Ulster County’s summerlong sales-tax controversy between County Executive Mike Hein and Assemblyman Kevin Cahill has made it to Albany television. Cahill appeared on Liz Benjamin’s Capital Tonight report last week. She said Hein has agreed to appear, but he hasn’t confirmed. Benjamin, former county legislature chairman Gerry Benjamin‘s talented daughter, tried to make sense of the standoff between implacable foes. (The ever-helpful editor of this paper has put a link up to the video on the Kingston Times Facebook page, he tells me.)
Cahill took the opportunity to lambaste his now-sworn enemy. While heaping plates of rehash were served up, Cahill did make the point that in his estimation Hein has more than enough in surplus stashed away to easily weather the estimated $6 million hit the part-year loss of a percentage point on the sales tax will cost the county. Left unsaid was the estimated loss of a million dollars to Kingston city coffers. Mayor Shayne Gallo, Cahill’s second-harshest critic these days, is already collecting soda bottles to balance next year’s budget.
I think most folks are sick and tired of this long back-and-forth series of half-truths and accusations. Why not put both these guys in a steel cage and see who comes out alive? Unless Cahill has some kind of secret weapon, like a shillelagh in his pants, I’d bet in that encounter on the younger, fitter Hein.
Under the heading of Jan, we hardly knew ye, Freeman publisher Jan Dewey, the first woman to hold that position in 142 years, has all of a sudden returned to her former post as director of advertising at the Poughkeepsie Journal. Freeman top dog for only 14 months, Dewey followed longtime publisher Ira Fusfeld out the door; he left in August after 26 years on the job. Media, with its nose in everybody else’s business, rarely explains its own, so “personal reasons” will have to suffice.
The exodus of two publishers in a month may say something about working conditions at the once-proud Gray Lady of Hurley Avenue these days. Only two months after the paper introduced its hard to read new format, the publisher quit. Could it be that Dewey, whom almost nobody got to meet, missed Ira? Or not?
Ninth Ward Kingston Democratic aldermanic candidate Jeremy Blaber has been handing out flyers claiming he “managed” comptroller Elliott Auerbach’s 2008 campaign. At the time, Blaber was all of 20 years old and coming off two losing campaigns for Kingston school board, hardly the kind of guy you’d want managing your political future.
“Jeremy worked on my campaign along with several other people,” Auerbach said, “but ‘managed’ is stretching it. He did ‘manage’ to do several thousand dollars’ worth of damage to my pickup truck while working in the campaign.”
Then as now, Blaber was without wheels. Taking pity on the young man, Auerbach, who used to run around in a little red sports car, kindly loaned him his truck. In a way, the episode has been a template for Blaber’s controversial young life.
Blaber, who got far too much publicity from a campaign block party he planned last week, quietly cancelled it after residents on the street threatened to withhold votes. Instead, he did a meet-and-greet in front of the house he rents on Brewster Street. But did he tell anybody in the media? No. I walked around for a half hour looking for the block party and maybe a free hot dog.
I write this with some trepidation two days before deadline in the hope that town of Ulster supervisor Jim Quigley doesn’t change his mind — again! — about running for re-election before we have a chance to catch up. If he bails out at Thursday’s Republican caucus, he may destroy his credibility with both voters and columnists.
Recall early in the year that Quigley, after two terms in that pressure-cooker called the Ulster Town Hall, declared he would not seek a third term. At the time, he had just returned from a lengthy vacation in Australia to report that his blood pressure down under had dropped by several points. A few months later, he surfaced at the county Republican convention to accept his party’s nomination for comptroller, only to back out a few weeks later, citing health issues and private-sector opportunities.
Quigley says he’s concerned that the (all-Republican) town board, left to its own ends, might “wash away everything I accomplished in four years.” Talk about faith in your fellows.
Going forward, Quigley will apparently need regular mental-health days. As a condition for re-enlisting, Quigley says, he reached agreement with board members to allow him an uninterrupted cross-country vacation trip from January 15 to March 1.
As for that offer he couldn’t refuse from the private sector, “it’s complicated,” he said.