The City of Kingston’s Comprehensive Plan and Zoning: How Are They Related and What’s Happening With Them Right Now?

By Hillary Harvey

“A comprehensive plan is known as a general plan, master plan or land-use plan, and is a document designed to engage the public and to guide the future actions of a community. It presents a vision for the future, with long-range goals and objectives for all activities that affect the local government.”

Local politics can be a bit daunting.  Various officials play different roles, and multiple boards are responsible for various capacities and processes. All of these interrelated elements differ for each locality.  When it comes to learning about local politics, all you have to do is start somewhere.

I started in November 2015, as I sought to catch up on the Irish Cultural Center’s development proposal for my neighborhood, the Rondout.

In trying to understand a specific development proposal, I learned about all the various boards and their roles in the process.  In studying the zoning codes of my block in downtown Kingston, and then my neighborhood and the city, I learned that zoning codes are meant to serve as an important protection for residents and home-owners in any community.

So when I first heard about “Kingston 2025,” the city’s Comprehensive Plan efforts to update the city’s original Comprehensive Plan from 1961, I was curious about how it would impact the development proposal I was already studying as it involves a re-evaluation of the city’s zoning codes along with other planning processes.

A little back history.  The Comprehensive Plan process began in 2011 as the City of Kingston faced a problem.  According to the Comprehensive Plan, known locally as “Kingston 2025,” which was adopted on March 15th, 2016, “Since 1961, the City has made a number of changes to its land use regulations, some proactive based on study and planning, others reactive based on certain evolving trends or in response to specific development proposals.”

There were multiple plans and a ton of documents to cull through, and the city’s planning and zoning policies were no longer holistic.

Shuster-Turner Planning Consultants is the firm hired by the city to do the work involved.  Daniel Shuster worked with the City of Kingston on the 1961 Comprehensive Plan, which helped secure money for Urban Renewal in the 1960s,  and more recently was a consultant on the plan to build Hudson Landing on the Hudson River waterfront, a project which has not yet been realized. 

The city convened two committees, which met to discuss existing planning studies and issues confronting the city, and they reached out for public input.  The process culminated with a vision for the City of Kingston.

The Brownfield Opportunity Area study was initiated after the adoption of this vision, to further identify opportunity areas and considerations for future plan updates.   In “Kingston 2025” they write, “At its core, a comprehensive plan is a document that sets a destination for a community and maps a course to get there.”

A necessary part of process to realize “Kingston 2025” was to establish a Comprehensive Plan Zoning Subcommittee, which would revise the city’s zoning and align it with “Kingston 2025.”  Those meetings, which are scheduled approximately monthly at the convenience of the committee members, are open, public meetings.  In the summer of 2016, some of us began attending them in order to learn more about the process and what changes would be made.  We learned the logistics of where and when the next meeting will be held by regularly checking the city’s meeting calendar.

A major goal of “Kingston 2025” is to focus on three core areas of the city: Uptown, Rondout/Hudson River Waterfront, and Midtown.  In the first two, the work is mostly to consolidate and make sense of previously enacted plans. With the last, the goal is to create a Midtown Overlay district that would articulate new policies to revitalize the neighborhood.

VIEW:  Watch the Kingston Comprehensive Plan Zoning Committee

Our understanding is that the consultants are revising the zoning codes to make them more “user-friendly.”  We’re not clear yet on how that will be achieved.  It’s been said that they will completely rewrite the existing zoning codes, but there also doesn’t appear to be enough money to do that.  At the meetings, there has been talk of creating a revised zoning code framework from where further adjustments can be made.

Specific changes discussed to date include the following:

  • The eight residential districts in the City of Kingston will be consolidated into three, with resulting changes in allowable uses within those districts.
  • The Comprehensive Plan Zoning Subcommittee is currently in the process of streamlining the Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Heritage Area Commission, to consolidate those historic preservation boards into one, and they have assured those Chairmen, the public, and the State Historic Preservation Office (who is affiliated with the Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission) that there will be no loss of power to either commission.  VIEW “Combined Historic Preservation/Landmarks Commission Memo”  The Kingston News filmed many of the February and March 2017 discussions on this topic.   WATCH Comprehensive Plan Zoning Committee and Subgroup Meetings
  • While parking is a major discussion point throughout the city, there isn’t much conversation around it at the Comprehensive Plan Zoning Committee.  Recently, the Mayor appointed a Parking Work Group to study the city’s needs and goals, which does not seem to be affiliated with the Comprehensive Plan Zoning Subcommittee.
  • An important element of the “Kingston 2025” vision is about equalizing access to Kingston’s attributes.  One focus is to protect Kingston’s sensitive public areas, like the waterfront which is prone to flooding and threatened by sea level rise.  Another is to improve housing choices for residents of all incomes.  So far, discussion of the city’s sensitive areas has focused more on encouraging development, including streamlining a developer’s process for ease and swiftness and reducing restrictions on development.  Affordable housing has not yet been much of a part of the discussion.  Workgroups established at a recent equitable development workshop exposed some of these of missing key values in the current Comprehensive Plan Draft Zoning.
  • At the most recent Comprehensive Plan Zoning Subcommittee meeting in April, at the suggestion of Assistant Corporation Counsel, they voted 5-3 to create a local appeals process within the new zoning codes where the city would have the authority to over-ride the city’s regulatory boards in favor of developers in order to avoid the city’s involvement in Article 78 legal actions.  The local appeals process will either be decided by the Mayor or by a separate board created for this purpose and comprised of members of all the city’s boards.  (It wasn’t clear at the end of the meeting, which method had been decided upon.)    Considering the Zoning Board of Appeals already has its own appeals process, we assume this will primarily impact the Planning Board’s decisions and the city’s historic preservation commissions’ decisions.

