The two member election board differed on their interpretation
of the legitimacy of Schanck's address for voter registration.
One of them, Harry
M. Castiglione, a Democrat, accepted Schanck's notarized letter
as sufficient proof while the other, Thomas F. Turco, a Republican,
felt that a "deputy sheriff's report" demonstrated that
the address did not represent Schanck's "primary residence."
In this case a tie passes muster and Schanck was advised that
his registration remains valid.
Although the term "primary residence" contains different
shadings under the laws of different states, it seems to generally
represent the address upon one's driver's license and voter registration
Chris Johansen, who insists that Schanck is registered to vote
and has voted in Venice, Florida, presented the town board with
a packet of document copies which he claimed proved that Schanck
was a Florida resident. The deputy sheriff's report mentioned
in the Board of Elections letter was not among the papers given
to the board.
Olive Supervisor Brendt Leifeld, who had pronounced prior attempts
by Johansen to discredit Schanck "political BS" at a
previous meeting, said the matter would be referred to the town's
On the surface, this would seem to shuffle the matter out of public
least for the time being but, behind the scenes, the affair has
far more intrigue than Leifeld's comment suggests.
Johansen's cover letter to the supervisor suggests that "rather
than continue to expend town's money on attorney review of this
information," Leifeld should consult District Attorney Donald
Williams, Sheriff J. Richard Bockelmann and Thomas Turco on the
matter- a gesture which might suggest that political motivation
is indeed a factor in the accusations. But, as Schanck himself
points out, he is, in fact, a Republican, himself.
Johansen alleges that several of the documents provided show "fraudulent
statements have been made to Florida Voter Registration and other
Florida agencies over the course of the last 10-plus years"
and cites a Tallahassee elections official whom he claims had
confirmed that Schanck has been registered to vote in Florida
since 1999. Curiously, Johansen included Olive voter records which
seem to back Schanck's claim that he has cast his ballot here
since 1975. While we cannot rule out the possibility that Schanck
voted early and flew immediately down to Venice to vote there,
these inclusions would appear to support the police commissioner.
More potentially damaging, perhaps, are "Declarations of
1993 and 1999 which appear to bear Schanck's signature. How these
may differ from "primary residence" is, for the moment,
uncertain but the page is headed with an announcement that "This
is not an application for Homestead exemption."
Johansen's statement notes that, as a former Florida resident,
he was aware that the Homestead Act provides a sizable tax exemption
on primary residences. A page in the packet highlights an active
Homestead exemption on a property in Venice registered to Robert
and Nancy Schanck.
According to Schanck, what's missing is an addendum which specifies
that he was registering for his son, also named Robert Schanck,
at that address. It is his son's name that is listed on the Florida
voting rolls, he insists.
"Why isn't there a voter's card in their documentation?"
Schanck asks. "My
son Robert Schanck is registered to vote down there and lives
in my homes down there. He was a student for years and now he's
a permanent resident of Florida. There's nothing inappropriate
in that. This group's obsession to discredit me uses selected
information and draws false conclusions from it. They've gone
one step too far. Now it involves my family. I'm a public official.
Although he stopped short of saying so for the record, Schanck
imply a power play to steer the local Republican policies when
he stated angrily that "(t)his kind of action should be a
real wake-up call to Olive Republicans to take back their party.
These people have no accountability to the majority of Republicans
in town. They just go off on tangents and do whatever they want.
At every town board meeting, these people are somehow able to
use the meeting as a forum for their issues."
"I don't think he's a good police commissioner," said
Johansen, who operates a pest control service. "He hasn't
lived here. Nobody in the town office has
an Olive phone number for him. If you look at the county directory,
he's got a 246 number in there."
"The Olive Police Department, until recently, had nobody
who had a basic First Aid certificate," he added. "Because
people like me or Richie Ostrander objected and brought it up,
there was no Policy Procedure Manual. A police officer could take
the car and go to Lake George for the weekend if he wanted..."
Johansen refers to an accident which occurred on Route 28 in West
Hurley when an Olive officer responded to a call outside of his
"That happened because there was no Policy Procedure Manual
saying you don't leave the town line unless you're dispatched
by the State Police," Johansen
said. "I stopped objecting (to Olive police policy) when
they appointed Richie Ostrander to the Police Commission. Now,
they have a police officer that they can bounce something off
of and he's just a phone call away. He's local. Bob Schanck lives
half the year in Florida and the other half in Saugerties."
Ostrander, a former Woodstock police chief and Sheriff's Department
member resigned his position in January at a police commissioner's
meeting, citing political harassment, and was replaced by Vincent
Bruck. Ulster County Democratic Party Chairman John Parete admits
that he contributed to the pressure on Ostrander because he felt
the former commissioner, who organized for Sheriff Bockelmann's
campaign, was politicizing the police department.
Johansen insists it's a matter of integrity in office and bristles
at Leifeld's lowering the issue to a matter of political "BS."
"I worked with Bob Schanck when I worked up here," Johansen
said. "I got along good with him...And I've known (Supervisor
Leifeld) since I was a kid; a good family friend of my family's.
