Posts Tagged ‘elections’

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dave Gibson: Vote Yes on Prop 4

Raquette LakePerhaps I first heard of the Township 40 disputed land titles during the Adirondack Park Centennial year, 1992. It was probably that fall during a Raquette Lake cruise on the WW Durant with Capt. Dean Pohl. I recalled the issues when canoeing on the lake later that decade. My friend Dan and I paddled Raquette Lake, took the Marion River Carry en route through the Eckford Chain of Lakes. I was back paddling on Raquette Lake through some high winds and waves when our mentor Paul Schaefer died in July, 1996.

I felt terribly that I was not with Paul when he died, but consoled myself with the knowledge that he would have certainly approved of where I was at the time he died, paddling into the teeth of the wind to reach a quiet bay on this great Adirondack lake. Paul was fond of showing us an early 20th century map of Township 40 to make the point that before becoming the famous first chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot had (in about 1900) proposed lumbering thousands of acres east and south of Raquette Lake, a threat which had energized the organization of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, the citizen and advocacy organization Paul served for 50 years and which I had the privilege of working for. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Commentary: Vote Yes on the Township 40 Amendment

Township 40 (Totten and Crossfield, 1900)On Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013 New York State voters will have an opportunity to vote on several state-wide propositions.  Proposition #4 (Prop 4), is one of two Constitutional Amendments affecting the Adirondacks.  It’s the result of long-standing title disputes between the State of New York and property owners on Raquette Lake in the old Township 40 of the Totten and Crossfield Purchase.

A positive vote will correct an injustice that has been perpetuated for over 100 years.

I write as an interested party, but I’m not directly involved in any aspect of the controversy that gives rise to Prop 4.  I don’t own property on or near Raquette Lake.  I’m not one of the contested property holders.  But, for nearly 35 years I have paddled the waters of this lake starting with a group of high school students, canoeing, camping, and learning about the outdoors.  I’ve paddled the lake with my wife, with friends, and with clients as an Adirondack guide.  In 2005, I paddled Raquette Lake  recreating the 1883 paddle of George Washington Sears (a.k.a. Nessmuk) and many times since as a trail steward for the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 5, 2012

19th Century Elections: Clinton County Vote Fraud

Election fraud! It makes headlines, and it has many faces. When I was a young boy growing up in Clinton County near the Canadian border, I overheard stories from adults talking about election fraud in nearby towns. With a wink, it was mentioned that so-and-so, an annual candidate, would once again be standing by the door at the polls all day long to greet the electorate―that’s just how dedicated he was to representing the interests of locals. He was, it was said, “greeting” them with $5 bills.

I never forgot the image that placed in my head―votes for sale at five bucks a pop. Years later, when I neared voting age, I assumed those stories were exaggerations, but as it turned out, they were right on the money (an excellent choice of terms, as we’ll see). » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Politics And History: ‘For The Children’

Public endeavors that bring huge benefits to the participant (we’re talking state-level and national politics here) can be a tricky thing when you want people to know that you’re in it for them and not for yourself. A popular way for politicians to demonstrate their intentions (altruism) is to invoke the children, as in “our children and our grandchildren.”

I can’t help but laugh when it’s used today because it should be worn out by now. Yes, I know … it really means a concern for the future, but it’s so much more poignant and meaningful when it’s “for the kids.” The term has been used so much, it should be considered child-phrase abuse. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fringe? Third Party Media Coverage

Greetings, readers.  My regular Dispatch will air as usual on Saturday, but I have been moved to write a guest column by a matter I consider to be of great importance.

I have been following the debate on the Adirondack Almanack, NCPR’s web site and various commenters on both sites over the question of whether political reporters do their job these days and specifically whether the media should cover the Green Party and their presidential candidate Jill Stein.

Pardon me for saying so, but this debate exhibits two characteristics that all too often define our contemporary political discourse.  One is an appalling lack of understanding of the American political system.  The other is the dull, lowbrow, American celebration of winners and size:  “Bigger is better…” …”Winning is the only thing…”, etc.  Heaven help us. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Adirondack Maps: Legislative Redistricting

It amazes me how cartographers continue to develop new ways to visualize spatial information. One example I thought might be of interest to Almanack readers is a website allowing the user to explore maps of New York’s new legislative redistricting, finalized in March 2012.

