OPINION: On Unity and Tolerance.


By Rebecca Martin

UNITY:  The state of being united or joined as a whole.

TOLERANCE:  The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular, the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

I think a lot about narratives in my community work because narratives and strategic messaging is key to achieving a good end result. Generally, when things turn out to worse, it’s because the majority doesn’t have good, factual information in a format that they can understand. Words matter – and when we fail, it’s because – at least in part – that our emotion got the best of us without a good, trusted (and factual) message to turn to.

So is it ‘unity’ or is it ‘tolerance’ that is most realistic in America if a dialogue is our end game?

For everyone to be joined as a whole” as unity suggests, means the majority of one side needs to move over to the other. That’s beyond optimistic. That’s pollyanna.

Tolerance on the other hand, “the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular, the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with” seems achievable in potentially bringing together more who live in a polarized state. Neither side loses anything by listening and, there is hope to learn something in that process. There is also a better chance at keeping relationships that matter intact.

There have been moments in the last several months where I haven’t been very ‘tolerant’ while trying to ‘unify’. Recently, I was told by a conservative friend in a moment of emotion, “Now you know how I have felt throughout the Obama administration.” To try to unify in that moment made me more indignant.

Had my narrative been one of tolerance, I might have had a different personal reaction. I know this because in contemplating it now, I am already more at ease.

I work hard and want to learn. Being human, I make mistakes and have patterns that require me at times to take several turns around the barn. The topical in learning is to listen. The deeper, more complicated parts are to pay attention to the tapes running insistently through our minds, trying to decipher what is true and what is not at any given moment. The gift in the work is from time to time, having access to our unique roadmap with a wisdom that is both mysterious and ancient.

On an even more personal note, music is the most compassionate teacher that I know. Beyond what I want it to do for me in the material world, what it provides is that infinite wisdom that I refer to and my access to it relies completely on the truth. To struggle to get there isn’t a punishment. It is work to get back to simple. Synchronicity and glimpses of grace, its reward. The same could be said for having a child. For having a pet. For getting lost in the woods. What a glorious opportunity to see simple in it’s most raw and real form. These are all miraculous reminders as we age and when we think we have seen and know it all.

Therefore, my personal reflection and new narrative today, that of tolerance. I’ll place the concept of unifying in the sandbox where it belongs.

President Trump’s First 100 Days: New York State and Local Initiatives, Policy and Laws Document

 

By Rebecca Martin

VIEW: Trump Initiatives and NYS Local/State Policy and Laws

Something has changed throughout the recent presidential campaign that led to Donald J. Trump becoming president. Whichever end of the spectrum you found yourself on, the citizen dialogue was unlike anything I have ever seen before. Over the past couple of years, I have witnessed hateful rhetoric. Anonymous blogs and posters throughout social media debating half truths fed by the media, slaying people in ways that were unfair, inappropriate and in some cases downright violent in nature. As overt as it has been, the anger leading up to where we are today has been a slow and simmering trajectory downward.

So now what? America is about to inaugurate an unapologetically crass multi-national business man turned reality star celebrity  who lost the popular vote to become president.  A man without any political experience on the grand stage to be the leader of the free world.

It is our aim at KingstonCitizens.org with the issues that we take on to understand the law and process around them.  Whatever side one leans towards, we appreciate the bureaucratic processes in place because we know that when ciitzens choose to lean in, there is that to protect them as they come to better understand governing.  When it’s not working, then there is a need for reform. Coming to better know the law and process provides a baseline, and these safeguards will most certainly erode if citizens do not become familiar with them.

Since December, KingstonCitizens.org has spent time preparing a document that outlines Trump’s initiatives for the first 100 days of his being in office and disseminating their context to better match initiatives, policy and laws as they pertain to NYS, Ulster County and our locality. It’s a ‘living’ document that we will work on throughout 2017  with volunteers  to provide insight so that your civic efforts might be more focused and pointed.

Government on every level is a civic responsibility. Beyond Trump, the challenges that we face today is a burden that we all must shoulder. To protect our republic for generations to come – if a future republic is even possible at this point- we must hold our neighbors hand no matter who that is or how different their point of view is from yours – and get to work.

A special thanks to all of our volunteer contributors.

VIEW: Trump Initiatives and NYS Local/State Policy and Laws

 

VIDEO: Kingston Common Council Reaffirms Kingston as “Welcoming and Inclusive” in a Memoralizing Resolution.

VIEW
FAQ Sheet and a copy of the memorializing resolution and letter from Kingston’s faith community. 

We are pleased to bring you video from last night’s Common Council meeting, where more than 300 people turned out at Kingston City Hall. 62 speakers signed up to speak in support or in opposition of a memorizing resolution to reaffirm Kingston as a ‘welcoming and inclusive city’.

In the end, those who spoke in favor of the common council passing the memorizing resolution held a margin of about two-to-one.

After hours of testimony, the memorializing resolution was adopted 5/3. Those in favor were Eckert (ward 1), Scott-Childress (ward 3), Dawson (ward 4),  Carey (ward 5), Schabot (ward 8).  Opposed were Davis (ward 6), Mills (ward 7) and Brown (ward 9)

Following, the council discussed and voted upon a fee schedule for metered parking and kiosks.

Video from last evening is brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org with thanks to Kingston News.

 

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VIDEO: 1 of 5
Public Comment.  


VIDEO: 2 of 5
Public Comment.

VIDEO: 3 of 5
00:00 – 32:35
: Public Comment
36:24 – 36:56:  Resolution #7: Kingston as a Welcoming and Inclusive City.   Resolution Read by City Clerk.
36:57 – 42:50: Minority Leader (Republican) and Ward 9 Alderwoman Deb Brown. States her opposition to the memorializing resolution.
42:52 – 45:30: Ward 7 Alderman Maryann Mills. Table resolution.
45:36 – 49:01: City of Kingston Clerk reads resolution.
49:03 – 49:23: Motion to table. Alderwoman Deb Brown seconds.
49:25 – 50:02: Ward 3 Alderman Scott-Childress. “simply a clerical error. There’s no conspiracy here. I am fully against tabling this because of a simple clerical error.
50:03 – 54:45Ward 4 Alderwoman Nina Dawson “So much heart and soul went into this resolution tonight. To table it is an insult to everyone who came out, whether they were for it or against it.”
54:57 – 55:18: Alderwoman Maryann Mills clarifies why she requested the resolution to be tabled.  Confirms no vote.
55:19 – 55:42: Vote to table resolution is called. DEFEATED 6/2.
55:44 – End: Ward 3 Alderman Rennie Scott Childress
Which side are we on?  The tyranny of the federal government, or the freedom of the individual?  Which side are we on? The selfish cynicism of insularity or the warm welcome of community.  Which side are we on? The petty vindictiveness of the few or economic opportunity for all? I side with the freedom of a  welcome and inclusive community for every one of us. For this reason, I will vote in favor for this resolution.” 

 

 

