducted by Siena College and Time Warner Cable News, which showed Gibson up 24 points in early September. (Over the summer, an early poll conducted for the United Transportation Union showed Gibson ahead by 27%.) Both competing campaign polls surveyed approximately 400 voters, and claimed a margin of error of about 5%. Gibson used the firm Public Opinion Strategies, while Eldridge used the equally-excitingly-named Global Strategies Group. Unlike Siena, neither of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2014 at SamPratt.com
There are plenty of reasons for residents of Hudson to feel disempowered. Some get disempowered by their elected officials, who display few qualms about ignoring both common sense and the voices of hundreds or even thousands of residents. Recent (non-) debates on the Community Garden, a proposed Dog Park, and the long-running Waterfront controversy are good examples of how insider conversations within the City Hall echo chamber trump popular sentiment. Others disempower themselves, for example by failing to cultivate strong candidates, and allowing beatable incumbents to run unopposed… Or, by mounting half-baked or incompetent election campaigns. The first group of disempowered people feels slighted. The second group slights itself, along with (mostly-) well-intentioned supporters. It’s in this context that both groups of disempowered Hudsonians have latched onto the abstruse issue of Hudson’s weighted vote as a means of reforming City politics. Hudson is said to be one of the last... Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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Taghkanic (NY). Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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In an email circulated to his Board colleagues last week, Ancram Supervisor Art Bassin called for the resignation of David Crawford, President of the Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC). Crawford’s engineering and planning firm, Crawford & Associates, is handling permitting and engineering work for Ginsberg’s Foods’ proposal for a 300,000-square-foot facility in Ghent and Claverack, which has received substantial financial and marketing support from CEDC. David Crawford David Ginsberg preceded Crawford as President of CEDC, remaining on its Board (according to its minutes) until October 2013, well after the agency had decided to apply for $1.5 million in funding for the Ginsberg project. Ginsberg’s Food also has had a $400,000, 1%-interest loan from CEDC; the loans term overlapped the tenures of both Ginsberg and Crawford. Finally, CEDC has come under fire for voting to give 33 acres of land to Ginsberg’s for just $1. Bassin’s email calling for Crawford’s resignation... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2014 at SamPratt.com
Ed, do you dislike the poll, or the result of the poll? Its size is not unreasonable—the independent Siena poll sample was not much larger. Given that there has been only one other known poll of this race, and that it confirmed with Gibson’s result, it seems newsworthy. One assumes that Ekdridge, with his vast resources, has also polled the district. That he hasn't released the results might imply that they did not improve on Siena’s numbers.
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Hank Gross is reporting that a poll commissioned by Chris Gibson’s campaign has the incumbent Congressman leading challenger Sean Eldridge 56%-30%, leaving 14% undecided. Generally, polls conducted on behalf of candidates tend to be less objective than independent surveys. The result is, however, in line with a September poll by Siena College, which pegged Gibson’s lead at 24%. If accurate, this would mean that some six weeks of heavy advertising has not measurably moved the needle for either candidate. Voters who are still undecided this late in a campaign are more likely to either stay home or lean toward the challenger, since they still haven't been convinced to support the better-known incumbent. But even if Eldridge picks up most of the undecideds, that would leave him some 15-20 points behind. Gross’s report can be read at http://www.midhudsonnews.com/News/2014/October/17/Gibson_Eldridge_poll-17Oct14.html Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2014 at SamPratt.com
“Developers and other businesses generally say that they want predictability in the regulatory environment so they know what to do, and that time is money so project delays are one of the worst things for them. In the real estate world, using a strategic approach that can get a project to approvals and construction more quickly would seem to be a big advantage. “Why is it so rare that a developer studies what might work from a community’s perspective and tries to come in with a project proposal that is likely to have more support? If I were in this business, I would try to do my research, perhaps have several ideas in mind, perhaps present one or two concepts, and listen to what the community thinks to shape something that could move to approvals more quickly.” —Simon Gruber, environmental planner Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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A shakeup is reportedly brewing which may alter the leadership of some or all of Columbia County’s various development agencies. In 2010, when David Ginsberg was still President of the Columbia County Development Corporation (CEDC), Kenneth J. Flood was hired to wear three hats: Executive Director of CEDC, Executive Director of the Columbia County Industrial Development Agency (IDA), and Commissioner of the County’s Planning and Economic Development. Four years later, multiple sources now claim that Flood is likely to lose at least two of those titles. Several versions of this leadership upheaveal predict that Flood will be out entirely. According to another, Flood will retain his Commissioner’s position, but the overlapping roles of CEDC and IDA director will be handed to someone new—new, at least, for Columbia County. Sandy Mathes (SOURCE: nysenate.gov) The reported frontrunner for the position is former Greene County IDA chief Alexander (“Sandy”) Mathes, who also in... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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Food company has the largest of 50 agency loans—and pays the lowest interest rate The picture of the extraordinary package of public assistance which Ginsberg’s Foods has garnered over the years keeps getting larger. In addition to more than $2 million in new government incentives to expand, and a previous PILOT tax deal about to expire, the company is now in the final year of a $400,000 loan from Columbia Economic Development Corporation. According to a CEDC loan table obtained by this site, that amount is the largest of 50 current loans to area businesses by the agency. Ginsberg’s 1% interest rate also stands out as the lowest paid by any of the 50 current loanees listed on the chart, dated 30 September 2014. By contrast, more than half of the other loan recipients are paying between 7% and 8.5% interest. Only 5 of the 50 recipients pay less than... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2014 at SamPratt.com
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According to an article last March in The Albany Business Review, Ginsberg’s Foods Inc. had $142,000,000 in “Capital Region revenue in 2013.” (The article does not indicate if the company had additional revenue from other areas.) As a point of comparison, the Saratoga Casino and Raceway had revenue that year of $185 million. This begs the obvious question: Why does a business with that much cash pouring in need to get free land and tax breaks from Columbia County, plus $1.5 million in additional grants and tax incentives from the State? Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2014 at SamPratt.com