Saturday, November 10, 2018

Yes We Want Development, but Smart Development



Guest Op Ed By Jeremiah Ward, Strong Towns Plattsburgh.

10-23-18

A wise man once said that a city is only as good as its weakest elements. If its foundations are crumbling, it doesn’t make an awful lot of sense to build a mansion on it.

That wise man was Colin Read when he was running for mayor. A major part of his campaign focused on the absurdity of using public funding to construct a mixed-use building on the site of the Durkee Street parking lot when so many of our existing buildings are vacant, underutilized, and in disrepair.

Candidate Read took his supporters on a tour of downtown that pointed out over twenty-four vacant spaces in a short walk, he pointed out the dangers of top-down, “build it and they will come” approaches to development, and he decried the Durkee Street development’s lack of public support. He cautioned that the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative needed public buy-in to be successful. I happened to agree with him.

Flash forward to today and Mayor Read is forging ahead with the development even though the public still thinks it’s a bad idea. Nearly every downtown business—fifty-eight establishments and counting—have submitted Strong Town Plattsburgh’s petition to the City of Plattsburgh asking the city to abort the ill-conceived plan and the state to redirect the $4.3 million portion of the DRI into less controversial downtown projects.

The mayor claims that the state is making the city implement its Durkee Street plans. I still think it is worth having the city ask the state to reconsider, given how unpopular the plans are and given that the state’s own DRI handbook says the point of the program is to fund “key projects recommended by the community.” The truth is, the project was never supported by the community, and the one time that the public had a chance to rank possible DRI projects, Durkee Street came in twenty-sixth out of thirty possible choices. Besides, $4.3 million in the state’s eyes is a miniscule amount of money, approximately .1% of its annual economic development budget.

If that approach doesn’t work, then there are a few safeguards we can put in place to minimize risk and maximize the public’s benefit from a development on Durkee Street. For starters, the city should divide the three-acre Durkee lot into parcels that are more in line with the scale of the rest of downtown and develop the site in phases.

Developing the lot in sections would allow local developers to take part in reinventing our downtown. Further, smaller buildings are more amenable to being bought, sold and reconfigured by homegrown entrepreneurs. Large buildings like malls and big box stores are not and often have to be demolished when something happens to the original owners or their anchor tenants.

A phased approach would also ease concerns about parking. The city wouldn’t have to figure out how to come up with $2-3 million all at once to quickly create new surface parking lots in other parts of downtown to replace the spots that are lost on Durkee Street. The city could implement changes to its parking system gradually rather than hastily.

Haste seems to be the name of the game at present. The city is quietly spending half a million dollars out of its general fund to buy the Glens Falls National Bank on Margaret street, just to tear it down and turn into one of these replacement parking lots. Apparently, the city doesn’t remember the $1.4 million lesson of the parking lot to nowhere on our lakefront: It’s better to ensure a development is fully secured before risking the public’s money on a plan that can easily fall through.

We are reaching a pivotal moment in Plattsburgh’s redevelopment, a point beyond which damage will be done if the city and the public can’t find a way to compromise and move forward. It’s not enough to hold yet another public forum where both sides talk at each other and nothing changes. We need to engage in a dialogue where both sides come out the other side having made good faith concessions. That is the difference between the mere appearance of democracy and actual, grassroots democracy.

Jeremiah Ward
Strong Towns Plattsburgh


Email:  jeremiah.ward@gmail.com

Website: https://www.strongtownsplattsburgh.com/


NOTE: This op ed was also sent to the Press-Republican but as of this date hasn't been published.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Congrats To "Marry"


PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY - 10/9/18

Today's Press-Republican "news"paper had a special supplement: 2018 Reader's Choice Awards.  The winners in various categories/services were revealed including attorney MaryAnne Bukolt-Rider.



Accuracy is important to a newspaper whether it be an article or an advertisement.  But two announcements on page 15 caught my eye.  Not only MaryAnne was chosen as best attorney but she also won in the hearing aids category.


As far as I know MaryAnne doesn't sell hearing aids.  I did a quick Google search and her name didn't pop up.  There is a hearing aid shop on the same street as her office but the Press-Republican -- which prides itself on "excellence" -- couldn't have mixed up the two winners, eh?

While I'm not sure the winner in the attorney category doesn't run a hearing aid company on the side, I do know one key point: her name is MaryAnne, not Marry Anne.

Take Pride, Press-Republican!




Monday, October 29, 2018

Another Past Blast: Punk/Rock Shows 2000








I'm still scanning my old negs.  At times I'm not happy with the quality but it's the best I can do with the set up I got.  (Of course straight digital photography is superior.)   Images from the day when Plattsburgh City had an active local music scene.

