Thursday, June 4, 2020

Hudson in the Eye of a Storm

It began with this post that appeared on Instagram.


The post was "Liked" by hundreds and reposted several times. Council president Tom DePietro became part of the conversation, recommending that people attend the Common Council Finance Committee meeting on June 16.


It seems the original post went beyond Hudson and caught the attention of Care Not Cops, a movement that appears to have started in Portland, Oregon, in 2017, "to reduce the violence of policing and build up community care." Today, Gossips learned that Mayor Kamal Johnson, Chief Ed Moore, and the entire Common Council had been inundated with emails--about forty of them--from across the country. Gossips has seen only one of these emails, but according to one Gossips source, they were all basically the same and appeared to be form letters. This was in the subject line: "CARE not COPS, INVEST in the People of Hudson New York." The body of the letter begins by giving the writer's name and place of residence (the letter I saw came from someone in Austin, Texas) and then goes on:
I am writing to demand that all of you meet with the entire city council to completely revise the city's 2020-2021 fiscal year budget in advance of the finance meeting to be held June 16 at 5:30pm via Zoom.
More than $3 million is currently allotted for the police. These funds need to be redistributed to youth programs, parks, and other city programs that benefit antiracist efforts.
We are in the midst of a health pandemic with severe economic consequences. As a result of the economic insecurity due to COVID-19 and its fallout, we can expect thousands more to be applying for unemployment as 2020 closes. Even with this knowledge, a budget is still being proposed to increase the funding of the Hudson Police Department. In fact, in addition to the $3-million-plus for the police budget, the New York State Police Retirement funds total $473,802, while the total proposal for all Parks is just $96,393.
These numbers are grossly neglecting the needs of physical land of the Hudson Valley, a place home to so much natural beauty that it spurred an entire art movement. It is the responsibility of all of you as elected officials to meet this historical social movement with swift grace. Think of it as an opportunity for Hudson to create more beauty in the world.
We will no longer accept empty gestures and suggestions of reform. We need a budget that adequately and effectively meets the needs of the people and the land of the Hudson Valley during this trying and uncertain time; and we need a budget that supports communities and their well-being, not one that empowers the forces that tear them apart.
I am urging you, Mayor Johnson and the entire Hudson City Council, to completely revise the budget for 2020-2021 and fund #CareNotCops. You need to adopt a budget that focuses on helping the people of Hudson in areas like health, education, housing, and resources for small businesses and the arts, especially given the pandemic.   
Aside from someone from Austin, Texas, demanding that Hudson revise its 2020-2021 budget, what's bizarre about the letter is the assumption that Hudson has a fiscal year that does not correspond to the calendar year and that there is now a proposed budget before the Council (which we know is called the Common Council not the City Council). It's as if the person who drafted the letter somehow conflated the HCSD budget, which currently has the status of being proposed but not adopted, with the City of Hudson budget, which was proposed and adopted at the end of 2019 for the year 2020.

The Finance Committee's Zoom meeting on June 16 may prove to be, in its own way, even more memorable than the Board of Education public hearing on Tuesday that was Zoombombed with swastikas, obscenities, and pornography, or tonight's Tourism Board meeting which was Zoombombed by a fat naked man.
COPYRIGHT 2020 CAROLE OSTERINK

Ballots and Public Hearings

The absentee ballot for the Hudson City School District budget vote and board election arrived in the mail today.

But when I tried to log in to the budget hearing that was being live streamed starting at 6:30 p.m., this is the message I got.

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there has been one new positive case of COVID-19. Eight more people have recovered from the virus, and the number of active cases has been reduced by seven. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 remains unchanged since yesterday, as does the number of deaths.
As of 3:30 p.m. on June 4, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 34 residents that have passed away from COVID-19.
  • Columbia County has received a total of 5,458 PCR [diagnostic] test results with 394 confirmed cases.
  • There are 108 active cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County.
  • There are 49 additional residents on mandatory quarantine and 12 residents on precautionary quarantine.
  • 252 of the 394 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 18 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 1 of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We've received 1,482 antibody results, of which 141 were positive.
In his press briefing this morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo shared the chart below, showing the test results in four regions of the state--Long Island, New York City, Western New York, and the Capital Region--over the past six weeks.
 