VIDEO: 4 of 5
00:00 – 4:57:  Ward 3 Alderman Rennie Scott Childress.Which side are we on? The tyranny of the federal government, or the freedom of the individual? Which side are we on? The selfish cynicism of insularity or the warm welcome of community. Which side are we on? The petty vindictiveness of the few or economic opportunity for all? I side with the freedom of a welcome and inclusive community for every one of us. For this reason, I will vote in favor for this resolution.”
5:07 – 6:26 : Ward 4 Alderwoman Nina Dawson.  “To speak out as the Mayor is doing with this resolution shows true character.  Thanks for your patience (to the audience). Hopefully, we are going to do the right thing tonight.”
6:30 – 9:32:  Ward 8 Alderman Steve Schabot.   “I am going to tell you why I am going to support this…there is no such thing as irrational fear. Fear is fear. I can’t imagine anything worse in life than living in fear. If passing this resolution tonight alleviates even one person’s fear, then we have served our community well.”
9:34 – 12:06:  Ward 6 Alderman Tony Davis.Sometimes, we have to agree to disagree. Is this resolution needed now?  This resolution would not change how we do business in our community. My answer to this question is, Kingston has and will always be an inclusive city.  No resolution is needed to do this. I am a no vote.”
12:08 – 17:14   Ward 1 Alderwoman Lynn Eckert. “I rise in support of the memorializing resolution to reaffirm Kingston as a welcoming and inclusive city. I do so for both pragmatic and principled reasons. The Chief of Police has stated that the memorializing resolution confirms what we already do. We don’t ask people about their immigration status for a variety reasons. One, it would hinder the ability of KPD to keep the city safe. People won’t call them for help or call them with information that they need to protect all of us. Two, the Supreme Court has handed down multiple decisions that limit or protect local governments from enforcing federal law. We have a system of federalism and the national government can’t commandeer states to do their job. Local police officers aren’t trained to be immigration agents and local tax dollars shouldn’t go toward supporting unfunded federal mandates. This resolution stops short of declaring Kingston a sanctuary city. Opponents argue that we’re doing something meaningless by passing this resolution: it’s only symbolic. I disagree. How do you know it’s meaningless? Have you asked the people who have been target of the President-elect if the resolution is meaningless? They’ll tell you “no” — it’s important. Moreover, you wouldn’t be here speaking so passionately against it if were meaningless. Instead, it is a statement by the most representative body of Kingston – the Common Council – that we will stand together as a community.That statement of our values will inform the decision-making on boards and commissions throughout city. Finally, I understand that hardworking, law-abiding people feel like they follow rules and yet they’re suffering, they’re struggling to make ends meet and no one is giving them a break. I think that’s right and I think it’s wrong that working and middle class people haven’t received an effective increase in wages since the 1970’s while CEO pay has increased exponentially. But, the target of your anger and fear shouldn’t be undocumented immigrants. The dirty little secret is that they are here because our economy can’t function without them. Don’t punish them — punish the policy-makers who made these decisions to enrich the top 1% and not fairly share it with the rest of us.”
17:18 – 19:00:  Majority Leader and Ward 5 Alderman Bill Carey.  “I’m going to address the accusations that this memorializing resolution is ‘fluff’ or ‘meaninglessness’…it’s not meaningless to those who are effected.”
19:02 – 21:19:   Alderwoman Deb Brown continues to be concerned with federal funding, and addresses Alderwoman Lynn Eckert (who is an Associate Professor of Political Science with a doctorate and an interest in Constitutional Law, American Politics and Political Philosophy) reading the article 6 of the US Constitution.    Alderwoman Eckert responds, “There have been different definitions of federalism operating throughout American history….We argue about which particular theories of federalism to apply….The theory (of federalism) in operation in the past cases mentioned (Printz v. United States) is the idea of dual federalism. Where the state government operates in its realm where it’s given power, responsibility, and obligations, the federal government may not transgress. In a separate realm the federal government has its duties, obligations, and powers. We’re (the City of Kingston) not in anyway violating that (national power or supremacy). We are simply saying to the national government – this is your law, your realm of power and obligation, enforce it.
21:22 – 22:02 :  Alderman-at-Large James Noble calls for the vote on the memorializing resolution “reaffirming Kingston as a welcoming and inclusive city.” It  is ADOPTED 5/3.   (IN FAVOR: Eckert, Scott-Childress, Dawson,  Carey, Schabot.  OPPOSED: Davis, Mills, Brown)


VIDEO: 5 of 5

Legislation and discussion on the fee schedule for metered parking and kiosks.

STATE OF THE CITY 2017: Mayor Steve Noble Annual Address.

 

Mayor Steve Noble’s annual “State of the City” address. This video was brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org with thanks to Kingston News.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mayor Steve Noble
State of the City Address
2017

“Good evening. I want to thank you all for joining us tonight for what I am confident will be another fine example of democracy in action. While I appreciate the opportunity to share with you what I believe are a number of significant accomplishments we have achieved together, tonight, just like any other night, is about the work. Following this annual message, the Common Council will resume its regular business, starting with an opportunity for public comment. It is this mechanism- this opportunity in which any individual can independently and respectfully express their support, opposition or general thoughts on city matters- that ensures your elected officials hear you. For those of you who showed up tonight to support a memorializing resolution I proposed reaffirming our great city as a welcoming and inclusive community- thank you. For those of you who showed up tonight to oppose this memorializing resolution- I want to thank you as well. If one of our greatest achievements will be to have created an environment in which the public is welcomed and engaged in the decision-making process of its local government, then I know we will have done right. While it is uncomfortable to hear opinions or views that are in such great conflict with our own, it is how we handle this conflict and how we treat those with whom we are in conflict that defines who we are as a community. I believe that tonight, just like any other night, Kingston will shine.

This year, some of our most challenging issues transcended the boundaries of our small city and reflected a greater divide of philosophy and values in our nation. Questions of gun control or immigration, both of which are long-standing, divisive topics that have yet to be resolved on the national level, entered into our daily conversations with our neighbors and friends. We eventually updated our City’s firearms law and are now considering a memorializing resolution to reaffirm the City of Kingston as a welcoming and inclusive community for all, including immigrants- something that has never been done before in our community. These have not been easy topics to broach and deliberate. Even our discussions around parking fees, an issue that most cities must grapple with, have delved into important questions of fairness and equity.

However, the fact that our community members hold such conflicting and opposing values from each other reminds me that Kingston is indeed a diverse community. It is my responsibility as your Mayor to ensure that each of you, regardless of our differences, is heard.

As we reflect upon our successes and challenges of 2016, I am more confident than ever before that we are moving forward. As you will see from the annual report that will be posted on our website this week, our departments are providing an incredible variety of essential public services.

A glimpse into our successes

Economic Development
In early 2016, I made the decision to bring together our offices of Economic and Community Development into one department and increase the capacity of that department so that the City could more systematically and effectively secure and manage its grant resources. As a result, the City of Kingston achieved a record $3.3 million in grant awards from the highly competitive NYS Consolidated Funding Application. These grant awards are in addition to the $564,500 in new grant funding secured this year and the $9 million the office managed of existing grant funding, as well as another $1.4 million in Community Development Block Grant funding.

In order for our City to achieve and sustain a thriving economy, we must continue to explore public and private partnerships. Our efforts to secure major grant funding in the areas of infrastructure, transportation, housing and sustainability, along with appropriate policy changes, lay the groundwork for private investment. The City made great progress in these efforts with the adoption of the new comprehensive plan, which I see as a roadmap to Kingston’s future. My administration is working to ensure that all future development and economic growth initiatives are aligned with this comprehensive plan.

In 2016, I proposed and was supported by the Kingston Local Development Corporation board to establish a Micro Enterprise Loan program to assist new and expanding small business ventures. This was in addition to an expansion of the target area of the KLDC’s façade program, which now accepts applications from businesses throughout the City wishing to improve their façades.

This year also marked the official launch of the Kingston Midtown Arts District, which includes a variety of artists, small business owners and residents committed to ensuring that the arts are embraced by the City. I was also proud to support the City in becoming a co-sponsor of the annual Made in Kingston event, which features entrepreneurs, small business owners, makers and artists from throughout our area.
Infrastructure

We have made excellent strides in addressing our aging infrastructure. Major projects have included the Combined Sewer Separation Project at Broadway and Grand Street, the removal of the deteriorating Greenkill Avenue Bridge, the reconstruction of the North Front St. parking lots, and the reopening of Washington Avenue following a five year disruption in service. While these infrastructure projects often required significant changes in traffic patterns, thanks to the patience of our community and the hard work of our staff and contractors, our infrastructure is stronger and more resilient.

Public Safety
In 2016, both our Kingston Police Department and Fire Department provided critical emergency services to our community members in their most vulnerable moments. The Kingston Fire Department responded to 5,044 calls, including 20 incidents of resuscitation efforts due to cardiac arrest or overdose. The Kingston Police Department, while navigating high pressure situations and investigating serious crimes, received approximately 26,000 dispatched to service calls.

Public Works
Our Department of Public Works is keeping Kingston on track. Just in refuse and recycling alone, the Department provided incredible services throughout the City. In the last year, over 7,100 tons of refuse was collected and over 2,000 tons of materials recycled, saving taxpayers over $215,000. As we’ve seen, this Department does not stop, regardless of the weather or the extent of work required. We can go about our daily lives because of their efforts to ensure that we have a clean and productive environment to live and work in.

