Politics

Why solar energy farms are a bust!

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— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD
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I recently sent the following exposé to numerous communities being stalked by Big Solar.  I wrote it as a member of FARM.  Friends Against Rural Mismanagement.  A bunch of cranky old-timers who object to farmland, woodland, wildland, marshland, rivers and lakes being screwed — regardless of who is holding the screwdriver.

Here is a screenshot of the beginning of the document.  Click here to access the entire article online.  You’re welcome to circulate and otherwise use as you wish.

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Click here to continue reading . . .

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$5K loans, 1.5% interest for federal employees!

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— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

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I got paid yesterday. The Border Patrol agent wearing the above vest did not.  Neither did this one, below.
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I might be indifferent to this if I lived in a state without an international border. But I don’t. NYS has a notoriously porous border with Québec, Ontario, and the St. Regis Mohawk reservation.

Allow me to be more graphic.  This is my street: Clay Street, Malone.
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Ladies and gentlemen, this isn’t rocket science. When the United States Border Patrol and Border Protection are obliged to continue working during the federal shutdown to protect my street from hypodermic needles — you’d better believe I’m going to get involved. And you should, too.

These men and women are not protecting an abstraction named “America”; they are protecting Malone Châteaugay Burke Constable Ellenburg Plattsburgh Westville Massena Ogdensburg Potsdam Canton Saranac Lake Lake Placid, and on and on.  All the communities we call the North Country.
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You and I have a moral obligation to assist these federal officers to make certain they can pay their bills.  We can’t simply shrug and blame Donald Trump or Nancy Pelosi.

Last Friday I checked with several banks and credit unions in Malone to see if any were extending zero or low interest credit to federal employees working without pay. Only one financial institution is doing so: the North Franklin Federal Credit Union (NFFCU) at 494 E. Main St., Malone.

I spoke to a loan officer at Community Bank (Malone) and another at NBT Bank (Malone).  Neither bank was doing anything special for these people.  I called SeaComm Credit Union (Malone) and spoke to a loan officer.  SeaComm is offering a 9% personal loan or 2.99% secured loan to SeaComm members, only. I did not check with other Malone banks.

Click here to read SeaComm’s response to the crisis, reproduced below.
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As of this writing, only NFFCU is offering something humane and socially responsible to these people and their families.

The individual chiefly responsible for this decision is this man.

I met with Darin for an hour yesterday.  He was raised

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Kevin Mulverhill: Four Stars, Three Hats

— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

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Notice the collar  Four stars.  It means he’s the sheriff.  In charge of this:

» 60 Corrections Officers
» 8 Deputy Sheriffs
» Clerical staff
» 1 full-time Substance Abuse Counselor (provided free by St. Joe’s)
» 2 full-time (I believe) Mental Health Counselors (contracted with Citizen Advocates)
» 1 Nurse Practitioner (I believe)
» 85 staff in all
» 127 beds for inmates
» separate accommodations for 20 to 35 female inmates (Sheriff Mulverhill instituted this)
» $6 million annual budget, where it costs $78/day to house an inmate:  1 inmate 1 year = $28,500, 127 inmates 1 day = ~ $10,000, 127 inmates 1 year = ~ $3.6 million

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Controlling crime in Franklin County ain’t cheap.  Six million just for the jail!  Then add the cost of state police, village police (several villages), Homeland Security, judges, attorneys, support staff, probation staff, buildings, blah blah blah — yikes!

Kevin Mulverhill oversees a big slice of the county crime financial pie.  He’s been doing it for the past 8 years.  He’s asking us to elect him for another 4.  Let’s take a close look at the issues, in no particular order of significance.

Issue #1:

Franklin County is one of the poorest counties in the state.  It didn’t used to be.  I mean many years ago when towns like Malone and Chateaugay flourished.  Back when dairy farming was profitable.  When the county was home to numerous mills and manufacturing and there were railroads for cheap and quick transportation.  Jobs were plentiful and decent.

Issue #2:

Drugs.  Booze.  I’ve discussed the former at length in these pages.  (See “Death by Drugs, Part I and II,” “Malone’s Jaw-Dropping Crime Statistics,” and “Why Charles Gardner Should be Malone’s Municipal Judge.”)

Issue #3:

Family, church, elders, school.  All four have lost much of their leadership and moral influence.  This would be difficult to quantify, yet it is so.  Also, having both parents working—our economy requires it, after all, if a family is to survive financially—means that neither mom nor dad is home for much of the

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Andrea Stewart or Mary Scharf: Which one for Malone Town Supervisor?