Here's the link to more photos:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1JlIFpoHeaxxuuG1ittKYnLyTWkxcxiQt



Saturday, October 27, 2018

Blast From The Past: Plattsburgh City Punk/Rock Shows 2001




I've started the long process of scanning my negs to digitally share my photos of the once active local music scene in Plattsburgh City.

The full set can be found here: 

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1fGrovA13hCFZUxlDIUBmC4zs4rTh8xjs




Monday, October 08, 2018

Dynamo Duo





PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY

The duo Swampcandy -- Ruben Dobbs (guitar) and Joey Mitchell (bass) -- played at Retro Live on Saturday night, October 6th, as part of the Plattsburgh Blues & Jazz series.  Swampcandy really shook the place with a mix of Americana, roots, and delta blues.  More info on upcoming concerts at https://www.plattsburghbluesandjazz.com/ .


Monday, October 01, 2018

Welcome To The Press-Republican - Adirondack Daily Enterprise - Glens Falls Post Star - Watertown Daily Times Newspaper





(C) 2018 Luke T. Bush

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY -- 10/1/18


Hear that giant sucking sound?  It's an out-of-state financial entity draining the lifeblood out of your local newspaper.

Yes, the internet has slammed your local newspaper head on,, E.g., people digitally placing ads (Craigslist) instead of staying with the traditional dead tree classified ads.
Your newspaper would be doing better without an outside entity treating it as a temporary source of money, the priority not journalism but keeping its investors happy.

And nothing keeps an investor happier than getting a good return on increased profits even though those profits are killing the paper, deep cuts resulting in a cheap next-to-useless product.  Case in point: Press Republican.

The initial cut was producing fewer pages.  Also there was the shift to decreasing the size of the paper, trimming off the long edge.  If the narrowing activity kept up the PR would have ended up toilet paper width.

Outsourcing layout saves money but cheapens the product even more.  Ever try to solve a crossword puzzle with the bottom row and a clue cut off?  How hard is it to properly print the crossword?  If you can't at least do that correctly then forget it.  And let's not forget a display ad covering up an article's last paragraph..   Blundering such simple layout tasks repeatedly shows ineptness, indifference. 

Newspaper reporters were never paid that well.  Some of them move on to better paying jobs like public relations hack or dog-catcher.  But even relatively low wages isn't enough: cut staff and make the survivors wear more than one hat, double/triple/etc. duty.

When the newspaper runs short on text -- a newshole too big to fill with articles -- then print the photos a lot bigger, close to covering half of the page.  Such jumbo photos evoke the glory days of LIFE magazine.

Another way to fill in the newshole with articles instead of oversized pics is to share articles with other regional newspapers.  Have you taken a good look at the Press Republican lately?  Two articles from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise dominated the Sunday edition (9/30/18) front page.

So your "Hometown Newspaper of Clinton, Essex, and Franklyn Counties" also runs articles from the Glens Falls Post Star and the Watertown Daily Times.  That gives the PR a real "hometown" feel.

Sometimes the PR publishes articles without bylines, no credit to the writer.  While this could be the result of layout bungling, omitting the reporter's name, more likely what you are reading is a press release.  Such an "article" only presents the POV of a company, educational institution, or governmental agency that created it.  The reader only gets one side of the story, the favorable one.  That ain't news.

CNHI (formerly Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.) owns the Press Republican. The Retirement Systems of Alabama, the administrator of the pension fund for Alabama state employees, has treated CHNI as an investment, nothing more.   While the fund is funded, the PR is fucked.

But don't worry: there's a new publisher at the PR.  And while his staff is making do with less, he's helping the newspaper by...

Huh.  What are a publisher's duties?  No editing, writing articles, taking photographs, making deadlines.  What does that person do all day?   Well, he does get a good salary for it.  And his position must be vital with all of the cuts only on the lower levels.  For example non-sales PR employees have to take a one-week furlough -- or DWOP (Days Without Pay) -- per quarter.

What does the future hold?  CHNI in the process of selling its newspapers, all or piecemeal.  Will the next owner care about quality journalism?  Or will new profiteers drain the PR into a bloodless husk, a newspaper operation not even worth buying for a dollar?

Saturday, September 15, 2018

New To Downtown




PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY -- 9/15/18

A warm summer night didn't stop workers from affixing a large sign for a new restaurant at 82 Margaret Street, the location of the closed Blue Collar Bistro. The owners hope to open Twisted Carrot by the end of this month.


Friday, August 24, 2018

Yes I Can



PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY -- 8/24/18




© 2018 Luke T. Bush

"You can't take my picture.  I didn't give you permission."

