Thursday, December 8, 2011

Closing Meagher School Will Save $0.00 ??!!

Take a look at what is being reported on the Daily Freeman website:

"An early plan for closing Meagher Elementary School and eliminating nine class sections was projected to save $680,000.

A revised plan would save at most $100,000.

The new version of the redistricting plan, which changed the way Meagher students are divided between John F. Kennedy and Edward R. Crosby elementary schools and made some other geographical boundary tweaks, was designed to reflect more realistic projections for next year’s school enrollments and include factors like special permissions for students to attend different schools. Under that plan, only one section -- not nine -- would be eliminated from the current school year’s total of 144.

Superintendent Gerard Gretzinger estimated the elimination of one teaching position would save $100,000 in salary, benefits, and classroom supplies.

But Transportation Director Judith Falcon said the plan may require two additional bus runs at $50,000 each, which would wipe out any savings."



The bottom line is that the school district raced like crazy to close Meagher School and the amount of money to be saved by taxpayers is NOTHING. If this is not evidence of a poorly planned, half-witted scheme, I do not know what is.

The members of the School Board insisted closing Meagher would save $680,000 for taxpayers. I and others repeatedly told them that there would be no savings because of increased costs, especially bus costs. They said we were crazy.

Now, do not expect the School Board to admit a mistake. They never admit mistakes. They believe they are incapable of making mistakes.

Why can not one single member of the Board realize the mistake they are making? Meagher is not the right school to close. If you must close a school, close the one who has almost all of their students already being bused so as not to dramatically increase the cost. Close the one which will disrupt the least students. Close the one that is weakest according to the test scores. Close the one which would require more money in repairs than Meagher. If you must close a school, close Zena. That will never happen, however, since people working at Zena have close connections with the School Board and Superintendent.

I am curious. Are the people of Kingston as frustrated with this nonsense as I am?

******************
UPDATE

******************


The Freeman has dropped their story and posted an "amended" version. Now, the claim is being made that there will be $680,000 in savings from the closure. Obviously, someone from the Board must have placed a call to the Freeman.

Frankly, I do not believe this. Show us the documents and the numbers to back this up.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Street Crime Attack Team

Kudos to our new Police Chief. He has decided to create a street crime team in response to the crime problem in the City of Kingston.

Several people have contacted me reminding me of my proposal for "SCAT", a "street crime attack team", highlighted during the recent campaign.

My answer has been that I am not interested in getting credit of any kind. I am just glad that crime is being addressed, and I hope that street crime team has the desired results.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gallo Elected Mayor

I wish to offer congratulations to Shayne Gallo. He was elected Mayor of the City of Kingston earlier tonight. I stopped by his victory party and shook his hand. He worked hard and deserved to win.

As for me, I walk away with my head held high. I feel I ran an honorable campaign. I did very well in the debates. I wish I could have gotten a one on one race because I know it would have been much closer. Shayne might still have won, but it would have been much much closer.

Nevertheless, Shayne deserved to win. He worked hard and he earned it. I wish him nothing but success.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Election Day

The polls will close in just over 1 hour. However the results go, I just want to thank the people of Kingston for begin so kind to me on the campaign trail. I enjoyed meeting so many people.

Kingston has many problems, but I remain confident that we, as Kingstonians, can solve them.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Final Debate

Today was the final debate of the campaign. It took place at the Daily Freeman. It was an excellent debate, though I still think Mr. Ladin should have been invited.










Video streaming by Ustream

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

KURA "Meet the Candidates"

Rather than have candidates appear and give oral answers, the Kingston Uptown Residents' Alliance (KURA) sent questionnaires to all 4 candidates for Mayor, the 2 Alderman-at-Large candidates, and all of the Alderman candidates.

Sadly, most candidates did not respond. In the Mayor's race, 3 of the 4 responded. The answers have been posted. Click here to see them.

I apologize for the length of my answers, but they requested specifics.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Clip From the City Hall Debate

I have not found an entire recording, but here is a clip from the debate posted on YouTube.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Freeman Will Not Allow Ladin to Debate

The Daily Freeman has decided not to allow Steve Ladin to join the November 3rd debate. Below are the e-mails confirming this fact.

E-mail #1 was sent from Steve Ladin to Paul Kirby, a reporter of the Daily Freeman (not his decision to exclude Ladin or me originally).

From: Stephen Ladin [mailto:steveladinformayor@yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 12:46 PM
To: Paul Kirby
Subject: Re: Profile

Hi Paul - Rich Cahill tells me that neither he nor I have been invited to the next debate that the Kingston freeman is conducting. Please correct this oversight (have you forgotten what happened to the so called front runners in the primary?). And in case you're not paying attention: I believe Rich Cahill will gather more votes than Ron Polacco. Thanks--



E-Mail #2 is the response from Tony Adamis of the Daily Freeman


Steve:
Paul Kirby forwarded your note to me.
Cahill has been invited to the Freeman debate.
You are not being invited to our debate because we don't believe your candidacy is likely to affect the outcome.
Sincerely,
Tony Adamis
Managing Editor, Kingston Daily Freeman

************************

First, I thank Steve for his very kind words about me.

Second, I think Steve Ladin should be permitted to be in the debate. He collected more signatures than any other candidate to get on the ballot. While he may not have a major party line, he is still a candidate for the office of Mayor and is entitled to a level of respect.

I can understand not inviting all candidates running for President or New York State Governor since there are usually 9 to 12 candidates on the ballot. That would be unruly. In this election, however, there are only 4 candidates. Allowing Steve to be present would cause no significant difficulty. Additionally, he is a very nice guy and I enjoy hearing him speak. I cannot say I agree with him on the issues, but I respect his willingness to step up to the plate and debate three experienced politicos, two of whom are trained attorneys.

It is of course entirely up to the Freeman since they are hosting the debate. I would hope that they would reconsider and allow Steve to participate in the debate.

If not, then perhaps Steve should follow the debate online and give written answers to the questions asked. He can then post them on the comments section of the Freeman article so people can see them.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Freeman Debate

The Freeman debate is scheduled for November 3, 2011 at 11 am, and will be sent over the Internet. The format is to be the same as the Primary debates.

Originally, I was not invited to attend, as the Freeman wanted only Shayne Gallo and Ron Polacco. However, after some of my friends and supporters registered their objection, the Freeman changed its position. I have now received an invitation. I most assuredly will attend.

There are 2 other debates scheduled:

Saturday, at City Hall at 10:00 a.m. (open to public) by the League of Women Voters

Monday, October 31st, at 8:00 a.m. on WGHQ radio by KCR.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Video of Chamber Debate

I have found the Chamber Debate on YouTube. I am posting my opening remarks, the Q & A, and all 4 closing statements. The opening remarks for the other candidates are available on YouTube if you wish to view them.







Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Aldermanic Candidate Saves a Life

Last week, while attending the funeral for her mother in Fort Myers, FL., Debbie Brown's Aunt suffered a heart attack, resulting in her heart stopping.

Debbie immediately administered CPR. While directing the actions of her son to perform mouth-to-mouth, she performed the chest compressions. They maintained this until the emergency responders arrived many minutes later and were able to restart her heart after four attempts with the AED.

Although her Aunt remains hospitalized while the doctors determine the underlying cause of the attack, she appears to have no lasting damages as a result of the heart stoppage. It is certainly due to Debbie's Red Cross training and cool head under pressure.

Debbie's brother apparently made some inquires about recognition for Debbie. When Debbie heard about it, her e-mailed response was, "That was very nice of you. But I was just doing what I was trained for.... If it encourages someone to learn CPR, that would be a good thing."

Well, I think Debbie deserves some recognition for what she did. All I can offer are kudos, but they are well deserved kudos.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Chamber Debate

I enjoyed myself at the debate this morning. I felt I did well. I felt that I was ahead in the opening and closing remarks (particularly the closing). In the Q & A, I thought Shayne Gallo was very strong. I think an argument could be made in his favor or my favor on that part of the debate.

Ron and Steve performed well. Ron was very nervous, but eventually relaxed. Steve's opening remarks were quite interesting. I thought Ron's best comment was after my closing when he said, "Rich, I've seen you at many meetings. I never knew you could be so funny."

I appreciate the Chamber inviting me to the debate. I just hope I added something to the conversation.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Another Feather in his Cap

A jury has convicted Jermaine “Maino” Nicholas in connection with the Feb. 9, 2010 murder of Charles “C.J.” King Jr. The jury convicted Nicholas of conspiracy, intimidating a witness, witness tampering and criminal facilitation.

For those who do not know, Nicholas was the person who called to alert fellow gang members searching for King the night he was killed.

Trevor “Little T” Mattis and Gary “G-Money” Griffin were previously convicted of 1st degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Jarrin 'Phat Boy' Rankin was convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Murder. He received 25 years to life in prison.

