Gallo and Noble trade barbs over allocation of federal funding; job performance

Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo has scolded Kingston city employee and Democratic mayoral opponent Steve Noble, accusing him via memo of going around the back of his immediate boss to recommend federal funds.

But in a response letter sent out Sunday, Noble, 32, says Gallo “fabricated information” in the memo and that it’s being used to discredit his reputation. The letter was sent via Noble’s campaign email personal email to his immediate boss, Jim Noble his wife/fellow city employee Julie Noble and campaign treasurer and Brenna Robinson, director of the city Office of Community Development.

The letter sets up an interesting dynamic between the two. Noble defends himself against his own boss in the letter, who’s he’s trying to unseat.

The genesis of Gallo’s memo against his employee and competition comes over the allocation of about $690,000 in “Community Development Block Grants,” U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development money dolled out to poorer communities every year. Non-profits in the city compete over the money to help run their organizations every year.

Kingston’s Common Council has last say on where the money goes. For many organizations, the money is a lifeline to keep running and providing a myriad of services. The Common Council is expected to vote on where the money will go on May 5.

In an undated letter that Gallo, 55, sent to Noble’s uncle and Alderman-at-large James Noble and to Kingston’s Common Council, the Democratic mayor who’s running for re-election this year makes several accusations against Noble. He accuses him of going above the head of his boss , Kevin Gilfeather, without his knowledge or consent to make recommendations the Community Development Advisory Board about where funding should go.

“Mr. Noble is only responsible for coordinating and scheduling activities under auspicious of Recreation Department, CDBG programs, at (the) Hodge Center,” Gallo writes.

But Noble says Gilfeather was fully aware and supported Noble going to the meeting to address the funding proposals.

“Not only did he (Gilfeather) know of that particular meeting, but he himself and Brenna Robinson were included in emails I had sent to all of our department’s Community Development grant partners,” Noble says.

Gallo then goes on to say Noble’s “actions polarized and alienated CDBG from (not-for-profits) such as Center for Creative Education, Ulster County Community Action Committee and the Boys/Girls Club from CDBG and Hidge Center employees from Rondout Center employees, CDBG staff and Rec Department employees,” Gallo says.

Noble denies that charge too.

Gallo says the bulk of Noble’s recommendations at the meeting were intended to shift funding from the Center of Creative Education, Ulster County Community Action Committee, the Rondout Center and other non-profits to Family of Woodstock “for tired old programs rather than proposals for new programs, job internships (and) BEAT initiative programs.”

Again, Noble denies that, saying the city’s Parks and Recreation department, where he works, never tried to shift funding to Family of Woodstock.

But Noble does say that calling the program “tired” is “disappointing.”  He says the Kingston Cares/Family of Woodstock Program, which he says is the program Gallo is referring to, has “operated out of the Hodge Center for the past 10 years, serving hundreds of midtown families, receiving little or no city funding during that time,” Noble says.

The Everett Hodge Center, on Franklin Street, is owned by the City of Kingston and operated through a cooperative arrangement with the City of Kingston Parks and Recreation Department’s Environmental Education Program and Family of Woodstock’s Kingston Cares initiative. Funding is provided by the City of Kingston Office of Community Development.

Gallo has focused in on his “BEAT initiative” to prioritize business, education, art and technology initiatives in the city in general as well as for the CDBG funding this year. Family of Woodstock, a non-profit, provides everything from operating shelters and emergency food pantries to providing court advocates, counseling and case management services to the needy.

In the past Gallo has criticized the administration of the CDBG federal funds for waste and inefficiency.  Ultimately, Gallo offers up in his letter different funding proposals, through his Community Development office, than those from the the Community Development Advisory Board, a separate body.

Gallo will go up against fellow Democrat Noble, an environmental educator who works for the city, this November f0r a second four-year term. The job pays $75,000 a year plus benefits, though there’s been suggestions from some Common Council members to give the position a raise next year.

I’ve attached links to both letters below.

Gallo Letter

CDBG Memo Response – 4-12-15

CORRECTION: Noble reached out to me and said that the email wasn’t from his campaign address but his personal one. I’ve corrected it in the story by striking “campaign email” and putting “personal email” in the sentence. Also, the email was to his uncle, Jim Noble, not his wife, Julie. They have similar addresses.

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Maloney says Clinton fights “for all Americans”

U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a Cold Spring Democrat who worked as a White House aide under Bill Clinton in the 1990s, issued a short statement in support of Hillary Clinton on Sunday after she launched her 2016 presidential campaign, saying he looked “forward to hearing her plans to help hardworking families get ahead and stay ahead.”

Here’s the full statement: ”Too many of our hard-working neighbors are still struggling in this economy; we need to elect a tenacious leader focused on moving our country forward, for everyone. For almost 25 years, I’ve watched Hillary go to bat for all Americans — no matter who they are or who they love. I’m looking forward to hearing her plans to help hardworking families get ahead and stay ahead.”