Currently, in the Capital Region (that's us), 1 percent of the people being tested for COVID-19 are testing positive. Six weeks ago, it was 12 percent. Today, the Columbia County Department of Health reported one new case of COVID-19. Six weeks ago, on April 23, there were eight.
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Public Hearing on HCSD Budget Continues

The Hudson City School District Board of Education continues the public hearing on its proposed $50.1 million budget tonight at 6:30 p.m. Because of the Zoombombing that brought the public hearing to an abrupt halt on Tuesday night, it appears that public participation may not be allowed for tonight's hearing. The announcement on the HSCD Facebook page invites people to submit questions in advance to districtclerk@hudsoncsd.org (if that email address doesn't work, as it hasn't in the past, here is an alternative: coonslx@hudsoncsd.org) and to view a live stream of the meeting. For more information about the public hearing and links to the proposed budget and the budget statement and the link to the live stream, click here.

HFD to the Rescue

This baby owl was discovered in the cemetery this morning. It had apparently fallen from its nest.


The Hudson Fire Department was summoned, with its ladder truck, to return the owlet to the safety of its nest.

Gratitude to Bob Tomaso for providing the photo and the story

Update: According to the Greenport Police Department Facebook page, there was no way to get the owlet back to its nest, because of power lines. Instead, it has been transported to a wildlife rehabilitation center, where it will be cared for until it is old enough to be released.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

On the Avenue

A friend of mine in New York City sent me these photographs of Fifth Avenue, taken this morning. He shared his observation that the buildings most heavily barricaded were Fox News Studios and Trump Tower.


Good News for Restaurants and Their Patrons

Restaurants in the Capital District will not be allowed to reopen their dining rooms for another couple of weeks, but the Albany Business Review just reported that the governor announced today that outdoor dining can resume tomorrow, June 4: "Cuomo: Restaurants can start outdoor dining this week." Outdoor tables must be spaced 6 feet apart, all staff must wear face coverings, and customers must also wear face coverings when not seated.

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there has been one new positive case and one more person hospitalized with the virus. There has one more recovery, and there is one fewer active case of COVID-19.
As of 3 p.m. on June 3, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 34 residents that have passed away from COVID-19.
  • Columbia County has received a total of 5,365 PCR [diagnostic] test results with 393 confirmed positive cases.
  • There are 115 active cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County.
  • There are 49 additional residents on mandatory quarantine and 12 residents on precautionary quarantine.
  • 244 of the 393 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 18 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 1 of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We've received 1,448 antibody results, of which 138 were positive.

Looking Ahead to Next Week

The Planning Board is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, June 9, at 6:00 p.m. For those expecting that the public hearing on the conditional use permits sought by A. Colarusso &  Sons will continue at that meeting, Planning Board chair Betsy Gramkow just announced that Colarusso has asked to be taken off the agenda for the meeting. They are assembling truck data and doing a new traffic study, which will not be ready in time for the June 9 meeting. The public hearing on the Colarusso applications will resume at the Planning Board's July meeting. 
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The Public Hearing That Wasn't

Gossips has witnessed many virtual meetings in the past ten weeks, but last night was the first time such a meeting was "Zoombombed." It happened during the HCSD Board of Education public hearing on the 2020-2021 budget. As HCSD business administrator Jesse Boehme was explaining equalization rates, a red line drew a crude swastika over his charts, then a pink line spelled out a four-letter word, then behind the scrawl pornographic pictures appeared. At first, district clerk Leslie Coons said she had removed the "bomber" from the meeting, but when the drawing resumed, HCSD superintendent Maria Suttmeier ordered the meeting shut down. When it resumed, the public part of the meeting was over, and the board went into executive session.

Before the Zoombombing occurred, some important information was shared. The absentee ballots for the school district election were mailed from Albany yesterday and will come directly to the Hudson post office. Ballots are expected to appear in the mail today, Wednesday, June 3, or tomorrow, Thursday, June 4. If you do not receive a ballot, you should contact the district clerk at coonslx@hudsoncsd.org or 518 828-4360, ext. 2100. 

