Saturday, October 31, 2015

Tonight's the Night We Fall Back

Tomorrow, the sun will rise at 6:27 a.m., and it will set at 4:48 p.m.

Photo: Mount Merino Manor
Remember to set your clocks back one hour, and prepare for many hours of darkness ahead until things start turning around at the Winter Solstice on December 22.

Gone . . . But Not Forever

Last April and May, Gossips reported on the departure of the replica Half Moon from the New World and its arrival in the Netherlands, where it is now at the Westfries Museum in Hoorn.

Photo courtesy New Netherland Museum
Recently, David Voorhees, who edits de Halve Maen, the Journal of the Holland Society of New York, brought an article that appeared in the summer issue of the journal to Gossips' attention. It was written by Andrew Hendricks, who helped fund, build, and design the replica Half Moon and is the chairman of the New Netherland Museum. In this article, Hendricks talks about the history of the replica Half Moon and the reasons for its being in the Netherlands today.

Photo courtesy The Holland Society
The replica Half Moon that we know and love is actually the second replica of the ship that brought Henry Hudson to the New World to discover the river that bears his name. The first replica Half Moon was built more than a hundred years ago in the Royal Dockyard in Amsterdam to celebrate, in 1909, the 300th anniversary of the discovery of the Hudson River. It was the centerpiece of the Hudson-Fulton Celebration that marked the Tricentennial. Sadly, twenty-five years later, this gift from the Netherlands, presented as a symbol of the "lively relations, which unite the Netherlands and the United States" and an "indication of the friendly feeling of the kinship and unity of interests which have ever held and still hold the Netherlands and the United States of America in one mutual bond," was left to deteriorate in Cohoes, where it became a shelter for vagrants. (It was the Great Depression after all.) On July 22, 1934, the first replica Half Moon was destroyed by fire.

The plan to build a second replica Half Moon was conceived in 1985, and the ship was launched in Albany on June 10, 1989. As the first replica Half Moon had been a century earlier, the new replica was the centerpiece of the Quadricentennial in 2009, celebrating the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the Hudson River. Our observance of the Quadricentennial here in Hudson, Henry & Hudson: The Namesake Celebration, was built about a three-day visit to our waterfront by the Half Moon.

Arlene Boehm
Back in 2009, there was talk of Hudson becoming the home port for the Half Moon. Mayor Richard Scalera in his remarks at the dedication of Henry Hudson Riverfront Park, which opened the Namesake Celebration, articulated the vision:
. . . imagine that instead of being here for only a few days, the Half Moon had good reason to spend more time here--coming and going, as if from a home port. Imagine one of the three slips on the Henry Hudson Park grounds being re-engineered to comfortably accommodate historic vessels like the Half Moon. Imagine the old brick warehouse building there just across Water Street, as the Henry Hudson Maritime Museum, a perfect land-based complement to the floating museum that is the Half Moon. And finally, imagine what something like this could mean for Hudson and its waterfront: a powerful new magnet for tourism, education, recreation, investment, commerce, and quality of life. 
When the Half Moon left for the Netherlands last spring, it seemed that all such hope was dashed, but Hendricks makes it clear in the article that the Half Moon will not be in the Netherlands forever. "The Half Moon will be on loan to the Westfries Museum in Hoorn for up to five years." That means that Hudson has up to five years to get its plans for the waterfront together if it wants to be in a position to welcome the Half Moon home.

On the Waterfront

On October 20, Gossips shared the news that A. Colarusso & Son, the new owners of what has in the past often been called the "deep water dock," had filed an application with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to "stabilize approximately 170 feet of eroded Hudson River shoreline with large rock rip-rap" and to "replace approximately 75 feet of deteriorated concrete bulkhead within a lateral side berth with new steel bulkhead that will be placed in the same location as the existing structure."

There are questions of ownership surrounding the dock that go back to the 19th century, and the South Bay Task Force has requested an extension of the public comment period, which is currently scheduled to end on Friday, November 5, in order to explore them. Timothy O'Connor explains the situation on "Hudson's Waterfront in Colarusso's Care: Extend the Public Comment Period."

Friday, October 30, 2015

Saturday Events for Dog People

Next Saturday, November 7, at 3 p.m., you can get your dog (or cat) microchipped for $11 at Providence Hall. This Saturday, there's another great opportunity for people who love dogs.

At noon tomorrow, Saturday, October 31, Maira Kalman, illustrator, writer, artist, and designer, will be at The Spotty Dog to sign copies of her book Beloved Dog. Composed of illustrations from Kalman's children's books, her New Yorker covers, her portraits of dog-loving literary icons, and more, Beloved Dog has been described as "a tender, quirky, scrumptiously sincere love letter to our canine companions." Click here to read a review of Beloved Dog, and then go to The Spotty Dog tomorrow at noon to buy your copies and have them signed by the author, Maira Kalman.

Election Suspense

At this time four days from now, the polls will have closed, and the election inspectors will be calling in the results. For now, there's the Register-Star's online poll for the two most watched races: mayor of Hudson and Columbia County district attorney. 

