on the News
"I'm trying to get educated on a lot right now," Cross said,
listing various problems he's been told he will be inheriting from the
town's current administration, including missed deadlines and possible
health department fines.
Cross talked about considering formal Freedom of Information Law (FOIL)
requests to get information on the projects he listed, but then admitted
having met last week with outgoing supervisor Pete DiModica at DiModica's
suggestion. He said he is trying to fit in a second meeting before DiModica
holds his year-end wrap-up meeting on December 29.
"He's invited me up to show how things work," Cross said in
a mid-December telephone interview. "I told him I will accept that
even though my schedule's very busy right now."
Cross added that he's been studying as many issues before the town as
come before him, and is careful to note his perfect attendance at town
board and planning board meetings over the last year, as well as the
Local Government Day sponsored by the Catskill Watershed Corporation
at Belleayre last summer. He's planning on attending the three-day Association
of Town's annual get-together in New York City this winter.
When the subject of the upcoming public hearing review process of Crossroads
Ventures' Belleayre Resort DEIS comes up, Cross brings up people's questions
about the efficacy of utilizing New York City funds to pay for town
board and planning board consultants.
"A lot of local people are not thrilled with New York City's actions,"
the supervisor-in-waiting said, although he added that he was impressed
with the appointed consultants' credentials.
He said he had never met the resort project's developer, Dean Gitter,
until he had won his party's nomination at the Shandaken GOP caucus
"He came up to me and said, 'What I'm looking for is a fair review
of the project,'" Cross recalled. He added that he was surprised
at what Gitter looked like, having based his pre-meeting idea of the
man on cartoon depictions in the local media.
Cross said that he has never been in Gitter's tony Emerson Inn in Mt.
Pleasant, although he admits being impressed by the renovation job there
and at neighboring Catskill Corners, another Gitter project.
"I see this thing that was run down and dumpy, then I look at the
final product," he said, remembering going to the old Riseley Barn,
now the Marketplace, for ice creams when a kid. "I'm kind of in
Talking about the changes that he's seen during a lifetime in town,
Cross talked about how the town "hasn't kept up with the times"
while acknowledging that a certain backwardness has been in order with
the lifestyles of many of his older constituents.
"A lot of people in town have never been to areas that are real
modern," Cross said. He spoke about waiting in line to have breakfast
at Sweet Sue's and then not recognizing anyone in the crowded Phoenicia
restaurant. He brought up the dwindling numbers of full-timers and growing
second home market in town, and questioned whether, higher tax costs
withstanding, the local education system has gotten any better since
he graduated from Onteora in 1974.
Cross said his greatest hope is to restore a peaceful quality to town
life that he remembers from earlier years when, he adds, the number
of job opportunities for local residents was greater than they are today.
"I have a very good ability to retain facts," Cross said,
noting that he pulls his information from CNN, Channel 8 news out of
Albany, local newspapers, and talking to people.
"When you hear something that sparks an interest, investigate it.
It's the same thing you learned in school," he says of his means
for self-education. "If you don't know something, go to a knowledgeable
person and ask them. You carry it on."
What has Cross learned from the example of DiModica, the man he defeated
for the supervisor's office?
"Two things: not to let things get out of hand in town hall and
not to make promises and create an agenda," Cross said, adding
that his only campaign promises have been to do something for local
kids and, "hopefully see cell towers in the town. You have to realize,
they save lives."
As for the retention of order in town hall, Cross said he was going
to use Robert's Rules of Order to run town board meetings during his
administration. Resolutions will be made available 30 to 45 minutes
before the start of 7 PM meetings. Anyone wanting to speak before the
board would have to sign up before hand, and would then be limited to
a minimum of two minutes and an undetermined maximum amount of time
to address the board. No back and forth between audience members will
be allowed, Cross added. A specific time for press questions will be
set aside. And he will answer questions from media representatives after
Cross also noted that he would insist on having a police presence at
all town meetings until the order he is seeking is established.
"I think there will have to be," he said of such measures.
"I know for two years it's been out of control and probably for
a whole lot longer. I'm not accustomed to seeing people this hostile.
It's not a matter of if we want to do it. If we want to restore peace
in this town we have to do it in town hall. I'm not unreasonable."