The website, hosted by the CUNY Center for Urban Research, gives users three ways to compare old and new legislative maps: side-by side, overlay or slider. My favorite was the overlay tool, but each has its advantage depending on what you want to get from the map comparison. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Will NCPR have its own Congressional District?

Among the standards used by the US Department of Justice in determining the validity of newly redrawn political districts are that district maps be compact and contiguous and respect natural and artificial boundaries. In drawing up the new map for the 21st Congressional District, Special Master Roanne Mann strictly followed county borders (artificial boundaries), with the exceptions of Herkimer and Saratoga Counties whose southern population centers would have thrown off the numbers.

For an equally useful artificial boundary that validates the common interest of the proposed 21st Congressional District, consider the frequency and signal strength map of North Country Public Radio. Broadcasting out of studios at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NCPR operates 13 transmitting towers, all but two—the Bristol Vermont tower reaches west to the NY shore of Lake Champlain, and the Boonville tower—located within the proposed district lines. In fact, the maps are so closely aligned, one would be hard-pressed to find another Congressional district (not counting Vermont and other single district states) where a single broadcaster has such identical and unrivaled coverage.

If nothing else, this convergence of maps raises a clear question to Bill Owens, Matt Doheny and (potentially) Doug Hoffman: Is your membership paid up?

The post was amended to reflect the fact that NCPR’s Boonville transmitter is outside the proposed district line.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New Congressional District (Almost) Unifies the Adirondack Park

Three years ago in anticipation of the decennial census, reapportionment and redistricting, Adirondack Almanack suggested a congressional district (red outline on the map) that would comprise the entire Adirondack Park and lands reaching to the St. Lawrence River from Alexandria Bay to Cornwall and the US/Canadian boundary from Cornwall east. If necessary there was plenty of room on the map for the district to expand below the park to accommodate larger numbers.

The numbers were loosely based on a guess that New York would lose only one congressional seat this time around. The fact that New York lost two seats in the reapportionment process, and that prison populations would no longer be credited to the prison’s district, meant that any resulting congressional district would have to cover more territory.

The map of the new 21st CD released yesterday by Special Master, US Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann (blue outline on the map) came pretty close to the imagined Adirondack/North Country district—with Watertown, Fort Drum and Tug Hill added for good measure. The only scrap of the Adirondack Park missing from the new district is the northeastern point of Oneida County, now assigned to the 22nd district. Oh so close, especially when you consider the extra wart on the new 21st CD below the Adirondack Park at Hinckley Reservoir, encompassing Gravesville and the town of Russia. Not to be petty here, but would it have killed someone to swap a few dozen Russians for as many resident Adirondackers settled around White, Long and Otter Lakes?

This post was amended to reflect the correct name and official designation of US Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Hamilton County’s Dueling Sheriffs Face Off

Through a technicality in a poorly written election law, B. Frank Kathan was renamed Sheriff of Hamilton County in 1901 despite having lost by forty votes. Jim Locke, initially declared the winner, had already moved into the jail. When the decision was reversed, he stayed put, and the county had two men who claimed to be sheriff. Kathan pursued court options, while Locke armed his men and refused to surrender the jailhouse.

At the time, Hamilton County had two prisoners—one held by Locke in the jail, and one held by Kathan in his home. Kathan angrily demanded the right to take office, but Locke remained entrenched, defying anyone to remove him from the building.

If pushed further by the courts, Locke promised to subpoena all the voters in the county to confirm the intent of each individual ballot. The expense to poor, huge, and sparsely populated Hamilton County would be enormous.

On March 12, the judge issued a confusing order. He refused to impose punishment on Locke for taking over the jailhouse, but also ruled that Locke had no jurisdiction, no legal right to the office of sheriff, and no power to carry out civil or criminal processes.

