For richer or poor

Item: “Developer to seek tax breaks.”

Does anybody find that redundant? I do.

These days, developers always seek public subsidies, the more the merrier. More accurately, that Sunday Freeman headline should have read, “Developer will get tax breaks.” Subhead: The question is, how much?

But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.

The approved developer, Penrose Community Builders of Philadelphia, proposes to build 160 units of badly needed affordable housing on the 15-acre site of the former county jail on Golden Hill in Kingston. Penrose was one of five finalists for the $40 million project, including a developer associated with Gateway Industries of Kingston and Ellenville Regional Hospital.

That Penrose expects tax breaks from local government was indicated in their proposal which stated, “we will require (my emphasis) support from the county” (to include upwards of a million dollars for demolition of the old jail).

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for affordable housing, having been a RUPCO supporter for years. And the need is beyond dire. What should concern the county legislature, which will have final jurisdiction, is the secrecy surrounding this very public project, built on county land for public purpose and with what will be substantial taxpayer support.

Hard information has been hard to come by. Legislature chairman Dave Donaldson of Kingston, an early booster, advises a wait and see attitude. There will be plenty of time for public input after the project is sent to a formal planning board review, he says. Horses and barns come to mind. With more than 24 years in the legislature, including two stints as chairman, Donaldson has to know that by the time a proposal reaches a planning board only marginal revisions are on the table.

Efforts by the Freeman to pry loose fundamental details through state freedom of information laws have run into something of a stone wall. File a formal request, the paper was told by county officials, and we’ll get back to you in 20 business days (as per law) with an answer. I’ve already asked that question: The answer will be fuhgeddaboudit; this is a private real estate transaction and not subject to FOIL.

That alone calls for a deeper dive.

Good news for a change – What with dicey weather predicted, Veterans Day ceremonies on the front lawn of Kingston City Hall (closed to the public for the duration) was limited to about 50 souls. But former county legislator Brian Woltman, R-Kingston brought glad tidings.

“I have good news,” Woltman said to a group near one of the Civil War cannons.

“You mean you saved 15% on your car insurance?”

“No,” he laughed.  “I just shot 69 at Twaalfskill!”

“For nine holes?” quipped a former club member. Trust me, Twaalfskill can be brutal.

Bully-Bully – Trump and Cuomo engaged in another one of their snit fits last week, this one over the delivery of pandemic vaccine to New York. At one point, the governor accused the president of being a bully. Fair comment, but it takes one to know one.

Heads up – Back by public demand, the Me and Mario Show returns to WGHQ radio (AM-920) next Monday at 7:05 a.m. with our first repeat guest. Siena Polling Institute director Dr. Don Levy will field questions on where pollsters went wrong (again).

An ominous element has entered stage right of the conversation, that pollsters, which are supposed to be scientific and objective, drove the vote in favor of Democrats.  I’m not convinced of that, but we’d like to hear it from the horse’s mouth.

And speaking of horseplay, Me and Mario, after a sporadic start, will air every other Friday morning beginning in January.

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