Complaint alleges that KJ annexation promotes segregation

A complaint filed this week with the Town of Monroe’s dormant Board of Ethics contends that four Town Board members violated the town ethics code by fostering religious segregation when they voted to cede 164 acres of Monroe to the Satmar Hasidic community of Kiryas Joel.

The Sept. 28 letter cites a section of the town code that says town officers and board members cannot “discriminate or cause voluntary segregation” based on creed or other factors. And that, the letter signers said, is what Supervisor Harley Doles and councilmen Dan Burke, Gerry McQuade and Rick Colon did when they voted in favor of a 164-acre annexation petition on Sept. 8 that will extend an all-Satmar village.

The complaint also contends that Doles violated another ethics provision by making statements to a reporter after a June 10 public hearing on the annexation proposals that gave “the impression that he was improperly influenced by his desire to perform the service of the leaders of Kiryas Joel.” In remarks later quoted on the Jewish news website Vos Iz Neias, Doles invoked the late Satmar founder Joel Teitelbaum and promised to do “whatever I have to do to be able to provide this service to Hashem,” using a Jewish term for God.

Three leaders of the United Monroe citizens group and a fourth Monroe resident signed the letter and submitted it as individual citizens, not on behalf of United Monroe. Though it is unclear what, if anything, the town ethics board will do with the complaint, John Allegro, one of the signers, said this week: “We want to use every law that is at our disposal to be sure that we have good government.”

Doles responded on Friday that the town’s nine-member ethics board has only four members who have signed their oaths of office, and therefore lacks the quorum it would need to meet and consider the complaint. He suggested that either the town or the letter signers forward the complaint to the state’s ethics board — the Joint Commission on Public Ethics — and said he welcomed its review of the “politically inspired” allegations.

“Let’s go to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics and let them decide,” Doles said.

Asked about his pledge to provide “service to Hashem,” Doles said he meant that he was acting on his religious beliefs and not that he was favoring Kiryas Joel’s Hasidim. “Whatever you call him, God is God,” he said.

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Orange County GOP retains party leadership

Orange County Republican Chairwoman Courtney Canfield Greene and her fellow party officers were picked to serve for another two years and had no challengers Wednesday night as GOP committee members convened at the Meadowbrook Lodge in New Windsor for the party’s biannual reorganization meeting.

Canfield Greene, a Town of Newburgh resident and a deputy commissioner for the county Board of Elections, ascended from the party’s second-ranking spot in February 2014 after her predecessor, attorney Robert Krahulik, resigned after only four months as leader, and served through September of this year to complete his two-year term.

Her fellow officers are: Ben Ostrer, first vice chairman; Nanci Itzla, second vice chairman; James Booth, secretary; and David Green, treasurer.


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Maloney condemns push to defund Planned Parenthood

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney held a conference call with reporters on Thursday to denounce Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and what he called the “shameful display of political posturing” that occurred when GOP House members questioned the organization’s president, Cecile Richards, during a contentious congressional hearing on Tuesday.

“I think it’s destructive, and it’s unnecessary, and it’s just not what we should be doing in Washington,” the Cold Spring Democrat said, promising to “keep fighting to keep Planned Parenthood fully funded.”

One day earlier, Congress had passed a temporary spending measure to keep the federal government running through mid-December, averting the possibility that the government would be shut down over funding for Planned Parenthood. A series of recent, undercover videos focused on Planned Parenthood’s recovery of fetal tissue for medical research has inflamed abortion opponents and renewed their determination to end Planned Parenthood’s federal support — and oppose spending bills and resolutions that retain it.

Joining Maloney on the call was Reina Schiffrin, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood’s Hudson Peconic branch, which operates 10 health centers in Westchester, Rockland and Suffolk counties.  She said that federal and state funding, including Medicaid reimbursements and so-called Title X grants, cover up to $12 million of the chapter’s $18.5 million annual budget. Losing federal funding would force the chapter to cut services and increase its private fundraising, Schiffrin said.

“It would just be so drastically reduced,” she said.

Maloney argued that defunding Planned Parenthood would deprive low-income women — “a very vulnerable population” — of important health care services, including preventive care that he said saves the government money on medical expenses in the long run.

According to its 2014 annual report, the Hudson Peconic chapter had more than 64,000 patient visits that year, almost 52,000 of which — about 80 percent — were for “family planning” services such as physical exams, contraception, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and cancer screening. Of the remaining visits, 7,599 were for abortions, 3,248 were for prenatal care, 1,160 were for pregnancy tests and 290 were for cervical cancer treatment. The federal Hyde Amendment prevents Planned Parenthood from using federal funding for abortions.

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Gibson and GOP peers call for action on climate change

Rep. Chris Gibson and 10 Republican House colleagues have banded together on a resolution calling on the GOP-led House to recognize the serious dangers that climate change poses and to seek collaborative solutions that break though the partisan friction — and Republican opposition — that has forestalled action thus far.