Still locked out of the jail under threat of violence, Kathan established a second sheriff’s office and bided his time. With further court action pending, he finally made his move a few weeks later. There are two variations of what happened next, but the violent version was recounted in May when the case went before the state supreme court.

On April 1, Kathan and a few of his men went to Lake Pleasant and staked out the county jail. When darkness arrived, he attempted to enter the building. Surprised to find the outside door unlocked, he stepped inside and faced off against Al Dunham, the lone jailer present.

Kathan, described as “a large and powerful man,” dropped Dunham with one punch and commandeered the office. (A second version of the story was much more benign. It claimed Kathan found the jailhouse unoccupied and simply took over.)

Now Locke was himself locked out. He countered by establishing a sheriff’s office in William Osborne’s hotel at Speculator—and the battle of the dueling sheriffs continued.

One of the sheriff’s duties was contacting jurors on behalf of the county. When the juror list was presented to Kathan (since he was the most recent court-approved sheriff), Locke obtained a certified copy from the county clerk’s office.

Jurors on the list received official notices from both Kathan and Locke, and both men submitted billing to the county board of supervisors for their work. To clear up the mess, the board tried to declare Locke the official county sheriff, but that directly violated the judge’s earlier order.

In response, the judge issued a summons demanding an explanation as to why the board itself should not be cited for contempt of court. It seemed like nobody agreed on anything (sounds suspiciously like today’s political environment).

Locke then filed a proceeding that required Kathan to prove he was entitled to the office. The significance of that move wasn’t lost on Kathan: Locke indeed planned to subpoena all of the county’s voters to court where they could verify the intent of every single ballot cast.

Meanwhile, the state appellate court finally ruled on Kathan’s original filing and declared him the sheriff of Hamilton County. Locke, true to his word, remained in the courthouse and began sending subpoenas to hundreds of county residents.

However, just a few days after the appellate court’s ruling, an unexpected tragedy took much of the fight out of Jim Locke. His write-in candidacy had been initiated by William Osborne, and his sheriff’s office was in Osborne’s hotel. Will Osborne had a reputation as the most fearless man in Hamilton County, a title earned, in part, for suffering a head wound in an intense gun battle during which he shot and captured a very dangerous criminal.

In mid-August, Osborne had been injured in a baseball game. In September, during Locke’s struggle to remain as sheriff, came a stunning announcement—Osborne had died of his injuries. After burying his close friend, Locke resumed the fight, but soon decided on a compromise based on leverage he now held—more than half the county voters had already been subpoenaed.

To avoid the great expense of continued litigation, which one writer said “would have almost swamped the county treasury,” Locke demanded compensation for having served as sheriff for the year since he was elected. The agreement also said, “It is understood that, in withdrawing from the case, Locke was not a loser through any previous legal proceedings.”

It was a confusing decision, but the county and Kathan agreed to the terms. Locke’s office was disbanded and the deputies he had appointed were dismissed. It had been a long, tempestuous year, but Hamilton County finally had one official sheriff. And, hopefully, a new set of rules governing write-in votes.

Photo: A few of the many wild headlines generated by the sheriff controversy.

Lawrence Gooley has authored nine books and many articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004 and have recently begun to expand their services and publishing work. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Monday, September 5, 2011

The Dueling Sheriffs of Hamilton County

It’s relatively rare for a write-in candidate to win an election. A recent, high-profile example occurred in Alaska’s senate race when Lisa Murkowski bested Joe Miller, the Tea Party candidate. Miller took to the courts, claiming that misspellings of Murkowski’s name on many ballots disqualified those votes. The ridiculous charge—it’s an election, not a spelling contest—was dismissed. Otherwise, candidates with easy-to-spell names (like Miller, as opposed to Murkowski) would enjoy a considerable write-in advantage.

A precedent for that situation had long been established, but it wasn’t always followed. More than a century ago, an Adirondack election was decided based on the electorate’s inability to spell a candidate’s name and to record it with consistency. The result? Across the state, headlines of potential bloodshed made the news. It was a year before the issue was finally resolved.

