Hugh Reynolds: Whack and roll

Kevin Cahill. (Photo by Dan Barton)

Kevin Cahill. (Photo by Dan Barton)

Mostly because they can’t help themselves, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and Assemblyman Kevin Cahill keep on fighting their war of words over sales-tax legislation. Last week’s exchange of nasty letters was mostly, metaphysically speaking, about the shape of the meeting table should they ever get together in the same room.

There was one interesting tweak. Cahill took Hein to task for suggesting that Cahill had refused to seek a special meeting of the state legislature this year in order to extend the county’s sales-tax surcharge another two years.

Not so, said the assemblyman; he has been consistently asking for a special session, but of course the state legislature does not reconvene just to vote on one small county’s sales-tax legislation. They need bigger fish to fry.


Since I’d seen no indication whatsoever he had been pushing for a special session, I asked Cahill about that over the weekend. “It was implied,” he said.

Really? I had implied quite the opposite, that Cahill, by blocking sales-tax legislation in regular session, was holding Hein’s tender feet to the fire. What he consistently said was that the legislature will (or could) take up the matter when it reconvenes in regular session in January. If that’s the scenario, people will pay slightly less in sales taxes for three months and the county government will be out some $6 million in sales-tax revenue, which Cahill claims Hein has squirreled away in budget surplus.

Please, please don’t invite both these guys to your next cocktail party.


The people knew

Those loud splashes heard under the RondoutCreekBridge primary night might have been frisky carp, or maybe perhaps losing Kingston aldermanic candidates Nick Woerner and Jeremy Blaber going off the deep end. Woerner got about a third of the vote in losing 79-45 to Nina Dawson in Kingston’s Fourth Ward. Blaber was demolished by a near 5-1 tally by Lynn Johnson in the Ninth.

Johnson campaign manager Hayes Clement, a former alderman and mayoral candidate, said his team was “sure” of 145 Democratic votes going into the primary. Johnson got 129.

Unlike Clement, I’m not very good at predictions, and therefore stand corrected for relying on an ancient political theory that shoe-leather tops direct mail. Blaber, with plenty of time on his hands, walked the ward at least twice and got 27 votes. I guess it depends who’s wearing the shoes.

Kingston Wall Street sage Jon Hoyt might have had it right when he said, “The people don’t always know what they want, but they sure as hell know what they don’t want.”

Gallonians — my portmanteau word for the mayor’s most zealous supporters — should not take the defeat of his two vocal critics necessarily as a vote for Hizzoner. After almost two years in office, Shayne Gallo is still an unknown quality.

Reports of county legislature chairwoman Terry Bernardo’s political demise were obviously premature, considering she buried party designee Jack Dawson 275 to 52 in a Rochester Republican primary. When last seen, town Republican chairman Dave O’Halloran was rummaging around the rubble of the fire-destroyed Rainbow Diner on Route 209 searching for his political future. As a backup, dissident Republicans (that war-weary handful that sank with Dawson) can go to Democratic nominee Lynn Archer in November. They might be wary about counting those chickens as well.


Cookie lady

What does it take to convince a reluctant town supervisor to seek a third term even as he surely knows the toughest times are just ahead? A ride in the fire chief’s car? Treats at an ice-cream stand? Hand-delivered cookies from a kindly senior citizen?

The answer for born-again Ulster Town Supervisor Jim Quigley seems to be all three.

Ulster Hose Fire Chief Sam (Bam!) Appa pleaded with Quigley to run again, advising that if Quigley wasn’t supervisor he wouldn’t be allowed to ride in the chief’s car (with siren) in the next hurricane. Appa sealed the deal by taking Hizzoner out for an ice-cream cone at the popular Jolly Cow drive-in at the north end of town. And no, Quigley did not pose atop the popular plastic Holstein.

Hugh Reynolds.

Hugh Reynolds.

But the kicker, according to the supervisor, was Mrs. Rett Williams of Glenerie bringing cookies to his office at town hall. Vivian Williams, 76, and her late beloved husband — “He died 538 weeks ago,” she told me — were known as “the cookie couple.” Together they brought cookies to every event, be it a visit to the doctor’s office, a senior citizen meeting, a social gathering or a trip to town hall. Mrs. Williams carries on the tradition.

“It was pretty special,” Quigley said, recalling the surprise visit to his office with sugar cookies.

“We needed him,” Mrs. Williams said, simply. Quigley, after a few polite nibbles and a promise to reconsider, distributed the cookies around town hall.