If you decide to return your ballot by mail, you should take it to the post office and hand it directly to the post master to ensure its timely delivery. You can also hand deliver your ballot on Monday, June 8, or Tuesday, June 9, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., to any of five secure ballot boxes that will be set up at the following locations and monitored by school representatives:
  • John L. Edwards School, 360 State Street
  • Hudson Jr./Sr. High School, Event Entrance, 215 Harry Howard Avenue
  • Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street
  • A. B. Shaw Firehouse, 67 Route 23, Claverack
  • Greenport Community Center, 500 Town Hall Drive, Greenport
Ballots must be received before 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9. Be certain to sign the ballot envelope. If the envelope is not signed, it will not be opened, and your ballot will not be counted.

For more information and a video on how to complete your absentee ballot, click here
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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there are two new positive cases of COVID-19, making for two more active cases. No one has recovered from the virus in the past 24 hours, and no one has died. One fewer person is hospitalized with COVID-19.
As of 3 p.m. on June 2, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 34 residents that have passed away from COVID-19.
  • Columbia County has received a total of 4,959 PCR [diagnostic] test results with 392 confirmed positive cases.
  • There are 116 active cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County.
  • There are 44 additional residents on mandatory quarantine and 12 residents on precautionary quarantine.
  • 243 of the 392 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 17 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 1 of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We've received 1,280 antibody results, of which 130 were positive.

Reminder HCSD Budget Hearing Tonight

The Hudson City School District Board of Education continues its public hearing on the budget tonight at 6:30 p.m. Information for accessing the meeting can be found here.  

On May 27, Gossips reported that if voters reject the budget proposed for 2020-2021, the district's only recourse would be to adopt the contingency budget, which was the same as the current year's budget. I was wrong. The "Budget News" flyer that arrived in the mail yesterday indicates exactly what the contingency budget is.

     
The budget for the 2019-2020 school year was $49,792,463. The contingency budget for 2020-2021, which HCSD superintendent Maria Suttmeier said "squeezes out everything that motivates students to come to school," is $50,550,494--only $134,244 less than the proposed budget. Compare that amount with the numbers at the top of the HCSD payroll

On the topic of the absentee ballots, HCSD reported on its Facebook page today: "The absentee ballots will be mailed no later than the legally required date (June 3) and will be arriving to mailboxes of all registered voters this week."
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Food News

Gossips has learned that Upstreet Market is returning to its usual location in the Public Square, a.k.a. Seventh Street Park, beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, June 3.


In the past, the market has been open from 4 to 7 p.m. every Wednesday throughout the summer. We trust that will be the case this year as well, as we wear our masks and keep our distance.

Update: Gossips' information was incorrect. The Upstreet Market is not opening until next week--Wednesday, June 10.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Bear in Town

An hour ago, the Hudson Police Department posted these photos on its Facebook page.


The bear was sighted behind the former John L. Edwards School and in the 300 block of Rope Alley. The message from the HPD: "He's big. . . . Use caution. Do not approach." 

That was an hour ago. There's no word on where the bear is now.

Update: The bear moved from the alley to the street. Just minutes ago, Lance Wheeler posted a video by 12-year-old Moriah Walker, showing the bear on State Street.


Update: The bear has left the city. At approximately 10:15 p.m., the Hudson Police Department posted this report on its Facebook page:
Our visiting bear has bid us "adieu" after some fine dumpster cuisine in Rope Alley. He has returned to the vast woods of Greenport. Thank you to our local EnCon officers who assisted us. The bear was unharmed. Believed to be a male around 250 pounds. Doesn't appear to be "Blaze" who frequented Cedar Park or the "Melino's Mauler" who climbed a telephone pole on Columbia Street last year.

Parking Reminder

As we get back into the groove, be mindful that tonight cars being parked overnight must be on the even side of the street, because tomorrow's date, June 2, is even.

Also, in a post on Facebook that Gossips missed, Mayor Kamal Johnson announced that, as in the past, alternate side of the street parking regulations will be suspended on weekends throughout the summer. So, from Friday to Saturday and from Saturday to Sunday, cars may be parked overnight on either side of the street.
COPYRIGHT 2020 CAROLE OSTERINK

HCSD Absentee Ballot Update

I was hoping to receive my absentee ballot today, but this is all that arrived in today's mail.


