(News Briefs 6/7/2007)
Ulster County Democrats handed their nomination for the District
Attormey position opening up with the decision by incumbent
Don Williams not to run again to Assistant Ulster County Public
Defender Jonathan Sennett in an upset caucus vote Monday night
at the Hillside Manor in Kingston. Vincent Bradley Jr., with
three major endorsements before the event, had been considered
the favorite going in to the party convention.
Sennett, who has a law practice in New Paltz, won on a second
ballot by roughly 230 committee members attending the convention
at the Hillside Manor. Sennett received 13,164 votes in the
weighted count, followed by Bradley with 10,875.5.
State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston, had urged Democrats
to back Bradley, who came out on top in the first round of
votes with 10,245.5 to Sennett’s 7,702.5 and 7,071.5
for Assistant District Attorney Julian Schriebman. However,
a majority of the votes was required to win the nomination,
requiring a second round between the two leading candidates.
Sennett said his nomination means “hopefully, that the
Democratic Party and committee members took a look at the
issues and merit of my experience and candidacy and got behind
me in the end.”
He had been the first candidate to come forward in the district
attorney race, before incumbent Republican Donald Williams
announced he would step down.
One Republican - Holley Carnright - is running for the position.
Democrats also nominated 29 candidates for county Legislature,
with the only controversy erupting in District 8 (Gardiner-New
Paltz-Shawangunk), where first-term Legislator Peter Liepmann
was denied renomination. Liepmann vowed a primary.
Overall, Democrats hold a 21-12 majority over Republicans
(with non-enrolled Tracey Bartels in their caucus) but left
open four slots.
Dr. Laurie Cassel, principal of Bennett Elementary School
for 14 years has resigned. She will be moving onto Ulster
County BOCES as Deputy Superintendent in New Paltz and will
work closely with Superintendent Martin Ruglis.
“It is sad and exciting at the same time, the feelings
that are flooding through me.” Cassel a resident of
Woodstock, is from New York City. She has her Phd in education
from Fordham University, Masters in Special Education from
Columbia University and an undergraduate in Psychology from
She said working at Bennett has been a “blessing and
Phoenicia resident Joseph Rainwater 42 of Woodland Clove Road,
was arrested recently on charges of first-degree reckless
endangerment, criminal possession of a loaded firearm, and
criminal possession of marijuana, all felonies, and second-degree
menacing, a misdemeanor. He was sent to Ulster County Jail
in lieu of $10,000 bail.
According to Shandaken police, Rainwater swerved his vehicle
into the path of another vehicle as if he was going to hit
the other vehicle. The driver of that vehicle, whom authorities
did not identify, drove around looking for Rainwater, ultimately
finding Rainwater’s vehicle parked in the driveway of
Rainwater’s Woodland Clove Road home. As the driver
told Rainwater to stop harassing him, Rainwater produced a
.223-caliber M-16-type assault rifle and pointed it at him.
Police said the driver told them that as he started to drive
away, Rainwater fired a shot at him. The driver reported the
incident to police.
Authorities said Rainwater also called authorities to report
harassment. He was arrested after admitting that he fired
A search of Rainwater’s home, executed by the Shandaken
town police and the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office,
uncovered a “grow operation” and about two pounds
of marijuana. Police also found three other semiautomatic
rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
Mark Sklar, 55, Rainwater’s roommate, was also arrested
and charged with second-degree criminal possession of marijuana,
a felony, and unlawful growing of cannabis, a misdemeanor,
police said. He was arraigned and released.
The investigation into cost overruns and construction delays
at the new Ulster County Law Enforcement Center will include
an examination of how the project received its initial approval
and will allow people to call a hotline to provide information
about any phase of the work. The review will last 16 weeks
and cost $90,200. Among other things, it plans to look into
the events leading up to the hiring of construction manager
Bovis Lend Lease, which was done without a vote by the county
Bovis was paid $3.5 million for work it did on the project
before being fired by the county Legislature in March 2006.
The committee will use its authority to issue subpoenas, if
necessary, though it has been noted that court cases involving
payments to contractors already have provided substantial
documentation. The investigative committee also expects to
determine whether 10 previous oversight committees functioned
correctly and whether relationships between contractors and
county officials were proper.
