Generous John

The Times Herald Record reports that former state Sen. John Bonacic has donated $500,000 from campaign funds to the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan counties.

But before anyone nominates the 10-term Republican from Orange for sainthood, let us remember that none of this came out of his own pocket. “Campaign funds,” be definition are derived from lobbyists, special interests and to a much lesser degree ordinary citizen. As a senior senator in the senate majority, Bonacic attracted lots of cash and little opposition, in large part because of huge war chests. He left office in December with some $645,000 on hand.

Bonacic specified that donation be targeted to help the homeless and veterans and to combat domestic abuse in Orange, Sullivan, and Delaware counties. To that, locals might say, “Atta boy!” but why no Ulster? Bonacic represented Ulster, principally the towns of New Paltz, Gardiner, Shawangunk Wawarsing, and Rosendale, for most of his two decades in office.

Recall that Bonacic, now 77 and then buried in the Republican assembly minority, made his leap to the House of Lords in 1998 by knocking off former assemblyman John Guerin in a 1998 Republican primary.

And speaking of campaign funds, first-term Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado returned from a fact-finding mission to the southern border to news from the Federal Elections Commission that he raised some $750,000 in donations during his first six months in office. With that impressive haul, FEC places the freshman congressman first in fund-raising among all New York congress members.

Former Congressman Chris Gibson used to whine about spending half his time raising money for the next campaign. If Delgado is raising that kind of cash that quickly, one can only wonder what he does with the rest of his time, other than well-publicized town hall meetings.

MALONEY LEGACY – Republicans in the towns of Ulster and Kingston have until the end of the month to nominate a candidate to fill the vacancy created by the death of legislator Jim Maloney, according to the board of elections.

At least two names have been bandied, former Kingston mayoral candidate Andy Turco Levin, who recently moved into the town, and would-be county executive candidate Tiffany Christiana.

The latter is an interesting case. With a good deal of ballyhoo, Christiana went to caucus in Ulster last winter as a candidate for county executive but then inexplicably ran for a town council, which she lost handily.  And now this? For this candidate, staying power is not a strong suit.

Turco, one of the county’s leading realtors, by comparison, gave it her all in a just-missed bid for the Republican nomination for mayor in 2011. Ron Polacco won by a scant ten votes, only to fall to Democratic nominee Shane Gallo.

Meanwhile, out of respect to the late lawmaker, the legislature is expected to appoint Maloney’s widow, Brenda to fill out the rest of his term, ending Dec. 31. Democrats will retain a 12-11 majority Reportedly, she has no intention of seeking the office herself, which should come as a huge relief to Democratic nominee, former legislator Brian Cahill. Even against Jim Maloney himself, Democrats considered that a winnable seat.

FORD TOUGH – Kingston Post 150 American Legion celebrated its centennial on Saturday afternoon in brutal 100-degree heat. But that was only half the story.

With temperatures building toward triple digits, as committee chairman, I visited the 101-year-old city historian at his home on Valentine Avenue on Wednesday. It’s OK if he can’t make it, I told him We would understand. Similar sentiments were conveyed to our other centennial member, 100-year old George Habernig, by Post adjutant Charlie Manfro.

“I will be there,” Ford said with the firm resolve we had witnessed so many times over his long career as city historian.

And he was, even if Habernig could not attend. When you’re 100, some days are better than others.

Ford arrived about 15 minutes before the 1 p.m. ceremony and was escorted to the cool confines of the Post Home. Therein, he patiently greeted dozens of members and guests. It wasn’t easy to take him out for a brief laying of the wreath portion of the program in that heat, but he insisted. Loyal friend Sue Hummel then drove him home.

Guest speaker Paul O’Neil, filling in for baby-watch county executive Pat Ryan (for which the Post was most grateful), was well received by a crowd of more than 100, but to me, “I will be there” epitomized what veterans did and continue to do for our country.

Thank you, Ed Ford for being there, for your service in World War II and for the 35 years you served Kingston as our historian.