Minutes and agendas from a few (but not all) of the Comprehensive Plan Zoning Subcommittee meetings are available on the city’s website.  Regular notes on meetings of the Comprehensive Plan Zoning Subcommittee have not been kept.  We have been told that the City Planner is working to piece together notes from Subcommittee meetings held in the past, however it has not yet been added to the city’s website.

This is an important issue that will affect the city’s planning process and development for years to come.  Citizens can have a huge impact right now by following the process and participating in these public discussions.  There will be a public hearing in the beginning of this summer where the public can weigh in.

Hillary Harvey is a photographer and writer, and a zoning code activist, working for transparency and responsible development that considers the welfare of residents and small businesses. Together with her neighbors, she runs Grow the R-T Responsibly, a neighborhood collective dedicated to that cause.  A yogi and devoted traveler, she lives in an old house in Kingston’s historic Rondout district with her college sweetheart and their three muses.

VIDEO: “On Immigration” – A Public Educational Forum in April

By Rebecca Martin

Our recent educational forum “On Immigration” was focused around the Ulster County Legislature’s Resolution No. 138 “Creating A Policy To Maintain A Safe, Inclusive Government to Ensure The Protection, Order, Conduct, Safety, Health,  And Well- Being Of All Persons In Ulster County” structured around ACLU guidelines. VIEW

With guest panelists District #7 Ulster County Legislator Jennifer Schwartz Berky and Ulster County Sheriff Paul J. Van Blarcum, it was my favorite educational panel discussion so far this year, where we had the opportunity to focus on a single piece of local legislation with at times two opposing points of view.

Resolution No. 138 is important and worthy, but it doesn’t have the support it needs to pass through committee to the legislative floor. It also doesn’t have the Sheriff’s support for reasons you might not suspect.

Empowered by New York State law and the County charter, the Sheriff’s office is independent in the way of policy making and procedure (though in reviewing the county CHARTER, it does state that “the Sheriff shall have and exercise all the powers and duties heretofore or hereafter lawfully granted or imposed by the Charter, Administrative Code, local law or resolution of the County Legislature“. My interpretation is that the Legislature would have oversight in some cases). In the resolution, there are several points in the model language that the Sheriff feels would infringe upon his office.

I wish that the Ulster County Legislature would have taken its time with this, starting with a small item that they and the Sheriff’s office could agree to.  For instance, sensitivity training on immigration by all county officers was something that was brought up on Sunday by a community member.  All the while, building support both internally and externally for a Resolution as important as No. 138 to have a fighting chance.

RESOURCES:

VIEW: Ulster County Resolution No. 138
VIEW:  Jennifer Schwartz Berky Powerpoint on Immigration
VIEW:  ACLU Model State and Local Law Enforcement Policies and Rules
VIEW:  “Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Guidance Concerning Local Authority Participation in Immigration Enforcement and Model Sanctuary Provisions”
VIEW:  10th Amendment
VIEW:  Ulster County Charter Article XX “Sheriff”

PART 1: Click on image to review. 

 

 

3:04 – What empowers the work of the UC Legislature and UC Sheriff’s office?

5:50  – “Sanctuary” is a term that has come up this year, that many hadn’t thought of or even have known about before the Trump administration. What is the difference between a community, city or county that speaks of itself as a “Sanctuary” and one that is “Welcoming and Inclusive”? 

JSB: “Sanctuary”  is not a legal term. It refers to the “spirit” of the statement they are making. There is a range of statements having to do with the concept to limit cooperation of government, whether we call it “sanctuary” or not.

PVB: “Sanctuary” is not a law, just a suggestion.

13:10 – The City of Kingston worked with the Kingston Police Department to craft their resolution. Given the confusion and fear currently, in being a supportive community, what might you suggest could help our County regarding this matter?

PVB:  Education.

14:37 –  What is the process of the Ulster County Sheriff’s department in how it handles members of our community who are undocumented?

PVB:  People think there is no process, and there is… you are not going to be deported because you are undocumented.

16:08 –  Are you seeing any changes in how you manage immigration issues in ulster county from one administration to another?

PVB:  No. Nothing has changed since I began this work in 1976 in Ulster County.

16:25 –  On the subject of fear, there are those who speak about members of our community who are undocumented as being ‘criminals’ or ‘illegals’ that has heightened since Trump took office.  

PVB:  The public doesn’t have to worry about being deported by local police agencies because they are undocumented. We will not allow members of the public to be targeted by their heritage.

18:00 – What is the difference between INS and ICE? 

22:50: The PEW center states that there are 1.15 million classified undocumented citizens in NYS.  How many of these estimates are in Ulster County? 

PVB (26:45) –  If you are undocumented and you have police contact, you will not be deported….it’s important for people to know that and to not be afraid.

27:30 –  The Ulster County Legislature and Ulster County Sheriff’s office did not speak at the inception of Resolution No. 138. Why? 

34:17  – After meeting a week ago, were any amendments made to it? 

36:40 – What aspects of the resolution might keep the Ulster County Sheriff’s office from supporting it? 

VIEW:  ACLU Model State and Local Law Enforcement Policies and Rules

#3) Defined Access/Interview Rule: Unless acting pursuant to a court order or a legitimate law enforcement purpose that is unrelated to the enforcement of a civil immigration law, no [County/City/State] official shall permit ICE or CBP agents access to [County/City/State] facilities or any person in [County/City/State] custody for investigative interviews or other investigative purposes.

38:37 –  Can you explain what is problematic with #3 in your opinion?

#6) Privacy Protection Rule: No [County/City/State] official shall voluntarily release personally identifiable data or information to ICE or CBP regarding an inmate’s custody status, release date or home address, or information that may be used to ascertain an individual’s religion, ethnicity or race, unless for a law enforcement purpose unrelated to the enforcement of a civil immigration law.

