Hugh Reynolds: All aboard

Last week’s legislative assault on the IDA and its board by some members was more about staking out future campaign props than about reversing current events. As legislative protests go, it was loud and ultimately futile. Everybody voted for the three new IDA members, while either 15 or 14 legislators, depending on abstentions, voted to reappoint the four incumbents, including the chairman.

For this they argued for half an hour?

Horodyski, who succeeded Dave O’Halloran as IDA chairman last winter when The Big O all of a sudden quit, says he hopes to be re-elected chairman in September when the IDA meets to reorganize. Sounds as though he has the votes.

Meanwhile, the year-long controversy over tax treatment for the student housing project seems to have left many a scar. The college foundation, which says it badly needs additional dorms and owns the land, is understandably on the side of developers. Community leaders, led by Town Supervisor Susan Zimet, see college support as a betrayal of taxpayers.


Horodyski says he can appreciate why hard-pressed taxpayers would resent out-of-town developers getting huge tax breaks, but doesn’t seem of a mind to change the IDA’s stance. “The choice isn’t to leave it in the hands of [local] politicians,” he said stoutly. In the fullness of time the courts, perhaps after several appeals, will decide. Restoring relations between town and gown may take longer.

Flagging New Paltz

I don’t know whether Susan Zimet’s nominating petitions will withstand formal scrutiny, but it will be close. (Editor’s note: Zimet’s petitions were ruled invalid Monday, July 28.) Incumbent Assemblyman Kevin Cahill has no such worries.

Kevin Cahill. (Photo by Dan Barton)

Kevin Cahill. (Photo by Dan Barton)

Zimet filed just under 650 signatures on nominating petitions last week. Cahill came in with something over 1,700. A minimum of 500 valid signatures is required. Without sufficient signatures, there is no name on the ballot.

The fact that Cahill filed almost three times as many signatures from enrolled Democrats should not suggest the nine-term incumbent is at least twice as popular as his challenger, though he beat her at convention by a similar margin. As the party’s unofficial nominee, Cahill enjoys the advantage of county committee members carrying his petitions. Zimet had to depend on a small cadre of supporters.

It is one of the unwritten rules of petition-gathering, particularly against an incumbent, that one needs to secure at least twice the minimum in order to withstand challenges. Zimet’s 30 percent extra may not be enough. In any case, Cahill’s crew is carefully checking every signature. A decision is expected Friday.

Early this week, Steve Auerbach (no relation to the county comptroller), Zimet’s husband and campaign manager, accused Cahill of attempting to deprive Democrats of a choice in the Sept. 9 primary by knocking his opponent off the ballot. Well, duh, or as a former assemblyman liked to say, “That’s poli-biz, baby.”

If Zimet had exercised due diligence, collecting at least 1,000 signatures, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Meanwhile, Republican hopeful Kevin Roberts, having virtually disappeared from public view after the June nominating conventions, has filed something like 20 percent more signatures than Zimet. In the likelihood that Roberts’ petitions survive challenge, he could be Zimet’s last best hope of unseating Cahill.

There are 3 comments

  1. CP'

    Re: CMRR, is this an actual ray of light coming from a dark place?

    If the county had put the money they gave to lawyers into the railroad and trusted the volunteers to do what they’ve been doing, the railroad would be even more of a success than it is, despite their best/worst efforts.

  2. hokeystuff

    If the CMRR had actually operated as a viable and legitimate business over the last 30 yrs there would have never been any contention. Unfortunately, they have not lived up to their agreement to have renovated the rail corridor and do not have a viable business plan to do so in the future. Investors for viable businesses aren’t hard to come by, but in 30 yrs none have stepped forward because the cost of renovating the trail and on-going operations far outweighs potential revenue.

    1. CP

      Hokey, you and I have had this discussion before in a slightly different form, and I don’t have the time or inclination to go down that same (rail)road again. Things change, people change, organizations change, and the railroad has been an active and growing – and successful (to a significant agree) against overwhelming odds in the few years I have known it personally. It is about time that the county has recognized the further potential of the gift it has in the place on the ground and is (finally) making moves, however limited, to support it.

      Give the CMRR every opportunity to be more successful without further obstructions and cash drains for both the railroad and the county. If it isn’t, THEN talk about conversion.

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