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Thursday headlines

Mar 17, 2011 5:38 am
Supervisors are divided on closed meetings
Francesca Olsen of the Register-Star follows up on her story about groups of county supervisors meeting outside the public eye in Chatham on a regular basis that gauges board opinion on the matter. Legally, she writes, state OPen Meetings Laws says a quorum can be two things: a simple majority of supervisors — 13, in the case of Columbia County’s Board of Supervisors — or it can be a weighted vote that equals out to just over half of county representation (1,768 votes out of a total of 3,535). According to supervisors who have been at the meetings to talk about county and regional issues, there has never been either sort of quorum — and they’re careful about making sure of that. The real rub, it turns out, is that a handful of supervisors, at least four, haven’t been invited, and even though the meeting supervisors say that wasn't intentional, those who haven't gone consider the meetings unethical.

Handel appointed Durham lawmaker
Greene County Legislatures Republicans increased their majority to 9-5 yesterday after appointing 48-year old businesswoman Patricia Handel as the county's 14th legislator representing Durham on Wednesday night, filling the seat vacated by former Legislator Sean Frey. According to Colin Devries of the Daily Mail, Handel operates the Blackthorne Resort with her husband Roy and manages the Supersonic Speedway, both East Durham businesses. Frey resigned his position after winning two elections because of what he called "an endless investigation" by county powers into mileage reimbursals dating back several years. Frey was a Democrat in this largely Irish, fairly Democratic district.

Quilt stuck in UPS limbo
Cathy Woodruff of The Advocate has a great piece on Coxsackie resident Janet Atkins' month-long vigil to get her unique, prize-winning quilt, entitled Kaaterskill, out of UPS limbo, where it's been since getting mailed out of the Golden, CO offices of Quilters Newsletter after a photo shoot on February 16.. The coverlet was to be shipped via two-day air, which should have ensured delivery to her Coxsackie studio by Friday, Feb. 18. But it's apparently lost in the system...and someone else has filed a claim for it.

Catholic Charities grant splits Council

The Register-Star's Jamie Larson reports on Tuesday night's Common Council meeting in Hudson, where "what was easily the most contentious split vote seen in City Hall since Donald Moore was elected Council President" centered on acceptance of a $4,100 grant from Catholic Charities of Columbia and Greene Counties to pay for the continued enforcement of underage drinking laws in the city by the Hudson Police Department. "The issue has been simmering with divergent opinions since a Dec. 23 sting operation, also carried out by funding from a Catholic Charities grant, which caught eight out of nine restaurants selling alcohol to an underage informant," Larson writes. "Business owners and a contingent of council members including Moore and Police Committee Chairman Alderman Christopher Wagoner, D-3rd Ward, have discussed in committee that they would like to see more educational prevention than punishment." Local businesses caught in the sting, all along Warren Street, said they aren't the sort of places that attract underage drinkers, because of cost and demographic considerations, making the busts appear that much more like harassment.

Scenic Hudson embraces EPA’s proposed national standard for mercury pollution from power plants
The US EPA has proposed the first-ever national standards for mercury, arsenic and other toxic air pollution from power plants in a move that Congressional Republicans are fighting vociferously. The federal agency was under a court deadline to develop the standards, announced Tuesday. Ned Sullivan, president of Poughkeepsie-based Scenic Hudson, announced yesterday that the new laws, once approved, will have environmental and economic impacts for the better, and help the healthiness of the Hudson Valley.

Prisons: Why not sell Sing Sing?
A Times Union report on the March 16 meeting of the Public Protection joint budget committee, which discussed Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plans to lose 3,500 prison beds statewide over the coming year, yielded two items that could save Columbia and Greene county prisons, which are seen as key local employment centers. First, many talked about the “saleability” or marketability of mothballed prisons. Then there was the growing belief that it's better to house prisoners closer to their homes, for better re-entry and less recidivism odds, which given New York City's record, could work well for the Hudson and Coxsackie facilities. Cuomo has yet to name the 16 members of a commission he has called for to make final prison recommendations.

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