VIEW:  “Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Guidance Concerning Local Authority Participation in Immigration Enforcement and Model Sanctuary Provisions”

VIEW:  10th Amendment

46:21 –  If a community or county are only stating the laws as they are and as they have always been, why do some portray that there will be some form of punishment for doing so?   How might you address that?

PVB (47:06) –  “For sure it is a miscommunication, a misunderstanding. None of which ever happened before Trump was elected into office. The president can’t restrict funding on his own. Laws would have to be changed, and they are not going to change the law. You will not be deported unless you have done something terribly wrong.”

47:55 – Sheriff, you speak about education as being key here. Could the current resolution be seen as an educational tool?  

PVB:  The legislature here wants to set policy for the Ulster County Sheriff’s office. which I don’t believe that they can and if they can, and they do, how does the sheriff’s office follow these restrictions?

JSB: We would prefer that you agree not to volunteer information.

51:50 –  Let’s discuss #5 of the ACLU Guidelines.     

Don’t Ask Rule: [County/City/State] officials shall not inquire into the immigration or citizenship status of an individual, except where the inquiry relates to a legitimate law enforcement purpose that is unrelated to the enforcement of a civil immigration law, or where required by state or federal law to verify eligibility for a benefit, service, or license conditioned on verification of certain status.

JSB: In the intake form when you are being processed, it asks where you were born.

SVB: We don’t ask anyone your status of origin is ever. If you are locked up, the question on the booking form are given to us by the COC. We ask the questions they want us to ask.  It’s in our rules and regulations forms that we don’t ask origin.

Read more…

PARTICIPATE! Attend Regular Ulster County Legislature and City of Kingston Council Meetings.

By Rebecca Martin

How can we improve local government? By becoming more civic-minded rather than a single issue participant and attending regular, monthly meetings of both the Ulster County Legislature and City of Kingston Common Council.  That’s a potent and simple place to start.

To help you to get on your way, KingstonCitizens.org has put together a schedule of 2017  for both elected bodies.   “Many hands make light work” as they say. If each of us attended one or two meetings a year and shared what we witnessed – the landscape would look and feel very different.

Here are simple steps you can take to become a more engaged, local citizen.

  1. Sign up for the dates and times that are most convenient for your schedule (see below)
  2. Attend meetings. Make sure you check the calendar prior to attending, as all dates/times are subject to change (see below).  Make sure you add the dates to your personal calendar so you are reminded of your commitments.
  3. Write a one-page (or more) summation of your experience.  What happened that evening? How many citizens were present? Did you speak during public comment? What issues were discussed?  What significant decisions were made?  What did you learn and what outcome would you like to see on the issues that were discussed that evening?
  4. Submit your piece to KingstonCitizens.org:  rebecca@kingstoncitizens.org to be shared in our “Citizen Opinions” section (rules apply).
  5. We can help you to identify your council and legislative representatives and will encourage you to send a copy of your report directly to them as well.

 

Get Started. 

  1. Ulster County Legislature:  Dem/Rep Caucus and Regular Legislative Session
    1. VIEW:  Visit this link and choose dates and times that work for your schedule.
    2. VIEW:   Check the Ulster County Legislature Calendar a week prior to your meeting. Dates/times may be subject to change.  You can also access an agenda at the legislative site.
  2. Kingston Common Council: Caucus and Regular Meeting
    1. VIEW  Visit this link and choose dates and times that work for your schedule.
    2. VIEW: Check the City of Kingston municipal calendar a week prior to your meeting. Dates/times may be subject to change. You can also access an agenda at the City of Kingston website.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  Join us in becoming familiar with local government.

VIDEO: The Ulster County Legislature Bans Memorializing Resolutions.

 

By Rebecca Martin

Last evening, with a 13/9 vote, the Ulster County Legislature banned memorializing resolutions.   Although our group is deeply disappointed in the outcome,  we will apply our new knowledge  about the legislature to our work throughout the remainder of the year and beyond.

Outside of a ban on memorializing resolutions, we learned that Local Law 18 from 2016 (Law Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity) had been held back in the Laws and Rules Committee for over a year. In other words, a simple public hearing on transgender rights was stalled and in essence, denied.

In other news, what appeared to be a dozen or so members of a local sportsman club in attendance,  the group appeared to mostly be there to oppose Resolution No. 138 “Creating A Policy To Maintain A Safe, Inclusive Government And Ensure The Protection, Order, Conduct, Safety, Health, And Well-Being Of All Persons In Ulster County“.  Illustrating the law as Ulster County becoming a ‘sanctuary county’, at one point during public testimony, a member of the group stated, “…We know you will do the right thing. #138 has to go down. We have your back. Thank you very much”  (VIEW Tape #2 @ 21:00)

It was an evening that left me questioning motives. Why would our elected officials wish to limit free speech? Or deny the public a chance for public comment on gender equality? Or, be opposed to wanting to ensure “protection, order, conduct safety, health and well-being of all persons living in Ulster County”?  I haven’t any answers, only a sense. Control and fear. Both will wreck havoc, too. The public must remain diligent.

KingstonCitizens.org is seeking volunteers who are interested in attending monthly Ulster County Legislature meetings and report back to the public via KingstonCitizens.org. It’s our goal to build a larger base of public participation and, as always, encourage new potential candidates.  All legislature seats are up for election in November, 2017.

If you are interested in working with us, please contact rebecca@kingstoncitizens.org

Special thanks to Clark Richters of the Kingston News for helping us to document the evening.

