Hugh Reynolds: Parete pulls the plug

John Parete. (Photo: Dan Barton)

John Parete. (Photo: Dan Barton)

It’s just as well that Ulster County Legislature Chairman John Parete cancelled a special legislative session for Tuesday night with former Nevele casino pointman (but still CEO) Michael Treanor.

Given the secretive nature of politicians and developers, we’ll probably never know all the details of the Mike Treanor affair, but what we do know it was enough to force Treanor’s ouster last week. Few doubt the New York Post was tipped off on the story by one or more of the Nevele’s rivals. He will remain at headquarters running the day-to-day effort to site a casino at the former Nevele near Ellenville but will not be the company’s spokesman.

Only hours after Treanor’s company and 21 other would-be casino operators plunked down a million-dollar application fee last week, the Post ran a story that Treanor had pleaded guilty to third-degree assault (a misdemeanor) in 2007 involving an altercation with his sister and that she had won a $300,000 civil settlement against him. And no, the saga of the battling siblings will not appear on the next installment of TV’s Family Feud.


With all due respects to the Post, which played the story in typical tabloid fashion (but not on page one, reserved for Eliot Spitzer’s shenanigans), Treanor’s travails were really old news. In fact, our man Paul Smart reported some of that story last year in the weekly Shawangunk Journal.

Treanor tells reporters and anyone else who asks that his legal difficulties were thoroughly vetted with the state and for that matter in open Surrogate Court in Ulster County. Former county economic development leader March Gallagher, with a direct line to the county government executive suite, was in the courtroom at the time.

County Executive Mike Hein expressed shock, apparently challenging his inner Claude Rains from the movie Casablanca, when asked about the Post article. Shocking? If Hein, after regular contact with Treanor for almost two years, didn’t know the details of the Treanor affair, he was either in denial or living under a rock. Remember all those county legislators who swore they knew nothing about the county jail project going off the rails? Shocking.

It’s not OK that this type of character would be leading the effort on the county’s biggest potential economic development project in decades. For sure, Hein and many others ran like scared rabbits once the “news” broke in the Post. But make no mistake. Hein was the county’s pointman on this project.

We move on. As Parete said after pulling the plug on what would have been the latest Treanor explanation, we need to focus on the task ahead.

Michael Treanor.

Michael Treanor.

What worries county legislators, and anybody else who sees the Nevele project as the best hope for chronically depressed Wawarsing, is that the initiative may be fatally tainted by revelations of Treanor’s misconduct.

Joining other whistlers in the dark, I’d like to believe this project can stand on its own merits. Bucking heavy competition from at least five casino developers in neighboring counties, however, it stands on one leg.

Party business

An annual rite of passage was celebrated last weekend at county Democrats’ love-in at Wiltwyck Country Club in the Town of Ulster. For Democrats the “spring brunch” represents a coming-out party, an opportunity to greet old friends, to size up potential enemies, to plot strategy for the annual nominating conventions a few weeks hence, and of course to honor their own. It’s like the Grammies, though slightly out of tune.

This year the hall was abuzz with the news that New Paltz Town Supervisor Sue Zimet would challenge nine-term Assemblyman Kevin Cahill at primary. The two had crossed paths at a party gathering in Rosendale without incident, but how would they react on the big stage, with stares, glares, sneers? They never met on Sunday.

Cahill arrived early for the Ulster function and departed for a similar affair in Dutchess before Zimet arrived from Dutchess. Perhaps they exchanged greetings on the Governor Clinton Bridge.

According to sponsors some 220 tickets at $50 were sold for an annual event that this year honored former county chairman and alderman Tom Hoffay, Senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and JoAnn Chamberlain of Woodstock, former president of Ulster County Democratic Women. Seating was by assignment, which led to some odd tablemates. Archenemies Hein and Cahill ignored each other at their table, though literally within spitting distance. Keeping the peace between the dueling duo at the head table were state senator Cecilia Tkaczyk, Stewart-Cousins, County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach, and Hein chief of staff Adele Reiter.

Hein’s stump speech reminded the crowd about how passionate he is about his job. A few eyebrows went up when he credited guest of honor Hoffay with getting him into politics. Hein entered politics in 2003 as a Republican deputy county treasurer, switching to the Democrats in a portentous career move when they took over in 2005. He was appointed county administrator six months later. The rest, as they say, is history.

Hein made no mention of tablemate Cahill during his brief remarks.

Cahill, burning from multiple Hein attacks, was not quite as reticent. He began by speaking to “literally” the “96 times” the Daily Freeman had mentioned the sales-tax and Safety Net crisis (in Heinspeak “the Cahill crisis”). Then, as is his wont, for emphasis Cahill repeated his “96” reference. The 1966 one-hit wonder “96 Tears” came to mind.

Apparently, Cahill set off a wave of nostalgia in the middle-aged audience. Across my table, former Kingston mayor Jim Sottile, to laughs all around, mouthed the words of the Pointer Sisters’ disco hit “We Are Family.”

Cahill’s eventual point was that he thought the media was ignoring the major issues the Assembly was addressing while continuing to provide ink for Hein’s repeated attacks.

The other candidates

I didn’t catch Zimet’s remarks, but I’m told she was on point, brief and pleasant, qualities that could serve her well on the campaign trail.