Hugh Reynolds: Mayoral moves

The columnist Reynolds.

The columnist Reynolds.

I’m not sure Kingston mayoral candidates Steve Noble and Ron Polacco changed any minds at this week’s Chamber of Commerce debate, but Noble made a better case for himself. Noble was in any case a good deal more specific with plans and programs. Polacco was more the sloganeer from four years ago.

Polacco didn’t come out smokin’ a la Joe Frazier, but he did show more fire in the belly than the mild-mannered Noble. Some may still wonder whether Noble has the guts to stand up to the special interests and the City Hall establishment.

Noble did indicate that some heads will roll if he’s elected a week from Tuesday, though leaving the impression there might be only an initial slap on the wrist. And while Noble seemingly could not bring himself to utter the word “Gallo,” he did give the “previous administration” credit for starting some of the programs he intends to carry forward. The olive branch he offered could not have been lost on Shayne Gallo supporters, though few, if any, were in attendance.


One of these guys will begin immediately with the myriad problems facing the city in less than 60 days after being elected. Revealingly, Polacco looked back to Kingston’s “golden age,” Noble forward.

To Polacco the last 20 years under Democratic control have been something of a disaster. A Republican mayor will change that, he asserts. But, Mayor Polacco will deal with a Common Council of at least eight Democrats, with Steve Noble’s uncle as presiding officer.

Noble has a 20-year plan for his 4-year-old son, that after graduating college he can return to Kingston for a good job with an affordable home in a safe, growing city. At 33 — Polacco is 49 — Noble may just have to hang around for five terms until Sonny comes home. Frank Koenig, mayor for the entire decade of the 1970s, holds the longevity record.

Business crowds ask the questions that interest business, so there wasn’t much to chew on other than sausage and eggs. But it seemed that outgoing mayor Gallo dropped at least a couple of bombs in his final budget, released last week.

First, demonstrating some of the character traits that lost him the primary, he removed Noble’s position as environmental coordinator from the budget. Perhaps mellowing somewhat, he did not exact vengeance on Noble’s wife Julie, his department assistant. If the mayoral budget is enacted as written and Noble does not win the election, both he and Gallo will be out of their jobs.

Of more importance, Gallo, in an in-you-face salute to the residents who didn’t vote for him in the September primary, recommended shifting a whopping 20 percent of the non-homestead property tax to homeowners in the next budget. The surprise is that the business community in attendance, after greeting candidate homilies with tepid applause, didn’t leap to their feet on news of that proposal, something the mayor did not mention in his budget release.

Noble and Polacco, after agreeing on almost everything good and deploring everything bad, signed on to a carefully planned 10-year phase-in as a better way to go.

Bottom line, in my view Noble reinforced his base in shoring up doubts as to his ability to handle the mayoral job, while Polacco was less impressive. And Noble’s base is a good deal broader than Polacco’s.

Taking pulses

Given deadlines, I didn’t have time to poll mayoral opinions as the Chamber breakfast crowd hurriedly belched its way to the door. Most responses were predictable, in any event, like 10-term former Democratic legislator John Dwyer backing a Democrat. A few were more revealing. Asked how his boy had done, Republican city chairman Tony Sinagra — with a plethora of adjectives ranging from fantastic to awesome available for use — replied, “I’ll get back to you on that.”

There are 6 comments

  1. ITR

    Bernardo has comitted to serving the full 4 years where as Hein has not. So when Hein runs for Gibsons seat next year. guess who gets to select his replacement as Ulster coutnty Executive. It’s not the voters of uslter county. It will be Mike Hein himself making the call. So Hugh, any speculation on who that might be?

  2. nopolitics

    I’ve been reading these columns for 50 years and this is the DULLEST Hugh Reynolds column I’VE ever seen–PLUS the very STUPIDEST AND MOST BIASED!! WOO HOO OOO!

