Before making any predictions on Tuesday’s Democratic primary for Congress between Julian Schreibman of Marbletown and Joel Tyner of Clinton in Dutchess County, let me say that I like Tyner’s game plan. I just don’t think it’s going to work.
Tyner is hoping for a low turnout, maybe 16,000 of the 130,000 registered Democrats in the new congressional district. Underfunded and outstaffed, Tyner is counting on a vocal, energized anti-fracking element to deliver the 8,000-plus votes he thinks it will take to win this thing. This is not to call Tyner a one-trick pony — he seems to have a well-thought-out opinion on almost every important subject. This is only to observe he has just one shot at winning.
I don’t think that’s going to happen for a couple of reasons. Other than to a dedicated core, fracking simply is not an issue in this congressional district because it will never happen in this district.
Furthermore, Schreibman, after taking a wait-and-see stance on fracking, has adjusted his position. Tyner is 101 percent anti-fracking, Schreibman at this point is somewhere north of 90. That’s not enough for true believers, but it’s likely to be plenty enough for the few rank-and-file Democrats who will go to the polls on Tuesday.
There had been much conjecture over retiring Congressman Maurice Hinchey’s preference in this primary. Hinchey, for the record, said he favored neither candidate, even though Schreibman is the only candidate who can continue Hinchey’s legacy of being the resident congressman.
But here’s a clue. The primary candidate riding in the open convertible with Hinchey in the gay-pride parade in New Paltz a few weeks ago was not Joel Tyner. On Tuesday, Hinchey ended the suspense by formally endorsing Schreibman.
It is now only remotely possible that in really low voting — more like single digits than the 12 percent Tyner is predicting — the five-term Dutchess legislator ekes out a win. Far more likely — indeed, highly desirable for Democrats — is that Schreibman wins big on Tuesday.
Give Tyner credit for priming his primary opponent for the big one in the fall. Tyner is almost always irritating, because he’s right about a lot of stuff. He’s always unapologetic and sometimes insulting. Tyner clearly got under Schreibman’s skin and in the process helped him grow some backbone. Schreibman will never be Hinchey in full battle cry — neither is Hinchey anymore — but he’s no longer the pussycat Tyner challenged six months ago.
He’ll need those claws, fangs and more, for waiting in the wings, armed and dangerous, is incumbent (for half the district) Chris Gibson. And he’s no Joel Tyner.
Ready, fire, aim
Being semi-active in local veterans’ affairs these days, my first reaction to CountyExecutiveMike Hein’s call for a homeless veterans’ shelter inUlsterCounty was decidedly positive. I mean, how can anybody question programs for needy vets?
There are, however, other considerations on a plan the exec even at this late stage is calling “conceptual.” As laid out by Hein and his representatives, the county intends to acquire a former state group home at Wurts and Spring streets in downtownKingstonto establish a facility for homeless vets. Legislation for the transfer of the property from the state to the county (for a dollar) cleared the Assembly this week.
A handsome structure of perhaps 3,000 square feet, the late 19th-century residence has clearly seen better days. The city assesses a probably grossly inflated value of $522,000 on this vacant property. By comparison, the Marbletown assessor values the community college president’s house (on nine acres), soon to be put on the market, at $700,000. At half the assessed value, the Wurts Street property would generate about $7,000 in annual tax revenue for the city, school district and county. The UCCC president’s house carries a yearly maintenance cost of over $25,000, according to officials, something that isn’t being discussed publicly about theWurts Streetproperty.
Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo is in theory all about maintaining the tax base, but in practice is pursuing private property for public uses (re: the proposed Broadway police station). He hasn’t expressed concern about regaining a taxable property, but does seem worried about the impact of another county facility onKingston city taxpayers.
In a misdirected June 5 letter to legislature Chairwoman Terry Bernardo — this is Hein’s project, not the legislature’s — Gallo reiterated his support for the concept but states that he’s agin’ it if the city would incur additional Safety Net welfare expenses. In other words, he wants Hein to pick up the tab.
Gallo says he’s not against helping city veterans. He just doesn’t want an influx of homeless rural vets coming to town for services. On that count, he shouldn’t lose sleep. County officials estimate there are no more than a dozen homeless veterans among a population of some 13,000.
There are other expenses yet to be detailed by the exec, like providing programs at the facility, staffing, restoring and renovating a vacant building.
Yet to be assessed is the reaction from neighbors. Homeless people, veterans included, frequently suffer from problems related to alcohol or drug abuse. Some are heavily medicated, owing to experiences from their time in service. Is a residential neighborhood the best location for this kind of facility? Several phone calls to ward Alderman Bob Senor on this subject were not returned. Perhaps he’s out herding feral cats.