Here's how things stand at the moment in the mayoral race:

And here's how things look in the race for district attorney:

There's also a poll seeking people's opinions on who will win the World Series. That's of less interest to Gossips, but . . . Go, Mets!

More News in the DA Race

Yesterday, in an editorial in The Columbia Paper, editor and publisher Parry Teasdale endorsed incumbent Paul Czajka for district attorney.

Today, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand endorsed challenger Ken Golden.

I am proud to announce my support of Ken Golden for Columbia County District Attorney. His lifetime record of dedicated public service, including as an Assistant District Attorney in Columbia County and a Senior Attorney with the State of New York, make him uniquely qualified to the Columbia County's next District Attorney. As someone who works closely with our nation's veterans, I am especially pleased to see Ken's volunteer work at the VA helping veterans secure their well-deserved benefits.

More Change Coming

For those of us whose bank accounts started out with Hudson City Savings Institution, the bank that was founded in Hudson in 1850 at 230 Warren Street (where Cafe Le Perche is now), moved upstreet to 560 Warren Street in 1910 (now owned by the Columbia County), became Hudson River Bank & Trust in 1998 when the bank converted from mutual to stock ownership, and then became First Niagara in 2015 when the bank was sold, another change is coming.

The Times Union reported this morning that First Niagara Financial Group, headquartered in Buffalo, has been purchased for $4.1 billion in cash and stock by KeyCorp, the banking firm that started out in Albany but is now headquartered in Cleveland.

KeyBank used to have a branch in Hudson, at 544 Warren Street, but now the nearest branch is in Greenport, on Fairview Avenue, just a stone's throw--literally--from the Greenport branch of First Niagara.

The Times Union article speculates, "It is unlikely that KeyBank would want to keep 70 branches in the region, which would be much more than any one bank in the region has had at any one time over the past 20 years." It points out that there are at least fourteen instances in the Capital Region market where KeyBank and First Niagara branches were within less than a mile from each other. There's even an interactive map to show those locations. The map, however, does not extend to Greenport.

Eat, Drink, Sleep . . . Buy Furniture

Jamie Larson reviews four new businesses and an established business in a new location at Rural Intelligence: "Eye on Hudson: Five New Hotspots You Should Know About."

More About the DA Race

Yesterday, the Ken Golden campaign made another revelation about campaign contributions made to incumbent district attorney Paul Czajka: "District Attorney Czajka Accepts Campaign Contribution from Former Sheriff's Deputy Prior to Felony Guilty Plea."

Yesterday, too, The Columbia Paper published an editorial by Parry Teasdale, its editor and publisher, urging readers to vote for Czajka: "Czajka for district attorney."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Of Interest

In a press release issued earlier this month, Jay Cahalan, president and CEO of Columbia Memorial Hospital, described the relationship CMH was entering into with Albany Medical Center as "truly unique." It seems "truly unique" may not be quite the right choice of words. It was reported on WAMC today that Albany Med is looking to establish a similar relationship with Saratoga Hospital in Saratoga Springs.

The Other Citywide Race in Hudson

The voters of Hudson have had several opportunities to hear from the mayoral candidates: on the radio, in the debate on October 14, and at last night's debate. We haven't, however, heard--not in a public forum, at least--from the two candidates who are running for Common Council president, a position that is just as important and has the potential to be just as influential as that of mayor. With that in mind, Gossips invited the two candidates, Claudia DeStefano and Tom DePietro, to submit a statement of what each of them would most like to communicate to voters in the days before the election. Both candidates accepted the invitation, and their statements follow.


I was born and raised in Elmont, NY (Nassau County).

I moved to Columbia County in 1990 and to Hudson in 1993.

At the time, my husband, James DeStefano, owned rental properties in Hudson and Kinderhook. Together we managed (85) apartment and commercial units.

Since 1994, I have worked as an election inspector here in Columbia County, and since 2008, I have worked as an election inspector for the Hudson City School District.
In 2007, my husband passed away from cancer.

Since 2008, I have been employed by Saint James Church in Chatham.

In 2009, I was appointed by then Mayor Richard Scalera to the Hudson Planning Commission and have since been re-appointed two times by Mayor William Hallenbeck to the now named Hudson Planning Board.

During my campaign for Hudson Common Council President, I have made a point of speaking to Police Chief Edward Moore, Department of Public Works Superintendent Robert Perry, Fire Chief Rodney Schermerhorn, and employees of the City of Hudson about issues and concerns that each department faces. If elected, I will continue to ask questions of these people and residents involved in decisions that need to be made by the Common Council.

My family and friends know that I do not make “spontaneous decisions.” If I don’t understand something important, I ask questions of those with knowledge, listen to their responses, ponder what I am told, and then make what I feel is the RIGHT decision. I will continue this practice if I am elected Common Council President.

The resurgence of Hudson since I moved to Columbia County has been amazing. I am hopeful that Hudson will continue to prosper with leadership that cares deeply and acts wisely. Doing what is RIGHT for all residents and knowing what is WRONG for all. RIGHT and WRONG…this is my “mission.”

