Neuhaus wins labor endorsement

An umbrella group representing private- and public-sector unions in the Hudson Valley and Catskills has endorsed Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus for re-election.

In an announcement on Friday, the Hudson Catskill Central Labor Council also endorsed District Attorney David Hoovler, one of Neuhaus’ Republican running mates, and supported Deborah Mulqueen, the Democratic candidate challenging Republican County Clerk Annie Rabbitt. The council endorsed 10 Democrats and three Republicans for county Legislature.

Here are the Legislature endorsements:

District 2: Kenneth Pinkela

District 3: Patricia McMillian

District 4: Kevindaryan Lujan

District 5: Stephen Hunter

District 7: Myrna Kemnitz

District 9: Kevin Mulqueen

District 11: Kathy Stegenga

District 12: Kevin Hines

District 14: Laurie Tautel

District 17: Mike Anagnostakis

District 18: Roseanne Sullivan

District 19: Mike Paduch

District 20: Joel Sierra

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Faso to introduce bill preventing federal dollars to go toward state Scaffold Law projects

Speaking at a town hall meeting in Port Ewen on Thursday evening, Rep. John Faso said he’ll introduce legislation this month that would prevent federal money from going toward construction projects that abide by the state Scaffold Law.

Faso announced the legislation after Sue Sullivan, a Plattekill resident and one of seven Democrats challenging Faso for his congressional seat, challenged him by saying legislating state issues from Washington D.C. isn’t his job.

“Oh, I would say it is my job,” Faso said.

Faso, R-Kinderhook, said his legislation would prevent federal dollars from going towards state projects that abide by the state Scaffold Law, which makes property owners and contractors strictly liable for most “gravity-related” injuries to workers on construction sites.

The law, technically known as Labor Law 240, dates back to the late 1800s and is unique to New York. Here’s how the Scaffold Law was described in a 2014 Times Union editorial:

“Groups representing contractors argue the law costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually on public projects because of outrageously escalating insurance premiums. The law is unfair, they argue, because it holds contractors and property owners fully liable for injury or death of workers while essentially exempting employees of any responsibility for their own actions. The groups support amending the law to allow juries or an arbiter to consider the injured worker’s behavior in determining any monetary awards.

Labor unions, with support from trial lawyers, defend the law’s rigidity. Without it, they say, tough workplace safety standards would quickly become lax, resulting in an increase in falls and other gravity-related injuries and deaths at construction sites.”

Faso said he’s proposing that any federal dollars for projects like transportation, bridges, community development, FEMA projects, housing or affordable housing projects would not be eligible for federal funds if Scaffold Law rules were in effect. Faso argued that the “crazy law” increases costs “by 7-10 percent more in our state.”

“So rather than waste federal taxpayer resources and waste resources and continue to drive people out of out state making it more unaffordable, I’m going to propose that if we have a situation where you’re using federal dollars in our state for construction you have comparable negligence (insurance) rather than strict liability (insurance.) That will save everyone money and that’s what I’m about,” Faso said.

Faso said the Scaffold Law makes it so that trial lawyers “don’t need to prove a thing in their case” and raises the cost of projects because of increased insurance liability. That burden gets passed on to state taxpayers, he said.

“Someone can go up on a ladder drunk and the owner of the property and the contractor are strictly liable in tort. We are the only state in the nation to do it,” Faso said.

Faso also said at the forum he would continue to fight for a provision that would force New York state to pick up Medicaid costs from counties. Faso attached an amendment to a Republican healthcare bill this year that would have forced New York to pick up those costs, but the health care bill failed.

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Neuhaus, Davis applaud denial of permit for CPV plant

Steve Neuhaus

Both Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus and Democratic candidate Pat Davis applaud the state’s decision to deny a crucial permit for the gas pipeline that would supply the Competitive Power Ventures plant being built in Wawayanda, a major setback for that $900 million project and a victory for the environmentalists who have doggedly fought it.