These were difficult prosecutions, especially the Nicholas case. These convictions send a powerful message to gangs and drug dealers throughout the City of Kingston and beyond. After the Rankin conviction, D.A. Carnright said, “We certainly have put a dent in the Sex Money Murder set of the Bloods, there’s no doubt about that.” Certainly the same can be said once again.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Strong Stand Against Crime

District Attorney Carnright has requested and County Executive Hein has agreed, as part of the Proposed 2012 County Budget, to hire a full-time Assistant District Attorney, assigned specifically to help combat crime and gang violence in the city of Kingston. This is an excellent proposal.

When I was growing up, Kingston was a safe place to live. People did not bother to lock their doors and thought nothing of walking around the neighborhood after dark.

However, this is not the case today. There has been a steady increase in crime and gang violence over the past few years. Our city has become dirty, marked with vandalism and graffiti, and unsafe after dark.

A study was done a few years ago on the level of gang infiltration in the City of Kingston. This study determined that there were over 300 known gang members in our city. There were over 100 members of the Bloods and more than 75 members of the Crips, including a sub-gang of Crips called the Rolling 60’s. There were also more than 50 members of the Latin Kings and MS-13 and a local gang known as Exit 19.

These gangs have members who are only 12 years old and in some cases accept even younger members. The number one target for recruitment to these gangs is Middle School, not High School as originally thought.

I commend D.A. Carnright and County Executive Hein for this proposal which is desperately needed in the City of Kingston.

Now, the budget goes to the County Legislature. While I know that the Legislature has some very legitimate concerns about other provisions within this budget proposal, I urge them to keep the new Assistant District Attorney funding in place. Kingston and the surrounding area needs to take a strong stand in the fight against gangs and the associated drugs and violence.

Golden Hill Issue Resolved By County Executive

The Middletown Record is reporting that Ulster County Executive Michael Hein “has just announced that Golden Hill Nursing home is going to be privatized.” "The county is creating a local development corporation to identify a buyer and sell the County Nursing home to a private buyer in 2013. The subsidy to run the home in 2012 is $5.6 million."

"Legislators must approve a transfer to a local development corporation and Hein says he will veto any other options. The budget calls for an increase of 2.5 percent in the tax rate. Hein says he will veto any attempts to override the property tax cap."

The County Legislature was deeply divided on this issue. Now, it appears that County Executive Mike Hein has stepped up, shown some leadership, and taken a strong stand on the issue. Whether you agree with his decision or not, one must commend him for taking a strong position.


Debates

Two debates have been confirmed and two more are currently being scheduled. The Daily Freeman and the Kingston Times are currently planning candidate debates before their editorial boards. No word yet on the date or time of either.

However, two debates have been scheduled. The first is hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. It will be held on Friday, October 14th at 7:30 am at the Holiday Inn. Tickets are $15.00 for Chamber members and $30.00 for non-members. Call for tickets at (845) 338-5100.

The second is sponsored by the League of Women Voters. It will be held on Saturday, October 29th at 10:00 a.m. at City Hall. This event is open to the public without charge.

I urge people to attend and ask their questions. If there is insufficient time to get your question asked, just see me after the debate and I will answer any and all questions.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Conspiracy? Really??

There is an article in the Kingston Times that has a comment from Republican Chairman Tony Sinagra that has me both laughing and scratching my head. Here is the clip:

"Kingston Republican Committee Chairman Tony Sinagra, stinging from the defeat of a candidate whom he has actively endorsed, accused Cahill, Polacco, and fourth-place contender Jean Jacobs of working together to undermine Turco-Levin's prospects and the party's best chance in two decades to retake the mayor's office."

According to Sinagra, it was a conspiracy against Andi Turco-Levin that cost her the election. Ron Polacco, Jean Jacobs, and myself apparently hatched a brilliant scheme to go out and get hundreds if signatures each, attend debates and various political events, and walk door to door throughout the city not in an attempt to win the Primary, but instead just to "undermine Turco-Levin's prospects".

Is he delirious?

All three of us wanted to win, and all three of us felt betrayed and mistreated by Tony Sinagra. That is where the similarities end. We ran separate campaigns and tried to win. In the end, Ron won the Republican line fair and square. I won the Conservative line fair and square. Tony's candidate lost both primaries.

At least Andi Turc0-Levin showed some class after her defeat. She offered no excuses and took her defeat like an adult. Perhaps Sinagra should learn to do the same.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Gallo Wins Dem Primary

The recount has finished. Shayne Gallo has won by 7 votes. I congratulate Shayne on a well run race.

I find it very interesting that BOTH of the party nominees went down to defeat. The only party nominees to win their respective primaries were Shayne Gallo (Independence Party) and myself (Conservative Party). Perhaps the Democrat and Republican committees are in need of a leadership change.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Polacco Declared GOP Nominee

After several hours of recounting, Ron Polacco was declared the winner of the GOP Primary by 10 votes. He now joins Shayne Gallo, Steve Laden, and myself on the November ballot.

The Democrat Primary remains too close to call. Gallo leads by 6 votes with 26 ballots being contested, likely going to court shortly. The Independence Primary went to Gallo by 1 vote. Though there is one ballot for Hayes that was challenged, it likely means nothing. A tie would be decided by Len Bernardo, the County Chairman. He has been a strong supporter of Gallo.

It looked like the Republican Primary was headed to court. Andi Turco-Levin's attorney challenged ballots from the very beginning. Realizing this, I started challenging ballots myself. At the end, they challenged 13 and I challenged 7 ballots. I offered to withdraw my objections if they would do the same. They agreed to open 14 of 17 and I accepted. Ron's lead grew from 4 to 9 and it was over. The last 3 were opened extending Polacco's lead to 10 votes.

I congratulate Ron on winning the Republican Primary. With me winning the Conservative Primary, it sets forth an interesting scenario. The candidate picked and pressed by Chairman Sinagra lost both primaries and is now off the ballot. The two Republicans rejected by the Chairman are the last 2 standing. Seems to me like the GOP needs a new City Chairman.

As for the November ballot, the only remaining question is whether Hayes Clement can come from behind and win the Democrat Party line. If he does, there will be an unprecedented 5 party race for Mayor.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Republican Primary May Go To Court

Apparently, the Turco-Levin camp is very concerned that Ron Polacco will win the Primary after a count of absentee ballots. A source within the Turco-Levin campaign tells me that Andi has hired a lawyer and intends to challenge every single absentee ballot.

The recount is set for 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday. I will be at the recount myself. Though I cannot mathematically win the Republican Primary, I want to see every single vote counted. Whomever the winner is, it should be after all votes are counted.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Looks Like Polacco and I Split the Lines

I was very pleased to win the Conservative Primary by a 2 to 1 margin over the balance of the field. I have always considered myself to be a Conservative Republican and thus take great pride in taking 65% of the vote in the Conservative Primary

I was disappointed, however, to lose the Republican Primary. Though Andi has declared victory, I believe Ron Polacco has actually won the Primary. There are 102 absentee ballots to be counted. Ron turned in 3/4 of those ballot applications himself. Since he trails by only 21 votes, I believe Ron will win the Republican Primary by 10 votes or less.

I congratulate Ron on one heck of an effort. He worked very hard and his "shoe leather" campaign appears to have paid off. I knew once he was on the Primary ballot that my chances were not strong since we both come from the same ward and he is the current Alderman.

Friday, September 9, 2011

No Trash Pickup?? Not On My Watch!!

Mayor Sottile intends to propose that trash pickup be eliminated from the city budget next year. This is perhaps the ultimate slap in the face to city residents.

Sottile claims that the city can no longer afford this service, but intends to keep the City Economic Development Office even though we have thrown over one million dollars down that hole over the last four years. Thus, under the Sottile plan, we will see our taxes increase, plus we will apparently have to shell out more money for private trash pickup.

I pledge publicly that this will never happen under my watch. I have already proposed a plan to get rid of the 2 Assistant Superintendents and use the money to hire three additional laborers (re-hire actually as so many were laid off). This will allow DPW to pick up trash more efficiently.

We cannot afford to have a rookie in the Mayor's Office. We need someone with a real plan to combat this latest "idea" from Mayor Sottile. With all due respect to my Republican opponents, none have put forward a plan of any kind to deal with this type of emergency. I am the only one of the Republicans ready to deal with this on day one.

A loss of this kind of service is not something to be trusted to someone seeking the Mayor's office without a plan or strategy. I have a plan and will reverse the budget decision if the Common Council allows this to happen either willingly or by a refusal to override a Mayoral veto.

Can you imagine what will happen if Mayor Sottile gets his way? People who cannot afford private trash pickup will have to dump it somewhere, likely on the streets. Kingston looks bad now. Can you imagine how bad it might look with this plan in place?

Again, I pledge to the people of Kingston that I will not let this happen. I have a plan to reform DPW and give it the manpower necessary to do this job without adding to the budget. I will keep trash pickup as part of the city's services for Kingstonians. With the amount of taxes we pay, this is the least we are owed.

"The Idea Man" -- "The Big Issue Candidate"

In the last 24 hours, there have been some quotes from the Daily Freeman and Kingston Times that I was very pleased with. The comments summed up my campaign quite well.