The resolution, announced Thursday by the Kinderhook Republican, lists repercussions that mankind-induced climate change has had or is expected to have, defines “environmental stewardship” as a conservative principle and concludes with this statement of principle:

“That the House of Representatives commits to working constructively, using our tradition of American ingenuity, innovation, and exceptionalism, to create and support economically viable, and broadly supported private and public solutions to study and address the causes and effects of measured changes to our global and regional climates, including mitigation efforts and efforts to balance human activities that have been found to have an impact.”

Gibson, who plans to step down next year and has said he may run for governor in 2018, is trying to build a bipartisan approach to reducing carbon emissions while laying claim to the environmental conservatism embraced by an earlier breed of Republican, embodied by the onetime New York governor Theodore Roosevelt.

The resolution statement itself is nothing more than that, although Gibson said in a press release that he and his group hope to translate principle into policies. Among their goals:


  • Expanding study of our environment, weather, and climate through a combination of private, peer-reviewed studies as well as appropriate, non-partisan oversight of government studies and publicly-funded studies;
  • Modernizing our antiquated energy transmission and transportation through improving electric grid reliability and efficiency, expanding the use of microgrids, and expanding infrastructure investment;
  • Bringing our energy sector into the next generation, including expanding our use of hydropower; increasing the potential of our wind power industry; pursuing and improving biomass energy use; promoting programs like SunShot that have already seen progress and have incredible future potential in making more efficient the harnessing of solar power; and pursuing safe and properly-regulated natural gas production and use with the goal of creating a bridge to the long term goal of energy independence with renewable energy resources.

Gibson stated in the release: “All too often, the conversation about appropriate and balanced environmental stewardship gets caught up in partisan politics. Yet, this conversation is key to the preservation of our great country for generations to come, as important as ensuring we have fiscally responsible policies to secure our future.”


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John Faso announces run for NY-19

Republican John Faso has announced a run for New York’s 19th Congressional District, a seat being vacated next year by Rep. Chris Gibson

Faso, a Kinderhook Republican, was the minority leader of the state Assembly from 1998-2002 and the endorsed Republican gubernatorial nominee against Eliot Spitzer in 2006. Spitzer won by a landslide.

Faso, who shares a hometown with Gibson, says he plans to kick off his seven-day announcement tour in Kinderhook tomorrow, then travel to Rhinebeck and New Paltz. You can watch his announcement video here.

John Faso

In January Gibson, a retired Army colonel, announced that he would not run in 2016, but has left door open for a statewide run for office in 2018, widely believed to be governor. In November Gibson won a decisive victory against wealthy venture capitalist Sean Eldridge, D-Shokan, despite being outspent. He took all 11 counties, including Ulster and Sullivan, and won 131,594 to 72,470.

Faso joins a field a growing field of candidates. Andrew Heaney, a Dutchess County heating oil executive threw his hat in the ring to run as a Republican for New York’s 19th Congressional District this month as well.

John Patrick Kehoe, a 29-year-old Rochester Democrat, filed his statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on July 2, making his the first to officially declare. Though Rochester isn’t in the 19th Congressional District, Kehoe also says he has a business in Woodstock.

Assemblyman Pete Lopez, a Republican, has also said he’s interested in running.  Sen. Jim Seward, also a Republican, announced Sunday that he wouldn’t be a candidate for the congressional office.

Here’s Faso tour schedule for tomorrow:

10:30 a.m. – KINDERHOOK, NY

14 Sylvester Street, Kinderhook NY

1:00 p.m. RHINEBECK, NY

Walking Tour of Business District

41 E. Market Street, Rhinebeck NY

3:15 p.m. NEW PALTZ, NY

Business Tour of Viking Industries

89 S. Ohioville Road, New Paltz, NY 12561


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Bettez wins Dem nod for New Paltz supervisor race

New Paltz Democrats endorsed political newcomer and Working Families Party member Neil Bettez Tuesday to run for supervisor this November, skipping over fellow Democrat Jeff Logan by an almost 3-1 margin.

The New Paltz Democratic Caucus was held in the New Paltz High School Auditorium Tuesday night and Bettez won by a landslide, 166 to 56, over Logan, a Democrat and the current deputy supervisor who has the endorsement of outgoing supervisor Susan Zimet. Bettez will also carry the New Paltz First Line in the heavily Democratic town.

Robert Gabrielli, who will carry the Independence and Reform party lines, came through with 17 votes in the Democratic caucus. Republicans have not held their caucus yet.

Bettez, 48, is an ecologist with the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook who moved to town in 2013. He’s volunteered with the Village Shade Tree commission and the Wallkill River Watershed Alliance.