I did learn from a conversation with the District Clerk this afternoon that the service handling the mailing of the ballots had run out of envelopes, and another printer in Albany had taken over the task. Ballots are now expected to be in the mail tomorrow. Some people in the district have already received their ballots, but for the rest of us, getting them in time to return them by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9, may be hard. For that reason, the plan is to set up two ballot boxes--one at the former John L. Edwards School, the other at Hudson High School--so people can deliver their ballots themselves rather than relying on the post office to get them there in time. 

The latest information about voting the HCSD election can be found here.  

"Hudson Does Not Follow; We Lead"

For those who were not present yesterday for the peaceful demonstration called by Mayor Kamal Johnson, Lance Wheeler's video of the event can be viewed here.


Welcome to the Friendly City

Gossips learned from a couple of owners of short-term rental properties this morning that they had received an email from the city treasurer's office which began: "Our office has been asked to forward the following message from the Mayor to all short-term rental operators." What followed was this message, which also appears on the City of Hudson website

Dear Short Term Rental Owners,

We are a small community that depends on visitors, and we must find ways to work together to keep Hudson safe. As Mayor and neighbor, I am asking you to consider adapting your short-term rental operations to our new reality. Columbia County urges anyone, both residents and visitors, traveling from outside Columbia County to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival. Reviewing county, state, and federal guidelines we have developed the following recommendations, which we think are the most effective way we can keep Hudson safe and welcome guests.
  • The safest approach is to limit rentals to 14 days or longer and advise guests to self-quarantine (when traveling from outside Columbia County).
  • Encourage guests to wear masks whenever near people outside their party. Consider providing them masks upon arrival.
  • Sanitize your rental before and after your guests arrive.
I ask that you share a letter addressed to your guests available at cityofhudson.org/guest. Effective action now will help us reopen sooner. These guidelines may change in the coming weeks to reflect changes in best practices.

Hudson enjoys and welcomes its visitors and we ask that all residents and guests join together and do their part. More information is available at cityofhudson.org/safe.

Thank you,
Mayor Kamal Johnson

Much about this letter makes it seem as if it may have been drafted weeks ago. On March 26, six days after the first COVID-19 case was reported in Columbia County, Matt Murell, chair of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, issued a statement calling on people coming to Columbia County from elsewhere to quarantine for 14 days. On April 10, Bob Rasner, chair of the HDC Board and the proprietor of a B&B, called for the suspension of short-term rentals until the pandemic subsided. The Common Council started talking about imposing a 14-day quarantine on visitors at a Housing and Transportation Committee meeting on May 6, and the notion was discussed again at the informal meeting of the Common Council on May 11. At that time, Alderman Jane Trombley (First Ward) reasonably noted that the people do not come to Hudson to stay for months at a time, so the notion of asking people to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival, a request that is also made in the letter addressed to visitors, is impracticable.

This sentence makes the letter seem particularly outdated: "Effective action now will help us reopen sooner." We are already reopening. The Capital District Region, of which Hudson is a part, began Phase One on May 18, and we'll be ready to enter Phase Two on Wednesday. Unless something unexpected happens, Hudson will enter Phase Three, when restaurants can reopen their dining rooms to limited numbers, in a couple more weeks, when it is also expected that New York City will be ready to begin its reopening process. 

On the one hand, nothing has changed since March. The pandemic is not over. It is still possible to contract the coronavirus. Since yesterday, there has been one new case in Columbia County. On the other hand, to suggest that the proprietors of lodging establishments only accept guests who plan to stay for two weeks and then ask those guests to self quarantine for the duration of their stay seems not only unrealistic but meant to prohibit the kind of tourism Hudson has enjoyed in the past. The state is reopening. Our region is reopening. People are leaving their homes. Better the City's policy should stress the personal behavior that allows people to leave their homes and move about safely: wear a mask, stay six feet apart, wash or sanitize your hands as often as possible.
COPYRIGHT 2020 CAROLE OSTERINK

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there has been another death from COVID-19. Also since yesterday, there has been one new positive case and one more person hospitalized. Eleven people have recovered from COVID-19, and there are twelve fewer active cases.
As of 3 p.m. on June 1, 2020:
  • We are sad to report that Columbia County has had 34 residents that have passed away from COVID-19.
  • Columbia County has received a total of 4,679 PCR test results with 390 confirmed positive cases.
  • There are 114 active cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County,
  • There are 36 additional residents on mandatory quarantine and 7 residents on precautionary quarantine.
  • 243 of the 390 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 18 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 1 of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We've received 1,243 antibody results, of which 130 were positive.