In closing, I would ask for your support but most importantly, please vote.



Politics on the local level requires an equal amount of empathy and problem-solving, both of which lead to civil discourse and consensus. A small city like ours demands dialogue, good faith, and an openness to whatever works for as many constituents as possible.

I decided to run for office in Hudson after I became a radio interviewer some years ago at our local community station, WGXC, where I had the good fortune to interview Mayor Hallenbeck, Police Chief Moore, Council President Moore, former City Attorney Cheryl Roberts, Alderwoman Alexis Keith, and so many others. Early on, I began attending meetings of the City Council and some of the committee meetings as well. At some point, I realized that I could contribute meaningfully to the challenging process I was witnessing. Most of all, I want to help the Common Council move beyond the acrimony and distrust that have thwarted constructive solutions.

I am fortunate to have the necessary time to devote to doing the job properly. This means that I will not only prepare thoroughly on all issues, but I will reach out to those who know the history involved, to those with expertise, and to those who simply want to be heard.

In short, I want to hear what you have to say. Like the best old-school politicians of this great city, my door will be open and my pen poised to take notes.

You can read more about my views on issues that concern all of Hudson on my Facebook page, "Tom DePietro for CommonCouncil President." And remember: although Victor Mendolia's name appears on the ballot, he has withdrawn from the race. You can find me on line I, the "All-Hudson Party," a name I chose because I intend to leave no neighborhood behind.

DeStefano has been endorsed by the Republican, Conservative, and Independence parties. Her name appears on the ballot three times: on Row B, Row C, and Row F.

DePietro, who was endorsed by the Democrats after Victor Mendolia withdrew from the race, is running on his own independent party line, the "All-Hudson Party." His name appears on the ballot just once: on Row I.

Victor Mendolia, who was originally endorsed by the Democratic and Working Families parties has withdrawn from the race. His name, however, still appears twice on the ballot, on Row A and Row E. (These spots have been filled with gray on the detail of a sample ballot at right. Be aware that his name will not be grayed out the ballot you receive on Tuesday.)

Almost Home

Nick Zachos has been keeping Gossips informed of the progress of Apollonia on its way from Buzzards Bay to Hudson. At last report, they were nearing the Throgs Neck Bridge. Now they are safely moored across the river in Catskill. This morning, Zachos sent an account of the journey in between.
Sam steered Apollonia into safe harbor at Riverview Marina in Catskill on Tuesday, bringing us a stone's throw from Hudson. Owner Mike Aguire cleared an extra long space for us, and the crew docked the boat for the first time without incident. Guy Falkenheimer, who greeted the weary crew in Catskill with hot chocolate and sandwiches, is clearing off a space for us in Hudson, so we can bring her home for a quick visit before the docks are pulled in for the season.
The last leg of the trip started with excitement and ended with calm beauty. It began with a tense few hours navigating through Hell Gate and the Harlem River with its thirteen bridges and flooding tides pushing against us to the point where it slowed the ship close to a standstill at times. Unpredictable cross currents forced the boat violently from side to side, turning the narrow channels between bridge embankments into one high stress situation after another, with all hand on deck for the entire stretch. There was a collective sigh of relief when the bridge tender opened up the Spuyten Duyvel Bridge, letting us into our home waters of the Hudson.
Skeleton crews came on to finish the last few shifts up the river. Luck was on our side again as we flew upstream with a flood tide that carried us all the way to Poughkeepsie. This is a fun facet of the river that few people understand until they get the chance to navigate it: the flooding current, which originates in the Atlantic Ocean, pushes upstream, creating the high tides that also travel upstream with it. If you're on a boat that can keep up with this virtual wave, you can almost surf it right up the river. We rode this tide with an amazing full moon and calm waters through Haverstraw Bay into the Highlands, where the moon was bright enough that we could see the different shades of the fall foliage on the mountains around and above us. The tide turned to slack as we passed Beacon and approached Poughkeepsie. From then on, it was a steady push through the morning and up into the slow drizzling front end of the storm were we racing to beat.
We are extremely fortunate to have Mike at Riverview Marina hosting Apollonia but can't wait to get her back to Hudson, hopefully Thursday or Friday.
Welcome, Apollonia! We can't wait to see you on this side of the river. And congratulations to your crew!

Debate Report Erratum

Last night, at the mayoral debate, candidate Tiffany Martin Hamilton spoke of the plans to convert the Stageworks building at 41 Cross Street into a 50 to 55 room hotel. In reporting this, Gossips described the building as "recently sold." 

Photo: LoopNet
This morning, Laura Margolis, executive artistic director of Stageworks, clarified that although there is an accepted offer on the building, the final step in the sale of the building--the closing--has not yet occurred.

