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Tag Archives: Kingston NY

Smells Like Team Smear It

In a hastily released memo, City Hall tried to catch up to a story broken by Mid Hudson News Network, followed shortly by Cahill on Kingston, and the Daily Freeman.  Earlier in the week, and without public notification, Mayor Steve Noble sent out letters to every member of the Kingston Board of Ethics, informing them that their services were no longer required.  Effectively, he had dissolved the Board.

Crumbling in the Shadows -KingstonBarn Photo

Kingston Booth House Crumbling in the Shadows
-KingstonBarn Photo

It was beginning to look like the Kingston version of Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre.

The press release, issued days after the deed had been done and hours after it began appearing in the press and local political blogs, makes little sense.  In fact, it may be a violation of the Ethics Law to fire the entire board with the intent to leave the seats vacant. Look under Chapter 49-10, “Board of Ethics”.

Mayor Noble said, “I have decided to relieve the board members of their duties so that we may complete the Ethics Law revisions and launch a board appointment process that is most effective and appropriate.”

This statement gives us an indication of the desperate rush to get it out, but does little to illuminate the shadows it casts.  We know that at least one of the board members’ resignations was accepted early this year.  Why did the Mayor convince him to come back, only to fire them all?

The planning board has not been disbanded during the making of the Kingston Master plan.  The Zoning Board has not been disbanded during the rewrite of the Zoning laws.  I haven’t heard the Mayor call for resignation of the Common Council while the administration tries to gut key provisions of the Ethics law.

There is no reason this board cannot continue to “function effectively” until after the current law is changed, unless their mere existence as a board is some sort of impediment or threat to the administration’s political goals.

The Ethics Board serves at the pleasure of the Mayor.  It is obvious that this board did not please Mayor Noble.  Without transparency, or even the common courtesy of thanking them by name, these are the public servants Mayor Noble dismissed

Chairwoman Jean Jacobs, former School Board President and 2011 candidate for Mayor.
Karen Clark-Adin, Owner of uptown’s Bop to Tottom.
Reverend Doris Edwards Schuyler, Pastor of Riverview Baptist Church.
Brad Jordan, Owner of Herzog’s and the Kingston Plaza.
John Reinhart, Officer in the Kingston Fire Department.

They have served on this board since its inception.  It is disrespectful and disingenuous to the board, and a disservice to people of Kingston, to praise the board while dissolving it, and to tell us they cannot serve honorably while this Mayor makes “revisions” to the Ethics Law.

These changes look like an attempt to hide conflicts, and make it easier to sell public office for personal gain.

This smells like retribution and political shenanigans.

-Andrew Champ-Doran

*Editor’s note:  Find more stories and see documents referenced by clicking on the highlighted links, or going to KingstonBarn‘s “The Documents” page.  KingstonBarn posts and comments reflect the opinions of the authors only.

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Posted by on May 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Bond…School Bond

KingstonBarn Photo

KingstonBarn Photo

The Kingston School Bond Vote is tomorrow.  Simply put, the school district is asking for us to borrow $137 million to fix the tremendous problems of the hundred-year-old Kingston High School physical plant.  If the bond passes, construction is scheduled to begin in 2015, or about the same time as the SUNY Ulster’s Sophie Finn campus is completed right across from the high school.

The Kingston City School District has published some information on their site.

From brick falling out of walls, to antiquated steam heat, to buildings that have to come down, the work has been neglected for far too long.  One friend, a 1950’s graduate of KHS, says some of the existing troubles have been around since she was a student.

How we got to this place has been discussed at length.  Neglect, bad decisions, short budgets, and age have all been a part of the picture.  I won’t go over old ground.  Our decision now is to pass the bond or not.  The question hinges on what we want for the centerpiece of our public schools, and literally, our city.

At $137 million over the life of the bond, this is no small question.  Even with the state kicking in 60% of the tab, the Kingston City School District figures that the annual cost to each homeowner will be about $0.72 per thousand of assessed value, or nearly $100 in our case.  Can we find another eight or nine dollars a month to pay for this?  Probably, but the city and county tax will ask for more, and our insurance bill doesn’t go down.  It’s a lot to ask.

One argument circulating against the project is that our school population may not meet the Superintendent’s ten-year projections.  This does not hold water.  Whether we choose to educate 1600 or 2400 students in dangerous, dilapidated buildings is immaterial.

