Fabian Marshall and the Kingston Police Commission.

 

CITIZEN CALL TO ACTION

  1. Request that the City of Kingston condemn police brutality in the City of Kingston.
  2. Request that the City of Kingston Police Department:
    • Provide a summary of changes that have been made to the City of Kingston Police policies and procedures since the Fabian Marshall incident in 2015;
    • Provide an action plan for continued improvements to the Department’s policies and procedure;
    • Provide an overview of trainings completed by Department personnel on an annual basis, as well as a  comprehensive description of the Department’s sensitivity training.
  3. As per Citizen Action of the Hudson Valley’s Petition  VIEW
    • Stop data by race and ethnicity, and use of force data including pepper spray and taser use;
    • Inform the public on the complaint process, including a detailed overview of the process beginning with the submission of a complaint form and through the Police Commission review, ruling, and if applicable, appeal;
    • Provide information on selection guidelines and term limits of Kingston Police Commission;
    • Release of information on the number of investigations into complaints against members of the department concerning domestic violence, excessive force, coercion, and verbal abuse, and the results;
    • Release of an immediate process to begin creating a community policing model that includes non-appointed members of the community as a civilian oversight board which would;
      • Conduct investigations into all cases in which a department member discharges his or her firearm, stun gun, or taser in a manner which potentially could strike an individual, even if no allegation of misconduct is made;
      • Systematically review reports and footage to conduct investigations into complaints against members of the department concerning domestic violence, excessive force, coercion, and verbal abuse, even if no allegation of misconduct is made;
      • To investigate the the conduct of members of the Department concerning any investigative category, (excessive force, sexual misconduct, a false arrest, or illegal search or seizure, and/or committed another civil rights violation or tort.) even in the absence of a civilian complaint, when, based on information and belief.

 

 

Tomorrow, the Kingston Police Commission will assemble for their monthly meeting to be held at 4:00 pm at Kingston City Hall at 420 Broadway in Kingston, council chambers (top floor). We are told that there will be a sign-up for citizens to speak at the beginning of the meeting, so please plan to arrive at 3:45 to do so and to secure a seat.  

As part of the agenda, the Police Commission will be reviewing a complaint filed by City of Kingston resident Fabian Marshall for discussion of an incident that occurred in 2015. 

According to the Daily Freeman VIEW, “Fabian Marshall, 27, was found guilty Friday of obstructing governmental administration, a misdemeanor, following a jury trial before City Judge Lawrence Ball. The trial began last Wednesday. The case against Marshall dates to September 2015, when members of the Kingston Police Department were responding to a report of an assault on Broadway, the District Attorney’s Office said in a press release. The release said officers tried to interview Marshall, who was in the same area of the reported assault and matched the description of the assailant, but that he refused to comply, became uncooperative and fought with police.”

The event was captured on a police cam and cellphone which was fortunately released for the public to review. (GRAPHIC)

“…officers tried to interview Marshall, who was in the same area of the reported assault and matched the description of the assailant, but that he refused to comply, became uncooperative and fought with police.”

Interviewed?

Being innocent of the alleged crime, Marshall seems uncertain as to why he was being approached by the police officer who acted in an aggressive manner without an explanation at the onset.

Uncooperative?

Marshall doesn’t appear to pose any danger to the officer carrying a gun and a taser.  In the video, it is alleged that he is tasered 21 times. One time, in this case, was too many.

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

Read more…

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.

Read more…

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 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 to 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 an 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 7:30 pm) 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.

VIDEO: Mayoral Candidate Debate 10/22/15

KingstonCitizens.org is pleased to bring you video from last evening’s Mayoral Candidate debate (10/22/15). Special thanks to Kingston News for helping us to make it possible.

Please mark your calendars and VOTE on Tuesday, November 3rd. The polls are open from 6:00am – 9:00pm. To locate your polling place, please visit the BOE POLLING PLACE site for more information.

Don’t forget that the Water Sales/Supply Referendum will appear on the BACK OF THE BALLOT!  Please consider a YES vote and give Kingston citizens the opportunity have a voice in any future water sales outside of our community.