The Daily Freeman wrote:

"Rich Cahill has served as a Republican lawmaker in the past. He has been perhaps the most outspoken during the days leading up to the primary, putting out various positions on topics although not without critics taking swipes at the ideas. He has said that some people love him. Some people hate him. He is hoping to garner the Republican and Conservative lines in Tuesday's Primary."

Hugh Reynolds of the Kingston Times wrote that I have "reinvented myself as the idea man, the guy who really understands what goes down at City Hall, the big issue candidate".

Of of the First Ward Alderman, Hugh wrote, "Turco-Levin, by comparison, played small ball, talking about smoking in the parks, sidewalks, ethic panels, etc. Her one notable excursion into major policy, when she attempted to plug into public dismay over school district shenanigans by suggesting the city investigate fiscal irregularities, left people wondering whether she really understood the duties and boundaries of the mayor's office."

I can only hope the electorate sees it the same way as the local media.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Statement From My Campaign Team

Unity has always been a major theme in the history of American politics. Benjamin Franklin is often quoted as having said that "We must all hang together or we shall surely hang separately."

Nowhere is there greater truth in this principle than when it comes to local elections. Unity on its own, however, is not enough. When it comes to the race for Mayor of Kingston, it is vital that Republicans and Conservatives unite behind the right candidate, a candidate who can actually win, a candidate who has the ability to do the job, a candidate with a detailed, workable plan.

We all know that it is not possible for a Republican to win a citywide election in Kingston unless he also has the support of the Conservative Party. We also know that the Conservative Party does not compromise when it comes to its values, nor should its members be asked to do so.

There is only one candidate who fits the bill when it comes to the ability to win, the skills and talent to be a solid Mayor for Kingston and a real plan which will make this City great again. Fortunately, he is also the one Republican candidate who most closely stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Kingston's Conservatives when it comes to values, as evidenced by their strong, unwavering support for their choice for Mayor this year.

The Richard Cahill for Mayor Campaign is asking Conservatives and Republicans of good conscience to unite behind the only candidate who is capable of uniting this City and bringing back both prosperity and safety to Kingston. Please make sure you get to the polls on Tuesday, September 13 and cast your ballot for Richard Cahill for Mayor of Kingston.

"United we stand, divided we fall..." (Abraham Lincoln)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Time for Action (Not Sound Bites) by the Common Council

I cannot comment on the charges against Mr. McGowan because he was once represented by the law firm which employs me, and the case is technically still pending. I can comment, however, on the general issue of what needs to be done to avoid something like this from ever happening again without reference specifically to Mr. McGowan.

Andi Turco-Levin has demanded that the Board of Ethics conduct an investigation. However, this is not permitted by the City Charter.

Under § C 49-2, the Board of Ethics only has the power to issue advisory opinions. Moreover, the Code of Ethics deals only with receipt of gifts, conflicts of interest, etc. It does not deal with incompetence in office. Thus, there is no point in even asking the Board of Ethics to get involved. It sounds great for a sound bite, but it actually has no teeth.

It is not the Board of Ethics which is responsible to the people to investigate the copper scandal or things of similar nature. It is the Common Council. Yet, not one member of the Council has asked the Council to review the matter. The only one talking is Andi Turco-Levin. Unfortunately, she is asking the Board of Ethics to review this and they have no legal authority to do so. It is a purely political stunt.

Instead of political sound bites, the Common Council needs to take rational steps to protect city taxpayers. Here is what actually needs to be done according to the City Charter.

Under § C 13-3(B), "The Council shall have the power to investigate the affairs of every department or agency of City Government and the official conduct of every officer and employee. The Council shall have access to all records kept by all City Officers, departments of agencies of city government."

Furthermore, under § C 13-3(D) , "All powers of the city shall be vested in the Common Council, except as otherwise provided by law or this Charter, and the Council shall provide for the exercise thereof and for the performance of all duties and obligations imposed on the city by law. The Common Council shall be responsible to the electorate for the efficient and economical management of city government. "

Still further, under §13-3(F), "The Common Council shall limit city officers from making contracts for the city and regulate the manner in which the same are made."

The Council needs to use its authority under the Charter to first examine all of the documents involved in the matter. Then, the Council should turn over all documents to the District Attorney's Office to allow them to complete any criminal investigations. Other than full cooperation with the District Attorney's Office, the Council should not involve themselves in a current criminal investigation. Politics have no place in a criminal investigation.

Second, the Council should pass a law pursuant to its authority under §13-3(F) of the City Charter requiring that all contracts dealing with city owned properties must be in writing and be available for review by the public via a FOIL request. Oral contracts in this area are unwise. If something goes wrong, the responsibilities of each side (particularly the city) must be clear and in writing.

If the Council does this, then there can be no questions concerning the scope of authority given to any particular contractor or individual working on city property in the future.

I therefore call upon the Common Council to take action and pass this law immediately.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Way To Cut the Escalating Costs of Social Services

Legislator Madsen announced a proposal on his blog to support a memorializing resolution from the County Legislature urging the State Legislature to pass Senate Bill S2494 and Assembly Bill A2281. These bills would create a mandatory residency requirement before an individual may receive Safety Net benefits. (Our State Senator, Bill Larkin, is a co-sponsor of the bill)

While I normally do not support memorializing resolutions, I think an exception needs to be made here. The State must pass this residency requirement.

By way of background, under the current law, a person who can show they reside in New York and intend to stay for the foreseeable future is entitled to apply for benefits. If a person has a NY driver's license, that will be more than enough to get these benefits. This is one of the least stringent requirements in the country. Consequently, people are flocking to Ulster County because we give away the money better than anyone else.

As Mike noted on his blog, while it is nice to be generous and welcoming to those less fortunate, we simply cannot afford this anymore. With Ulster County being the only county in the State that passes half the costs down to the cities and towns, the City of Kingston now pays over $1 million per year to these costs, and the amount keeps rising every year. In short, the Safety Net is strangling city taxpayers.

Senate Bill S2494 and Assembly Bill A2281 would
"protect 'true' New York residents who need these services by authorizing the NYS Legislature to enact a period of residency as a requirement for social services applicants".

The purpose of the Safety Net is to help New York residents who have fallen on hard times get back on their feet and get back to work. It was not designed to attract people from outside New York to take advantage of our generosity and hospitality. Unfortunately, this is what has happened.

We need a strict residency requirement to cut down on the huge expenses in the Social Service budget that are being passed down to the city causing substantial and crippling tax increases.

Therefore, while I normally do not support memorializing resolutions, this is one that city leaders should support strongly. I urge passage of this resolution and certainly urge the State Legislature to pass this important bill.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Copper Scandal

By now, everyone has read about the copper being taken from the King's Inn. I have already received numerous e-mails, Facebook messages, and proposed comments to this site. All have asked me my opinion.

I am limited in what I can say. The law firm I work for once represented the man being accused in a completely different matter. That matter is technically still open which means I am ethically restrained in what I may say. I cannot comment about his guilt or innocence, or the details of the charges against him.

What I can say is this.

First, a second city owned property was stripped of all copper pipes, i.e. the house next to Stewarts on Albany Avenue. The Freeman is investigating this as well. It has not been made public yet as to what party or person removed that copper.

Second, now is not the time for political grandstanding. You can expect at least one of the candidates for Mayor will jump on this and demand an investigation by the city as opposed to by the District Attorney's Office. Such a release would be nothing more than grandstanding and an attempt to boost a sagging campaign. Unfortunately, when an election (in this case a Primary) is 2 weeks away or less, candidates get desperate and try anything.

Moreover, the city is a party to this investigation. An entity that is part of the subject investigation should not be doing the investigating. That would like allowing the fox to guard the hen house.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Back near the beginning of the campaign, I proposed eliminating the Economic Development office and placing it with an Economic Recovery Team made up of local people with the expertise in various areas of economic development.

My idea has apparently caught on. Hayes Clement has sent out a mailing in which he proposes establishing an "Economic Development Advisory Panel" made up of local leaders and experts.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I guess all I can say is thanks.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Republican Candidates Ducking Debate

I have just been informed that Ron Polacco and Andi Turco-Levin have both pulled out of the August 30th debate on WGHQ radio. The debate, which will run from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. will feature only Jean Jacobs and myself.

As far as I am concerned, a candidate for Mayor must be willing to debate and defend his or her positions. It would seem that Andi and Ron are unwilling or perhaps unable to do so. When someone is elected Mayor, he must be willing to take on all issues. He cannot simply run away and hide. The ostrich in the sand approach is not good policy.

I urge everyone to tune in to WGHQ on August 30th from 8:00 am to 9:00 am to hear a debate between the only two candidates willing to do so. Should Ron or Andi appear at your door seeking your vote, I urge you to remind them that a leader does not run and hide. A leader is willing to answer all questions from the voters. A leader does not hide from a debate.


************
UPDATE

************

Click HERE for the Freeman article. Take note of Walter Maxwell's comment about why Andi really did not want to debate.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The City Dropped the Ball

The city will have to pay another $100,000.00 plus to remove asbestos at the King's Inn site because thieves broke in, stole all the copper piping, and ripped the asbestos apart and into the air.