Votes by the Republican-run county Legislature in July 2002
increased the estimated $53 million cost of the project to
$71,838,195, once all contracts were awarded and legal fees
were added. The total had risen to $84.39 million by the time
the Democrats became the Legislature’s majority party
at the beginning of 2006. The amount since has climbed to
$95.2 million and is expected to top $100 million once outstanding
claims by contractors are settled.
A total of $30 million to study and implement improvements
to the and Upper Delaware River Watershed and Susquehanna
River was included in the congressional Water Resources Development
Act of 2007 recently. WRDA, which was recently passed in the
Senate and the bill will now go to a House and Senate Conference
Committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate
versions of the bill, authorizes the Army Corps of Engineers
civil works projects, including flood mitigation, navigation,
ecosystem restoration and shoreline protection projects. Under
the authorizations, the Corps partners with local sponsors
to conduct the projects. A project authorization in WRDA is
a necessary first step towards securing funding in an appropriations
bill at a later date.
The Upper Delaware River and Susquehanna provision in WRDA
will authorize the Corps to work with New York State and local
governments to develop a watershed management plan for the
Upper Delaware River and Susquehanna watersheds and to carry
out flood mitigation and ecosystem restoration projects that
are consistent with the plan. The types of projects that can
be carried out under the provision include bank stabilization,
wetland restoration, soil and water conservation, and flood
damage reduction. The provision authorizes $30 million for
these purposes, with a 65/35 cost share between the Corps
and non-federal sponsors.
The provision streamlines the process by which the Corps studies
and conducts flood mitigation projects. After developing a
watershed management plan, the Corps will be able to move
forward on projects without a new authorization from Congress—a
step that is usually required, and which often adds years
to the time it takes to complete projects.
Local government watchers are now anticipating similar moves
for flood mitigation in the Hudson-side of the watershed in
the coming years.
More than 4,800 claims have been filed against the federal
government during the past six years alleging that a child
contracted autism as a result of a vaccine. The first test
case from among those claims will be the subject of an impending
hearing in a little-known “People’s Court”
- the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
For the parents filing a claim, there is the potential for
vindication, and for financial redress.
The test case addresses the theory that the cause of autism
is the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine in combination with
other vaccines containing the preservative thimerosal. That
preservative, which contains a form of mercury, is no longer
in routine childhood vaccines. However, it is used in influenza
One of the parents who has filed a claim against the federal
government and has great interest in the case is Scott Bono
of Durham, N.C. His son, Jackson, 18, has autism. While acknowledging
the findings of the IOM’s study, Bono believes those
findings were preordained by the federal government.
He said that parents of children with autism have been marginalized,
but they see specific outcomes in their children that are
consistent with exposure to mercury. And those outcomes did
not present themselves until after they received their vaccinations.
In short, the children tell the story better than the numbers,
In July 1999, the U.S. government asked vaccine manufacturers
to eliminate or reduce, as expeditiously as possible, the
mercury content of their vaccines to avoid any possibility
of infants who receive vaccines being exposed to more mercury
than is recommended by federal guidelines.
Autism is characterized by impaired social interaction. Those
affected often have trouble communicating, and they exhibit
unusual or severely limited activities and interests. Meanwhile,
classic symptoms of mercury poisoning include anxiety, fatigue
and abnormal irritation, as well as cognitive and motor dysfunction.
The report from the Institute of Medicine pointed to five
large studies, here and abroad, that tracked thousands of
children since 2001 and found no association between autism
and vaccines containing the preservative thimerosal.
Members of the National Autism Association see drug manufacturers
and the federal government as working too closely together
to the point that the federal government is working to protect
the industry from liability. The association says its mission
is to raise awareness of environmental toxins as causing neurological
damage that often results in an autism or related diagnosis.
Bono, a member of the association, said he doesn’t believe
his son was intentionally poisoned.
“I just want someone to step up and say, ‘You’re
right, this did happen,”’ he said.
