Will county flip flop?

With the announcement this week that the county is prepared to invest upwards of $4 million to renovate, populate and sell the former BankAmerica building in Tech City, it appears Ulster is going into the real estate flip-flop business. And why not? Lots of other speculators are doing it in this booming real estate market.

But, that’s the private sector where risks and rewards of fall strictly on investors and their backers.  County government will be using taxpayer dollars in hope of substantial return.

Foreclosure on the huge BankAmerica building began near the end of the Hein administration with the county taking title about a year ago. Current county exec Pat Ryan wasted little time in advancing a bold plan – which presumably has to pass the legislature  –  to restore a long-dormant and deteriorating building to productive useful purpose.

Ryan’s plans are a bit vague at this point, but he talks about eventually moving small-scale manufacturing and artists into the building.  

 What, no affordable housing? (Actually, plans are under way to renovate the old jail on Golden Hill in Kingston -largely vacant since 2007 – for low-income housing. Effectively, this would also put the county in the housing business. I think I see a pattern emerging.)

About the legislature. These are policy issues. The county has never been in the real estate business (other to seize and sell property from lost souls who couldn’t pay their taxes) or public housing. Policy decisions like that are by charter the purview of the legislature, “the policy-making” branch of county government.

Some legislators, few of whom attended Ryan’s roll-out of his 2021 budget which contained those initiatives, have spoken out on what could be fundamental changes in the scope of county government. More should join the small chorus of concerned salons, if only to provoke the lively public debate these issues warrant.

Plump Trump – Not to take sides here, but as a calorically-challenged white guy of an age on Social Security, I take some umbrage at President Trump being called “morbidly obese” by critics. He’s just another fat guy, like me.

It seems the word “obese” has been redefined in recent years, perhaps in an effort by the diet industry to shame us fatties. BMI (Body Mass Index, dividing height into weight) can be calculated in anybody’s head who went to school before iPads were on every desk. Mine is around three, which makes me officially obese.

I’m pretty good at guessing people’s weights, so I’d put Trump at about 250. At 6-3, that makes him obese (3.3), but morbid? At 275 he just hits the magic number.

Comparing presidents, I’ve never seen Trump up close, but I shook hands in an impromptu receiving line with former President Bill Clinton when he came to Kingston on behalf of former Congressman Maurice Hinchey in 2000.

My first impression from the press table about 50 feet away from the podium was that Clinton, around Trump’s height, really was larger than life, packed into a double-breasted blue blazer. I guessed around 245. Obese? Nah.

Surely, we have more important things to talk about three weeks from a presidential election. Or write about.