The former first lady, senator and secretary of state lives in the tony Westchester County hamlet of Chappaqua, which is just outside Maloney’s 18th Congressional District.  She participated in a “Women for Maloney” campaign rally in Westchester in October, shortly before Maloney’s re-election victory over Republican Nan Hayworth in a rematch of their 2012 race.

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Two candidates seek vacant Legislature seat

The governing boards of Port Jervis, Deerpark and Mount Hope are scheduled to meet April 23 to appoint a temporary replacement for former Orange County Legislator Dennis Simmons, a Port Jervis Republican who vacated his seat in March after being appointed county comissioner of jurors.

Deerpark Supervisor Gary Spears said Friday that three candidates had submitted letters of interest: Tom Faggione, a Republican who was appointed to the Deerpark Planning Board in February; Dick Roberts, a Democrat from Port Jervis and a former county legislator; and Maria Mann. Mann said later that she has withdrawn her name from consideration.

Under the county charter, elected officials in the three municipalities that District 13 crosses vote to appoint a successor until the next election, with their votes weighted according to the population of each municipality that falls within the district. Because District 13 encompasses all of Deerpark and Port Jervis and a single election district in Mount Hope, that puts the decision largely in the hands of the Port Jervis City Council and Deerpark Town Board.

The charter requires the appointment be made with 45 days of Simmons’ resignation on March 12, or else the Legislature chairman — Steve Brescia, a Montgomery Republican — makes the decision. The April 23 meeting falls just within that deadline.

The joint board meeting and vote will take place at 7 p.m. at the Deerpark Senior Center and is open to the public. Spears said the candidates may be asked to come in at 6 p.m. to either be interviewed by the boards or make presentations.

Whoever is appointed to the seat will serve until the end of the year. An election will be held in November to fill the remaining two years of Simmons’ four-year term.

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Newburgh supervisor announces campaign launch

Town of Newburgh Supervisor Gil Piaquadio is launching his re-election campaign at the Ramada Inn on April 21.

Piaquadio will be seeking his first full two-year term as supervisor since winning a special election in November to replace Wayne Booth after the former supervisor was named deputy county executive.

Before replacing Booth, Piaquadio sat on the Town Board after first winning a Councilman seat in 2003. He is also a former member of Newburgh’s Planning Board.

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Petitions are in for Village of New Paltz

Petitions are in for elected offices in the Village of New Paltz and one current official not in the running this year is Trustee Ariana Basco.

Two out of five trustee seats and the mayor’s position are all up for grabs for the May 5 election.

According to the village, four people have submitted petitions to run for Village of New Paltz mayor while another four are looking to capture two open trustee seats.

Current Mayor Jason West, Deputy Mayor Sally Rhoads, school board member Tim Rogers and Groovy Blueberry owner Amy Cohen have all submitted petitions to run for mayor.

One person has submitted an intent to challenge all those candidates petitions except Cohen’s, according to the village. Those petitions are due by the end of the business day Monday.

Four others have submitted petitions to run for the two trustee seats open this year, currently occupied by Basco and Rhoads. They are Dennis Young, former New Paltz school board president Don Kerr, former village mayor Terry Dungan and Jack Murphy. The two with the most votes win trustee seats.

Basco did not return calls for comment Thursday afternoon.

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Amedore is co-chairman of new “workforce” panel

State Senate Republicans have appointed nearly half their members to a new, all-GOP Senate panel that will seek ways to improve New York’s employment and training programs.

Among the 15 Republicans on the Task Force on Workforce Development are three whose districts cross Orange and Ulster counties: George Amedore, a new senator who was made co-chairman of the task force and represents part of Ulster; Bill Larkin, whose district includes about half of Orange and a piece of Ulster; and James Seward, who’s got another slice of Ulster.

Here’s an excerpt from Amedore’s press release:

The Task Force will: examine the barriers and the incentives for institutions and businesses to assist students and existing employees in the acquisition of new skills; review state education policies to maximize opportunities for high school and college students to obtain industry certifications and take career-themed courses for jobs that are most in demand; discuss how to improve the sharing of information about regional and statewide workforce trends to ensure job training programs are targeting the skills needed by employers; explore the job training resources available to unemployed and under-employed New Yorkers to help them achieve self-sufficiency; and identify potential opportunities for additional collaboration between education and business communities.

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Siena poll finds big support for minimum wage hike, email retention

Four out of five New Yorkers surveyed by Siena College want the state to save the email of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state employees “significantly longer” than 90 days, the period after which emails are automatically deleted under an existing policy that recently came to light.

The poll results released Monday illuminated several widely held viewpoints for Cuomo and legislative leaders to consider this week as they negotiate a budget deal and the policy changes it might include. Perhaps none was as widely held as the conviction among 85 percent of those surveyed that Albany’s all-powerful “three men in a room” ought to at least be four men and a woman, with the inclusion of minority-party leaders Andrea Stewart-Cousins of the Senate Democrats and Brian Kolb of the Assembly Republicans.