Thanks.

Read more…

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Why Does Passing The Water Referendum on November 3rd Matter?

Referendum

By Rebecca Martin

As part of our ongoing effort to educate citizens on the upcoming Water Referendum that will appear on the November 3rd  ballot,  we are happy to present this piece, “In their own words” to share insight from residents who live and work inside and out of the City of Kingston.

Our lives are intimately impacted by the decisions made by our elected and appointed officials on all fronts.  In this case, regarding water, by voting ‘YES’ to include the Common Council on all sales of water outside Kingston’s corporate limits, we have a real opportunity to assure better decisions to be made.

Please take note. The Water Sales Referendum will be on the BACK OF THE BALLOT on November 3rd.

Read more…

VIDEO: Kingston Mayoral Debate

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We are pleased to provide the Mayoral Debate in its entirety from tonight (8/24/15) organized by Temple Emanuel and moderated by the League of Women Voters.

Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org. Thanks to Clark Richters of Kingston News for filming tonight’s event.

 

 

PART ONE

00:00 – 5:00  Ground Rules
5:18 –  8:26   Steve Noble, Opening remarks
8:37 – 11:59   Shayne Gallo, Opening Remarks

#1 – What is the most pressing issue for the City of Kingston?
12:17 – 13:39    Shayne Gallo
13:42 – 15:30   Steve Noble

#2 What are you proposing for job growth in the City of Kingston?
15:50 – 17:42    Steve Noble
17:50 – 20:29   Shayne Gallo

#3 Do you believe the City Mayor should have more input or oversight into the Kingston school district and their budgets and board of education?
20:52 – 21:55    Shayne Gallo
21:57 – 23:50    Steve Noble

#4  As Mayor, what will you do to resolve the ex-fire chief litigation without raising taxes?
24:08 – 25:27  Steve Noble
25:28 – 27:35  Shayne Gallo

#5 What is your position on drug policing in Midtown, do you think URGENT has been excessive and bad for community or important for bringing safety to the community?
27:56 – 29:53  Shayne Gallo
29:59 – 32:15  Steve Noble

#6 Do you have any plans or proposals to improve the complaint process, and would you support or work towards some form of civilian oversight of the city police?
32:40 -34:42  Steve Noble
34:45 – 37:01  Shayne Gallo

#7  Do you support initiatives such as the Rail Trail, ‘Building a Better Broadway’ and the Riverport?
37:15 – 38:40  Shayne Gallo
38:47 – 40:55  Steve Noble
41:00 – 41: 28  Shayne Gallo rebuttal

#8 How important do you think the traffic flow problem in Uptown Kingston is and what will you do to move it forward?
41:45 – 43:46  Steve Noble
43:54 – 45:55  Shayne Gallo

#9 Do either of you have concerns about nepotism in City Government?
46:27 – 48:05  Shayne Gallo
48:07 – 50:04  Steve Noble

#10 Explain the logic behind the sale of the fireman’s museum, and can you explain what happened with the fishing pier project and how can this be avoided in the future?
50:39 – 52:42  Steve Noble
52:46 – 55:06  Shayne Noble

#11 Considering the issues highlighted by Black Lives Matter, how would you move Kingston towards a police force that exemplifies excellent community policing?
55:27 – 56:50  Shayne Gallo
56:51 – 59:03  Steve Noble

 

PART TWO

#12 There are numerous questions about community. How will each of you include the minority community in your administration and what could the city do to communicate with the residents?
00:40 – 2:35  Steve Noble
2:40 – 4:11     Shayne Gallo

#13  Do you have a plan to improve the housing stock for the poor without forcing them to sell?
4:20 – 5:55  Shayne Gallo
5:56 – 8:07  Steve Noble

#14 What is your position on the upcoming water referendum and the appointment of new water board members?
8:25 – 10:09  Steve Noble
10:15 – 11:30  Shayne Gallo

#15 If you think in terms of the two most important initiatives for the mayor, what would you be most concerned about continuing if you were elected, what would you be most excited about promoting if you were elected mayor?
12:31 – 14:00  Shayne Gallo
14:02 – 16:28  Steve Noble

Closing Statements
16:50 – 21:49  Shayne Gallo
21:50 – 27:07  Steve Noble

Water Powers Public Hearing on Thursday, July 23rd at 10:00am

11403319_431013000414704_871768142266555702_n
A great day. The Kingston Common Council sends the Water Powers legislation to the Mayor’s office for a final signature. The decision to do so was unanimous after each reading (there were two).