In statements emailed to the Times Herald-Record on Thursday, both the Republican incumbent and his Democratic challenger cited the taint of corruption in the plant’s approval process, referring to the pending bribery charges against Joe Percoco, a former longtime top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and Peter Galbraith Kelly Jr., a former CPV executive. But one noticeable difference in their statements was that Davis praised the plant’s opponents and echoed the objections they have raised – namely, that the plant would operate on natural gas obtained through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and that it would emit greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

Davis, who already had declared his opposition to the 650-megawatt power plant, credited the “tireless efforts” of the activists who have clamored against the project – “even in the face of tough odds” – and thanked the DEC ”for listening and stepping up to do the right thing.”

Pat Davis

“The interests of our residents should not be outweighed by those who seek to circumvent the rules, especially when it puts our environment and the health of our families at risk,” Davis wrote. “Going forward, we must continue to monitor further developments and keep the pressure on our elected officials and agencies to prioritize the interests and health of the people.”

Neuhaus, in his statement, noted the county’s successful court fight to prevent Millenium Pipeline from seizing county property through eminent domain for its gas pipeline until it had gotten all of its permits. And he recalled his response to the corruption charges that involved CPV last year, when he urged state officials to review all permits that state agencies had issued for the project. He added in his statement that the administration and state lawmakers should demand such a review and release a report on the findings as soon as possible.

“Regardless of what one feels about CPV or Millennium, the arrests of people associated with the CPV project call each and every aspect of its approval into question,” he said.

Asked if Neuhaus objects to the plant’s use of fracked gas, his spokesman, Justin Rodriguez, responded: “The County Executive has an objection to using any kind of gas until a full review is done. The process, which was tainted with corruption, needs to be investigated, no matter what type of gas is used. Once corrupted, the process needed to be fully reviewed before signed off on.”

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Sullivan Dems hold 100th Jeffersonian Dinner

An annual Democratic shindig in Sullivan County that has featured the likes of Hillary Clinton, Eliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo in past years will have its 100th dinner next month.

This year’s Jeffersonian Dinner for the Sullivan County Democratic Committee will take place at 6 p.m. on Sept. 17 at the Eagle’s Nest Restaurant in Bloomingburg.

The invitation doesn’t say what politician will headline the event. State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli spoke at last year’s dinner, the 99th. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie came the year before. Past luminaries include Clinton, who came in 2001, her first year in office as a U.S. senator for New York; Spitzer, who came in 2002 and 2004 while he was New York’s attorney general and before he was elected governor in 2006; and Cuomo, who – following in Spitzer’s footsteps – came in 2009 when he was attorney general and before being elected governor in 2010.

Tickets cost $65, and journal ads range in price from $75 to $500. Email scdcsecy@gmail.com for tickets and donnaschick@yahoo.com for advertising by Sept. 11.

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Three county Legislature races have primaries in September

Newcomer candidates competing in three of this year’s 12 contested Orange County Legislature races will square off in primaries on Sept. 12.

All three races are ones in which the current office holders aren’t seeking reeelection.

In District 2, a seat that Republican Majority Leader Melissa Bonacic is vacating, Brian Carey and Janet Sutherland will compete for the Republican and Independence Party nominations. They’ll also vie for the Conservative Party ballot line in a third primary that day, thanks to an “opportunity-to-ballot” petition that was filed to challenge Sutherland for that line. That forced a primary in which Conservative Party voters can write in Carey’s or anyone else’s name – or vote for Sutherland, whose name will be on the ballot.

District 2 consists of Greenville and parts of Mount Hope, Wawayanda, Middletown and the Town of Wallkill. No Democrat is running for that seat this year, although Ken Pinkela, whose Democratic and Women’s Equality Party petitions were invalidated, has filed an independent petition to run on the “We the People” ballot line.

In District 4, which consists of parts of the City and Town of Newburgh and is now represented by Democrat Curlie Dillard, Kevindaryan Lujan and Omari Shakur will compete for the Democratic nomination.

In District 11, the seat that Democratic Minority Leader Matt Turnbull is vacating, Scott Congiusti and Kathy Stegenga will compete for the Conservative Party line. There also be a write-in primary for the Green Party line. District 11 consists of Hamptonburgh and parts of New Windsor and Blooming Grove.