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Those in favor of a ban on memorializing resolutions were (RED: Republican, Conservative, etc;  BLUE: Democrat):

District 1 (Town of Saugerties)   Mary Wawro
District 3 (Town of Saugerties/Town of Ulster)  Dean Fabiano
District 4 (Town of Ulster/Town of Kingston) James Maloney
District 8 (Town of Esopus)  Carl Belfiglio
District 9 (Town of Lloyd/Town of Plattekill)  Herbert Litts III
District 10 (Town of Lloyd/Town of Marlboro)  Mary Beth Maio
District 11 (Town of Marlboro)  Richard Gerentine
District 12 (Town of Plattekill)  Kevin Roberts
District 13 (Town of Shawangunk) Ken Ronk
District 14 (Town of Shawangunk/Town of Wawarsing)  Craig Lopez
District 18 (Town of Hurley/Town of Marbletown)  Richard Parete
District 21 (Town of Rochester/Town of Wawarsing) Ronald G. Lapp
District 22 (Town of Denning, Hardenburgh, Olive, and Shandaken)  John Parete

Those opposed:

District 2 (Town of Saugerties/Village of Saugerties)  Chris Allen
District 5 (City of Kingston) Peter Loughran
District 6 (City of Kingston)  Dave Donaldson
District 7 (City of Kingston)  Jennifer Schwartz Berky
District 16 (Town of Gardiner/Town of Shawangunk) Tracey Bartels
District 17 (Town of Esopus/Town of New Paltz)  Jim Delaune
District 19 (Town of Marbletown/Town of Rosendale)  Manna Jo Greene
District 20 (Town of New Paltz/Village of New Paltz) Hector Rodriguez
District 23 (Town of Woodstock)  Jonathan Heppner

Absent:
District 15 (Town of Wawarsing, Town of Ellenville)  Thomas Briggs


VIDEO: Resolution No. 91 “Amending the Rules of Order to Prohibit Memorializing Resolutions”

VIEW:  Legislative Discussion/Debate


Legislator Highlights
:

VIEW:  Ken Ronk and David Donaldson

VIEW:  Jennifer Schwartz Berky

Public Comment Highlights:

VIEW: Amy Fradon, Ban on Memorializing Resolution

VIEW:  County GOP Chair Roger Rascoe, Ban on Memorializing Resolutions

VIEW: Andrea Callan,  Law Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity (Local Law 18 of 2016) 

VIEW:  Candace Teetsel and Friend, Local Law 18 of 2016

VIEW: Jeff Rindler, ED of HV LGBTQ, Local Law 18 of 2016

VIEW:  Evie Starr, Local Law 18 of 2016

 

To view all public comment:
VIDEO #1   Starts at 36:30

 

 

 

 

FAQ Sheet and Call To Action: Proposed Ban on Memorializing Resolutions Vote April 18.

CALL TO ACTION.

Legislative Members  VIEW

Please call your Ulster County Legislator today and ask that they reject Resolution No. 91 “Amending The Rules Of Order To Prohibit Memorializing Resolutions” on April 18th.     “It is important to me that you do not support a ban on the memorializing resolution process. A ban is undemocratic and infringes on my first amendment right to petition.”

Plan to attend the next Ulster County regular legislative meeting on Tuesday, April 18th at 7:00 pm at the Ulster County Office Building located at 244 Fair Street, 6th Floor in Kingston, NY.  Arrive at 6:30 pm to sign-up to speak and to get a seat.  Citizens are encouraged to create a two (2) minute testimony that is respectful and succinct.

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In March of 2017, Resolution No. 91, a proposed ban on memorializing resolutions,  had its first reading (see video below).  In order to change a local law, that’s step one in the process.  On April 18th, the resolution will be read a final time before it goes to vote.

Here are the facts. (**)

Is a letter from the legislature as effective as a memorializing resolution?

No. Memorializing resolutions must be submitted to the Clerk of the Legislature by the sponsor(s), along with all other business of the session, by a specific deadline.  The appropriate standing committee is chosen based on the issue.  It is placed on the committee agenda and discussed at the regularly scheduled meeting, which is open to the public.  The members of the committee have the opportunity to discuss the MR in committee before voting to send it to the “floor” of the legislature for a vote in the upcoming session.  A letter is not an act of the legislature that invites group discussion in committee, requires a vote by that committee to be sent to the floor, and is then a part of the public process where the public sees the memorializing resolution and can attend the session to weigh in.

Why do proponents of the ban on Memorializing Resolutions claim that they take up too much time during regular legislative sessions?

In 2016, the rules were changed prohibiting discussion on Memorializing Resolutions during the legislative session.  However, procedure allows for members to call for a “long roll” (i.e., a one-by-one vote) so that they may speak on the issue.  KingstonCitizens.org believes that engaging in debate in a way that represents and involves the public is the legislature’s business. They are protecting our “right to petition” by creating an opportunity for our voices to be heard and for our petitions to have a real forum. A ban on memorializing resolutions discredits public participation, civic dialogue, due process and the First Amendment.

Why are memorializing resolutions important? 

Memorializing resolutions are statements of principles that do not become a local law or policy. They are “non-binding”. It is, effectively, a petition by one legislative body to other legislative bodies and lawmakers to provide a mechanism that allow citizens and the legislature to take a stand on important issues.

Why do the ban’s sponsors claim that Memorializing Resolutions have been used as a political tool? 

The sponsors have said that memorializing resolutions were used recently by the Democratic Caucus to polarize the legislative body over issues we have no control over.  Memorializing resolutions are a governing tool. Governing tools are non-partisan.

Two controversial memorializing resolutions were recently sponsored by Republicans and passed by the majority of the Ulster County Legislature. One, in fact,  just occurred in March of this year.  It was Resolution No. 92 “Requesting The New York State Legislature Introduce Legislation Expanding The Hate Crimes Law, New York Penal Law §485.05” (March 22, 2017). The other was  Resolution No. 253  “Opposing The Process Of Enactment And Certain Provisions Contained Within The New York SAFE Act”  (June 16th, 2015).