Berndt's always had a Conservative endorsement with my help, going
back to the '70's. I just won't believe that Berndt would point
a finger at me- that I was doing something wrong- when everywhere
you look this man (Schanck) is not telling the truth... You could
do a lot of digging in my background and I sign my name an awful
lot - especially when I was a cop- and you won't find anything
there that I didn't believe when I wrote it."
Neither side would go on record with their ideas about the motivations
of their opposition. Schanck merely says he wishes to keep the
nonpaying police commissioner's post as a service to the community
he worked in for many years. Town officials are concerned that,
while the commissioner's position might be easily filled, the
role of police chief, which Schanck also fills without compensation,
would be more difficult to fill. The town's police budget remains
the lowest in the region because Schanck is the only unpaid part-time
police chief in the county, according to some observers. His departure
could force a change in that situation.
The Town Business...
On the same evening, the town was presented
with a new budget proposal for the coming year with overall hikes,
in both the General and Highway funds, equalkling just over 3
The depletion of funds from the reservoir properties owned
by New York City, comprising tracts which represents more than
half of Olive's land area, places the burden of making up the
difference in tax increases imposed upon
the remaining property owners.
The letters, including those with many years of residence in the
town, described the anticipated financial hardships as forcing
many families to consider leaving town for more affordable areas.
They also urged the town board to take measures toward seceding
from the Onteora School District and
founding an Olive school system apart from the existing one.
Another action called for was the filing of lawsuits against the
Onteora School District and its school board as well as against
those individual members of the board who voted to enact the law.
"We will be happy to take an active part if you need us to
do so," offered the authors of one of the letters. "It
would be so helpful if a special meeting could be held for all
Olive residents to attend. Some new ideas as well as some action
could be the result."
Although a special meeting for purposes proposed in the letter
arranged before passing on to other matters, Leifeld did reveal
he declined to identify had been contacted to pursue inquiry into
the possibilities suggested by the letters.
Leifeld announced a budget workshop for Thursday evening on October
A tentative figure of $3,223,689 was offered as a preliminary
sum for the
budget of 2005. The general fund was expected to increase $22,153,
or about 1..5%, Leifeld said. That includes a three percent raise
for all employees and represents a decrease in the amount to be
paid in taxes of $119,597 due to a projected unexpended balance
from the current fiscal year of $250,000, as well as an increase
in projected revenues, primarily from mortgage taxes and sales
The town highway fund will see a $21,810 increase in expenditures,
representing a 1.73 percent rise, and including another 3 percent
pay raise. The amount to be raised by taxes for the Highway budget
will increase by $43,810 due to a decrease in the fund's unexpended
balance from the current fiscal year and a decrease in interest
The Olive Fire District is showing a rise of $3,431.
A total of $2,399,939 will be raised by taxes for the coming year.
"It looks good. Looks wonderful, in fact," Leifeld said.
"This will become our preliminary budget after the workshop
on the 14th," Leifeld said. He added that he started putting
together the budget six to seven weeks ago went he sent a letter
to department heads, and has been working at it ever since.
A public hearing on the budget will take place on November 4 at
The Olive Press will try and publish the full budget in its next
Slew Of New Committees
"Everybody's very appreciative keep it up," said D'Orazio
after hearing Winters speak about attending last weekend's October
2 homecoming game, a bit rain-drenched but "still full of
enthusiasm" according to the superintendent.
Winters, for her part, outlined meetings she has held, or will
be holding, with town highway superintendents about the upcoming
winter, and with fellow Ulster County school districts about seeking
changes to the state's "Large Parcel" tax bill.
D'Orazio summarized the first meeting of the new district-wide
Commission on Long Term Facilities Use held September 30, which
set an ambitious set of objectives including possible restructuring
of district and a fresh look at class and school sizes and make-up.
"The great hope is that by early Spring we'll have some sort
of suggestion of where we should be headed," D'Orazio said,
noting that since most suggestions will include "a huge expenditure
of money" it will be important to have "the community
buy in on whatever's planned."
At present, the Committee is made up of seven parents, two community
members, three board members, two elementary school teachers,
two Middle/Senior High School teachers, two principals, the district's
head custodian and Winters, the district superintendent. Future
meetings have been set for Tuesday, October 19 at the Woodstock
School, Thursday, October 28 at the Middle/Senior High School
cafeteria, Monday, November 15 at the Phoenicia School and Tuesday,
November 30 at the cafeteria again. Chairpersons for the committee
will be voted on at the next meeting.
The board also voted to begin work on a new District Wide Communications
Commission, per the suggestion of new board member Dave Patterson,
who noted how the implementation of such a committee in the South
Colonie School District near Albany resulted in the passage of
all the district's school budgets and funding propositions over
the last 12 years. Patterson and the board will now work with
Winters, as well as the Ulster BOCES communications department,
to set parameters for such a committee over the coming weeks.
