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Taghkanic, NY
Hudson Valley troublemaker.
Interests: media, the environment, civic affairs, small-town life, culture and government.
Recent Activity
The real reason why Trump makes people so furious? It’s not that his cruel, exploitative, ignorant and belligerent policies are so very different from those of the other Presidents of our lifetimes. It’s that his crass, moronic and selfish personality has forced a previously-complacent majority of citizens to finally glimpse the longstanding nature of American government and society. The mask is both literally and figuratively off. It’s important to that complacent majority to see Trump as an aberration, rather than someone who has finally put an appropriately hideous face on our country’s ugly politics. Now: If we would just elect a grandfatherly figure like Biden to whisk the Orange Man off the stage, then centrist Democrats and Republicans alike can go back to ignoring the deep, institutionalized violence and rapaciousness of our society. Nevermind that we’ll be going back to the same conditions which, under Clinton and Bush and Obama,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2020 at
JOINT NEWS RELEASE FROM THE V.A. & OUR HUDSON WATERFRONT The Hudson Planning Board voted last week to classify the proposed A. Colarusso & Son, Inc. project at the City’s waterfront as the type of action which requires the most stringent level of scrutiny The Hudson Planning Board voted 5-0... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2020 at The Valley Alliance
Peter Jung and Sam Pratt of The Valley Alliance gave a presentation last night on the past and future of the Hudson Waterfront. The slides of the presentation can be viewed by clicking here. [large file, be patient!] Pratt reviewed more than 40 years of citizen and official efforts to protect the Waterfront against threats such as an oil refinery, a toxic waste dump and a massive cement conveyor and barge operation. These struggles, combined with City efforts (such as developing its Waterfront park, the Vision Plan, the Comprehensive Plan, et al.) have secured the opportunity for a healthier outcome which benefit a wide spectrum of Hudson residents. Peter Jung focused on the promise the Waterfront still holds: the opportunity to deliver economic, social, cultural, recreational and conservation benefits to the whole Hudson community. The Valley Alliance agrees with the findings of New York’s Secretary of State in 2005 that... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2020 at
By a weighted vote of 56%-42%, attorney Ken Dow secured the Columbia County Democratic Committee’s blessing tonight to serve as the party’s Elections Commissioner for the next two-year term. After a reportedly contentious debate, Dow was selected by secret ballot over CCDC vice chair Erin Stamper. Dow was understood to be principally backed by the Kinderhook, Claverack, Ghent and Hillsdake Democrats, while Stamper drew votes primarily from Hudson, Germantown, Stuyvesant and Austerlitz. Two other candidates came forward but garnered marginal support. The recommendation of Dow now has to be approved by the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, which previously rejected the CDC’s renomination of incumbent Commissioner Virginia Martin. (The BOS has just recently made the Commissioner positions full-time, with nearly double the previous salary.) Normally, the two major parties allow each other to select their elections reps unimpeded. But Martin had prior bad blood with the Republican majority— and also... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2020 at
Nastke also may be out as GOP Elections Commissioner if job becomes full-time Republicans on the Columbia County Board of Supervisors joined with frustrated Democrats to vote down the reappointment of Virginia Martin, who had been narrowly recommended by the County Democratic Committee to serve another 2-year term as the party’s Elections Commissioner. A motion was made from the floor by Hudson’s Sarah Sterling, seconded by Rick Scalera, to accept the CCDC’s recommendation. The motion was voted down, with 20 Supervisors voting no—including Sterling and Scalera—and three (Ancram’s Art Bassin, Chatham’s Maria Lull and Hillsdale’s Peter Cipkowski) voting for Martin. According to a source close to many Supervisors, Martin was given the option to resign rather than have this vote occur, but did not take it. Martin Meanwhile, Republican Commissioner Jason Nastke is said to be uninterested in returning to the Board of Elections if Supervisors intend to make the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 11, 2019 at
An hour after blowing his top for the third consecutive Hudson Planning Board meeting, chair Walter Chatham submitter a letter of resignation via email to sitting Mayor Rick Rector and incoming Mayor Kamal Johnson. A copy of the email obtained by this site reads: Dear Planning Board and Mayor Elect- In anticipation of a new Administration and a fresh point of view, I have submitted my resignation from the Planning Board to Mayor Rector. Thank you all for your help and collaboration; I wish those of you staying on the Board great success in your future dealings on behalf of the City. I look forward to staying in touch with you all and hope to be before you with my own planning proposals in the future. All The Best, Walter Walter Chatham During Tuesday night’s public hearing on the Colarusso application for the Waterfront, Hudson resident Chris McManus spoke... Continue reading
Posted Dec 11, 2019 at