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— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

Meet the two women running for Malone town supervisor.  Andrea Stewart and Mary Scharf differ in personality and professional background, while both present formidable credentials for the job of leading this community. I interviewed them, separately, for this article, and here is my take on each.
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Andrea (Andy) Stewart
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First and foremost, you need to know that Andy can fix a carburetor.  (This is what she’s doing in the photo, above.)  It all started the day this 16-year-old kid marched into a Malone service station and announced to the dumbfounded owner, “Your business needs me!”  No, not as a mechanic but to pump gas.  (Young Andy had noticed that the mechanics had to interrupt their work whenever a motorist drove in for gas.  She figured she could save the owner money by taking over gas pumping duties.)  When he pointed out that a 16-year-old girl was not a top priority for hiring, she had her answer ready.  “Let me work for a weekend without pay. If you’re not convinced by the end of the weekend, then, fine, I’ll concede you don’t need me.”

You can guess the outcome.  (All you have to do is look at the above photo!)  There was a significant uptick in business, especially from males.  She pumped gas for the rest of her high school career.

The moral to the story is not that a 16-year-old girl learned how to fix a carburetor; it’s that she was bold and courageous and resourceful, and if she learned how to repair cars along the way, this was a bonus.
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Born in New Jersey (she’s 63 years old), her family moved to Suffern NY to get away from  the Garden State’s air pollution, which was choking her mom with asthma. Andy fondly remembers summer-camping for weeks at a stretch in the Adirondacks with her mom, dad, and 3 younger brothers, where mom’s asthma vastly improved. Andy’s dad worked for the telephone company, and he requested a transfer to the Adirondacks or someplace nearby where the air quality would let his wife breathe.  In 1969 his

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Our Picks: Mike Maneely, Andrea Dumas, Carl Sherwin

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— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD
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Mike Maneely

One reason I support Mike for village trustee is his uncompromising support of our police department.  It never ceases to amaze me how people living outside the village express the (stupid) opinion that Malone doesn’t need its cops.  Nitwits who say this obviously don’t have to deal with the craziness that I and my neighbors deal with.

Sit down sometime with Chief Chris Premo and ask him about drug dealers and drug users in the village and surrounding area.  Then sit down with the two local magistrates and ask them about crime in the village and surrounding municipalities.  That is, municipalities where our judges are called for arraignments when the local magistrate isn’t available.  You will get an earful in each case.

Are you aware that there are now drug gangs in Massena?  Drive-by shootings in Massena?  I’m told this by a law enforcement official.  What’s keeping this from happening in the Village of Malone?  Answer:  The Village Police Dept.

It’s common knowledge that Franklin County is an easy mark for welfare-seekers from anywhere in the state or even out of state.  This makes the Village of Malone one of the preferred welfare destinations of NYS.  (I’m told you can drive down Main St. as the sun is coming up and find strangers sitting on the steps of the courthouse, with a garbage bag of their meager belongings.  Question them, and they tell you they’re from out of the area — and waiting for the Dept of Social Services office to open so they can sign up.)  Because they don’t have cars, these people prefer to live in the village.

All this means — trouble.  Domestic violence.  Drugs.  Booze.  Brawls.  Lots of drama.  Drama drama drama!  No, not invariably, but a whole lot.  Enough to make a sweeping, general, and yes bitter statement like this with confidence — ‘cause I live in the middle of it, and have for 20 years.
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The village cops are essential!  Mike knows this.  “Don’t mess with the cops!”

 

Andrea Dumas

Santa Barbara Santa Fe Chicago Baltimore Washington DC

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Mike’s Point of View

 

— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD
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Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:  An Inquiry into Values.  The book was a classic when I was a young man.  Pirsig published it in 1974 — after 121 publishers had rejected it.  It sold over 5 million copies.

One hundred twenty-one publishers were pretty darn embarrassed.

It was Pirsig who introduced me to bikers and the novel idea that they may have something worthwhile to say about things like quality and gumption.  When I moved from Santa Fe to Malone and met a motorcycle aficionado named Mike Fournier, I knew this was the guy Pirsig had in mind — the kind who didn’t “sit around dissipating and stewing about things,” a man “at the front of the train of his own awareness, watching to see what’s up the track and meeting it when it comes.”

For years I’ve been trying to persuade Mike to start a political blog — with quality and gumption as his lodestar.  He finally took my advice.  Click here.

I urge you to read it.  Regularly.  As I now do.

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Don’t work yourself into hysterics over whether you agree with him.  Instead, listen between the lines for that distinctive Harley rumble of quality and gumption (click above) — and let him challenge your relationship to the same principles.  Every essay Mike writes challenges me.
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If America goes to hell in a handbasket someday, it will be because we abdicated quality and gumption.  This includes the political sphere.  Read the debates between political opponents and policy-makers in the early years of the republic.  You can’t help but notice the quality and gumption of all the participants.  George Washington.  Alexander Hamilton.  Benjamin Franklin.  Thomas Jefferson.  James Madison.  John Adams.  Aaron Burr.  The list is lengthy.  I’m not saying they were always right; I’m saying each of them knew that “if you’re going to repair a motorcycle” or create a new nation, “an adequate supply of gumption is the first and most important tool.  If you haven’t got that you might as well gather up all the other tools

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Trump gets it!

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— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD
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If you had told me a year ago that Donald Trump was going to run for President, you and I would have laughed.

If you had told me a year ago that I would be supporting Trump for President, we would have laughed even harder.