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Monroe board candidates face no opposition in November

Tony Cardone

Three Monroe Town Board candidates will run unopposed in November, the result of a major shift in town politics since 2013 and a first taste of an election without Kiryas Joel’s involvement.

The United Monroe citizens group filed independent petitions last week on behalf of town Councilman Tony Cardone, a Republican running for town supervisor, and fellow Town Board candidate Mary Bingham and town justice candidate Audra Schwartz. Cardone, Bingham and Councilman Rick Colon have no rivals for three Town Board seats. Schwartz will run against Republican Bruce Furbeck to replace Lurlyn Winchester, a one-term justice who faces federal felony charges and has been suspended.

Town Supervisor Harley Doles, elected in 2013 by Kiryas Joel’s voting blocs, filed no Republican or other party petitions in July to seek a second term. He was later said to be planning to run on an independent line with Christine Tucker, his secretary, and Kate Troiano, a former Planning Board secretary, for the three Town Board seats. But the group filed no papers by the Aug. 22 deadline.

Board control already had shifted from Doles and his allies to United Monroe-backed candidates with the election of Cardone and Councilman Mike McGinn in 2015. This year’s election will complete that movement. It coincides with Kiryas Joel’s effort to secede from Monroe and take with it the voting blocs that have long dominated town elections.

If authorized by the Orange County Legislature on Sept. 7, Monroe voters will decide in a Nov. 7 referendum – at the same election in which they vote for town candidates – whether to form a separate town for Kiryas Joel. Kiryas Joel officials and United Monroe leaders, fierce rivals in the 2013 elections and the annexation fight that followed it, are now allies in the quest to form a Town of Palm Tree. Kiryas Joel’s political parties collected petition signatures to get Doles and his allies on the ballot in 2013, but didn’t do so this year.

With the end of the candidate petitioning period, the only possible competition Monroe’s three board candidates could face in Novembers is a write-in blitz – a highly improbable threat, but one that Cardone isn’t ruling out.

“Until I get the results on Nov. 8, I’m not going to be satisfied that I am supervisor,” he said on Monday.

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Faso supports stronger ties with Israel after visit

Rep. John Faso voiced support for strengthening U.S. ties with Israel and pessimism about a “sustainable peace” with the Palestinians this week after returning from a seven-day visit to Israel with fellow House members from both parties.

The Kinderhook Republican said he and his colleagues met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli defense and economic officials; military and foreign policy experts; the opposition leader in the Israeli Knesset; and Rami Hamdallah, prime minister of the Palestinian Authority. Faso said his delegation also met with entrepreneurs in the high-tech industry, and with young Israelis serving their compulsory stint in the army.

Faso’s group was taken to the disputed Golan Heights, which Faso said Israel must continue to control. “Given Iranian and Hezbollah influence in significant parts of Syria it is all the more important that forces hostile to Israel never again have control of the Golan Heights’ strategic high ground,” he said.

“We all desire peace in the Middle East,” Faso concluded.  ”Recent political developments in the region cast doubt on the ability of the Palestinian Authority to enter into any sustainable peace treaty with Israel, especially given the malign influence of Iran and its proxies in the region. It is critical that the United States maintain its long-standing political, military and economic ties to Israel, the only democracy in the region. In Congress, I will continue to support efforts to strengthen our relationship with Israel, especially in areas such as missile defense, technology and agriculture.”

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Treasurer paroled after serving a year for campaign thefts

Former campaign treasurer and New Windsor Republican chairman Carmen Dubaldi was paroled from prison this month after serving a year for stealing $120,000 from the campaign accounts of Sen. Bill Larkin, former Orange County Executive Ed Diana and former Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt, now the Orange County clerk.

State prison records show Dubaldi, who was sentenced to one to three years after pleading guilty to grand larceny, was released on parole from Groveland Correctional Facility – about 90 minutes east of Buffalo – on Aug. 3.