It all began prior to the election of fall 1901 in Hamilton County, where the Republicans chose B. Frank Kathan as their candidate for sheriff. The Democrats offered no opposition, yet Kathan lost the election. Say what? Yep, it’s true. He lost, even with no opponent on the ballot.

Leading up to November, a few dedicated Democrats, including some deputy sheriffs (led by William Osborne), felt the party should have offered a candidate. They began urging voters to support a certain write-in candidate, the very popular Jim Locke.

By all accounts, it came as a total shock on Election Day when the ballots were examined and Jim Locke had triumphed by 40 votes (326–286). He was declared the winner and was issued a Certificate of Election, verifying the outcome.

When Locke took over the office of sheriff, Kathan took off for court. Despite opposition, he obtained a show-cause order requiring the Board of Canvassers to recount the votes (Kathan’s claim was that some ballots were “defective”). The judge ordered that the votes be counted exactly as they were cast, and that presented a problem for James Nathan “Jim” Locke.

Though the voters’ intentions were clear, Locke’s name had been written in many forms. In some settlements he was known as Jim, and in others as Nat. On the ballots, there appeared Jim, James, James N., James Nathan, J. N., Nat, and other variations. The recount revealed new totals: Nat Locke–223; J. N. Locke–32; James N. Locke–24; and a number of other smaller groupings.

Since Frank Kathan had garnered 286 votes, he was declared the winner and was issued a Certificate of Election. Hamilton County now had a new sheriff. Well … let me rephrase that. Hamilton County now had two sheriffs. Jim Locke had already taken up residency in the county jail at Lake Pleasant, and he wasn’t going anywhere. Suddenly, the county had a big problem, and the entire state was waiting to see how it would play out.

It wasn’t pretty. Locke soon made his position clear—he expected to remain sheriff. To that end, headlines from Albany to Buffalo proclaimed that the Hamilton County Jail was under siege, and that violence might well play a role in the outcome. As one article noted, “Kathan demanded possession of the keys to the jail, but Locke had three guards on duty, armed to the teeth with revolvers and Winchesters. Kathan’s demands were refused.”

Adding drama to the situation, it was noted that Arietta sharpshooter Jim Higgins was among those defending the jail. A set of Albany headlines in mid-February said it all: “Crack Shot Guards Jail at Lake Pleasant—Supreme Court Defied—May be Necessary to Call Out Troops to Oust Locke.”

With the state militia already mentioned, Kathan turned again to the courts. A few days later, Locke was ordered to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt of court.

Next week: 2nd of two parts: Jailhouse Coup at Lake Pleasant.

Photo: At Lake Pleasant, old jail and courthouse on left, modern courthouse on right.

Lawrence Gooley has authored nine books and many articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004 and have recently begun to expand their services and publishing work. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Incumbent Desmarais Out of Tupper Mayor’s Race

A couple weeks ago, I told you the local election to watch this fall was the Tupper Lake village mayor’s race.

As of this week, that’s no longer the case. The Tupper Lake Free Press is reporting this week that incumbent Mayor Mickey Desmarais is bowing out of the contest, leaving Franklin County Legislator Paul Maroun as the sole candidate.

Desmarais faced a couple hurdles — namely, Maroun had locked up support from village Democrats and Republicans. But as Jess Collier of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise put it, those realities didn’t put the race completely out of reach for Desmarais.



Reporting for WNBZ, George Earl wrote that “verbal attacks” against Desmarais over his somewhat critical stance on the Adirondack Club & Resort project led to his decision to drop his candidacy.

In an interview with the Tupper Lake Free Press, Desmarais said the criticisms didn’t bother him — but they were affecting his family and friends.

His opponent, Paul Maroun, responded to the news Wednesday, calling Desmarais a “great leader.” “I just had a different way of being a leader for the community,” Maroun told WNBZ. “I decided if you’re not 110 percent behind the resort, it’s not going to work.”

This story is still developing and I’ll check back in when some local reaction starts filtering through.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Matt Doheny and the Non-Stop Campaign

Take a deep breath, folks. Now exhale.

