Welcome 2021

And the beat goes on

County comptroller March Gallagher kicked off her quest for reelection last week for a full, four-year term as county comptroller, not with a resume of remarkable accomplishments as the county’s fiscal watchdog, but with a call to action on homelessness and gentrification. Some may have thought these kinds of issues are the purview of the executive branch, but Gallagher has the bully pulpit and she intends, apparently, to use it.

The week before the comptroller got into a kerfuffle with the executive branch over sky-is-falling projections of potential revenue losses due to the pandemic. “Official” guestimates last spring ranged beyond $30 million (about 10% of budget) but wound  up in single digits.  

Democrat Gallagher, an attorney, defeated Republican Lisa Cuttin, a CPA, by some 5,300 votes to fill the unexpired term of Elliott Auerbach in 2019.  

As worms begin to stir under frozen ground, county legislators spent some of the holidays jockeying for position in next year’s legislature. Democrats hold a razor-thin 12-11 majority but are, as usual, divided. It appears that Kingston’s Dave Donaldson has enough votes for reelection as chairman, despite grumbling in the ranks.  Given the power of the executive, it probably doesn’t much matter who wields the gavel.

Hopping over steep snowbanks, local lawyers were seen circling the county courthouse in anticipation of at least one, and perhaps two, vacancies in state supreme court next year.

Senior judge Jim Gilpatric, 69, will “age out” at 70 and thus be required to step down at the end of the year. Junior judge Christopher Cahill of the town of Ulster, still spry at 64, is said to be considering retirement.

Supreme court judgeships in the seven-county Third Judicial District are controlled by the Capital Region Democrats. However, under an agreement engineered by Gilpatric some dozen years ago, every county, based on population, gets a slot when vacancies or retirements occur.  Sometimes there’s a contest between major party candidates, but mostly it’s free-ride cross-endorsements haggled out at judicial conventions in September.

Ulster, the second largest county in the district, would do well to retain both seats, but more likely will have to settle for one.

And speaking of snow removal, I read in my favorite newspaper that one of the reasons Kingston did its perennially crappy job on clearing the streets was due to a lack of manpower. According to public works superintendent Ed Norman the department’s union contract with the city does not require members to accept overtime in snow emergencies.

What that? Who signs these kinds of contracts? The common council, that’s who. 

But let us end on a positive note. Best wishes for health and hope for the new year.

And finally, a loose end, too long dangled. The state board of elections finally posted official returns from the Nov. 3 election for state senate, confirming that Mike Martucci of Orange County defeated Jen Metzger of Rosendale by 1,364 votes, while Michelle Hinchey topped Rich Amedore by 3,994.

Given a margin of less than 0.1 percent, don’t expect Martucci to be holding any victory parades. Neither should Hinchey, with a 2% margin be dancing in the streets.

One curious thing about those two races: Metzger’s 42nd district drew 140,566 votes, while Hinchey’s race had 159,773 ballots. Senate districts are roughly of equal population.