 

SOURCES  (**)

VIEW  “Commentary:  Ban on Memorializing Resolutions in Ulster County Legislature is Undemocratic” by Jennifer Schwartz Berky (Kingston Times, March 22, 2017)

VIDEO:  Ulster County Laws and Rules Committee Discuss Prohibiting Memorializing Resolutions Legislative Session

VIDEO: Ulster County Legislature 3/22/17: First Reading of Proposed Ban on Memorializing Resolutions

VIDEO: “On Climate Change, Energy and Infrastructure” with Kate Hudson of Waterkeeper.

“It’s difficult to overstate the seriousness of the environmental threats coming from this administration. We have never had a head of the EPA so hostile towards the mission of the agency, and never had a President so unwilling to make decisions based on science and law.”
– Kate Hudson, Waterkeeper Alliance

KingstonCitizens.org’s recent community educational forum “PART II:  On Climate Change, Energy and Infrastructure” was at capacity.  Our special guest Kate Hudson of Waterkeeper helped participants understand better what was a stake today and what citizens can do.

VIEW video from the event.

Please be sure to visit our upcoming SCHEDULE to learn more about future community educational forums.

Special thanks to Kate Hudson for her generosity in sharing her knowledge as our guest panelist; Peter and Julie at Church des Artists for their space, kindness, and for making this video; and, to all of our KingstonCitizens.org volunteers for their assistance.

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Resources:
VIEW:  KingstonCitizens.org’s “Trump Administration Initiatives and NYS Local/State Policy and Laws”

8:46 – 11:25
Introduction: On KingstonCitizens.org’s Community Educational Forum Series

Read more…

VIDEO: Ulster County Legislature 3/22/17 – Proposed Ban on Memorializing Resolutions. Public Comment and First Reading.

“Why would we want to diminish our voice and power as a legislature? Are our actions any less important than any other legislative body or branch of government to our constituents? If we think so, we should not hold the office.”   –  Jennifer Schwartz Berky,  Ulster County Legislator (Kingston, District 7)   from “Commentary: Ban on Memorializing Resolutions in Ulster County Legislature is Undemocratic.” in the Kingston Times.   VIEW

On Wednesday night, the Ulster County Legislature held its regular legislative session where the proposed ban on memorializing resolutions had its first reading. Other important items were debated (and adopted) including a memorializing resolution to request the NYS Legislature expand hate crimes (to include first responders and police officers) and, a resolution to prohibit cyber-bullying.

Thanks to all of the citizens who came out to speak that evening on a number of issues. We trust that watching these processes as thoroughly as you are will help to better assist you in speaking to your legislators on these important matters.

Speeches that were made by the Chairman, minority and majority leaders are located at the bottom of this post.

Filmed by Clark Richters of the Kingston News. Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org.

 

FOR YOUR REFERENCE:

Resolution #91: “Amending The Rules Of Order To Prohibit Memorializing Resolutions”

VIEW: “Commentary: Ban on Memorializing Resolutions in Ulster County Legislature is Undemocratic.” in the Kingston Times by Jennifer Schwartz Berky, District 7 Legislator

Resolution #92: “Requesting The New York State Legislature Introduce Legislation Expanding The Hate Crimes Law, New York Penal Law §485.05”

Resolution No. 89  Adopting Proposed Local Law No. 17 of 2016 (A Local Law Prohibiting Cyber-Bullying In Ulster County)”  

 

                     VIDEO ONE:  Public Comment Footage. See names and times below. 

Read more…

VIDEO: UC Laws and Rules Committee Discuss Prohibiting Memorializing Resolutions. Legislative Session Postponed to Wednesday Due to Snow.

Last evening, the Ulster County Legislature Laws and Rules Committee had their monthly meeting with one of the items being to discuss Resolution No. 91  “Amending The Rules Of Order To Prohibit Memorializing Resolutions”.  It passed through committee by a 4 / 3 vote.  We filmed the meeting thanks to The Kingston News (brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org) so that you can see the debate from last night. We also took the liberty to note the legislator’s districts and localities they represent in the case that one of the members represents you and you wish to contact them directly.

Due to today’s snowstorm, the regular legislative session that was to be for this evening was moved to tomorrow night, Wednesday, March 15th at 7:00pm in Legislative Chambers (6th Floor) of the Ulster County Building located at 244 Fair Street in Kingston.  Residents can sign-up to speak when they arrive.

We ask citizens consider coming to speak tomorrow in opposition of the Ulster County Legislature banning memorializing resolutions.  Please keep comments respectful, succinct and no longer than three (3) minutes in length.

In the case that the meeting is moved again, we’ll send out an update.

 

VIEW
Ulster County Legislature Laws and Rules Committee Meeting
Video from Tuesday, March 13, 2017

Read more…

PROPOSED BAN ON MEMORIALIZING RESOLUTIONS. Process and Actions in March and April.

Last year, the Ulster County Legislature passed Resolution No. 251 “Amending The Rules Of Order To Set Procedure For Memorializing Resolutions”  In it, it sets some protocols for memorializing resolutions stating that “any resolution which memorializes the New York State Legislature, Congress of the United States, or any other body to take an action which will not require a home rule message, shall be submitted and considered in Committee in accordance with the procedures set forth in these Rules of Order. When presented for consideration at a monthly or special meeting of the Legislature, Memorializing Resolutions shall not be debatable. Memorializing Resolutions shall, however, be amendable, may be referred to a Standing Committee of the Legislature, or may be withdrawn prior to a vote by the Legislative body.”

Only eight months later,  District 18 Republican Legislator Richard A. Parete along with Legislators Dean Fabiano (District 3: Town of Saugerties, Town of Ulster) and Kenneth J. Ronk  (District 13: Town of Shawangunk) have taken it a step further with a new resolution that would prohibit Memorializing Resolutions altogether.