By Rebecca Martin

This week, many anticipate the scheduled public hearing on the Water Powers legislation on Thursday, July 23rd at 10:00am at Kingston City Hall Council Chambers (this event will be filmed).

It is the final step in the process that would include both “the Common Council and the Mayor of Kingston for any water sales outside of the City of Kingston’s corporate boundaries.”   It is expected that the mayor will sign off on the legislation on Thursday, sending it to the ballot as a referendum in November for the public to decide.

It’s our water. We are INVOLVED.

As it is currently written, Water Powers in the City of Kingston’s charter excludes an elected body (although the Mayor of Kingston does sit on the water board of commissioners)  in decision making on how the public’s water supply is sold outside of the city of Kingston. The public’s most valuable resource therefore is in the hands of about five-six people.

If the public votes in favor of the referendum this November,  water sales outside of our corporate boundary will be made with the inclusion of Kingston’s common council. This action will allow the City of Kingston a ‘seat at the table’  in the case of a SEQR review, something that we did not have and that was terribly frustrating last year.

The inclusion of the common council for water sales would give our  community a ‘discretionary decision’ to make as an involved agency in SEQR (we were only an ‘interested agency’ last fall and as you might recall, we had to fight tooth and nail for it.  That hard won status still gave us little to no authority).  As an ‘involved agency’ we would have a say in determining who the ‘lead agency‘ in SEQR would be, creating an important opportunity for the collective community voice.

Taken from the SEQR handbook:

As an ‘involved’ agency, the City of Kingston would be allowed to 

  • Make certain the lead agency understands the extent of the involved agency’s jurisdiction; and
  • Provide the lead agency with observations and concerns about the proposed action and its potential environmental impact so the lead agency may consider them in making a determination of significance.

When a lead agency has made a negative determination of significance (negative declaration) each remaining involved agency may make its final decision on the action after completing any other required procedures.

When a lead agency has made a positive declaration each involved agency could:

  • Participate in scoping, making the lead agency aware of that agency’s concerns and technical requirements identify potential significant environmental impacts and suggest alternatives and mitigation;
  • Assist the lead agency in reviewing a draft EIS for adequacy, if requested;
  • Participate in any hearings, as appropriate;
  • Provide formal agency comments during the public review period;
  • Assist the lead agency in responding to substantive comments on the final EIS, if requested; and
  • Prepare the involved agency’s own separate SEQR findings before making its final decision.

An involved agency can also influence the determination of significance by the lead agency.  All involved agencies are encouraged to submit comments during the coordination period. Comments that deal with an agency’s specific area of interest or jurisdiction are especially appropriate. 

It’s an important safeguard, particularly when municipal water is involved.

Oversight and Transparency. 

The City of Kingston is fortunate for many reasons – one of which is that it has its own water source.  In amending the charter and including the common council as a determining body in water powers, some are concerned of political antics intruding upon their sales.  But this inclusion isn’t about personalities,  as council members and those in executive office come and go.  This is about making certain that policy and the law are applied for decision making as it pertains to our water and water infrastructure.

In the spirit of community and in seeing our region prosper, with proper oversight, good science, climate change modeling and all other matters we can help to support sustainable economic development while placing the health of our watershed and the impacted communities first.

In less than a year from the time that we first heard and spoke out on our concerns of the Niagara Bottling Company’s proposal in the Town of Ulster, the public will have the opportunity to make itself  ‘involved’  in water sales outside of our ever changing community, a voice in the protection of our water supply today and for future generations.

