It’s about time

It’s about time

In what has to be considered a most positive first step, newly-minted Ulster County district attorney Dave Clegg has appointed veteran prosecutor Kathryn Van Loan as his chief assistant.

Not only is Van Loan, a town of Ulster resident, well-respected by lawyers and judges on both sides, she brings the kind of long-term institutional knowledge only years on the job can provide. An enrolled Democrat since 2009, Van Loan, 46 this month, worked under Republican DAs dating to the legendary Mike Kavanagh.

There is one caveat – isn’t there always? – the crowing in some quarters about Van Loan being the first woman to hold that important position. It’s 2020, folks, a new century, a new decade. But I state the obvious.  We should be embarrassed as a community that it took this long to appoint a uniquely qualified woman to a position she had long ago earned.

Club 999 – As footnote to this week’s DA race post-mortem, the board of elections confirms that 999 voters, called “blanks,” went to the polls in November and did not cast a ballot for either Democrat Clegg or Republican Mike Kavanagh. Incredible. They were standing right there and didn’t vote. Clegg won the election by 76 votes.

Senators have second thoughts – State senators Jen Metzger of Ulster and Jim Skoufis of Orange, no doubt influenced by a firestorm of blowback, say they’re having second thoughts about the criminal justice reforms they voted for last year. Both Democrat freshmen are up for reelection in November.

On one hand, it’s good that some politicians finally listened to the law enforcement officials directly involved after largely ignoring them before voting. Let’s hope that after flunking Homework-101, they’ll be better prepared when the next big vote comes up.

Metzger, whose only experience was on the Rosendale town board, gets a pass, this time. Skoufis, who served three terms as an assemblyman before succeeding the late Bill Larkin, should have known better.

New Paltz rejects over-60s – This one emerges from the muddle of small-town/personality politics, so who knows, but it appears some younger New Paltz Democratic Committee members are bent on ousting their older compadres, like anybody over 60.

When I was a kid, we didn’t trust anybody over 30. Now, in New Paltz, apparently, it’s twice as stupid.

Who knows? People might have to show proof of age to apply for membership to the NPDC.

Ready to go to work, soon – Legislature chairman Dave Donaldson announced his committee appointments this week. Always a delicate balance between veterans and newcomers, not to mention paying off votes for the chairmanship itself, Donaldson honored his predecessor by naming former chairman Tracey Bartles his deputy. As Donaldson likes to spend time in Florida during the winter, Bartlels may get some more time in the catbird seat.

Politics being the business of two steps back and one forward, Democrats are still ruing the machinations that resulted in the popular and competent Bartles (except for the Hector Rodriguez fiasco) giving up her chairmanship to keep minority Republicans from seizing it. She took one for the party, in other words.

Recall Laura Petit’s brief foray for chairman where she could have conceivably teamed with block-voting Republicans, outnumbered 11-12, for the chairmanship. It ended all of a sudden when John Parete, who caucuses with Republicans, made it known he would vote for good buddy Donaldson and only Donaldson. The Republican balloon collapsed, taking both Bartles and Petit with it. In the end, Petit voted with fellow Democrats to produce a 13-10 Donaldson. Lost was Bartlels. Too bad.

Tellingly, Donaldson’s committee assignments – pretty much mirroring those from last year – did not include Petit’s request for new special committees on transportation and housing. Roiling the waters does have its penalties, after all.