Request that Ulster County Legislators Censure County Officials When Violating Sexual Harassment Policies

TONIGHT:   During public comment at tonight’s Ulster County Legislative meeting, request that county legislators immediately censure any county offical when in violation of county sexual harassment policies.

Tuesday, October 15th @ 7:00pm
County Office Building
6th Floor
244 Fair Street
Kingston, NY 12401


On Friday October 4th, Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan (D) called on the legislature to publicly condemn Legislator Hector Rodriguez (D), who has been credibly accused of sexually harassing as many as eight women according to an independent investigation.

“Clearly, these actions, had they involved any member of my own administration, would lead to a summary dismissal. Legislator Rodriguez violated the public trust, violated women, and is unfit for public service.”

In summarizing the testimony of the women, the investigator found that “Mr. Rodriguez exploited his position as a legislator to gain access to multiple women in an effort to proposition them and ‘hit on them’.” When the women declined his advances he retaliated by refusing to interact with them professionally. At least two of the women directly confronted Legislator Rodriguez about his sexually harassing behavior and one woman stated that he “forcibly kissed her.” Additionally, while working at the Golden Hill Nursing Home, Legislator Rodriguez received a written warning in 2014 asking him to cease making sexual advances after an employee reported that he engaged in unwanted physical contact and made her feel “uncomfortable.”

While individual legislators have condemned his behavior, the legislature itself has not issued a collective statement acknowledging the wrongdoing and upholding a commitment to zero tolerance.   There have been discussions at censuring Legislator Rodriguez at tonight’s meeting at 7pm, though not all members of the caucus support censure.  


Censure is a formal, and public, group condemnation of an individual, often a group member, whose actions run counter to the group’s acceptable standards for individual behavior.” A formal statement of disapproval is the least that the Ulster County Legislature can do in this circumstance.

Censure holds no professional repercussions beyond what Rodriguez has already revealed, but it has significant meaning to the victims and the public-at-large to know that sexual harassment will not be tolerated in Ulster County government.

SIGN THE PETITION: Kingston Common Council must uphold its affordable housing mandate and provide constituents with a full accounting of Kingstonian public funds

View of the Kingstonian and its private swimming pool. Rendering by Mackenzie Architects.

Dear Members of the Kingston Common Council, 

We write regarding the zoning amendment request for the Kingstonian project. The Ulster County Planning Board has reviewed the proposed amendment and has determined that, as presented, it is inconsistent with the City’s zoning and Comprehensive Plan. If the amendment is to be adopted, the County has required changes, particularly the inclusion of affordable housing. We urge the Council to make the changes the County requires. Affordable housing is a critical need in Kingston, and there is no reason that a project receiving substantial public subsidies should escape the responsibility to supply affordable units.

Ulster County and the City of Kingston have an affordable housing crisis, with 55% of residents county-wide spending over 30% of their income on rent. When the City adopted the Mixed Use Overlay District in 2005, it called for 20% affordable units per project. Kingston’s 2025 Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 2016, took the mission city-wide, calling for affordable units in all new residential developments throughout the city. Kingston is the only city in the Mid-Hudson region currently pursuing coverage under New York State’s new rent control laws to rein in its spiraling housing costs.

Applying the City’s affordable housing requirements to the proposed 131-unit Kingstonian project would bring much needed affordable units to Kingston families. In contrast, allowing construction of a luxury housing development with no affordable units would only worsen the housing crisis by further gentrifying Uptown and Kingston overall.

If the Common Council has determined that every developer in the city should provide affordable units at their own expense, then the heavily-subsidized Kingstonian project cannot be excused from providing the same.  

The Ulster County Planning Board warned in its letter that “it is disquieting that there is little disclosure of the public investment needed to bring the project to fruition.”  

The community is aware of at least $6.8 million in taxpayer-funded grants:

* $3.8 million from Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI);

* $2 million has been granted by the Empire State Development Corp; 

* A $1 million Restore NY Grant.

Here’s what our community remains in the dark about:

* The value of tax breaks through the Ulster County IDA, which may excuse the developer from paying sales and mortgage taxes, as well as portions of its city, county and school taxes;

* The value of all municipal real estate that will be contributed to the project, including Fair Street Extension, which will be eliminated, and the city parking lot parcel on North Front Street;

* The municipal parking revenue that will be lost once the public lot is sold. 

* The cost of any infrastructure upgrades the City will undertake to accommodate the project. 

* Any other public grants, tax credits, or subsidies the Kingstonian is seeking.

Therefore, we make two requests of the Common Council:

1. Do not amend the zoning map without also making the changes to the text of the zoning that the County requires. In particular, clarify that new multi-family housing must include affordable units.

2. Step up to your fiduciary responsibilities and provide the community with a full accounting of the public subsidies expected by the Kingstonian project. Ensure that all decisions requiring Common Council approval, including discretionary approvals and funding awards, have been identified and included in the SEQRA review. 

We look forward to your response.

SIGN THE PETITION: Kingston Common Council must uphold its affordable housing mandate and provide constituents with a full accounting of Kingstonian public funds (via

VIDEO: City of Kingston Water Department Host Public Information Session on Dam Project.

