Monday, January 31, 2011

I Agree With Mayor Sottile on this One

Yes, you read correctly. I agree with Mayor Sottile's decision to not discuss the charges against Tim Matthews or any investigations against KPD during his State of the City Address.

Three Alderman, including a Republican, are asking the Mayor to comment on these matters in his State of the City speech. The Mayor has declined.

In my opinion, it is inappropriate for politicos to start publicly discussing the details of any legal investigations or pending charges. It is best to allow the District Attorney's Office to do its job. There is no need to score political points and potentially poison the jury pool. It is better to wait, let justice take its course, and then offer comment.

The Mayor says he has received advice from Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright not to talk about the case or the pending charges. He has wisely decided to follow this opinion. I do not agree with the Mayor frequently, but when he is correct, he is correct.

Breaking News -- Entire Healthcare Law Declared Unconstitutional

Some time back, a Federal Judge from Virginia ruled the individual mandate portion of the Healthcare law nicknamed Obamacare to be unconstitutional. He did not set aside the entire law.

Now, Federal Judge Roger Vinson has ruled the individual mandate that requires all Americans to purchase health insurance invalid and, according to the decision, "because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void."

"Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution. Again, this case is not about whether the act is wise or unwise legislation. It is about the constitutional role of the federal government," the Judge wrote.

This is a much more broad reaching decision. The entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has been declared unconstitutional. Expect an immediate appeal and possibly a request to bypass the Circuit Courts and go straight to the U.S. Supreme Court.

For strict constructionists like myself, today's decision is a major victory for our country and our Constitution.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

No Rush to Judgment

I have received numerous comments on this blog asking me for further statements or opinions on the charges and investigations against Lt. Matthews of the Kingston Police Department.

Lt. Matthews has been ACCUSED of Grand Larceny for allegedly stealing $9,000.00 in evidence money. He has pleaded not guilty and is presumed innocent until proven guilty or until he makes a plea or an admission. None of these has occurred.

There is an investigation regarding the school district and its security. No formal charges have been brought yet.

I will not under any circumstances make a judgment on this matter until the investigations are over and the evidence submitted. I also want to hear Lt. Matthews' side of the story. Our system of government allows the most vile of criminals the presumption of innocence. Is not an officer of Matthews' stature entitled to at least that?

I hope that the good people of Kingston will avoid listening to the rampant rumors which will no doubt spread throughout the city. There should be no rush to judgment. If the Lieutenant committed a crime, then he should be punished. Until a crime is proven or admitted by the Lieutenant, I will not condemn him. I am willing to give Lt. Matthews the benefit of the doubt.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

High Ranking Officer Placed on Administrative Leave

The Daily Freeman is now reporting that a high ranking member of the Kingston Police Department "has been put on administrative leave, has retained legal counsel in connection with an audit of school district and police payroll records." This information was apparently confirmed by the officer's attorney and an internal e-mail.

The Freeman further reports, "A review of Police Department and school district records has turned up the possibility of double-dipping in connection with officers working at city schools, according to officials and other sources."

This story is going to generate a tremendous number of comments and opinions. I just want to ask people to reserve judgment until all of the facts are made known. All men and women and presumed innocent. This officer is entitled to no less.

Some will say that police officers should be held to a higher standard, and I generally agree. If the evidence ultimately proves guilt, then there must be appropriate punishment. However, given this officers prior sterling record and his many good deeds toward our city, I think he deserves the benefit of any doubt. So, let's wait for the evidence and all of the facts before we make any judgments or conclusions.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Stop Politicizing Insanity

I find myself growing sick and tired of people trying to score political points off the terrible tragedy in Arizona. Almost from the moment that Jared Loughner committed his despicable acts, allegations were levied against Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement. Some have accused them of being complicit in the shootings.

The supposed evidence against Governor Palin is an ad ran during the 2010 campaigns which put gun sights or targets on certain districts including Congresswoman Gifford's district. It is alleged that this ad encouraged mentally unstable people to attack or "target" the Congresswoman.

The truth of the matter is that Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, Liberals, and even the media have been using military terms for campaign tactics for years. When an elected official is considered to be vulnerable at the ballot box, then that race is considered "targeted", not for assassination, but for electoral defeat.

When an elected official responds to political attacks, he or she is described as "firing back". If they have nothing to say, it is sometimes reported that he or she is "out of ammunition".

It is important for people to realize that Jared Loughner is mentally ill. He does not think rationally. His brain simply does not work like a normal human being's brain. As such, we cannot expect to be able to determine a logical motive for his actions. For example, David Berkowitz (the Son of Sam killer), had no rational or logical motive. He killed because he thought his dog was commanding him to do so.

Yet, people throughout the country, including a current and a former Ulster County Legislator, have stated that Sarah Palin, her words, and her followers gave Jared Loughner the motive to kill. Legislator Madsen wrote on his blog:

"A 22 year old man in Arizona is probably a fan of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and others who preach of the inevitable government takeover."

Well, it turns out that Legislator Madsen was not only wrong to politicize a tragedy, but he was factually wrong as well. Many others made the same mistake.

The New York Times reports the following about Jared Lougnner:

* "He became intrigued by antigovernment conspiracy theories, including that the Sept. 11 attacks were perpetrated by the government and that the country’s central banking system was enslaving its citizens. His anger would well up at the sight of President George W. Bush or in discussing what he considered to be the nefarious designs of government. "

* Among the books that Loughner would later cite as his favorites were Fahrenheit 451, Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto.