I’m about to muse about the 2012 elections. And yes, I am fully aware that those elections aren’t happening until the next time we see an NFL team suit up and take the field (I’m already working under the assumption that there won’t be a season this fall – it helps, a little).

Watertown banker Matt Doheny made it known last week that he will run, again, for New York’s 23rd Congressional District. The seat is currently held by Democrat Bill Owens, and it’s starting to feel like Owens is defending his seat on a yearly basis.

Doheny gave Owens a run for his money last fall but fell short in the end – only a few thousand votes separated them.

Many political observers blamed Doheny’s loss on Saranac Lake accountant Doug Hoffman, who challenged him in the GOP primary and lost. Hoffman tried a third party bid on the Conservative line, but pulled out of the race weeks before the election.

Despite his decision to exit the race, more than 9,000 Hoffman supporters cast votes in his favor. It’s a crude way to do the math, but if you hand those votes to Doheny, he’s flying back and forth to Washington instead of Owens.

Doheny touts himself as a fiscal conservative, but was noticeably more moderate on social issues – perhaps explaining the lingering support for Hoffman on Election Day.

Hoffman had tea party support from the beginning, with hordes of volunteers teaming up with the Upstate New York Tea Party to pound the pavement across northern New York.

But after the primary, UNYTEA’s chairman, Mark Barie, endorsed Doheny, noting it was important to rally around one candidate. The rest of his organization was slow to follow suit, but in the end, most of the group got behind Doheny.

Following the election, there were two distinct lines up thought on the so-called “Hoffman effect.”

On one side, you had people like Jefferson County lawmaker Carolyn Fitzpatrick, a Republican:

“Matt didn’t lose this race. Doug Hoffman lost this race for the Republicans,” she said at the time. “I only wish that Doug Hoffman had come out, stood on stage and campaigned with Matt and said, ‘I support him.’ But that didn’t happen.”

On the other side, there were those who believed the Republican Party in NY-23 failed to roll out a candidate who represented the region’s conservatism. (Read more on the fallout/reaction from last year’s NY-23 race here and here).

And that GOP divide isn’t likely to go away next year.

In fact, looking at the results from a recent special election for a western New York House seat, the so-called “Hoffman effect” is alive and well in New York.

The national media reported Kathleen Hochul’s victory as a voter referendum on the GOP’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher-style program. Hochul, a Democrat, beat out Republican Jane Corwin in a fairly conservative district.

But the national media zeroed-in on the Medicare issue – in fact, a lot of reporting failed to mention Jack Davis, the tea party candidate, who most likely pulled votes away from Corwin.

Sound familiar?

Here’s what I’m wondering: is Doheny’s early announcement an attempt to rally the GOP and keep this a two-way race? Or is it just that, an early announcement for a candidate who wants to get the ball rolling?

Your thoughts are welcome.

Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that Jude Seymour is joining the Doheny camp. Seymour wrote a great political blog for the Watertown Daily Times (All Politics is Local) and is currently wrapping up at WWNY television.

Seymour will serve as deputy campaign manager and spokesman for Doheny.

Photo: Matt Doheny (Courtesy Doheny For Congress).


Monday, April 4, 2011

Dave Gibson: Elected APA Commissioners?

Brian Mann has raised a proposal to allow Park residents to cast ballots and elect the five Park resident APA Commissioners, which would require a change in the law which requires the Governor to nominate, and the Senate to confirm all eight of private citizen members of the agency. I happen to believe that the current law remains the most equitable and practical way to ensure a proper diversity, array of statewide and park talents and commitments to the purposes of the APA Act. Be that as it may, Brian’s is hardly a new idea.

I found some interesting quotes from early APA Chairmen who were answering a question posed to them in 1981 at a conference. The question from a member of the audience was: “If one of our main goals is to win the acceptance of the Adirondack people, wouldn’t it have been a good idea earlier on to include local representation and to have the commissioners elected, or to give the local people some other access or resources in dealing with the agency”?

One of the most interesting resources from which to follow the thinking and trends of the Adirondack Park Agency in its early history are the printed records of the Conferences on the Adirondack Park, 1971-1981, published by St. Lawrence University. SLU faithfully captured every word spoken at those June conferences held on their beautiful Camp Canaras campus on Upper Saranac Lake.