As of noon yesterday—a full month after Election Day—the Columbia County Board of Elections still was showing incomplete and outdated results of the November 5th election. A nudge from this site appears to have changed that. Since the mess of Election Day and the ensuing weeks of confusion, the Board had recanvassed and counted many additional results, along with those gathered from early tallies. But strangely, the BOE had not added these to tallies to publicly-released numbers. As of midday on December 3rd, its site had not been updated since November 21st. Those incomplete. results showed several candidates losing, who had since been known to have won. Considering the many mistakes, omissions, and errors which have plagued the Board this cycle, it seemed all the more odd that it would not have rushed to correct these numbers. This site messaged the two Election Commissioners, Democrat Virginia Martin and Republican Jason... Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2019 at
More observations and additional background on the previous post about the County Dems’ wasted $23,500 in funding of losing candidates : : : : : : UPDATE #1: It’s worth also noting that two candidates who received some of the County Dems’ largest expenditures actually may have harmed other Democratic candidates. Few expected Gene Keeler to win the District Attorney’s race—and indeed, he lost by a wide margin, despite the CCDC’s $12,500 contribution to his campaign. As such, the main impact of Keeler’s futile candidacy was to activate the Czajka campaign and the Republican County committee. Mass-mailers and other get-out-the-vote efforts for Czajka almost certainly caused some Republicans countywide to turn out who otherwise would not have done so. These voters almost certainly then continued voting on Row B for GOP candidates further down the ballot. In close races in places like Copake and Ghent, where every vote counted, this... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2019 at
Meanwhile, competitive candidates were largely shunned Almost all of the money spent by the Columbia County Democratic Committee in the 2019 election cycle went to races which the party’s favorite candidates lost by huge margins. Meanwhile, Democrats who ran in close races either struggled to secure funding from the County committee, or were ignored; or ran their own campaigns—steering clear of the hapless CCDC. By this site’s count, based on Campaign Finance Disclosure reports, the County Dems blew some $23,500 on landslide losses, while donating as little as $500 to winning ones. 2018 records show that the Party’s largest direct expenditures on candidates and committees were: $12,500 to the District Attorney’s race, which Gene Keeler lost yet again, by 14%; $5,000 to the Chatham Democratic committee to back a Republican, Maria Lull, who lost for Supervisor by 19%; and $5,000 to the Committee to Elect Peter Bujanow, who lost for... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2019 at
With pressure coming from multiple fronts, Republican Elections Commissioner Jason Nastke finally gave up stonewalling the Ghent vote count on Tuesday afternoon. When the 44 remaining absentee and affidavit ballots were counted, Democrats Koethi Zan and Patti Matheney picked up 36 votes, with their Republican opponents Craig Simmons and Pete Nelson picking up seven. The 29 vote gain means both Matheny and Zan win the Ghent town board seats, giving the Democrats in majority on the Gheby board for the first time that anyone can remember. Matheney and Zan hired their own attorneys with help of grassroots supporters, to protect against the disenfranchisement efforts from the Republicans. The Columbia County Democratic Committee declined to contribute any funding to their legal cause. The final tally, after the Democrats picked up 36 votes and the Republicans picked up seven, was: Patti 995 + 36 = 1,031 Koethi 968 + 36 = 1,004... Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2019 at
After lodging over 110 challenges last Friday to absentee voters in Ghent and Copake—including many dual residence voters, and even a 90-year-old woman in a nursing home—the Republicans apparently missed their deadline yesterday to take those challenges to court. The Democrats filed a token number of challenges of their own, which they likewise dropped. Nobody home The Board of Elections Commissioners are supposed to have such ballots opened and counted as soon as the three calendar-day deadline expires, just like any other votes, according §9-209 2.(d) of the New York State Election law. But per a report from the Ghent Democratic candidates on Facebook, no Republican staff is present at the County Board of Elections to finish the count. Republican Commissioner Jason Nastke is missing in action—believed to be handling real estate closings elsewhere instead. Matheney posted the photo at right showing empty GOP desks in the Board’s offices. In... Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2019 at
According to attendees, the Columbia County Democratic Committee required two votes last night to determine who it would recommend to the Board of Supervisors to be the party’s next Elections Commissioner No discussion among Committee members of the four candidates was possible after each made their presentations—because the vote was last on the agenda, and party leadership had failed to secure the basement meeting room in Valatie past 9:30 pm. Reportedly, candidates Erin Stamper and Virginia Martin received all but one or two of the votes on the first secret ballot, with neither breaking 50% of the weighted total. A mystery candidate from Clermont or Copake received the remaining support. Chatham Republican Maria Lull, who threw her hat into the ring, got 0 votes. On the second ballot, it appears a few people moved their support to Martin, giving her just enough over 50% to become the recommended candidate. It... Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2019 at