I have heard people ask why, if they don’t send their kids to Kingston schools, should they care?  They pay taxes, but they get nothing for it, the thinking goes.

What we get is a high school.  What we get is an anchor for the schools, for Midtown, and for Kingston.  What we do now is a decision on whether the anchor gives us a mooring spot or drags us down.

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KingstonBarn Photo

People are looking at all of Kingston when they make the decision whether to move here.  The owners and officers of businesses considering a new home need to know what we have for their families.  One thing I know for sure is that people won’t want to move here, and businesses will not want to locate their families here if there is no decent school to send their kids.

If we don’t pass this now, Superintendent Paul Padalino says, “it’s back to the drawing board.”  There is no cheaper Plan B waiting to take its place.  Construction costs are not going to go down over the next five years.  Compliance with codes, heating, asbestos remediation, and the Americans with Disabilities Act are not optional.  Emergencies are always more expensive than good plans.

I have just one vote, but I am going to cast it for the plan.

-Andrew Champ-Doran

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Heart of the Matter

Desperation.  Frustration.  Resignation.  Resolve.  You can hear all of that when you listen to Renato DiBella.

KingstonBarn Photo

KingstonBarn Photo

He’s owned DiBella’s Pizza at the corner of Washington Avenue and Marius Street for the last sixteen years.   Thank you, Mr DiBella.  Thank you for working for your business, your employees, and your neighbors.

He has fought for and worked in this neighborhood all of that time.  In the beginning, he took out a small business loan from the City with just two employees.  He finished paying it off three years ahead of schedule, and grew his business to eleven employees.  No plaque, no recognition, no official thank you.  He hasn’t asked for any.  He just keeps it going, hiring people from all over the neighborhood.

His fight is bigger now.  Extraordinary circumstances have become ordinary days.

Most of you know that the sinkhole on Washington Avenue has been the city’s biggest problem for the last two years.  We have put nearly four million dollars into repairs and fixes over that time.  People who live and work in the area of the hole, and have been affected by traffic and repairs and surveying should be commended for their patience.  The people that live closest should be nominated for sainthood.  They have put up with broken sewer lines, water stoppages, cracked foundations, sewer gas smells, loss of yards and privacy, and homes with little or no value on the open market.  DiBella’s has been there a long time, but, without the business the closed street has taken, they have to move.  Other people want to move, but can’t.  Some don’t want to, but can’t see the end.  All of them just want their lives back.

These people have paid so much in dues that we owe them change.

Mostly, the people here feel that they have not really been listened to.  “If this had happened on Albany Avenue or Broadway, this would have been done by now”, one said.  We can’t leave them feeling like their complaints are the problem.  Their complaints are just describing the symptoms of the illness.

They have been to their Aldermen, their Mayors, their Assemblyman, and their Governor.

Renato DiBella soldiers on.  So do his neighbors.  They all know each other.  Their lives have crossed for years.  He is one story in this neighborhood, and he is going to stay here.   He still owns the building, and has other properties nearby.  His family lives here.

The sinkhole is a big problem, and it belongs to the entire city.

KingstonBarn Photo

KingstonBarn Photo

What can we can do for each other?  How can we turn this into a model city?  Well, we can advocate for others in city hall.  We can make a difference if we speak to the common council at meetings, or just be there to hear a neighbor who does.    Can it be as simple as cutting our own bushes back at the corners so people can see oncoming traffic?  None of these things will increase taxes, but they will add value to real lives.  Do we really need “official” Make a Difference Days?  Renato passionately explained that it is expected and ordinary that we all come together in a crisis and, of course, it is valued.  However, it is how we come together and connect on ordinary days that makes a difference.

I want to represent and champion Kingston neighbors like Renato while serving on the Kingston Common Council.  KingstonBarn came from the desire to bring people together, and find out what we can do to help Kingston.  We can stay positive and work together.

I believe together we can make our ordinary days extraordinary.  It is my desire, my passion, my heart.  It is a mission which can inspire and unite all of our 3rd Ward residents and the Kingston City community.

We don’t have all the answers, but who would we be if we stopped trying to find them?