Of the 800 voters polled by phone, 72 percent supported raising New York’s $8.75 minimum wage to $10.50, if not higher, and 62 percent said they’d rather have the state meet its March 31 deadline for a new budget than enact the ethics reforms that Cuomo has proposed. Cuomo has threatened to make adoption of the budget contingent on the Legislature approving his ethics proposals.

Smaller majorities supported extracting the ethics proposals and Cuomo’s education policy changes from the budget.

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A look at Gallo’s last campaign filing

Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo announced Monday a second run for office and the latest state Board of Elections report shows the incumbent has about $6,100 to spend in the race.

A BOE filing shows that Gallo, a 55-year-old Democrat, raised $7,300 between July 2014 and January this year. He spent $3,046 in that same time frame.

Contributions include $140 from Kingston Landing Development, LLC, the Yonkers-based company planning the Hudson Landing Project down on the Rondout, one of the biggest housing development projects slated for Kingston in years. Plans call for 1,682 units on 525 acres of land, though no homes have been built yet.

Gallo also collected $875 from trade unions, including the Laborer’s Local 17 PAC, Operating Engineers Local 825 PAC and the Hudson Valley Building Construction Trade Council of Orange County. Union members came out to Gallo’s re-election announcement Monday afternoon, including the business representative for the operating engineers union.

Disclosure records show Gallo spread that cash out in small drips and drabs around the city to a host of organizations, from the Rondout Rowing Club and the city’s churches to city Children’s Home and the local radio station Happy Christmas Fund, of which he’s a frequent guest.

Gallo will go up against fellow Democrat Steve Noble, an environmental educator who works for the city, this November. The job pays $75,000 a year plus benefits, though there’s been suggestions from some Common Council members to give the position a raise next year.



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Carnright mum on third run for Ulster County district attorney

Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright wouldn’t say whether he’s contemplating a third run for district attorney this year.

In a rare press conference held on Friday, Carnright, a Republican, brought the local media together to give his appraisal on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility from to 18 years old.

He said is sole intention was to bring more awareness to the public about the consequences of the proposal, some aspects of which he said he was against.

But when asked, Carnright, 63, refused to comment on whether he’ll take a third run to be the county’s top prosecutor this November. He’s widely expected to run.

In 2011 Carnright handily defeated Democrat Jonathan Sennett by 7,500 votes, putting gangs, domestic violence and fraud investigations as his top priority list.

Carnright’s last campaign filing in January 2013 showed he had $13,715.13 in committee account.

The DA’s job in Ulster County has a salary of $130,991, though this year a five-member panel will take up the question of pay raises for all county elected officials.

No Democratic contenders have yet shown interest in running for the county-wide seat.

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Dissecting the $30 million budget cut (updated)

At his State of the County address Wednesday night, Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus highlighted again something he has previously touted as the top achievement of his first year in office: a $30 million cut in county spending.

That number is technically true in the sense that total expenditures in the 2015 county budget were around $733 million, or $30 million less than the 2014 budget of $763 million. But built into that reduction are some big cost decreases that, however welcome, were outside the county’s control, or that simply reflected new budget realities rather than the belt-tightening of a thrifty administration.

Looking at broad budget categories, a big chunk of the $30 million drop was a $12.4 million net decrease in employee salaries and benefits, for which Neuhaus and the Legislature (and employees) do deserve credit. The administration made a large cut — $6.8 million in county taxation alone — simply by removing from the budget 149 empty positions that previously had been funded. And the county saved at least another $3.8 million in taxation through an early-retirement incentive — initiated by Neuhaus, and modified and approved by lawmakers — that led to the departures of 128 employees, who helped out by taking the offer.

County officials also say they cut $3.7 million in department spending in the 2015 budget.

But things get tricky from there. The budget shows a $15.6 million net reduction in contractual costs, which may reflect in part a savings of $3.5 million that Neuhaus says his administration achieved by renegotiating contracts. But according to the county’s budget office, the plunge in overall contractual expenses also reflects an almost $10 million drop in anticipated costs for social-service programs such as Medicaid and Family Assistance, which are outside the county’s control; a $2.1 million drop in sales-tax income that the county expected to share with its municipalities;  and a $2.1 million reduction in landfill expenses, based on fewer tons of garbage being taken to the county’s transfer stations.

As another example, the Department of Mental Health’s contract costs dropped by $886,000 because a multi-year grant had expired.

Update: In response to this post, county spokesman Dain Pascocello provided figures for neighboring Ulster, Sullivan and Rockland counties that indicated their budgets either rose or dropped slightly in 2015, in contrast to Orange’s large decrease. According to those numbers, Rockland’s budget rose by about $17 million, to $770 million; Ulster’s dipped by $1.7 million, to around $335 million; and Sullivan’s rose by $2.6 million to about $228 million.




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