We’ve come a very long way.

First Reading of Water Powers Charter Amendment for Referendum

By Rebecca Martin

Last night, after many terrific citizen public speakers (see 1:44 – 15:35 in the video above), the Common Council did the first reading (at 44:15 – 45:00) of a charter amendment for Water Powers outside of Kingston’s Corporate boundaries.

Alderman-at-Large James Noble explains (at 15:48 – 16:26)  stating that “the original resolution has been changed to another resolution. #134 is going to be a local law change, because it’s stronger legislation.  This evening we will do the first reading without discussion. Next month, we will do the second reading and vote.”

After which, Mayor Shayne Gallo will have 10 days to organize a public hearing before signing off on the legislation. It would then be prepared and sent to the Board of Election to include on the November ballot.

All summer long, KingstonCitizens.org will focus its energies to inspire and to energize our community to vote like it has never done before.  Which way that you do  is a private matter – but to vote is a right that was hard earned. If this referendum is placed on the ballot – so was it. A lot of blood, sweat and tears. Please be responsible and do your part and vote.  Place November 3rd (Election Day) on your calendar today.

 REGISTER TO VOTE IN ULSTER COUNTY

UPDATE: Council Caucus “Water Powers” Referendum Discussion Shows Full Council Support. Mayor Gallo Agrees to Sign off on Local Law Amendment for Referendum if Passes.

By Rebecca Martin

At last night’s Common Council Caucus, Council members discussed Resolution #134 to “Amend Charter to Authorize Public Referendum re: Water Powers”. Alderman-at-Large James Noble and Corporation Council Andrew Zweben were in attendance.

It appears to have been determined that the Charter amendment of Water Powers would be a local law change, which would require two readings and a public hearing to be set by the Mayor within 10 days after the first reading. The first reading would take place tomorrow night if the Council votes to approve the referendum.  A public hearing would occur sometime in or around June 12th. The second reading would then be read at the July 7th Common Council meeting with a full council vote to follow to pass (or not) the referendum through to the November ballot.

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 11.22.33 PM

On May 28th, the Water Department Board of Commission Chair Joe DeCicco issued a press release cautioning the public to ‘think carefully before you agree to change the governance (of water sales outside the city of Kingston)’   The press release was issued on Kingston Water Department letterhead, that included all the names of the Water Board of Commissioners,  Superintendent Judith Hansen and Mayor Shayne Gallo.

At last evening’s meeting, Corporation Council Andy Zweben clarified that “The press release that was issued by the Water Department was not authorized by the Mayor, or the other members of the Water Department to the best of his knowledge and does not represent how he feels on this issue.”  Andy Zweeben also relayed that speaking to the Mayor today, he stated that “…if the local law is passed, he will sign it.  They’ll be a referendum and the voters will decide.”

Zweeben also expressed his discomfort with “the speed in which the referendum was moving” (* Please see below). But the Public Safety/General Government Committee has been working on this since March of this year where his office has been in attendance. That’s three months of discussion and it being on the Corporation Council’s radar.   Regardless, we appreciate Corporation Council’s efforts here. Whether willingly or not, they provided the council with the information that they needed to move this ahead.

In order now for the referendum to be placed on the ballot, the council will need to pass through the resolution for referendum tomorrow, and a public process as described above must take place. All of which needs to be accomplished by the end of August in order for it to be submitted to the Board of Elections.

* Clarification:   Watching for many months in this case, we have seen the Water Powers change go from a local law change, to a referendum to a combination of the two. As citizens, we depend on the good advice of our elected and appointed officials to understand the proper process. 

We received a communication from Corporation Council Andrew Zweeben who said that we had misrepresented what he said at the last Public Safety/General Government committee meeting (see above and below).  On the subject of the speed of the referendum,  what he was referring to was that it was quick to draft an amended local law in just one week (5 days) which is true and he would have preferred more time to do so.  Given the tight deadline to get this passed and onto the ballot in November, it is the case. We apologize for the misunderstanding. 

