Posts Tagged ‘crime and justice’

Monday, November 2, 2009

New York State Supreme Court Elections Guide

Buried by the hoopla surrounding the 23rd congressional district special election, New York Supreme Court races have gone largely unnoticed this year. The Adirondack Park is divided between two Judicial Districts: The fourth, comprising Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties (with Montgomery and Schenectady outside the Blue Line); and the fifth, comprising Herkimer, Lewis and Oneida counties (with Jefferson, Oswego and Onondaga outside the park). Links to Supreme Court candidate websites after the jump. . .

The slate of candidates competing for two seats in the 4th District includes: Acting Supreme Court Justice Barry D. Kramer from Schenectady running on the Democratic and Conservative lines, Brian S. Stewart from Lake Placid and Bellmont (inside the Blue Line), running on the Democratic line, Acting Supreme Court Justice Richard B. Meyer from Saranac Lake running on the Republican Line, Justice Thomas E. Mercure of Ft. Edward running on the Republican and Conservative lines.

Candidates for the two seats in the 5th District are: Acting Supreme Court Justice James W. McCarthy of Oswego running on the Democrat, Republican, Conservative and Independence lines, County Court Judge Walter Hafner, Jr. of Hannibal running on the Democratic line, and Supreme Court Justice James C. Tormey of Syracuse running on the Republican and Independence lines.

New York State Courts offers an impartial voters’ guide on all judicial elections (worth a visit) here.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hamilton County’s Long-Standing Sheriff Retires

Hamilton County Sheriff Douglas A. Parker has announced his retirement, ending a history of Parkers serving as the county’s top cop that stretches back to 1964; just three men have filled the post since 1946. The Long Lake resident, now 67, has spent 40 years with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department. He was appointed to the position of Jailer by his father Arthur E. Parker in 1964 after a short stint about and anti-submarine aircraft carrier in the U.S. Navy, he was elected Sheriff on his father’s retirement in 1983.

Parker is being lauded by locals for his approach to rehabilitation of those that find their way into the county’s criminal justice system. “I’d describe Doug as one of those rare individuals that can project authority, that isn’t questioned, and still has the ability to listen and empathize, almost like a social worker,” Hamilton County Board of Supervisors Chair William Farber (who has known Parker all these 40 years) told the Schenectady Gazette. “He’s seriously going to be missed. We have a department that’s second to none in how they handle people,” Hamilton County Judge S. Peter Feldstein told the paper. “More young people get turned around because of their interactions with the department, and that’s all because of him.” Some 250 people showed up at the Oak Mountain Ski Center lodge in Speculator for Parker’s retirement party last week.

While serving as Jailer (and living above the jail with his wife), Douglas Parker was put in charge of serial killer Robert F. Garrow when he was held in county lock-up in Lake Pleasant (part of which was built in 1840) for nine months in 1973-1974. He immediately doubled the guard (to two), but still felt uneasy about his charge, calling the experience “a nightmare.” “We didn’t trust Garrow to take a shower. He took a bath in a kiddy pool.” he recently told the Gazette, “He was never out of his cell, but that there were two deputies with him.”

Douglas Parker’s father Arthur E. Parker was elected Long Lake Town Clerk in 1939, and then served 19 years as Long Lake Town Supervisor before being appointed by then New York State Governor Nelson Rockefeller when then sheriff Merritt Lamos died in office in 1964.

Hamilton County is the most rural and least populated county in the state, and also, at 1,700-square-miles, one of the largest. The county’s year-round population is about 5,400, which rises to an estimated 55,000 during the summer. The Sheriff’s department includes a staff of six including dispatchers.

The county is considered the most consistently Republican of the entire state. The Republican candidate has lost the county only once over the last 23 Presidential elections (Barry Goldwater). John McCain carried Hamilton County by 27% margin over Barack Obama – the highest margin of victory of McCain in the state.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Another Adirondack Weed Season Comes To An End

The arrival of widespread frost marks the end of the harvest season for most local crops, and the close of cat-and-mouse season for North Country police and marijuana growers. Police made their biggest bust this fall in Jay, where from a helicopter they spotted about 800 plants scattered around the town and charged two men with growing about 300 of them.

