Owing to a monumental headquarters snafu by county Republicans, Assembly candidate Jack Hayes of Gardiner may lose the GOP designation, all but guaranteeing easy reelection for 10-term Democrat Kevin Cahill of Kingston. Snafu is a World War II acronym by service members for “Situation Normal, All Fouled Up” (to be polite).
Under election law in force since 1947, out-party non-judicial candidates seeking a party nomination must be “certified” by that party’s executive committee. After Hayes was unofficially nominated at party convention in June, formal documents to that effect were supposed to be filed or postmarked with the state Board of Elections by July 18.
That didn’t happen, said a spokesman for the state, adding on Monday that they’ve been keeping an eye on the mail.
GOP committee members did their job in securing nominating signatures for their Conservative Party candidate. “We got 1,200. We only needed 500,” county party chairman Roger Rascoe said. A noble effort for sure, but absent the timely filing of official paperwork it won’t mean squat. After slogging door-to-door in blistering heat for signatures, rank-and-file committee members can’t be too pleased about headquarters misfeasance.
Hayes, a former one-term county legislator and a veteran, said he was “disappointed” about the filing snafu and annoyed, but not for long. “Being annoyed is just a waste of energy for me. I’m not going there,” he said.
Instead, he said he got busy contacting town Republican chairmen in the district. “They’re still 100 percent,” he reported. Like they have someplace else to go.
“People I’ve talked to at picnics and other meetings have been very receptive. We’ll be out there beating the drum, regardless of what happens with the nomination,” Hayes said.
Rascoe manned up. “A whole lot of people were responsible, including the chairman,” he admitted. The chairman could have said he was distracted by the Republican convention in Cleveland that week, which he attended as a delegate, but he didn’t.
At this writing Rascoe and his brain (?) trust were consulting lawyers in an effort to seek a waiver from a sympathetic judge. “We did everything by the book,” the chairman said. He didn’t get the book in on time.
Cahill, no doubt watching events carefully, was unavailable for comment.
Choose your conspiracy
Meanwhile, conspiracy theorists, convinced there are no such things as incidental mistakes, are having a field day.
It goes something like this: Those murky “powers that be” in Albany care only about retaining their respective majorities in the Senate and Assembly. Nobody much worries if the occasional minority Republican is elected to the Assembly, where Democrats hold a two-to-one edge. Some might miss Cahill. In the state Senate, where Republicans hold a paper-thin “majority” only because a few rebellious New York City Democrats sold out their party, one or two elections among the half-dozen or so competitive districts could make all the difference. And those elections could take place in the Hudson Valley where rookie Republican George Amedore is locked in what might be a close race with Sara Niccoli of Montgomery County, while Terry Gipson is attempting a comeback in Dutchess against another first-termer, Sue Serino.
There is also the remote suggestion that “accidentally” depriving Conservative Party member Hayes of the Republican nomination is payback for Conservatives refusing to endorse long-time Republican senators Bill Larkin and John Bonacic.
Given the pervasive secrecy inherent to politics, none of this will ever be proven, of course. “Party business,” you know. Handing Cahill a free ride could render him more spectator than gladiator in the race for state senator from Ulster. Advantage: Amedore.
“I always knew it would be an uphill climb,” said “clean-government” Hayes, still hoping for a friendly judge. Absent lightning, he may find it downhill from here.
Judging by the numbers
Unsinkable Sara McGinty, Democratic primary candidate for county surrogate judge against party designee Sharon Graff, would seem to be barely nose above water as the county Board of Elections peruses hundreds of challenges to her nominating petitions by her opponent.
A thousand valid signatures were required to place a surrogate candidate on the Sept. 13 primary ballot. Graff came in with an unassailable 2,500, McGinty with just 1,250. The Graff campaign says it is challenging 793 of those signatures. Even a 30 percent success rate would put McGinty in line for an exit serenade.
Should Graff succeed in what is a perfectly legitimate tactic — McGinty did not challenge any of Graff’s signatures — the way will be clear to focus on Republican nominee Peter Matera in the Nov. 8 general. If this is the way Graff wages primaries, Matera had better get his ducks lined up.
The county Board of Elections, which is facing an Aug. 2 deadline to finalize the primary ballot, expects to deal with the challenges this week.
Alms for the poor
There’s a certain irony in RUPCO’s acquiring the vacant “Alms House,” the former county office building on Flatbush Avenue, as a future site for seniors, the poor and the homeless.
Alms used to be a polite word for public support for impoverished people. The county alms house (“poor house”) was built in the mid-1870s at about the same time the new City of Kingston was constructing its municipal building about a mile away on Broadway.
Some things, it seems, don’t change.
In fact, says RUPCO Director Kevin O’Connor, things have been steadily getting worse for the poor. “We have 177 homeless adults in Ulster County,” he said, citing recent state surveys. “They’re sheltered in some 20 beds in motels and boarding houses, in some cases under inhumane conditions.”
It appears they tore down the infamous King’s Inn welfare motel on Broadway in Kingston only to relocate the misery.
A 2009 study funded by the Dyson Foundation of Millbrook projected the local demand for affordable housing, typically a family of four with less than $40,000 in annual income, at over 20,000 in the year 2020. The present need in Kingston alone, says O’Connor, is about 1,200 units.
As a commercial site, the 15-acre alms house (with four usable acres) was apparently a bust. Located on one of the busier intersections in the county, the site had access and drainage problems. Then the legislature belatedly noticed that a 140-year-old Italianate-style building might have historic significance. Adding the alms house to the state historic places registry made it even tougher to market. Realtors Joe Deegan and Tom Collins, retained by the county three years ago, called it a white elephant, an albatross. And these guys could sell ice to Eskimos.
O’Connor, who had been working on this project for about a year, went into more detail on what is envisioned as a $21 million project, including the $950,000 proposed purchase price. “It’s a gorgeous historic building from the outside, but inside it has very wide corridors and small rooms,” he said. RUPCO expects to create 34 two-bedroom apartments. Plans are to build another building on-site.
Average construction cost of each of the 66 units will be in the $330,000 range, says the developer. Building a comparable private home in Kingston would produce about $10,000 in city, county and school taxes, according to the city assessor. By comparison, RUPCO will pay about $850 in taxes per unit, says O’Connor.
Before critics crank up the letters to the editor, Ulster Town Supervisor Jim Quigley says a recently built public housing project in his bailiwick pays $126 a unit under an agreement forged by his predecessor.