Posts Tagged ‘crime and justice’

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Drug War History Events: The Great American Pot Story

smoke signals sml[1]Cannabis and its defining role in the culture wars and the ‘war on drugs’ declared by former New York State Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller forty years ago will be fully explored by award-winning investigative journalist Martin A. Lee in two separate events in the North Country on September 26-27.  Lee will also be speaking in Albany on September 28.

All three events are sponsored by the freedom education and human rights project, John Brown Lives!, as part of “The Correction,” the organization’s latest initiative that uses history as a tool to engage communities in examining the past and addressing critical issues of our time.  The focus of The Correction is the impacts of the 40-year era of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 16, 2013

ECO and Forest Ranger Exams Scheduled

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“I want, as game protectors, men of courage, resolution and hardihood who can handle the rifle, axe and paddle; who can camp out in summer or winter; who can go on snowshoes, if necessary; who can go through the woods by day or by night without regard to trails,” New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt said in 1899.

This fall, those who think they meet that description will have a chance to apply to the storied ranks of New York State Environmental Conservation Officers (ECO) or Forest Rangers.  The state will hold civil service exams for those positions on November 16, 2013.  Applications are being accepted until October 2. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 9, 2013

North Country Prisons: Hard Times in ‘Siberia’

prison-mapIn May 1973, Governor Nelson Rockefeller signed two controversial laws that would change life in the Adirondacks. The Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Plan, which the governor pushed through the state legislature, established new zoning rules for private land that aimed to protect open space and limit residential development. The other law set minimum prison sentences for drug users and pushers.

“I have one goal and one objective, and that is to stop the pushing of drugs and to protect the innocent victim,” the governor insisted, promising that the harsh new penalties would stem the epidemic of cocaine and heroin addiction in New York City.

As it turned out, the Rockefeller drug laws—which also included tough penalties for marijuana use—would rival the land-use regulations in their impact on the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Brian Mann On The Future Of Local Journalism

prison time media project banner largeSo here’s the sad truth about my life as a journalist working in the Adirondacks.  I wake up pretty much every day here in Saranac Lake wanting you – scratch that, needing you – to do three contradictory things at once.  First, I need you to care about what I do.  Whether I’m reporting on environmental issues, paddling down a river, or pulling together a year-long investigative series about America’s vast prison complex, I need you to share my conviction that these things matter.  In a world of Kardashians, infotainment and blink-and-you-missed it Twitter feeds, those of you who filter past this first step are already the rarest, purest gold.

The second thing I need you to do is put up with the fact that it’s part of my job to be kind of a jerk.  Not always, and not unnecessarily, at least I hope.  But kind of a lot of the time, it’s important for me to be pretty unlikable.  Ben Bradlee, the legendary editor at the Washington Post, was asked once about the backlash he faced for his reporters’ work on Watergate.  He said that their job wasn’t to be liked, but to scrap and dig and prod until they found the truth.  I’m not in Bradlee’s league, obviously.  I’m a small town reporter in rural Upstate New York.  » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 12, 2013

‘An American Tragedy’ Opera Preview at View

gillette-011View will present Francesca Zambello and the Glimmerglass Festival preview of the opera An American Tragedy on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. in Gould Hall. Glimmerglass Festival Artistic & General Director Francesca Zambello and singers from the 2013 season will present a program about the opera, An American Tragedy, by composer Tobias Picker and libretto by Gene Scheer.

Based on the Theodore Dreiser novel about the murder of Grace Brown, whose body was found in Big Moose Lake in 1906, An American Tragedy had its world premiere at the Metropolitan Opera in 2005, directed by Zambello. It will be given an original new staging at Glimmerglass in 2014, with a score revised by the composer and librettist. Zambello will talk about the process of bringing this opera to the stage at the Met and the exciting revisions that will be premiered at the Glimmerglass Festival in 2014. Excerpts from the opera, including a new aria, will be performed. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

State Seeks To Shut Rafting Company Again

cunningham-300x246The state attorney general’s office is seeking once again to shut down Hudson River Rafting Company, alleging that the company violated a court order by sending clients on whitewater trips without a licensed guide.

Assistant Attorney General G. Nicholas Garin says in court papers that the company and its owner, Patrick Cunningham, violated the order a month or so after resuming business this summer.

Last fall, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed suit against Cunningham accusing him of running an unsafe business. He sought to shut Hudson River Rafting permanently, but state Supreme Court Justice Richard Giardino ruled in May that Cunningham could resume operations under certain conditions, among them that he deploy only licensed rafting guides on trips on the upper Hudson River, including the Hudson Gorge. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Lawrence Gooley: A Trip To The Big City

89Life takes so many strange turns, you never know what to expect. We’ve seen that often while operating our own business, but recent events were particularly unusual, to the extent that I’d like to share them with you. Three weeks ago, near the end of that long stretch of rain nearly every day, we battled flooding and incurred some damage that cost us more than a few dollars. And up to that point, I had worked all day almost every day since New Year’s. That level of tired can get to you after a while, but an unexpected turn of events soon re-energized me.