Adirondack Life has just posted its recent article on the dynamics of local marijuana farming as well as this region’s separate role as a gateway for Quebec-grown hydroponic. It was reported by Adirondack Life associate editor Niki Kourofsky and Almanack contributor Mary Thill. Well worth a read.

The photo is an aerial taken by State Police of some of the 1,900 plants police discovered growing in a boggy area north of Irishtown, in the Essex County town of Minerva, in 2008. Police say the cannabis is the shrubby emerald green growth on the open bog. In September the tropical plants remain vibrant while native vegetation begins to fade.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

GOP vs GOP in Essex County District Attorney Debate Tonight

A debate between candidates in the Essex County District Attorney election will be held tonight at the Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School in Elizabethtown beginning at 6 pm. The race between Kristy Sprague and Julie Garcia has heated up after a failed attempt by some local pols to have Sprague removed from the ballot. Sprague, who is endorsed by the Republican committee, and Garcia, the incumbent who was elected as a Republican in 2005, will square off in the Republican primary September 15th. Garcia has raised thousands more then her opponent, and if she wins, it’s likely she’ll have both party lines in the November election.

The debate is being sponsored by local media outlets and moderated by the following three men, who are all accepting questions via e-mail. “These journalists are inviting their readers and listeners to suggest questions to them any time before the event, instead of letting people ask or submit questions at the event,” according to the media’s media release.

Send your questions to:

Lohr McKinstry of the Press Republican ([email protected])
John Gereau of Denton Publications ([email protected])
Peter Crowley of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise ([email protected])
Chris Morris of Mountain Communications Radio News ([email protected])


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

August APA Meeting: Wind Projects, Enforcement

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, August 13 and Friday August 14 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The August meeting will be webcast live. The Agency’s homepage has a link to view the webcast. Here is the meeting agenda form the APA:

The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for the Acting Executive Director’s monthly report and introduction of the Agency’s new Executive Director, Terry Martino.

At 9:15 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider two residential wind turbine proposals, one in the Town of Essex, Essex County and one in the Town of Indian Lake, Hamilton County.

Both applicants propose the installation of wind-powered turbines to generate electricity for their existing single family dwellings. The proposed tower in Essex is 65-feet tall with nine foot diameter turbine blades for a maximum overall height of 70 feet. The proposed tower in Indian Lake is 105-feet tall with 18 foot diameter turbine blades for a maximum overall height of 115 feet.

Key issues include visibility and compliance with the Agency’s Tall Structures and Towers Policy.

The committee meeting will conclude with a staff briefing on the original and revised plans for the Olympic regional Development Authority Conference Center in Lake Placid, Essex County.

At 11:30, the Legal Affairs Committee will receive an update on the Agency’s proposed legislation involving affordable housing incentives, permit reforms and community planning funds. Staff will also provide a status update on current regulatory revision.

At 1:00, the Park Policy and Planning Committee will consider a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and authorization for staff to conduct a public hearing for proposed map amendments to the Official Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Plan. Agency staff initiated this reclassification of private land in the Town of Fine, St. Lawrence County, which local officials raised during a Community Spotlight presentation to the Agency Board. The proposal would result in the reclassification of 64 acres of Resource Management to Low Intensity Use and help accommodate future growth needs related to the community medical facility.

At 1:30, the State Land Committee will hear a status report on the Bog River Complex/Lows Lake classification/reclassification public hearing process. The committee will also hear a first reading of the proposed draft inter-agency memorandum of understanding for travel corridor management plans. This MOU between the Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Conservation and the APA outlines an approach for developing, reviewing and implementing travel corridor unit management plans for the approximately 1,100 miles of state highway corridors in the Adirondack Park.