-Andrew Champ-Doran

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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KingstonBarn on Kingston NOW

Over a year ago, KingstonBarn was born out of a need for civil discourse on the events and problems that affect us here in our home.  The goal was to create a jumping-off place for thought and discussion that might lead to answers.  I have been pleased with KingstonBarn’s progress.  Readership is up, as are the frequency of comments.  I haven’t published all of the comments, because I ask people to submit their real names, but even the anonymous contributions have been thoughtful and helpful.  I try to pass them along informally to the subjects and in conversations, so I want you to know that you, Anonymous, are still participating.

KingstonBarn is earning some recognition, and this is about an experience I had recently with the group of barn builders over at Kingston NOW.

In May, at the opening of State Senator Cecelia Tkaczyk’s uptown Kingston office, I had the pleasure of meeting Jimmy Buff, Producer and Host of Kingston NOW, a show I have been watching on the web since last year.  I’m a fan, and I told him so, to which he said, “So, you’re the one.”  Perfect timing, I must say.  After briefly discussing KingstonBarn and Kingston NOW, Jimmy asked me to come shoot a segment for the show.  A little further in the conversation, he also asked that I discuss my upcoming candidacy for 3rd Ward Alderman here in the City of Kingston.  You can click on the embedded video and see the show as it appears on YouTube.  My segment occupies the middle six or seven minutes, but the whole show is worth a viewing at your leisure.  If you prefer, you can click on Kingston NOW’s YouTube Channel.  That way, Kingston now can track their number of views.

Since August of 2011, Kingston NOW airs locally Wednesdays on Time Warner’s RNN, Channel 22.  Executive Producer Jeremy Ellenbogen tells me they have over 100 shows to their credit, with nearly that many appearing on their YouTube channel.  To now, the show has focused largely on local issues, shooting most segments in Ellenbogen’s 721 Media Center right here on Broadway.  After RNN moved their Kingston operations to their Rye Brook home base, Ellenbogen says, “they requested we do a show so they could keep a foot in Kingston.” Adding “it’s been great for us as well,” he says this remains the only locally produced regular program about our area.

Host Jimmy Buff is the lynchpin to the success of the show.  At the center of a professional production team, he is unusually curious, and seems genuinely interested in his guests’ views.  He is well prepared, has notes, but will pay attention to the interviewees, and isn’t afraid to let conversations take a natural path.  He listens, and he is generous with his guests.  Buff lets the subjects speak for themselves.  He doesn’t cut them off, but he won’t leave them hanging, either.  Both extremes are real fears for novice guests like me, but he makes it seem just a conversation that simply ends too soon.

Anybody who lives, works, or spends time in Kingston is a part of our community, and the crew over at Kingston NOW are community builders.  Watch it, share it, and help spread the word.  This is too good to keep just between us.

Kingston NOW is one of the jewels of our city, and it’s expanding beyond our local boundaries.  Ellenbogen says they will be branching out, covering other happenings in our part of Ulster County and beyond, but they will remain focused on and anchored in their home port of Kingston.  Thank goodness for that.

Andrew Champ-Doran

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Coming to Terms

Editor’s note:  We try another experiment today.  Last Friday, while reading other local blogs, I came across the following post on Cahillonkingston.  I responded, and, a few days later, Mr. Cahill responded to that.  As I wrote back, the thought occurred to me that this conversation could be shared with the readers of KingstonBarn, as well.  I called Mr. Cahill, and he cheerfully agreed.  The following is meant to be an open conversation.  While we hold our core beliefs dear, it is not an argument, a fight, or a rant.  These are opinions, clearly labeled, and are the sole responsibility of their respective authors.  As always, I encourage you to get involved.  Feel free to comment on KingstonBarn, or add your opinions to cahillonkingston.blogspot.com.  All content from from his blog is published here with the expressed permission of Richard T. Cahill, Jr.

-Andrew Champ-Doran, KingstonBarn

cahillonkingston photo

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2012

R.I.P.