It has also been learned that Loughner may have targeted Congresswoman Giffords as early as 2007, long before Sarah Palin and the Tea Party came to national prominence.

In other words, Sarah Palin and the Tea Party had nothing to do with the tragedy. Jared Loughner was not a follower of Sarah Palin. If anything, he was a left winger, not a conservative. He was not a fan of Sarah Palin and Glen Beck. He was a fan of Michael Moore and Karl Marx.

Let me be clear, however, I am NOT accusing left wing propaganda and political hate speech of causing this tragedy. Jared Loughner was simply a mentally disturbed young man who committed an act of unthinkable horror. He was not motivated by politics (left or right), but was blinded by mental illness and instability.

I must point out, however, that the false and disgusting accusations against Sarah Palin and the Tea Party have not gone unnoticed.

As reported by MSNBC, "A Tucson mass shooting victim was taken into custody Saturday after yelling 'you're dead' at a Tea Party spokesman during the taping of an ABC-TV town hall event hosted by Christianne Amanpour.

The Pima County Sheriff's Office said J. Eric Fuller, 63, was involuntarily committed to an undisclosed medical facility, NBC News reported. The Associated Press said he was undergoing a psychiatric evaluation."

AZ Central wrote, "Fuller's actions could be a response to the trauma he suffered a week ago, said Dr. Laura Nelson, deputy director for the behavioral health sciences division at the Arizona Department of Health." (Read more:

As far as I am concerned, it is time to stop politicizing the terrible events in Tuscon and allow people to heal and grieve their lost family and friends. Trying to score political points off this tragedy is disgusting and inappropriate. I do not place a political motive upon either Loughner or Fuller. Loughner was deranged and Fuller is recovering from being shot and witnessing an unspeakable atrocity. Their motives are not political.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bonding for Tax Certiorari??

In what is clearly a first, the Common Council voted 7-2 (Turco-Levin and Polacco in the negative) to bond for a variety of things including $100,000.00 for tax certiorari proceedings.

Alderman Turco-Levin summed it up well by saying it was the equivalent of putting a mortgage payment on a credit card. Alderman Polacco was also correct when he described the bond as "excessive".

It seems clear to me that we need more prudent fiscal policies in our budget and bonding. Obviously, essential costs were deducted from the budget and bonded to hide the extent of the spending and tax increase.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Recommendation

In light of the recent news about the O'Neil Street party and the department's intelligence operations, I think it important to point out two important ways that we as citizens can become involved in helping the Police and our city.

First, the City of Kingston Police TIPS LINE is (845) 331-4499. Tips can be left anonymously with no questions asked. If you see something suspicious, call this number and let the Police know.

Second, there is a city-wide Neighborhood Watch Group. The web site for this organization is: Go to the site, join the organization, and help be a part of the solution.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Police Department Unfairly Attacked

I must respectfully disagree with Mayor Sottile, Alderman Hoffay, and Alderman Turco-Levin concerning their statements in the newspaper blaming the Kingston Police Department for not knowing in advance about the party on O'Neil Street on New Year's Eve.

I think a few facts are important to note:

First, this was the FIRST event held at this illegal nightclub and it was on New Year's Eve. To see numerous cars in an area is not that unusual for New Year's Eve. Everyone and their mother has a party on New Year's Eve. Because it was December, it is unlikely the people would have come riding motorcycles. They would have come in cars and been less noticeable.

SECOND, the group holding this party was a motorcycle gang from Newburgh, not Kingston. Had it been done by a Kingston based gang, I feel very confident that the Police Department would have heard about it and would have taken appropriate action.

THIRD, this was not a party open to the public. It was a private party announced on a Facebook page. Unless a police officer had reason to specifically go to the website for a Newburgh Motorcycle Gang, there was no reason for them to have seen it.

FOURTH, the Police Department does not have a crystal ball. They rely on sources and members of the public for their intelligence information. Since the people at the party were primarily from Newburgh and Poughkeepsie, very few Kingstonians knew of it.

I do not believe it is productive to question the Kingston Police Department and their intelligence or abilities. Within 48 hours of the incident, the Police made numerous arrests including the man accused of shooting someone and pistol whipping a woman.

I must also note that the KPD stopped a man from killing himself on Wilbur Avenue. According to the article, he was armed with a rifle or shotgun and ready to kill himself. The Police forced their way in and convinced him to put down his weapon. They then had him taken to a hospital for observation. Sounds like good work to me.

Throughout my political career, I have been calling for tougher measures against crime. I have never questioned the abilities of our Police Department or its intelligence operations. As a former Prosecutor, I am well aware of the intelligence networks that good police departments have. I also know what is necessary to solve crimes and make arrests. Based upon this experience and my own observations, I consider the Police Department of the City of Kingston to be top notch. They do a tough job and need our full support.

Perhaps our elected officials should worry more about dealing with issues of crime and urban decay and focus less on second guessing our Police Department. I am disappointed that some of our elected officials are handling this matter in such a negative way.

We must have zero tolerance for crime, drugs, and guns. We should add more police officers on the street during weekends when crime is more rampant, arrange crime sweeps to pick up those with outstanding warrants, and expand our efforts with URGENT. We should also look to the federal government for assistance similar to what they are offering Newburgh currently.

These are ideas worth considering. I am sure there are many other ideas out there as well. Our elected officials serve no purpose questioning the Police Department in this way. Let's put our heads together and stand shoulder to shoulder with the Police Department. Together, we can fight crime and improve our city. When elected officials choose to criticize Police for political reasons rather than praise them for a job well done, they degrade the ability of the police to protect our city and our neighbors.