At 2:30, the full Agency will convene for the ongoing Community Spotlight Series. This month Town of Johnsburg Supervisor Sterling Goodspeed is the guest speaker for the Community Spotlight presentation. Supervisor Goodspeed will give an overview of his community and highlight important community issues facing this Warren County town.

At 3:30, the Enforcement Committee will come to order for administrative enforcement proceedings related to alleged permit violations resulting in non compliance from house size, septic system and shoreline cutting violations on a private property in the Town of Putnam, Washington County and an alleged unauthorized subdivision resulting in substandard lots in the Town of Mayfield, Fulton County.

On Friday morning at 9:00, the Park Ecology Committee will convene for a presentation from Dr. Otto Doering III on the Economic Impact of Invasive Species. Dr. Doering is a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University and a member of the US Department of Interior’s Invasive Species Advisory Committee. He publishes in the areas of agricultural policy, resource conservation, water, energy/biofuels, and climate change and is a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

APA Soil Scientist and Forester Larry Phillips will then inform the Park ecology Committee on Federal efforts to track the spread of Emerald Ash Borer and Asian Longhorned Beetle. Mr. Phillips will demonstrate how to identify these species and highlight ongoing federal efforts to detect them inside the Adirondack Park.

At 10:30am the Economic Affairs Committee will continue focusing on small business development. Empire State Development Regional Director Peter Wohl along with Economic Development Program Administrator Doug Schelleng will give a presentation detailing current programs administered through Empire State Development.

Empire State Development and the Governor’s newly appointed Small Business Development Task Force are in the process of evaluating the needs of small businesses to determine what adjustments would best meet the economic development needs of the State.

The Full Agency will convene at 10:45 to take action as necessary and conclude the meeting with committee reports, public and member comment.

Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website at: http://www.apa.state.ny.us/Mailing/0908/index.htm

The next Agency meeting is September 10-11, 2009 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.

October Agency Meeting: October 8-9, 2009, Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Northway Checkpoint Still Active, Technically

It’s been two and a half months since a Border Patrol checkpoint was last staffed on the Adirondack Northway, but the federal agency says the North Hudson post is still in operation, though more sporadically than after it was established in 2002.

The checkpoint is temporarily down because the New York State Department of Transportation is doing roadwork in the section of I-87 southbound between Exits 30 and 29, says David Matzel, public information officer for the United States Border Patrol sector in Swanton, Vermont, which covers five northern New York counties.

The post was last manned on May 11, Matzel says. Its infrequent use of late has nothing to do with budgeting, he says. Authorities decide to staff it “based on intelligence,” he explains. The intelligence pertains “only to immigration and terrorist activity. . . . Anything else we get past immigration is just a factor of someone trying to run drugs through there at the wrong time.”

The checkpoint has netted a lot of marijuana and ecstasy in its lifetime. The questioning stop was instituted in reaction to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Four motorists were killed when a tractor trailer rammed into a line of cars there in 2004. Since then, officials have added rumble strips and other safety measures designed to better warn motorists to stop.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Protecting The Adirondacks: A New Era Begins

After months of discussion and evaluation, the decision was made on Saturday to formally consolidate the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks (AFPA) with the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks (RCPA) and to form a new organization called Protect the Adirondacks. The new organization will continue a better than 100-year history of protecting the Adirondacks so I thought I’d take a moment to take a look at the new group and how it developed historically.

At their annual meeting last Saturday at Heaven Hill Farm outside the Village of Lake Placid, the memberships of both organizations voted in favor of consolidation, which enables the process to move through the final legal steps of incorporation. The membership of the Residents’ Committee voted 83-0 in favor of the consolidation. The membership of the Association voted 111-2 in favor. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 11, 2009

ADK Club Pushes Environmental Access to Justice Act

The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) is asking the state Senate to pass the Environmental Access to Justice Act (S.1635, A.3423), which would allow individuals and organizations to bring environmental lawsuits without having to prove they have suffered an injury different from the harm to the general public. According to the ADK the Environmental Access to Justice Act would restore the original legislative intent of the state Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). Passed in 1975, SEQRA was supposed to provide the public with a voice during the environmental review process for projects throughout New York State, but as denizens of town planning boards across the state know, SEQRA review of projects has become watered down by the influence of corporate and pro-development interests.