If Bettez wins he would be the first Working Families Party member in New York to hold an executive municipal position, according to a Working Families Party spokesman.



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Statements on Kiryas Joel annexation approval

Steve Neuhaus

Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus and state assemblymen James Skoufis and Karl Brabenec each issued statements criticizing the Monroe Town Board’s 4-1 vote Tuesday night to approve a 164-acre expansion of the Village of Kiryas Joel.

Neuhaus, first out of the gate, offered this reaction less than a half-hour after the vote:

“The decision does not surprise me, but it was definitely wrong. There is a significant lack of leadership in the Town of Monroe. This annexation is not in the overall interest of the public. This has been and remains my position. The state failed us by not giving Orange County lead agency status and our state officials made a mistake when they waited until the last minute to introduce legislation to potentially stop the annexation, hurting the chances of advancing a result that could have benefited all of Orange County.”

Neuhaus said he had urged the Legislature to meet right away to “consider the County’s options” and added the following:

“Time is of the essence. The options we have available to us today will not exist in 30 days. The fact that the Village of Kiryas Joel chose to meet on the Sunday night of Labor Day weekend to approve the annexations gives me no reason to believe the open government and transparent process that state officials claimed would exist, actually do.”

James Skoufis

Skoufis, a Woodbury Democrat, reiterated his stance that allowing built-out municipalities to annex land for continued growth would set a bad precedent:

“The 164-acre annexation petition wrongly approved by the Monroe Town Board this evening sets a precedent with serious repercussions. The Town of Monroe’s own consultants alongside so many others found Kiryas Joel’s environmental reviews to be either insufficient or not in the overall public interest. I strongly believe that a more sustainable approach is needed – one that preserves the intent of annexation law while forging a more considerate relationship with nearby communities.”


Karl Brabenec

Brabenec, a Deerpark Republican who represents Monroe, voiced similar sentiments Wednesday morning:

“This annexation is going to set a terrible and dangerous precedent. Never before has state law been used in such an aggressive land grab scenario. An annexation of land by the Village of Kiryas Joel will create huge problems for all of Orange County, and only a fraction of the 400,000 residents of the county were allowed a say in the process. The Monroe Town Board’s own consultant voiced its opposition to annexation, citing unsustainable population growth and devastating environmental impact, not to mention the stress it would put on the local school districts. The KJ village government and the Monroe Town Board’s unwillingness to listen to the pleas of its own citizens has been the highlight of one of the least transparent processes I’ve ever seen in government on any level; this will only serve to increase the level of distrust among voters. I will continue to work with Orange County residents to try and minimize any issues that stem from this unfortunate decision.”

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KJ dissident leader disowns pro-annexation letter

There has been last-minute intrigue before tonight’s Monroe Town Board vote on two Kiryas Joel annexation proposals about a letter ostensibly written on behalf of a Kiryas Joel dissident leader that urged the Village Board and Monroe Town Board to vote in favor of the petitions.

The apparent significance of such a plea from Mendel Schwimmer, president of a synagogue and school associated with Kiryas Joel’s minority faction, was that it would signify unified backing within the community for the annexation proposals, in case a show of KJ unity might move any undecided Monroe board members into the “yes” column. The dissidents’ political party, the Kiryas Joel Alliance, has taken no public position on the merits of the annexation proposals, but took out a full-page ad in the Times Herald-Record this year to denounce the accusations of anti-Semitisim leveled against annexation opponents.

A Tweet on Monday from “Satmar Headquarters” (@HQSatmar) posted what appeared to be a pro-annexation letter from Schwimmer and trumpeted that “Kiryas Joel Dissident’s (sic) who previously backed @UnitedMonroe against #Annexation are now fully supporting it.” The letter was dated Sept. 1 and penned by Middletown attorney Ronald Kossar, declaring that Schwimmer, Congregation Vyoel Moshe and Sheri Torah school “fully and unconditionally support” the annexation petitions.

Other dissident leaders have since protested that Schwimmer never authorized the letter, declaring it fraudulent. He couldn’t be reached on Tuesday. Kossar told the Times Herald-Record that he wrote the letter at the request of one of Schwimmer’s fellow congregation members and included a third page that Schwimmer would have had to sign in order to “execute” the letter, much like a contract. That page was not included in the version now circulating on the Internet.

Kossar also told the Record that Schwimmer came to his office that morning and asked him to draft a new letter to the Monroe and Kiryas Joel boards, explaining that he had just learned that Schwimmer never signed the third page and that without Schwimmer’s signature, the initial letter was “incomplete and not a valid document.”

In a similar vein, “Satmar Headquarters” also tweeted on Monday a photo of Monroe Supervisor Harley Doles meeting with three Hasidic men. The accompanying message read: “Kiryas Joel’s dissident leaders Mr. Niederman, Kaufman & Gross pleading w/Monroe’s Harley Doles 2 approve #Annexation.”