Communication
When I first announced my candidacy for Mayor, I made a commitment to change the way our government communicates. I strongly believe that if we are not clear, we are not properly serving the public. Each of you should know what my administration is doing to advance our city. That is a mandate that I feel passionately about and one in which I will continue to strive to reach. Since I entered into office, the public continues to raise the bar. That’s good. The public is expecting and demanding more than ever before and it should. Communication isn’t just about distributing press releases or making headlines. It’s about building trust and respect in the community and supporting the public to get actively involved in the decisions being made on their behalf. Whether it is with residents, business owners, members of the media or other elected officials, I will continue to communicate clearly, professionally and with the utmost respect.

Recreation
As most of you know, before assuming the role of Mayor, I had the great honor of working in the City’s Parks and Recreation Department. It was through this work that I had the opportunity to work with an excellent team of dedicated employees eager to make Kingston a better place for our children, adults and seniors. We worked to build programming that not only showcased our amazing network of city parks, but improve the lives of our participants. Noting this, I am very proud of the work this Department did this past summer, with support from the Community Development Block Grant, to provide a free summer parks program experience for nearly 100 children from our Rondout Neighborhood Center and Everette Hodge Community Center after school programs. In addition to connecting these children to a summer parks experience that was previously unattainable, the City partnered with the Kingston City School District to provide free, nutritious lunches for any children in the parks program in need.

Budgeting
I am very proud of the work we collectively did to prepare the 2017 budget. For the first time, members of the community were provided with opportunities to directly participate in the budget process. This included an online budget survey, a community forum, and multiple Council Committee meetings. In a time when other communities exceeded the NYS tax cap, we lowered taxes. We made significant progress in addressing the homestead/non-homestead inequities. We allocated $500,000 in contingency for the settlement of contracts and unanticipated expenditures. We built a sound budget that preserved essential services, avoided layoffs and gave us the tools to respond to the ever evolving needs of our City.

Moving Kingston Forward
I am incredibly optimistic that the groundwork we have laid in 2016 will bring to bear the tools and resources we need to be successful moving forward. In 2017:

We will continue to build a stronger tax base
After a competitive public process and interviewing extremely qualified applicants, I am pleased to announce that we will be working with local architect, Andrew Wright, of Wright Architects to develop the old parking garage site in Uptown Kingston. As we know and have discussed at length, Uptown Kingston needs additional parking infrastructure. In order to meet this need and, more broadly, to develop this property into a mixed use site with a public parking garage that will complement the retail and housing resources already in place, my administration will be working with Wright Architects to meet strict milestones over the next year and a half. In the first 6 months, Wright Architects will create schematics for the site. Within 12 months, it is expected that they will bring investors to the table on this project. Finally, in 18 months, it is expected that a site plan will be ready to submit to the Planning Board for review.

My administration will also be working to support developers to responsibly build additional market rate, senior and affordable housing throughout Kingston. Finally, the Office of Economic and Community Development will continue to provide support services to new and expanding businesses in the City.

We are going to build a sustainable Kingston
We are going to strive to be the first city in New York State to be recognized as a “Clean Energy Community”. The Council is considering a resolution tonight to move this effort forward and I thank them for this consideration and support.

We are going to continue to add alternative fuel vehicles to our fleet, moving closer towards our goal of transitioning 20% of our fleet to alternative vehicles by 2020, as per our Climate Action Plan.
In 2017 we will also commence work on our LED lighting project.
We will be conducting a Natural Resource Inventory, which will allow us to plan for future growth. This inventory is vital for planners and developers to understand where sensitive habitats exist. Finally, we will be preparing our Open Space Plan. This is critical to ensure that we have the necessary green space for future generations to come. As an environmentalist, a local leader, and above all, a father, building a sustainable community for our children remains a top priority.
We are going to address housing issues and work to ensure that all residents live in safe, quality housing.
Through the hiring of an additional code enforcement officer, we will enforce the City’s new “Zombie Property” law and crack down on vacant and abandoned buildings, reducing the negative impact of these buildings on surrounding properties. We will also build off of our 2016 efforts of establishing a Land Bank to further address vacant properties causing blight in our community. We will work with the Office of Corporation Counsel to more quickly move surplus properties back onto the tax roll through an auction process beginning this spring. Finally, we
will work closer with the Kingston Housing Authority’s Board to ensure the KHA is providing the affordable, high quality housing our residents need and deserve.

We are going to change the way people move around
In 2017, we are launching a comprehensive transportation strategy we are calling “Kingston on the Move” My administration’s vision for Kingston’s transportation systems is about moving and connecting people to places.

When I think of our future transportation, this is what I see:
I see a City of Kingston that is an easily accessible community, connected by a reliable and simple-to-use transportation system which supports all individuals to move about safely and efficiently. Kingston’s system will be based on one simple premise- transportation is about helping people move forward. This transportation system will support users to enjoy the path to their destinations by providing a seamless transition from motorized to non-motorized transportation options, allowing users to effortlessly move throughout the City.

In 2017, we will be working to move this vision closer to reality. We will:
Launch an online transportation grant portal to allow citizens an opportunity to view the purpose and current status of all transportation grants. The site work has already begun and can be followed at www.kingston-ny.gov/KingstonOnTheMove

Our Kingston Point Rail Trail and Hudson River Promenade Projects will go out to bid, bringing us another step closer to construction.
I believe strongly that our public transportation system needs to be changed and my administration is committed to working with Ulster County to make this happen. We are actively involved in the Ulster County Transit Integration Study which is currently evaluating the feasibility merging our Citibus operations with the Ulster County Area Transit.

With $1.4 million in grant funds recently awarded for our Broadway Streetscape Project, our goal of changing the look and functionality of this outdated thoroughfare is moving forward. While there are many moving parts to this project, we expect to be unveiling final designs of the project this February.

My administration is committed to ensuring all of our community members can access our services and infrastructure, regardless of ability. In 2017, we are launching our new ADA Transition team, which will be working to document barriers to accessibility throughout our city and develop short term and long term plans to address these deficiencies.
Finally, as part of our “Kingston on the Move” Transportation Strategies, we will continue our efforts to redesign and upgrade our parking management systems. As I’ve recently announced, a workgroup of residents, business owners, employees, elected officials and other stakeholders will be formed to further develop our parking plans.

We are going to continue to build a stronger city workforce
Much of my time this year has been spent on redefining the City’s management and supervision structure and supporting my staff to establish and meet well-defined goals and expectations. In 2017, we will work to negotiate 3 expired union contracts. We will expand our recruitment strategies to continue to diversify our workforce with well-qualified applicants. We will also work to develop a work order system that manages the workflow of our city departments and allows the public to submit and follow work requests online or through a hotline and monitor the progress of their requests until completion. Finally, we will implement an advanced time and attendance system for all city employees.

We are going to build an open and accessible government
We will be establishing fiscal transparency and open data tools on the City’s website to share this data with the public. I will be establishing a Committee on Open Government to advise my administration on strategies, best practices and tools to support our open government principles. Finally, we will implement a new workflow and agenda management system to improve the availability and timeliness of committee agendas and minutes on the City’s website.

We are going to bring together partners to improve public health
As a founding member of the Live Well Kingston coalition, I am well aware of the negative impacts obesity and other chronic illnesses can have on our community. I am committed to bringing together community partners to further our wellness efforts and establish the Live Well Kingston Commission. I have sent a request to the Council to establish this Commission and look forward to their consideration.
As you can see, we have a lot of work ahead of us. It’s hard for me to think that just a year ago I was standing here reciting my oath and committing to serve all of you. I find myself, even a year later, humbled by this incredible responsibility. It has been a challenging, but fulfilling year and I am looking forward to seeing what we can get accomplished together in the year ahead.

I know that there is a lot of fear in this world; it’s a deep, palpable sensation that has the power, if we allow it, to harm our community by inspiring anger, blame and mistrust. We cannot change the world but I assure you that by working with our neighbors instead of against them, we can build a far more resilient city. I ask that each of us make a commitment: instead of being the loudest voice in a room- listen. Instead of offering an ultimatum- find common ground. Instead of pushing people down- lift each other up. These are not the values of a democrat or a republican. These are the principles of a community that is capable of overcoming adversity and defining its own future.