VIEW Resolution No. 32

Amending The Rules Of Order To Prohibit Memorializing Resolutions”

Many citizens were present at the regular legislative meeting in February to speak during public comment and to encourage the legislature to reject a ban on memorializing resolutions. Only upon arrival did we learn that earlier in the day, the Ulster County Legislature’s Laws and Rules committee tabled the resolution instead of passing it through to the floor as anticipated.

As reported in the Daily Freeman,  Legislator Richard A. Parete stated that  “The main reason [I pulled it] is because the full Legislature wasn’t there, and I don’t know if it had the votes to pass.”  Parete said he would wait until March when he expects more legislators to be in to introduce the measure.”    VIEW The Daily Freeman Article.

How does this appear to the public?  Not only is a ban on memorializing resolutions undemocratic, but tabling proposed legislation due to not having the votes for it to pass lacks transparency.

Thanks for your support and in following this issue through to the end with us. It is not only important for citizens to speak to the issue but to also be a witness.

 

WHAT’S THE PROCESS?

In February of 2017, District 18 (Town of Hurley, Town of Marbletown) Legislator Richard Parate withdrew Resolution No. 32 “Amending the Rules of Order to Prohibit Memorializing Resolutions” for the Ulster County Legislature.  

1. LAWS AND RULES.  On Monday, March 13th at 6:30 pm it is anticipated that the UC Legislature Laws and Rules Committee (K.L. Binder Library on the 6th Floor of the Ulster County Office Building, 244 Fair Street, Kingston) will discuss whether or not to pass the resolution out to the floor the following evening.   VIEW Facebook Event.

2. FIRST READING. If approved, the Resolution will have its first reading (though not out loud) on Tuesday, March 14th (Legislative Chambers on the 6th Floor of the Ulster County Office Building, 244 Fair Street, Kingston) at the regular legislative session that begins at 7:05pm.  No action can be taken.  VIEW Facebook Event

3.  SECOND READING AND VOTE.  On Tuesday, April 18th at 7:00pm during its regular Legislative session (Legislative Chambers on the 6th Floor of the Ulster County Office Building 244 Fair Street, Kingston), it is anticipated that the legislation will have its second reading and folloing, the full body will vote.   VIEW Facebook Event

 

TAKE ACTION.

 1. CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATOR.  We encourage citizens to contact their Legislator and request that they reject the ban on memorializing resolutions throughout the months of March and April.    VIEW: Ulster County Legislature Website to Find Your Legislator.

2.  DEMOCRAT LEGISLATOR JOHN R. PARETE SAYS HE SUPPORTS A BAN.  Given this is a Republican supported ban, it is important for citizens to know that District 22 Democratic Legislator John R. Parete has announced that he supports the ban, and could be the swing vote on the matter.

If you live in the Towns of Denning, Hardenburgh, Olive or Shandaken, please consider calling or emailing your representative directly to discuss his point of view, and to share yours.   (845) 657-8500 or send an email to  jparete@msn.com

3. SIGN OUR PETITION.  Sign our PETITION where your name and any comments that you make go directly to Legislators Richard Parete, Kenneth Ronk, Dean Fabiano and John Parete.

4. PLAN TO ATTEND UPCOMING MEETINGS.  Please consider:  a)  Attend and speak during public comment at the regular Legislative sessions on Tuesday, March 14th (7:05pm) when it is anticipated the legislation will have its first read. No action will be taken and;   b)  Tuesday, April 18th (7:00pm) when it is anticipated that the Resolution will have its second reading and a vote by the legislature.

5. SHARE WITH FRIENDS!  Please share this post with friends to help us to get the word out. Thank you for your support.

REVIEW:  Tell Ulster County Legislature That a Proposed Ban on Memorializing Resolutions is Undemocratic.

Read more…

VIDEO: KingstonCitizens.org Community Educational Forum, Part I: “On Constitutional Law”

 

Click on image to view video. KingstonCitizens.org’s Community Educational Forum: Part I – “On Constitutional Law” with guest Dr. Lynn Eckert.

 

By Rebecca Martin

Our first community educational forum “On Constitutional Law” was a huge success. At capacity, citizens took in a three-hour discussion on Constitutional Law as it pertains to the Trump Administration’s initiatives for his (their) first 100 days in office.

You can view the video HERE, or by clicking on the image above.  We have done general markings to make it easier for the public to follow along (see below).

Because of the storm the day before our event, the Rondout in Kingston had lost its power for most of the afternoon making it impossible to stream. We will be streaming however next month, and for all the remaining educational panels throughout the 2017 season.

Please VIEW our schedule.

We hope that this series inspires citizens in our region to place more energy in connecting to neighbors and their communities.  To become more knowledgeable and less afraid.  To emphasize due process and to come to know how to access (and interpret) the laws that are in place to protect us.

Special thanks to Dr. Lynn Eckert for her generosity in sharing her knowledge as our guest panelist; Peter and Julie at Church des Artists for their space, kindness, and for making this video; and, to all of our KingstonCitizens.org volunteers for their assistance.

00:00 – 5:48
Introductions – Rebecca Martin, KingstonCitizens.org

05:49 – END
Dr. Lynn Eckert:  On Constitutional Law:  Looking at Articles 1, 2 and 3.  Also, 9th, 10th and 14th Amendments.  

Starts at 45:33
“Article 1, section 9.  How do we handle a president who has hotels, businesses, financial influence?”

Starts at 50:03
“Is there anything in the constitution that prevents a president from making money by being president?”

Starts at 51:36
“What is the difference between the Constitution and a law?”

Starts at 52:16
“What is the Federal conflict of interest law?”

Starts at 53:00
Why Trump is going after the press. 

Starts at 56:56
“What would be the optimal way to go to speak to Faso?”

