Normal speculation

 Sometimes we pundits overthink things, or more often not enough.

This one may rise from the former.

About two weeks ago, Ulster exec Pat Ryan announced a $120 million federal stimulus grant for the county aimed at helping struggling businesses maintain payroll.  Ryan’s press releases tend toward the formulaic, in this case, as usual, listing a bunch of happy bankers (they’ll act as local contacts for businesses), alternately praising Ryan for his leadership and painting rosy glows on a most serious economic situation.

Keep in mind, this was a federal grant. I didn’t expect to see Trump’s name anywhere in a press release from a Democrat, but what about Rep. Antonio Delgado? Nothin. Nada. Nope. I don’t think it was because Delgado had absolutely nothing to do with the grant, carved out of a package worth hundreds of billions. He voted for it, after all. I know this from the fancy flyer Delgado franked to all his constituents, which might have led some to conclude the bill would fail without Delgado’s vote. (Passage of the biggest pork package in history was almost unanimous among 435 members of congress.)

Delgado’s omission got me to speculating that there may be some bad blood between two first-term up and coming Democrats, who in public profess undying love for each other.

Remember, Ryan ran against Delgado in the 2018 Democratic congressional primary, finishing a solid second in an over-crowded field. Might Ryan, just 37, who glories in being the county’s chief executive, even as the virus sucks up 12 hours of his hectic days, still relish a run for Congress?

Hey, I’m just trying to get us back to normal.

BUCKING THE GOV. – Fair warning: those who might think about challenging the governor’s pandemic lockdown policies should know they could be in for sudden, serious consequences. Andrew Cuomo’s daily advisories in fact carry the force of law.

To wit: A Herkimer cop, owner of a fitness facility, announced last week that he was going to reopen his “nonessential” business, regardless of Gov. Cuomo’s orders.

But wait. According to a state spokesman, violation of Hizzoner’s rules carries a $10,000 daily fine and “possibly imprisonment.” Whoa.

It would appear that this moonlighting cop isn’t trying to reopen his business because he loves the smell of sweat in his locked-up gym, but rather the threat of going bankrupt in what he views as arbitrary law enforcement. Last time I looked; they were still calling cops “first responders.”

Officer Jason Crippen told reporters his decision was driven by Cuomo’s retaining state-wide sanctions on what is, in his opinion, based “largely on the huge number of cases in the New York City area.” The rural town, according to published reports, has had less than 100 confirmed Coronavirus-19 cases.

Crippen says he’s prepared to enforce distancing rules at his shop, wearing of face masks and sanitizing of surfaces should he reopen. But will the governor listen?

NO WINE, NO ROSES – It would appear the days of wine and roses are over in county and city government, at least for the near-term.

Free-spenders Pat Ryan and Kingston mayor Steve Noble came into government with blank checks. Now, with sales tax revenue drying up and people unable to pay their property taxes, they’ll have to tighten belts. (As if the rest of us haven’t done so already.)

Ryan is projecting a $35 million hit (about 10 percent of the bloated budget county salons approved last December}. Noble offers similar (percentage) projections and advises staff that “furloughs” could begin in June. Aldermen were already tracking in that direction before Hizzoner awoke to realities last week.

There will be push-back. Recall that former executive Mike Hein faced similar decisions when he took office in January 2009. Hein sent a memo to all county department heads ordering a 5% reduction in their budgets. Then-county sheriff Paul Van Blarcum wrote back that he’d cut his budget by five points if Hein cut his. End of correspondence. Flash forward and current sheriff Juan Figueroa tells Ryan that with crime on the rise, he can’t spare a nickel.

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