As we join together to tackle the opportunities and challenges that await us in 2017, I want to thank my staff, members of the Common Council and all of you for helping us move Kingston forward.”

FAQ Sheet: The City of Kingston as a “Welcoming and Inclusive City”.

Here are key facts to clarify much of the misinformation on the matter of Kingston’s proposed memorializing resolution on being “welcoming and inclusive”. We hope it is helpful to citizens of Kingston as they prepare their testimony on Tuesday, January 10, 2017.  Please arrive at Kingston City Hall (420 Broadway, Kingston – council chambers) at 6:45pm to sign-up to speak and to get a seat. The Mayor’s ‘state of the city’ address will begin at 7:00pm, and the Common Council will have their January council meeting following at approximately 7:30pm.  Public comment will take place at that time.

 

VIEW
Initial letter from 21 City of Kingston faith groups requesting Kingston declare itself a ‘sanctuary city’.

VIEW
Memoralizing Resolution
“Kingston as a Welcoming and Inclusive City”.

IS THE CITY OF KINGSTON DECLARING ITSELF A “SANCTUARY CITY”?
No.  In the memorializing resolution, although the “whereas” states that “these practices are generally considered to be ‘sanctuary city’ principles”, the proposed action of the City of Kingston is simply to reaffirm that it has always been and will always be that of “a welcoming and inclusive city”.

VIEW: Mayor Steve Noble’s reasoning why the memorializing resolution is not titled a ‘sanctuary city’.  (Begins at 23:56 – 25:28)

WHAT IS A MEMORALIZING RESOLUTION
?
A memoralizing resolution does not set forth policy or law. Instead, it creates text to cause people to remember. It is a tool to both educate and in this case, to remind us of our principles and values.

WHY IS THE CITY OF KINGSTON PROPOSING A MEMORALIZING RESOLUTION THAT “REAFFIRMS KINGSTON AS A WELCOMING AND INCLUSIVE CITY”?
In November of 2016, Kingston’s Mayor Steve Noble received a letter from 21 members of the local faith community requesting that Kingston declare itself a ‘Sanctuary City”.  In response and following process, the mayor issued a communication to Alderman-at-Large James Noble requesting that their concerns be referred to the appropriate council committee for discussion. The matter was assigned to the Kingston Common Council’s Laws and Rules Committee. After  much research and collaboration, extensive questioning of both Mayor Noble and Police Chief Egidio Tinti, debate and public comment, a memoralizing resolution was drafted based on models adopted by municipalities from across the nation, reaffirming Kingston as a “welcoming and inclusive city”.  The memorializing resolution passed positively out of the Kingston Common Council Laws and Rules Committee for a full council vote on January 10th.

VIEW:  Mayor Steve Noble explains the context of the memorializing resolution (begins at 1:10 – 7:54).

IS THE CITY OF KINGSTON VIOLATING ANY LAWS BY PASSING A MEMORALIZING RESOLUTION THAT “REAFFIRMS KINGSTON AS A WELCOMING AND INCLUSIVE CITY”?
No.  The City of Kingston Police Chief Egidio Tinti reviewed the memoralizing resolution and found no conflicts with existing practices and procedures of the Kingston Police Department.   Immigration is federal law, not local law. Kingston, and all US municipalities, is barred from making laws relating to immigration.

IS THE CITY OF KINGSTON AT RISK OF LOSING FEDERAL FUNDING BY PASSING A MEMORALIZING RESOLUTION THAT “REAFFIRMS KINGSTON AS A WELCOMING AND INCLUSIVE CITY”?
No. The current memoralizing resolution does not change any existing laws, rules or practices of the City of Kingston or the Kingston Police Department and is consistent with the principles of the NYS and US Constitution.

READ: “Trump Can’t Force “sancutary cities” to enforce his deportation plans.” in the Washington Post. 

Public Educational Forum “The Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline: What Ulster County Citizens Need To Know” on January 28, 2017

Jon Bowermaster will be in attendance to speak and to show his film “A Pipeline Runs Through It’ to be presented at the beginning of the event.

By Rebecca Martin

KingstonCitizens.org to host a public educational forum and discussion called “The Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline: What Ulster County Citizens Need To Know and How Local Action Makes Global Impacts” on Saturday, January 28, 2017, at Kingston City Hall Council Chambers located at 420 Broadway, in Kingston NY from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.  Guest panelists include Jeremy Cherson of Riverkeeper, Sue Rosenberg of Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipeline/CAPP-NY, Jen Metzger of Citizens For Local Power and a Rosendale Town Councilwoman and Andy Bicking of Scenic Hudson. The short film “Hudson River at Risk 6: A Pipeline Runs Through It” will be presented by Writer, filmmaker and adventurer and six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council Jon Bowermaster.

The event is brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org. Co-sponsored by Riverkeeper, Citizens for Local Power, Scenic Hudson, CAPP-NY, the Local Economies Project and the Hudson Valley Farm Hub, Kingston Land Trust, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Woodstock Land Conservancy, Earth Guardians NY, Citizen Action NY and Sustainable Hudson Valley. With support from the City of Kingston, the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council, Town of Rosendale, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, Ulster County Legislature and 103rd District Assemblyman Kevin Cahill.

 

VIEW Event on Facebook for up-to-date information on this important local event.

 

Kingston, NY – Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings, LLC has proposed to construct two parallel pipelines that would run along the NYS Thruway and through private property—one pipeline carrying Bakken crude oil south from Albany, NY, to a refinery in Linden, NJ, and the other carrying refined products north. The 170+ miles of pipelines, together with nearly 13 miles of lateral pipelines, would impact 31 communities in Albany, Rensselaer, Greene, Ulster, Orange, and Rockland counties, as well as 30+ communities in New Jersey. The carrying capacity of each pipeline would be 200,000 barrels (or 8.4 million gallons) per day, which would more than double the number of trains carrying volatile Bakken crude to the Port of Albany at the peak of Bakken crude production in 2014.  The increase in crude-by-rail volume means that the project will also impact many communities north and west of Albany through which the CSX and Canadian Pacific rail lines run.

The proposal has the potential for significant environmental impacts, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which stated that the Pilgrim Pipelines project “…would cross 257 streams and waterbodies (232 along mainline pipelines and 25 along laterals), including the Hudson River (two times) and multiple major and minor tributaries of the Hudson.  There are also 296 (9.2 linear miles) crossings of wetlands; including 25 crossings of NYSDEC protected freshwater wetlands (approximately 19 along mainline pipelines and 6 along laterals). Additionally, there will be four pump stations and 215 permanent access roads and temporary access roads at every mile.”

Pipelines would run through several sections of the City of Kingston, with even more pipelines crossing through the Town of Ulster.  It is also being proposed that one of the four pump stations (the only one that would be located near a residential area)  is to be placed only 200 feet away from a trailer park on Sawkill Road in Ulster, also potentially impacting the Town of Kingston, as well.

KingstonCitizens.org is pleased to present “The Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline: What Ulster County Citizens Need To Know and How Local Action Makes Global Impacts” on Saturday, January 28, 2017, at Kingston City Hall Council Chambers located at 420 Broadway, in Kingston NY from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.  The afternoon will begin with opening comments by award-winning journalist, author, filmmaker and six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council, Jon Bowermaster, followed by his short film “Hudson River at Risk 6: A Pipeline Runs Through It” (that features several of our guest panelists that afternoon).

A powerpoint on the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines project will be presented by our panelists that include:  Jeremy Cherson, Campaign Advocacy Coordinator, Riverkeeper, Sue Rosenberg, Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines NY (CAPP-NY), Jennifer Metzger, Director, Citizens for Local Power and Rosedale Town Board Member and Andy Bicking of Scenic Hudson.  They will give an update on the Pilgrim Pipelines proposal as well as discuss next steps in the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQRA) and what “Involved” agencies in Ulster County (including the City of Kingston, the Towns of Ulster, Marlbourgh, Lloyd, Esopus, Saugerties, Rosendale, New Paltz, Plattekill, and Ulster County) can do in anticipation of the draft ‘Scope’ document.