During the hearing, lawyers for the parents were expected
to present their expert testimony during the first week. Then
lawyers representing the federal government were expected
to present their case. The hearing was to be open to the public.
Officials planned to post transcripts on the court’s
Web site about 24 hours after each day’s proceedings.
Da New Judge!
Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced this week his recommendation
of 52 year old law clerk Christopher E. Cahill of Ulster to
fill the shoe’s of his former boss, the late Justice
Vincent G. Bradley, on the state Supreme Court after sifting
through a field of 11 Ulster County attorneys who applied
for the appointment in January. The Governor’s nomination,
one of four around the state, is expected to be taken up by
the state Senate before its scheduled adjournment on June
21. Senate confirmation is necessary for appointment.
Cahill, who said he will be a candidate in November for a
full 14-year term, still faces nomination at a Third District
judicial convention to be held in Albany in early September.
The seven-county Third Judicial District includes Albany,
Rensselaer, Greene, Columbia, Sullivan, Schoharie and Ulster
counties. There are three openings for Supreme Court justice.
Cahill, a Rochester native, is a graduate of Hamilton College
and SUNY Buffalo School of Law. He and his wife, Kimberlee,
a special education teacher in the Saugerties school district,
are the parents of two sons, one a junior at Union College,
the other a junior at Kingston High School.
The post of state Supreme Court justice pays $136,500 per
year. Cahill’s current position, which he retained after
Bradley’s death, pays $122,000 a year.
A local effort to have the state Department of Health decide
access rules for New York City watershed property have been
delayed by the censure of state Supreme Court Justice Cathryn
Doyle, resulting in a new judge on the case. The decision
to censure was issued Feb. 26 by the state Commission on Judicial
Conduct, which found Doyle had provided “inconsistent,
misleading and evasive” information during the investigation
on her role in a campaign trust for state Supreme Court Justice
Thomas J. Spargo.
But Hunter Town Supervisor Dennis Lucas said lawyers for the
town and New York City have been told that a decision in the
access case will be made based on arguments made before Doyle
Hunter town officials filed the case last year after New York
City filed charges against a man for trespassing onto watershed
land adjacent to private rental property. Lucas said the watershed
memorandum of agreement terms require city officials to get
state Department of Health approval for rules dealing with
access to watershed lands.
“These policy makers within the Department of Health
are directly accountable to the people of the town of Hunter
whereas those within New York City’s Department of Environmental
Protection are not,” he said.
Lucas added that rules about hiking on New York City property
without a permit were harmful to the local tourism industry.
City officials did not comment on the change in judges for
the case, but Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman
Natalie Millner previously responded that “these rules
were carefully developed over an extended period and in close
consultation with watershed stakeholders. They were legally
and properly adopted.”
The trespass case that spurred the town of Hunter suit was
ultimately dismissed after a ruling in Hunter Town Court that
proper signs were not posted.
The Shandaken Theatrical Society in Phoenicia is holding auditions
for Play Fair 2007, a festival of short plays by local playwrights.
Actors aged 14 and up are needed for a wide range of parts
in fun pieces without the huge time commitment of a major
production. Auditions will be held Tuesday, June 19, and Wednesday,
June 20, at 7:00 p.m. at the STS Playhouse, Church Street,
Phoenicia. Actors will read from scripts provided. Performances
will be August 24, 25, 26, 31, and September 1 and 2. For
further information, call Violet at 688-2916.
Mothers of young children who feel they lack emotional support
or help in caring for their children have more than three-times
the risk of mental health problems compared to their peers
who feel adequately supported, a new study shows.
More than one third of the 1,747 mothers participating in
the study reported at least one parenting stressor that boosted
their risk of mental health problems, Dr. Ritesh Mistry of
the University of California, Los Angeles and colleagues note
in the American Journal of Public Health. “If parenting
stressors such as those examined here are to be addressed,
changes may be required in community support systems, and
improvements in relevant social policies may be needed,”
Mothers of small children are known to face a substantial
risk of mental health problems and their mental health has
a “strong influence” on their child’s health
and development, the researchers note.