My question is this. Once the city seized the property and decided to demolish it, why did they not remove all the copper and scrap metal carefully and sell it? Metals, particularly copper, are selling at a high price now. (Copper is averaging $3.00 per pound.) Once sold, the money should have been placed in the general fund to aid taxpayers.

Instead, the city did nothing and thieves broke in and stole the copper. Worse, the taxpayers not only lost the money from a potential sale of the copper, but also the damage caused when the asbestos was torn and thrown about will cost the city over one hundred thousand dollars. When the city seizes property, it must be maintained. In fact, there is usually a line in the budget for maintenance of city properties.

I believe the city dropped the ball and the taxpayers are footing the bill. I hope in the future the city will be more careful.

A Problem of Checks and Balances

A disturbing series of events has occurred in city government. The result is that the Mayor ignored the role of the Common Council and authorized expenditures without proper approvals.

As part of the demolition of the Kings Inn, it was learned that significant cost overruns would require further bonding by the Common Council to complete the asbestos removal. So, the Mayor asked the Common Council's Finance/Economic Committee to borrow an additional $200,000 to pay for asbestos cleanup and tipping fees.

At a recent meeting, the committee declined to do so. There were unanswered questions raised by committee members, and the committee as a whole decided to postpone the matter to September. Some might consider this irresponsible considering that asbestos causes its damage as airborne particles. Nevertheless, the Council is the sole entity in city government that may authorize expenditures.

Mayor Sottile decided that the Council was wrong and ordered the work to go forward without the funding being in place.

While the Mayor is correct that the asbestos must be dealt with quickly, he has acted well beyond his authority under the City Charter. The Mayor may not authorize expenditures or borrowing. Only the Common Council may start that process. Mayor Sottile has therefore violated the rules of his office.

The Common Council is not blameless here either. If there were important questions to answer, there was no need to put the matter off until September. Get the answers and call a special meeting of the committee. Important matters cannot just be pushed off for a month. The Council must do its job.

Finally, why has the Council done nothing in response to the Mayor's actions? The Council has an obligation to be a check and balance for the Mayor. A responsible Council should have notified the Mayor that he was without authority to enter his order. A responsible Council would have made it clear to the Mayor that they would seek a legal injunction against the Mayor's actions. This of course presumes that the Council would have scheduled a follow-up meeting earlier than one month out.

Here is the solution to this problem. First, the Common Council schedules a meeting within the next 48 hours. The answers to the questions are obtained and a final decision is made. Meanwhile, the Mayor retracts his order until the Council has its say.

Some of you may be thinking, "Why is this such a big deal? The Council will ultimately approve it, right?" Indeed, the Council will likely approve it after a few campaign speeches from the three Aldermen running for Mayor. But, at least in theory, the Council could say no. If they did, and the Mayor has already authorized the work, what happens then? There would be no legal authority to pay the contractors and a lawsuit would follow.

Second, the relationship between the Mayor and Common Council must be respected and maintained. I know full well that if I am elected Mayor, there is a strong chance the Common Council will have a Democrat majority, perhaps even veto proof. In such a case, the Mayor and the Council would have to work together or face at least 2 years of gridlock, which would be devastating to the city and its residents. I know that the Mayor and Council as a whole are equal partners in city government. Perhaps they need to act that way now.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Another Proposal for Economic Development in Kingston

As I have been campaigning throughout the city, people have continuously expressed concern about the lack of jobs and the lack of economic development in general.

Years ago, the City of Kingston had numerous small businesses dotting the landscape. Many of the businesses were owner occupied. There were small grocers, barbershops, butchers, and so forth. Many semi-retired lawyers, doctors, and other professional businessmen renovated their living rooms or parlors into a small part-time office.

Sadly, there are precious few of these types of businesses remaining in the City of Kingston. One of the reasons why is the homestead versus non-homestead tax differential. Currently, the tax rate for a business is more than double the residential rate. Thus, if a person decides to open a business in their home, they are facing a substantial increase in their property taxes. This expense makes it financially unwise to make such an investment. Granted, one may petition the Planning Board to get some portion of the property levied at the residential rate, but such a process is long, tiring, and cumbersome.

If you drive through the City of Kingston, the number of empty storefronts is staggering. Something must be done to stimulate our local economy and get these storefronts open for business once again.

Since the City of Kingston needs economic development in the worst way, and since owner occupied businesses are something the city also needs, it is time for the tax law in Kingston to be amended.

I propose that a business that is owner occupied be levied at the homestead rate instead of the commercial (non-homestead) rate. The property would have to be truly owner occupied. Simply having a cot in the back room would be insufficient. This law would apply only to those people who own a business and actually reside on premises, perhaps in an apartment above the store, or something similar. The law would also require a criminal penalty for those falsely claiming residence to avail themselves of the tax benefit.

The intention is to provide an incentive for people considering or actually operating a small business out of their residence or in a building annexed to their residence. The business community in Kingston has been stifled with high taxes and choking city regulations and red tape. We need to offer incentives to our businesses to get them growing and expanding again.

Naysayers will no doubt question this proposal and wonder aloud how the tax break would be funded. These same naysayers have not offered one single plan to improve our local economy, create jobs, address the crushing level of taxes, cut city spending, or fight crime. As I have noted before, my comprehensive plan contains more than enough spending cuts to allow for this plan, as well as my previous business proposals. The residents will not see their taxes increase as a result of this plan.

We must get our local economy started and running again. We need jobs and economic development so our citizens can work and earn a good living.

A New Farm Stand in Kingston

Monday, August 22, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The South Pine Street City Farm launches a Midtown Farm Stand in Kingston, NY. Fresh vegetables from the farm can be purchased by residents three days a week beginning on August 29th for the remainder of the growing season.

Kingston, NY - The South Pine Street City Farm located at 27 South Pine Street off of Greenkill Avenue in Midtown, Kingston has successfully turned a vacant lot into a thriving organic farm created by first generation farmer Jesica Clark. Beginning on August 29th, a "Midtown Farm Stand" will be operated on site selling fresh vegetables three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 4:00pm - 7:00pm for the remainder of the growing season.

The Farm, a program of the Queens Galley, grows fresh, local and organic produce that feeds guests at the Queens Galley less than a mile away. In addition, Farmer Clark delivers seasonal vegetables to local stores and restaurants in a 'farm to table' effort. With the addition of the Midtown Farm Stand, residents can now purchase seasonal organic vegetables at a better price due to the elimination of transportation and other associated costs.

The South Pine Street City Farm is a program of the Queens Galley in partnership with Binnewater Ice Co. and the Kingston Land Trust. The Midtown Farm Stand was made possible by a material and build donation by Hugh Cummings of Hugh-Name-It Builders, Kingston NY.

For more information, contact Farmer Jesica Clark at 845/380-9183 or Rebecca Martin, Executive Director of the Kingston Land Trust at 845/877-5263.


--
Rebecca Martin
Executive Director
The Kingston Land Trust
845/877-LAND, Office
845/750-7295, Cell

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pfc. Douglas L. Cordo

It is being reported by the Daily Freeman that Pfc. Douglas L. Cordo of Kingston was killed in action in Zabul, Afghanistan, during an enemy attack.

Cordo died protecting the freedoms that we as Americans take for granted every single day. The freedom to speak, practice religion, publish a newspaper, book, or blog, and/or own property have all been protected for us by brave men and women like Pfc. Douglas L. Cordo.

Along with everyone in Kingston, I want to offer my condolences to the Cordo family.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Turco-Levin Calls for Ban on Rifles, Shotguns, BB Guns and then Withdraws it

Yesterday, I was contacted by the Daily Freeman to comment on a proposal by Andi Turco-Levin. It seems that a person in her ward called the police because she saw a man walking his dog carrying what she believed was a rifle or shotgun.

When the Police arrived, they learned that the man was carrying a BB rifle because he had been previously threatened or attacked by a stray dog and he wanted to protect himself and his dog. Since this is not illegal, the police wished him a good evening.

Andi sent an e-mail asking the Common Council to create a ban throughout the City of Kingston on shotguns, rifles, BB guns, pellet guns, paint guns, etc. So, a person going to hunt who carried his rifle to his car would have violated this proposed law. From her e-mail, Andi said, "To address the BB gun issue, perhaps we can look at this through the Laws & Rules Committee to change the legislation. I am forwarding this on to Jim Noble and Chairman Senor to have this up for discussion at an upcoming Committee meeting."

The law currently in Kingston is that an Adult may carry a BB gun, loaded or unloaded. A child may not unless with a parent or guardian. An adult may carry a rifle or shotgun so long as it is not loaded. The purpose of this law is to allow people to transport their rifles to the range or to a hunting site.

Andi, however, proposed a law to ban all rifles, shotguns, BB guns, pellet guns, paint guns, etc., which is of course a blatant violation of the Second Amendment. I made this point rather forcefully to the Freeman reporter.