Joseph Niederman, the Kiryas Joel Alliance board member shown in the photo, confirmed Tuesday that he met with Doles Monday night at Sam Kaufman’s house, but laughed at the idea that he and his associates had pleaded with Doles “2 approve #Annexation.” He said the group had asked Doles for assistance with building projects in the Town of Monroe and didn’t mention the upcoming annexation vote, other than to discredit the Schwimmer letter.

“No,” Niederman said, “we didn’t ask him to take a position one way or another on the annexation.”

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Gallo wins trade union support as primary looms

Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo has won the endorsement of the local chapter of the national trade union organization in his fight to win the Democratic primary next Thursday and the general election in November.

The Rock Tavern-based Upper-Hudson Central Labor Council, part of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization, or AFL-CIO, came out with the endorsement Wednesday. They say he stands with unions.

“Shayne Gallo has proven time and time again that he is for middle class families,” said Terri Kraus, president of the organization. “He has walked picket lines and advocated for the people of Kingston.”

Gallo, who’s facing a tough Democratic primary next week against challenger Steve Noble, has in the last month walked the picket line with Kingston’s Verizon workers and criticized the telecom giant for declining to lay its fiber optic lines down on Broadway. That campaign has been pushed by the AFL-CIO. Verizon has criticized the campaign, saying the union has been calling in favors to politicians as Verizon workers fight for a new contract.

The support from the AFL-CIO comes as another labor organization, the Working Families Party, decided to stay out of the fray and not endorse Gallo this year. Four years ago Gallo was backed by the Working Families Party. They lent his campaign manpower, support and an endorsement. But this year they haven’t endorsed Gallo or Noble as the two duke it out to win in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1.

I have a message out to Noble asking for comment that I’ll update if he return it.

Update: Here’s Noble’s response to the endorsement:

As a CSEA member, I know first hand the priorities of those who work each and every day to serve the public.

I believe that the rank and file union members in Kingston know what is at stake in this upcoming election and I believe many feel as though my platform, leadership style, energy and enthusiasm is exactly what is needed in our next mayor and I am prepared to deliver that.


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Dutchess County heating oil exec files to run for NY-19

A Dutchess County heating oil executive has throw his hat in the ring to run as a Republican for New York’s 19th Congressional District.

Andrew Heaney filed his statement of candidacy this month with the Federal Election Commission.

Rep. Chris Gibson, a retired Army colonel, has said he won’t seek a fourth term in Congress next year. The Republican has said he’s seriously interested in running for governor but won’t make a final decision until after he finished his term next year.

On his campaign website Heaney says he lives with his wife ans three children in the Town of Washington. He says he grew up working at the family business, a heating oil company in College Point, New York, answering phones, installing boilers, doing sales and eventually driving a heating oil truck.

Heaney says at 22 he became the president of Heating Energy Affordable Today, or HEAT, which was a “heating cooperative” and small division of his family’s business. He says he grew the company “into the largest heating oil buying group in the United States” representing “tens of thousands of heating oil users in 11 states.”

He also says “he’s been an active voice representing the interests of residential heating oil and propane consumers in the media, Albany and Washington, D.C.”

According to FEC records Heaney has contributed more than $40,000 to mostly Republican campaign causes since 1999, listing his employer alternatively as Heaney Energy Corp., HEAT USA or Submarine Rock. Recipients include former President George W. Bush, Sen. John McCain, former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani and even $2,300 to President Barack Obama, a Democrat, back in 2007.

Heaney seems to have some powerful family connections. According to a New York Times wedding announcement, Heaney married Leslie Bathgate in 2000. Bathgate’s father, attorney Lawrence E. Bathgate II, was the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee under President George H. W. Bush from 1987 to 2002, according to the announcement. The New Jersey attorney is also a supporter and organizer for presidential candidate Jeb Bush, according to the Washington Post.

Heaney joins a growing field of candidates.

John J. Faso has formed an exploratory committee to potentially run for the seat as well. The Kinderhook Republican was the minority leader of the state Assembly from 1998-2002 and the endorsed Republican gubernatorial nominee against Eliot Spitzer in 2006. Spitzer won by a landslide.

John Patrick Kehoe, a 29-year-old Rochester Democrat, filed his statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on July 2, making his the first to officially declare. Though Rochester isn’t in the 19th Congressional District, Kehoe also says he’s from Woodstock.

Assemblyman Pete Lopez and Sen. Jim Seward, both state Republicans, have also both said they’re interested in running, though neither has filed any paperwork.

In November Gibson won a decisive victory against wealthy venture capitalist Sean Eldridge, D-Shokan, despite being outspent. He took all 11 counties, including Ulster and Sullivan, and won 131,594 to 72,470.


Posted in Down in D.C., Sullivan, Ulster, Up in Albany | Leave a comment
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