Mistry and associates conducted the study to determine how
certain parenting-related stressors might affect mothers’
mental health and whether these stressors were related to
financial and social factors.
The mothers of children 4 to 35 months old completed a five-item
questionnaire to assess their general mental health. Women
who reported feeling a lack of emotional support (they had
no one to rely on for day-to-day emotional help with parenting)
represented nearly 14 percent of the total sample and were
3.4 times more likely to report being in poor mental health,
the researchers found.
Roughly 12 percent of mothers who said they lacked functional
support in caring for their children (they had no one to care
for their children when they needed a break) had a 2.2-times
greater risk of poor mental health.
When asked about time spent with their child, 37.2 percent
of mothers said they spent too little, 11.2 percent said they
spent too much, and 51.6 percent said the amount of time they
spent with their child was just right. While mothers who said
they spent too little time with their children had a slightly
increased risk of poor mental health, those who said they
spent too much time had a 3.5-times greater risk of mental
Overall, mothers who reported having one parenting-related
stressor had triple the risk of poor mental health, while
having two or more stressors increased risk nearly 12-fold.
Improving family leave policies and making high quality child
care more “affordable and accessible” could help
ease the stresses on parents identified in the current study,
they add. They conclude by calling for further research to
investigate how such stresses affect fathers’ mental
Health Aide Hell
A home health aide was arrested May 23 after she made purchases
exceeding $30,000 by using the identity of an elderly client
in Shandaken, town police said. Barbara Marie McClinton, 44,
of Kingston, was charged with aggravated identity theft, access
device fraud, mail fraud and bank fraud, all federal felony
charges after being arrested on a federal warrant from the
U.S. Postal Service. Shandaken town police said they received
a complaint in December 2006 from a 77-year-old woman who
said numerous collection agencies had been contacting her
with regard to purchases she said she had never made. An investigation
determined that the woman’s identity had been stolen
and used by her former home health aide to open credit card
accounts and make purchases. The investigation was a joint
operation with state police at Ulster, the U.S. Postal Inspector’s
Service and the Office of Investigations of the Social Security
McClinton was arrested at her home and taken to Albany, where
she was arraigned in U.S. District Court and released on her
As more information comes out in congressional hearings, some
things about the firing of U.S. attorneys become murkier and
others clearer. So far, testimony and documents from congressional
hearings reveal that the Justice Department under Alberto
Gonzales, with prodding from White House political adviser
Karl Rove and others, targeted “battleground”
states with closely contested 2006 elections - among them
Missouri, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Nevada and Washington - as
“hot spots” for voter fraud investigations. The
Justice Department apparently also fired U.S. attorneys who
refused to go forward with baseless investigations and prosecutions
in these states.
Meanwhile, investigative journalist Greg Palast, who spoke
about his research at SUNY New Paltz in recent weeks, has
met with Congress about his evidence. Almost simultaneously,
one of the attorneys in the mess – former Karl Rove
aide Tim Griffin of Arkansas – resigned from his controversial
US Attorney post.
Palast has charged that Griffin and others picked by Gonzalez
at Rove’s urging had been working at”caging voters,
a term GOP operatives came up with for keeping portions of
the electorate who would otherwise vote Democratic away from
Palast has obtained a series of confidential emails dating
from the 2004 presidential election, in which Griffin transmitted
so-called “caging lists” of voters to state party
leaders. Experts have concluded the caging lists were designed
for a mass challenge of voters’ right to cast ballots.
The caging lists were heavily weighted with minority voters,
including African-American homeless men, students and soldiers
Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee investigating
the firing of US attorneys, stated that, despite Griffin’s
resignation, “We’re not through with him by any
means” and indicated that he thought it unlikely that
Griffin could carry out this massive caging operation without
the knowledge of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rove.
Palast first reported on the emails from Griffin containing
vote caging lists for BBC’s “Newsnight,”
prior to the 2004 presidential election.
Mid-Hudson Pattern for Progress is tackling an issue that
affects us all – affordable housing for our communities.