Other resolutions passed Tuesday evening included the adoption
of Local Assistance Plans designed to raise test scores for Fourth
Grade English Language Arts at the Phoenicia School, as well as
8th grade ELA and Math test scores at the Middle School.
Deborah Fox, the district's new Assistant Superintendent in charge
of Instruction, noted that all Onteora teaching assistants will
be given a day of training when school is closed for the Election
on November 2. She also gave the first of what will be four presentations
on Academic Intervention Services throughout the district, describing
the state mandated (but not state-funded) need for schools to
ensure that students failing, or in danger of failing standardized
tests be given supplemental learning opportunities. The next part
will be presented, Fox said, at the board's next meeting on October
19 at the Woodstock School, where she will talk about monitoring
programs, counseling services and the district's FACETS Program.
A presentation by the directors of Bard College's new Master of
Arts in Teaching Program, started this past year, focused on efforts
to involve area school districts, including Onteora, through involvement
of local teachers in mentoring and discussion programs. To date,
program director Ric Campbell said, four Onteora teachers have
been involved in summer sessions and an upcoming late October
follow-up seminar/discussion group. Board members and administrators
all expressed great hopes for the program, which will be
outlined in more depth in a coming article.
Public comment, with ensuing board discussion, focused on a growing
number of problems with high school sports programs. Parent Trish
Heller spoke about scheduling difficulties with girl's soccer
that have particularly impacted JV teams. Board member Patterson
also asked why boy's JV Football had been cancelled, while the
district was still paying coach fees.
Athletics Director Joe Ahouse responded that the problems with
girl's soccer had to do with changes in Mid-Hudson League scheduling,
and that he was working to solve the problem as soon as possible,
suggesting that the board might start looking at alternative spaces
for soccer fields, given the growing popularity of the sport,
including use of the West Hurley firehouse field, shared use of
the football field at the high school, and the possible construction
of a new soccer pitch in Boiceville. He added that the JV football
season is on hold, at the moment, because there have not been
enough sign-ups to allow for the team to play scrimmages within
its own ranks. He said the coaches have been retained so the program
can continue to pick up speed, and because those JV players currently
involved are being absorbed, as much as possible, into the Onteora
He used to live in Manhattan's Midtown in a massive industrial
loft. Was known as Stu Chernoff, the name he was given at birth,
until his way of answering the phone at the various photographic
studios he worked at, and then started as a top-notch photographer,
led to what many consider his only moniker now.
"Studio. Stu here," was how it all started.
But that's before Studio, as we'll call him, had a kid and decided
to move out of the city and up to the creative community of Woodstock
which he moved out of, for a teaching gig in Puerto Rico, soon
after finding that the so-called "artists colony" has
more regulations than creativity these days.
"In the neighborhood we were living," he says of what
he left behind years ago, "I'd have had to wait until my
son was 20 before sending him out for milk."
So back to the story Studio moves up, eventually, to Boiceville.
And then deeper into Olive in the Krumville area. But he finds
that working as a photographer isn't that easy up here. He starts
"I had had this washtub bass - had been into music from an
early age, but didn't follow it because I felt another guitar
player wasn't what was needed back when I got out of college in
the early seventies - and I ended up desperate enough to head
down to the city to try playing in the subway"
Studio picked a prime spot near the IND lines at 34th Street,
where those coming into Penn Station catch the train. Started
singing Duke Ellington's classic "A Train" and made
a mint his first day. Became a hit with the tourists, averaging
$30 to $40 an hour. And decided to build a new life to match,
and help support, his family's new upstate existence.
"I saw this cat in a cartoon playing a washtub bass, and
the notes he was playing were the notes in my head," Studio
says of his attraction to his trademark style after starting out,
as a kid growing up in Coney Island, on the accordion. "They
were jazz riffs, some out jazz, and he was singing some mammy/pappy
thing, smokin' a cigar, it was crazy. And right then and there,
I knew that's what I wanted to do."
After a while, Studio hooked up with a growing number of local
players, Gus Mancini in particular, and became a regular feature
on Doug Gruenther's Sunday morning radio program on WDST-FM. Local
gigs followed, and he started working at getting bookings. Hired
an agent. Made a life and career of it all.
Nowadays. Stduio Stu holds down regular gigs three nights a week
in the area, with Saturdays and at least one week a month set
aside for interstate touring. On Thursdays, he plays Gadaleto's
in New Paltz. Fridays he's at Neko Sushi in Wappingers Falls.
Sundays sees him at the Clove Café in High Falls for brunch.
"I'm looking for a fourth gig locally," Studio adds.
His outside-of-the-area gigs see him booking colleges and coffee
shops from Maine to North Carolina, with increasing popularity.
Much of what he does amounts to emceeing gigs, providing the 15
to 20-minute fillers between other acts.
It's a true, much-valued niche that the former Mr. Chernoff says
he wishes he'd searched out and found much earlier in his life.
"I never get nervous going on stage," he says of his
new life. "I love what I do."
And does he miss Brooklyn?
"You can't take it out of me" he says.
For further information on Studio Stu, a true Catskills original
(even with all the talk about that borough in the city), visit