Ryan doubles down

I thought county executive Pat Ryan right-on a few days ago in comparing the truly scary statistics from Covid-19 last year and what we’re experiencing in this second wave. I was less impressed with his Sunday declaration of a “state of emergency” for the next month owing to those alarming tends.

Maybe I missed it over the past 15 years since the charter was enacted by voters, but it seems silent on executive power to call states of emergency. After all, who would have thought of such a thing in sleepy old Ulster back then?

More important, the press release Ryan issued gives no indication of what a “state of emergency” would entail, other than it will be in place until just around Christmas. Seemingly, everything now in effect to mitigate the spread of the disease will remain.  

Might we all be required to go double-masked? Might gatherings of more than three people be banned even in our own homes? Forget holiday hugs. Might people 65 or older be confined to their residences? All of the above and more?  If Ryan has some secret strategy to make us safter over the holidays, it’s still up his sleeve.


Planning board hearing set on transfer of city street to Kingstonian developers

Other than a ratcheting up already inflamed rhetoric on both sides, I doubt if we’ll learn anything new. Nor will anybody change their minds about the (projected) $60 million Kingstonian high-end housing development near the corner of North Front and Wall Streets in uptown Kingston when the planning board holds a public hearing at city hall next Thursday.

But the law requires a hearing when the city permanently closes a street, in this case, the 100-yard Fair St. Extension leading to Kingston Plaza. Developers say they need the street in order to integrate parking and buildings for their project. That the city is prepared to give it away to developers will raise the hackles of opponents. Me, too.

Procuring $26 million in tax breaks sounds excessive if taken in the abstract. Developers claim they will pay far more in taxes over the decades-long tax abatement agreement than if the site remains as-is. I really haven’t heard a credible counter to that one.

There are, unquestionably, more than enough well-heeled buyers for the luxury digs the Kingstonian will provide, and not just fat cats from Brooklyn. There’s plenty of Kingstonians (thus the name) with piles of cash from selling their big houses in nice neighborhoods who would move in tomorrow.

But then, we’ve heard all the arguments. The show starts at 6:30 PM and could go on deep into the night. Bring pillows, or aspirin.


Old cigar factory goes on the market for $2.75 million

“Wow,” as my wife would say, but the real story is in the size of this building in midtown Kingston across Broadway from the YMCA.

According to city records, 25 Dederick St., once part of the Canfield family empire, contains some 31,000 square feet of space with six stories and 12-foot ceilings. Freight elevators, too.  The sales price, even in Kingston’s red-hot market, works out to $90 a square foot.

I asked Woodstock architect Bob Young how that compared with current construction costs.

“It’s getting close to $400 a square foot,” he said, “if you can get supplies and workmen.”



God bless Alice

It happens that the best stories about politicians come out after their passing, funny, poignant, humanizing.  

Cutting to the chase, here’s the last word on this one:

“You want something sweet, honey? Bite my ass, it’s a peach.”

It was decades ago when I attended a Republican buffet in Port Ewen where I wound up sitting between county legislators Marian Umhey and Alice Tipp. Alice died this month, Marian some years ago.

Marian and Alice were best buds. They went everywhere together, especially where food was served. Few could work a buffet line like those two.

In any event, Alice and Marian were polishing off their second heaping plates when a woman from a nearby table walked by ours with a tray of what looked like delicious desserts.

“Alice,” I said, with just a hint of humor which she quickly picked up, “would you like me to bring you and Marian a tray of pastries?”

She looked me straight in the eye. “You want something sweet, honey….?”

It was a side of Alice I had never appreciated heretofore.


Scams galore

I was almost victim to one of the more creative senior citizen scams making the rounds.

A few weeks ago, I got a mid-morning phone call from a “teenager” who identified himself as my grandson and addressed me by my family nickname, “Grandpa Hughie.” To me, most teenage boys sound the same, so I thought it was him.

“Ryan” had bad news. Following a friend’s funeral, he said he had rear-ended another car while driving and texting. “It happened so fast”, he said, his voice trembling. He thought he broke his nose and cut his lip when the airbag went off, but was otherwise OK.

Worse news. He was currently in jail, facing charges and would remain in jail until he came up with bail. See where this was going? He gave me the name and phone number of an “assistant district attorney” who was handling the case.

I don’t know about other grandparents, but for me, all common sense and judgement was suspended as I thought of my grandson sitting in jail somewhere. In the excitement, I hadn’t asked him where the “accident” had occurred.

This kid needed a lawyer and quick. I called his father at work. Curious at first as to why his son would contact his grandfather rather than his parents in a case like this, he listened carefully.

“I think this is a scam, Dad,” he said. “There was no funereal. Ryan would have told us about it. I’ll double-check, but he’s probably in school right now.” He was.

End of story? I don’t think so. We seniors /grandparents are oftentimes easy targets for scammers, especially if it involves grandchildren. Emotions can often trump caution. And it would appear, at least from this incident, that our personal information is far too easy to access. How would any scammer know what my grandchildren called me?

I’m told this particular scam has been making the rounds for some time.  Government can’t address every situation, nor should it, but this scamming of the unwary and vulnerable deserves closer scrutiny. I think the county should beef up its one-person Consumer Fraud Bureau with some staff and tougher regulations. Better publicity on who’s preying on whom would help.