WHAT TO EXPECT: Kingston Common Council Caucus (6/1) and Kingston Common Council Meeting (6/2)


Monday, June 1st, 2015
Kingston Common Council Caucus
Conference Room #1
Kingston City Hall
420 Broadway, Kingston

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015
Kingston Common Council
Council Chambers
Kingston City Hall
420 Broadway, Kingston

Both meetings will be filmed. 


By Rebecca Martin

At last week’s Public Safety/General Government Committee meeting, a resolution for a referendum to be placed on the ballot in November passed unanimously through to the Common Council. The referendum, if approved by a full Council vote, would give the public the opportunity to vote on whether or not to amend the charter to include the Common Council for “Water Supply Outside of City”.

In Section C11-5C (Water Supply Outside of City), it says: (C) Such sales or sales must be approved by the New York State Water Power and Control Commission” (the NYS Water Power and Control Commission today is the Department of Environmental Conservation aka DEC).  The referendum would ask the public to approve or not the inclusion of the Common Council,  “and the common council.”   That simple amendment would give the public a say as to water sales outside of Kingston’s city limits.  Additionally, Kingston would automatically be an “Involved” agency in SEQR in the case one were ever triggered again.

In the meantime, the public’s water would have a layer of protection that would allow for thoughtful policy to be developed for sustainable growth and economic development using this precious public resource.

This is one of many steps that need to be taken in order to help protect Cooper Lake and our watershed as a whole.  But by assuring that the sale of water outside of our small, local municipality includes our Common Council – it is a significant one.


Caucus (Monday, 6/1), which is a public meeting of supporters and members of a specific political party (in Kingston, our nine alderpersons are made up of eight democrats and one republican), occurs each month the evening before the full Common Council meetings. Much discussion is generally had on all agenda items, as well as often, conclusions as to which way council members will cast their vote the following evening. There isn’t a sign-up for public comment during Caucus, however you may contact Matt Dunn, the Council Majority Leader (see email address below), if you wish to be added to the agenda. For those who can attend caucus,  it is always enlightening and in this case, and if added to the agenda, will help you to better understand the dynamics that surround this issue.



It is very important that the public plan to attend the Kingston Common Council meeting on Tuesday, June 2nd to speak in support of the public referendum as described above if you are in favor of it.  Please consider to thank the Public Safety/General Government Committee for their leadership role here and on passing the resolution for referendum through to Council. Request that the City take any necessary steps to make a referendum possible for the November, 2015 ballot.  A public comment period begins shortly after 7:30pm. Please arrive 10 minutes early to sign-up to speak.   Keep your comments succinct, respectful and no longer than 3 minutes in length.

If you cannot be in attendance next week but wish to share your thoughts with city officials regarding this matter, with “REFERENDUM:  Water Supply Powers” in the subject.


Mayor Shayne Gallo
(845) 334-3902

Alderman-at-Large James Noble
(845) 331-4696

Matt Dunn, Ward 1 and Majority Leader
(845) 541-8880

Brian Seche, Ward 2 
(845) 335-5971

Brad Will, Ward 3
(845) 616-8664

Nina Dawson, Ward 4
(845) 616-8592

Bill Carey,  Ward 5 
(845) 339-1361

Elisa Ball, Ward 6
(845) 430-8521

Maryann Mills, Ward 7
(845) 331-7682

Steven Shabot, Ward 8
(845) 338-5060

Deb Brown, Ward 9 and Minority Leader
(845) 338-0763

Additional Reading from KingstonCitizens.org:

Resolution for Referendum Passes Unanimously Through Kingston Public Safety Committee

Moving Towards a Referendum

Powers for Sale of Water Outside of Kingston Put to Referendum? We Say Yes!

Checks and Balances. Amend Charter to Include Kingston Common Council in Certain Water Sales.

Niagara Bottling Proposal Timeline: 116 Events


After The Election: Recycling Campaign Lawn Signs

After an election cycle, have you ever wondered what to do with those campaign lawn signs that you agreed to place on your property? Do you call the candidates and offer them back? Take them apart to recycle them? Re-use them for lawn sales?

I decided to take a look on-line to see if New York State had any lawn sign recycling program in place.

Nope. At least not so far as I could see. There are, however, several municipalities who have created such a thing (in Florida for example and of course California).

I wonder if those running for office would agree to do away with lawn signs. Not plausible? Then how about holding onto them to re-use in the case that they run again in the future. Most everyone has an attic, right?

Here is a good link to ‘Planet Green’ where you can read more about the recycling possibilities.

– Rebecca Martin

How To Follow General Election Results In Kingston And Ulster County

If you’re like me, you have children and a strict routine to follow on any given night. No general election parties for you!

Here are a few sites and tips to get up to the minute results so you too don’t have to wait for the Wednesday morning paper:

1. Board of Elections – Election results page (there will be a link to today’s election results sometime this evening. Check in periodically today).

2. Adam Bosch will probably do an up-to-the minute report on the Times Herald Record web page

3. Check out Public Access Channel 23. They are back on the air and in the past have reported accurate results.

If you have any further tips, please note them here in the comment section of this blog post.


– Rebecca Martin

November General Elections: Amendment Proposals Citizen’s Need To Know

In the November general election, there are two proposals on the ballot that most citizens and public officials know little about. Taken from the League of Women Voters 2009 Voter’s Guide, here is what we know will be helpful this election cycle (special thanks to all who helped us in our search, particularly District 6 Legislator Jeanette Provenzano).

– Rebecca Martin

What will be on the ballot on Election Day, November 3rd, 2009?