About Those HCSD Absentee Ballots

Tomorrow, June 2, is the last day to request an absentee ballot for the HCSD budget vote and school board election. Previously, the HCSD website made this statement about who would receive absentee ballots: "Qualified voters on the most recent years' poll lists will be automatically sent an absentee ballot (i.e., if you voted on a school budget/board election within the past four years)." As of today, that statement has been replaced by a new statement: 

(UPDATE 6/1) All registered voters will be automatically sent an absentee ballot and prepaid return envelope in the mail.

According to information received by Gossips, the District Clerk has indicated that more than 10,000 ballots were mailed out a week ago. So far, there have been no reports that any of these ballots have been received.

Virtual Meetings in the Week Ahead

The Capital Region is on track to begin Phase Two of the reopening by midweek, but for the foreseeable future, public meetings are still happening virtually. Here are the meetings scheduled for this week.
  • On Monday, June 1, the HDC Emergency Business Task Force holds a meeting of the full committee at 3:00 p.m. Click here to access the meeting. The meeting ID is 884 8032 6330; the password is 658221
  • On Tuesday, June 2, the HDC Emergency Cultural Task Force holds its weekly meeting at 3:00 p.m. Click here to access the meeting. The meeting ID is 972 7312 5560; the password is 009933.
Update: Today's meeting of the HDC Cultural Task Force was been canceled in recognition of Blackout Tuesday.
  • Also on Tuesday, June 2, the regular monthly meeting of the Conservation Advisory Council is scheduled to take place at 6:00 p.m. It is not known if the meeting will take place or how the public can access the meeting if it does happen.
  • Of particular interest on Tuesday, June 2, the HCSD Board of Education continues its public hearing on the $50.7 million budget proposed for 2020-2021. Click here for information on participating in the meeting.
  • On Wednesday, June 3, the DRI Committee meeting takes place at 2:30 p.m. This meeting takes place as a conference call, and there is no public access to the meeting.
  • In the evening on Wednesday, June 3, there are two Common Council committee meetings. The Youth, Education, Seniors, and Recreation Committee meets at 5:30 p.m., and the Housing and Transportation Committee meets at 6:45 p.m. Before the meetings begin, the information needed to access the meetings should be available here, on the city calendar.
  • On Thursday, June 4, the HDC Emergency Hospitality Task Force meets at 3:00 p.m. Click here to access the meeting. The meeting ID is 857 3559 2807; the password is 917586.
Update: The meeting of the HDC Emergency Hospitality Task Force has been canceled.
  • Also on Thursday, June 4, the Tourism Board meets at 5:00 p.m. Click here to access the meeting. The meeting ID is 856 6179 9519; the password is HudTour.

HCSD Budget Watch

Gossips learned this morning that the Hudson City School District Board of Education will hold a continuation of the public hearing on the $50.7 million budget proposed for the 2020-2021 school year on Tuesday, June 2, at 6:30 p.m. The continuation of the budget hearing is necessary because the Budget Book had not been made available to the public prior to the previous public hearing. People are asked to submit questions to Business Administrator Jesse Boehme boehmej@hudsoncsd.org prior to the public hearing "so complete answers can be provided within the time frame of the hearing." 

Click here for more information on accessing and participating in the meeting.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Catching Up With the DRI

The DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) Committee maintains it is not subject to open meetings law, so although before the COVID-19 State of Emergency the public could attend the committee's meetings, the meetings now happen as conference calls with no provision for the public to hear or participate in those calls. The only way to keep up with what is happening is to read the summaries of those meetings when they are posted on the City of Hudson website, which happens regularly but not in a very timely fashion. In the past day, the meeting summary for a meeting that took place on May 20 was finally made available. The most compelling news contained in the summary has to do with the Dunn warehouse.