It is my understanding that Ed Gaddy, the County Conservative Chairman, also rejected this idea and declared that Andi's campaign slogan should be "Big Sister is Watching".

The article was set to run tomorrow (Thursday). However, this morning, Andi called the Freeman saying that she did not want the article to run. She sent an e-mail to Alderman-at-Large Noble asking that the Laws and Rules Committee hold off on the proposal until she researched it further. As a result, the Freeman is not running the article tomorrow. I have no doubt that one of Andi's advisers told her how foolish it would be to take this position during a Republican and Conservative Primary.

I think there are 2 points to consider here. First, the fact that Andi submits proposed legislation before researching it and without knowing the law speaks volumes. This morning, there was an error in the video attached to the article about one of my tax proposals. Instead of Andi's response to that, there was a portion of the video from Andi about her gun proposal wherein she said people should not be allowed to carry loaded shotguns on city streets. That is already the law. Perhaps one should know what the law is before seeking to amend it.

Second, and of greater concern, is Andi's blatant disregard for hunters, sportsmen, and people who enjoy using rifles for target practice. People have the right to own a shotgun or a rifle. People also may own a bb gun or a paint gun. Many people are involved in a recreation involving paint guns where they have battles and so forth using safety equipment in controlled environments. Andi's proposal would have banned all of these things within city limits. This is not the first time that Andi has proposed wielding government power to take away people's rights.

Should people be wandering the streets with loaded rifles? No. The law already prohibits that. But, if someone wants to use a bb gun for target practice in the woods by shooting at tin cans on a log, or wants to participate in a paint ball game, or wants to transport their rifle to go deer hunting, that is their business and their right. Yet, Andi proposed taking those rights away.

I am a conservative Republican. I believe in the Second Amendment. I also do not believe in the government taking away people's rights and freedoms. In short, I am not a believer in big government.

I wish the Freeman ran this story. I think more people should be made aware of what Andi proposed and her subsequent actions. It speaks volumes about her candidacy.

Foxhall Deli to Reopen on Tuesday

I have been wondering for some time about the fate of the Foxhall Deli. It was run for years by my friend Terry. After his passing, I was hoping the place would be run by someone. It is a staple of that neighborhood.

Recently, we have seen painting, a new canape installed, and a brand new sign with a red fox on it. Today, I called the number for the deli and was told the deli will reopen this coming Tuesday. I am very much looking forward to it. My understanding is that a retired police officer who was a frequent guest when Terry ran the store will now be the operator of the store. I am glad because this means the store will likely continue in a similar manner to Terry's way.

I miss Terry. I am glad, however, that his legacy --the Foxhall Deli-- will continue into the future. I urge everyone to stop in and the see the place once it opens. Make it a grand reopening in honor of Terry.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The First Debate -- the aftermath

I feel very good about my performance today. I felt I answered the questions directly and clearly. I felt like I won the debate though I must admit that Jean Jacobs did very well also.

Due to time constraints, we were unable to get to every question submitted. So, if anyone did not get their question answered at the debate, post it here and I will give you my answer.

Tentatively, WGHQ is working on a debate on August 30th at 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.. I am looking forward to this as well.

If you missed the debate at the Freeman, see the video replay below.









Video streaming by Ustream

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Proposal to Help Businesses That Have Been Loyal to the City of Kingston

For years, Kingston has offered tax incentives to new businesses in the hope that they might relocate to Kingston. However, businesses who have remained in Kingston for many years have received no tax break and instead continue to pay exorbitant taxes. Many businesses have left Kingston unable to endure the burden any longer.

I am proposing tax breaks, but only for those businesses that are already here and have demonstrated a commitment to Kingston.

Currently, businesses owners pay taxes based upon the assessment of their buildings by a certain amount per thousand dollars of assessment. In other words, if the building is assessed at $500,000, then the owner pays 500 times the amount per thousand.

My proposal offers reductions for businesses that have been in the City of Kingston for 10 years, 25 years, and 50 years. Once a business has been here in the City of Kingston continuously for 10 years, then a reduction of $1.00 per thousand would apply. Using the building assessed at $500,000, the business owner would save $500 per year.

After 25 years of being continuously in Kingston, another dollar would be reduced from the price per thousand. After 50 years of being continuously in Kingston, another dollar would be reduced from the price per thousand. Thus, using the building assessed at $500,000, the business owner would save $500 per year after 10 years, $1,000 per year after 25 years, and $1,500 per year after 50 years.

A business would have to apply for this tax reduction (much like residents have to apply for STAR) and verify the time of continuous existence in the City of Kingston. Obviously, if a business owner sold the business to someone else, then the time would reset. Death of a business owner would not reset the clock if the business was continued by another family member.

It seems to me that a business that has been loyal to Kingston for 10, 25, or 50 years deserves a tax break more than a business that is contemplating coming to Kingston and may not even stay. My parents taught me the importance of loyalty. Kingston should reward those businesses that have been loyal to Kingston.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Part One of My Tax Burden Relief Plan

The tax burden in the City of Kingston has become absolutely brutal. There is little question that city spending must be reduced and the tax burden reduced on residents and businesses. However, even if city and school taxes could be reduced by 10%, the burden would still be considerable.

Every year, Kingstonians must make 2 massive payments of their city taxes and 2 massive payments of their school taxes. The second payment of the school taxes is almost always in December. Citizens are saving money to give their children a Merry Christmas or a Happy Hannukah, yet have to deduct from their holiday money to pay the “Grinch” the second half of school taxes.

If elected Mayor, I will order the Comptroller’s Office to offer a new option for city taxpayers. If a taxpayer desires, they may keep the current payment system. However, taxpayers (residents and businesses) may also choose a new monthly payment system. Essentially, the tax payment would be collected in the form of monthly payments, so as to ease the burden of paying 4 massive payments. It would also allow for easier budgeting for households and businesses on a monthly basis.

The city does not accept partial payments. So, if you get behind on the massive payment, they will only accept full payment along with the monetary penalties which are quite steep. This prevents many people from paying down their tax debt. A monthly system would help alleviate this problem.

My hope as Mayor is to reduce city spending and begin to bring down the massive tax burden on our citizens and our businesses, all of whom are struggling mightily in this extremely weak economy. Payment of taxes, however, will always be required, even if reduced. Why not make the payment as easy as possible and allow a monthly payment program?

Currently, there is only one monthly payment program offered by the city. Unfortunately, it requires a property owner to be three years behind and in the process of foreclosure. Why are we offering such a program only at the last minute when people are within inches of losing their home? Is not home ownership something to be encouraged? Since the entire tax payment system is run by computer, it would not be difficult to arrange for a monthly payment plan. It would give assistance to working people struggling to make ends meet.

As Mayor, I will look to reduce city property taxes. I will also implement this monthly payment program so that citizens and businesses who feel this would be of assistance can take advantage of the opportunity, pay their taxes, and keep their homes or businesses.

Parts 2 and 3 of my Tax Burden Relief Plan will be released shortly.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The First Debate

The first debate between the Republican candidates for Mayor will be hosted by the Daily Freeman on 8/11/2011 at 11 a.m. It will be streamed live on the Internet through the Freeman web site. Viewers will be able to submit questions for the candidates to answer once the Daily Freeman completes their questions.

I am looking forward to this debate. I think it will give a clear indication of who understands the issues and who really has a plan for the City of Kingston, as opposed to just rhetoric. I urge my fellow Kingstonians to tune in via the Freeman web site and judge for yourself.

My understanding is that the Freeman will have Shayne and Hayes, as the 2 Democratic candidates, on another day.

Not withstanding this first debate, I am challenging my opponents, Republican and Democrat, to three additional debates between now and the September 13th primaries. I stand ready to defend my positions, proposals, and plan. I hope my opponents are equally willing and will step up to the challenge.

***************************
UPDATE

***************************

Though initially replying "undecided", Andi Turco-Levin has now agreed to the 8/11/2011 debate before the Freeman Editorial Board. I do not know why there was initial hesitation, but the first debate will now involve all four candidates. I am very much looking forward to it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

City Manager? No, Thank You.

I note that Jean Jacobs has proposed changing the form of city government from strong Mayor to City Manager. I had hoped this debate ended in 1994, but suppose I always knew it would rear its head again.

Back in 1994, my father was appointed by Mayor Gallo to serve on the Charter Commission which ultimately rejected the City Manager form of government. I remember the League of Women Voters held a debate on this matter at the County Courthouse between Dad (for strong Mayor) and the late Tom Benton, esq. (for City Manager). I was so proud of my Dad when he won the debate against a trained and experienced attorney. His arguments still hold strong to this day.

For the reasons I am about to set forth, I, like my Dad, am diametrically opposed to a City Manager. However, I want to also make clear that my strong opposition to this proposal should not be seen as an attack against Jean Jacobs. I know she is offering this idea because she believes in it and thinks it will help Kingston. While Jean's heart is in the right place, I think the proposal is a bad idea.