  3. Steven L. Fornal

    The Bernardo’s IDA flap was absolutely NOT “cooked up” by Hein. The IDA leadership found out that, in fact, the Bernardos did not hire anywhere near the number of jobs as was provided in their application (something like 24 jobs on the application but actually created only 2 full time and several part-part time jobs).

    However, when the Barnardos claim that they upheld every requirement of the contract (as far as job creation numbers go) they’re not lying. It was the IDA’s responsibility to create a contract that placed a contingency on job creation numbers provided in the application. Sadly, the UCIDA contract had no such linkage of tax benefit to job creation numbers.

    Unfortunately, most IDAs in NYS have done the same thereby handing over $50 some million dollars via PILOTs in the Hudson Valley for less than 20 percent of the promised jobs.

    Also, your comment re Hein bullying CMRR…C’mon, Hugh. The UC County Executive FINALLY decided to enforce the lease agreement that CMRR has ignored for 24 years. That’s called leadership. Throughout this entire publicity onslaught conducted by the CMRR supporters, there has been a singular resistance to facts of cost to taxpayers. CMRR has not been truthful as to its breaches of the lease agreement. CMRR has not been truthful with the true costs for repair to washouts and bridges that’ll have to be picked up by the taxpayer even as this private, for-profit company will then pocket the profits. CMRR refuses to accept the reality that it came woefully short of track rehabilitation requirements of the lease. CMRR’s excuse that the lease agreement requirements are far too onerous is bogus as obviously a CMRR official or official(s) freely signed that agreement. And when finally held to those requirements, CMRR refused to abide and sued the county.

    As far as Ms. Bernardo’s performance in the Times Herald Record “debate” it was embarrassing. She used inappropriate data sets to make a case and was called on it by Mike Hein. She made charges such as the Mental Health program instituted under Hein’s watch was poorly run. When questioned and asked to be specific, she said she heard from people (pressed by the reporters) she guessed, “20…30” and when asked who these people might be she said she couldn’t divulge their names as the people feared retribution at the hands of Mike Hein. Then she stated that the callers had said, the old program was better. All in all Ms. Bernardo displayed a pretty bizarre debating style; at least for local level election shenanigans (as opposed to national Republican Trump style Presidential ridiculousness).

    Looks like Hugh Reynolds has likewise fallen for the scam of CMRR having huge sway in the upcoming elections. As Mike Hein pointed out, Ulster County’s tourism sector is a $515 Million dollar sector of which CMRR operations are but a fraction of one percent.

    Also, Hein has actually offered a compromise to CMRR allowing for more track to cross Rt 209 into Hurley. But neither side of the aisle has decided to act on a new resolution to alter #275 which called for trail only EXCEPT for current train operations. Resolution 275 also states that said CMRR operations would be promoted by Ulster County.

    The Times Herald Interview was hugely telling. Hein came off as a serious executive with a grip on the facts and the ability to have turned Ulster County around during seven years on the job.

    Ms. Bernardo often times used suspect facts to support charges which defied logic vis-a-vis the figures given by Hein (who also offered citations for those stats).

    In the Freeman “debate,” Ms. Bernardo admitted that she hadn’t really delved into the budget comparing it to “common core math…It might be right. I could be wrong. Who knows?” That was a stunning admission seeing as understanding a $330 Million budget is one of the main responsibilities of a county executive.

    I’m afraid Ms. Bernardo hitched her wagon to the CMRR which hopes to use her as its savior; to resurrect its business after decades of neglect. This was a most unfortunate calculation by Ms. Bernardo.

    1. ITR

      Over 11,000 Tickets have been sold for polar express in December. 2 years in a row. Looks like a total sell out by Thanksgiving. Uptown Kingston — They are coming back. Get ready…. Maybe Hugh knows a little more about the Railroad than Steven. Maybe Bernardo is on to something in her support. Either way, if 15,000+ people show up to Uptown kingston. Kingston and Ulster county wins.