Sometime on March, the DRI Committee issued a request for expression of interest in developing the Dunn warehouse for adaptive reuse. Proposals were due on April 10, and it seems that only one proposal was received--from Bonacio Construction in Saratoga Springs. Bonacio was one of the three developers that submitted proposals for the Kaz site in 2018. A sense of the company and its work may be achieved by visiting its website and by reading this article about the company's founder that appeared last year in Saratoga Living: "Sonny Bonacio, President of Bonacio Construction, Wants to Make Saratoga 'Cool Again.'"

The meeting summary for the DRI Committee's May 6 meeting reports:
The Committee decided to advance discussions with Bonacio, which does not represent a commitment, but will assist in getting an idea of what is possible at the site and further the City's relationship with this firm.
The meeting summary of the most recent meeting of the DRI Committee, which took place on May 20, reports that several members of the committee (Michael Chameides, Rob Perry, Tom DePietro, Peter Bujanow, along with Chris Round and Caren LoBrutto of Chazen) had a conference call with two representatives of Bonacio on May 13. The meeting summary notes:
During the call, Bonacio expressed interest in the project, but wanted greater clarification on how this project fits with other development and revitalization efforts being undertaken in this part of the City. In particular, they inquired as to the status of the KAZ project noting that this project and the completion of the Ferry Street Bridge project would be critical in addition to other projects to the successful transformation of the waterfront area.  
It is reported that during the call Bonacio also expressed interest in the City-owned parcels north of the Dunn warehouse and, in a follow-up call, "explained that the additional parcels would be needed to round out the Dunn redevelopment site and make a potential investment viable."

Back in 1996, before Henry Hudson Riverfront Park existed, the Vision Plan imagined a nearly solid row of buildings along the east side of Water Street, but more recent thinking has tended toward expanding the green public space of the park rather than constructing buildings. If memory serves, the buildings proposed in the 1996 Vision Plan were mixed used commercial and residential. 

The DRI Committee seems willing to act on Bonacio's assessment that developing the additional parcels is critical to the successful redevelopment of the Dunn warehouse. The meeting summary reports:
The committee decided to 1) Approach the City Council regarding potential redevelopment of the City-owned properties. 2) Pending the outcome of 1) Peter and Chris will solicit responses from firms previously contacted where there was no response/interest and inform them of the potential for redevelopment of the additional parcels. . . . 
Among the "Next Steps" listed in the meeting summary is this: "Michael Chameides to approach the City Council on the appetite to redevelopment [sic] the three City-owned parcels north of Dunn." If this has happened since May 20, it has not happened in any public manner. The next meeting of the DRI Committee, to take place as a conference call, is scheduled for this coming Wednesday, June 3.
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COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been four new cases of COVID-19 and five more recoveries. Strangely, the number of active cases being reported by the CCDOH remains the same. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has increased by one, but there have been no new deaths.
As of 12 p.m. on May 31, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 33 residents that have passed away from COVID-19.
  • Columbia County has received confirmed positive test results for 389 community members.
  • There are 126 active cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County.
  • 231 of the 389 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 17 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 1 of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We're received a total of 4,508 PCR [diagnostic] test results and we've received 1,243 antibody results, of which 130 were positive.      
On the last day of May, we can compare where we have been in the past two months. The daily record of new cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County since the first case was reported on March 20 doesn't make for the same neat curve seen in the state as a whole, but it is still interesting to compare April and May. 

In April, not a day went by without Columbia County seeing at least two new cases. Toward the end of April, there were spikes--the first, 14 new cases in one day on April 28; the second, 30 new cases on April 30. Eventually, we learned those spikes were new cases discovered at Barnwell.

May started out with the similar high numbers--34 new cases on May 5 and 45 new cases on May 6. Again these spikes had to do with Barnwell, where, as of this past Friday, there have been 134 cases of COVID-19 among the nursing home residents. Also in May, there have been eight days when there have been no new cases reported at all. Unfortunately, that has never been the case for more than two consecutive days, and that happened only once. On the first day of May there were 5 new cases; on the last day of May there were 4.