The concept of a City Manager is essentially the municipal form of a School Superintendent. The idea is to bring in a so-called expert, pay him or her a substantial salary, and let them run the municipality. In the case of the school district, the current pay is close to double that of the County Executive and the next Superintendent will be at least $175,000.00, an amount the city cannot afford. How many people think the City of Kingston needs its own Superintendent?

Over the years, I have railed against hiring outside consultants because I believe there are no problems facing Kingston that we as Kingstonians cannot solve ourselves. Finally, others seem to jumping on this bandwagon. Why would we now essentially hire a consultant to run our entire city?

One must ask why we would pay a Mayor $75,000.00 per year and then pay a City Manager substantially more to do the job currently done by the Mayor. I know some will point out the deficiencies of the current Mayor to justify the hiring of an outside expert. I do not disagree that our current Mayor leaves much to be desired, but cannot agree that we need someone from outside the City of Kingston to tell us how to run our city.

Over the years, we have had good Mayors, bad Mayors, and some really outstanding Mayors. Regardless of their performance, they were all Kingstonians with an understanding of what our city is all about. I find it comforting that the leader of our city is a Kingstonian, preferably born and raised.

I cannot highlight enough the importance of having a native and lifelong Kingstonian as our Mayor and leader. A City Manager or a non-Kingstonian would never have ordered the renewal and refurbishing of our beautiful City Hall on Broadway. However, Mayor T.R. Gallo was a native Kingstonian and understood the importance of the building to the people of our city. Now, we have a City Hall that we can be proud of.

A second problem with a City Manager is accountability. A City Manager is not elected by the people. He or she is hired by the Common Council and therefore relies upon them to keep his or her job. I prefer someone hired and fired on Election Day by the people of Kingston. Putting our future into the hands of the Aldermen and a hired manager is not as effective as having a strong Mayor who is held directly accountable to the voters of Kingston.

Take a look at the actions of our Common Council over the last 2 years, i.e. cats, yard sales, cigarettes, sidewalks, etc. with no real progress on spending, taxes, or economic development. Is this really the group we want effectively running the entire city through a hired manager? Personally, I think the answer is an obvious no.

Take a look as well at the number of lawsuits that have arisen when a city council fires its city manager. It often gets very ugly and very expensive. With a Mayor, the firing occurs on Election Day and is clean and final.

In summary, I am strongly against a City Manager form of government. I think a strong Mayor is essential to the revival of our city. The voters should choose our future and our leader, not the Common Council. I believe that I have the skills, education, and experience to run this city effectively and I would not require an outside "expert" to help me do so. I believe Shayne Gallo is the only other candidate ready to go on day one as well.

Whether the voters choose me, Shayne, or anyone else, let the decision of our leader always be with the voters of Kingston. I think a City Manager is a bad idea. It was rejected in the election of 1994 and should remain firmly on the ash heap of history.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Let's look at the Republican candidates on the issues

I have thus far made proposals to cut city spending, cut property taxes, reorganize city departments and make them more efficient, boost our local economy to create jobs, and fight crime. In fact, I have made numerous proposals on the crime issue.

As the Republican voters look to September 13th to make their decision, I ask them to consider the proposals offered by my Republican voters.

Andi Turco-Levin has made 3 proposals dealing with sidewalks, cigarettes, and term limits. Many people like term limits, but can anyone honestly say that cigarettes and sidewalks are the big issues of the day? She has offered nothing on taxes, spending, governmental efficiency, the local economy, jobs, or crime. In fact, she told one of the Democratic candidates that she will not offer anything on crime because it is of no concern to her.

Jean Jacobs has offered one proposal that I am aware of, i.e. the return of the Guardian Angels. I do not have a problem with the idea, but it is not enough on its own to fight crime. To Jean's credit, however, she has supported most of the ideas I have offered and has not rejected them merely because of who proposed it.

Ron Polacco has offered zero proposals -- absolutely nothing.

I respectfully submit that I am the only Republican candidate who has offered anything of substance on the issues that really matter to the voters. As I campaign door to door, the voters tell me that taxes, spending, the local economy and jobs, and crime are their most important issues. I have submitted multiple proposals on all.

This primary election should be about which candidate has the best ideas and the best plan for the City of Kingston. Using this comparison, it is no contest. I have been in the game for years offering proposals to improve our city. My opponents are yet to even pick up a bat. If you rate the candidates by the ideas put forward, I am first with Andi a distant second, Jean Jacobs third, and Ron Polacco trailing the field.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Response to Mr. Silva

In today's Daily Freeman, Chris Silva, the Executive Director of the Bardavon, lashed out at myself and other candidates for office for opposing the proposal to make the King's Inn location low income housing. His e-mail was filled with hateful attacks and provocative language.

He wrote, "What I find most pathetic is this politically expedient mob mentality pile-on that publically (sic) trashes a proposal by 3 LOCAL organizations before any meetings, any discussion of the proposal itself and the many ways it could benefit midtown."

He further writes, "We 3 propose a $12 million dollar investment into midtown and get told through the front page of the newspaper by the gang of 5 to screw off. We don't want your ideas. Pathetic."

I can only speak for myself, but I must respond to this unprofessional and inappropriate e-mail from Mr. Silva. I was contacted by the Daily Freeman about this proposal. I spent the next day and a half researching the proposal and researching the organization proposing it. It was only AFTER I did this research that I came out against the proposal.

I oppose any further low income housing in Kingston. We have more than enough. I have no problem with the organization proposing this. Their reputation is excellent. Nevertheless, more low income housing is not the answer for Kingston.

Second, I did not nor have I offer told a developer to "screw off". Your accusation is inappropriate and unprofessional. If you think you have a good argument to make about the proposal, I am always willing to listen. If what you are going to offer are personal insults and unprofessional banter, then I am not interested.

I will tell you that Ms. Lenz contacted me and asked me to tour the facility in Newburgh and listen to her arguments. I told her that I am very unlikely to change my mind, but I am always willing to listen and collect more data and information. Perhaps you should consider taking a lesson from Ms. Lenz. She was very professional and very polite. She did not offer personal insults or attacks.

Finally, your statement about the amount of the investment is misleading. According to the proposal, a substantial amount of the funding comes from federal tax money through the low income housing grants. As best I can tell, without the grants for low income housing, there is insufficient money for this project.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

NO MORE LOW INCOME HOUSING

I have reviewed the proposal for the King's Inn site, and have researched the company making the proposal. The company does have a good reputation. Nevertheless, I cannot in good conscience support this project.

Some will accuse me of not having compassion for the financially less fortunate. Let me say that every community has a moral obligation to take care of the downtrodden. However, Kingston has met this obligation over and over again. Kingston already has established low income housing with Colonial Gardens, Rondout Gardens, Stuyvesant Charter, Birchwood Village, Barmann Apartments, a homeless shelter, etc., etc., etc. Every year, our Safety Net costs rise at an astronomical rate. Our property taxes continue to increase while more and more people come to Kingston specifically for public assistance.

I believe that there needs to be some compassion for the city taxpayers. The taxpaying people of Kingston go to work every day, work hard, try to keep their homes nice, and want only a safe community for their children to grow up. The last thing they need is another low income housing project paid for with their tax payer dollars.

If this project is approved, Mid-Town will continue to suffer. Crime will continue to increase and the taxpayers of this community will be soaked for further Safety Net costs and higher property taxes.

Under no circumstances should the City of Kingston support this project. We do not need more low income housing. We need jobs, more properties on the tax rolls, a stronger fight against crime, and less crippling taxes. I urge all elected officials to oppose this project. Personally, I am willing to lead the fight against the project. If elected Mayor, I will do everything in my power to stop this project.

Instead, I believe that a significant effort should be made to find state and local grants and funding to build a police substation at the King’s Inn location. I realize the costs of such a project and that grants are difficult to come by in this economy. Nevertheless, while not an easy project to accomplish, nothing worth doing ever is. Building a police substation would make a real statement to the people of Mid-Town that Kingston intends to fight crime and the gangs infesting our streets.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Press Release on New Crime Proposal

Click HERE for Freeman story.

CAHILL OFFERS PROPOSAL TO ELIMINATE GANGS IN THE CITY OF KINGSTON


Over the last decade, Kingston has been under assault by various gangs engaged in drug trafficking, violent assaults, and even murder. Many residents live in fear as a result.

Since 2005, several ideas and concepts have been proposed by Richard Cahill to fight crime and gangs, including a county wide drug and gang violence task force and a Nuisance Abatement Law. The task force was eventually implemented in 2007 by Sheriff VanVlarcum and the Kingston Common Council eventually adopted a similar Nuisance Abatement proposal offered by Don Williams, who is now County Court Judge. Both have been effective.

In the last 4 years, D.A. Holley Carnright has aggressively prosecuted gang members in some of the most high profile cases and trials seen in over a decade. The result is that gang members and the gangs themselves have taken a real hit. Now, the time has come to finish the job and rid the City of Kingston of these gangs which have caused such havoc”, Cahill said.

I am proposing that the City of Kingston implement a Gang Injunction Order program,” Cahill said, “This is the final piece of the puzzle to finally break the stranglehold gangs have on Kingston, especially Mid-Town.”