By Rebecca Martin

Tonight, the City of Kingston Water Superintendent Judith Hansen gave a thorough presentation to explain the phases and costs of the Cooper Lake Dam Project. We were pleased to learn that the city is in contact with the Town of Woodstock (an important partner where Kingston’s water supply is located) and also, that the worst case scenario for water rate increases is only approximately $79.81 PER YEAR for average users and $37.42 PER YEAR for minimum user. That’s a couple tanks of gas per year for a once in a century drinking water infrastructure investment.

Kingston is fortunate to have the drinking water supply that it does. It is some of the best drinking water in the state (if not the world).

“Most people pay $200 per month for cable ($2,400 per year), Natural Gas / Oil ($1,700 year per year) Cell Phones @ $100 per month ($1,200 per year), Electricity ($1,100 per year). The Kingston Water Department is asking residents to pay less than $500 per year for something that they can’t live without” said Water Superintendent Judith Hansen.

Still, for most on a tight budget any increase can create a hardship. A Home Water Assistance Program like the one that the New York City Department of Environmental Protection offers, “…is an initiative to make water and sewer bills more affordable for low-income homeowners.” A similar bill is making its way through NYS currently which is good news for everyone.

In the meantime, thanks to the Kingston Water Department and Board for their hard work and efforts.

Filmed by The Kingston News and brought to you by

Overview of Kingston Water system
1:46 – 8:26

Cooper Lake Dam: Project Drivers, Project Goals and Elements, Dam Rehabilitation Site Plan (Main Dam, West Dike), Construction Stating and Cofferdam, Cooper Lake (1957 Drought, Temporary Construction Level, Historial Elevation), Ashokan Reservoir Connection, Temporary Ashokan Reservoir Connection, Completed/Ongoing Permitting Items, Project Phasing, Engineers Opinion of Probable Construction Cost,
8:40 – 35:20

Ward 2 Alderman Doug Koop (Chair, Finance Committee)
“How are we going to pay all of this?”
35:25 – 35:37

Town of Woodstock Supervisor has been contacted. A presentation is being planned to occur at their community center.
35:38 – 36:40

Financial Implications
36:44 – 51:30

* Town of Ulster (ToU) purchases 700,000 GPD. ToU can make their own water. The city could ask that the ToU use their own supply, and send us 300,000 back.

* Purchasing raw water from the Ashokan Reservoir current rate is $1,800 per million gallons.

* The Dam project will cost an estimated $12 million (+ or -).

* 2019 Water Department budget is $4.8 million, most from the sale of water (94%). Every $45k in spending creates a 1% increase in rates.

* $250k per year are taxes paid out to the Town of Woodstock.

* There are not grants available to fix dams. Phase 1 and 2 fortunately (totaling $7m of the $12m required) is for drinking water supply work. There is funding available for that portion via WIIA and DWSRF.

* If the city were to bond the full $12m (which is unlikely) @ 3.5% for 20 years would create a 19% increase in water sales. The would mean that the average family user increase is $79.81 per year. The minimum bill payer increase of $37.42 per year.

Putting it into perspective.
51:34 – 52:31

“Most people pay $200 per month for cable ($2,400 per year), Natural Gas / Oil ($1,700 year per year) Cell Phones @ $100 per month ($1,200 per year), Electricity ($1,100 per year). The Kingston Water Department is asking residents to pay less than $500 per year for something that they can’t live without.” – Water Superintendent Judith Hansen

Town of Ulster Supervisor Jim Quigley
52:38 – 54:01

“Any consideration for financial impacts of users using less water to save money?”

VIDEO: Special Joint Meeting on the Kingstonian Project (9/26/19)

By Rebecca Martin

On September 26th, a joint meeting was held between the Kingston Planning Board, Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission (HLPC) and the Heritage Area Commission (HAC) to review a new design presented by the Kingstonian project’s architect Mackenzie Architects from Burlington, Vermont. The new design was triggered by a letter submitted by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) on September 19th stating that their current project design would indeed have “adverse effects to the Kingston Stockade Historic District.” It’s what historic preservation advocates had been saying from the start and why, in part, they had advocated for a positive declaration in SEQR. As you may recall, all that is required for a positive declaration (Pos Dec) for a Type 1 action in the State Environmental Quality Review process (SEQR) is for there to be a single potential adverse environmental impact. SHPO’s letter is confirmation of at least that.

In what typically takes months to address, the architect created a new design in a week’s time (between SHPO’s letter on 9/19 and the special joint meeting on the 9/26), comparing his ongoing process to Beethovan (video #1 starts at 16:46).

The Kingston Planning Board ultimately tabled the discussion. The HLPC also moved to table further consideration. The HAC did not have a quorum so did not vote.

I presume that the architects new design will be submitted to SHPO with comments from the meeting for further comment. The planning board agreed to set a special meeting in October.

The next planning board meeting is scheduled to occur on Monday, October 21 at 6:00pm. Currently, their agenda lists no detail.

The following video is a document of their discussion. Public comment takes place at the top of Video #1.

The meeting was filmed by The Kingston News brought to you by