I’m not laughing any more.

What changed my mind was an old pair of moccasins belonging to my wife.  I flipped them over.
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“Made in USA.”  In fact, “Made in Malone NY.”  Nina’s moccasins were made a couple blocks from our home.

Savor this for a moment, the way you’d savor a fine cigar.  Inhale what I just said, “Made in Malone NY.”

They were made by people Nina sees as patients or by relatives of her patients. (She’s a doc, in case you didn’t know.)  This means these people were employed, and it was a good job.  Steady work.  Good benefits.  It also means Malone was thriving.  As in this charming (and really old) photograph.
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Flanagan Hotel, Malone NY

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Now, take a look at my new boots.  I bought ‘em at IBC last September.
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I love them!  Comfortable.  Waterproof.  Well made.  Okay, now turn back the tongue of the boot . . .
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“Made in China.”  Whoa!   These used to be made in Malone NY.  Now — China?!

This got me ransacking our kitchen.  Here, take a look at our cookware.

Revere Ware

Now our Corning Ware.  Had this piece for years.
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Turn it over . . .
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“Made in USA.”  Actually, made in Corning NY.

Last fall we bought a “Corning Ware” mug . . .
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Turn it over . . .
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“Made in China.”  Still “Corning Ware,” but “Made in China.”

Ladies and gentlemen, this pisses me off!  What the f**k happened?!  Did people in Malone NY suddenly forget how to make shoes?

Look at this man’s hands.  Gary Monette.  From 1969 to 1974, Gary made shoes at Tru-Stitch.  Did Gary forget how to make shoes?  Did his sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, and neighbors — all turn their backs on making shoes?

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General Election 2015: Meet the Candidates

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— Calvin  Luther Martin, PhD

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Vote!  This Tuesday.  November 3rd.  Don’t even think of using the tired excuse, “But my vote doesn’t make a difference!”

I know this excuse; I used it for years.  It’s horseshit.  And you know it.  It’s defeatist and self-fulfilling.
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We are the beneficiaries of centuries of blood, sweat, and tears to win this privilege.  Wars were fought.  People imprisoned and beaten.  Heads rolled.  People driven from their homes.  All for the goal of suffrage:  the right to vote.  Don’t insult this precious achievement with, “My vote doesn’t count!”  Or, “I vote only in presidential elections.”

No one is more demoralized and disgusted by state and national politics than I am.  But don’t extend this disgust to our community.  We are not owned by Washington or Albany, and to the extent we’re tyrannized by them, our best bet is to elect local people who figure out creative ways to contradict and blunt oppressive control.

This is where I shake my head.  Typically in Malone fewer than 1000 people vote.  In a field of, say, two candidates, it’s common for one candidate to get 450 and the other 483 votes.  This is shameful.  These numbers should be in the thousands!

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If you need to acquaint yourself with the local candidates, I have written about most of them in these pages (see below).

There was a time when these articles would have been forbidden or censored by the state.  That I can write freely, openly, about candidates for public office is confirmation that “voting” and “democracy” work.  They will continue to work only if you and I continue to exercise these powers.  Once we let apathy or discouragement defeat them, there is hell to pay to restore them.

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Michael Maneely, Mayor, Village of Malone (click here)

Hugh Hill, Trustee, Village of Malone (click here)

Phil Hans, Trustee, Village of Malone (click here)

 

Ed Lockwood, Councilman, Town of Malone (click here)

Wayne Miller, Councilman, Town of Malone (click here)

 

Charles Robert, Judge, Malone Municipal Court (click

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Charlie Robert: Bear of a man


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—  Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

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Same man in both photos, correct?  Just a different event, right?

Wrong.  Although the similarities are striking.

» both are named Charlie
» both are just one hot biscuit away from 330 lbs
» both are about the same age — called “old.”  LOL!
» both are grandfathers
» both were senior Corrections officers, now retired
» both refer to their wives as their “better half” (which, I assure you, is true)
» both are no-nonsense types
» both have a wicked sense of humor (emphasis on “wicked”)
» both are among the finest men you will ever meet on this good earth

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The one on the right is The Honorable Charles Gardner, Justice of the Malone Municipal Court.  The one on the left is Charles Robert (pronounced the French way, “Row-Bear.”  Emphasis on the “Bear.”)

Both are bears of a man, in the best sense of the word “bear.”  (I used to study and write about bears as a scholar.  My wife and I camped in grizzly country in Alaska.  I’m fond of bears and respect them.  I spoke to a grizzly —very courteously — while backpacking in Alaska one spring evening.  Mere yards separated us.  Nina & I were purposely unarmed and carried no pepper-spray.  All we had was “courtesy.”  I explained we were unarmed and asked his permission to be there.  He listened attentively, then vanished like smoke into the wilderness.  Bears don’t walk, they float like vapor.  Except when charging you — and then they’re a freight train.)
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Both Charlies are bears, I swear.  I mean more than “massive.”  Both listen carefully, thoughtfully.  Both are wise.  In Native American teaching, bears are the most spiritually powerful creature of all.  They are the “keepers of the game.”  Meaning, bears are the “animal boss” throughout the wilderness domain.  They patrol it and keep the peace, while protecting other wildlife.  Bears, it is said, know everything that’s going on.

