Upstream. A Mohawk Valley Blogzine.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Defining The Mohawk Valley Part 2 Or Should Troy Be Part Of The Mohawk Valley Corridor?

One of the problems with the Mohawk Valley Heritage Commission's definition of the Mohawk Valley is that it leaves out places with a strong connection to the valley and includes places with very little connection. Troy while on the east bank of the Hudson River is clearly in the Hudson Valley, however, it had a strong connection with the Mohawk Valley, particularly when the Erie Canal was going strong and Troy was a terminus for goods shipped through the canal. Troy is not part of the Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor yet has a stronger connection to the Mohawk Valley than does northern Saratoga County which is part of the corridor. Troy has much in common with such Mohawk Valley cities as Schenectady, Amsterdam and Utica. If Troy were part of the Corridor it would be eligible for grants and funds. In any event, if you are interested in Troy as I am, I highly recommend The Troy Polloi, a blog that keeps you up to date on politics in the City of Troy and in Rensselaer County.

Defining The Mohawk Valley. Part 1

It's not that easy defining the Mohawk Valley so I am starting a series of posts that will be spread over a period of weeks, possibly months, that will attempt to define the Mohawk Valley. As a starting point, The Mohawk Valley Heritage Commission defines the valley in terms of political geography. The Mohawk Valley, according to the commission, includes the Oneida Indian Nation and the following eight counties: Albany, Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Saratoga, Schenectady and Schoharie.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Congratulations To The Amsterdam Rams

Even though I would like to see Amsterdam give as much attention to academics as it does to sports, winning the State Class A Football Championship is still an accomplishment. Congratulations!

Montgomery County Sheriff Should Resign

Since the year 2000, it has been the policy of Sheriff Amato to strip search everyone who he arrests even if for a traffic infraction. It doesn't take a lot of brain power to realize that such a policy would put the county in jeopardy. A federal appeals court just upheld a lower court ruling that barred deputies from strip searching unless there was a good cause for doing so. A class action lawsuit against the county affects 2500 people and the county may likely have to pay out a lot of money before this is all over. Such a fiasco would never have occured under Sheriff Emery. The Board of Supervisors should request Amato's resignation for such an egregious and stupid violation of civil rights. If nothing else, this fiasco reveals Amato's lack of judgement.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Fulton County & Deadbeat Dads

Do Fulton County officials really believe that publishing a list of "deadbeat dads" will force people to pay their child support? The county already has the ability to take money from tax returns, from paychecks and to put liens on property. If they can't collect money with that kind of power, simply publishing a list of names is not going to help. By the way, in this era of political correctness and gender equality, why do we call people (men and women) who don't pay their child support "deadbeat dads?"

Friday, November 25, 2005

Drums Along The Mohawk.

The last couple of days have been cold and bleak in the Mohawk Valley, but not like it would have been 200 years ago. If you think we have it tough in the Winter, then read or re-read Walter Edmonds’ Drums Along The Mohawk.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Pay Raise For Brian Stratton

Maybe Schenectady Mayor Brian Stratton needs a pay raise; maybe he doesn't. My problem with the proposed pay raise is the justification for it. The city council wants to bring Stratton's pay in line with other mayors, particularly the mayor of Troy. But Schenectady and Troy are two different cities, with different problems and needs. Furthermore, if we looked at every city the size of Schenectady in the country, or even just in New York State, we would find a wide range of salaries. Currently, Stratton gets $60,500. Many families in Schenectady don't make that kind of money with both parents working.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Montgomery And Fulton Counties Should Merge.

Montgomery and Fulton Counties should pursue the idea of merging. The two counties are small both in land area and in population (about 50,000 people each. A great deal of money would be saved by the consolidation. The new county would also have more political clout. Historically, the counties were one until sometime in the 1800s.
I would suggest keeping the name Montgomery for the new county, but making Johnstown the county seat. Fonda is such a dreary town and is not suitable for a county seat.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Winston Churchill And The Mohawk Valley.

I have been reading one of those multi-volume, 1200 pages per volume, biographies of Winston Churchill. Churchill has been one of my heros since the eighth grade when I wrote about him for an assignment on "my favorite American." Churchill happened to be an honorary American citizen so I was able to write about him for the assignment. Churchill, of course, was half American anyway, because his mother was American. But what I didn't know until recently was that he was part Iroquois as one of his mother's ancestors had married a Native American. This puts part of Churchill's ancestry in New York State, and I like to think of that Native American ancestor of his living here in the Valley.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Who's Protecting Your Children In Schoharie County?

It's bad enough that Montgomery County had a Child Protective Investigator get arrested on drug charges and a Child Preventive social worker get arrested for Medicaid fraud, but Schoharie County has a Child Protective worker standing trial for sexual abuse. In today's Gazette, it was reported that while out on bail the past few months, he managed to molest another child. So much for the government protecting our children.