Cross added that although he is not a man who harbors fear, he worries
about the number of Article 78 and other lawsuits that have plagued
the town in recent years.
"I believe that people who sue the town should get the public's
recognition they deserve so everybody in town knows who they are so
people can know who's costing them what," the incoming supervisor
said. "It's public record and it can be revealed."
As a final note, Cross reiterated his wish, made repeatedly during his
campaign, to see the town come back together in peacefulness and harmony.
Talking ‘Bout Mister
"What am I gonna call you?" She asks us both. I go into
full alert; the mean, stupid people fought about this all the time,
and except for the few days when they called me Brainless (can you
believe those two?), they could never agree.
Her house is huge, way bigger than the mean people's. There I slept
on an old blanket that had some other dog's hair on it; here I have
my thick bed right in front of the heater, and when She decides that
it needs more padding, She takes a sheet right off Her bed and folds
it on top. It still smells of Her! Then She lays down beside me, the
length of Her body along mine. "You are such a good boy,"
She says, rubbing my stomach. "Who's the handsomest dog I've
ever seen, huh? Who's gonna love you so much?"
The mean people woke at the crack of dawn, threw me out to do my business,
then locked me in the basement all day long. She wakes up late, comes
padding down the hall in Her pajamas and scratches my ears til I want
to go out. I tromp in the field, and when I come back in She gives
me food and water, and sits on the floor while I eat. "Never
bite kids who take your food," She says, snatching the bowl away.
Like I don't know this already. She goes through the Stop, Sit, Lay
Down drill, tossing little cookies into the air for me when I do what
She asks. Most of the time I pretend to misread the cues so She'll
keep up the instruction.
Afterwards we play catch until we both ache, and then we go into Her
office, where She lets me sleep under Her desk while She works on
the computer. Her bare feet rest on my belly, and when I wake I lick
Her red toes until She squeals with delight. Then She takes me outside
and runs around the field with me, whooping and hollering till Her
face is the color of Her toes.
I am allowed in every room of the house, except Her bedroom. When
I walk up the hall and peer in, She holds Her arm straight out and
says, "No, boy, you stay out." I don't really mind, but
I am curious, so on the rare occasions that She leaves me alone I
run right in there, smell all the carpets, sniff around Her pillow,
and leave. It isn't that special after all.
At night She dances around in Her panties. "Where do broken hearts
go?" She wails plaintively. I dance with her, jumping around
on my back legs until She starts howling and I join in, and then She
collapses on the floor with me and holds me until I fall asleep.
It's love, all right. So you can imagine my shock when Harry shows
up one night, and he's allowed to go into the bedroom with Her. Before
they go, I hear Her name for the first time------ Julia.
"He's huge," Harry says every time he sees me, backing away.
He does not say 'huge' as a compliment. "You know, Dobermans
often turn on their owners," he tells Julia. I wait till she's
out of sight before I show him my teeth. He runs screaming from the
For the next few days, Julia gives me the hairy eyeball. She cooks
up some bones and holds them for me while I gnaw them. "You would
never bite Harry, would you?" she asks. I act my most adorable,
When Harry comes over, he drops his coat on the floor by the front
door. Even I know better--- Julia likes things neat and clean. Before
she goes to sleep, she rounds up all my balls and bones and toys,
and puts them into a basket by my bed. When I want to make her laugh
I take them out, one-by-one, and spread them around the room. But
Harry couldn't care less about our routine.
We try out King, Buster and Cookie, but none of the names stick.
Harry turns out to be Mister Right, all right--- Mister always freaking
right. Although he's never had a dog of his own, he is absolutely
sure that Julia is doing everything wrong. "You’ll spoil
him," he tells Julia, as if I'm a honeydew.
He wants me to sit in the heel position for three or four hours at
a clip, wants me to go in and out on command, wants me to eat without
dropping a nugget. Mostly, though, he wants me to leave Julia alone,
for crying out loud.
But I've got Harry beat 5-to-1 in the precious department.