The constitutional republic known as the United States of America

July 4, 1776 to November 6, 2012
*******************************************************************************************************************************

Mr. Cahill,

KingstonBarn photo by Quentin Champ-Doran

I am not sure what you mean.  Are you saying that the constitution was trashed by having a Presidential Election, or are you just dissatisfied with the election’s outcome?
Every Presidential election in my voting life (Since 1978) has ended with a whole bunch of people declaring that the country is in deep dooky, and a whole bunch of people (often the same) declare that they are moving to Canada.  To my knowledge, though, the United States of America has survived as a constitutional republic, with very little emigration to Canada, or anywhere else.
This is still a great country.  I can tell, because it’s still legal for a couple of descendants of Irish immigrants, like you and me, to publicly point out what we don’t like about it, and we are still given a chance to fix what’s wrong.  And you an officer of the court, no less.
-Andrew Champ-Doran
***
Richard T. Cahill Jr. said…
Mr. Champ-Doran,First, my being an officer of the court has no bearing on expressing my personal opinion.
Second, can you not see? President Obama is changing the country from a constitutional republic into a socialist democracy. It is plain and obvious.
He is redistributing wealth and using the government to pick winners and losers in support of the welfare state.
He has ordered that the laws of the United States not be enforced if he happens to personally disagree with them.
He engages in massive class warfare pitting rich versus poor, black versus white, and men versus women.He is now looking to enter into a treaty with the United Nations mandating full gun control despite the Second Amendment of the Constitution.He governs using Executive Orders even though the Constitution requires Congressional action.

During the campaign, the President said he had “a new vision of an America in which prosperity is shared”. Not earned. Shared. We take from those who earn it and give it to those he wants to have it. That is socialism by definition.

Now, I have watched as millions of people sat on their butts while a man with a clear socialist agenda has been reelected.

It was clear and obvious to anyone listening and watching that Obama was running on a pure socialist agenda. Yet, he still won. I fear that socialism is now the majority. I fear that the majority no longer asks not what the country can do for them, but instead asks, “What is the government going to give me next?”

The constitutional republic known as the United States may well have died on November 6, 2012.November 13,

2012 8:45 AM

***

Mr. Cahill,

I apologize.  I meant no insult.  I simply meant that it is a wonderful thing that a government agent, or any citizen, has the right to criticize the government.  The First Amendment protections for you and I to do so are alive and well.

The Constitution itself provides for what you call “redistributing wealth”, and to pick “winners and losers”.

I’ll quote Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1.  “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.”

Because we disagree on what constitutes “general Welfare of the United States”, does not change the fact of its constitutionality.

I fail to see the difference between when President Obama does it, and when President Reagan or President Bush does it.  This country has been levying taxes under the authority of the Constitution since 1789, and even had the right to do so under the Articles of Confederation in 1781.  The 16th Amendment allowed for Federal Income Taxes when it was ratified in 1913.  I have not heard even the most radical of national elected officials seriously call for the abolition of taxes altogether.

I can see your point about ordering that laws not be enforced, but that’s been happening for over two hundred years here in this constitutional republic.

Upon taking office in 1801, Thomas Jefferson pardoned a few of his friends lawfully jailed under the Alien and Sedition Acts, yet selectively prosecuted a few of his enemies under the same laws.  Abraham Lincoln suspended Habeus Corpus, and wrote and delivered the Emancipation Proclamation by executive order.  George W. Bush, ignoring the 4th Amendment, secretly wiretapped Americans within the US, all the while proclaiming that it was illegal to do so.  Even Mitt Romney continually promised to “repeal ObamaCare on day one.”, though he never had the legal authority to do so.

Class warfare seems to be a matter of point of view.  A White man making $27 million a year in capital gains, speaking to a room full of rich White men and women, calling 47% of the people in the country dependents, victims, and irresponsible takers…well, those seem like pretty insulting fighting words.  They are especially troubling when you can see some of those “47%” in the tape, working hard, trying to support themselves, while serving those same rich White people.  It seems that Romney doesn’t even see them there, or he doesn’t care that they can hear him.

Donald Trump is another rich White man that got a big head start from his rich father.  Election night tweets for “a revolution in this country!”, calling the electoral college a “disaster”, and false claims of Romney winning the popular vote also suggest that he’s another official Romney representative engaging in class warfare.

Here are two dictionary definitions:

1)      constitutional democracy    noun    a system of government based on popular sovereignty in which the structures, powers,and limits of government are set forth in a constitution.

2)       socialism   noun   a theory or system of social organization  that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

I know that many think that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are pure Socialism, that feeding our poor and housing our homeless are something that we should not be doing.  Some would say that educating the poor beyond high school is not our problem, or that helping struggling people should be the sole responsibility of families and churches. I disagree.  This is not Socialism.  It is societal obligation.

