Monday, November 3, 2008

The Slums Election Rundown

In terms of local races this year, there are a few that are noteworthy, such as Bob LaPietra and his (so far) ill-fated quest to win a seat on the Cobleskill Village Board of Trustees. Then there’s four guys vying for two council seats in the Town of Richmondville, and another Town Council election in Wright, but who the hell cares about that?

To all of these candidates who would assume office and serve as your local representatives, I have but one question that I would put out to each of you: what is the name of the mental illness that would make you want to have anything to do with local politics in this county? On second thought, comparing aspirants to political office with the mentally ill is a pretty harsh insult to the mentally ill.

But seriously folks, who are these people and what drives them to run for public office? In the case of Bob LaPietra, it is most likely sheer egotism. The man already behaves as if the laws of the earthly realm do not apply to him. How he must have sinisterly guffawed for two years straight as he continued to rent out his illegal and unsafe apartments to stupid college kids while village officials scrambled in futility to stop him. Meanwhile, Cobleskill’s absentee slumlords come out of the woodwork to cry foul when the Village attempts to require annual apartment inspections, and unsurprisingly your fearless leaders on the Village Board cave in like a termite-ravaged shack.

The problem in the Village of Cobleskill is that the incumbent (Carol McGuire) does little to inspire. However, her challenger is a crazed madman and perhaps a felon, and those are his good qualities! When it comes to LaPietra’s politics, his attacks on village officials (and in particular Carol McGuire) are largely of a piece with those of Mark Galasso, who regards the concept of Downtown revitalization with unmasked derision. Both Galasso and LaPietra call for a rapid dissolution of the Village, despite the fact that other options presented by the CGR study would leave Cobleskill far better off. Instead, Bob LaPietra (along with what would be a majority of Galasso and Sellers) is supporting a mad rush to eliminate the Village. The main result of such an action would be that Cobleskill’s infrastructure would essentially be up for grabs, a move supported by Galasso because he is a blindly greedy developer and wants to have at it, and most likely supported by Sellers because he has proven inept at handling the complex issue successfully, preferring now a solution that would take the matter out of his hands completely. LaPietra would just like to see Carol McGuire out of a job.

Linda Holmes, the third candidate for Village Trustee is just a nice old lady who serves on the Village’s recreation commission. While I confess that I do not find this crop of candidates to be the most compelling, I will lay out my endorsements nonetheless. For Cobleskill Trustee: Linda Holmes and Carol McGuire. I say McGuire because she has been a steady opponent of the attempts by Galasso and Sellers to move toward consolidation, urging more careful consideration instead. I pick Linda Holmes as choice number two, because as I’ve just stated, she is a nice old lady, and who doesn’t want to vote for a nice old lady?

Now on to Richmondville. Here four candidates are vying for two town council seats. Why any sane resident of the Town of Richmondville would want to serve on this Board is beyond my comprehension. From the few Town Board meetings I have attended, the job description of a Richmondville Town Board member seems to mainly consist of sitting slack-jawed behind a fold-out table, as angry resident after angry resident takes out all of their worldly frustrations on you. For some reason, Richmondville seems to have a disproportionate number of malcontents. Whether they are frothing over property tax assessments, the evils of wind turbines or the pitiful state of Romania’s Olympic gymnastics team, they can expect Town Board members to show up dutifully every month to serve as whipping boys.

One incumbent, Dennis Handy, apparently has better things to do and decided not to run, good for him. The other incumbent up for re-election, Dick Lape, probably didn’t want to run and probably was relieved when the Republican Party couldn’t manage to hold a caucus. However, he must have had a change of heart as he is now mounting a write-in campaign to stay on in his current position. Write in Dick Lape? Who in their right mind would bother?