I'm sure Harry is who he says he is, but still, I have to sniff his
butt. This drives him nuts. Julia, too. She snaps my snout, and gives
me her 'mad' look. "He never does that to anyone else,"
she tells Harry. "I think he really likes you." I am disgusted
with her for even thinking this, but Harry knows better. He tries
to avoid me, but I make it a point to smell every inch of him. When
Julia's in the kitchen cooking, I lift my back leg, just a few inches
off the ground, and Harry jumps up. "God, Julia, your dog almost
peed on me," he whines. But when she comes to look, there's not
a drop to be seen. She pats Harry's arm and runs her hand through
my fur. She's not sure which one of us to believe.
Julia and I learn a new trick. She sings: Dah-da-da-da-da-da/ dah-da-da-da-da-da/
dada-da-da-da-da-da!, and holds a hula hoop about three feet off the
ground. I sail back and forth through the hoop, trying not to let
my legs even touch it. We do this trick for hours, but Harry is not
"Let's go to bed," he says. On the way down the hall, I
hear him say to Julia, "Maybe you should name him Goofy."
I search out his wallet and hide it under the couch.
I'm not saying Harry started the fire, but he was the last one in
the kitchen, so we'll never be sure. Which is perfect. I hate to save
him, but Julia has moved to the inside part of the bed, and it's Harry's
hand I have to push with my snout to wake them. My immediate thought
is to get Julia out the back door, and leave Harry to use his brains.
Which means he'll wind up looking like a burnt bagel. But of course
Harry shoots right up, smells the smoke, screams, and runs out the
back door. Naked.
Julia sails right over me and races to the kitchen, and within seconds
she has the fire extinguisher going. I hear her yelling--- ‘Go
outside, Big Boy’--- but I would never leave her. She has that
fire out in five minutes flat.
Harry pretends he had rushed outside to do--- what, exactly? Drag
water in from the creek? His face is red for the next month. "I
swear, Julia, I wasn't running away," he says again and again.
She isn't angry with him, exactly, but I am getting more of her attention.
"Maybe I should call you Sparky," Julia says, "because
you're a great fireman." But the name reminds us both of that
awful smell, and she never calls me Sparky again.
I pee on Harry's jacket. The putz left it on the floor again. And
really, who wears leather when it's so nice outside? It dries, and
Harry never notices. A few days later Julia points out the spot and
Harry looks at me suspiciously. He sniffs at it but just can't tell.
We're getting a new kitchen, and Harry's paying everything the insurance
company won't. I hope he doesn't think that makes him welcome for
Lots of different guys come to measure the kitchen, but Julia can't
make up her mind. Then Rick shows up one afternoon, and the minute
he's through the door, I know he's the one. He smiles at me right
off. "God, he's huge," he says, meaning it the nice way.
He scratches me and rubs my ears. "What's his name?" he
asks innocently, but the silence that answers him is deafening---
this is getting embarrassing.
Julia's best friend, Caroline, gets a little puppy. "I'm naming
her Shadow," Caroline tells us, "because she never leaves
my side." I'm humiliated that this ragged thing already has a
name, but I like Shadow anyway. I drag her around the driveway, dirt
flying up all around us, as if she's a veal cutlet and I'm breading
her. She lets me do this for hours. When she gets tired, she snuggles
next to me and licks my privates. I start looking forward to her visits.
Rick spends the whole day in the kitchen, measuring and cutting. He
brings treats every day, which he hides in his pockets and waits for
me to sniff out. He loves the hula hoop trick, and has Julia and I
perform it for him every afternoon, while he sips his coffee.
Julia and I go on a trip, without Harry, to see her family. "Don't
worry," she tells me. "They'll figure out a good name for
you." Their house is crazy. Almost nobody bothers to get dressed---
they just wear pajamas all day long. They sit around talking from
morning til dark. About food. "What should we have for lunch?"
they ask as breakfast is being served. Before the lunch dishes are
cleared, they're cooking dinner. Bits of food are forever falling
on the floor. Actually, I love it here.
Julia's little nephew runs around saying, "Hey, let's name him
Snoopy!" and they burst into hysterics. As if I'd ever allow
that. They're nice--- but they're partial to names like Snookums,
Tweedy-Bird, Sweetie-Cakes. Don't ask. We come home the same way we
left--- pining for a name.