Hamilton and Hallenbeck: Debate 2

As predicted, in tonight's debate, Mayor William Hallenbeck seized every opportunity to bring up the fact that during his tenure the fund balance had increased and property taxes had been kept low. He mentioned it so often, working it into his answers to several different questions and making it the theme of his opening and closing remarks, that it prompted this listener to wonder, "Is that all ya got?"

In his closing statement, Hallenbeck, after declaring that as mayor he managed a $12.5 million budget, uttered, seemingly out of the blue, the word bankruptcy. He then stated, "I didn't raise bankruptcy. She did," referring to Tiffany Martin Hamilton's admission, in her opening remarks at the first debate, that she had filed for personal bankruptcy in 2014.

In her closing statement, after asserting that she had addressed each question while the mayor's responses had been "duck and weave," Hamilton responded to the mayor's reference to her bankruptcy by declaring, "What you will not get from me is intellectual or ethical bankruptcy."

That said, let's review the rest of the debate.

Hamilton's opening statement had all to do with a vision for Hudson five years from now, in 2020. Hallenbeck's opening statement might be called anti-visionary. He began by stating, "I'm dealing with 2015, 2016 and 2107." He spoke of the "outcry to keep taxes low" and declared, "I did that and continue to do that." As he has before, he spoke of Hudson's renaissance as if it all happened during his four years in office and was somehow the result of his leadership.

What follows is a summary of the candidates' responses to the issues raised by questions submitted by audience members.

Vision for the Waterfront
Hallenbeck began by saying, "It's already become a waterfront that doesn't have oil tanks and car crushers." He then declared that the future of the waterfront "will become what the residents of Hudson want it to become." He spoke specifically of the Dunn building, saying he did not want the building to fall into private hands and have promises to develop the building not kept.

Hamilton said of the waterfront, "That's where Hudson's revenue will be coming from, when it is properly developed." She revealed that the recently sold Stageworks building on Cross Street is to become a hotel with 50 to 55 rooms. She asserted that "the key to development [of the waterfront] is access" and identified as a goal of her administration to have the Ferry Street bridge "fixed by the end of 2016."

Cultural Diversity
Hamilton spoke of bringing "disparate groups together toward a common goal" and of developing the north side for business and residences. "Our diversity," said Hamilton, "is something we should celebrate every day."

Hallenbeck took this as an opportunity to comment that his opponent had "spent too much time in New York City and California, because she doesn't realize how much 'togetherness' we have among our cultures." He declared that Hudson has "always been welcome and open to new communities." He then segued into talking about affordable housing, declaring, as he has before, that creating more affordable housing requires three things: a community that wants it; elected officials that support it; and tax incentives to developers.

Increasing Revenue Without Raising Taxes
Hallenbeck's immediate response was, "I've done that." He talked about being conservative with spending and conservative in estimating what revenues will be, and predictably he talked about the significant increase in the fund balance and the insignificant increase in property taxes.

Hamilton noted that Hallenbeck's claims about the increased fund balance were based on data from the end of 2014. She pointed out that 70 percent of the increase in the fund balance during Hallenbeck's administration came from "anomalies"--payment of back taxes, the sale of property seized for nonpayment of taxes--that were not likely to happen again or at least not on a regular basis. She also pointed out that in 2015 $845,000 of the fund balance had been spent or committed. She then stated her intention to allocate $1 million of the fund balance to a capital reserve fund for a new tower truck for the fire department and replacing the Ferry Street bridge.

The Weighted Vote
Hamilton declared herself "perplexed by the mayor's veto of the resolution" calling for a referendum. She spoke of the need to put the decision about the weighted vote into the hands of the voters.

Hallenbeck came up with a new reason to vetoing the resolution: the plan being proposed to correct the inequity of the weighted vote, of which the referendum was the first step, would take too long. He then spoke of presenting "a multitude of choices" of how the inequity of the weighted vote could be resolved and letting the voters decide which one to pursue.

Jobs with a Living Wage
Hallenbeck started out by alleging that his opponent wanted to tax the tax exempt entities that were the largest employers in Hudson: the Hudson Correctional Facility, Columbia Memorial Hospital, the Hudson City School District, and the Firemen's Home. He noted that many small business owners in Hudson didn't live in Hudson, then called for those small businesses to hire local residents "with fair wages."

Hamilton began by challenging the mayor to "cite when I said that I wanted the big employers to be taxed." She then spoke about the importance of training and mentorships in preparing people for job opportunities.

Specific Ways to Assist the Business Community
Hamilton spoke of the business round table she held a few weeks ago and expressed her intention to work collaboratively with businesses and to work actively as an HDC (Hudson Development Corporation) board member in the effort to support local businesses and to market the city. She then noted that the mayor has been absent from four of the last seven HBC board meetings.

Hallenbeck pooh-poohed the notion of City Hall collaborating with local businesses. "There is already a business coalition, and there doesn't need to be one in City Hall." He asserted his involvement and support of local business by proclaiming, "No mayor has been out in the community more than me." He then declared that "6,700 people need a mayor" and he did not have "tunnel vision" focused on the business community.