Peaceful Protest

Yesterday in Kingston, there was a peaceful march in memory of George Floyd and in protest of his death: "Kingston march remembers George Floyd, man killed by Minnesota police." 

Photo: John Bechtold|Kingston Freeman
This morning, on his personal Facebook page, Mayor Kamal Johnson announced plans for a peaceful demonstration to take place today at 4:00 p.m. at the entrance to Promenade Hill. The announcement also includes a request that everyone remain indoors starting at 8:30 p.m. tonight. 

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Parking Rules Return

Typically at this time of year, it is announced that overnight alternate side of the street parking will be suspended on weekends throughout the summer. This year, things are different.

By Mayor Kamal Johnson's COVID-19 State of Emergency order, alternate side of the street parking rules were suspended in mid-March, along with having to put coins in the meters on streets and in municipal parking lots. On June 1--this coming Monday, the day after tomorrow--both suspensions will end. We are back to having to park our cars on the odd side of the street from midnight to 8:00 a.m on days whose dates are odd and on the even side of the street on days whose dates are even. This means that tomorrow, Sunday, when you park your car for the night, it needs to be on the odd side on the street--that is, the south side for east-west streets, the west side for north-south streets. As yet, there is no indication if the overnight parking rule will be suspended on summer weekends, as it has in the past.

Also, if you are parking at a meter between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., you will need to put a quarter in the meter for every 30 minutes you plan to stay there, with a maximum, as always, of two hours.  
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Unnatural Nature

Nine years ago, in a post called "Edward Scissorhands, Where Are You?" I carped about the brutally uniform manner in which the bushes and shrubs in our city parks were pruned. Among the pictures accompanying that post was this one, showing some bushes along the west side of the Public Square on the last day of March.

Recently, I was struck by the appearance of these same bushes in 2020--three pruned into precise cylinders, mirroring the shape of the trash barrel and orange traffic barrels beside them, and one looking like a botanical replica of The Egg in Albany.

In late May, we can tell that these odd, rigid shapes are spirea bushes. This is how spirea is supposed to look.

Wouldn't it be grand if the spirea bushes in our parks and in the cemetery were allowed to grow back into their natural shapes--if that's even possible anymore? 
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COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been no new positive cases. The number of active cases is down by three--two have recovered, but one, sad to say, has died.  
As of 11:15 a.m. on May 30, 2020:
  • We are sad to report a 33rd Columbia County resident that has passed away from COVID-19.
  • Columbia County has received confirmed positive test results for 385 community members.
  • There are 126 active cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County.  
  • There are 54 additional residents on mandatory quarantine and 7 residents on precautionary quarantine.
  • 226 of the 385 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 16 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 1 of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We've received a total of 4,271 PCR [diagnostic] test results and we're received 1,211 antibody results, of which 128 were positive.

Of Interest

Chronogram published an article this morning titled "When Will Libraries Reopen?" In it, our own Hudson Area Library is featured, and library director Emily Chameides is quoted as saying, "Currently, libraries in the Capital Region are able to open if they are government facilities. Our library, and the majority of libraries in Columbia County, are association libraries and thus not permitted to open. We're not sure when the Capital Region will enter Phase Two, or if association libraries will even be included in that phase--and, if we are, what guidelines will be in place at that time."


In answer to the first unknown cited by Chameides, it was reported this morning that the Capital Region is on track to enter Phase Two on Wednesday, June 3. The answers to the other two questions--if association libraries are part of Phase Two and what guidelines will be in place--may still be unknown.
COPYRIGHT 2020 CAROLE OSTERINK

Friday, May 29, 2020

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has published its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been four new confirmed cases of COVID-19. There have also been twelve more recoveries, so the number of active cases being reported by the CCDOH is down by eight. The number of people now hospitalized with COVID-19 remains the same as it was yesterday, as does the number of deaths.
As of 3 p.m. on May 29, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 32 residents that have passed away from COVID-19.
  • Columbia County has received confirmed positive test results for 385 community members.
  • There are 129 active cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County.
  • There are 53 additional residents on mandatory quarantine and 5 residents on precautionary quarantine.
  • 224 of the 385 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 17 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 1 of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We've received a total of 4,233 PCR [diagnostic] test results and we've received 1,187 antibody results, of which 126 were positive.