Country singer, Lyle Lovett, understands these awesome creatures.  (Open the video, below, and turn up your speakers.)
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Native Americans say a bear will give

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Why do 151 kids like Ed Lockwood?

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— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD
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If you don’t know Ed Lockwood, that’s him in the gray silhouette, above.

This is him, below.  Calm, thoughtful.  Unflappable.  A man at peace with himself and the world.  Should you ever find yourself stranded on a desert island, Ed’s the guy you want to be stranded with.  Besides having a wonderful temperament, he can build stuff, including houses.

“I’m no savior,” he quietly tells me, “I want to help.”  The man exhales modesty.
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Ed coaches kids’ soccer and hockey.  No, not at one of the Malone schools — Ed’s not a schoolteacher, although he is, in fact, on the Malone school board.  He’s a local businessman.  (He’s a manager for Adirondack Energy.  Before this, he was Operations Manager at Suburban Propane.  Before that, a supervisor at GM in Massena, where his dad had worked for many years.)

Ed coaches kids at the Malone Rec Park.  For free.  As a parent.  (He and his wife, Jenn, have two kids.  Owen, 11, and Laney, 9.  Jenn’s a vet tech at the High Peaks Animal Hospital on Bangor.  She grew up in Chateaugay.  I told him we could forgive her for that.  Ed & I chuckled.  I hope Jenn’s not reading this.  Ed & Jenn are passionate about sports and the great outdoors.  Camping.  Fishing,  Hiking.  Boating.  Skiing.  That stuff.  Owen plays soccer, hockey, and football.  Laney is a figure skater.)

I used the word “passionate,” above.  The thing you need to know about Ed is that his name is synonymous with the Malone Recreation Park.    He’s passionate about the kids’ athletic programs.
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For starters, he’s vice president of the Malone Minor Hockey Association.  There are currently 150 “Huskies” (boys & girls) in the hockey program.

One hundred and fifty kids!  These 150 youngsters are the future of Malone and NYS and America.  I often preach against drugs and ruined lives in these pages.  The Malone Minor Hockey Association is one of the best ways of keeping 150 children away from marijuana, “spike,” cocaine, “street” pills, and heroin.  So is the Rec Park figure-skating program, which

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Peter Dumas: “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re taking this to trial!”

 

— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

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Can you pick out which one is Peter Dumas?

Truth be told, he’s not in the photo, but he’s been in this muddy brawl many a time.

They say it’s not a brawl, but I don’t believe it.  They say they’re playing a game.  Called rugby.  But pictures don’t lie.  Rugby is just another name for brawling.  The rules are basically, “Get the damn ball to the other end of the field by any means possible!”  (Any means possible, except throwing.  You can throw the ball in football; you can’t in rugby.)
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I swear these guys eat roofing nails for snacks.  If they break bones, it’s considered part of the fun.  (Peter had his ribs broken.  Twice.  Like I said, just part of the fun.)
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Pete played this bone-crushing sport through college and then law school.  He was captain of the Pace Law School rugby team his final year.  They won a championship that year (incidentally, defeating Albany Law, when Craig Carriero was in his first year there, although Craig was not on the rugby team.)
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Craig and Pete are running against each other for District Attorney.  Here’s the deal, on November 3rd, you get to vote for either the guy with the busted finger or the one with the busted ribs.  (Craig, remember, was captain of the Hartwick football team and played out his senior year with a broken finger.)

Whatever else you can say about these two men, they’re competitive and they’re tough.
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They’re both also smart and excellent tacticians.  (Interviewing each of them, in turn, was a pleasure.)

Pete’s a criminal defense lawyer, an ideal venue for his training in formal logic and drama — and a passion for rugby.

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill, small-town defense lawyer.  Pete sits on the board of directors of the NYS Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.  The board has 20 members.  Pete’s the only director north of Albany.  All the rest are from NYC, Albany, Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse — downstate, in other words.  (So, what’s he doing in Malone, NY, you wonder?  

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Mike Maneely: The man who wants to be a (visible) mayor

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— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

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Malone has a problem.  I’ve come up with a name for it.  The “Invisible Mayor Syndrome.”  I’ve lived through one administration of Joyce Tavernier, two of Joe Gokey, two of Brent Stewart, and now two of Todd LePine.  Joe, Brent, and Todd all suffered from the Invisible Mayor Syndrome.  (Brent and Todd more than Joe.)

What exactly is the syndrome?  It’s just like the name says:  You never saw these guys!

Go to the village office.  They weren’t there.  (I exaggerate only slightly.)

You didn’t see them around town.

Try to reach them by phone (even leave a message) or email them (we’re in the 21st century, after all).  There’s no response.  Ever.  (At least in my experience.)

