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.



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


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.


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


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.




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.