While things were still unsettled, we received a phone call from a media outfit. It appeared to perhaps be a survey about television, and maybe about our viewing habits. We’ve received similar calls in the past, and with all the “busy-ness” going on, we could have ignored this one. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 24, 2013

A Short History of Local KKK Activities

KKK hdline 1924Last week in this space, I addressed the subject of cross-burnings in the North Country, which became common in the 1920s during a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan. Throughout the region, meetings were conducted by Klan leaders, and thousands of followers were added to their ranks. For many of us, it’s an uncomfortable part of Adirondack history, but there is another side to the story. Despite widespread intimidation spawned by secret meetings, robed figures, and fiery crosses, New York’s citizenry rose in opposition to the Klan policies of bigotry and exclusion. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 17, 2013

North Country Cross Burnings Are Nothing New

KKK cross burning LOCLast week the Watertown Daily Times reported a story that was disturbing on many levels. Knowing that it wasn’t equally disturbing to everyone (rest assured that bigotry is alive and well even in our lovely North Country) makes it even more unsettling. A snippet from the article said, “A Gouverneur man is worried about the safety of his family after he claims he was threatened by a Hammond man …. Ryann A. Wilson burned a cross and threatened to lynch Nigel A. Spahr, a black man ….”

If that is indeed what happened, it’s sickening in my opinion, but Wilson’s case will be settled by the courts. The point here instead is to address how we perceive ourselves in the Adirondack region. At the end of the article was this: “Sheriff Kevin M. Wells said the cross-burning was an isolated event. ‘It’s not something that occurs here.’ ” If only. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Remembering ‘Adirondack Detective’ Writer John Briant

JBriant 01aFor the second time in recent months, the Adirondacks lost a longstanding member of the regional writers’ community. John Briant of Old Forge, known far and wide for his Adirondack Detective series of books, passed away on May 14. I’m not a religious person, and I can’t say to what extent John was, but if he was devout, he probably looked forward to reuniting with his beloved wife, Margaret, who passed away in June 2012.

If you didn’t know the Briants but you attended book events in the area, they were the loving elderly couple who clung so closely to each other. Each seemed to support the other. Her death last year was a tragedy that many of us feared would be John’s undoing as well.

The world of literature is filled with moving stories of young love lost and the tortured souls of survivors, pining for what once was or might have been. As John spoke to me last year of Margaret’s passing, it became clear that, at least in this instance, age had nothing to do with love’s depth or fervor. He at times wept while describing her hospital stay, her unexpected death, and the deep sense of loss that had since enveloped his life. Had John not mattered to so many people in so many ways, he might well have left us soon after Margaret did―just from grief alone. He had lost, after all, his partner, love, and inspiration. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Judge: Hudson River Rafting Company Can Resume Business

cunningham-300x246A state Supreme Court judge has ruled that Hudson River Rafting Company must post a $50,000 performance bond to stay in business and pay $12,000 in fines for violations of the law.

However, Justice Richard Giardino refused the state’s request to shut down the rafting company for good. He also dismissed the state’s claim that the company had engaged in false advertising by billing its rafting trips as safe. » Continue Reading.


Friday, April 26, 2013

AG Puts Spotlight On Cunningham’s Raft Business

cunningham-300x246The owner of Hudson River Rafting Company knew a guide had a drinking problem, but he continued to let him take clients on whitewater trips, one of which resulted in the death of a client who fell out of a raft and drowned last year, according to sworn statements.

The guide—Rory Fay of North Creek—later admitted he was intoxicated at the time of the accident. He pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide, driving while intoxicated, and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

In a statement to state police, Fay said Pat Cunningham, who owns the company, and one of his assistants, Mark Lebrecque, knew he drank heavily. At the time, Fay was living in a guides’ house owned by Cunningham. » Continue Reading.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Judge Says Rafting Company Violated Law

cunningham-300x246The state attorney general’s office has won the bulk of its lawsuit against Hudson River Rafting Company and its owner, Patrick Cunningham.

State Supreme Court Justice Richard Giardino ruled on March 29 in favor of the state on three of four causes of action, finding that Hudson River Rafting violated the law by repeatedly sending customers on whitewater-rafting trips with unlicensed guides and transporting them in buses with unlicensed drivers.

The judge has yet to determine any penalties, but he continued an order forbidding Hudson River Rafting from running whitewater-rafting trips. The whitewater season began a few weeks ago. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Adirondack History: Dannemora Prison’s Chicken Thieves

Chicken Thief headline 1931 01 Among the several dozen correctional institutions in New York State, Dannemora (officially Clinton Correctional Facility, but most often referred to as Dannemora Prison) is the largest maximum security prison. It is located in northern Clinton County, where the cold winter weather led to a variety of nicknames incorporating the word “Siberia.” It is also known as home to the worst of the worst, housing many of our most dangerous criminals.

For more than 160 years, the North Country’s famous lockup has confined inmates guilty of the most heinous crimes: murder, rape, arson, assault, bank robbery, serial killing … and chicken theft. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cabin Life: Seeking Comfort When Tragedy Strikes

The SyrupI made my maple syrup yesterday, and it turned out really good.  I know because I drank more than a couple shots of boiling sap and syrup during the process.  I did not mind the taste-testing.

Due to the incredibly windy conditions up here and the fact that there’s a residential burn-ban in effect, I decided to boil down the sap at Amy’s.  I ended up with about five and a half gallons of sap which boiled down nicely to about a pint and a half of syrup.  Not a ton, but enough to enjoy and even share.  Making and tasting the syrup was a much needed break after the events of the past week.  I think most of us needed a distraction or two this week. » Continue Reading.