You wouldn’t dare call them about a municipal problem or to offer your 2 cents on a municipal issue.
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(None of these guys seem to grasp that they represent the voters.  A mayor should in fact set up a regular forum for getting voters’ opinions on matters of public policy.  To tack on a couple minutes of “public comment” at the end of a village board meeting just doesn’t cut it!  Which leads to the question, “Who is advising these mayors?  Their pals?  Their drinking buddies?”  Scary question, huh?)
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Okay, I’m probably being too hard on Joe, Brent, and Todd.  The job pays a ridiculously small salary.  Twelve thousand dollars ($12,000) per year.  Maybe $12K was reasonable when “Roll Over Beethoven” was #1 on the Hit Parade, but in 2015 it’s absurd and an insult to these public officers.  (Same goes for the trustees’ salaries, by the way, which are $8K.)

Todd LePine, Brent Stewart, and Joe Gokey all needed to make an income, just as I do.  There’s no way they could meet their financial needs by being, simply, Mayor of Malone.  In Todd’s case, he has a business to run — to pay the bills.  That’s reasonable.

This presents us with a dilemma.  Malone is a multi-million-dollar-a-year corporation.  It has a large staff.  Office clerks, police officers, department of public works employees.  It has to deal

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Hugh Hill wants new lungs . . . and your vote

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— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

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Any day, now, this man is going to get a phone call from the intense-looking man, below.

The man awaiting the call is Hugh Hill, a Malone Village Trustee running for re-election.  (I very much hope he gets re-elected.  More on that in a moment.  First, let’s address the tube in his nose.)

The man who will call him is Jonathan D’Cunha, MD, PhD, a thoracic surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
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Dr. D’Cunha will tell Hugh to get in his car and drive posthaste to Pittsburgh, where D’Cunha and his team of surgeons, nurses, and anesthesiologists will sedate Hugh, cut open his chest, and remove his lungs.  The phone call is to let Hugh know the surgical team found a donor set of lungs which they believe will match Hugh’s tissue requirements.

The entire operation will last anywhere from 7-9 hours.  (Click on the image above, or here, to watch a video describing the process.)

If everything goes well, Hugh will remain in the hospital for another 2-3 weeks, then get discharged to begin several weeks of outpatient post-operative monitoring and adjustment of immune suppressants by the surgical team.

Several months later, with rigorous physical therapy at Alice Hyde, he should be good for at least another 250,000 miles.  He will kiss that oxygen tank goodbye!

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A new pair of lungs?  Several years ago, Hugh discovered that he has a rare disease called Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.  IPF for short.  (In clinical jargon, “idiopathic” means “nobody knows the cause.”)  He’s one of the few people in America who, for some mysterious reason, develops progressive fibrosis (scarring; tissue thickening) of the lungs.  The prognosis is straightforward:  IPS progresses rapidly and is fatal.  There’s no cure.  There is only one treatment that works:  lung transplant.

Hugh’s choices were simple.  Either go to heaven or Pittsburgh.

He chose Pittsburgh.  (It if were me, I would have chosen heaven.  Hey, have you ever been to Pittsburgh?!  Humor aside, I would indeed have chosen to let the disease take its course.  I say this to signal that

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Phil Hans is worried. You should be too.

 

— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

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Notice the expression on this man’s face.  He’s smiling ever so slightly.  Why?  Because he’s looking out the window at this.

His name is Phil Hans.  He’s a member of the Malone School Board.  He’s running for Malone Village Trustee.  He’s a dairy consultant with Food Commodities International.

But this doesn’t explain why he’s smiling.  When I finished interviewing him for this article, I asked Mr. Hans to stand and look out my window — at the Flanders Elementary School playground, loaded with boisterous children.

You, too, would smile.  He’s witnessing the wild rumpus my wife & I get to enjoy several times a day.  (I tell visitors it’s better than Prozac.)

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He’s also smiling because his wife, Heather, is a 4th Grade teacher at Flanders.  (Perhaps he spotted her out there?)  He’s also smiling because he and Heather love children.  They had none of their own, so they adopted three.  Two twin boys (now aged 4) and a 6-year-old girl named Nina.

I’m partial to “Ninas.”  I married one.  I’m also partial to Grade 4.  It was the high point of my academic career.  I earned a Certificate of Achievement which I still cherish and examine on occasion.  Besides, 4th Grade is when I first fell in love (with shy Nancy Henderson).  Naturally, I fell in love with Miss Benson, my teacher.

I’ll bet all the kids love Miss Heather, Phil’s wife.

But I digress.  Phil grew up in Cohoes NY.  A dying milltown not unlike Malone.  Cohoes is in worse shape than we are, Phil tells me.  Drugs are real bad.  Crime, bad.  Abandoned, derelict, empty buildings.  Dispirited people.  A disease of the soul.

Phil doesn’t want Malone to go the way of Cohoes.  That’s why he’s running for Trustee.

The truth of the matter is, he’s worried.  He’s worried about the future of the kids he’s looking at — the kids his wife teaches — and the kids he and his wife adopted.