A conference on the issue will be held on June 12th at the
SUNY New Paltz campus. The conference is designed to help
Hudson Valley decision makers, community leaders, government
officials, corporate and not-for-profit administrators understand
the housing crisis troubling the region and how to best address
Any municipal legislative, planning, or zoning member is invited
to attend the conference at the reduced rate of $30. Westchester,
Ulster, Dutchess, and Orange Counties have endorsed the conference
for 2 hours of credit towards the state mandated requirements.
For further information please visit Pattern’s website
The man who commanded US-led coalition forces during the first
year of the Iraq war says the United States can forget about
winning the war.
“I think if we do the right things politically and economically
with the right Iraqi leadership we could still salvage at
least a stalemate, if you will - not a stalemate but at least
stave off defeat,” retired Army Lieutenant General Ricardo
Sanchez, the highest-ranking former military leader yet to
suggest the Bush administration has fallen short in Iraq.
said in a recent interview.
“I am absolutely convinced that America has a crisis
in leadership at this time,” Sanchez told Armed Forces
Press after a recent speech in San Antonio, Texas. “We’ve
got to do whatever we can to help the next generation of leaders
do better than we have done over the past five years, better
than what this cohort of political and military leaders have
done,” adding that he was “referring to our national
political leadership in its entirety” - not just President
George W. Bush.
Sanchez called the situation in Iraq bleak, which he blamed
on “the abysmal performance in the early stages and
the transition of sovereignty.”
Sanchez took command in the summer of 2003 and oversaw the
occupation force amid an insurgency that has sparked a low-grade
civil war in Iraq. He was in the middle of some of the most
momentous events of the war, among them the dissolution of
the Iraqi army and barring millions of Baath Party members
from government jobs: two actions seen as triggering the rebellion
among Sunni Muslims, who fell from power with Saddam.
The US ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, reacted on Sunday
to Sanchez’s comments by insisting: “It’s
just way premature to be talking in terms of victory or defeat.”
For women, apparently there’s nothing like the smell
of a man’s sweat. Researchers at the University of California
at Berkeley said women who sniffed a chemical found in male
sweat experienced elevated levels of an important hormone,
along with higher sexual arousal, faster heart rate and other
effects. They said the study, published in the Journal of
Neuroscience, represents the first direct evidence that people
secrete a scent that influences the hormones of the opposite
The study focused on androstadienone, considered a male chemical
signal. Previous research had established that a whiff of
it affected women’s mood, sexual and physiological arousal
and brain activation. Its impact on hormones was less clear.
A derivative of testosterone, it is found in male sweat as
well as in saliva and semen. It smells somewhat musky.
The researchers measured levels of the hormone cortisol in
the saliva of 48 female undergraduates at Berkeley, average
age of about 21, after the women took 20 sniffs from a jar
of androstadienone. Cortisol is secreted by the body to help
maintain proper arousal and sense of well-being, respond to
stress and other functions.
Cortisol levels in the women who smelled androstadienone shot
up within roughly 15 minutes and stayed elevated for up to
an hour. Consistent with previous research, the women also
reported improved mood, higher sexual arousal, and had increased
blood pressure, heart rate and breathing.
For comparison’s sake, women also smelled baking yeast,
which did not trigger the same effects. The researchers used
only heterosexual women in the study out of concern that homosexual
women may respond differently to this male chemical.
With the number of nonwhite Americans above 100 million for
the first time, demographers are identifying an emerging racial
generation gap. That development may portend a nation split
between an older, whiter electorate and a younger overall
population that is more Hispanic, black and Asian and that
presses sometimes competing agendas and priorities.
“The new demographic divide has broader implications
for social programs and education spending for youth,”
said Mark Mather, deputy director of domestic programs for
the Population Reference Bureau, a nonpartisan research group.
“There’s a fairly large homogenous population
60 and older that may not be sympathetic to the needs of a
diverse youthful population.”.
The Census Bureau estimated that from July 1, 2005, to July
1, 2006, the nation’s minority population grew to 100.7
million from 98.3 million; that is about one in three of all
Americans. The new figures also suggest that many states are
growing more diverse as minorities disperse.