 

You can view video from last evening’s meeting:
11:16 – 17:08   Resolution 134
“Amend charter to authorize public referendum re: Water Powers”

Tonight (June 2nd),  the Common Council will vote on whether or not to pass a resolution for a referendum. If it does, the first reading of the proposed amendment will take place for the clock to start ticking.

Citizens are encouraged to speak tonight to support (or not) of a referendum for the November ballot.  Public Comment will begin tonight at 7:30pm. Please arrive 10 minutes early to secure a seat and to sign-up.  This event will be filmed thanks to Kingston News.

Kingston City Hall
Council Chambers
420 Broadway
Kingston, NY

Kingston Alderman Questions Demolition of Potential Historic Properties in Kingston.

 

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By Rebecca Martin

Today, Ward 3 Alderman Brad Will issued a communication to the Common Council regarding his concern of the potential demolition of what are  potentially significant historic properties in Kingston. The public is invited to attend the next Common Council meeting on Tuesday, May 5th to voice in on the following information. To view KingstonCitizens.org’s Facebook invite on the upcoming meeting, please visit our FACEBOOK page.

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Having reached out to residents who are experts in the field of historic preservation, please note the following:

Attached find two reports prepared by an ACRA-Accredited archaeologist for the NYS DOT in 2002, and two current real estate market estimates.  There is some discrepancy of physical address between tax roll, Ulster GIS, and the reports, but none regarding the historical significance of both properties – constructed ca. 1810-1830.  Note on page two of each report that the subject property “meets eligibility criteria” for inclusion on both State and National Historic Registers, and that each “embodies the distinct characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction; or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction.”

These two structures should be saved – along with others that we will be asked to appropriate funds for destruction.  They are two hundred year old structuresthat speak to Kingston’s history – they should and can be preserved.  Properties should be re-marketed to eligible buyers (individuals or organizations) for reasonable asking prices that facilitate and encourage their preservation.  Clear and attractive identifying signage should be placed at the properties that state they are City-owned and for sale.  Absent these steps, Kingston risks losing much credibility of the marketing message stating that “Historic Is Just Our Beginning.”

Equally important will be the City developing comprehensive and public-accessible criteria to evaluate not only the structural integrity – but also the historic value and status – of any property that is being considered for demolition.  This means the City has to do its homework with SHPO, DOT, the County, Heritage Area Commission, Friends of Historic Kingston, and any other entity that may offer valuable information regarding a given property’s status.

Thanks,

Brad Will
Alderman, City of Kingston

 

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FROM THE CITY OF KINGSTON TOURISM WEB PAGE:

Tourism

“The City of Kingston is nestled in the heart of Ulster County, New York. It is 91 miles north of New York City and 59 miles south of Albany. Kingston was New York’s first capital in 1777, and was burned by the British on October 16, 1777, after the Battles of Saratoga. In the 19th century, the city became an important transport hub after the discovery of natural cement in the region, and had both railroad and canal connections. Passenger rail service has since ceased, and many of the older buildings are part of three historic districts, such as the Uptown Stockade District, the Midtown Neighborhood Broadway Corridor, and the Downtown Rondout-West Strand Historic District.”

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UPSTATER ARTICLE, EXCERPT – DECEMBER 8, 2014:

Historic is Just Our Beginning – But We’re Not Just Getting Started

“Here in Kingston we say, “Historic is just our beginning,” but when it comes to historic preservation, we aren’t just getting started. We know that when people are looking to move to a city like Kingston, back to a place where population has declined over the years as factories closed or the shift took place toward the suburbs, they look for historic areas first.

“We have historic districts in Uptown where the original Stockade was established — along West Chestnut Street with grand views of the Rondout and the Hudson — and in the Rondout near the waterfront. But now we are taking steps and taking stock in our historic assets so we can plan for the future and expose our past.” – Gregg Swanzey, Director of Economic Development & Strategic Partnerships, City of Kingston

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Become a Water Board Commissioner for Kingston’s Water Department.