Snow Removal and Its Impact on Businesses
Hallenbeck began, "I think we've done a pretty good job." He went on to cite the programmable signs positioned at the city's gateways, robocalls from the Columbia County Emergency Management agency, and notices about snow emergency rules sent out with the water bills. He then explained, regarding snow emergency rules, "I don't make the laws. I enforce the laws."

Hamilton, after summarizing that the mayor was not going to make any changes in the snow emergency regulations because "that's not what the executive branch does," pledged to "work collaboratively with the Common Council to improve things." She cited problems with notification and in particular with informing visitors of the regulations to help them avoid having their cars ticketed or towed.

Parades on Warren Street and Their Impact 
Hamilton commended the extended lead time written into the amended mass gathering permit procedure, stressing the need to communicate with businesses about events that would shut down the street and impede access to shops and restaurants. 

Reacting to her response to the question about snow removal, Hallenbeck told Hamilton she should "collaborate with the rest of the community on snow emergencies not just businesses." He went on to explain that he had vetoed the amendments to the mass gathering procedure "because there was nothing wrong with the process as it was."

Public Transportation
Hallenbeck, as he has before, stated that bus service in Hudson was not cost effective. He did, however, talk about the possibility of buses that "run on solar" and noted the "enhanced funding that is now unrestricted" (presumably referring to the City's fund balance) might make this possible.

Hamilton noted that "the most vulnerable people of the community were impacted when the buses were eliminated." She also recalled that the trolley buses that used to exist in Hudson could not leave the city and therefore were of little use to people wanting to get to the supermarkets and shopping centers on Fairview Avenue in Greenport. She called for restoring in-city bus service and collaborating with the county to provide bus service to shopping centers and to Columbia-Greene Community College.

Implementation of the Lodging Tax
Hamilton explained that the lodging tax had been approved at the city level but still needed approval at the state level--not unlike the LWRP, she quipped--and stressed the need to work with state representatives to get the home rule request approved.

Hallenbeck took the question about what he called a "luxury tax" as the opportunity to report that he had called every B&B to learn their thoughts about the proposed tax. He said in effect that he didn't support it because someone said he should, but he supported it after he learned that B&B owners were not worried about it.

Limiting the Mayor's Ability to Veto
Hallenbeck responded to this notion by saying, "It is our system of government--checks and balances." He went on to say, "We need to work together, and that's what we have done in the City of Hudson."

Hamilton began her response by asking, "Why have there been so many mayoral vetoes?" She answered her own question by saying that the mayor has a "very adversarial relationship with the Common Council." She suggested that "if the mayor would work more collaboratively with the Council, we wouldn't get mired in vetoes and overrides."

Making the City More Friendly for the Disabled 
Hamilton identified three ways she would work to improve things for the disabled: (1) transportation--bringing back the city bus; (2) sidewalks--creating a comprehensive plan to fix the sidewalks; (3) accessibility to public buildings--initiating a plan to address the challenge of handicapped access to City Hall.

Hallenbeck began by claiming that "lots of handicapped individuals come to City Hall" and falling back on the explanation that money to be spent for such purposes had to be appropriated by the Common Council. He cited his efforts on behalf of the disabled: increasing the number of handicapped parking spaces and pursuing a grant to build a ramp at Promenade Hill. Regarding the sidewalks, he reiterated that the city code states that property owners are responsible for the sidewalks in front of their buildings, thereby exonerating city government from that responsibility.

In addition to bringing up bankruptcy in his closing remarks, Hallenbeck declared that the voters knew what they were getting with him but a vote for his opponent was "a vote for an experiment."

Election day is Tuesday, November 3. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. If there's a chance you may not be here for the election, click here to learn how you can vote absentee.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Great Opportunity for Hudson Pet Owners

It was just announced on the Hudson Police Department's Facebook page that the HPD now has a microchip pocket reader that can scan lost pets for microchips and help reunite them with their humans more quickly. The microchip scanner was purchased with an anonymous donation secured by Desiree Webber of New Leash on Life Rescue in Clermont.

This is great news for people whose pets already have microchips, but there's more good news for people whose dogs and cats do not have microchips. Webber is collaborating with Elaine Tucker, DVM, from Round Top Animal Hospital in Germantown, to hold a special event on Saturday, November 7, at 3 p.m. at Providence Hall. Pet owners in Hudson can bring their pets to be implanted with microchips. Each chip has a code which is then registered with Home Again®. Should your pet go missing, the HPD can now scan the chip and contact you, eliminating a trip to the shelter for your pet and possibly hours of anxiety for you. There is a one-time fee of only $11 (to be paid in cash) to have your pet implanted with a microchip and its vital information--your contact information--entered into the Home Again® database, where it can be accessed by the police, dog wardens, and pet rescue agencies. This is a wonderful opportunity to safeguard your beloved furry companions. Having a pet microchipped at a vet's office can cost as much as $75. Don't miss out.

"If I Had a Million Dollars"

In the debate later on today, Mayor William Hallenbeck can be counted on to remind voters that the City's fund balance has increased by more than a million dollars during his tenure as mayor. It's true. It has.