Under SEQRA, the public was supposed to have the right to petition the courts to review a state agency’s or local government’s compliance with the law’s environmental review requirements. According to “The Treatise on New York Environmental Law,” because no government agency is charged with ensuring compliance with the provisions of SEQRA, that responsibility “has fallen on the shoulders of individual members of the public, civic and environmental organizations and governmental bodies aggrieved or injured by an agency’s failure to comply with the requirements of the statute.” They have traditionally fought that battle in the courts.

But in 1991, in case known as Society of the Plastics Industry vs. Suffolk County, the New York Court of Appeals greatly curtailed the right to bring an environmental claim under SEQRA. The high court ruled that in order to have standing, or the right to bring a lawsuit, the plaintiff had to suffer a unique injury or damage that was different than the harmful impact suffered by all members of the public. That decision turned the intent of the legislation on its head.

“Without the ability of the public to seek a court review of the SEQRA process, there is no way to ensure that government has followed the law and properly reviewed the potential environmental consequences of a project,” according to Adirondack Mountain Club executive director Neil Woodworth. “If citizens have no right to sue when SEQRA provisions are ignored or compromised, there is nothing to stop development-obsessed government officials from ramming through ill-advised projects regardless of the cultural, social and environmental costs.”

Of the 16 states with environmental review statutes, New York has the most stringent standing requirements, and this continues to affect environmental cases according to the ADK which provided these examples:

In 2002, a state court ruled that the Long Island Pine Barrens Society and several of its members lacked standing to seek review of a development project in the Long Island Pine Barrens. The society claimed that the project would impact the water supply aquifer beneath the Pine Barrens, but the court ruled that the potential harm to the plaintiffs was no different than the potential injury to any member of the public. The society was shut out of court before it could prove an open and shut case of environmental harm to the eastern Long Island aquifer.

In 2002, a citizens group was denied standing in an attempt to block destruction of a row of 19th century buildings in the village of Catskill, Greene County. The historic buildings were demolished.

In 2007, the Basha Kill Area Association was denied standing to challenge approval of a 200,000-square-foot mushroom plant atop the Shawangunk Ridge in Sullivan County.

In 2008, members of Save the Pine Bush were denied standing to challenge an industrial development project in Clifton Park, Saratoga County, that threatens habitat of the endangered Karner blue butterfly.

The bill has passed in the Assembly and has been approved by the Senate Environmental Conservation and Codes committees. It awaits action by the full state Senate. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Antoine Thompson, D-Buffalo, and Assemblyman Adam Bradley, D-White Plains.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

‘Canton Eddie’ — Turn-of-the-Century Safecracker

Mary Thill’s post about recent Adirondack bank robberies got me thinking about “Canton Eddie” (a.k.a. “Boston Shorty,” Edward Collins, Edward Burns, Harry Wilson and possibly Harry Berger and Eddie Kinsman) who real name is believed to have been Edward Wilson, a native of St. Lawrence County who was born in about 1876 in Canton. He was the perpetrator of a string of daring robberies in New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont, and probably elsewhere during his lengthy career. Using nitro-glycerin and “the rest of the safecracker’s outfit” he blew the safes of more than 30 post offices, including the Montpelier, Vermont Post Office at least twice in 1905 and in 1907. By the time he was arrested for the last time in 1916, he had already served a number of prison sentences totaling more than nine years.

Wilson turned up as part of a gang of burglars who called Rouses Point their home and roamed and robbed many post offices and stores in the Champlain valley in the early-1890s, including the Ticonderoga Post Office. Several were captured in late December 1894. In 1896 Wilson was sentenced to four years in Clinton Prison under the name Eddie Burns. After his release he served another year in the penitentiary in Columbus Ohio under the name Edward Wilson.