Dubaldi’s guilty plea in in August 2016 capped an embezzlement case that unfolded with suspense over more than year, with revelations in the Times Herald-Record and campaign finance filings outpacing the actual criminal investigation. Dubaldi abruptly quit as Larkin’s campaign treasurer without a public explanation in July 2015, raising suspicions that worsened as Larkin’s campaign then went weeks without filing a financial disclosure report for the first half of the year. Larkin finally announced that he had fired Dubaldi and notified authorities after “irregularities” were found.

After meeting with state officials to decide how to register thefts and lots of donations Dubaldi never disclosed, Larkin’s campaign filed a report in October 2015 showing Dubaldi had paid $10,000 in restitution – for a theft for which he had not yet been charged. Less than two months later, Diana’s treasurer told the Record that Dubaldi also had paid $61,800 in restitution to the Diana campaign.

About a week before Diana had to disclose that repayment in a public report, Ulster County prosecutors charged Dubaldi with stealing $120,000 from three campaign accounts he managed as treasurer. The investigation had been moved out of Orange County, where Dubaldi had political ties and a county job, to avoid an appearance of impropriety.

Dubaldi declared bankruptcy when he entered prison, reporting $300,000 in debts. That blocked any damage claims he could have faced in a defamation suit that a former New Winsdsor councilwoman had brought against him. Dubaldi was accused of producing a campaign ad and mailing in 2012 that used a police photo of Bonnie Brennan, taken after she was the victim of domestic abuse, to insinuate wrongly that she had a criminal record.

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Faso, Maloney statements on Charlottesville violence

Rep. John Faso issued a statement on Monday specifically condemning the white supremacist groups involved in violent clashes in Virginia last weekend, after a barrage of criticism of President Trump for blaming “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” instead of singling out obviously repugnant participants.

Faso, a Kinderhook Republican whose district includes Ulster and Sullivan counties, said: “All Americans – and particularly those in positions of leadership – must reject hate groups such as white supremacists, neo-Nazis, the KKK, and others which have no legitimate place in our political and societal discourse. I am confident that the Department of Justice will vigorously prosecute and hold accountable those responsible for the abhorrent acts which occurred in Charlottesville over the weekend.”

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the Cold Spring Democrat who represents Orange County, knows well the pretty southern town shown on televisions over the weekend, having spent seven years in Charlottesville to get his undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia in 1988 and his law degree there in 1992.

After violence engulfed the tranquil college town on Saturday, Maloney wrote on Facebook: “As someone who was blessed to spend years living and learning in Charlottesville — one of America’s most beautiful and welcoming communities, with a history of enlightenment stretching back to Jefferson — I’m disgusted and saddened by the ugly, hateful and violent events taking place there. All decent people should demand a return to sanity and a restoration of decency and respect for others.”

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Faso will hold town hall in Ulster this month

Rep. John Faso announced Friday that he’ll hold a town hall gathering in Esopus at the end of the August congressional recess, a moderated event at which attendance will be limited to 200 people.

The forum follows a tumultuous political season in which other Republican Congress members have faced heated criticism at similar gatherings in their districts over their party’s plans to repeal and replace Obamacare. Faso said on Friday that Move Forward New York, a liberal activist group, had asked to hold a joint town hall with him in May, and that he had accepted. Both he and Move Forward each will distribute 70 tickets in advance, ensuring a mixed audience. The remaining 60 tickets will be given out at the door or a first come, first serve basis.

The event is scheduled for 6:30-8 p.m. on Aug. 31 at Esopus Town Hall. Doors open at 6 p.m. The moderators are Gerald Benjamin, a political science professor and director of The Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz; and Debra Clinton of Move Forward New York.

“In May, some folks from Move Forward New York approached me about doing a joint town hall event to hear from constituents in an organized and civil forum,” Faso said in a press release Friday. “Since then, our offices have been collaborating to plan and hammer out details for the event, and I am very pleased to say that we have this event scheduled for August 31 in Esopus.”

Faso, a Kinderhook Republican whose district includes Ulster and Sullivan counties, is expected to speak for 10 minutes and then take audience questions. Attendees will submit written questions and be called on to read them, with the two moderators taking turns choosing the questions. To request a ticket from Move Forward New York, email mfny19@gmail.com. To get one from Faso’s office, call 202-225-5614.

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