    2. nopolitics

      Well Mr. Fornal, I would also say that responsibly overseeing what the county DOES is one of the main aspects of the job of county executive also–and what has this county executive DONE?
      I oversaw the life of a very elderly man in this county, Mr. Fornal, and I got no appropriate action from the office of county executive in my attempts to protect him from himself. I got no response from mental health, an inappropriate response from APS, and a withdrawal of services from OFA–along with a bunch of other inappropriate acts neglectful of minimal ethics in the situation. My reasonable concerns were not appropriately addressed and one suspects since I was the one putting them forth there was some dynamic against addressing them appropriately, and the man wound up wandering next door to an abandoned building and falling 12 to fifteen feet through the rotted stairs, breaking his leg, cracking ribs, and that led to his death. So YOU tell ME if that is a minimally appropriate or good performance in the office of county exec–and I’ll tell you to “turn off the Fawcett” of that stupid analysis. The only good outcome there was the fact the family decided suing was not worth their time or effort–which is more protective of the taxpayer and doing a deferential job right there in a situation where most would not refrain from suing everyone on earth involved in that boondoggle than this self-important permasmile useless twerp in that office now. I’d bet a woman–almost any woman–would have had far better sensibilities in such a situation than the people hired in that office by the permasmile young monkey–or those other shills running the departments that neglected that situation. At $130,000 per annum I have the guts to suggest the PEOPLE have a RIGHT to EXPECT something BETTER–or ANYTHING BETTER. Just anything.
      So your argument to support this self-important little twerp, the permasmile twerp, is rather weak. It’s like saying that since Sottile could work with numbers he could be a great Mayor–or was one– worthy of all worship from the people. It’s a lot like saying that since Johnny can work with Play-Doh he should be hired as an architect.
      I won’t hold my breath, because Hein has the Catholic vote locked in, and all the votes from the knee-jerk voters from NYC. That’s quite enough to keep His Unholiness in power. The only question really is whether this professional ass will be allowed to go “from Bishop to Cardinal”(as a hierarchichical analogy), and Hugh will of course keep reading the tea leaves on that prospect.

      1. Steven L. Fornal

        Did you FOIL the follow up re the tragic situation of which you wrote? If you FOIL for ANY documentation re your call to the Exec about the man with mental issue you will either receive some documentation or a notice that none exist. THEN, if none exist, you can make the argument you made. Not that I agree that would be the County Exec’s issue to handle. But, until you absolutely ascertain that Hein didn’t send a memo along the way to appropriate party, you really can’t be making the argument you did.

        And, as per your story of neglect re the unfortunate gentleman, that the family didn’t sue speaks loudly; adding much skepticism re your version of what happened.

        Your dislike of Hein is palpable. But, all the stats show that under his leadership this county has improved itself significantly.

        As I’ve stated before, I personally like Terry Bernardo but I just think she’s latched onto groups like Second Amendment Rights or those opposed to the SAFE ACT, and CMRR, and of late against the bike lane inclusion in Mid-Town Kingston, etc etc in order to get votes.

        I can’t support such obvious political machinations. Especially when, for instance, the CMRR has no leg to stand on vis-a-vis its failed “business plan” and its failure to uphold the lease agreements by which it has been bound. Nor can I see ANY threat whatsoever to the Second Amendment via passage of the SAFE ACT which, by the way, won on appeal ergo the question of Constitutional violation has been clearly answered by the courts. And, the bike lane “controversy” was immediately dealt with by adjusting it so crucial parking spaces would not be eliminated yet Ms. Bernardo and supporters keep harping on the bike lane “problem” when none now exists.

        Plus, her admission that she hadn’t parsed the budget proposed by the county exec did NOT put her in a good light. That’s a HUGE part of the County Exec’s job.

        Plus her less than impressive use of suspect data was beneath her. Hein quickly and quite easily cut through the haze of accusation with facts including citations (proffered to the reporters moderating the TH-R debate.)

        Ulster County has a very good county executive. People should stop with the Republican v Democrat dichotomy and see the reality for what it is. Ulster County under Mike Hein has prospered with much more that can, and will, get done.

Comments are closed.