During the summer of 1907 Eddie was making camp at Rouses Point and using nitro-glycerin to rob local safes, including those at post offices in Hermon in St. Lawrence County ($800), at Montpelier, Vermont in June and at Sackets Harbor near Watertown in July 1907. In early November he hit the store of A. P. Boomhauer in Mooers Forks and the next day Napierville, Quebec., where Eddie and three accomplices roughed up a bank manager, blew the safe, and then escaped on a railroad hand-car with $2,000. On January 24, 1908 Canton Eddie was already known as a “notorious post office yegg man” when he was arrested in Lyons, New York, with his partner at the time, James Kelley. It’s believed that he was sentenced to four years in Auburn Prison.

By 1911, Canton Eddie was back at work robbing safes, mostly along the Black River Railroad and St. Lawrence River. On Friday May 19, 1911 he hit the Saranac Post Office located in the H.J. Bull general store. Three explosions blew the store windows out and completely destroyed the safe. Eddie was tracked to Cadyville, near Plattsburgh, but escaped. He hit the Trudeau Post Office in early 1911; by then he was being pursued by the New York Central Railroad Detective Joe McWade, who set up headquarters at various times in Saranac Lake. In June 1911 McWade caught Eddie with John Raymond in a Syracuse Hotel with “enough nitro-glycerin, fuses, and caps . . . to blow up an army.” Eddie was also in possession of a razor case with five small saws. Two other accomplices, including an unnamed chauffeur, escaped capture. McWade turned Eddie over to New York Central Police in Utica. According to press reports, prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to convict him of robbery so he was released.

In May 1912 Eddie robbed the Post Office at Black River and on May 22, 1912 he was captured again near Utica. This time, giving the name Edward Burns, he was taken to Verona, near Rome, and handcuffed to a man named Frank Murray – he almost immediately broke the handcuffs and both men escaped. In September and October Eddie robbed the Norwood and Waddington post offices and took $1,800.

On June 7, 1912 he robbed the Lake Placid Post Office safe by driving to the south shore of Mirror Lake, taking a boat across the lake, sneaking to the Post Office and jimmying a window before going to work on the safe with his explosives. Heavy blankets were laid over the safe to deaden the sound of the explosion, and its said that a man sleeping just 35 feet away was not awakened. When he was finished he returned to the boat, rowed back across the lake, and drove out of town before sunrise with nearly $3,000. It was three hours before the crime was discovered.

In 1913 and 1914 Eddie was responsible for a number of robberies near the Canadian border, including a store in Standish and the Chazy Lake Delaware & Hudson Railroad Station. In April 1915 Canton Eddie Collins and an accomplice hit the Lisbon Post Office and several other area post offices. Despite his growing a beard to avoid being recognized, he was finally caught during the first week of May 1915 in Syracuse with his accomplice James Post, but again there was not enough evidence to convict him of the post office robberies. “The brainiest and nerviest of crooks,” as the Ticonderoga Sentinel called him, plead guilty to a lesser charge of possessing nitro-glycerin and was sentenced to just a year and eight months in Auburn prison.

Beginning around November 1916 thousands of dollars worth of cash started to turn up missing from mail cars traveling between Buffalo and Niagara Falls. In July 1917 Eddie was in fact back working with a two other men near Buffalo, robbing express freight cars at a watering stop at Wende, New York. They robbed the train station at Akron, New York, and the next night were captured as they returned to Wende to break into the Wende Station.

Joe McWade, the New York Central detective who made his headquarters at Saranac Lake during the first search for Canton Eddie, was a man of some adventure himself. In 1913, while on duty at Tupper Lake Junction, he shot two Canadians who were hopping the train when he ordered them off and they ran – one man later died. McWade was arrested and held in the Malone jail; later he was tried for first degree manslaughter, found guilty and fined $500. “The chagrin and remorse which he experienced from his trial and conviction were never forgotten by the detective,” one newspaper reported. “As soon as possible after the trial he sought a position in the southern part of the state where his duties would take him from away from the scene of the unfortunate shooting.”

