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.
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”
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” (VIEWTape #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 email@example.com
Special thanks to Clark Richters of the Kingston News for helping us to document the evening.
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
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”
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
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.
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.
VIEW:Kingston Common Council’s Memorizing Resolution: “Resolution 214 of 2016: Resolution of the Common Council of the City of Kingston New York, Approving a Memoralizing Resolution Opposing the Adoption of the U.S. Coast Guard Proposed Rule 2016-0132.”
Tonight, the Kingston Common Council passed a memorializing resolution “opposing the adoption of the U.S. Coast Guard Proposed Rule” for the Anchorage project with a vote of 7 – 1 (Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills being the solo ‘no’ vote, stating she had more questions. At this time, she seemed to be supportive of the Shipping Corporations request to create 43 berths in 10 locations, opening up 2400 acres to new anchorages in some of the most ecologically sensitive areas of the river. 42 of the 43 berths are proposed to be “long term” which means that barges could anchor there for days. This is not as the vessel operators like to say as being “nothing new”. This would represent a huge increase in the anchoring of commercial vessels in the Hudson between the GW Bridge and Albany, turning our river into a parking lot for large barges and vessels while they wait for dock space to open up in Albany.) Ward 4 Alderwoman Nina Dawson was absent this evening.
The U.S. Coast Guard is taking comments until Dec. 6 on its WEBSITE. With the passing of resolution 214 of 2016, the Kingston Common Council will now be in a position to submit theirs, and join Kingston Mayor Steve Noble who earlier in the year, on August 22, 2016, submitted comments ending with “The City (of Kingston) has spent decades revitalizing its waterfront. Many organizations have worked to clean up the Hudson, to protect its habitats and make it attractive to recreation and tourism. For safety sake, transient vessel berthing is acceptable. Long-term use is not.”
VIEW 26:46 – 29:00: Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills defend her position in support of the proposed Anchorage project during the Kingston Common Council Caucus on 10/3/16. It begins at 26:46 and ends at 29:00. (Video brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org by Clark Richters of the Kingston News.)
VIEW 40:46 – 44:09: The passing of the memorializing resolution video is below. It begins at 40:46 and ends at 44:09. (Video brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org by Clark Richters of the Kingston News.)
Ward 1 Alderwoman Lynn Eckert prior to the vote states that, “We are obligated to protect the public good. There are too many people who rely on a healthy, ecologically sound Hudson River.”
Here is video from the Kingston Common Council meeting from 9/13/16 that includes a discussion on the ethics law, and the midtown Spiegeltent proposal brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org thanks to Clark Richters of The Kingston News.
33:25 – 34:50
Gwen Sorenson, Owner of Stone Soup, Midtown Kingston
34:56 – 37:20
Hillary Harvey, Kingston NY Reading testimony from Michael and Therese Drapkin
Residents and business owners in Kingston, NY
37:22 – 39:12
Owen Harvey, Kingston NY
39:15 – 40:37
Pam Blum, Kingston NY Views reflect many of their neighbors
41:00 – 44:32
Richard Frumess, Resident (Rondout) and Business Owner (Midtown, Kingston)
44:36 – 45:16
Joanne Myers, Kingston NY
45:20 – 46:26
Lynn Johnson, Kingston NY
46:40 – 48:20
Ken Gruber, Kingston NY