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By Rebecca Martin

To be considered as a Commissioner of the Kingston Water Board:

  1. Please submit your resume/CV (Curriculum Vitae) to Carly Williams, City of Kingston Clerk: cwilliams@kingston-ny.gov by April 30th, 2015 (because we were not given a date by the Mayor’s office, this date is arbitrary. However, we presume that it gives the city time to collect interest and make a decision).
  2. The term is five years.
  3. You must be a city resident or business person.
  4. Please let us know that you have applied by contacting KingstonCitizens.org at Rebecca@kingstoncitizens.org

On May 31st 2015, Water Board Commissioner Al Radel’s term will expire. Radel has served as a Commissioner on the Water Board now for 15 years, which is three terms. We appreciate his service.

That means, that a spot is opening up – and we are hoping that citizens who are interested in serving will step up.

The Mayor of Kingston appoints citizens (and business persons) to most Commissions/Boards/Councils in Kingston. Recently, we reached out to the Mayor’s office to find out what the process was. You know how fast we move around here, and after the second request without getting information, we decided to lay out our questions in a PETITION to give the public a chance to weigh in. That petition is live now, so have a look, consider signing it and leave a comment.

The questions were simple.

KingstonCitizens.org requests that Mayor Shayne Gallo require Water Department Superintendent Judith Hansen to:

  1. Make both the description of the Board of Water Commissioner’s role and length of term visible and public on the City of Kingston’s Water Department web page.
  2. Make all of the current members of the Board of Water Commissioners biographies and length of service to date visible and public on the City of Kingston’s Water Department web page.

Furthermore, that:

  1. The City of Kingston’s Mayor, who appoints Board of Water Commissioners, publish a public notice in a timely fashion announcing its search for new candidates for the upcoming term. This announcement should include a description of the Board of Water Commissioner’s expected role; preferred experience / qualifications for candidates; contact info and deadline for submissions; and the term length.

Yesterday, we heard from Water Department Superintendent Judith Hansen who responded:

“The Mayor asked that I contact you to let you know that appointments to the Board of Water Commissioners are made by the Mayor and that if you have anyone that would like to be considered for the position, they should submit their CV to him via the City Clerk’s Office.  Neither the Board nor any employee of the Water Department, including the Superintendent has any role in or input into the selection process.”

Not much in the way of answering our questions. Then later, we heard directly from Mayor Gallo’s office:

“This is in reply to your inquiry about how vacancies and/or appointments are made to the Board of Water Commissioners or any other City board or Commission. Be advised the following process has been used since the City Charter has been adopted: Any interested City resident and/or business person may apply for consideration to any City Board and/or Commission by providing a letter of interest with a resume and background information and/or curriculum vitae of said individual. The interested party should submit the above to the City Clerk’s Office.  Upon receipt, the letter of interest shall will forwarded to my office for review and consideration.   If you know of an interested City resident who would like to be considered for appointment to the Board of Water Commissioners and/or other City boards and commissions, please share the above information with them. Thank you for your interest.”

The points unanswered at least expose something critical.  We have some information on the process, but nothing that we didn’t already know.

So why can’t the City of Kingston provide a description of a Water Board Commissioner? Or nail down their term? Or share their biographies and experience so that we know who is at the helm of our water supply? Or put out a notice in the papers to residents with a deadline for their response?

As we are entering into an election cycle, we will take these things up again at an appropriate time.  We intend to advocate for Kingston to overhaul it’s city charter at a future date.

Until then:

To be considered as a new Commissioner of the Kingston Water Board:

  1. Please submit your resume/CV (Curriculum Vitae) to Carly Williams, City of Kingston Clerk: cwilliams@kingston-ny.gov by April 3oth, 2015 (because we were not given a date by the Mayor’s office, this date is arbitrary. However, we presume that it gives the city time to collect interest and make a decision).
  2. The term is five years.
  3. You must be a city resident or business person.
  4. Please let us know that you have applied by contacting KingstonCitizens.org at Rebecca@kingstoncitizens.org

Mayor Shayne Gallo this Morning on Kingston Community Radio.