McWade was once shot several times by a gang of train robbers and for several weeks was hospitalized in Buffalo and near death. After he recovered he went after the same gang and eventually captured them. On another occasion McWade took a job as a porter in a dive hotel where a gang of train robbers were believed to be staying. He got into their good graces and joined them in several robberies of freight cars, helping them bury their loot in a large hole near Lockport, New York. After a week he posted several detectives near the hole and set out with the gang to anther robbery. When they arrived at the hole to deposit their loot, they were all captured.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tupper Lake Bank Robbery Investigation Continues

The New York State Police are continuing their investigation into the armed bank robbery at the Community Bank in Tupper Lake on April 10th. They have released the following identifying information on $50.00 bills that were stolen during the robbery:

Serial Number / Federal Reserve Bank District # / Series

IB30849903A / B2 / 2006
GA01293917A / A1 / 2004
AD52511085A / D4 / 1996
EB23155745A / B2 / 2004
1B81072465A / B2 / 2006
GB32244863A / B2 / 2004
GB19388624A / B2 / 2004
EF06406154A / F6 / 2004
CL08247764A / L12 / 2001

The State Police are requesting folks compare $50.00 bills in their possession with the ones reported stolen during the robbery. If anyone has information about this currency, they should contact the New York State Police at 518-897-2000.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Curse of Adirondack Bank Robbers

The robber of a Tupper Lake bank (in a presumably fake beard and mustache, left) is still at large, six days after the heist. This is unusual in the Adirondacks. The general wisdom is that nobody has pulled off a bank robbery inside the Blue Line, at least in recent memory. Hold up a bank? Sure, quite a few have done that. But get away? That’s the trick.

There are only so many forest-lined roads in and out of any Adirondack town, and if the police are quick with roadblocks, the theory goes, it’s simple enough to sweat out the thief. In the 1970s, cops caught the robbers of a Willsboro bank waiting for the Essex ferry to Vermont.

Others, such as a husband and wife in St. Regis Falls, were picked up locally within hours, and a guy who took off on foot from Adirondack Bank in Lake Placid was met by police on the Saranac Lake end of the Jackrabbit Trail.

Jack Lawliss, retired commander of State Police Troop B, began his career as a Trooper in Tupper Lake in 1955. He worked on several bank cases inside the Blue Line, all solved. The Willsboro case stood out in his memory because the same bank was the victim of an unrelated robbery a week earlier, and those thieves were apprehended in Reber, five miles away. The institution had operated without incident for a century before then.

After Lawliss retired, a 1992 robbery of a Key Bank in Au Sable Forks ended in the arrest of Robert Jones, who had also held up a bank in Plattsburgh with his wife as getaway driver and their two kids in the back seat. To reduce his wife’s sentence, Jones later confessed to the kidnapping and murder of Kari Lynn Nixon, a 16-year-old Au Sable Forks girl who had been missing for seven years.

Admittedly, an exhaustive search of Adirondack police blotters and newspaper archives dating back to the creation of the park in 1892 is a daunting project that we have not undertaken, so if you know of any successful in-park bank robberies please tell us.

Meanwhile, bank hits seem to be a nationwide trend, and there have been three unsolved hold-ups recently in Canton, north of the Blue Line.

The manhunt continues around Tupper Lake. Roadblocks, dogs and a helicopter Friday afternoon failed to net the gunman, who is reported to have fled on foot in the direction of Saranac Lake. “Solitary robbers usually target a bank that is close to their place of residence, making a car unnecessary,” wrote George Bryjak, retired professor of sociology at the University of San Diego, in a scholarly look at bank robber demographics in Wednesday’s Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

Police agencies have not said how much money was taken. Following is the State Police’s complete press release:

On April 10, 2009, at 12:15 p.m., the New York State Police responded to an armed bank robbery at the Community Bank, located on Hosley Avenue in the town of Tupper Lake. The preliminary investigation has established that a suspect entered the bank and displayed a handgun. The suspect fled the bank with an undetermined amount of cash.

