And the beat goes on

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems we’ve had an awful lot of elections this year. First on the ballot were the June primaries, then special elections and primaries in August and soon, the general election on Nov. 8. Is it any wonder why too many people don’t vote at all? Been there, done that, over and over.

And worse, we keep seeing the same people. Former county executive Pat Ryan will tee off on his third election on Nov. 8, for instance. He just keeps coming. There’s a large half-sized billboard on the Strand in downtown Kingston that reads “Vote for Pat Ryan for Congress” with an addition hanging from the bottom reading “Again!” We know, Pat. We know.

There’s old faces and new faces looking for love in all the wrong places out there. Jen Metzger, Democrat for county executive, will run in her first county-wide race since losing her bid for reelection to the state senate two years ago. Metzger’s senate district included only five Ulster towns.

Ulster town Republican supervisor Jim Quigley, a household name in his native Ulster, hasn’t run county-wide since 2008, so in that respect he and Metzger are on similar footing, except that Metzger enjoys an almost 2-1 enrollment advantage.

Quigley’s seemingly sudden announcement of his candidacy less than a day after Metzger won her party’s nomination at open convention, caught a lot of people by surprise. But it would appear the big fella had been plotting this move for quite a while. Within a week Quigley for executive flyers were in the mailboxes of residents and they don’t produce and mail those things overnight.

Quigley did make one tactical error on which Metzger quickly pounced in revealing his nomination took place behind closed doors. Politics by “the bosses,” cried an indignant Metzger after coming out of a convention where fewer than .005 percent of enrolled Democrats were given a chance to vote. As Metzger knows and Quigley bemoans, about the only workers left in the Republican Party are in drones. 

Ryan, 40, will face two-term Orange County assemblyman Colin Schmitt, 32, in the newly-drawn 18th congressional district. I don’t know Schmitt from baseball hall of famer Mike Schmidt, but he strikes me as something of a cowboy.

Referencing a June 22 article in the Albany Times Union, Schmitt accuses Ryan of “marching with defund the police radicals” in a flyer reaching mailboxes last week. Ryan is thoroughly wok, but the image of what appears a much younger Ryan superimposed over what looks like arsonist rioters after the George Floyd killing is, by any fair measure, way over the top. From a new, young candidate like Schmitt I expected more than the half-truth bombast so common in politics these days.

I don’t mean this as an afterthought, but also appearing before the chamber audience will be Republican Dutchess County executive Marc Molinaro, a candidate in the new 19th congressional district. Josh Reilly, Molinaro’s Democratic opponent, declined, citing “scheduling conflicts.”

Scheduling conflicts? This guy was booked at 8 a.m. on a weekday morning? How about cold feet?

Or maybe he couldn’t face the 60-mile drive from Ithaca (where he lives) to faraway Kingston.  Program sponsors chairs should give Molinaro Reilly’s time.

In any event, candidates can explain their positions at Tuesday’s Ulster Regional Chamber of Commerce at Best Western in Kingston. Festivities start at 7:45.

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HATS OFF TO RUPCO, AGAIN! – Most local politicians talk about the “housing crisis,” now at least a decade in the making and worsening, but Kingston-based RUPCO actually builds affordable housing for the neediest among us.

OK, Ulster County will be demolishing the old county jail on Golden Hill for similar housing, but it took over 15 years since the jail was abandoned.

Kevin O’Connor, RUPCO’s long-time CEO, always a man with a plan, opened the company’s latest rendition, called “Landmark Place” last week.

I stopped by the grand opening to nosh on some RUPCO pastries and chat with tenants and staff. “How many formerly homeless people are housed in these (30-odd) efficiency apartments,” I asked a staffer. “All of them are for homeless people and we’re full,” she said. On opening day. The remainder have been designated for seniors and families. Rents are half the more than $1,800 a month “market rate” for a 700-square foot one-bedroom apartment, with utilities included.

One reason affordable housing is so hard to come by is that it’s so darn expensive. Dividing RUPCO’s 66-unit Landmarks project into its $25 million cost, produces an average apartment cost of almost $380,000 each. One can still buy a pretty nice house in our area for that.

I’ve known O’Connor for some time but worry that he’s become something of a workaholic. We used to play golf once in a while, so I invited him to play nine with my Woodstock buddy Bob (Scratch) Young.

“How about Friday?” I asked him at the grand opening.

“Gee, I don’t know,” he said, perhaps with his next project in mind.

“You’re the boss,”, I insisted. “You can take a couple of hours off.”

No dice.

I think I got it. Foremost in O’Connor’s mind, because he talks about it all the time, is a waiting list of over 1,000 singles and families. Against that, 66 units, no matter how welcome, are but ripples in the ocean.

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HERE AND THERE – I see where the county legislature is debating on whether to lift county sales taxes until the end of the year on clothing under $110. Debating? Do these folks live under rocks? The county is awash in cash, sales tax receipts are off the charts, even if too many families are hard-pressed to clothe kids for the new school year. Good thing for legislators that they’re not on the ballot this year.

As a long-time columnist, I’ve always been an avid reader of other columnists, regardless of subject or bent. I follow how they frame an argument, assemble their points, make a case.

Freeman gardening columnist Bob Beyfuss has always been one of my favorites. A retired Cornell Extension spokesperson, Bob’s advice is always clear, concise and useful.

Except two weeks ago when he did his annual column on the best time to plant grass, like now.

As most friends know, I am certifiably loony when it comes to my lawn. A healthy planting requires careful tending (I abhor fertilizers) and lots and lots of water.

Beyfuss, a Schoharie man to his bones, in omitting any mention of water, in his most recent reiteration, may not have been aware of the drought restrictions in Kingston and many other local municipalities.

So, I wrote him a polite email reminder about water and he wrote me back a nice mea culpa. He mentioned Kingston’s water woes in his next syndicated column. As such it would appear we can still communicate directly with mighty media.

While we’re on the subject of water, I took a nice ride in my convertible on a sunny Saturday afternoon for a closeup look at Cooper Lake where the Kingston gets it water. I had hopefully expected that with all the heavy rain we’ve had in recent weeks that the city would rescind its no-watering (for lawns) rule.

I’m no expert, but Cooper Lake looked mighty low to me. Hold onto those garden hoses!

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