Delgado delivers

Outgoing Rep. Antonio Delgado gave what one observer termed “his best speech ever” at the county Democrats’ annual spring brunch in Kingston on Sunday.

Instead of the usual political pap popular on these occasions, Delgado spoke to the horror, the anger and the frustration of yet another mass public massacre, this time in a Buffalo supermarket that claimed ten innocent lives.

“There were tears in people’s eyes,” said Democratic elections commissioner Ashley Dittus. Dittus has been known to wave pom-poms at these kinds of party events. This time, she was not exaggerating.

Separately, in a press release, Delgado pledged “to do everything in my power as lieutenant governor” to prevent this kind of outrage from happening again.

If only he could.

Delgado is walking something of a thin line as he transitions from congress to Kathy Hochul’s lieutenant governor. At the mercy of a bewildering series of rules and regulations against tight deadlines, Delgado has yet to formally resign from congress. He in effect is playing two roles at the same time. Sunday’s brunch was an example.

Delgado, who lives in Rhinebeck, motored up from the Bronx where he was attending another function to barely make it to the end of the three-hour event in Kingston. Had he not accepted Hochul’s offer of lieutenant governor, he could have been there for cocktails. Instead, with the crowd of stalwarts anxiously looking to the doors, he emerged to give what some considered the speech of his life.

Rank and file Democrats, if not constituents in general, also have mixed feelings about their congressman’s elevation to high state office. Some worry that with the House of Representatives in play in only a few months, Delgado’s seat, if it goes to Republicans, could make the difference between majority and minority. I’m beginning to believe Republicans that one seat is not going to make the difference in November, maybe not even ten. I think they call it brainwashing.

Meanwhile, those who would fill the soon-to-be-gone congressman’s big shoes, can only stand and wait. There are those, however, who might be rushing the season. At the Rhinebeck farmer’s market on Sunday, town Democrats were set up behind a table that featured a framed photo of Ulster County executive Pat Ryan with the words “Pat Ryan for 19th congressional district.”

Ever the paranoic newsperson, I asked one of the volunteers if Ryan in fact had formally announced over the weekend. (And that I had missed it.) Yikes. “No,” she said, “but we like Pat.” Doesn’t everybody?

Along with the usual cast of shamelessly over-publicized local Democratic dignitaries at Sunday’s brunch, the other principal speaker was state comptroller Tom DiNapoli. And yes, he’s on the ballot this fall.

DiNapoli is a tireless campaigner, a happy warrior, as it were. Anytime you see a group of people talking on a street corner, Tom DiNapoli is there and he’s the one talking.

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LIVING HISTORY – The celebration of Kingston’s 150th anniversary as a city drew between 90 and 100 people at City Hall on Friday afternoon. It was a varied program, the product of numerous volunteers over the last few months. Mayor Steve Noble was intimately involved in preparation and acted as master of ceremonies.

Noble introduced fellow Democrats who brought with them the usual obligatory proclamations, staples for such occasions. Noble barely mentioned “other elected officials in attendance,” none of them by name. I won’t either. They know who they are. It was an abysmal turnout by city officials, given the occasion.

In descending order, I found assemblyman Kevin Cahill, a genuine history buff, the most entertaining and informative, followed by Ryan and then freshman Senator Michelle Hinchey. Actually, Hinchey, who acted like she was at one of her own press conferences, was kind of meh. She’ll get better.

Veteran historic reenactors John Thayer (as the city’s first mayor, James Lindsley) and Frank Marquette (as the city’s third mayor, William Lounsbury) did a cute skit as “negotiators during the transition between two separate villages (Rondout and Kingston) to form the modern city. It was a bit dry, given what must have been high drama between bitter rivals in 1871-72 between the villages. No municipality gives up its independence easily.

The crowd showed its appreciation for county clerk Nina Postupack’s efforts in preserving and displaying local history, to commissioner of jurors Paul O’Neil who worked with the late Edwin Ford to preserve and publicize city history. Ford’s successor, city historian Taylor Bruck, continues that tradition.

Cahill spoke the longest, as is his wont, but he did manage to contribute a bit of controversy.

First, he took a shot at fellow Democrat Delgado, a no-show who sent no regrets. Was he campaigning in the Bronx for lieutenant governor? Cahill took note. “Maybe our (new) congressman will attend next year at the 151st anniversary of our city’s founding,” Cahill said to eyebrows raised here and there.

Cahill’s comments on city hall itself, the magnificent mid-Victorian national treasure on Broadway that physically united the villages, were most telling, and long overdue.

With just the hint of edge in his voice, Cahill recounted how the city “abandoned” city hall in the year of the 100 anniversaries of its founding to relocate to what was called “new city hall” in Rondout in 1972.

“Rondout city hall was dedicated on almost exactly the centennial of the city,” he said. “Maybe Rondout won after all.” But not for long. Mayor T.R. Gallo restored what was then called “old city” hall to its former glory over a two-year period ending in 2000.

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NEXT – I’ll delve into the Cahill/Sarahana Shrestha primary debate for assembly staged by town Democrats in Saugerties last week in my next posting.