Rick likes to run in the field with us. We find out when he shows
up early one day and catches us out there racing each other from end-to-end.
He's also great with tennis balls and teaches me to juggle. He buys
a pack that he wears around his waist, and fills it with doggie treats
and only says "Good boy!", never, "Hey, dummy,"
like Harry does.
The kitchen is finished. Then, right when Rick is packing up his tools,
Julia decides that her office could use some sprucing up. Rick is
unpacked in two seconds.
Julia opens the door and the Devil is standing there with a pumpkin
in his hand! "Trick or treat," he says, but I'm not fooled.
The growl that starts in my throat startles all three of us, but I
only know I've made a big mistake when the devil cries, "Mommy,
this dog is mean!" He's already running away.
Julia is furious. "Are you crazy?" she shrieks. "Scaring
a little kid--- what's wrong with you?"
I've never seen her like this. I run outside, skirt the woods, and
settle myself into the far side of the field, where I can just watch
the house. A few times during the night I hear Julia whistling for
me, but she's half-hearted at best. It's good that she hasn't named
me; it would just make it that much harder to lose her.
I stay away for three long nights, but eventually I break down when
I hear Julia crying. When I scratch on the door she's there in a heartbeat,
and she no longer seems mad.
"Thank God you're back," she says over and over, her tears
settling on my fur like snow on a frozen lake.
A few weeks later Julia cooks a huge Thanksgiving meal, and lots of
friends come over. As soon as we all get settled in the dining room
Julia raises her glass and says, "I want to say that I'm so thankful
for my good friends, my sweet dog, and all the wonderful things that
have happened to me this year." As if we care, Harry gets up
and tells us what he's thankful for--- a great ski season, his promotion
at work, those last ten pounds he finally managed to lose. The idiot
even snaps the waistband of his pants! Everyone is speechless. He
does not mention Julia, or me, and while I'm looking around for his
socks, I see Rick raising his glass. "I'm just so thankful that
I got to meet Julia..." he says. Everyone laughs, although a
little awkwardly. Then Rick looks over at me. "And I'm really
so happy that you came home, boy."
It's like a flash of electricity, and it goes through me and Julia
simultaneously. "Homeboy," she says, rolling the word around
on her tongue. I'm so excited I could jump out of my skin. Rick starts
clapping, Caroline starts hooting with laughter, and Shadow starts
dancing around my head as if this is a Mexican Hat dance.
Harry, of course, is clueless.
The three of us are laying on the floor, me between them. Their fingers
are laced across my belly, and they scratch me unconsciously. "I
love you," Julia says. We both raise our heads to see which one
of us she's talking to, but it's hard to tell.
Julia holds up a sprig of mistletoe, and bends her head down to mine.
"Merry Christmas, Homeboy," she says, and breathes her sweet
breath right into my nose. Then Rick kisses me, too, and tells me
what a fine, fine dog I've become. I'm so happy that it takes me a
few minutes to realize that they have forgotten about me, and are
using me as a pillow for their own kisses.
Humans, they're such crazy animals, huh? I lick at both their heads
and drift off to sleep.
says he always liked film. During our discussion he speaks very highly
of the movie, On The Waterfront, about a guy who wants to be a somebody.
Shot in Hoboken, New Jersey, "It's about the racket, It‚s
on the waterfront and he‚s in the middle of it. The character
is Terry Malloy. It‚s got heavy, heavy, heavy political implications.
It was made when there were witch hunts in this country looking for
The writer of the film, Bud Schulberg wrote a book on boxing called
The Harder They Fall about that period.
describes how his family influenced him into enjoying the sport and
lifestyle of boxing.
" My brother boxed in the navy," he says. "My father
used to like to watch the Friday night fights and I watched and I
was always drawn, as athletes, more to boxers than to football players
or baseball players."
Gast describes how generous and more accessible boxers are than other
athletes, specifically Ali. He saw Cassius Clay fight Doug Jones,
and Frazier (the first, second and third bouts).
" I was always a fan of, first, his incredible athletic ability
and then his politics also," Leon says of Ali. "There were
times when he was really serious, but most of the time he would at
some point wink. One writer said of him, "In your face with a
wink in his eye.'"
last time Leon Gast saw Ali was just over a month ago in Germany.