We are a Constitutional Republic.  The Preamble to the Constitution is one sentence.  “We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense,  promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

When we ratified the Constitution, we committed to the laws, but we also became signatories to a social contract.  I think the disagreement is more about the terms and limitations of that contract than whether we have breached it.  The discussion needs to be engaged and continued, not abandoned in despair.

-Andrew Champ-Doran

***

Mr. Champ-Doran,

Allow me to correct your errors on the Constitution and constitutional law.

First, under Article IV, section 4, the United States guarantees a republican form of government.  Thus, any attempt to take one clause of the Constitution out of context to justify a socialist form of government is in direct violation of said article.

The power of Congress to lay and collect taxes and provide for the “general welfare” does not give constitutional authority to fundamentally change our basic form of government.

By its very nature, the federal government is a limited government.  In fact, this point was so strong in the minds of the founding fathers that they drafted the 10th Amendment making it crystal clear that any power not expressly given to the federal government is expressly reserved to the States or the people.

Second, where do you see the power to redistribute wealth in the Constitution?  By definition, redistribution of wealth is taking from the wealthy so as to redistribute it to whomever you wish, usually the poor.

Under the very same section you site, it is stated that all duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform.

Additionally, the power to levy an income tax is not in the original Constitution.  That power comes from Amendment XVI which was ratified on 2/3/1913.

Third, there is no reference to a “social contract” in the Constitution.  The Constitution was the joining of the States into a limited federal government.  Not one single member of the men who debated and wrote this Constitution ever envisioned the federal government running private industry or becoming cradle to grave financial security.

Now, let’s discuss your non-constitutional points.  First, class warfare.  You argue against my point of class warfare with a blatant class warfare argument.

Nevertheless, looking at your discussion of a wealthy man (you say white man, though race and gender are not relevant because there are wealthy men and women of all races in this country), you fail to mention something important.  The man in question EARNED his money.  Income taxes were paid on his money at the top level long before he invested said money into various companies.  Now, his money was taxed for the second time as capital gains.

That is not enough.  Now, you want that money taxed a third time at the maximum income tax level even though it was already taxed.

I take further note that you seem to express contempt for someone who inherited money from their father or parent.  What is wrong with that?

A man works his entire life, pays taxes, and succeeds.  He then passes his legacy to his children.  The children have to pay inheritance taxes on that money even though it was already subject to income taxes.  Your comment regarding Mr. Trump suggests that somehow his inheritance is not justified.  I see nothing wrong with a man or woman passing on their financial legacy to his or her sons or daughters.

The big part of class warfare is this irrational hatred of successful people and the idea that somehow that they do not deserve to be wealthy despite their personal or familial success.  Success is to be encouraged not mocked.

Then, to justify this irrational hatred, the wealthy are attacked for resenting those who live off the public dole even when they have the ability to work.

The various public assistance programs exist to help those who cannot help themselves.  Unfortunately, these well intended programs have been inundated with claims from people fully capable of working but who would rather live off the dole than go out and earn a living.

This is unfair to those who actually require the assistance and unfair to those who are working and have to continually pay higher taxes to support those truly undeserving of public support.

Finally, your comment that feeding the poor and educating people should not be our responsibility is pure straw man.

Of course we have a moral obligation to care for the poor and down trodden.  However, if you read the Constitution carefully, it is not the federal government that bears that burden.  It is the burden of each of the States or the people per the Tenth Amendment.

The bottom line is that you are taking clauses of the Constitution out of context to justify socialism as some form of contractual or moral obligation.

Is it not ironic that people such as myself who are pro-life are told we cannot force our morality upon people?  Yet, you seem to be arguing that your sense of morality is actually written in the federal Constitution albeit in invisible ink.

***

Mr. Cahill,

I’d like to do a little housekeeping first, and clear up any misconceptions you or your readers may have.

To the point of class warfare, I express no contempt or animosity toward the making of money, or of inheriting money.  I simply point out that wealthy people, attacking people who do not earn enough to pay federal taxes, is class warfare.   The irony of the people with the class advantages of money, power, and access accusing the poor and powerless of class warfare is not lost on me, either.