More Thoughts On The Recent Election

While going over election results from various municipalities in the Mohawk Valley, I noticed that many incumbents ran unopposed. For example, in the City of Johnstown, not one alderman had a challenger. Incumbents have tremendous power in New York State; they have even more when they run unchallenged.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Lost World War I Paintings On Display In Fort Plain

I have a tendency to be too analytical (i.e. critical and negative) so occasionally I will discipline myself to write a positive blog. Five paintings of World War I soldiers from various countries were rediscovered recently in Fort Plain, hiding behind the drop ceiling of a garage. They were painted by Clayton Walrath of Gloversville. They will be displayed throughout November at the Fort Plain Senior Center at 204 Canal St. I have not seen them yet, although the Gazette had photos of them in their Nov. 10 issue. They are quite nice and worth the trip to see them.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Veteran's Day In The Mohawk Valley

While we need to honor all vets in the Mohawk Valley, special honor needs to be paid to those citizen soldiers who secured our freedom from the British in the American Revolution. The Mohawk Valley suffered immensely during the Revolution, with hundreds of homes and barns burned, crops and livestock destroyed and civilians and soldiers taken captive or killed. Walter Edmonds book Drums Along The Mohawk while fiction was based on a great deal of historical research and portrays better than any book the hardships faced by the inhabitants of the valley during the Revolution.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Fulton County Has Double Standard For Police & Teens When It Comes To Speeding

How can Fulton County expect teenagers to stop drag racing in the streets of Gloversville, when the local police set such a bad example with their driving? One teen was arrested recently for an accident that occurred during a drag race in which a passenger in his car was injured. Yet a half dozen cruisers in the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department have been wrecked in the past year due to imprudent speed by deputies, and little has happened. Just this week a state police cruiser crashed into a van in Fulton County, injuring a number of people. Eye witnesses said the police cruiser was going 100 mph. Not one deputy has been arrested, although all of the deputies are now required to take driving courses, and some will be disciplined. This is a double standard. If teens are going to be arrested for speeding, then the police ought to be also. Responding to an emergency does not give police the right to jeopardize peoples’ lives.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Yesterday's Elections

I was pleased that Proposition 1 was defeated as it would have given our NY State Assemblymen and Senators more power to spend our money than they already have. I was disappointed, however, that the residents of Montgomery County defeated the change to an elected county leader. We will continue to have leadership by committee, fifteen supervisors micro-managing the county without a single person we can hold responsible.

Congratulations to Beth Schumann for once again defeating "King" Barone for Third Ward Supervisor in the City of Amsterdam. Also congratulations to Richard Leggiero for his defeat of Jim Martuscello, who should have been dumped a long time ago.

Although I generally vote Republican, I was happy to see Patricia DeAngelis get defeated for judge in Rensselaer County. While it may be true as WROW host Paul Vandenburgh stated this morning that Carl Strock and Ernie Tetreault hated DeAnglis because of the Jack Carroll case, some of us believed that DeAngelis should be defeated because civil rights are for everyone, even those accused of a crime. DeAngelis not only does not have a judicial temperament, she has on four occasions been found guilty of prosecutorial misconduct.

DeAnglis is confused about the role of a district attorney, as is Vandenburgh (whom I normally agree with), an avid supporter of DeAngelis. The role of a D.A. is justice; it is not to put as many people behind bars for as long as possible. Both DeAngelis and Vandenburgh are confused about Conservatism and criminal justice. A large prison system is as much a part of big government as is a big welfare system. A conservative approach means putting as few people in prison as possible, primarily the violent, sex offenders and the incorrigible. Restitution, alternative sentencing, capital punishment, etc. should be used instead of prison. The approach that DeAngelis takes is really a liberal approach, not a conservative one.

By the way, what makes people think that being a D.A. means you are therefore qualified to be a judge. While both have to know the law, a prosecutor is by definition an advocate, a judge is not. A judge must be fair and have a temperament suited to being a judge. Many a prosecutor is not suited to being a judge.

If you want to see a District Attorney interested in justice watch the old movie Boomerang based on a real case and starring Dana Andrews, Arthur Kennedy and Lee J. Cobb.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

New York State Needs A Museum Of Religion.

New York State has many museums, but it has none dedicated to the history of religion in the State. Many people do not realize that New York State was a hotbed of ideas, including religious ones, in the 1800s. New York State was the Southern California of the first half of the 19th century. Central New York, including the Mohawk Valley, has been referred to as the Great Psychic Highway. The Mohawk Valley was the main artery through which not only people flowed from east to west, but through which the latest cultural and religious ideas flowed.

The Shakers, Mormons and Millerites (fore-runners of The Seventh Day Adventists) all got their start here. This area experienced many religious revivals, so many that it became known as "the burnt over district." Charles G. Finney preached from Troy to Buffalo. Even George Whitfield made it to Schenectady. Jonathan Edwards son presided over Union College in Schenectady for a time. Many small sects sprang up and then died off after a time. Jemima Wilkinson, The Universal Public Friend, was one of the more intriguing cult leaders.

The Mohawk Valley has many early churches and has a religious history dating back to the 1600s and would be a good location for a religious museum.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Kindergarten Should Not Be Compulsory At Age 5

The NY State Board of Regents wants to lower the age of compulsory education from age six to five. Almost all five year olds go to school now even though it is not compulsory, so why change things. We sent one of our children to kindergarten at age six because she was born late in the year, and we didn't feel she was ready. It was the right move. Parents still need to have the discretion as to when to start their children in kindergarten. The move to make kindergarten compulsory at age five is at best unnecessary and at worst is a way for the government to have more control of your children than it does now. No Board of Regents can determine whether or not your child is ready for kindergarten; only you as a parent can.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Amsterdam Aldermen Should Have Refused To Pay For Sexual Harassment Investigation.

William Wills was the only alderman in the City of Amsterdam who had the sense to vote against paying the $16,444 bill the city received for an independent investigation of sexual harassment claims against Police Chief Tom Brownell. Not only was the bill $12,000 higher than the original estimate, the report has been kept secret. Even the aldermen have not been allowed to see it. Wills is absolutely right in refusing to pay for what he hasn’t even seen.