Where Are the COVID-19 Cases Now?

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its weekly breakdown of COVID-19 cases by municipality and nursing home. Countywide, there were 25 new cases in the past week. In most locations that saw new cases, the number was just one or two. The exceptions are Hillsdale and Kinderhook, both of which have had four new cases in the past week, and Barnwell, which has had seven.

In the list below, the first number indicates the number of cases last Friday; the second number indicates the number of cases today.

Ancram  5 | 7
Canaan  9 | 10
Chatham  15 | 17
Claverack  8 | 9
Clermont  4 | 4
Copake  17 | 17
Germantown  8 | 8
Ghent  16| 18
Greenport  13 | 13
Hillsdale  8 | 12
Hudson  32 | 33
Kinderhook  37 | 41
Livingston  8 | 8
New Lebanon  4 | 4
Stockport  1 | 2
Stuyvesant  9 | 9
Nursing Homes
Livingston Hills  2 | 2
Pine Haven  37 | 37
Barnwell  127 | 134

The CCDOH also provided an accounting of the 32 deaths: 12 were residents of Pine Haven, 15 were residents of Barnwell, and 5 were not nursing home residents.

School Budget Vote

When thinking about the upcoming school budget vote, Hanlon's Razor often comes to mind. Because we don't like to attribute either malice or stupidity to our school district leaders, the aphorism can be restated: "Some bad things happen not because of people having bad intentions, but because they did not think it through properly."

First, we learned that only people who had voted in school district elections in the past four years would be receiving an absentee ballot for this year's budget vote and board election. For the past eight years, the people who showed up to vote in school elections have dutifully passed the proposed HCSD budget, so, if only those people receive absentee ballots, the chances the budget will pass are pretty good. Limiting the number of voters in this way may appear to be a way of predetermining the vote. That's the bad intentions spin.

At the same time, we were assured that voters who suspected they were not on the HCSD poll list could contact the District Clerk. In the past couple of days, Gossips has heard from several readers that email address provided on the card sent out last week and on the absentee ballot application does not work. Anything sent to districtclerk@hudsoncsd.org, gets the response: "The address you sent your message to wasn't found at the destination domain." It's been discovered that you need to send your application to coonslx@hudsoncsd.org. Bad intentions or just a snafu? To be safe, it seems best to use the U.S. Postal Service to submit your application, but do it now. Absentee ballot applications must be received by June 2--that's Tuesday.

A reader commented that she had called the District Clerk at 518 828-4360, ext. 2100, to confirm she would receive an absentee ballot and was told that "ballots should be received in the next couple of days." Let's hope they arrive before June 2, so that people who do not receive a ballot can still request one. If you think there's a chance you are not on HCSD's poll list, download an application here and mail it to: Leslie M. Coons, District Clerk, Hudson City School District, 215 Harry Howard Avenue, Hudson, NY 12534.

What's happening now, which has the appearance of trying to limit the pool of voters to the people who have approved school budgets in the past, reminds me of something that happened in 2011, when HCSD voters rejected the proposed $41 million budget. Then, in a kind of reverse of what appears to be happening now, Jeff Otty, the late husband of the current board president, Carrie Otty, tried to minimize the significance of the vote against the budget by pointing out that only 18 percent of those eligible to vote had actually voted.
COPYRIGHT 2020 CAROLE OSTERINK

Sad News

Katrin Hecker shared the news today on Facebook of the death of Avis Davis. Here are her words of tribute to him:
Rocking and Rolling . . . a change of tune now.
His life a jam session with opportunities, carefree and caring, honestly lived, always with a smirk, a tender heart dressed in leather and chains, witty, soulful, loved and charming, talented and deliciously funny, a life together, a change of tune now. . . .

Take the Gossips Challenge

Were you able to recognize the seven people who appeared in the Gossips "Wear a Mask" ads this week?

If you could, email your list to carole@gossipsofrivertown.com or text your list to 518 610-5339. The first person to identify them all correctly wins a bag of cookies from Trixie's Oven, which can be claimed at the Hudson Farmers Market tomorrow morning.