You bring wealth, race, and sex into the discussion with your first reply when you claim of President Obama, “He engages in massive class warfare pitting rich versus poor, black versus white, and men versus women.”, and I respond using your words.  I bring Trump into the discussion because he is the one calling for “revolution”.  Those are his words.  I hold no ill will for anyone making any amount of money by any legal and ethical means.

As you say, an investor earns his investment income.  But, dividends are income that was never taxed in the first place.  It is new income, and as such, should be taxed as ordinary income.  Not on the whole amount, mind you, but on the earnings above principal.  I do not, as you say, think it should be taxed three times.  Just like the money I expect to earn from from my Social Security or my 403b, it should all be taxed as ordinary income as I draw on the funds.  The real differences here are that I don’t get to write off losses from those investments over the years, I don’t get to declare earnings above principal as capital gains, and that I will pay taxes on all of it at my top overall income rate.

You say, “the wealthy are attacked for resenting those who live off the public dole even when they have the ability to work.”  Most of Romney’s 47% not paying federal taxes are working, and not “living on the public dole”.   American combat soldiers, including our own Congressman Chris Gibson, earned it.   My retired parents, living on Social Security and a small pension, have earned it.  Ayn Rand with personal wealth of over $500,000 when she died, earned her Medicare and Medicaid. When the Poughkeepsie Journal moved their press operations, my friend lost his job.  He used Unemployment Compensation and Education benefits he had earned to bridge to a new job.  It was a long and arduous struggle,  but his young family is now back on its feet.  When his father died, Paul Ryan admittedly did not need Social Security Dependent Benefits to live.  Instead, he cashed in the benefits his father earned, saved it, and used some of it to pay for college.  Sometimes, you do all you can do, and you still have a hard time.  Who among these do you label dependents, victims, or irresponsible takers?  If you doubt that is what he meant to say, I refer you to Romney’s comments last week about Obama winning the election because of gifts to African-American, Hispanic, and young voters; gifts like insurance, and college loans, and free birth control are what Romney claims won the election.  I say it was gifts in the form of comments like Romney’s that helped Obama win.

The vast majority of people who have been, and continue to be, on public assistance, are not taking the money and living the high life.  I do not see people on Section 8 benefits living in mansions,  but I am acquainted with a few living in very difficult conditions.  Make a visit inside of Washington Manor, Elizabeth Manor, or any one of a number of houses on Franklin, Furnace, Henry, or St. James Streets.  I have.

I am sure there are some people defrauding the system, but if you have specific information regarding this crime, is it not your duty and responsibility to report them to the Department of Social Services?  While a number of people were cashing in Food Stamps for disallowed purposes, the real beneficiaries of the scam on Broadway last year were the owners of the business making it possible.   The real numbers are bound to be a small fraction of the 47% Romney claims.  And usually, those people don’t vote.  A more thoughtful person, not interested in fomenting class warfare, might have said, “47% of Americans will not vote for me under any circumstances, 47% will not vote for my opponent under any circumstances, but I need your help to reach the middle 6%, and get my 47% out to the polls.  Regardless of how they vote, my job as President Romney will be to work for all 310 million Americans.”

In any case, people who pay no Federal Income Taxes still pay plenty of taxes, most of it at the same flat rate as the other 53%.  Every time you buy gas or cigarettes, you pay federal and state taxes.  Pay for electric, phone, or cable, and you are paying those taxes.  Tour a national park, say the Roosevelt Estate, Vanderbilt Estate, or the Statue of Liberty, and you pay a federal tax.  Buy most goods and services in Ulster County, and you pay taxes.  Register your car or your dog, and you pay a tax.  Bridge fares, Thruway tolls, and Lottery tickets are all taxes.  No matter how much you make, nobody rides for free.

Allow me to correct one more assumption, and I will move on to your constitutional arguments.  I do not, and would not try to force my morality on you, or anyone else.  You have every right to remain against abortions, and to work against laws and decisions that allow them.  I have rarely indicated to anyone how I feel about that subject, but I do not presume to force my views upon you.  Likewise, my views on the responsibilities of decent societies are not to be taken as being forced on anyone.  These are strictly my opinions, and points for discussion.  I put them forth for the reader’s consideration, no more.

