New York having been a presidential backwater for so many years, “it’s exciting to have candidates visit our state,” in the words of state Sen. George Amedore. As a historical note, should frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump prevail, the next president will come from New York for the first time since 1944. This is not, of course, to cast aspersions on Bernie Sanders, born in Brooklyn, or Ted Cruz, delivered just across the border in Canada. (His mother was a citizen.)
New York’s two-party system means that the 40,000 registered Ulster County voters who either choose no party or one of the minor parties will be excluded from the April 19 party primaries. Democrats allow their members not only to vote on presidential candidates but also on delegates to their national convention. Republicans can vote for candidates; delegates will be chosen by party bosses next month.
I predict a higher turnout on the Democratic side and not only because Democrats outnumber Republicans in Ulster by about 12,000. They add to their plurality every year.
I can’t help but notice the clear distinctions between Democrats Clinton and Sanders, as demonstrated at respective rallies last weekend in Kingston.
Clinton, once a two-term senator from New York, represents the establishment and is represented by the establishment. Who else but Clinton could draw to the same room archrivals Mike Hein and Kevin Cahill, standing next, or at least close, to each with clenched teeth? Establishment calls for reform strike me as hollow.
Curmudgeonous Sanders and his youthful followers appeal to my rebellious side. His candiacy has added fervor and participation to what started as a party-anointment process. That said, I wonder how he’s going to pay for all his promises.
I like that Republicans started with at least a dozen choices. That number has been battered down to just three survivors.
Bernie and The Donald have drawn new people to the fray, for better or worse.
I hope party enrollees turn out. If not, this presidential parade may not return for a long time.
A hundred days and counting
“New Kingston mayor” Steve Noble makes his first address to the Ulster Regional Chamber of Commerce monthly breakfast meeting Wednesday, April 20 at 7:30 a.m. at the Best Western Plus on Washington Avenue in Kingston.
With 110 days in office (on the 20th) we can stop calling him “new.” (New Kingston, however, is a real place. Located about 45 miles west of Kingston in Delaware County, New Kingston was founded by refugees from the British burning of the state capital in 1777. The hamlet remains a country crossroad with perhaps a dozen homes.)
Noble has been a busy mayor since assuming office on Jan. 1. The fate of the sales tax “agreement in principle” reached by city and county officials rests in the hands of state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. This being a “state” sales tax they’re talking about, the state has the last word.
Given the secrecy surroundings negotiations and state review, only insiders have any idea of what’s going on, and they’re not talking. For Noble to announce a sales tax agreement at his chamber speech would have reporters running for the phones, to use classic movie imagery, and the breakfast crowd buzzing in mid-chomp.
More likely, he’ll stick with ham-and-eggs issues like scrapping the city’s old parking meter system, according to the Chamber newsletter. Before anybody gets their hopes up for permanent free parking, they should keep in mind that cash-strapped Kingston derives some $500,000 a year in parking-meter revenue and fines, minus the cost of personnel and equipment to manage the program. “Modernizing” the system, as Noble suggests, means only a more efficient way to suck nickels, dimes and quarters from unwary pockets and purses. Not to mention the hefty fines for violators, which I just did.
I think Noble gets pretty good marks on his first 100 days, better than, say, Napoleon, who wound up at Waterloo. He has brought some talented young people into government, kept most of the reliable regulars, reached out to various constituencies and for the most part communicated well.
Quietly, he has taken charge. He doesn’t get rattled and he doesn’t poke fingers at people. He brings a measure of calm to City Hall where the ravings of wackadoodles once boomed and echoed. Political enemies who rarely talk to each other seem to respect the new mayor, at least for the time being. He’s used his honeymoon period wisely, and made good first impressions and good vibrations. On a scale of one to 10, I’ll give him a B-plus. Everybody needs room for improvement.
State Comptroller DiNapoli will be guest speaker at the county Democrats’ annual spring luncheon at Wiltwyck Golf Club on May 1, beginning at noon.
The party will honor three retired legislators with close to 40 years service among them. Jeanette Provenzano of Kingston did 22 years in the legislature, spanning years of Republican dominance to today’s executive system. Don Gregorius of Woodstock, like feisty Jeanette, was a party leader during his decade in office. Ken Wishnick of New Paltz added to debate with thoughtful insights over two terms. Reservations can be made at (845) 594-4512 by April 19.
Methinks that New Paltz village mayor Tim Rogers may be a fan of TV’s Family Feud where contestants get “twenty thousand dollars!” if they win the bonus round. A first-termer, Rogers is asking for a $20,000 raise, something I don’t remember him mentioning in last year’s mayoral elections. Considered a full-time mayor — he’s not out painting houses during business hours like one of his predecessors did — Rogers may rate a raise. But not until he’s worked through his first budget.
Con(vention) job in Albany
Given widespread corruption in Albany and institutional indifference to reform, there is much talk about a constitutional convention these days. The state constitution allows but does not require a convention every 20 years. The last such convention was in 1967; its recommendations, cynically packaged, some said, as a one-vote, up-or-down proposition, were rejected by an almost two-to-one margin. Apparently in the belief that attempting to reform Albany would be an expensive effort in futility controlled by insiders, voters rejected conventions in 1987 and 2007.