Also in the running is newcomer Bob Johnson. Johnson is a registered republican, but because there was no nominating caucus, he is running as an independent on his own “Common Sense” ballot line. The first rat to be smelled with regards to Johnson is that if he had a lick of common sense he wouldn’t want to be a Town Board member in the first place. The second problem is that he is largely a one-issue candidate, backed by the infamous Bob Nied and Schoharie Valley Watch and the rest of the anti-windmill NIMBYs. Johnson is the husband of Kathleen Johnson, who you will recall, accused a man of stalking her at a recent wind power forum at SUNY Cobleskill because he had the audacity to stand up from his seat the same time she did, AFTER the presentation was over. These are people who persistently harangue Town officials but cry foul and see intimidation tactics the minute somebody talks over them.

Then there are the Democratic candidates, Scott Bennett and Vern Hall. Vern Hall has plenty of experience taking abuse from irate residents as a member of the Board of Assessment Review. On one occasion, I think I saw him snap back at a critic, getting a tad nasty and personal in the process. Needless to say, that secured my endorsement. Of course Hall is also a supporter of alternative energy and has worked as an alternative energy consultant, according to the Times Journal. I would much rather have an energy expert on the board then some NIMBY who will indiscriminately oppose anything that might lower his/her property value. Scott Bennett is the other candidate for Town Council. Bennett is President of the Richmondville Volunteer Emergency Squad and seems to bring a level-headed approach to issues of alternative energy and tax assessments.

Both Bennett and Hall would bring a welcome change to the Town Board. Johnson would continue the rancor and divisiveness while Lape would likely just continue sitting there slack-jawed.

In case you forgot there are other state and national contests to be decided on Tuesday as well. Democrat Don Barber is challenging long-time incumbent Jim Seward for a seat in the State Senate. Seward has been a staunch opponent of meaningful healthcare reform via his seat as Chair of the Senate Healthcare Committee. Seward has taken huge sums of money from insurance companies to block any legislation that would extend coverage to New Yorkers. Don Barber on the other hand is a farmer and long-time Town Supervisor from Caroline, New York. He is a supporter of growing our local economies, green energy and providing better healthcare opportunities for New Yorkers. I support Don Barber for Senate; it’s time for Seward to go.

For Congress, Paul Tonko, a democrat is running against Republican Jim Buhrmaster for the seat being vacated by Democrat Mike McNulty. Because Tonko is a shoe-in, I’ll spare you all the re-hashing of how he has been a tireless advocate for Upstate’s communities and alternative energy and all that. Tonko gets my vote, easily.

26 comments:

Bob Nied said...

Sean, “infamous” really? You give me way more credit than I deserve. While it is true that anyone who actively attempts to make sense of the mess that is Schoharie County government and who advocates for a change to the long-standing malaise is likely to be greeted less than warmly if not seen as some kind of “bomb thrower” (a term that has also been amusingly applied to me by an elected official in our area). Consider this- there is more animated debate (albeit somewhat chaotic) in our area then there has been in a very long time. The industrial wind issue, property taxes, consolidation of services and other issues have brought people to Town and Village Board meetings in record numbers. I have heard impassioned and articulate pleas at those meetings and have been deeply encouraged by even the small awakening of civic involvement that has been occurring. Particularly on this Election Day, I can only see that as a good thing. Would you rather return to the days when Town Supervisors and Village Mayors sat in empty firehouses and Town Halls and made decisions based on little else than personal opinion, expediency or tradition and with no real vision for the future? There has been a change, and while I don’t claim to have had much to do with that maybe I have been able to stir one or two people out of their political sleep. I seemed to have touched a nerve in you after all, as you have been compelled to call me names in your blog on more than one occasion.

As to your endorsements- working at a store that sells an occasional solar panel and composting toilet does not make Mr. Hall an energy expert. Cleary, given that he does not understand in the slightest the inflated and misplaced Production Tax Credits, PILOT programs, poor production and low efficiency and significant environmental footprint associated with industrial wind casts significant doubt on his energy expertise. Further, Mr. Hall has soon little other than anger, arrogance and a strikingly familiar tendency to embrace inconsistent and politically-driven decision making as a member of Board of Assessment review. (I would be happy to share with you (off-line) my personal experience, overturning the flawed BAR decisions on multiple occasions as part of the Small Claims Assessment Review process.) As for Mr. Bennett, he seems like a very nice man.