No, I do not think my sense of morality is written into the Constitution.  However, the Taxing and Spending Clause allows Congress to levy taxes uniformly throughout the United States.  The Constitution says congress can levy income taxes.  The Constitution charges congress with making a budget, and allows for congress to spend the money as they agree to do so.  They make the budget and spending into a bill.  The Constitution requires the President then sign the bill into law, veto the bill, or take no action.  Until suit is brought and the Supreme Court rules otherwise, the law is constitutional.  This is not my morality.  This is written in the constitution, clearly and plainly.

Let’s agree on this; to define a Republican form of government as:  a type of government in which the citizens of a country have an active role in the affairs of the government, and the government is not headed by a hereditary ruler such as a king.  Or, if you prefer, James Madison says in the Federalist Papers a republic “is a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people; and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure, for a limited period, or during good behavior.”  By acting under the Constitution to levy taxes (Article I, Section 8.1 and Amendment XVI ) and pass budget bills (Article I, Section 7.1, .2, and .3), our elected representatives only affirm that form of government.  If you reread, you will find I previously pointed out the 16th Amendment was not ratified until 1913.  Are you implying the 16th Amendment is somehow less valid or not as constitutional because it was not in the original convention?  Whatever they could or could not imagine, the framers of the Constitution provided for changes in Article V.  Those amendments were intentionally difficult to achieve, but still possible.  As long as those changes are made according to Article V, they are constitutional.

Let me be clear.  None of what I have said is an argument for Socialism.  You have no right to take my car and have the Central Committee define a driving schedule in it for me and my neighbors.  I have no rights to yours.  I never advocated for Socialism, and I never will.  I defined Socialism in an a comment above.  Socialism and redistribution of wealth are specifically defined, and should in no way be confused with lawful taxation and budgetary spending as approved by our duly elected representatives.

I am fully committed to our Constitution, as I assume you are.  The whole of Article IV, Section 4 says the following:  “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened), against domestic violence.”

My original point stands as before.  Our Constitution is alive and well, and is the foundation of our republic.  We periodically face tests of the constitution, and still it survives.  That has not changed with the reelection of one President.  Your first post, repeated by many people every four years, is hyperbole.  Our country may need work, but the founders knew that.  They knew they weren’t perfect, and they allowed for change and improvement.  As long as enough of us are willing to do the job, we will remain the place that all of us want to live.

-Andrew Champ-Doran

National Archives photo

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Bright Future From the Fading Past

Fear, outrage, anger and sadness at the closing of Meagher Elementary School have been quelled by the quiet successes of the first day of school.  The headline was subdued, but The Kingston Daily Freeman’s story in last Wednesday’s paper praised the events of the day.

The pressure that built up to the opener was relieved. The anxiety caused by forecasts of failure was replaced by optimism.   Because people worked together to make the transition run smoothly, it did.

John F. Kennedy Elementary School Students arrive under the watch of parents and staff.
KingstonBarn photo

Success, in this case, can be measured at least as much by what did not happen as what did.  There were no screaming protesters hurling invective outside the school.  Parents did not keep their children home in defiance of the school change.  Teachers did not walk out in solidarity with their now jobless colleagues.

We could give credit to the administrators and members of the Board of Education, and they are due some for taking the steps necessary to see the plan through in the face of strong opposition.  They did their part, and continue to.  JFK Principal Clark Waters says that a day does not go by without real physical help and presence from the Crown Street administrators. ” They come, they carry lunch trays, open juice boxes, help with the books, whatever is needed.”

Waters credits Superintendent Paul Padalino with coming to the school every day, working, always asking, “What can I do for you?”  “Assistant Superintendents are helping,” he added, ‘John Voerg was here this week, Sandy Miller was here, and Marystephanie (Corsones) is coming.”

Principal Clark Waters as the sun rises on a new day at JFK – KingstonBarn photo edited by Quentin Champ-Doran

“We are the pilot for next year.  We are finding out what’s working.”

Teachers, of course, welcomed the new students as they have in the past, with a personal professionalism, even as classroom numbers grew.  They are all to be thanked for making a go of a different circumstance.  Waters knows it’s work, but it’s not that complicated.  “We’re educators, they’re students; they want to learn,” he said.  “If you interest them, if you challenge them, they’ll learn.”

The real heroes, the ones that saved this day and the days since, are the families that did the right thing from both  John F. Kennedy and the late Meagher Schools.  The families of Meagher sent their children with the confidence of a familiar mid-year setting, and the families already attending JFK went on as if this had been the plan all along.

