Numbers, please

County comptroller March Gallagher maybe has stolen a march (pun intended) on the Ryan administration with her report last week that rather than the near-$35 million Covid-related deficit county executive Pat Ryan warned of last year, the county will in all likelihood report a $12 million surplus to the state next month. If my math is right, that’s a swing of almost $40 million, on a $330 million budget. Wow.

Gallagher, who’s up for a full four-year term in November, came down easy on fellow Democrat Pat Ryan, but there’s no denying the county executive missed the mark by a wide margin.

An announcement from the Ryan camp would have taken on a very different spin, no doubt, with no mention of previous projections and Hizzoner being praised for engineering a substantial surplus in what was sold to the public as potentially the worst of times. As crystal balls go, this crew was a bust, and keep in mind that the same cast of fiscal wizards will be drawing up the 2022 county budget in a few months.

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QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER  –  All politics being local, let’s revisit a busy week with the retirement announcement of high-profile town of Ulster supervisor Jim Quigley. Quigley says he’ll leave when his present term expires at the end of 2025. Critics can’t say Quigley didn’t give proper notice, but this?

I don’t know what motivated Quigley to call it a career after five terms in office. Bad day at the office? Rebellious town board? The heartbreak of psoriasis?

There being few coincidences in politics, some might speculate that Quigley’s recent advancement of an appointed town comptroller might have had something to do with his decision.  Town residents will vote in referendum Nov. 2 to appropriate $75,000 for a comptroller who will be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the town board. This is no reflection on the supervisor, a former chief financial officer for a Fortune 500 company, aka, “the unofficial town comptroller.”

How the new comptroller (if approved by voters) and the “retiring” supervisor will coexist during the last years of Quigley’s term remains to be seen. 

I, for one, expect Quigley to serve out the decade, but would not dismiss his being appointed the town’s first comptroller. Just guessing.

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TRAFFIC PATTERNS  –  There’s an old saying around newsrooms that if lawyers published papers, journalists would never get out the next edition.

Case in point. In a town with some of the scariest intersections in the Hudson Valley, Kingston officials recently created two of the worst within about 150 yards of each other on Greenkill Avenue between Fair Street and Wilbur Avenue in midtown. A middle-aged bicyclist was killed at the Wilbur Avenue intersection several months ago; his family is suing the city.

The bi-Friday morning Me and Mario call-in program on WGHQ had alderwoman-at-large Andrea Shaut (pronounced Shawt) on last week and we asked her about that, as in what idiot designed that confusing, dangerous traffic pattern?

Shaut, however forthcoming on a number of other topics, lawyered up. “I’d like to discuss it with you,” she said, “but we (the aldermen) have been advised by counsel not to comment.” Polite prodding produced nothing more.

We can understand Shaut’s reticence.  A multi-million dollar lawsuit is in the works and not only can officials not comment, but it would appear that any action they take to correct a hazardous situation could in a court of law establish culpability.

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ARMS UP  –  In the wake of recent sustained murder and mayhem in the once relatively peaceful Colonial City, 4th Ward alderwoman Rita Worthington is asking the common council to consider appropriating $25,000 as seed money to launch a gun buy-back program.

Worthington, who represents one of the most dangerous parts of the city in midtown, promised more details when aldermen meet in committees next month. What she did tell colleagues was troubling enough, that the program she is suggesting is modeled after Chicago’s.

Chicago, the murder capital of the country as a model?

That’s like sending Jack the Ripper to teach surgery at Harvard Medical.

Retiring county legislator John Parete of Boiceville, weighed in on this subject during a phone interview last week. (I had called him to talk about his decision to leave office by the end of this year.)

Things being relatively peaceful in the hinterlands, I asked the former legislative chairman why the county legislature would want to get involved in what seemed to be a local issue.

“Because,” he said, “Kingston is the county seat and thousands of people visit the city every day. Public safety in Kingston should be everybody’s concern.”   Parete tells me the legislature’s Law Enforcement and Public Safety Committee, on which he sits, has unanimously voted to investigate the situation in Kingston.

Is anybody talking about hiring more cops trained in community relations?