We had an informative educational panel on July 13 with Dr. Gerald Benjamin of The Benjamin Center and Jennifer Schwartz Berky, principal of Hone Strategic and District 7 Ulster County Legislator discussing Charters and Charter Reform.
To our delight, Dr. Benjamin took the time to mark up Kingston’s current charter which we felt was most important for the public to review. You will find his power point, frame by frame with video that is marked so that you can follow along. The audio isn’t great, but you can still hear. We do recommend headphones.
Recently, a citizen of the City of Kingston who lives near a new proposed Gas Regulating System to be located at 245 Washington Avenue by Central Hudson contacted us with some concerns. Gas and Electric Magnetic Field (EMF) Substations are a part of our landscape in Kingston, given the need for gas and electric in our daily lives.
But process is key, and it was the process that peeked our interest.
– The proposal went in front of the Kingston Planning Board where they determined the project to have a negative declaration in SEQR. In other words, they found it to have no environmental impacts that would require further study.
WHAT Come to the public hearing at City Hall, Council Chambers, on Monday, July 10th at 6:00 pm, and weigh in on the latest changes to the proposed Irish Cultural Center (ICC) project.
Kingston City Hall
Council Chambers (top floor)
Monday, July 10th
6:00 pm Sign-up to speak at 5:45pm
If you can’t attend the meeting, you can submit the comments in the body of this EMAIL and any other additional concerns you might have. The email will go directly to the Kingston Planning Board and City of Kingston. We will receive a copy, too, and will compile a packet to submit to the Board at the public hearing on July 10th.
Deadline for email submissions is July 7th.
WHY Public input on this project proposal so far has helped to make for a stronger Irish Cultural Center proposal. The public needs to keep weighing in until the project fully fits the Kingston waterfront community, or the ICC determines another location that is suited to their goals.
By Hillary Harvey
The Irish Cultural Center proposed for Abeel Street on the Rondout in Kingston has just come back to the Planning Board with the latest in a series of updates to their project site plan.
ICC Site Plans, March 8, 2017 VIEW Floor Plans, March 2, 2017 VIEW
Included are responses to the State Historic Preservation Office, the City of Kingston’s Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission, and the Ulster County Planning Board, all of which were presented at the June 12th City of Kingston Planning Board meeting.
The Irish Cultural Center of the Hudson Valley is proposed to be a 16,213 square foot newly constructed building on a 0.43-acre parcel at 32 Abeel Street with rights, granted by the City of Kingston’s Zoning Board of Appeals, to follow the zoning for West Strand Street. New designs indicate a red, brick building of three stories measuring 49.5′ from the Company Hill Path side (South Elevation), with one story underground on the Abeel Street side (North Elevation). There would also be an elevator accessible roof garden, with outdoor seating and a 12’ tall room that rises above the height of the building. On the Company Hill Path side, there would be three full balconies with exterior gathering space that each run the width of the building. The building would be a “community center” with a 171-seat theater, exhibition space, commercial kitchen, 70-seat pub/restaurant, flex space, offices for the ICC and the Ancient Order of Hibernians (the ICC’s parent organization), radio station, map room, etc. The project would have 8 on-site parking spots and seek a parking waiver from the Planning Board for 47 parking spaces.
There will be a public hearing on these changes at the City of Kingston’s Planning Board meeting on July 10th, during their regular meeting, and comments can be made via email to the Planning Board before July 7th. We encourage everyone to weigh in.
We are just about half way through our educational series this year, with this recent panel on “Public Education” that was so enlightening. Did you know that every summer, the Kingston City School District re-writes curriculum to supplement “Engage NY” by selected teachers in the district? Or that only 1% of the school district’s budget is federal dollars?
A special thanks to Robin Jacobowitz and James Shaugnessy for their time and service to our community. As always, to Julie, Peter, Matthew and staff at “Church Des Artistes” for hosting us.
“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.
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.
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”
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.
Sign up for the dates and times that are most convenient for your schedule (see below)
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.
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?
Submit your piece to KingstonCitizens.org: firstname.lastname@example.org to be shared in our “Citizen Opinions” section (rules apply).
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.
Ulster County Legislature: Dem/Rep Caucus and Regular Legislative Session
VIEW: Visit this link and choose dates and times that work for your schedule.
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.
Kingston Common Council: Caucus and Regular Meeting
VIEW Visit this link and choose dates and times that work for your schedule.
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.
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”
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.
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.
“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
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.
Resources: VIEW: KingstonCitizens.org’s “Trump Administration Initiatives and NYS Local/State Policy and Laws”
“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)”
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
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.
“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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.