He’s worried because they’re all kids like this one.  Her name is Sue.  (Sorry for the grainy picture.  That’s her younger brother

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Wayne Miller thinks Malone should join the 21st century

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— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

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This is a story about a mouse. (This isn’t a bedtime story; it’s an election-time story.  Oh, and it’s a true story.)

The mouse was born and raised here.  There was nothing remarkable about this mouse when it was a little mouse.  It got into the usual kinds of mischief that over-confident teenage mice get into — stuff like totaling his dad’s truck.  (I tell you, he wasn’t a happy mouse when his dad grounded him for weeks.)

In any event, he went off to the University of Rochester and earned a BA in History, then SUNY Oswego for an MA in History, then SUNY Geneseo for something called an MLIS degree.  Which stands for “Masters of Library & Information Science.”

Whereupon he became a librarian.  (He was the librarian & media specialist for many years at Franklin Academy.  You probably noticed him there.  He was also Associate Librarian at SUNY Plattsburgh for years, and ended his career as Executive Director of the Ogdensburg Public Library.)

Before going further, let’s get this straight.  “What do librarians do?”  If you’re thinking, “They gather, organize, and make available information on virtually every topic under the sun” — you’re right on the money!  The key words are “gather,” “organize,” and “make available.”

Next question.  “How do they gather, organize, and make information available?”  If you’re thinking something like this — no cigar, you blew it!

The card catalog, above, is away out of date.  A dinosaur.

Today’s librarians are cool.  They’re cyber navigators.  Navigators, guides, and custodians of the data of the Digital Information Age.

Recall Michelangelo’s painting of Creation on the ceiling of Rome’s Sistine Chapel, shown in the lower right-hand corner, above.  Today, the God of Information reaches out and touches us with a cyber finger.  The world our ancestors knew, indeed the world I was born into, has coalesced into a digital community with a common, universal language — the “ones” and “zeros” of computer language.  By means of this language, anyone with a laptop and a mouse can “log” into and particpate in the World Wide Web—

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Craig Carriero: District Attorney?

— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

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At the beginning of the college football season his senior year, he snapped a finger in practice.  The orthopedist warned him to skip the season if he wanted his hand to heal properly.  “Otherwise, you will pay dearly for this injury later in life.”   “Nope!” promptly replied the strapping young man, smiling.  “I’m team captain this year.  I can’t do this to the team.”

There was no way he was going to let broken bones keep him out of the game.

The team had a stellar season, inspired by a captain who played with a broken finger on his “throwing” hand.  (Should I mention that he was also on the baseball team?)
Not only was he a good athlete; he was smart.  The football star graduated magna cum laude in political science.
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Next stop was Albany Law School (Union University), where he became associate editor of the law journal (a prestigious position in law school, by the way). Once more he graduated cum laude.  (Latin for “with distinction.”)Apparently at Albany Law, students are seated alphabetically, in rows, in the lecture halls.  In the “C” section, there was “Carriero” and, next seat over (or was it two seats over?), sat a bright young woman with the last name “Cantwell.”  It wasn’t long before “Carriero” (from Connecticut) was taking notice of “Cantwell” (from Malone NY).

You guessed it.  This is them in the photo, below, with their two boys between them.  (Who woulda thunk a goofy bureaucratic rule like, “You gotta seat yourselves alphabetically!” would result in two kids?)

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After law school, he landed a position with a distinguished Albany law firm.  And then — then the young attorney he had married brought him back home to Malone.

“How do you like living here” I asked as we settled into conversation in my living room.  “I love it!” he exclaimed.

I liked his answer. “Albany didn’t really need you and Ginger,” I observed, “but Malone does!”  (Young, high-powered professionals moving to Malone:  The town should hold a ticker-tape parade for these people!)

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Derek Champagne soon hired the

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Why we support Dave Merrick for Malone Town Justice


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—  Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

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Dave Merrick is running for Malone Town Justice.  (Yes, he’s the son of Don and Debbie Merrick. Don, as many of you know, was Principal at Franklin Academy for many years.  Debbie was a celebrated obstetrics nurse at Alice Hyde.)  Their son David, a Tenth Mountain Division veteran who saw combat in Somalia, is a sergeant in the Malone Village Police Department.
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If you’re like me, and have little clue about the Somalia campaign, here’s a glimpse of what it was like.
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Alpha Company landed at Baledogle Air Base the first week of Operation Restore Hope Eager to tangle with the warlord gangs.  Instead, the enemy disappeared into the red dirt like ants just before the rain. . . . At first nothing in Somalia worked. The ports and airfields were like the rest of the country: rusted, busted, or ripped off. . . . To Somalis, the US grunts — dressed in combat helmets and flak jackets and armed to the teeth – must have looked like giants from another planet. Their rules of engagement were sledgehammer simple and as loose as I have ever seen: fire if threatened. Early on, gang members in three Somali vehicles made the mistake of firing at a USMC Cobra helicopter. “Say your prayers, varmint,” muttered the pilot as he went in for the kill. He melted them like a candle in a bonfire. A machine gunner in a gun-mounted “technical” vehicle trained his weapon on a squad of Marines and was taken out by leatherneck fire.  Now the word is, Don’t mess with Operation Restore Hope.