Suspect is described as a white male, tall with a thin build, last seen wearing a tan hooded jacket and blue jeans. Subject may have tried to disguise himself with a moustache and or goatee and wearing sunglasses.

State Police Aviation, Canine, Uniform and BCI personnel, Tupper Lake Police Department, Saranac Lake Police Department and New York State Forest Rangers remain on scene and are continuing interviews of witnesses and searching the area for evidence.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the New York State Police, Troop “B” Headquarters, Ray Brook at 518-897-2000.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

OPINION: Who Is Teresa Sayward Working For?

Sometimes I think having so many conservative newspapers is a weird kind of blessing. Hoping to appeal to conservative editorial boards gives “our” politicians an opportunity to really show their true colors, and that’s just what Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward has done over at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

I think a lot of people who live and play in the Adirondacks would be astonished to hear that Sayward opposes state land purchases that would open land previously held by the rich and powerful to regular folks – places like OK Slip Falls – which Sayward opposes purchasing.

How about this nugget. In order to keep local prisons open (prisons we NO LONGER NEED and that costs us a fortune to operate) – Sayward’s wants to “privatize some of the golf courses, swimming pools and campgrounds.”

Who exactly are you working for Ms. Sayward? The people? Or your rich friends, lobbyist buddies, and fellow political hacks? Tell us, which campgrounds do you want to close to the public and why?

Why is it necessary to close the few public services we have and boost private interests in a economic climate that has decimated working people? Especially when that burden has been handed down to us by so-called private businesses by people like Sayward who have allowed them to run rough-shod over us all?

Maybe a bigger question is how can we keep reelecting a woman who wants to close public services (remember North Country Community College?) and hand them over to private interests?

Here’s a plan Ms. Sayward – EXXON/MOBIL has just recorded a record profit again this year of some $45.22 billion – how about taking some of what they have? It used to be ours anyway.

Stop taking ours.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Adirondack History Center Museum Supernatural Tour

On Saturday, October 25 at 4:00pm the Adirondack History Center Museum will host a Supernatural Tour. The tour begins at the museum with cider and donuts. The audience will be introduced to haunted stories surrounding murderer Henry Debosnys, the last man to be hung in Essex County (that is not him at left – I could not find any images of the hanging, that one is from about the same time).

The tour will continue to Riverside Cemetery greeted by revelations of prominent citizens. It will then proceed through the woods and into the drawing room of the Hand House where the audience will be treated to theatrical portraits of ghostly characters.

Admission for the tour is $10 for adults and $5 for children. Wear warm clothing, walking shoes and bring umbrellas in case of rain. A Victorian dinner to benefit the museum will follow the tour at 6:00pm at an additional cost. The Adirondack History Center Museum is located at 7590 Court Street, Elizabethtown, NY 12932. For more information contact 518-873-6466.


Monday, August 25, 2008

OPINION: Lower The Drinking Age

I recently read that as many or more people are killed crossing at marked crosswalks than jay-walking. It got me thinking about all those jay-walking stings – you know, where the police lay in wait for people to cross the street.

In July more than 100 college presidents took an important step toward backing away from that kind of criminalizing barrage on Americans by suggesting we lower the drinking age to 18. It’s called the Amethyst Initiative and it was begun by John McCardell, the former President of Middlebury College in Vermont.

The website says:

These higher education leaders have signed their names to a public statement that the 21 year-old drinking age is not working, and, specifically, that it has created a culture of dangerous binge drinking on their campuses.

The Amethyst Initiative supports informed and unimpeded debate on the 21 year-old drinking age. Amethyst Initiative presidents and chancellors call upon elected officials to weigh all the consequences of current alcohol policies and to invite new ideas on how best to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol use.

Those locally who have supported the idea include (1, 2, 3):

  • Paul Smith’s College President Dr. John Mills
  • Clinton Community College, Interim President Dr. Frederick Woodward
  • Clarkson University President Anthony G. Collins
  • St. Lawrence University President Daniel F. Sullivan
  • Hamilton College President Joan Hinde Stewart
  • Plattsburgh State President Dr. John Ettling “feels the idea deserves serious consideration”

Vermont State Colleges Chancellor Robert Clarke and University of Massachusetts System President Jack M. Wilson also signed on.

