Archives for category: Greene County

After nearly a five-year run, this blog will either shut down or transfer to other progressive hands by the end of next month. I hope it’s the latter. In either case, I wish readers in Greene and Columbia Counties good luck. Despite all indications to the contrary, here’s hoping things can change for the better.

—Thomas Pletcher

I plan to transfer or shut down this blog within the next couple of months, for two primary reasons. The first: progress on all fronts in this area is extraordinarily slow, and I don’t have the time, dedication or patience to continue promoting it. I hope someone better suited to the task will do so instead. The second reason is that local politics seem to have reduced relevance in light of growing dysfunction at the national level and throughout the world (guns, Trump, Brexit).

Tommorow’s Democratic Primary

Vote for Zephyr Teachout—she already has national recognition and that, plus a wide lead in fundraising, gives her a better chance of turning the 19th Congressional District Democratic. Her focus and authority on political corruption are also important, especially here in New York, where corruption continues apace.

The Presidential Election

I’ll probably have more to say about this before I leave, but for now I’ll just note we are facing an abysmal choice this November. Hillary Clinton is precisely the wrong candidate to field against Donald Trump—she is old news, and out of step with today’s electorate, especially young voters. Nevertheless, it’s important that she win.

Mass Shootings and Guns

This is the sleeper issue in American politics and the trigger (pun intended) that will eventually produce massive change in this country, perhaps even to the point of some sort of domestic breakup of our own. The willful distortion of the second amendment (it does say “well-regulated,” folks) has gone on for too long, to the point where our gun policies have slid into outright insanity. What’s more, no one is proposing appropriate solutions, such as the successful buy-back program implemented in Australia. "Common sense solutions" are not enough, as even gun advocates note. We have to remove the 300-some million guns already out there.

Last night, Will Yandik visited a Democratic meeting at the town hall in Tannersville. What he had to say was impressive.

Yandik, who is 38 (he looks younger) and runs a 100-year-old family farm in Columbia County, is running for Congress as a progressive. There is very little to separate him on most issues from Zephyr Teachout, his better-known competitor in the June 28 Democratic primary.

Will Yandik in Tannersville. Photo: Tom Pletcher,

Some readers will recall that this blog has already endorsed Ms. Teachout to replace Chris Gibson in Congress this fall. (Speaking of Chris Gibson, he surprisingly announced today that he is withdrawing from politics at the end of his current term.) But Yandik, in his brief address to the assembled Democrats and the follow-up Q & A, showed why many local voters really like him.

Yandik correctly views broadband as the single biggest economic issue for our region, and believes the federal government will need to play a role in finally bringing broadband to everyone, including laggard Greene County. He wants the environment protected and he wants consumer privacy preserved (backdoors in software to enable government surveillance should not be allowed, in his view).

Given the similarity of these stands to those of Zephyr Teachout, I asked Yandik why he decided to compete against her. His response: he believes that his local roots and knowledge give him a leg up and make him more resistant to Republican attack. He also noted that he feels the competition has made both candidates stronger.

Will Yandik is a strong candidate. It would be great if we could split the 19th Congressional District and elect Yandik and Teachout both. But we can’t, of course, and I continue to believe that Zephyr Teachout’s growing national reputation and superior name recognition make her the best candidate this time around. Even so, I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of Will Yandik.

Yesterday New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined the chorus of support for Zephyr Teachout for Congress. Here’s an excerpt from the senator’s "Send Zephyr to Congress" email:

"There’s another thing I love about Zephyr—she’s got courage. Running for office isn’t easy. You’re vulnerable in ways you never imagined. But that doesn’t seem to worry Zephyr. She has a real commitment to public service, a joy for the democratic process that you don’t often see."

Kirsten Gillibrand
Kirsten Gillibrand. Photo: Wikipedia.

The senator goes on to add, "I can’t wait to work with her on the New York delegation, and I think her unique voice will be a breath of fresh air in the halls of Congress."

Zephyr Teachout is far and away the best choice for Congress this fall. You can lend your support here.

A few days ago polled over 20,000 of its members in New York’s 19th Congressional District as to which candidate the progressive organization should support. The results are just in, via email:

  • Zephyr Teachout – 80%
  • Will Yandik – 19%
  • John Kehoe – 1%

MoveOn Endorses Zephyr
Zephyr Teachout, the Overwhelming Favorite.

As MoveOn says, "Zephyr Teachout literally wrote the book on ending corruption in politics. And she’s fought for those values alongside progressives for years. From pioneering small-dollar grassroots fundraising on Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, to challenging New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, to working alongside Lawrence Lessig to get big money out of politics, Zephyr Teachout has been a lifelong champion of fixing our broken, money-driven political system.

"Zephyr is exactly the kind of progressive we need in Congress now more than ever."

Do you want to see a Democratic Congressperson representing the 19th? Then let’s all get with the program—Zephyr Teachout can beat any of the Republican candidates this November.

Will New York’s 19th Congressional District Democrats never get it right?

Back in January, it seemed they had: party leaders from every county in the district endorsed Zephyr Teachout, the best candidate to run for this office in ages.

Since then, though, renegade party elements in Columbia County—and now Greene County as well—have endorsed Columbia County farmer Will Yandik.

Will Yandik
Will Yandik. Photo: Daily Freeman.

Yandik is not a bad candidate per se, but he has nowhere near the stature of Teachout and has no business running against her. He trots out the tired “carpetbagger” argument to support his role as an interloper.