As a community, let’s applaud this accomplishment by the teachers, administrators, and employees of the district, and let’s really give recognition to the backbone of our schools, the families that make the choices to do the work to make it happen.  Former Meagher parents could have told their children that their time at JFK would be rough, so expect the worst.  Longer-term JFK parents could have complained about the increasing class sizes, and told their kids that they didn’t stand a chance anymore.  But they didn’t.  Their decision is clear.

You have all answered the call with distinction, and I, for one, am proud.  All of you could have allowed a longing for the past to bog you down in the mire.  Instead, you’ve move on with hope and determination to make the future work.

Sooner than seems fair, we will face the same choices over and over.  Big change has come, and even bigger changes are heading our way.  Beyond that, more are waiting that we have not yet contemplated.  Do we choose to carry on with quiet conviction that we can make these changes work, or do we fall apart and complain and guarantee failure with self-fulfilling prophecies of nay saying doom?  Do we work to help our children take the reins of their futures, or do we let our longing for a past that never really was drag them down a dead-end road?

When I was a kid, nostalgia was better.

When we moved here, we encountered a neighbor that said he just didn’t like change.  He lived next door to the same family for most of his life, and he liked it that way.  But, we moved in, as did other families, another neighbor moved on, and even he moved to another town, closer to his work.  Kids are growing up, other neighbors have died, and still others raise another generation to succeed them.  Neighborhood businesses come in to replace some that have gone out.  And yes, schools and hospitals close.

Nostalgia is, by definition, steeped in the sepia we paint it.  The future can only be seen by the light we turn on it.  Next year, let’s apply the lessons of Meagher to Sophie Finn, Zena, and Anna Devine.

-Andrew Champ-Doran

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Put It There!

In an editorial appearing in today’s online Daily Freeman, the writer boils the questions facing Mayor Gallo and his plan to park a permanent Police precinct in the middle of the Midtown melee down to two: • How much will the move cost Kingston taxpayers?  • Will it reduce crime?

Well said, Freeman.  Read the rest of their editorial by clicking in this link.  Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo’s plan for Midtown

If you recall last year’s outrage over the Safe Harbors of the Hudson proposal at the King’s Inn site, you will also remember a large number of online commentators demanding a police station or substation for that area.  At least a couple of those demands came from political candidates for local office.  Candidate Gallo’s position was that the city was into the site for over $600,000 in actual costs by then, plus the unpaid taxes, and that we could not give away the property.  We needed to at least recoup our losses, according to then-Mayoral Candidates Gallo, Turco-Levin, Polacco, and Cahill, as well as Alderman Noble and Hoffay.

Well, here is the perfect site, and the perfect opportunity to build what the people of Kingston have demanded.  It is across the street from the former Kings Inn, so we don’t lose that asset, it is at the intersection of all quadrants of Kingston, and it serves what is arguably one of the most crime-ridden corners of the City.  With this building’s active police presence, we could see the start of residents and businesses returning to Midtown Broadway.  Their assets and quality of life would be protected in a way that can not be accomplished from the current location off of lower Broadway.

Mayor Gallo, Chief Tinti, and Jen Fuentes (among others) have lobbied successfully to secure the donation, and are currently working just as hard on grant solutions, both public and private, to fund retrofit and move costs.  I am sure the promised proposal will include estimated costs, and I am hopeful the grants can be won to fund the project.

If the money is not available through those channels, I propose we vote a bond issue on the matter, maybe as early as November.  Urgency and importance can not be over-stated.  I believe this Police project is analogous to fixing the sinkhole on Washington Avenue.  If this problem is not fixed soon, it could have the same results, metaphorically.

If the City can not fully fund this police station by one method or another, then I suggest letting the donation of the building go unaccepted.  Presumably, even though the building has been closed since 2009, Bank of America have been paying their taxes, and we can’t afford to lose the revenue to act as realtors on a property that hasn’t sold for 3 years (unless, of course, there is a valid offer on the table).  If BofA are not paying taxes, the City can seize the property soon enough.

I applaud and support my Alderman, Nathaniel Horowitz, for his positive efforts to move this plan forward.  With some good-faith bargaining from the Common Council and the Mayor’s office, we can turn one liability into a big asset that marks the way for a Midtown revival.

-Andrew Champ-Doran

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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