Only a few weeks ago Mogadishu was an armed camp. Almost everyone, including 12-year-old punks, had AK-47’s. Now the gangs have stashed their AK-47s and gotten out of town. . . .

The military calls the tactical approach behind Operation Restore Hope the “oil blot.”  Once a new center is opened, food distribution and simple actions such as medical assistance and engineer support slowly seep out. As this blot grows larger, it connects with others, eventually covering the whole land. The technique used

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Is Burke hopelessly corrupt?

 

— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

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The wind hucksters are back.  In Chateaugay, Belmont, and maybe Burke.

Just when it seemed the statewide Wind Energy gig had run its course, it wheezed back to life when Gov. Cuomo unexpectedly threw several hundred million dollars its way.  (My guess is Cuomo did it to appease all the people he pissed off by banning natural gas fracking.)

What’s killing wind energy, nationally, is Congress’s refusal to extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC), the wind companies’ chief source of income — taxpayers’ money.  At the moment, Congressional die-hards have only managed to extend the “wind” PTC retroactively through December 2014.  Their opponents are holding the line.  (It’s a partisan tug-of-war.  Republicans argue that wind energy is little more than corporate welfare.  Democrats say wind energy is an answer to Global Warming, a bogeyman many Republicans consider vastly overstated if not outright bullshit.)

Regardless of which argument you support, without reliable federal subsidies (PTC), there’s no financial future for wind energy.

Congressional Republicans, incidentally, have a point.  Wind energy is intermittent, not “dispatchable,” and requires 24/7 “spinning reserve” power backup from coal, nuclear, natural gas, or hydro.  It’s absurd to imagine wind power as a contender in the nation’s energy mix.

Wind power will go the way of 19th-century sailing vessels.  All 29 sails on this schooner are obsolete for anything but recreational purposes.  This isn’t Politics 101, it’s Physics 101.

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In any event, Cuomo’s generosity brought the Jericho Rise wind project back from the dead — and the Burke Town Board wants some of the action.  To get in on the windfall ($206 million), Burke had to — and just did — pass a wind law permitting turbines in this dairy-farming slice of paradise.

Here’s where the cow manure hits the proverbial fan.

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Burke’s problem is straightforward.  It has nothing to do with the merits or demerits of wind energy.  Disregard whether you think they’re “ballerinas” in the sky or a monstrous eyesore.  In its heyday, the wind salesmen made all sorts of extravagant claims for their wares, including “getting the USA off foreign oil” and

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Governor’s message to Malone: “Consolidate services!”

“10,500 [municipal] governments in the State is unsustainable!”—Gov. Cuomo
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Now that “dissolution” of the Village of Malone has been rejected by voters, we must take the steps necessary to ensure the village’s financial survival.

RiverCityMalone.com urges all local government officials to watch this short video of Gov. Andrew Cuomo explaining that:

(a) NYS is not going to bail out municipalities like ours,

(b) NYS is already paying a huge amount of money into municipal coffers via Medicaid services,

(c) Hell will freeze over before he (Cuomo) gives yet more money to municipalities,

(d) Municipalities are going to have to balance their budgets either by reducing the cost of services or convincing taxpayers to override the 2% tax cap or, failing that,

(e) Municipalities can ask the state Financial Control Board to take over the municipality.

The best solution to achieve financial solvency, argues Cuomo, is for villages & towns & counties to consolidate their services.  In his words, “10,500 [municipal] governments in the State is unsustainable!”  No doubt that’s true, but it’s a slogan and like all slogans it’s overly simplistic.  In particular, it does not follow from this that the Village of Malone should have “dissolved” into the Town of Malone.  The day may indeed come when the two governments merge, but they should do so as two partners seeking union—as in a marriage.  “Dissolution” is not a marriage; “dissolution” is disfranchisement—always a bad starting point for a relationship, be it civic or personal.  

In sum, the governor is telling Malone:  “Consolidate village, town, and county services!”  (Note, there is a big difference between “dissolving” the Village of Malone and “consolidating services” between the village, town, and county.)

Maybe we should listen—before we find ourselves married to the NYS Financial Control Board.
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Patrick Ward opposes dissolution

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—Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

Does this man look worried to you?  (Notice the furrowed brow and hand gestures—a dead giveaway.)  In fact, he is worried.  And you should be, too!

That’s why he’s running for Malone Village Trustee—as a write-in candidate.  (More on the “write-in” procedure, below.)

A year ago, Pat & Liz Ward bought a 3-unit rental house next door to me, on Clay St.  (They had been living on Francis St, across from the Middle School.)  They fixed it up and moved into one of the apartments.  For 8 months, Pat & Liz and their 3 kids were my next-door neighbors.  Fabulous neighbors!  Wonderful people!