MADD is, well, mad. They still argue that raising the drinking age in 1984-1988 is what has reduced alcohol related deaths among 16 to 20 year-olds (why 16 and not 18?) some 60 percent since 1990 – though they have risen over the past ten. I’ll bet the cause is more likely the stricter DWI enforcement and penalties – the bottom line is young people need to learn from their elders what responsible drinking is about.

Chicago’s Mayor Daley (son of Richard “the policeman isn’t there to create disorder, the policeman is there to preserve disorder” Daley) is also mad:

You think the president of the university is gonna open a beer hall in his house? Do you think the coach of the baseball team or football team will open it up? They should raise their standards and think that drinking is not part of college life. … Everybody has responsibility on this and drinking at universities isn’t something you should be proud of. … You don’t send your son or daughter to learn how to drink at universities. You send ‘em for an education.

According to the more civilized discussion points in the piece:

More than 40 percent of college students reportedly show at least one symptom of alcohol abuse or dependence. And every year, more than 500,000 full-time students at four year colleges suffer injuries tied in some way to excess drinking.

I’ll go with Peter McWilliams – a man who really understood these issues and who once wrote:

It is the law’s job to protect innocent people from likely harm to their person or property. It is not the law’s job to protect adults from the risks of their own consensual acts.

In case you still have any doubt that criminalizing drinking will make any real cultural difference, here is an article from the Ticonderoga Sentinel on backsliders in the Schroon Lake Temperance Society in 1884:

C. T. Leland has found an old book giving the facts concerning the organization
of the Schroon Lake Temperance Society in the year 1884, and gives the names of all members, business transacted, record of back-sliders, etc.

At the start 185 persons joined, altho we find that beside many names are written the words “withdrawn,” “older,” “drank,” “intoxicated” giving exact dates of each slip-up, while beside one name appears this amusing inscription “Mr. Benthusen,” “drank every time any body asked him,” and below that information some one had added these words, “Who could blame him.”

Who could indeed. Abstinence and enforcement have failed, it’s time for another approach.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Adirondack Mountain Reserve Through-Hiker Arrested

Here is a disturbing story from Glens Falls blogger (i am alive) who was arrested for trespassing after signing the register at the gatehouse at the Adirondack Mountain Reserve’s Lake Road entrance and attempting to hike to Dial and Nippletop mountains:

…we were approached by an armed man. other than his name tag, he was not dressed as a security officer, but he was carrying a silver pistol. he had a digital camera bag around his neck and had a small bleeding wound on his face. without explanation, he took out the camera and began taking pictures of us. as soon as he began speaking, we knew our hike was over…

…he proceeded to escort us back to the gatehouse and detain us. he called in another security guard from the Ausable Club and summoned a state officer by radio. we sat being totally cooperative, providing identification and surrendering adam’s weapons (he had a leatherman and his new kershaw knife). inside my head i am thinking, “this is just to scare us, he can’t really arrest us….right?”…

…here we waited for over an hour until a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Officer could arrive to deal with all of our lawlessness. i actually felt bad for the EnCon officer. seriously, did he need to come all that way to deal with us? we would have quietly left the property if mr. cowboy said that we really couldn’t have the dog and had to turn around. he never gave us that chance.
so in his generosity, mr. cowboy decided only to “arrest” one of us. oh yeah, you guessed it…it was me.

Amazing. That should be good for regional economic development. I guess it’s not surprising, even their web page is off limits – that is, unless you want to serve them.

What does this say about Sandy Treadwell, who claims AuSable Club owner William Weld as his surrogate? Does Treadwell condone arresting his constituents for through-hiking?

UPDATE: Apparently this is not an uncommon experience. Check out what happened to Press Republican outdoors writer Dennis Aprill in June of this year here.



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