The Columbia County Democratic Committee is meeting tonight, and on the agenda is whom they will recommend to the Board of Supervisors for the job of their party’s Election Commissioner. But unlike most other two-year cycles, this time there is fierce competition for the job. Sources indicate that both the existing Democratic Commissioner, Virginia Martin, and party vice chair Erin Stamper are vying for the position, and have been lobbying for support among Committee members. In the past few decades, this site knows of no instance of any competition for these positions in either party, at least none which ever became public. That position is currently part-time, paying around $30,000 a year. But there is some talk of the Supervisors bumping both the Dem and GOP positions up to full-time. Stamper filled in at the Board of Elections for the last few weeks of this election cycle, after Greenport’s Jimmy... Continue reading
Posted Nov 25, 2019 at
UPDATE #1: The review has finally begun a little before 10 am, though it is unlikely anyone’s ballot will get counted for many hours. UPDATE #2: GOP attorney Ciampoli has already had his first ugly outburst, lecturing a Democratic attorney that “I am going to shove your argument down your throat!” UPDATE #3: Ciampoli is objecting to numerous absentee ballots on vague, unspecified grounds about the voters’ “qualifications,” or else referencing “the Constitution”—and getting authoritative pushback from the Dem attorneys. Nevertheless, GOP Commissioner Nastke is upholding most of his objections, even while stating that he disagrees with some of them. UPDATE #4: According to one observer, Nastke independently decided—without Ciampoli lodging a complaint—to question the ballot from a 90-year-old woman, indicating that he intended to call her and question her. UPDATE #5: More than 40 ballots have been set aside as of about 1:30 pm, almost entirely from spurious challenges... Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2019 at
A list of questions was sent to both Columbia County Elections Commissioners on Wednesday, seeking answers for the underlying causes of the confusion and delays in reporting results starting at 9 pm, November 5th. Democratic Commissioner Virginia Martin brushed those questions aside (despite years of touting herself as a champion of transparency and integrity in elections). But her Republican counterpart Jason Nastke unexpectedly agreed to a half-hour phone interview, and provided extensive new details about what’s been going on. Below is an account of what Nastke said. : : : : : On Election Night, Nastke said, all voting machines were shut down at 9 pm, as usual: “We have a good process for that; it works. It was the same as we’ve done for my 10 years as a Commissioner.” GOP BOE Commissioner Jason Naske At that point, he explained, “I’m not looking at numbers. I’m making sure that... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2019 at
Many questions remain unanswered about the odd and confusing way this year’s Columbia County election results have been counted and reported. A lengthy article in the Register-Star featuring numerous quotes from Republican Election Commissioner Jason Nastke provided some context. But Nastke’s answers didn’t address the fundamental issues which plagued both the numbers and their reporting. Republican Commissioner Nastke has agreed to further discuss what happened, and this site will report on that conversation. Democratic Commissioner Martin only acknowledged that the Countywide results were published late on Monday, and ignored other questions. It took the Board just a few hours shy of a full week to report the results of Countywide races and propositions. With the District Attorney’s race being the most closely-watched contest of this cycle, it’s perplexing that the Paul Czajka-Gene Keeler results were among the last to be disclosed. A week later, the Board’s results finally confirm that... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2019 at
DOWNLOAD CORRELATED RESULTS: XLS | PAGES | CSV Sometime on Friday night, while Columbia County residents were washing the dishes after supper or scrolling through Netflix in search of something to watch, the Board of Elections finally posted Election Day and early voting returns. It had been roughly 72 hours since polls had closed, with no explanation why such numbers were taking so long to be published. The new numbers significantly alter the picture in several closely-watched towns—and show why many candidates and campaigns were tearing their hair out as the unexplained and highly-unusual delay dragged on all week. A number of candidates who were previously losing surged into the lead, or into a near-tie. Some of these races have flipped, and others will have to wait for absentees to be counted. For some reason, the new data does not include countywide results for the District Attrorney’s race, for which... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2019 at
Nearly 67 hours since polls closed, candidates and their supporters continue to wait for the Columbia County Board of Elections to release comprehensive results of Tuesday’s local elections. Some are starting to get understandably antsy, and wondering what the hold-up could possibly be. “This truly could not be more unfair to the candidates and the process,” wrote one candidate early on Friday. That town’s race has already had all its early votes either tabulated by the machines, or hand-counted, but has not seen those numbers released. On Thursday, the Board’s site promised full results by the end of the day; that deadline was not met. The same promise appears again today, on Friday, but as of 3:30 pm no new data have been released. “Not posting accurate results is causing so much confusion and yes, the conspiracy theories are swirling,” that candidate also wrote early on Friday. “This has to... Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2019 at