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By Rebecca Martin

This morning, Mayor Shayne Gallo was live on Kingston Community Radio where he discussed his point-of-view regarding the proposed Niagara Bottling Company project. It begins at 1:36:09.

I don’t have enough, and the majority of Kingston residents and business/water users don’t have enough information to say ‘yay’ or ‘nay’.”
Since September, KingstonCitizens.org has provided the community with documentation, expert evaluation and videos of almost every significant meeting to expose a great deal of information. It is one of the key reasons, in fact, that the city currently has what it does in order to have crafted several resolutions in support of the DEC being Lead Agency and the CoK being named an Involved Agency.  In addition, the work that has been forged through a steady citizen effort is perhaps would be one of the main reasons a Positive Declaration (pos dec) will be determined. Without a pos dec, the public wouldn’t have any of the information the Mayor claims it needs. 

There’s transparency now.
There is transparency now, thanks to the citizen volunteers working diligently to provide factual information (or to show in some cases the lack thereof).

Quite frankly, I don’t care about the non-residents.
He most certainly should given that the sale of Kingston’s water impacts the entire region. The amount of water Niagara is asking for, too, is an exorbitant amount even for them.  Everyone should be watching this closely, as how this process is handled will set a precedent on how national/international water bottling companies proceed in NY State. 

I’ve only gotten five phone calls, including the individual who is spearheading the opposition against the project.
Is that so?  Kingston citizens. Let the Mayor know what you think either way.  Let it also be known that KingstonCitizens.org is not spearheading ‘opposition’.  All along, it has been our goal to work to bring information out to the public so that the public has an understanding and a voice in the matter.  If there is opposition, it’s because the public isn’t comfortable with the way this process has been organized thus far.  Elected officials involved need to take responsibility here.

In the meantime, give him a buzz.  845/334-3902. 

There is no reason why the SEQR process can’t work.
He’s right. But in order for that to occur, a positive declaration must be determined, a coordinated review must take place and the Action must not be segmented. 

Mayor Gallo – “It’s the construction, it’s a 53 million dollar installation of basically a water work that will provide water, ok, for their product. So with all due respect Walter (the radio host) a project that size, OK….

Walter (Radio Host) – “The City, the water department is going to spend $53 million dollars.

MG – “No, here’s the thing – you see you’re also not informed properly first of all.

W – “I’m  just asking the question.”

MG – “The water department stepped back, the Town of Ulster with Niagara they are going to have to spend the money for the SEQR process. The COK is not spending a dime. We’re not an involved agency….here’s how it works. If we were involved in the design, the construction and the funding. If we had discretion over any one of those things with this project then we’d be the Involved Agency. But we don’t!

This all begins at 1:38:59.  The Mayor speaks about there being a “53 million dollar installation of basically a water work that will provide water, OK, for their project.”  In other words, the estimated cost of the facility is $53 million dollars based on the Environmental Assessment Form crafted by Niagara and their consultant the Chazen Companies and a consolidated grant application that Niagara Bottling Company submitted through the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Council (in fact, here they are seeking more public funding for the build of the plant – on top of the tax abatements they would hope to receive through Start-Up NY. The grant funding will be determined by December 10th).  He also insinuates that the City of Kingston won’t ‘pay a dime’ for the SEQR process which is again is true. The applicant always pays for all of the associated environmental study costs. But this isn’t news.

According to the WILL SERVE  letter issued by the Kingston Water Department, it is determined that in order to provide the Niagara Bottling Company with their water request, “the preliminary estimate for the cost of the work, without a geotechnical investigation and assuming minimal rock removal, is approximately $2 million dollars”.

What does that mean? The Kingston Water Department has clearly stated here that additional improvements to the Kingston Water Department water distribution system would be necessary.  If the Niagara Bottling project is approved, the City will need the assent of the City of Kingston Common Council in order to make those improvements. See Kingston Charter C11-4  making the City of Kingston an INVOLVED AGENCY. 

All of this begs the question. Who is the one that is misinformed?  Citizens, it most certainly is not you.