“Scoping” is a “process that develops a written document that outlines potential environmental impacts of an action (the project) that will have to be addressed in a DEIS or EIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement).  Its purpose is to narrow issues and ensure that the draft EIS is accurate and complete, ensuring public participation, open discussion, and inclusion of all relevant public issues for a final written scope.”  It will provide an opportunity for the public to identify local impacts that are of concern to them and their individual city/town in the Pilgrim Pipelines proposals path (that includes a pumping station in the Town of Ulster).

A question and answer period will follow, as well as a call to action and next steps for all participants.

The event is brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org. Co-sponsored by Riverkeeper, Citizens for Local Power, Scenic Hudson, CAPP-NY, the Local Economies Project and the Hudson Valley Farm Hub, Kingston Land Trust, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Woodstock Land Conservancy, Earth Guardians NY, Citizen Action NY and Sustainable Hudson Valley. With support from the City of Kingston, the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council, Town of Rosendale, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, Ulster County Legislature and 103rd District Assemblyman Kevin Cahill.

Snow date: Sunday, January 29th from 1 – 4 pm at Kingston City Hall.  For updates, visit KingstonCitizens.org on Facebook.

For more information, contact rebecca@kingstoncitizens.org.

MORE READING:

Proposed Pilgrim Pipelines Project: Why Kingston and the Town of Ulster Must Stay the Course.

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About KingstonCitizens.org: KingstonCitizens.org is a community-based organization committed to improving the quality of life of Kingston residents through accountability and transparency between the people and their local government. By providing citizens with current and important information through better communication, their work is meant to nurture citizen participation and empowerment through programs and education.

About Jon Bowermaster: Writer, filmmaker, and adventurer, Jon is a six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council. One of the Society’s ‘Ocean Heroes,’ his first assignment for National Geographic Magazine was documenting a 3,741-mile crossing of Antarctica by dogsled. Jon has written a dozen books and produced/directed more than fifteen documentary films.

His Oceans 8 project took him and his teams around the world by sea kayak over the course of ten years (1999-2008), bringing back stories from the Aleutian Islands to French Polynesia, Gabon to Tasmania, and more, reporting on how the planet’s one ocean and its various coastlines are faring in today’s busy world.

Jon lives in New York’s Hudson Valley. He is President of Oceans 8 Films and One Ocean Media Foundation, and chairman of the advisory board of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation and a board member of the Celine Cousteau Film Fellowship.

About Jeremy Cherson of Riverkeeper:  Jeremy earned his MS in Environmental Policy at the Bard Center for Environmental Policy in Annandale-on-Hudson in New York’s Hudson Valley. Jeremy first engaged on environmental issues in Washington, D.C., organizing support for the Waxman-Markey climate bill for Environment America in 2007. He has since been an AmeriCorps member in central California, monitored conservation easements in Alabama and Georgia, and served as an assistant camp director at an urban environmental summer camp in Atlanta. Jeremy now serves as the Advocacy Coordinator for Riverkeeper.

About Sue Rosenberg of the Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines (CAPP):  a retired social worker was originally from NYC, Sue has lived in Saugerties – in the beautiful Hudson Valley for the last 35 years. She has been involved with peace and social justice work most of her life and most recently co-founded Frack Free Catskills involved in NYS’s fight to ban fracking, is an organizer with Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines, is one of the founders of the Extreme Extractive Energy Collaborative- a nationwide collaboration of grassroots organizations fighting all forms of  extreme energy which negatively impact communities from extraction to use  and for a truly just energy future.

About Jen Metzger of Citizens For Local Power:  Director of Citizens for Local Power, Jen holds a Ph.D. in Political Science with a specialization in environmental politics and policy. She is also a Rosendale Town Councilwoman and introduced the first resolution in New York State opposing the Pilgrim Pipelines in November 2014 and various resolutions relating to the SEQR for this project. As a Councilwoman, she has been working to inform and engage other affected municipalities along the pipelines’ path on this issue.

About Andy Bicking of Scenic Hudson:  Andy Bicking oversees Scenic Hudson’s government advocacy. He has been instrumental in the passage of state budgets that have preserved conservation funding, and engaging members of Congress in environmental and farmland protection projects in the Hudson Valley. He also spearheaded advocacy leading to passage of an expanded bottle bill and the Hudson Valley Community Preservation Act, and advanced work of the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council’s natural resources sub-committee, the Hudson River Estuary Program, NYS Coastal Management Program, Hudson River Valley Greenway and Highlands Conservation Act, and been on the front lines of the campaign to rid the Hudson River of PCB contamination for nearly two decades.

Prior to his current position, Mr. Bicking directed Scenic Hudson’s environmental education, public events, and grassroots activism efforts. He oversaw the Great River Sweep, an annual volunteer cleanup of the Hudson River’s shores resulting in the removal of 400 tons of trash over 10 years.

Mr. Bicking holds a bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University. He has held leadership roles in a variety of community organizations.

Council Votes Tonight. Support the City of Kingston 2017 Municipal Budget.

By Rebecca Martin
The 2017 City of Kingston Budget passes unanimously out of Finance Committee on 11/28. Those in favor include Doug Koop, Rennie Scott-Childress, Tony Davis, Steven Schabot and Deborah Brown.
The 2017 City of Kingston Budget passes unanimously out of Finance Committee on 11/28. Those in favor include Doug Koop, Rennie Scott-Childress, Tony Davis, Steven Schabot and Deborah Brown.

This year, we have witnessed many unprecedented, positive changes in the city of Kingston. One of which was a whole new way of engaging the community with a budget forum held at Kingston City Hall in August as well as an online survey where citizens had the opportunity to voice in on the Mayor’s 2017 municipal budget.

Soon after, the finance committee met on a weekly basis for about six weeks to interview department heads who unveiled their department’s needs.  To be thorough, Kingston Mayor Noble also requested a special committee meeting to discuss special events, fees and to respond to any other concerns raised about the budget. I can’t recall a time when I have seen such transparent and collaborative efforts made between all elected and appointed officials in the City of Kingston.

After hours upon hours of research and discussion, the finance passed the city’s 2017 budget out of committee and on to last evening’s council caucus (12/5). Its fate is now in the hands of our entire common council who will vote to pass the budget or not this evening (12/6).

Some say that the 2017 COK budget is the first in decades where a balanced budget has been achieved that also includes a tax cut.  It’s a forward thinking document; one that places the COK on solid footing for the future.

The highlights include a tax levy of $17,650,940, which is a $0 increase from 2016. What’s really exciting is that it is slowly addresses the long standing issue of the homestead / non-homestead, decreasing the homestead tax rate from $10.16 per thousand to $10.10 per thousand and the non-homestead tax rate  from $18.31 per thousand to $18.13 per thousand.  Items such as raises were determined through a multi-member committee. It was a long and well vetted analysis, using comparable salaries from similar communities. The result moves toward fair pay for all (for both male and female employees alike) and gives Kingston a competitive edge when openings become available in attracting the best and the brightest.

The city will continue to provide extensive services at a cost effective rate, too. You’d be hard pressed to find a private hauler for the price that most are paying through the City of Kingston’s Department of Public Works. We know how important that is to Kingstonians.

BRINGING SOME CLARITY AND UNDERSTANDING TO POTENTIAL DEBATE THIS EVENING. 

With ample time for discussion throughout the estimated three month process, we still expect several items to come to the floor this evening for debate. Below, we’ve tried to pull together a little background to help citizens follow along.

Hiring a part time clerk for Kingston’s Common Council.

A part time common council clerk position was implemented to assist the council in their administrative needs. This would include creating timely agendas, minutes and even audio recordings of all caucus and council meetings.  It’s the sort of thing that we have been advocating for since we began this work in 2006. It’s an exciting prospect for all citizens. 

1) In the City of Kingston’s charter, the city clerk (who is appointed by the mayor) manages all “records, documents and other papers for the city”.  Their role also includes being the council’s clerk without any detail outside of going to monthly council meetings.  In other words, a single position is to maintain the needs of both the executive and legislative branches of government, the latter to a degree.