To repeat, Zephyr Teachout is far and away the best candidate this district has seen in some time. Is she a recent arrival to the district? Yes, she is, and so what? It’s not as if the natives have accomplished much lately.

Fortunately, Teachout is likely to vanquish Yandik in the primary, then prevail in the general election, thus putting the 19th District in Democratic hands. But in the meantime it’s irksome Yandik is running at all, and doubly irksome that local party leaders have endorsed him.

It’s encouraging whenever a local politician moves to do something worthwhile, so we salute Assemblywoman Didi Barrett for her recent call to Columbia County leaders to address the woeful broadband situation.

This site has been urging improved broadband coverage for years, but all we’ve had so far is lots of political posturing (I’m looking at you, Chris Gibson) and no real-world impact. Instead, local officials on both sides of the river drag their feet and resist any sort of positive initiative or, if they do try to act, they invariably screw things up somehow.

Didi Barrett
Didi Barrett speaks out. Photo:

What’s more, David Salway, Director of the state’s Broadband Program Office, is projecting 2019 as a broadband delivery date. After years of pointless local delay, the state’s target seems unconscionably far off, even if there is a lot of work to do. Meanwhile, officials like Columbia County Planning Commissioner Ken Flood are “waiting to see” (the favorite activity of many local politicos) whether or not Columbia County is even eligible to receive state broadband funding.

By speaking out forcefully now, Barrett is calling attention, yet again, to the need to finally tackle, begin work on and resolve an intractable local problem that has been ignored for far too long.

I received a cheaply produced political flyer in the mail the other day—it was from Pete Lopez, getting an early start on next year’s Congressional election. The issue Lopez chose to highlight? Broadband and the lack thereof.

Ordinarily it would be a good thing to have a politico emphasize the need for broadband in our area and vow to help bring us up to speed. But Lopez is following in the footsteps of Chris Gibson, another politician who claimed for years to recognize the importance of broadband to this area and did fuck-all to make it a reality. This just seems like more of the same.

Pete Lopez
Pete Lopez: we need more broadband.

Lopez says he is counting on $500 million in state money to expand high-speed broadband to underserved areas. He says “a high priority for me will be to use these funds to build new Internet lines that would effectively serve our rural communities.” But he does not explain how he will achieve this. How, for example, will he persuade Mid-Hudson Cable to accept government funding to expand its service when it has rejected such funding in the past?

The question is of more than academic interest. Greene County ranks last in New York State in broadband availability, and the service it does have is arguably sub-standard.

Fortunately, another New York politician is on the case—New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. His office is investigating whether current broadband providers are actually delivering the speeds they promise. (Spoiler: in many cases, they’re not.) You can help hold your provider accountable by going to this page, filling out the form, taking the broadband speed test at and attaching a screenshot of your test results to the form you submit to the AG’s office.

My provider is Mid-Hudson Cable, and according to the test I am receiving less than half the speed I’m paying for.

I’d like to see someone do something about that, and with luck someone will. But it’s likely to be the Attorney General’s office, not Pete Lopez.

Perhaps prompted by Thanksgiving, I’ve been looking for some good news to offset the grim drumbeat of November’s headlines. I found some bright spots close to home in the recent Greene County elections. These three Democratic victories represent three steps forward for the county:

  • Aidan O’Connor Jr. wins a seat in the Greene County Legislature, representing Durham.
  • Lori Torgersen wins a seat in the Greene County Legislature, representing Windham, Ashland, Jewett and Prattsville.
  • Doreen Davis becomes the new Catskill Town Supervisor!

Daesh may represent a growing worldwide scourge, climate change may have passed the point of no return and the Republican Presidential candidates may be know-nothings, opportunists and demagogues (not to mention obstructionists blocking every important reform in American society, starting with sane gun control policies). At least we’re making a little progress locally, thanks to the three winners cited above.

As Greene County’s largest city, Catskill should pave the way toward progress. The slate of Democratic candidates representing Catskill in tomorrow’s election are in a position to do exactly that.

Let’s start with Doreen Davis, who is running for Catskill Town Supervisor against incumbent Joseph Leggio. Doreen has done a terrific job as the Greene County Democratic Committee Chair, infusing new energy and commitment into the party at the local level. Her extensive Fortune 100 managerial experience and her ideas for improving economic development, citizen participation and digital infrastructure are far superior to anything her opponent can offer. She would be a superb supervisor.

Elect Doreen Davis Town Supervisor
Elect Doreen Davis Catskill Town Supervisor. Photo: Beth Schneck.

Doreen’s husband Crane Davis is a sterling candidate in his own right. A decorated Vietnam veteran (Bronze Star, Purple Heart), Crane is a communications professional—former Time Magazine correspondent and producer and host on Channel 13, WNET in New York— who also has extensive, high-level marketing and consulting expertise. He would be an outstanding asset for the city and county alike.

Elect Crane Davis to the County Legislature
Elect Crane Davis to the County Legislature. Photo: Beth Schneck.

The Davises aren’t the only highly qualified candidates running in Catskill, of course. Kevin Lennon, Joe Kozloski and Vinny Seeley are also running for the Greene County Legislature from District 1, alongside Crane Davis. Pat McCulloch is running for Town Councilman.

Help build a better Catskill: vote Democratic on Tuesday, November 3.