At the end of 2011, the day before Hallenbeck took office, the unrestricted fund equity, according to the audit report, was $1,472,781. At the end of 2014, according to the balance sheet submitted to the state comptroller's office (the audit report for 2014 has not yet been received), the unassigned fund balance was $3,284,665. It's not entirely clear how this increase in the fund balance happened when there had not been significant increases in the City's principal sources of revenue: property taxes and state aid. It may be that the payment of back taxes, the sale of property seized for nonpayment of taxes, and increases in the proceeds from mortgage tax and sales tax account for the increase in the fund balance, but that analysis is a matter for another day.

Thinking about the mayor and a million dollars brought to mind another mayor and a million dollars. Back in 2001, Mayor Kenneth Cranna, who had had a brief acting career before he became mayor and who had friends and contacts in the world of show business and advertising, was instrumental in getting some Hudsonians featured in a TV commercial for the New York Lottery. The score for the commercial was the Barenaked Ladies song "If I Had a Million Dollars." 

A version of the commercial was made that was very Hudsoncentric and featured members of the Hudson Fire Department and included Mayor Cranna himself, sitting on a park bench in Washington Square, singing. Unfortunately, Gossips hasn't been able to track down that version. A more eclectic version of the one-minute spot, however, with people from all around New York, from a crossing guard in Buffalo to a doorman in Manhattan, can be viewed online by clicking here

The late, venerated Wilson "Harpie" Shea appears twice in this version of the ad, in front of 336 Warren Street, which was then the VFW Hall.

Also appearing are Alexys Wigley, behind the counter at Brandow's, the cafe and market that was located at 340 Warren Street, where Swoon is today . . . 

and the proprietor of a tattoo parlor then on North Seventh Street, not far from Park Falafel, where Thomas Harkins Plumbing & Heating is now.

Watch and enjoy glimpses of Hudson at the beginning of the new millennium.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

New Revelation in the D.A. Race

Today, a Halloween-inspired post card from Democrat Ken Golden's campaign arrived in the mail, warning voters about the skeletons in the closet of incumbent Columbia County district attorney Paul Czajka.

One of those skeletons was Czajka's failure to act on the findings of the NYS Inspector General in the matter of an employee at the Brookwood Secure Center who had improperly disposed of scrap material from the facility and then admitted to giving false testimony and obstructing justice.

Also today, the Golden campaign issued the following press release, which shares new information relating to that particular "skeleton."
District Attorney Czajka Accepts Campaign Contribution Instead of Prosecution?
Ken Golden, Democratic Candidate for Columbia County District Attorney, stated today that he believes District Attorney Paul Czajka has some explaining to do as Czajka’s campaign filings reveal that he accepted a campaign contribution on June 2, 2015, from Catherine A. Onufrychuk, the wife of John Onufrychuk. Mr. Onufrychuk is the former Brookwood employee who, in a New York State Inspector General’s Report (dated June 2014), was found to have provided false testimony when taking and selling state-owned scrap metal on at least 36 separate occasions and retaining the proceeds. The Inspector General’s Report found that they had cashed the checks payable to Onufrychuk and at least one check was “endorsed by both Onufrychuk and his wife and deposited in their joint checking account.”  
In the report, Mr. Onufrychuk, under oath, initially denied each sale to the Inspector General but when confronted with evidence of the sales, he “offered various excuses for his conduct” before admitting “I am a liar.”
The Inspector General’s report concluded by referring its findings to the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office in June 2014. Golden added, “To our knowledge, there has been no action taken by the District Attorney on this matter to date—either by way of investigation or prosecution.”
Golden continued, “I know this is campaign season, so every statement is criticized as being 'political,' but for the last year, District Attorney Czajka has owed all residents an explanation of why this matter continues to languish. Now he can also explain why he accepted a campaign contribution in connection with a matter referred to his office for review. It raises a number of disturbing ethical questions that deserve answers and Mr. Czajka should be held accountable.”
Mr. Onufrychuk is also the Republican candidate for Highway Superintendent in the Town of Greenport.
District Attorney Czajka is locked in a close race with Mr. Golden for the Office of District Attorney. The election is November 3.

Apollonia Heads Home

On Sunday, Gossips told the story of Apollonia, the 68-foot sailboat destined to make Hudson her home port. Apollonia's journey from Buzzards Bay to Hudson is underway, and two hours ago, as they neared the Throgs Neck Bridge, Nick Zachos submitted this report on their progress.

We just passed the 24 hour mark for our trip and have been making remarkable time. With a full moon and very calm seas, we were able to run straight through the night putting us a little outside New York City at the moment. The engine seems to be running great, and Sam has crew members trained and checking in on it every 20 minutes. If all goes according to plan we will be in the Hudson River by midnight. If conditions allow, we will try to make a race up the Hudson River to beat the storm, which looks like it will get to our area midday. If we cannot beat it, we will probably anchor and try to wait it out, which will push our return date back till Thursday morning. Captain Sam has been running a tight ship, and moral is high.
Captain Sam Merrett at the helm
Zachos promises to continue reporting on Apollonia's progress.