2) Some believe that it makes sense for our common council (legislative branch) to have its own PT clerk that can work independently of our city clerk (executive branch).  It may avoid any potential conflicts as to how much time is applied where, given that the city clerk position is appointed by Kingston’s Mayor.

What are some of the concerns? 

As we understand it, Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills wants the council to move the $16,000 allotted amount towards an asset management ‘manager’ position.

1) To date, the City of Kingston is awaiting recommendations from Barton and Loguidice, LLC, the consultant hired to provide the city with an asset management gap assessment several years ago. In 2015, recommendations in three phases were made to move Kingston toward adopting a citywide asset management software system. Long term maintenance and sustainability may be part of phase three, which could give the city a better understanding of the role an asset management ‘manager’ could play, including their qualifications and pay.  Some say that without this critical information, making any determinations on what and how to fund this position is premature.

2) There are also other key variables that would come into play, such as a grant that was written to cover a fleet manager position and that would manage all vehicles in the city. Kingston should learn if they have secured this grant soon and if so, the position might reduce the responsibilities of a future asset manager.

 

Making Kingston’s Corporation Council a full time position. 

Historically, Kingston’s Corporation Council has been a part time position, allowing those appointments to work for the City of Kingston while also maintaining a private practice. Although at a glance, none of which is reflected in Kingston’s charter.

1) Kingston’s Corporation Council is another appointment made by the mayor, serving at his/her pleasure. In the charter, it states that: “The Corporation Counsel shall be the primary legal advisor of the Mayor, Common Council and of all commissions, departments and other offices of the city. The Corporation Counsel shall conduct, supervise or monitor, as required, the prosecution and defense of all actions or proceedings brought by or against the city or by or against any of its officers in their official capacity and appeal from all such orders, decisions and judgments as he or she deems advisable.”

That’s a pretty large list of responsibilities for part time council. As a side note, and if their position is indeed 20 hours, what happens when/if they have not choice but to go over their allotment of time?

2) Some believe that it isn’t realistic or fair to expect corporation council’s full attention to city matters when they are also being pulled by a necessary private practice.  Others suggest that in addition, maintaining both private and public work in tandem could open up the possibility of conflicts of interest (especially in a small city such as Kingston).

We support the 2017 City of Kingston Municipal Budget. 

We appreciate the mayor, common council, all Kingston city departments and citizens for their hard work since the summer to craft such a exemplary budget for Kingston. Their efforts deserve our wholehearted support.  We encourage citizens to sign-up to speak tonight at Kingston City Hall (420 Broadway, Council Chambers at 7:30pm) in favor of passing the 2017 City of Kingston municipal budget through council. In doing so, we are placing our best foot forward as we go into the new year.

Proposed Pilgrim Pipelines Project: Why Kingston and the Town of Ulster Must Stay the Course.

By Rebecca Martin

15107480_617901495059186_7368560605403904128_nThe Proposed Pilgrim Pipelines Project: What Ulster County Citizens Need To Know and How Local Action Makes Global Impacts.  on Saturday, January 28, 2017 at Kingston City Hall located at 420 Broadway in Kingston NY from 1:00pm – 4:00pm (snow date January 29).  Guest panelists include Jeremy Cherson (Riverkeeper), Sue Rosenberg (Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipeline/CAPP) and Jen Metzger (Citizens For Local Power) and Andy Bicking (Scenic Hudson).    Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org. This event will be filmed.

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Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings, LLC has proposed to construct two parallel pipelines each up to 20 inches in diameter that would run from Albany, NY to Linden, NJ along the NYS Thruway and through private property. In total, the pipelines would cover some 170 miles (including five laterals totaling nearly 13 miles), impacting 31 municipalities in Albany, Rensselaer, Greene, Ulster, Orange, and Rockland counties. The pipelines would receive an estimated 200,000 barrels per day of Bakken crude oil by way of rail into Albany, proposing to ship the crude oil in one mainline south and bring refined products back north.

The pipelines would run through several sections of the City of Kingston with even more pipelines crossings through the Town of Ulster (TOU).  It is also being proposed that one of the four pump stations (the only one that would be located near a residential area)  is to be placed only 200 feet away from a trailer park on Sawkill Road in the TOU impacting the Town of Kingston, too. 

Proponents have said that pipelines will reduce the need to transport crude oil using rails (bomb trains) or barges (in the case of the Anchorage project).   Kate Hudson of Riverkeeper disagrees.  “Having barges won’t prevent pipelines, and having pipelines won’t prevent barges, and transport by rail won’t prevent either of the others. None of these industries has made a compact with the others, saying, “If you move the oil, we’ll back out of the business.

In other words, more opportunities to move crude oil simply means more crude oil.  Not less.

The proposal has the potential for significant environmental impacts according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, stating that the Pilgrim Pipelines project “…would cross 257 streams and waterbodies (232 along mainline pipelines and 25 along laterals), including the Hudson River and multiple major and minor tributaries of the Hudson.  There are also 296 (9.2 linear miles) crossings of wetlands; including 25 crossings of NYSDEC protected freshwater wetlands (approximately 19 along mainline pipelines and 6 along laterals). Additionally, there will be four pump stations and 215 permanent access roads and temporary access roads at every mile.”

Next up?  A Draft Scope Document.

Last week, KingstonCitizens.org participated in one of the ongoing CAPP (Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines) meetings that was held in Kingston.  In attendance to help us all to clarify steps were Scenic Hudson, Riverkeeper, Food and Water Watch and other representatives from as far away as New Jersey.  The volunteers and activists, long awaiting the Draft Scope in SEQR (State Environmental Review Act), were anxious for an update. (More on that below).

What is a “Draft Scope” document?   A detailed description can be found in the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) SEQR guideline where it is described as  “a process that develops a written document that outlines potential environmental impacts of an action (the project) that will have to be addressed in a DEIS or EIS (draft environment impact statement).  It’s purpose is to narrow issues and ensure that the draft EIS is accurate and complete, ensuring public participation, open discussion and inclusion of all relevant public issues for a final written scope.”   

To put it in simply, it is exactly like a table of contents for an environmental review.  Kingston being an Involved Agency means that we will have the opportunity to shape it.

What makes us an Involved Agency?

Digging up backyards in Kingston’s Ward One along the NYS Thruway is in the proposal, making the City of Kingston an Involved Agency in SEQR.    backyards-in-kingstonTherefore, our next steps must be to keep an eye out for the Draft Scope document. Once released, we will have a window for review so to make certain that any and all potential environmental impacts in our community are included for further study. (Although there is typically a 30 day window to make comments on the scoping document, Environmental and grassroots groups have already formally requested a 90 day draft scope comment period along with meetings in every impacted county, and every city in addition to one scoping meeting in NYC.)

Fortunately, elected and appointed officials in the City of Kingston have been incredibly responsive in a timely way to this proposal, hitting every mark with clarity and strength. Along with both the executive and legislative branches in concert here, Kingston’s CAC (Conservation Advisory Council) has taken an active role in reviewing materials and making excellent recommendations to our elected officials.  We thank them all for being such solid partners in this.

VIEW: Actions taken by Kingston City Hall

 

What’s holding up the Draft Scope Document?  Potential Environmental Justice Communities – and Kingston should be listed as one of them. 

As mentioned, we have been expecting the release of the Draft Scope Document for months now – ever since it was confirmed that the DEC and NYS Thruway Authority would co-lead the SEQR review process.  So what’s the hold-up?

Apparently, the Department of Environmental Conservation has two policies that have potentially come into play and this could potentially help us.

The first is Commissioner Policy #29 “Environmental Justice and Permitting“.  The policy “amends the DEC environmental permit process by identifying potential environmental justice areas; providing information on environmental justice to applicants with proposed projects in those communities; enhancing public participation requirements for proposed projects in those communities; establishing requirements for projects in potential environmental justice areas with the potential for at least one significant adverse environmental impact; and providing alternative dispute resolution opportunities to allow communities and project sponsors to resolve issues of concern to the community.”