Starts at 58:07
“Does Congress have an obligation to meet with constituents, and if they don’t, can they via the law?”

Starts at 1:03:00
How can we bring this all back to us in New York State?
KC.org Trump Document – Follow Along!

Starts at 1:20:28
“Do judges need to be lawyers? 

Starts at 1:25:50
“What’s to stop Trump from appointing Bannon, or some random person with extreme views as a federal judge?”

Starts at 1:26;18
“Explain the “alternative” understanding?” 

Starts at  1:28:46
“How can constituents be involved in the redistricting process?”

Starts at 1:37:38
“Can you speak to Ballot initiatives?”  

Starts at 1:43:26
“Resistance strategies of impeachment and changing electoral college?”

Starts at 1:44:02
“What about Conflicts-of-Interest?”

Starts at 1:48:40
“If Trump is impeached, what happens to Bannon?”

Starts at 1:51:12
“Is there a class action citizen suit that can be brought against Trump for ‘harassment’?” 

Starts at 2;01:35
Corporations as people.

Starts at 2:15:56
“Can we begin to have ‘moral’ conversations with our elected officials?”

Starts at 20:20:30
“When is it appropriate for civil disobedience?” 

Starts at 2:23:50
“Discussion on International issues? How do we approach this?” 

Starts at 2:31:34
“Further ways to regulate/muzzle corporate behavior?” 

Welcome to KingstonCitizens.org!

VIEW:  Trump Administration Initiatives and NYS Local/State Policies and Laws

Established in 2006, KingstonCitizens.org is a community-based organization committed to improving the quality of life of Kingston residents through accountability and transparency of local government. By providing citizens with timely and factual information, our work is meant to nurture citizen participation and empowerment through projects, education, and advocacy.

DONATE!   As a volunteer group, your donation can help us fund our website, public meetings, social media campaign, fliers, and more.  Thank you for your support!  (your donation is currently not tax-deductible)   Visit: DONATE

Please subscribe to keep updated on the latest events concerning our community. (*required)

 
 

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Attend All Eight KingstonCitizens.org Educational Forums and Become a KingstonCitizens.org Fellow!

 

 

Do you want to become a KingstonCitizens.org Fellow?   Sign-up in advance to attend all eight of our upcoming educational forums in 2017.   Deadline to do so is Friday, February 24th.  Only 15 spots available!  See our schedule below.

What you will receive:

  1.  A “reserved” seat throughout the 2017 educational forum series.
  2. Become an expert! A free education on all presented topics including information on local and NYS policies and laws as they pertain to these subjects.
  3. A certificate of completion from KingstonCitizens.org
  4. Two of our “fellows” will be selected randomly to win a free year subscription to a local newspaper of their choice.
  5. …and perhaps more surprises as we go along.

Write to Rebecca Martin at rebecca@kingstoncitizens.org with “KingstonCitizens.org Fellowship”  in the subject line.

For more informationVIEW: KingstonCitizens.org Host Eight-Part Educational Forums in 2017.

 

 

KingstonCitizens.org presents
Community Educational Forums 
2017  Schedule

Sunday, Feb. 26th, 2017
From 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
PART I: On Constitutional Law

A conversation on constitutional law as it pertains to President Donald Trump’s proposed initiatives.

With special guest 
Dr. Lynn Mills Eckert
Associate Professor of Political Science, Marist College

Sunday, March 19th, 2017
From 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
PART II:  On Climate Change, Energy, and Infrastructure
A conversation on climate change, energy, and infrastructure as it pertains to President Donald Trump’s proposed initiatives.

With special guest
Kate Hudson, Esq.
Waterkeeper Alliance

 

Sunday, April  30th, 2017
From 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
PART III: On Immigration
A discussion on the Ulster County Legislature’s upcoming Resolution No. 138 “Creating A Policy To Maintain A Safe, Inclusive Government And Ensure The Protection, Order, Conduct, Safety, Health, And Well Being Of All Persons In Ulster County,” with guest panelists District 7 Legislator (Kingston) Jennifer Schwartz Berky and Ulster County Sheriff Van Blarcum. Other guests TBA.  The discussion will review this and other local proposals using the guidance provided by Attorney General Schneiderman and the ACLU to help communities understand their rights under the proposed changes in Washington.

With special guests
Jennifer Schwartz Berky
District 7 Legislator

Sherriff Paul J. Van Blarcum
Ulster County Sherriff

 

Sunday, May 21st, 2017
From 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
PART IV:  On Public Education
A conversation on public education as it pertains to President Donald Trump’s proposed initiatives.  

With special guests
Robin Jacobowitz, Ph.D.
Director of Education Projects at The Benjamin Center, SUNY New Paltz, Trustee, City of Kingston Board of Education and Executive Committee of Ulster County School Boards Association

James F. Shaughnessy, Jr., Officer
City of Kingston Board of Education

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017
From 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
PART V:  On Women’s Issues
A conversation on women’s issues as it pertains to President Donald Trump’s proposed initiatives.

With special guests: TBA

 

Sunday, September 17th, 2017
From 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
PART VI:  On Economics
A conversation on economics as it pertains to President Donald Trump’s proposed initiatives.

With special guest economist and energy analyst Evelyn Wright.

 

Sunday, October 22nd, 2017
From 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
PART VII:  On Strategic Organizing:  Looking Forward
A conversation on strategic organizing as it pertains to President Donald Trump’s proposed initiatives. 

With special guest
Callie Mackenzie Jayne
Lead Organizer
Citizen Action of NY
Hudson Valley Chapter

Sunday, November 12th, 2017
From 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
PART VIII:  On Local and NYS Clean Energy
A conversation on local and NYS clean energy as it pertains to President Donald Trump’s proposed initiatives. 