Voters in New York State will elect local officials (e.g. your mayor, town supervisor, town council members, etc.). You will also be voting on two statewide ballot proposals, and may be voting on local ballot proposals.


This Voter’s Guide will help you to evaluate the two ballot proposals that will be on the November 2009 ballot. Both are amendments to the New York State Constitution. Read about the amendments and decide whether you wish to vote for or against each one. Look carefully for them on the ballot; sometimes they are easy to miss.


FORM OF SUBMISSION (how the proposal will be presented to you on the ballot):

Amendment to section 1 of article 14 of the Constitution, in relation to the use of certain forest preserve lands by National Grid to construct a 46 kV power line along State Route 56 in St. Lawrence County. The proposed amendment would authorize the Legislature to convey up to six acres of forest preserve land along State Route 56 in St. Lawrence County to National Grid for construction of a power line. In exchange, National Grid would convey to the State at least 10 acres of forest land in St. Lawrence County, to be incorporated into the forest preserve. The land to be conveyed by National Grid to the State must be at least equal in value to the land conveyed to National Grid by the State. Should the amendment be approved?

What will this amendment do if approved by the voters?

The “Forever Wild” clause of the NYS Constitution prohibits any development in the Adirondack Forest Preserve, including the building of power lines, unless the constitution is specifically amended to allow it. A constitutional amendment requires passage by two separately elected state Legislatures and then approval by the voters. This amendment has been passed unanimously by the Legislatures that took office in 2007 and 2009, and is now being presented to the voters on the November, 2009 ballot.

This amendment will make constitutional an action that has, in fact, already taken place. The NYS Power Authority, with the involvement and agreement of the interested environmental and municipal groups, approved the building of a back-up power line through forest preserve land to protect the health and safety of the residents of the village of Tupper Lake. The line was built and activated in May of 2009.

What is the background on this proposal?

Before this new power line was built, the village of Tupper Lake had frequent power outages caused by damage to its single electrical supply line, principally from falling tree limbs in forested land along its route. There was no back-up line in the event of power failure, and during the winter alternative shelter had to be provided to village residents. This was considered an urgent situation that could not wait for the completion of the constitutional amendment process for relief, since it affected the health and safety of the villagers. The most environmentally friendly route for the new line traverses about two miles of Adirondack Forest Preserve land, affecting a small number of physical acres. While the new line couldhave been detoured to avoid forest preserve land, the detour would have involved a six mile cut through old-growth undeveloped forest and wetlands, endangering the habitat of wildlife. The chosen route along an existing road through previously cleared preserve land was judged to be more ecologically friendly.

National Grid, the builder of the line, will compensate for the loss of existing preserve land by conveying new forest preserve land to the State. This new land must be of equal or greater value than the land that was lost. Environmental and civic organizations are supportive of this remedy to what was a serious and persistent public health and safety issue. Since the amendment is specific to this situation, it does not give broader constitutional permission to other such solutions; each would require another constitutional amendment.

The League of Women Voters could not identify any organizations or opinions in opposition to this amendment.


FORM OF SUBMISSION (how the proposal will be presented to you on the ballot):

Amendment to article 3 of the Constitution, in relation to authorizing the Legislature to allow prisoners to voluntarily perform work for nonprofit organizations. The proposed amendment would authorize the Legislature to pass legislation to permit inmates in state and local correctional facilities to perform work for nonprofit organizations. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

What will this amendment do if approved by the voters?

The NYS Constitution currently prohibits labor performed by prisoners in state or local correctional facilities to be “be farmed out, contracted, given or sold to any person, firm, association or corporation”, except the state or any political division of the state and its public institutions. This means that prisoners cannot perform work, even voluntarily, for nonprofit organizations, such as churches, charities, social service agencies or educational institutions. If passed by the voters, this amendment will remove this constitutional impediment, and will authorize the Legislature to allow these inmates to voluntarily perform work for nonprofit organizations.

What is the background on this proposal?

The sponsors for the legislation proposing this constitutional amendment argue that prohibiting prisoners from voluntarily performing work for nonprofit organizations denies these often under-funded organizations access to a willing labor force for tasks such as grounds-keeping. They say that many localities have requested that the prohibition be removed. They also say that allowing inmate work crews to provide labor to these organizations will help fill the gaps in funding them, and will give the inmates a sense of “giving back” to the community.

The sponsors also make the point that passing this amendment would only give the Legislature authority to pass a law allowing inmates to do such work. This “enacting legislation” could include restrictions, in the interest of public safety, on which inmates would be eligible to perform this work. Two separately elected Legislatures passed this constitutional amendment with near unanimous votes in favor.

The League of Women Voters could not identify any organizations or opinions in opposition to this amendment.

What do I need to be aware of for this election?

Some local polling places will be piloting the new optical scanning equipment; the lever machines will no longer be in use at those polling places. You can consult the State Board of Elections web site for information on which polling places are involved in the pilot and how the process will work. The League’s Voter’s Guide Part I, cited above, also has good information about the new machines and voting process. As in prior elections, each polling place will have a Ballot Marking Device (BMD) for use by voters who are disabled and cannot use a lever machine, or by voters who want to vote on the BMD.

You should also be aware of what to do if you registered and your name is not on the rolls when you go to your polling place. The League’s Voter’s Guide Part I explains what to do in that situation; you should ask the poll worker for advice, and you either will be directed to a different polling place or assisted in voting by affidavit ballot. You should also plan to bring identification – a driver’s license, valid photo ID, current utility bill, bank statement, government check or some other government documentation that shows your name and address – especially if you are voting for the first time.