Just about every conference in those years featured the views and reports of APA Executive Directors and Chairmen, along with those knowledgeable in Adirondack wildlife research, tax policy, land use planning, Forest Preserve, water quality, invasive species, great camp architecture, and much more. The costs of publishing these printed records of the conference in the era before computerization eventually became prohibitive, but SLU’s Camp Canaras conferences continued for another 15 years or so, and I always felt they were “must attend” events. The content, entry price, company, and shoreline scenery were all outstanding.

How did former APA Chairmen Richard Lawrence of New York City and Elizabethtown and Robert Flacke of Lake George answer the above question which was posed to them on that summer day of 1981? The answers are found in the printed proceedings of St. Lawrence University’s 1981 Conference on the Adirondack Park. Richard Lawrence served as chairman of the APA from its beginnings in 1971 until 1975. Robert Flacke succeeded Dick Lawrence as chairman in 1976 and served until 1978.

Robert Flacke: “I think the history of land use controls give us the answer to that…if 51 percent of any type of a voting body has a parochial interest, whether it is in a village or a town or a county or region then essentially those are the only interests that will be forwarded and protected. That is what happened with the (Lake) Tahoe experiment (in California). There was an equal voting strength between the two bodies and there was no overriding concern. Now, the basic question was asked in the Study Commission on the Adirondacks: Are the Adirondacks an area of statewide concern? The answer was affirmative. The program goes beyond the interests of the people who are here, although the interests of the people who are here are very, very important. Therefore, the balance that was established, I think, is the proper balance… One must maintain, then, a statewide interest if one continues to believe that the resource is important for all the people of the state.”

Richard Lawrence: “I might add just one other point. We have, of course, elected representatives in the legislature such as assemblymen and state senators. Yet this is a fact of political life that not one of our local representatives is here. Andrew Ryan, Glenn Harris or Senator Ronald Stafford could not possibly be reelected if they would support and go all out for the Adirondack Park Agency. That is a simple fact of life. If they choose to be in office they simply cannot believe very strenuously in land use planning. Perhaps ten years from now there will be a different answer. That is the name of the game now.”

Later on, in response to a statement from Park resident that “the thing I am most worried about is that the Adirondack Park Agency may disappear. I do not want it to disappear because I do not want to lose any of this,” Robert Flacke continued, “That brings out the fundamental question of membership in a land use agency. Land use control started with the Park Avenue experiment in New York City, but the lowest level of government, when you look back in the history book, has always been unable to perform adequately in land use controls because of the very issue that you bring out. If a town board gets involved in land use questions, its members then become subject to very grave social and economic pressures… I can remember during my tenure as town supervisor certain councilmen had to make a decision that they felt very strongly about. It may have gone against certain other economic interests. A fellow that ran a gas station came to me one day and said ‘I’m going to go broke because all my customers are telling me that if I don’t vote that way they will go elsewhere for their gas.’ This essentially says that when you are involved in land use, you have to have an insulated body generally at the next level of government, whether it is county or regional. I think time will tell that economically the local people are not destroyed (by the APA), but benefited, if in a different way.”

Photo: Above, looking out on Upper Saranac Lake from the SLU Camp Canaras campus, 1991 Conference on the Adirondacks; Below, a panel at the same conference.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Lake George Village Board Rejects Dissolution

Established in 1903, Lake George Village will survive intact beyond December, 2013, the date it would have ceased to exist had a vote to dissolve been placed on the ballot and approved in March, 2011.

In a vote that surprised even Mayor Bob Blais, Lake George Village’s Board of Trustees decided on November 15 not to put the question to a vote in March.

“As far as the Village Board is concerned, dissolution is a dead issue,” said Blais.

Although the Village Board could revisit the proposal some time in the future, the trustees acknowledged that this was unlikely.

Too many questions about the costs to taxpayers and the future of municipal services if the Village dissolved and merged with the surrounding township remained unanswered, and answers are unlikely to be forthcoming, they said.