With special guests
Jennifer Metzger, Director
Citizens for Local Power

Pat Courtney Strong, President
Courtney Strong Inc.

KingstonCitizens.org Host Eight-Part Educational Forum Series in 2017

By Rebecca Martin

In November of last year, when Donald Trump became our president-elect, most of the world felt as if it had shifted in an unprecedented way.  Whether citizens supported Trump or did not, there was a common feeling of either joyous or defeated disbelief.

It wasn’t long after that a list of Trump’s initiatives appeared for his first 100 days in office.  With the support of a Republican majority in Congress, Trump’s initiatives suddenly seemed plausible. I saw this as an opportunity to look more closely at the checks and balances that exist in local, state and federal government.

We jumped quickly into action, creating a google document (so that citizens could collaborate) that outlines Trump’s initiatives so to better explore their context and, to identify local and New York State policies and laws that could help guide us through this new administration.   We hosted very small meetings with a couple dozen citizens to start this important work and realized shortly after that it needed to continue and be open to more citizen’s input.

VIEW:  “Trump’s Initiatives: Local/State Policy and Laws”

The result is an educational series that will span 2017. Citizens can expect an array of subjects with expert panelists, a question and answer period,  an interactive work session on KingstonCitizens.org’s document “Trump Initiatives and NYS Local/State Policy and Laws” and short tutorials to help navigate the City of Kingston’s municipal website.

Thanks to Peter Wetzler and Julie Hedrick of Church Des Artistes who have donated their beautiful space so that we are comfortable and supported in our efforts each month.

Please review the list of topics, dates, and details below.   We are currently booking more guests and will make those announcements as they are confirmed.  For now, put all of the following dates in your calendar!

We look forward to meeting more of our neighbors, making new connections and becoming more educated on a whole host of complicated topics.

Knowledge is power.

###

KingstonCitizens.org presents
Community Educational Forums: An Eight-Part Series
at Church Des Artistes
79 Wurts Street
Historic Rondout section of Kingston, NY
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.

Over the course of the series in 2017, citizens can expect an array of subjects with expert panelists, a question and answer period,  an interactive work session on KingstonCitizens.org’s document “Trump Initiatives and NYS Local/State Policy and Laws” and short tutorials to help navigate the City of Kingston’s municipal website.

Moderated by KingstonCitizens.org Co-Founder Rebecca Martin.

Participants are encouraged to bring a dessert to share. Coffee and tea provided.  We encourage citizens to bring along their personal computer laptop if they have one. All dates and topics subject to change.

Read more…

WHAT TO EXPECT: Ulster County Legislature Meeting February 15th and the Proposed Ban on Memorializing Resolutions.

Please click on the image and for full size hand out. Print, and bring with you on Wednesday night.


FIRST, SIGN OUR PETITION

Let Republicans Richard A. Parete and Legislators Fabiano and Ronk know in advance
that you do not support a ban on memorializing resolutions.

SIGN our Petition

WHAT

Ulster County Legislature Meeting

WHERE

Legislature Chambers, 6th Floor, Ulster County Office Building, 244 Fair Street, Kingston, NY 12401.
VIEW our event on Facebook

WHEN

Sign-up to speak and secure a seat at the council meeting 6:45pm
Wednesday, February 15th, 2017
7:00pm

Read more…

Tell Ulster County Legislature That A Proposed Ban on Memorializing Resolutions is Undemocratic.

PETITION:  ” A Proposed Ban on Memorializing Resolutions is Undemocratic”

VIEW: Attend next session of the legislature to speak on Wednesday, February 15 at 7:00 pm (arrive at 6:45 pm)

READ:  Resolution No. 32 of February 15, 2017  “Amending The Rules Of Order To Prohibit Memorializing Resolutions”

###

By Rebecca Martin

WHAT IS A MEMORIALIZING RESOLUTION?
A memorializing 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.

So why would members of the Ulster County Legislature want to “prohibit” this critical tool? In our opinion, it is incredibly short sited and potentially damaging to county governance.

“County Legislature Chairman Ken Ronk, R-Wallkill, said he has agreed to co-sponsor a resolution (#32 of 2017) introduced by Legislator Richard Parete to change the body’s rules by banning any resolution in which legislators aren’t taking action on issues directly under their control.  Parete has repeatedly referred to these as a “waste of time.”

Such a ban is rare in legislative bodies.   Memorializing resolutions state a legislative body’s position on an issue that may be outside its purview without taking direct action.  However, they represent a significant opportunity for regional leadership and intergovernmental relationships.

In the past few years, the Ulster County Legislature has passed three memorializing resolutions on the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline and one on the proposed anchorages of crude oil on the Hudson River.  In the last year, the legislature has been unanimous in its support of these statements, which add to the voice of an entire region that stands against these potentially hazardous projects.

Citing the recent use of memorializing resolutions as a “mockery” by the democrats, Chairman Ronk pointed to Legislator Jonathan Heppner’s (D-Woodstock) resolution opposing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as having not being relevant to county business.  With approximately 20,000 residents now relying on the ACA for their healthcare coverage and the potential loss of $3 million in federal Medicaid funding, this is certainly the business of Ulster County.

Furthermore, do we want to lose the ability to take a stand on things that could severely impact our environment, such as pipelines and anchorages, without adding to the voices in the region who oppose them?”

District 7 Legislator Jennifer Schwartz Berky regarding the proposed ban on memorializing resolutions by the UC Legislature:

Please sign our PETITION and plan to attend the next session of the legislature Wednesday, February 15 at 7:00 pm to speak out on this proposed ban.  Citizens who wish to speak should arrive early at 6:45 pm to sign in be prepared to speak no longer than 3 minutes.   Address: Legislature Chambers, 6th Floor, Ulster County Office Building, 244 Fair Street, Kingston, NY 12401.