Don't Forget

Tomorrow--Wednesday, October 28--mayoral challenger Tiffany Martin Hamilton and incumbent mayor William Hallenbeck meet again in a second live debate.

The debate, moderated by David Colby, president of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, begins at 6:30 p.m. at Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School. Once again, debate questions will be solicited from the audience, so come prepared with issues you would like the candidates to address.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Dining Out with Dogs: Happy Ending

Governor Andrew Cuomo today signed into law the legislation allowing dogs to accompany their humans in the outdoor dining areas of restaurants, cafes, and bars. The legislation does not require the proprietors of such establishments to welcome dogs, but it makes it legal for them to do so. Our own Didi Barrett sponsored the bill in the Assembly.

You Can't Please Everyone

So yesterday, the Hudson Area Library staged its 15th annual Ghostly Gallop. The event was energized this year with Bob Rasner as its organizer, a new course calibrated by USATF official Jim Gilmer, and certification and sanction from USA Track & Field. Three hundred runners (and walkers) participated in the event, which raised $15,000 for the library.

Photo Elizabeth Coleman
Among the participants were mayoral candidate Tiffany Martin Hamilton and a group of her supporters. They had paid their $25 or $30 entry fees to register for the race. They had enhanced the official race-issued T-shirts with their own team logo. And they ran and/or walked the entire five-kilometer race to show their support of the library, an institution that benefits the entire community.

Photo Elizabeth Coleman

Yesterday evening, Mayor William Hallenbeck, his nose obviously out of joint, posted this message on his Facebook page, calling Rasner to task for failing to invite him to the event and for "allowing" Hamilton and her supporters to be part of it.

This morning, Rasner responded to the mayor in a comment.

Another day in the "Friendly City."

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Heading for Our Waterfront

Gossips has been following the progress of the S.S. Columbia in its journey to the Hudson River, but meanwhile, the story of the Apollonia, a 68-foot steel sailboat, and its remarkable, yet to be completed journey to our waterfront has been playing out. The story was told to Gossips recently by Nick Zachos, a founder of the Hudson Sloop Club and one of the principals in the group collaborating to bring the Apollonia to the Hudson waterfront.

The story starts with Craigslist, where Sam Merrett, of Full Circle Fuels here in Hudson, saw the Apollonia offered for sale at a fraction of what a boat of its caliber was worth. Merrett gathered a group of friends, and together they put a deposit on the boat immediately. The challenge was getting the boat to water. The boat was sitting in a backyard in Woburn, Massachusetts, where it had been for the past thirty years.

The boat was built in Baltimore in 1948 by the American Electric Welding Company. The first forty years of its life are yet to be researched and discovered, but in the early 1980s, it was out of water and for sale at a boatyard. That's where Joe Mchugh found it, bought it, and brought to his house in the country north of Boston. His plan was to fix up the boat over the next twenty years and then sail around the world in it with his family when he retired.

Thirty years later, with still much work left to be done on the boat, the prospect of traveling the country in an RV was more appealing to Mchugh, now a septuagenarian, than braving the open seas in a 68-foot sailboat, so he hired a yacht broker to help him sell Apollonia. The initial asking price was $200K. Potential buyers, however, were put off by the fact that the boat, which was still in Mchugh's backyard where it had been for three decades, was nearly impossible to move. Mchugh's house, which had been in the country, was now, thirty years later, surrounded by suburbia, and there were power lines and weight restrictions on the streets. After several price reductions, the idea of selling the boat through a yacht broker was abandoned. As a last effort before relegating it to the scrapyard, Mchugh put the boat on Craigslist.

Apollonia's consortium of new owners was not so easily discouraged by the challenge. As Zachos tells it, "After a lot of work and research, we finally found someone who thought they could move the boat to the water, and after two months of scheduling, pestering, permitting, and another sizable chuck of money, it arrived at Burr Brothers in Marion, Massachusetts."

Since Apollonia's arrival at the boatyard in Buzzards Bay, Merrett has been driving to Massachusetts to spend a couple of days at a time working on the boat and getting it ready to make the trip to Hudson. This weekend, a "crack local team" made up of "a mechanic (and newly licensed captain), a carpenter, a videographer, some farmers, an artist, an electrician, and a real estate developer" went to Buzzards Bay to apply some "finishing touches" to get the boat ready for the long journey home to Hudson. That journey, of almost 300 miles, will take the Apollonia from Buzzards Bay through Long Island Sound into Hell Gate and around Manhattan to Spuyten Duyvel and finally into the Hudson River for the last stretch of its journey home.