15078787_617901581725844_873052972299286585_n

There are nine potential environmental justice (EJ) communities in New York State as it pertains to the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines project. This determination is based on data from the 2010 census.  Although implementing the policy is not mandatory, it appears that it is being considered and therefore, there will be no draft scope until an extra consultation plan is in place.

As you can see here, the City of Kingston has a potential Environmental Justice (EJ) area according to the attached DEC map. However, Kingston is not one of the potential EJ communities identified by Pilgrim Pipelines LLC in their now defunct preliminary DEIS.

The City of Kingston and its residents should push the DEC and NYS Thruway Authority (the co-lead agencies in SEQR) to require Pilgrim Pipeline LLC to conduct an enhanced participation plan under the DEC’s Commissioner Policy #29 for Kingston by using this attached LETTER modeled after Albany’s South End Community.  It’s important, too, that we do this before the end of the year.

The second policy brought to our attention was Commissioner Policy #42 “Contact, Cooperation, and Consultation with Indian Nations“.  Issued in March of 2009,  the policy provides “guidance to Department staff concerning cooperation and consultation with Indian Nations on issues relating to protection of environmental and cultural resources within New York State.”  

It is unclear how this will be implemented as it pertains to Pilgrim.  The policy is being reviewed, however, and will no doubt inform this process in one way or another.

Access to Information, Process and the Law.

Those who have followed us over the years know how important it is to us to advocate for easy access to good information. From there, understanding proper process and the laws that are in place to protect us is imperative.

There are many steps up ahead, so it was heartening to learn the other night that the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines in part is a NY State project, therefore the laws are specific to NYS and not the federal government. This works in our favor especially in today’s climate, and we are thankful to have SEQRA guide us toward the correct outcome. But it only can occur if more of us commit to seeing the process through until the end by insisting on facts, following process and utilizing the law that protects us.

We can do this.

What’s On The Ballot? Ulster County General Election November 8, 2016

new-election-day-2016jpg


FIND
your polling place in Ulster County

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Proposal #1:  “In order to improve services to the children and families of Ulster County, reduce the need to raise property taxes, and satisfy state mandates, the County of Ulster proposes to relocate the current leased site of the Ulster County Family Courtn, located at 16 Lucas Avenue in the City of Kingston, County of Ulster, State of New York, to a more suitable county owned property situated less than 800 feet from the City of Kingston line, located at 1 Development Court, Ulster Avenue in the Town of Ulster, County of Ulster, State of New York. Shall this proposition be approved?”          

YES    NO

 

DEMOCRATIC

Hillary Clinton
President
Website

Tim Kaine
Vice President
Website

Charles Schumer
US Senator
Website

Andrew G. Ceresia
State Supreme Court Justice (vote for two)
Website

Michael Mackey
State Supreme Court Justice (vote for two)
Website

Zephyr Teachout
Representative in Congress (19th District)
Website

Sara K. Niccoli
State Senator
Website

Kevin Cahill
Member of Assembly (103rd District)
Website

Sara W. McGinty
Surrogate Court Judge
Website

Philip Kirschner
City Court Judge
Website

REPUBLICAN

Donald J. Trump
President
Website

Michael Pence
Vice President
Website

Wendy Long
US Senator
Website

Andrew G. Ceresia
State Supreme Court Justice (vote for two) 

Michael Mackey
State Supreme Court Justice (vote for two) 

John J. Faso
Representative in Congress (19th District)
Website

George A. Amedore, Jr.
State Senator
Website

Peter Matera
Surrogate Court Judge
Website

CONSERVATIVE

Donald J. Trump
President

Michael Pence
Vice President

Wendy Long
US Senator

Andrew G. Ceresia
State Supreme Court Justice (vote for two) 

Michael Mackey
State Supreme Court Justice (vote for two) 

John J. Faso
Representative in Congress (19th District)

George A. Amedore, Jr.
State Senator

Jack Hayes
Member of Assembly (103rd District)
Website

Peter Matera
Surrogate Court Judge

 

GREEN

Jill Stein
President
Website

Ajamu Baraka
Vice President
Website

Robin Laverne Wilson
US Senator
Website

George A. Amedore, Jr.
State Senator
Website

Sharon Graff
Surrogate Court Judge
Website

WORKING FAMILIES

Hillary Clinton
President

Tim Kaine
Vice President

Charles E. Schumer
US Senator

Zephyr Teachout
Representative in Congress (19th District)

Sara K. Niccoli
State Senator

Kevin A. Cahill
Member of Assembly (103rd District)

Sharon Graff
Surrogate Court Judge

INDEPENDENCE

Gary Johnson
President
Website

Bill Weld
Vice President
Website

Charles E. Schumer
US Senator

Andrew G. Ceresia
State Supreme Court Justice (vote for two)

Michael Mackey
State Supreme Court Justice (vote for two)

John J. Faso
Representative in Congress (19th District)

George A. Amedore, Jr.
State Senator

Peter Matera
Surrogate Court Judge

WOMEN’S EQUALITY

Hillary Clinton
President

Tim Kaine
Vice President

Charles E. Schumer
US Senator

Sara K. Niccoli
State Senator

Sharon Graff
Surrogate Court Judge

REFORM

Wendy Long
US Senator

John J. Faso
Representative in Congress (19th District)

George A. Amedore, Jr.
State Senator

Peter Matera
Surrogate Court Judge

LIBERTARIAN

Gary Johnson
President

Bill Weld
Vice President

Alex Merced
US Senator
Website

 

What’s the Process? New Public Hearing Scheduled for the ICC (Irish Cultural Center)

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Last night, the Kingston Planning Board held its regular meeting with many items to discuss, one of which was the ongoing Irish Cultural Center (ICC) being planned in downtown Kingston. In September, citizens anticipated the planning board to make its determination in October for the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA),  but it was postponed because the ICC’s proposal scaled down its size (by 4.5%) after what appeared to be the public’s insistence for a project smaller in size and scale, and in pressing for a positive declaration in SEQR.  Later we also learned that it might have been influenced by a recent communication from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in late September.

When speaking to scale, they reported that, “The scale is very large in comparison to surrounding commercial and residential buildings.”  In regard to ‘Massing and Design Features’:  “The rectangular flat roofed façade with full width double height porches, does relate to the historic façade of the D+H Paymaster Building that was located adjacent to this site. Though the scale of the proposed building is much larger.

READ   SHPO’s letter to the Kingston Planning Board dated 9/30/16

No matter. A new draft of plans were presented last evening. The good news is that the ICC is listening. They have removed a proposed banquet facility and commercial kitchen that would eliminate parking by 2 parking spots (from 39 to 37). The proposed theater also decreased in size to 171 seats in total. There is a good description of all of these things in the attached video.

VIEW video from last evening’s meeting.

So what are the next steps in the process for the public? 

A public hearing is imminent, where the public will have the opportunity to view the new draft plan (available in the planning office, and not online) and then provide comments to the planning board for their consideration.  Last night, the client presented its new draft and the planning board announced what appeared to be a decided upon date for a public hearing of November 2nd.

According to the City of Kingston Zoning Code Section 405-30 , it states that #6 “ The Planning Board may hold a public hearing on the site plan if it determines that the matter is of wide public interest. If such a hearing is held, it shall be held within 62 days of the official submission date of the application, and notice shall be given at least five days prior to the date of such hearing by publication in the official City newspaper.”

If we are correct, that means that the planning board has 62 days to orchestrate a public hearing.  In this case based on a November 2nd public hearing, there are only 12 business days to respond and, according to comments made in the video, a final draft plan isn’t yet complete for your review even though the clock is already ticking.

So how does the planning board conclude review time before public comment? What’s their process and in this case, does it provide ample time for all parties involved?  It all seems so arbitrary even if it isn’t.

Finally, in an article released by the Daily Freeman today about the meeting last night, we were disheartened by the headline,  “Irish Cultural Center attorney says opponents of Kingston project are ‘dishonest’“.   After reviewing video from last night, we realized that Mr. Pordy’s comments were not taken out of context. In our 10 years of doing this work,  we can tell you that citizens truly advocating for their community are not dishonest. They deserve respect, and are wading through a maze of new information while trying to understand how city government works. It’s a very steep learning curve, and the majority of citizens that we have had the privilege in getting to know all want nothing more than to support their city’s best interests where they live and do business.   –  RM

The Hijacking of a City of Kingston Social Media Site?