44 hours after the polls closed, the Columbia County Board of Elections has still only posted partial results for Tuesday’s elections. And the wait will reportedly continue into tomorrow. Yesterday the Board pulled some early vote returns from its site, replacing them this morning with a notice stating that “Unofficial GE19 early voting results will be posted later today (Thursday) with the tally of unscanned ballots.” But that “later today” promise apparently is going to be broken. Admitting that “incorrect” numbers were initially posted on Election Night, Democratic Commissioner Virginia Martin also vowed in email that they would soon have a comprehensive tally of all known results. However, a source says that Republican Commissioner Jason Nastke now does not expect any updates to be reported until tomorrow—Friday—but says he will attempt to “explain everything” once they finally get those numbers together. Meanwhile, candidates, their campaigns, their family and friends, not... Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2019 at
THURSDAY UPDATE: 3 PM: 42 hours after polls have closed, the Columbia County Board of Elections still has not published a consolidated tally of results in either Countywide or Town contests. The Board pulled its three separate Early Vote tallies down from the site, and is promising to have new numbers “later today.” Reports in both The Register-Star and a direct message from Commissioner Virginia Martin state that “incorrect numbers” were published on Election Night. Why there is continued reluctance to publish a full tally, including Early Votes already counted, remain unclear. : : : : : : WEDNESDAY UPDATES: NOON: The County Election Board has posted a new set of results, but bafflingly these actually show fewer votes than the previous reports. Martin says they will have yet another posting soon. 1:30 PM: Incredibly, the BOE has made things even more confusing, by posting four separate sets of unofficial... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2019 at
Below is a table of how voter turnout today in Columbia County is breaking down so far by party affiliation—on the machines at polling places, as of 5 pm. This does not include early voting, which reportedly had been breaking heavily Democratic. This was distilled by this site from raw data from the Board of Elections. Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2019 at
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” — UPTON SINCLAIR “It is useless to argue with a man whose opinion is based upon a personal or pecuniary interest.” — WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN • DO AS WE SAY, NOT AS WE DO: This site’s four reports on the Czajka/Keeler race for D.A. (here, here, here and here) has elicited howls of indignation from three main groups, including those who (A) have either been convicted of crimes or still have charges pending against them, or (B) have had their law licenses taken away, or (C) are members of the same hapless Columbia County Democratic Committee which nominated Keeler. Caught up in ordinary self-interest and tribalism, further amplified by the extraordinary rage over Trump, these disappointed litigants and scandalized partisans thunder that it’s intolerable—really, a mortal sin—for any Democrat to ever... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2019 at
THE INTERVIEWS Having been asked by both District Attorney Paul Czajka and his challenger Eugene Keeler to support their campaigns, this site sat down for interviews with the two men. Each interview was followed by extensive follow-up by email and direct message. This interviewer’s more personal take on the candidates appeared in Part I of this series. : : : : : : : Gene Keeler In the back room of Wunderbar in Hudson, Keeler began with a barked instruction: Let me talk first—no interruptions! He proceeded to deliver a 10-minute monologue, consisting of a nearly-verbatim recitation of policy positions already posted at his website, As the interview progressed, Keeler frequently wanted to take his comments off the record, for the purpose of inserting negative information about Czajka into this report without being held accountable for it—but sometimes forgetting whether he was on-record or off-. By contrast, the conversation... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2019 at
Left: Paul Czajka Right: Gene Keeler Source: Candidate websites Both the incumbent District Attorney Paul Czajka and his challenger, Gene Keeler, asked for my support in this Fall’s elections. Having known both candidates for more years than I can count, this put me in kind of a sticky position. But had I not known both as friends, this would not be a difficult choice. Before explaining that choice, and what occurred during my interviews with each, it’s worth saying a bit more about those relationships, and sketching a portrait of each of the men who would be D.A. JUDGEMENT, BOOKS & COVERS Until Melino’s pub in Hudson closed earlier this month, I could rely on running into Gene having a solitary beer just before kickoff of the 1 pm football games, looking for a political conversation. Gene would buy me a Budweiser draft, then bend my ear about his single... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2019 at
Register-Star report undermines Keeler’s interview claims This site has sat down with both incumbent Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka and challenger Gene Keeler for interviews about their November election race. The resulting article had been slated to appear this week. However, a report this morning in The Register-Star bears immediate discussion, since Keeler’s comments to reporter Amanda Purcell strongly suggest that the Democratic candidate has been less than honest in his assertions to this site. The Register report also contains a stunning admission from Keeler that if elected, he would have to recuse himself from the prosecution of someone he previously called “a con man,” due to his own attempts to enlist that person to aid his campaign. A Fordham legal ethics professor interviewed by Purcell agrees that Keeler’s actions are extremely troubling, describing the situation as “shocking” and “bizarre.” : : : : : : : In his... Continue reading
Posted Oct 26, 2019 at