They then bought another 3-unit rental house on the corner of Washington and Frederick, and did the same thing:  fixed up the vacant apartment and moved in.  Click here and scroll down to see the stunning job they did on this second apartment.  Meanwhile, they rented the apartment—which they had vacated next door to me—to a fine young couple.

Through this process, the Wards and Martin/Pierponts became friends.

Patrick was Restaurant Operations Manager at Pizza Hut when he moved into the neighborhood.  Pizza Hut thrived during his tenure.  After buying the second apartment building (corner of Frederick & Washington), he resigned from Pizza Hut (with much regret from the staff, I’m told) to devote himself to buying-and-fixing-up distressed apartment buildings in the Village, then renting them out to decent tenants.

Now, savor everything I just said.  Patrick—ordained minister (see below) and businessman—and wife Liz (a trained schoolteacher) are the future of Malone.  Young, professional couple investing heavily in the Village’s future.  A young professional willing to run for public office (Village Trustee) and put in the hours and energy and sweat—and the homework—to rescue a Village headed for bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy?  The Village’s revenues (taxes and other, miscellaneous sources of income) are not keeping pace with expenditures.  What’s strangling the Village budget are:

(1) “Retirement benefits” to retired municipal employees.  Like all of us, municipal retirees are tending to live longer, meaning their benefits are being paid out to them and their spouses for more years than originally anticipated.

(2)

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Walk the plank!

Reality Check for Malone Municipal Elections

Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

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Take a close look at the cartoon.  Keep it in mind when you go to the polls November 8th.

Courtesy of the Toronto Globe & Mail

What’s the take-home message?  We elect people to serve on the Village and Town Board, and we expect them to keep the good ship “Malone” afloat and ship-shape, and when we decide they’re doing a lousy job we make them walk the plank.

Consider Andrea Stewart’s poignant letter in the Telegram about her husband, Mayor Brent Stewart, a week or so ago.  Brent and Sue Hafter opted not to run for re-election this year.  The sense I get from Andy’s letter is that, frankly, both were fed up with taking a beating for their efforts to keep the ship, “Malone,” afloat and on course.  Both Hafter & Stewart felt they were on the business end of that plank, above, and being fed to the sharks. Or about to be fed to the sharks. Or being repeatedly fed to the sharks.

Andrea has a point.  (Full disclosure:  I, myself, have on more than one occasion clamored for both Brent and Sue to be tossed overboard.)

The cartoon tells a different story, however.  Notice, the ship is already taking on water.  It’s waist deep and going down.  The crew (that would be you and me, dear reader) has failed to grasp what Captain Stewart (rolling his eyes with incredulity) realizes:  They are all walking the plank!  Everyone is going down!

The ship is sinking not through any fault of the captain, whether it’s Captain Brent Stewart and officers “Village Trustees,” or Captain Howard Maneely and officers “Town Council.”  It’s going down because Tru-Stitch is gone, Cleyn & Tinker is gone, Gildan Shirt Factory is gone, Ballard woolen mill is gone, John B. Hinds foundry is gone, Bombardier is gone, Durant Baking Co. is gone.

They’re gone not through any screw-up by Malone or its government; they’re gone for complicated reasons of national and global economics.

Industries long ago fled small and medium-sized towns, and even cities, across America—not just in Franklin

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Riccio, Cositore, and Dissolving the Village of Malone

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Joe Riccio.  Former Editor of the Malone Telegram.  Currently the Communications Manager at the Adirondack Medical Center, Saranac Lake.

Several points are immediately obvious.

(1) The guy can handle a great mass of information.  Digest it, sort it out, weigh its merits, discuss it, present it intelligently and intelligibly, and do it all with minimum verbiage.  His past two jobs have required him to see the point of something, quickly, and get to the point.

(2) He is the public face and voice of a prestigious, multi-million dollar business.  The Adirondack Medical Center.  Believe me, they would have fired him long ago if he couldn’t handle that.  (Can you imagine anyone else on the current Village Board handling this job?)  Imagine the difficult personalities he has to deal with, every day.  Imagine the conflicting issues and conflicting individuals he has to deal with, daily.  Imagine that when hospitals are sucking wind financially—as they all are, now—that he has to maintain public confidence in the hospital, and he has to insist that the hospital earn that public confidence.  Yes, Riccio has to finesse both tasks.

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Sullivan Superman?

Just when you thought you knew Councilman Jack Sullivan—he suddenly stands up at a town meeting—rips open his shirt—Oh My God!

The Man of Steel!

RCM did some old-fashioned, Clark Kent kind of investigative sleuthing, and we’ve got the evidence.  (Once again, RCM scoops The Telegram!) . . .

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The farm girl from Lawrenceville

One day a North Country farm girl went off to college and was pleased as punch.

Mary Scharf
Mary Scharf goes to college

Notice the stack of books.  And the smile.  This was one determined kid.  The kind who earned awards like this (mind you, the task of merely getting to school was often a challenge in those frigid winters on the farm).

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