A recent Hudson Riverport Post on Facebook
A recent Hudson Riverport Post on Facebook

In 2015, the city of Kingston initiated the Hudson Riverport, a project that had “engaged the services of the firm Perkins+Will to produce an Implementation Plan, a Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement (FGEIS) and a Market Conditions Update for 192 acres of Kingston’s Rondout Waterfront under the Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) Program of the NYS Department of State….The Common Council determined by resolution on October 6, 2015 that the Implementation Plan/Draft GEIS was complete and ready for public review and set a public hearing date. The comment period spanned October 8th through November 23rd with a public hearing on November 12th in Kingston City Hall Common Council Chambers.”  

On October 11, 2015 in the Daily Freeman, an article “Kingston Seeks Public Input on Brownfield Plan” was printed/posted announcing the city initiative as well as the City of Kingston’s Hudson Riverport Facebook page that apparently had been created in 2014.

Just about a year later on October 10, 2016, we happened to notice language in a post on the City of Kingston Hudson Riverport Facebook page that appeared odd.   To a recent article in the Daily Freeman, “Kingston Council Advances Downtown Flood Control Effort” it said in part that, “…The current administration should be thankful that the proposal was already written. All they had to do was get the design work started and resubmit the request for construction funds…”

That didn’t sound to us like the current office of Economic Development speaking.  It is a fact that the “Hudson Riverport at Kingston” is a Facebook page created, owned and operated by the city of Kingston. So why would it suggest that  “the current administration should be thankful that the proposal was already written…” for a project that it continues to organize and maintain?

Curious, we looked at the ABOUT section of Hudson Riverport of Kingston NY page, and there wasn’t a description or any details connecting the page to the City of Kingston initiative for which the social media site was created for when it was set-up.   (VIEW: Hudson Riverport ABOUT section).

Unfortunately, we have reason to believe that the page continues to be administered by a past City of Kingston employee without having permission to do so, or without any guidance from the current Economic Development or Grants Management office. After looking around a bit more, there is at least one other just like it. An inventory of these sites needs to be collected.

The good news is that the City of Kingston is currently looking into the matter and will take the necessary steps to rectify the situation.  Apparently, in the past a city employee could create a Facebook page on their own, without there being a secondary employee to be included as an administrator.  That has now been implemented. However, for sites created prior to 2016,  if a person who worked for the city being the sole adminstrator decides to act maliciously,  they might take the entire site down where information meant for the public record that was posted over the years would be lost. Lets hope that that doesn’t happen in this case.

Perhaps the good news here, in an instance like this and if it ends up being what we suspect, will expose areas from past city management that must be improved.

There is no doubt that successful projects is the work of many.  It indeed takes a village (or a city in this case).  But for City of Kingston property to be used without authority or direction is inappropriate and completely misleading to the public. Aren’t city of Kingston staff and our elected and appointed officials from both the past and present days to be working on behalf of the public good?  City property is the public’s property. When you are no longer employed, elected or appointed, hand over important information in good working order so that the city can continue to run smoothly during each of its transitions. It is each of their duties to do so.

ADDITIONAL READING:

READ:   Daily Freeman Article, requesting comments on Riverport be sent to city-owned email address.

READ:   Pages 9-10 of Ec. Dev. Brochure, documenting the project.

READ:  Daily Freeman article about the public hearing process for the plan.

VIDEO: Memorializing Resolution Passes Through Kingston Common Council Opposing Anchorage Proposal.

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By Rebecca Martin

VIEW:  Kingston Common Council’s Memorizing Resolution:  “Resolution 214 of 2016: Resolution of the Common Council of the City of Kingston New York, Approving a Memoralizing Resolution Opposing the Adoption of the U.S. Coast Guard Proposed Rule 2016-0132.”

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Tonight, the Kingston Common Council passed a memorializing resolution “opposing the adoption of the U.S. Coast Guard Proposed Rule” for the Anchorage project with a vote of 7 – 1 (Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills being the solo ‘no’ vote, stating she had more questions. At this time, she seemed to be supportive of the Shipping Corporations request to create 43 berths in 10 locations, opening up 2400 acres to new anchorages in some of the most ecologically sensitive areas of the river.  42 of the 43 berths are proposed to be “long term” which means that barges could anchor there for days. This is not as the vessel operators like to say as being “nothing new”.  This would represent a huge increase in the anchoring of commercial vessels in the Hudson between the GW Bridge and Albany, turning our river into a parking lot for large barges and vessels while they wait for dock space to open up in Albany.)  Ward 4 Alderwoman Nina Dawson was absent this evening.

READ:  “Citing navigational safety, Kingston alderwoman won’t oppose Hudson River Anchorages.”  (Daily Freeman)

The U.S.  Coast Guard is taking comments until Dec. 6 on its WEBSITE. With the passing of resolution 214 of 2016, the Kingston Common Council will now be in a position to submit theirs, and join Kingston Mayor Steve Noble who earlier in the year, on August 22, 2016, submitted comments ending with “The City (of Kingston) has spent decades revitalizing its waterfront. Many organizations have worked to clean up the Hudson, to protect its habitats and make it attractive to recreation and tourism. For safety sake, transient vessel berthing is acceptable. Long-term use is not.”

VIEW 26:46 – 29:00:  Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills defend her position in support of the proposed Anchorage project during the Kingston Common Council Caucus on 10/3/16.  It begins at 26:46 and ends at 29:00.  (Video brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org by Clark Richters of the Kingston News.)

VIEW 40:46 – 44:09:  The passing of the memorializing resolution video is below. It begins at 40:46 and ends at 44:09.  (Video brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org by Clark Richters of the Kingston News.)

Ward 1 Alderwoman Lynn Eckert prior to the vote states that, “We are obligated to protect the public good. There are too many people who rely on a healthy, ecologically sound Hudson River.”

On the Proposed Anchorage Project: What Owners of Local Businesses in the Hudson Valley Can Do.

Thanks to Kris Seiz of Storm King Adventure Tours who has drafted a sign-on letter regarding anchorages specifically for local businesses.  We invite the Kingston business community, as well as possibly the larger Ulster County business community, to participate.

To read the entire letter, place your mouse pointer on the document to scroll and to sign.

Speaking With One Voice On The Proposed Anchorage Project.

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By Rebecca Martin

** Public comment has been extended to December 6th. Our post reflects this change. 

VIEW: Commercial Shipping Organizations Proposal

It is always great when we have the opportunity to sit down with Riverkeeper’s Kate Hudson who is the Director of Cross Watershed Initiatives there.  Her clarity on all of the issues she is charged with, and in this case the proposed anchorage project on the Hudson River, is a big help to citizens all throughout the Hudson Valley Region.

One of our big take-aways was to come to understand where we are today on the crude oil transport front. Having more anchorages means that empty barges traveling up from NYC can cut their travel time in half to park until a berth opens up in the port of Albany where shipments of crude oil arrive. There is much activity in North Dakota, and crude oil is transported on ‘bomb trains’ to Albany. Shipping companies are waiting (perhaps ‘frothing’ is a better term) to transport it back down the Hudson River to NYC so it can be sent out and processed in NJ and PA. This will become more of a problem for us in the Hudson Valley.

Why?

Last year, “With the stroke of a pen, President Barack Obama ended 40 years of U.S. crude oil export limits by signing off on a repeal passed by Congress earlier in the day….The restrictions lift immediately under a provision in the spending and tax package that the president signed into law. Congressional leaders earlier in the week reached an agreement to end the trade restrictions, established during U.S. oil shortages in the 1970s, as part of a grand bargain that includes tax breaks for renewable-energy companies and refiners….Repeal of the crude-export restrictions reverses four decades of a policy that has defined the nation’s relations with the rest of the world. Without the trade limits, the U.S. — now the world’s largest oil and gas producer — is free to export its crude, as it already does with refined products including gasoline. The U.S. Senate passed the bill with a vote of 65-33 after the House approved the measure 316-113 hours earlier.”

Read more…