Mr. Lape has increasingly shown a tendency on the other hand of being fair, rational and capable of making reasoned decisions. Mr. Johnson has stated his positions on the issue of taxes, open government and industrial wind. Those positions are sound. You would also have to be naive to assume that the failure of the Republican Party to hold a caucus was an “oversight.” The reality was that the party of the status quo in Schoharie County did not want to nominate Mr. Lapel and Mr. Johnson. Perhaps the very fact that they seem reasonable and willing to listen to the residents makes them a threat. If they keep that up you may end up calling them “infamous” as well.

Don’t forget to vote.

Anonymous said...

Holmes & McGuire are "The Gilmore Girls". Gilmore says jump and both ask when on the way down. You want a double dose of Gilmore with a skirt you'll get it with these two gals.

Bob Nied said...

Sean:

You keep rehashing an absolute untruth about Kathleen Johnson and the wind forum at SUNY. Frankly, your lack of accuracy is getting tedious. Ms. Johnson was accosted at that event by a man (who was in the company of Reunion Power hack and Albany County Legislator Sandy Gordon) who attempted to physically block her way and followed her around the building like some kind of demented bouncer. That is much different than someone simply standing up from his seat. If you were there you would know that was the case. Since you have no firsthand knowledge of the incident why do continue to make up your account? You know Sean, it really is time you come out from behind the shadow of your faceless blog and stand up to the glaring light of facts and honest dialog. Otherwise I have no more respect for you than that guy who tried to intimidate a five foot two inch woman at SUNY, particularly when you use your safe forum to present pure fiction disguised as reportage. I offered to debate you in a public forum once before. I repeat that offer. What do you say Sean? To paraphrase a popular film, can you handle the truth?

LaZboy said...

Hey Bob, you lost me on page thirty. Can't you get your point across without writing a book?Short and to the point is ---quite frankly---- on point.

Anonymous said...

consolidation is like sex --it should be consensual rather than careful.

Anonymous said...

OMG -- Is this a pathetic attempt at political acumen? I feel like I am reading a chapter from that knuckle dragging--- make believe--- author of "Mare's Nest".

Anonymous said...

Lapietra's last laugh at the loser "lame duck" to "lame dike"

Anonymous said...

Did you mean "dyke" or did you mean one of those things they use in Holland to hold back water? You f***ing a$$hole.

Barney Frank said...

I meant dike you fu$$ing ass clown.
dyke would be politically incorrect. not that there is anything wrong with that.

Anonymous said...

Did you mean "dyke" or did you mean one of those things they use in Holland to hold back water? You f***ing a$$hole.

You are a freaking classless insensitive homophob. There is a clear distinction between the two(dyke and dike). Your pointing it out makes you the f***ing a$$hole.That kind of behaviour is termed "closet hypocrite".

Anonymous said...

Hey Sean
The last four comments need to go. Things are getting out of hand. I believe in free internet speech but this doesn't add to the dialogue.IMHO

Bill Clinton said...

The old bag(Mcguuire) managed to get the village to pay for the tree removal at clinton circle before she was thumped by lapetra. The village should sell clinton circle at an auction to the highest bidder. Ought to get quite a sum with all the elitists on the circle bidding against each other. If no buyer I recommend that next year's venue for "Arts in the Park" should be Clinton Circle.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bill...those trees not the kind of "dead wood" you would like to see go?

Sean said...

Bob, don't take it personally. I call everybody names and for the most part it's all in good fun. And it is certainly with a dash of sarcasm that I refer to you or SVW as “infamous”. Lighten up.

I’m all for debate at all levels of government, and if you believe that you have stimulated some of that debate, good for you. However, let’s not get carried away here. You write of “impassioned and articulate pleas” and an “awakening of civic involvement” and “stirring people out of their political sleep”, and while all that sounds real nice, it simply isn’t what I’ve seen. What I have seen and heard is a lot of noise coming from a lot of misinformed and in some cases thoroughly uninformed people.