48:21 – 50:35
John Grosswald, Kingston NY
50:40 – 54:08
Joe Leoni, Tillson, NY
54:18 – 58:37
Dr. Adam Soyer, Kingston NY
58: 38 – End of Video
Renate Soyer, Kingston NY
00:00 – 3:10
Renate Soyer, Kingston NY
(Continued from Video #1)
3:38 – 5:05
Mary Cavanagh, New Paltz, NY
5:10 – 7:12
Mark Porter, Kingston NY
7:29 – 14:35
Elmer LaSewr, Kingston NY
14:38 – 19:15
Marco Ochoa Representing Latino Community
19:16 – 24:37
Pat Courtney, Resident and Business Owner, Kingston NY
24:52 – 26:37
Artie Zapell, Kingston NY
26:40 – 27:50
Michelle Hirsch, Kingston NY
27:52 – 29:17
Michelle Whittacker, Kingston, NY
30:00 – 34:30
Jay Martin, Accord NY
34:31 – 36:40
Stephanie Nystrom, Kingston, NY
Resident and Business Owner
36:49 – 38:33
Scott Harrington, Hurley NY
Kingston business owner
38:55 – 40:42
John Reinhardt, Kingston NY
40:50 – 44:33
Joan Horton, Kingston NY
44:39 – 48:50
Lorraine Farina, Kingston NY (Clarifies Shooting Range info in Albany shared by Dr. Adam Soyer in his early testimony)
49:10 – 51:49
Robert Fancell, Kingston NY
51:50 – 54:12
James Childs, Kingston NY Representing the Board of Education
54:20 – 57:36
Sue McConachy, Kingston NY Business Owner
57:38 – End of Video
Nardia Bennett, Kingston NY
00:00 – 2:02
Nardia Bennett, Kingston, NY
2:20 – 5:30
Joe Pugliese, Kingston NY
5:35 – 8:30
Linda Hackett, Kingston NY
9:02 – 12:25
Jennifer Schwartz Berky, Kingston NY
12:28 – 13:50
14:45 – 17:58
Nina Dawson (Ward 4)
Has concerns about amending the law. Supports tabling amending the law.
18:02 – 18:22
Dan Gartenstein explains procedure.
18:23 – 20:57
Maryann Mills (Ward 7)
Discussed broken process. If law isn’t amended, the city will have to stop ceremonies/events such as memorials or re-enactments.
20:59 – 24:00
Lynn Eckert, Chair and Dan Gartenstein
– Asks for a motion.
– Maryann Mills makes a motion to move on Deb’s language to amend the law.
– Lynn Eckert reads the amendment. VIEW TEXT
– Deb Brown seconds the motion.
– Lynn Eckert opens it up for discussion.
24:00 – End of Video
– Bill Carey brings up Bill Forte’s comments regarding ceremonies, etc was not included in Deb Brown’s text. There might be issues or exceptions to consider.
– Bill Carey asks Dr. Adam Soyer a question.
– Dr. Adam Soyer’s council Michael Moriello speaks. He believes the current law is unconstitutional “on its face.”
– More discussion between Bill Carey and Dan Gartenstein.
– Steve Schabot (Ward 8), what can we expect as a time frame? Dan Gartenstein answers. Month to month.
– Doug Koop clarifies are we amending or tabling? Doug Koop states that he is against amending the law.
– Deb Brown “This is a commercial area. It is not residential.”
– Maryann Mills states the city is about to update all of its zoning as per the Comprehensive Plan which was newly adopted.
She states she has read comments such as “If the shooting range were proposed to be in a more affluent part of Kingston, it would never occur.” She disagrees.
– Maryann Mills “There is an art of shooting. Where better place for it to be then in our art community. The art of shooting joining our arts area.” (33:50 – 34:00)
– Nina Dawson continues debate. As a mother, she has to look at the other side of things. Sorry that Dr. Soyer has had to wait for an answer, but feels that location is questionable. How can we not review Jennifer Schwartz Berky’s comments?
– Mike Moreillo speaks to his memorandum.
– Dan Gartenstein explains process.
– Nina Dawson “What if some of us don’t want to vote on the amendment tonight?”
– Lynn Eckert, Maryann Mills, Dan Gartenstein discusses process.
– Deb Brown “Why did you have me write this, then?”
– Maryann makes another motion to move the amendment through committee.
– Dan advises the committee tables.
– Discussion between Bill Carey, Maryann Mills on items missing from amended text.
– Nina Dawson on the amendment.
– Committee votes. Maryann Mills and Deb Brown in favor. Bill Carey, Doug Koop and Lynn Eckert are opposed.