A gang injunction is a court-issued restraining order prohibiting gang members from participating in certain activities. It is based on the legal theory that gang activity constitutes a public nuisance that prevents non-gang members from enjoying peace in their communities.

Since 1999, to prevent rulings against injunctions in the name of constitutionality, city attorneys have carefully worded their filings so that they individually name every gang member, establish a designated area where the injunction applies, and enumerate the exact activities that gang members are prohibited from doing. These generally include association with one another, wearing certain clothes, making certain hand gestures, acting as lookouts, fighting, drinking, and using drugs. Some prohibited activities are already illegal, but the injunction means that violators can be held in contempt of court, which would demand additional sanctions.

I believe the Kingston Police Department, Ulster County Sheriff’s Office, and all of our local law enforcement have the necessary information and street intelligence needed to begin seeking these injunction orders,” Cahill said, “This is the next step in taking back our streets and making Kingston safe for its citizens.”

Cahill also noted that this program is necessary to show Kingston’s children that gang life is not choice they should make. “Many local children talk about the gangs and too many think joining a gang is a way to be cool or to get ahead,” Cahill said, “This program is designed to make life practically unbearable for gang members. Hopefully, our youth will see this and realize that gang life is not for them. I have seen too many young people sent off to prison and their lives ruined because they joined a gang.”

Cahill believes a gang injunction order program will be very effective in Kingston as it has been in many areas.

As noted by the Los Angeles Police Department, “A gang injunction is a restraining order against a group. It is a civil suit that seeks a court order declaring the gang’s public behavior a nuisance and asking for special rules directed toward it’s activity. Injunctions can address the neighborhood’s gang problem before it reaches the level of felony crime activity. Gang injunctions have a clearly demonstrable positive affect on the neighborhood area covered. Some have had a remarkable effect. In smaller areas, gang nuisance activity can be permanently removed. In larger areas, with gangs entrenched for years, the gang’s hold on the area can be reduced and maintained with a small team of law enforcement officers. Anecdotal evidence is fully supportive; residents continue to ask for the period of peace a gang injunction can provide.”

Though some challenge the effectiveness of such a program, a study performed in March 2011, entitled the "Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Gang Injunctions in California", was published in the Journal of Criminal Justice Research (JCJR). The study was to determine whether gang injunctions reduce crime, when compared to baseline and matched control areas. The study evaluated 25 gang injunctions from four California counties and compared them to communities with similar gang problems but without gang injunctions. It was determined that calls for service were significantly reduced compared to baseline and compared to matched controls. “It was found that Part 1 (violent crime) calls decreased 11.6% compared to baseline, while controls averaged an increase of 0.8%, a net benefit of 12.4%. Part 2 (less serious) calls decreased 15.9% compared to baseline, while controls averaged a mild increase of 1.6%, a net benefit of 17.5%. Total calls for service decreased 14.1% compared to baseline, while controls averaged an increase of 2.3%, a net benefit of 16.4%. This study confirmed that gang injunctions can be a very beneficial tool if used and implemented correctly and that they can have a corresponding impact on reducing gang crime in the communities they are implemented.” (Author: Matthew O'Deane, Title: Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Gang Injunctions in California, March 2011, Publisher: The Journal of Criminal Justice Research (JCJR)

The United States Department of Justice issued a report in 1994 which questioned the use of gang injunction orders in large cities, but agreed that such a program effectively reduces gang activity in small towns, cities, and neighborhoods.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hypocrisy

I took note that Shayne Gallo proposed a Youth Crime Task Force to deal with serious problems with youth crime. I support the idea, though believe that the task force should deal with ALL crime, not just youth crime.

What is more interesting to me is the reaction of the politicos. In 2007, I proposed a Crime Task Force. The proposal was supported by 2 Democrats (Lenny Walker and Clint Brown) and myself. In return, I was accused of racial profiling and racism. Mayor Sottile and Chief Keller vehemently opposed the idea, and the City Corporation Counsel's Office, of which Shayne was and is a member, claimed the idea was illegal under the City Charter.

For proof of these events, click HERE, HERE, or HERE. Each link will take you to a different 2007 story in the Daily Freeman.

Now, let's fast forward to 2011. Shayne Gallo proposes a Crime Task Force for youth crime. Chief Keller has "no comment". No comments were forthcoming from Mayor Sottile or Alderman-at-Large Noble, both of whom attacked my proposal unmercifully. I must also ask how Mr. Gallo intends to create this commission when his own office has already declared it illegal and contrary to the City Charter.

Notwithstanding the incredible hypocrisy of the City Democrats and the Police Chief who lampooned the idea 4 years ago when offered by a Republican and now seemingly have no comment when the proposal is made by a Democrat, I still support the idea, but think it needs to go farther. The task force should concern ALL crime with youth crime and deterrence of youth crime being a large focus.


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UPDATE

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This is in response to the comment at 11:47. My response is too long for a "comment" and must therefore be added to the article itself.

My proposal was not a citizen task force, though some citizens would have been on it.

I first proposed the idea in my 2006 Minority Leader Speech. Here is an excerpt of the speech which encompassed the proposal.

"We must take an aggressive stance against crime in this city. There are four members of this Council (Aldermen Teetsel, Walker, Senor, and myself) who were supported and endorsed by the newly formed Kingston Safest City Party. We all agreed to support the formation of a Commission against Crime constituted of various members of law enforcement and citizenry which would be dedicated to the research and review of various ways, methods, and ideas to reduce crime and make Kingston the safest -- not safe or safer-- but safest city in the State of New York. Being a man of my word, I call upon this Council to create this commission. We only need one more to join the four of us and we can get it done right away.

Additionally, we need to see the creation of an Ulster County Drug and Gang Violence Task Force. This task force would consist of the Kingston Police Department, New York State Police, Ulster County Sheriff's Office, Ulster County District Attorney's Office, and other municipal police forces throughout the county. The idea would be to pool resources and man power to attack crime and the drug trade throughout the county, but most particularly in the hot spots in the county, which include Ellenville and, most unfortunately, Kingston. Obviously, efforts would be made to include the Attorney General's Office, United States Attorney's Office, and so forth.

This type of task force has been used in other counties and has proven to be very effective. By constructing the task force from so many different sources, it cuts down on the financial burden to each and every municipality in question. We cannot create this task force entirely on our own as we require the support of other municipalities, but we can and should start the ball rolling."

Then, in my 2007 Minority Leader Speech, I said the following:

"In last year’s address, I called for the creation of a Commission against Crime constituted of various members of law enforcement and citizenry which would be dedicated to the research and review of various ways, methods, and ideas to reduce crime and make Kingston the safest city in the State of New York. Four members of this Council (Aldermen Teetsel, Walker, Senor, and myself) all specifically agreed to support the formation of this commission. Only one additional member of this honorable body is needed to make it a reality.

Just a few weeks ago, I submitted a formal request to Alderman-at-Large Noble asking that this idea be presented to the Public Safety Committee or whichever committee he felt appropriate. Hopefully, this item will be on our agendas for this month’s meetings so we can get right to work.

Additionally, I called last year for the creation of an Ulster County Drug and Gang Violence Task Force. This task force would consist of the Kingston Police Department, New York State Police, Ulster County Sheriff's Office, Ulster County District Attorney's Office, and other municipal police forces throughout the county. The idea would be to pool resources and man power to attack crime and the drug trade throughout the county, but most particularly in the hot spots in the county, which include Ellenville and, most unfortunately, Kingston.

Unfortunately, this did not happen in 2006. However, our newly inaugurated Sheriff campaigned very strongly on the creation of this Task Force. It is my hope, now that he has become Sheriff, that Mr. Van Blarcum will follow through. When he does, Kingston must not only join this coalition, but also must be an active and aggressive member."

Though Sheriff Van Vlarcum did eventually succeed in creating his version of a county-wide task force (URGENT), the city never did create the Crime Commission I proposed.

To address your points, Mr. Heppner did not "suggest" anything. He stated outright that such a concept was contrary to the Charter and illegal. I do not agree with him, but that was his opinion. The ruling was made to limit debate and discussion because the Council Majority did not want to vote for my proposal or be on record as being against a Crime Commission. So, they had the Corporation Counsel's Office issue the ruling.

Second, the fact that I had in mind having some citizens on the Commission was not the basis for Heppner's ruling.

Third, I support Shayne's idea. I just am pointing out the hypocrisy of those who once opposed it vehemently, but now are conveniently remaining silent because a Democrat proposed practically the same idea.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rest in Peace, Champ

Billy Costello, Kingston's Champ, died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. Billy was a man who truly loved Kingston. When he won the title, he could have defended it in Las Vegas or Madison Square Garden for much more money, but instead insisted on fighting in Kingston.

After his boxing career, he devoted his time to teaching our youth in the Kingston PAL League. Even after his diagnosis, he continued to work in the gym until he was physically unable.