Part of me finds this harmless and entertaining, especially Horst Fierek's “stabbed in the back” speeches. However, I also find it somewhat disheartening when a handful of malcontents with huge McMansions are able to drum up a crisis atmosphere with regards to local property assessments, despite seeming to have no understanding of the property tax assessment process or the equalization rate. As a result, instead of informed debate, we get rumors, hearsay and the repetition of incorrect assumptions about how the process works. What the BAR has done, it seems, is give in to the incessant attacks on the correct work of assessor Matt Richardson, thanks in part to a local “awakening of civic involvement”.

When it comes to wind power, I see the same thing: inflexible critics spouting extremely tentative data as fact, especially with regards to the supposed link between wind turbines and health concerns such as “vibro-acoustic disorder”. SVW diplomatically calls for doing more research and slowing the process down. Who could disagree with that? But most of Reunion Power’s critics simply don’t want wind turbines anywhere near their homes or property, and have jumped the gun with regards to the facts whether they concern impacts on views, quality of life, property values, or health and safety. Ask all the questions you want, and I agree, the public has every right to be informed and involved at every stage of the process. But at the end of the day, Reunion Power, or any other developer has a right to due process under the law, and those rights are being disregarded if the Town Board adopts a setback requirement that was crafted arbitrarily to cater to and placate a noisy group of residents skilled in political pressure tactics.

As for my remarks about Mrs. Johnson. You are right, I was not present at the SUNY forum and did not witness this alleged “stalking” first-hand. However, I based my reaction on Kathleen Johnson’s own account of the incident which she submitted to the Times-Journal several months back, and which I can only assume recounted this person’s most threatening and disturbing behavior.

And no, I don’t feel the need to have a face-to-face debate in furtherance of every single discussion on this forum. What’s the point? Where the hell would we debate, in your basement, with you and your SVW buddies? No offense but this is kind of ridiculous. It sounds like you’re calling me out to battle rap or something.

Anonymous said...

wind mill my ass

both of you are wind ags

Anonymous said...

at least Bob isn't a coward...

Anonymous said...

Yes he is.
Bullies are often cowards.

Bob NIed said...

Sean, I actually enjoyed your response. Rather than freestyle battle rap (The thought of this middle-aged man attempting such a thing is appalling, even to me!) I envisioned a discussion/debate that allowed for more of a real-time point/counter point. I think the exchange that happens on a blog is a good thing (when it remains civil) but there is a shortcoming to the medium that is similar to that on TV news- there is little opportunity to provide supporting detail or debunk perpetuated myths. That ultimately is a disservice to the readers. It would be interesting if there was a way to dovetail the "new media" with a traditional town hall meeting for a common result- the exchange of ideas for the benefit of the public. A real informed dialog is absent from our local politics.

Maybe I'm just in a touchy feely mood today.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm just in a touchy feely mood today.

you mean douchy>>> don't you

Matthew Avitabile said...

Hey, local folks,
Got a blog from Middleburgh at www.jumpinginpools.blogspot.com

Posted two articles on local history. If you need a post, just let me know.

jean cousteau said...

Sean, you are like the mare's nest--- folksy but out on a ledge!!!!! wrong again---very very wrong again!!! not only did Lapietra win but over 50% of the voters voted for BLANK! Next time Linda Holmes tells you she has a mandate tell her(600 votes)didn't beat blank(1400 votes)!! What a bunch of unmitigated assclowns we have running for office!!!!! bring back niles--- free him from the bonds of widely effusive sized spruce tree trunks!!!!!!!!!!!! no whale watching allowed in December in Seattle?????

jacque Cousteau said...

hey Jean,It's Jacque. Niles is in Portland not Seattle.

The real Jacques said...

Hey Jacque,It's Jacques. Learn how to spell our name right,

Anonymous said...

jean cousteau said... "What a bunch of unmitigated assclowns we have running for office!!!!!"

I'll give you that. The assclowns running for office are outnumbered, however, by the assclowns who didn't know there were two seats open on the village board. SO good to have an informed electorate.

Bob The Rock said...

This is pathetic. If you are going to do a blog at least update it every 30 days. Whoever took over for Niles better get your shit together. Your not looking to good

Sean said...

Sorry Bob. I'm going to try to resume regular posting. I've been a little busy lately.