– The amendment fails.
– More discussion, confusion on the vote.
– Lynn Eckert “there was an opportunity to table, but noone took it.”
– Meeting is adjourned.
At the last Water Board Meeting, a board member made a motion to “Make sure that those who record meetings notify us prior to doing such action and that we have a record of those doing such.”
In other words, you can’t record their meetings unless you alert the board in advance and then, submit some form of paperwork to be determined. It passed through unanimously and their Lawyer, Bill Cloonan, clarified and obliged (see video below. Starts at 7:31 and ends at 9:18).
What the board and their lawyer may not have realized is that what they requested was against NYS Open Meetings Law on recording devices.
Jennifer Schwartz Berky, KingstonCitizens.org’s Policy and Planning advisor, called Albany to confirm that this was the case, and crafted a letter to the Water Board requesting that they overturn the motion based on judicial precedents (see below).
Citizens have the right to record all city meetings, and as it pertains to the water board – we will continue to do so until the end of time. Or until at least the City of Kingston does it themselves. Water management is just too important for us not to.
We hope that this instance helps to inform the public on their rights in this case.
At a recent Finance Committee meeting on July 15th, 2015, council members were addressed by Gregg Swanzey, Director, Economic Development and Strategic Partnerships Department (EDSP) alleging that there were ‘serious’ grant management issues of seven of Kingston’s grants, and in particular those coming from Kingston’s Parks and Recreation office.
As far as we know to date, the directors of both departments have not yet sat down together to discuss these items – line by line – with their reports.
Based on video of the meeting, it appears that the EDSP office was charged by the Mayor to work on a report (that took approximately 8 weeks) to present to the Common Council’s Finance Committee. Apparently, the Parks and Recreation department received the report two weeks prior to respond in time for the July 15th meeting (although without a formal communication request by Parks and Recreation to be added to the evening’s agenda, the department was not officially allowed to respond during the meeting, although there are moments where they did as you will see in the video).
Generally, elected/appointed officials or citizens who wish to move something through to council start by sending a ‘communication’ to council president to be added to an appropriate committee so to present. An action for the committee to take is generally (if not always) requested which is then either approved out of committee and moved to council to vote or, kept on the agenda for further review and discussion.
In this case, the result (since there wasn’t any formal action being made) was for there to be an audit of all City of Kingston’s grants (suggested by Finance Committee chair Maryann Mills that evening).
The request for a citywide audit of grants, however, did not pass through Council in August. No further request or action has since been made on the subject based on press reports.
Before any further steps are taken by Kingston’s highest office that might further burden the public and cost more taxpayer monies, citizens should request that both Kingston’s Economic Development and Parks and Recreation Departments sit down face to face, having each a report of their own, to identify which are actual issues and which are not – and then, to proceed from there.
The meeting is roughly transcribed and included below so that citizens can follow along, as it can be hard to follow if you haven’t any background on this matter.
A short preview of NYNOW’s report on “Water Infrastructure Debate in the Hudson Valley”. The entire show will be posted online Monday morning, and may get a second airing on MetroFocus on Thirteen (PBS).
After today’s Water Board meeting, I would advise that the Town of Ulster – or anyone else for that matter – to stop stating that the City of Kingston’s Water Department will benefit from the sale of water to Niagara until there are estimated budgets and science in place to be absolutely sure.
Special thanks to Clark Richters of Kingston News for capturing today’s meeting.
Attached is video from tonight’s Town of Ulster Town Board meeting (11/6/14). Public comment begins at 29:10 where the board (i.e. Supervisor James Quigley) defensively answers questions regarding the Niagara Bottling Plant proposal. The questions posed include those on infrastructure costs, trailor truck traffic, City of Kingston resolutions, tax implications and a request to learn of any analysis on the fiscal benefits/costs of the Niagara project. Residents were told that the TOU is awaiting the start of the SEQR process and has done no preliminary research or has any information to share.