The plans for Apollonia once it arrives here in Hudson are still being developed, but according to Zachos the steel-hulled schooner has "amazing potential":
The boat is designed as a "blue water cruiser," meaning that it is capable of cross Atlantic journeys. This type of design lends itself to a host of other possible uses. The wide steel hull means that it is durable and stable. Its hydrodynamic lines give it fast and efficient movement through the water. It's a schooner which means that it has two masts, making the process of raising and lowering the sails possible with a small crew.
In short, the boat is capable of taking cruises of up to twenty people out for river sails and chartered tours. The pilothouse, multiple cabins, and layout could also be customized to host educational programming on or below deck. But possibly the most compelling use of the boat would be for moving freight up and down the Hudson. With a huge weight capacity and a sleek hull, the boat could make trips to the city in under a day, and when the winds aren't blowing, the engine will take over and keep her cruising. The beauty of this engine lies in the fact that the Detroit diesel's simple set up lends itself perfectly to be converted to run off waste vegetable oil. Lucky for us, this is what Sam does for a living at Full Circle Fuels. Old-fashioned wind power backed up by a veggie oil motor fueled from local restaurants will enable the schooner to move freight with an amazingly low carbon footprint and punctuality.
While we do not yet know whether her use will be freight, environmental tourism, education, or all of the above, or in what capacity she will be a part of the Hudson Sloop Club or perhaps her own venture entirely, we do know we want Hudson to be her home port, and we can't wait to bring her back home safe and sound soon.
Zachos promises to keep Gossips updated on all of the project's progress and none of its disasters.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Running for the Library

The 15th annual Ghostly Gallop, the 5K run/walk to benefit the Hudson Area Library, takes place tomorrow morning, Sunday, October 25. If you want to participate and haven't already registered, you can still do so. Download the registration form here and bring it with you to Hudson High School, where the race begins this year, between 9:oo and 10:30 a.m.

If you just want to come out and cheer the runners on, here is the map of the route, which is quite different from previous years. Instead of beginning and ending at 400 State Street, the library building, the route this year begins and ends at Hudson High School and in between runs principally through the Fifth Ward. 

If you're planning a trip to the supermarket tomorrow, be aware that Harry Howard Avenue (as well as all the other streets that make up the race route) will likely be closed to traffic from 10:45 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.

The Word on Absentee Voting

If you think you will not be in Hudson and able to vote at the polls on November 3, by all means take advantage of the opportunity to vote at the Board of Elections before election day. Any day next week, from Monday to Friday, you can walk into the Board of Elections office at 401 State Street at any time between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. and fill out an application for an absentee ballot. If you are eligible (eligibility is having reason to believe that you will not be in the county on November 3), you will get an absentee ballot and can vote right then and there. 

If you can't make it to 401 State Street between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. any day next week, the Board of Elections will be open these additional hours for absentee voting: 
  • Thursday, October 29, from 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 31, from 9 a.m. until noon
  • Monday, November 2, from 4 t0 5 p.m.
Your vote matters. Elections are won and lost around here by very narrow margins. Don't be the person whose vote (or lack thereof) costs a good candidate the election.

Courtesy Hudson FORWARD
For more information about absentee voting, click here.

X Marks the Spot

In June, Berkshire Bank introduced its new logo, which will eventually replace the leaf in all its signage. The press release announcing the rollout explained that the new logo "builds on its America's Most Exciting Bank® brand and creates a new, modern look and feel that reflects the company's growth and positions it for the future."

Berkshire Bank, which is headquartered in Pittsfield, started affixing its new logo to buildings and signs at the eastern edge of its territory and has been moving west. On Friday, the plans to the attach the new logo, with its "new, modern look and feel," to the 1922 bank building on the southwest corner of Warren and Sixth streets, now occupied by Berkshire Bank and famous for the central role it played in the 1959 film Odds Against Tomorrow, came before the Historic Preservation Commission for a certificate of appropriateness.

Of the logo, HPC member Phil Forman quipped, "It looks like the Michelin man was run over." The HPC could do nothing about the design of the logo. All they could do was request that the logo, which is to have a matte gold and black finish and be illuminated internally, be installed a little lower on the east facade of the building, to center vertically between the bas-relief medallion and the ground floor window. The applicant agreed to the request.

Music at Christ Church This Afternoon

At 4 p.m. today, Diamond Opera Theater inaugurates its new concert series called Voices at Christ Church with a concert entitled "Wanderlust: An Evening of Adventurous Music," featuring mezzo-soprano Mary Deyerle Hack and baritone Martin Mansfield, accompanied by pianist Noah Palmer.

Wanderlust will take the audience on a tour of Europe and home again, exploring the richness of love and our instinctual desire to explore the world around us. The concert includes songs by Maurice Ravel, from his cycle about Don Quixote’s quest for the love of  Dulcinea. French impressionist music continues with the pianist’s performance of "Reflections in the Water," from Claude Debussy’s Images. The vocal soloists move to German music, two songs by Johannes Brahms and Songs of a Wayfarer by Gustav Mahler. The far-reaching program will conclude with two songs from the American songbook: "The Impossible Dream," from Mitch Leigh's Man of La Mancha, and "Take Me to the World," from a little known musical written for television by Stephen Sondheim.

There is a suggested donation of $10 at the door. A reception with the artists will follow the one hour concert.