As a result of immigration and higher birthrates among many
newcomers, the number of Hispanics grew by 3.4 percent nationwide
and Asians by 3.2 percent. Meanwhile, the black population
rose by 1.3 percent, and that of non-Hispanic whites by 0.3
percent. More than 20 percent of children in the United States
either are foreign-born or have a parent who was born abroad.
Nearly half the children under age 5 are Hispanic, black or
Over all, the median age of Americans reached 36.6 years,
another record high. It ranged from 27.4 among Hispanics to
40.5 among non-Hispanic whites. The census counted more than
73,000 centenarians (about 14,000 men and 59,000 women) and
also 78 million baby boomers (those born from 1946 to 1964),
who, as they turn 60, are helping to drive the racial generation
And while growth rates fluctuated, many states are becoming
more racially and ethnically diverse. The changes have potential
implications for national politics.
In Nevada, where the share of whites has declined to 59 percent
from 66 percent since 2000, the voting-age population has
soared 25 percent, with minorities accounting for 63 percent
of that increase. Arkansas, Georgia and Tennessee have recorded
the greatest percentage gains in their Hispanic population
since 2000, with the biggest numerical gains, predictably,
registered by California, Texas and Florida. The biggest percentage
increases in black residents were registered by Maine, South
Dakota, New Hampshire and Idaho, and in Asian residents by
Nevada, Arizona and New Hampshire.
In New York and Maryland, the departure of non-Hispanic whites
has accelerated since 2005. (California has lost nearly 100,000,
more than any other state). In the same period, New York and
Michigan have recorded a loss in black residents. (Louisiana,
in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, recorded losses across the
According to the latest figures, 80 percent of Americans over
age 60 are non-Hispanic whites, compared with only 60 percent
among those in their 20s and 30s, and 58 percent among people
younger than 20.
Dr. Mather said the widest racial generation gaps were found
in California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.
In Arizona, minorities account for more than half the people
under the age of 20, but only one in six who are 60 and older.
The smallest gaps were found in Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, New
Hampshire, Vermont and West Virginia. He also noted that the
three most homogeneous states — Maine, Vermont and West
Virginia — spent the highest proportion of their gross
state product on public education.
“There does seem to be a correlation,” he said.
Have you ever wondered what it would look like if all the
things you produce and consume in your lifetime were piled
up outside your door? All your clothes, all your electrical
goods, all your worldly goods laid out before you? The impact
each and every human has on the planet in an average lifetime
will be told in a documentary, The Human Footprint, set to
shoot during June and July in Ulster and surrounding counties.
For more information call Laurent Rejto at 845-810-0131.
A new study ordered by the Pentagon warns that the rising
cost and dwindling supply of oil - the lifeblood of fighter
jets, warships, and tanks - will make the US military’s
ability to respond to hot spots around the world “unsustainable
in the long term.” The study, produced by a defense
consulting firm, concludes that all four branches of the military
must “fundamentally transform” their assumptions
about energy, including taking immediate steps toward fielding
weapons systems and aircraft that run on alternative and renewable
fuels. It is “imperative” that the Department
of Defense “apply new energy technologies that address
alternative supply sources and efficient consumption across
all aspects of military operations,” according to the
Weaning the military from fossil fuels quickly, however, would
be a herculean task - especially because the bulk of the US
arsenal, the world’s most advanced, is dependent on
fossil fuels and many of those military systems have been
designed to remain in service for at least several decades.
Moving to alternative energy sources on a large scale would
“challenge some of the department’s most deeply
held assumptions, interests, and processes,” the report
Village officials are trying to speed the process to have
smaller businesses locate in Ellenville by removing certain
impediments in the review process. Code Enforcement Officer
Brian Schug said during a public hearing Tuesday that some
potential business owners have been reluctant to go through
the lengthy process and the stringent Planning Board review.
The change in the law would allow designated members of the
village administration to decide issues involving parking
and traffic flow, which Schug said are clearly defined in
local codes. These decisions could be made without approval
from the Planning Board. Mayor Jeff Kaplan said the village
initially had very loose code definitions on who needed review,
and a few inappropriate decisions were made. Codes were "tightened
up" accordingly, he said.
A public hearing on the matter is set for June 11. Talk about