Ali is speaking less and less but seems to be in fine physical shape.
Although he couldn't possibly be the same as he was when he beat Foreman,
I imagine, from what Leon tells me, that Ali us still very charismatic.
When We Were Kings, Gast's Oscar-winning film, has many
beautiful details. One of my favorites is that of Miriam Makeba, a
performer at a music festival that ran for the three days before the
fight. Although the fight got postponed due to Foreman getting cut,
the festival went on. During that weekend, Leon and his crew shot
Miriam on a set for forty-five minutes, just as they filmed James
Brown and BB King.
Makeba was at the festival with her husband, Stokely Carmichael, the
guy in the 1960s who started the Black Panther party.
" There was always something about that look that she gives in
the close-up, it's always spooky," says Gast, reminiscing.
He adds that Miriam Makeba was like a good luck charm for Ali. She
peeks out through the shadow of contrasting light and dark. A devil
in heaven, a savior in hell.
very grateful that I had the opportunity to meet with such a wonderful
man who was so compassionate, wondrous, and down to earth. He leads
an elegant lifestyle, here in the Catskills, with a getaway abode
in the mountains and a place in the city, not to mention a wonderful
wife with a passion for Pilates.
SHARP, the Shandaken Area Revitalization Project, founded in
the late 1970’s and incorporated in 1982, is a not-for-profit
entity that administers Federal and other grant money on behalf of
Shandaken, Olive and occasionally Woodstock.
“Of course I never said what (Gardner) accused me of saying,”
said Hoyt last week. “They’ve done this because I publicly
talked about the conflict-of-interest between Jane’s role as
executive director and disbursing Federal funds and her being an elected
public official. When somebody’s got to come to you for a check
for a new roof or a new furnace, do you think they’re not going
to remember who arranged for that check? That’s why for anybody
to run against Jane Todd is political suicide in Shandaken. This is
just common sense. My concern is that people DO understand this, and
that it reflects very badly on SHARP. So if I point out this conflict
of interest, it’s because I want to protect the organization,
which helps a lot of people.”
The Gales, two of SHARP’s original three founders over 20 years
ago, learned of the board’s intent to dismiss Hoyt in a phone
conversation with Gardner. Both immediately submitted their resignations
in protest. Hoyt later submitted hers at the Dec 16 board meeting.
“I call it a conflict when you administrate town grants and
serve on the town board,” said Lonny Gale. “I’m
against a not-for-profit becoming political. That is not what we set
out for it to be, and that’s what they’re turning it into.
We’re lifelong Republicans but this is too much. I think SHARP
has become a political pawn.”
Todd, recently re-elected to the Town Board, draws an annual salary
from SHARP in addition to her town board salary. Her assistant at
SHARP is Joan Munster, wife of newly elected town board member Joe
Munster who succeeded Jane’s husband Ward Todd, as Shandaken
GOP party chairman. Ward Todd, also formerly chaired the Ulster County
Legislature, now serves as the president of the county Chamber of
SHARP’s board has long been split over conflict-of-interest
issues surrounding its executive director, as detailed in Hoyt’s
published letter, which contained no remarks critical of SHARP at
all, but did raise two other possible conflict-of-interest issues
pertaining to Todd. One was her purchase of land adjacent to the proposed
Belleayre Resort, and the other her failure to notify the town it
had been offered Pine Hill’s water system free-of-charge, enabling
developer Dean Gitter to purchase and later divert some of it for
the resort in 2000. Todd at the time had been in charge of acquiring
the system on behalf of the town.
“I’ve served this community for over fifty years, and
I’m certainly convinced there are conflicts here” said
Hoyt. ”That’s just my opinion, but people know that I
tell the truth. It’s not my reputation that’s in question
over this whole thing, “ she said. “It’s SHARP’s.
I don’t know who they think they’re kidding.”
Called for comment regarding any possible conflict of interest between
her two posts, Todd said she thought the issue “had been put
to bed forever.”
“I went to the US Office of Special Council and got a determination
that I am not prohibited from running for or holding public office,”
Todd also said, “I would like to thank Lonnie and Peggy and
Edna for their many years of service on the SHARP board. For that
I am grateful.”