Village officials had hoped to develop a plan in consultation with Town officials that would explain in detail how assets and liabilities would be distributed among the residents of a new, single community, but Town officials refused to co-operate, said Blais.

In the absence of a plan explaining how assets would be treated, what special taxing districts would be formed and how debt service would be handled, one agreed to by the Town, a vote to dissolve could have been a mistake, said Blais.

“People would have had no idea what they were voting for,” he said.

Town Supervisor Frank McCoy would commit to nothing more than stating that “if dissolution occurs, the Town will work to ensure a smooth transition,” said Blais, quoting a message from McCoy.

A study of the feasibility of dissolution, drafted by a consulting firm and overseen by a local committee, indicated that if the two municipalities merged, Village residents would see their taxes decrease by 19% to 30% while town taxes would rise by as much as 40%.

“It’s clear to me that the Town doesn’t want us,” said Trustee John Earl.

Trustee John Root, who chaired the committee appointed in 2008 to study the costs and benefits of dissolution, said he had favored putting the measure to a vote until Monday’s meeting, when every Lake George resident present opposed dissolution.

“Their concerns were understandable,” said Root. “I’m glad we’ve held public hearings; the residents have spoken loudly and clearly that they do not favor dissolution.”

Some residents, like Micky Onofrietto, Barbara Neubauer, and Doug Frost, for example, said that an uninformed vote would be detrimental to the interests of the residents themselves.

“I feel uncomfortable putting it to a vote, without people looking into it as I did, when I found that we had no way of knowing the true costs,” said Micky Onofrietto.

“I might save on taxes but lose on services,” said Barbara Neubauer.

Former Village Trustee and Tom Tom Shop owner Doug Frost said that as a businessman, he feared losing the benefit of the Village’s expertise in promoting special events and weekly attractions like fireworks shows that draw tourists to Lake George.

Town residents Joe Stanek, Karen Azer and Mike Sejuljic emphasized the differences in priorities and styles of governance between the Town and the Village.

“A 28% tax increase, borrowing to meet payroll, paying its bills late; the town should get its own affairs in order before incorporating another government,” said Azer.

After listening to public comments, Mayor Blais said that while dissolution was appropriate for some villages, Lake George Village remained a viable entity.

“In most cases, villages’ assets are not as large as ours, they’re barely surviving financially, they have small populations and they can’t find people to serve in elected or appointed offices,” said Blais.

Trustee Ray Perry introduced the motion to take no action on dissolution. It passed unanimously.

Photo: Aerial view of Lake George from the Lake George Mirror photo files.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Election Voter Registration Deadline Friday

For state residents to register to vote for the November 2, 2010 general election mail-in voter registration forms must be postmarked by midnight tomorrow, Friday, October 8th and received no later than October 13th to be valid for the upcoming general election.

Candidates for Governor, Comptroller, Attorney General, United States Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, State Senate and State Assembly will be on the ballot this year, along with candidates for State Supreme Court Justice as well as other local offices.

Residents who have moved to a new county must re-register from their new address. Those who are currently registered and have moved to a new address in the same county should notify their county board of elections in writing of their move.

The New York State Voter Registration Form can be used by new voters or by movers for these purposes and can be obtained at www.elections.state.ny.us.

Persons who are unsure whether they are registered, or wish to verify their current address, may look-up their status onlline.

Persons wanting to register in person may do so at their local county board of elections and at many state agency offices throughout the state, but must do so no later than October 8th, to be eligible to vote in the general election. However, new citizens and military voters have a later deadline. If you have been honorably discharged from the military or have become a naturalized citizen after October 8th, you may register in person at the local board of elections until October 22nd.

Requests for registration forms may also be made by calling 1-800-FOR-VOTE. Requests will be processed and the forms mailed to the caller’s home or business address. Internet users may download a registration form by going to the State Board’s web site at www.elections.state.ny.us and clicking on the “Voting Information” link.

For more information on registering to vote in New York State, call your county board of elections or 1-800-FOR-VOTE.

For information on the new voting machines being used in your county, please go to the State Board’s voter education website.