The last time I saw the Champ, he told me he was in my corner regarding the Mayor's race. His words meant more to me than I can ever say. The man was being honored in the ring for his accomplishments in what turned out to be his final appearance in a boxing ring. Yet, he took the time to walk over to me and tell me this. I still get emotional when I think about it.

Billy will be missed, but never forgotten. Rest in Peace, my friend.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fireworks Should be on the 4th of July

If elected Mayor, I am going to make an immediate change. As long as I am Mayor, the fireworks and any city sponsored party celebrating Independence Day will be held on the 4th of July, not the last weekend of June.

I know Kingston has not done so because of a lack of interest in competing with the Saugerties Fourth of July Celebration. With due respect to Saugerties and my many friends who live there, I see nothing wrong with a little competition. The fireworks should be on the 4th of July because that is Independence Day. Having them on a different day, takes away from the importance of the holiday.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sidewalk Proposal Needs Work

Recently, the First Ward Alderman offered a proposal to give a tax break to people who, after neglecting their sidewalk and failing to maintain it, finally fixes it. Those people who have always maintained their sidewalk get nothing.

I think the proposal improperly rewards those who have neglected their property for substantial periods of time. It provides no reward for those who have always done the right thing.

However, the problem cited does need attention. There are numerous sidewalks which are extremely dangerous and need to be maintained. Unfortunately, the proposal does not get the job done. I am not going to simply criticize without presenting a solution. Therefore, I have a counter proposal to offer.

The law currently allows the city to issue a citation to people who do not maintain their sidewalk. That law should be enforced. However, a portion of the law needs to be amended. Many sidewalks have been damaged by the roots of trees that the city planted without the permission or consent of the property owners. It seems to me that if the city plants a tree and the roots dislodge the sidewalk, then the city has caused damage to private property and should be liable. Current law leaves the property owner liable. This should be changed.

Second, there are state and federal grants available to repair sidewalks. These should be aggressively sought after.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Terms Limits No, but Smoking Ban yes??

The Common Council Laws and Rules Committee for the second time rejected a proposal for term limits. I agree with the decision of the committee. Personally, I do not support term limits, except those given by the voters at election time. I also support the constitutional limits of 2 terms for President.

Many people remember a very strong and capable Mayor of Kingston named Frank Koenig. He served 5 times (10 years because the terms were only 2 years long in those days) and was very popular. A very strong majority considers Koenig to have been a good Mayor. If Kingston has a good Mayor, why throw him out because of the number of years he has served. A good Mayor should be kept, while poor Mayors should be voted out.

As for the smoking ban, I must respectfully disagree with the committee. I am not a smoker, but I recognize a smoker's rights. I can understand not permitting smoking near the jungle gym or near children. However, if a person is walking their dog or just taking a stroll in a park and they choose to have a cigarette away from children, what business is it of the city? If they throw their butts on the ground, there are already littering laws.

I am disturbed at the constant erosion of our personal freedoms. I think the Council is overreaching. I urge the Council as a whole to vote this proposal down. I also ask the Council to consider how such a law will be enforced. Are officers to be dispatched to the parks? Are we going to have a cigarette patrol?

This is an unnecessary restriction on smokers and a further regulation without a reasonable method of enforcement. As I have said before, the Council needs to focus on reducing spending, cutting taxes, economic development, jobs, and crime. The banning of cats, yard sales, and cigarettes should not be the focus of this Council.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Plan

Two posters have suggested that I have not offered a plan for Kingston yet. While I have not released all of my plan yet, I have released quite a bit of it. I decided to review what I have released already.

Crime is threatening to overwhelm our city, much like it has Newburgh. No real attempts have been made to seek state and federal law enforcement grants. As a former Assistant District Attorney, I have actually taken criminals off the streets. I understand law enforcement. I also know what the limits of my knowledge are and when to allow the law enforcement experts to make the day-to-day decisions. This combination of skills and understanding will help rid Kingston of the criminal element which is making life so difficult for so many of our friends and neighbors. No other mayoral candidate has the law enforcement and legal credentials that I possess.

My economic recovery plan, which I will be detailing in the weeks and months to come, involves a strategy of multiple facets. There is no magic button to push or one single act which will ignite Kingston’s economic engine. A plan must address multiple areas and change our governing philosophy over the long term. My plan does both.

I believe in less intrusive government. Government is not the solution to our problems. Government is most certainly a part of the underlying problem. I hold this philosophy dear. When I served as 6th Ward Alderman and even prior to that, I submitted budget proposals that would have resulted in tax decreases. I know the city budget extremely well and know areas that can be cut and areas that should never be cut.

I will enact spending cuts in various departments. There are numerous redundancies in our government which serve only to waste money and resources. There are changes in policies that will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime costs. These and other spending cuts must be enacted to first stop the growth of city taxes and eventually lower them.

During my time as Alderman and Minority Leader, as well as my many years involved in local politics, I have become extremely familiar with the various departments in the city. I understand each department’s budget and know where changes must be made.

I am proposing that the City of Kingston eliminate two (2) positions that I believe are superfluous and unnecessary. There is no need for two (2) Assistant Superintendents of the Department of Public Works. There are already positions in the budget to cover the responsibilities of these positions. Cutting both positions saves $144,841.00 based on the current 2011 budget, and likely more in 2012 depending on the contractual negotiations between CSEA and Mayor Sottile.

One of the Assistant Superintendents is primarily responsible for overseeing the pickup of trash. This is the job of the Trash Foreman. The other Assistant Superintendent is primarily responsible for the Sewer Treatment Plant. There are already two (2) Senior Plant Operators doing this job. I have genuine concerns about the need for a second Plant Manager, but certainly there is no need for an Assistant Superintendent doing the same work. Frankly, every job performed by the Department of Public Works is overseen by a Foreman. These Foremen can report directly to the Superintendent. There is no need for a middleman.

The people of Kingston have expressed concern over the pickup of trash, yard waste, and other recyclable items. Superintendent Schupp has stated repeatedly that he needs more laborers to get the job done. By cutting the two (2) unnecessary Assistant Superintendent positions, we will save at least $144,841.00, which will allow the Council to rehire or bring back two (2) of the previously laid off laborers with money left over to apply toward tax relief. The department will thus receive additional laborers and become more financially efficient, with additional money left over as savings for the taxpayers.

I will address the crippling effect of the commercial tax levy. Previous attempts to solve this problem have failed because of poor planning. The commercial tax rate cannot be dropped all at once due to the terrible effect resulting to city homeowners. The rate must be adjusted gradually over a period of years to give businesses much needed relief while not socking it to city residents.

I will order the Corporation Counsel’s Office to conduct a thorough review of all city laws, internal regulations, and procedures being used by the City Planning Board. Though New York State has laws that cannot be disregarded, we must make sure that the City of Kingston does not add to the tangle of red tape preventing business owners and developers from investing in our community. As much as possible, we need shovel ready projects in our city. For too long, developers have presented good ideas only to see them suffocated by the red tape of the Planning Board.

For years, we have dropped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the city’s Economic Development Department. In the most recent budget, the total expenditures for this department totaled nearly two hundred thousand ($200,000.00) dollars. As is obvious, there has been precious little economic development in our city. Certainly, the money we have spent, which exceeds one million ($1,000,000.00) dollars in the last six or seven years, has not been fruitful.

Therefore, I propose that the Economic Development Office be eliminated and replaced with two more positive and fruitful ideas. First, a small portion of the funding from this department should be used to create a grant writing office. There are numerous state and federal grants available especially in the areas of law enforcement and fire fighting. We need to pursue these grants aggressively. To fund this office would require only about ¼ of the current funding. The balance could be applied to tax reduction.

The second thing that should replace the Economic Development Office is an Economic Recovery Team made up of Kingstonians with expertise in business, law, real estate, architecture, and other areas of importance to economic development. For years, the city has hired consultants from outside our city. I believe that Kingstonians have the ability to solve the problems facing Kingston. By creating this group of civic-minded volunteers and allowing them to study the problems facing our local economy, we can use the combined brain power of our city to create solutions and new ideas to unleash Kingston’s true economic potential.

Kingston created a similar team to deal with housing issues. That team offered several valuable proposals that have been implemented by the city and proven quite successful.

This first part of my comprehensive plan will save a large amount of taxpayer money, allow us to tap into other resources and take the burden off our local property taxes, and will provide for new and innovative economic ideas.

I have a thorough respect for the men and women working to keep our City running. I am confident that I can successfully negotiate with our unions to find solutions that will preserve jobs, cut costs, cut taxes and increase the quality of services the residents of Kingston receive. There have been numerous grievances filed against the city for alleged violations of the union contracts. As a trained and experienced attorney, I know how to interpret and negotiate contracts. I also have a significant knowledge of litigation and will be able to save taxpayer dollars by knowing which cases to settle and which cases to fight.

These are just a few of the things I have already proposed. More is forthcoming. I assure the questioning posters and the voters throughout Kingston that I am focused on winning this race and helping the City of Kingston. If elected Mayor, I will get city spending under control, and I will reduce the property tax burden.

Stay tuned because more proposals are forthcoming.