Another gathering of Pokemon players, this time near the public library.  I had photographed two other such groups with no problems until this woman challenged me.

I told her I had the right to photograph people in public view.  I wasn't that close to her so she couldn't contend I was harassing her.

A guy spoke up.  "You need permission."

No, I don't.

A second man sitting in a car repeated the same misinformation.

I told them that if they had a problem with me taking their photographs then please call the police and we can get all this hashed out.

The situation is explained by LegalZoom :

"This doesn't necessarily make it illegal for someone to snap your photo without your permission though. For instance, if you're just walking down the street and someone takes a picture, they're well within their rights no matter how violated you might feel."

And the same point is made in The Photographer's Right guide:

"The general rule in the United States is that anyone may take photographs of whatever they want when they are in a public place or places where they have permission to take photographs.  Absent a specific legal prohibition such as a statute or ordinance, you are legally entitled to take photographs. Examples of places that are traditionally considered public are streets, sidewalks, and public parks."

Maybe next time you're being photographed you could politely ask not to have your picture taken.  Works better than angrily declaring misinformation about the law, violating someone's right.

And if you're so concerned about your image being recorded then demand all street and store security cameras be shut down.

  

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Pokemon Goes To The Park

(To enlarge click on image.)






Tubular






Susan Young (on ladder) and Michael Provost work on the last section of tubing for the nature mural at the Plattsburgh Public Library.  When finished blue plastic balls as substitutes for raindrops will move through the tubing, symbolizing the water cycle.  There's a snag with the completion of the solar powered feature: the heat is warping the plastic corkscrew shaft that moves the "raindrops."  So it's back to the 3D printer to manufacture a heat-resistant corkscrew.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Eye For Detail




International artist Sophia Temujin Buchi continues working on her mural entitled As One. Located behind the small building next to 30 City Hall Place the new mural is another one created under the auspices of Outside Art: Plattsburgh Public Art Project.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

What's The Story?



By Luke T. Bush

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY - August 14, 2018


There's a problem when I get some of my news through podcasts and Facebook.

Case in point: local WPTZ-TV news anchor Stephanie Gorin and the state trooper incident.  

I heard about this through a podcast entitled "Stephanie Gorin Is Above The Law," Trashcast episode #11.  Provocateur Matt Hall and his cohort discuss local news stories with a usually irreverent tone.  This time they touched upon an incident they had heard about when Stephanie Gorin confronted a state trooper regarding the arrest of her husband.

Stephanie's husband is retired Plattsburgh City police chief Desmond Racicot.  The Press Republican had reported on its front page above the fold that Desmond had been arrest for an expired inspection sticker and DWI (online copy here.)

I haven't discovered the date when Stephanie confronted the trooper.  So far no mainstream local media have said anything about the incident except for News Director Dave Andrews at WIRY radio.  He talked about the situation in a commentary; a copy of it can be found here.

Dave Andrews explained Stephanie showed up at a the scene of an investigation by New York State Police into suspected meth lab materials. The news anchor asked for the trooper's name and allegedly became distraught when she recognized the trooper's name as the officer who had arrested her husband for DWI.  As the story goes she threatened the trooper for just doing his job, keeping dangerous drunk drivers off the road. Apparently the trooper had to call the TV station to have Stephanie removed from the scene.  Later the trooper received an inquiry from the Raybrook main station inquiring how the trooper had treated Stephanie.

Besides WIRY no other mainstream local media have covered this story.  So what did happen?  What are the facts?  The only discussion can be found on Facebook and Reddit.

The purpose of a news organization is to publish news, not sit on it.  If any details of this incident are incorrect then they should be evaluated by journalists and shared with the public.

In the meantime I'll have to get my news from Trashcast and Facebook.

Monday, August 13, 2018

A Renamed Jeep




A Posted Squirrel




Bee World








S. Booker Mural Celebration & Exhibit



For the rest of this month the Strand Center for the Arts is exhibiting the works of S. Booker.  In his memory SCA is selling his last paintings.




Previous to the exhibit's opening Plattsburgh Outside Art celebrated Booker's life and art with a special ceremony at the completed mural based on one of this works, the 4th of July.   Many friends and acquaintances gathered for the event on the corner of Durkee and Bridge streets.


The opening followed with a great turnout at the SCA.



Two of the mural artists, Amy Guglielmo [L] and principal artist Les Cosgrove.

Moustache fun.

Poring over S. Booker's sketchbooks.


Wednesday, August 01, 2018

The Last Detail




PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY -- July 31, 2018

The ceramic garden mural on the Plattsburgh Public Library south wall is nearing completion.  The final addition is being installed, transparent tubing that will recycle blue orbs  -- "raindrops" -- representing nature's water cycle.  The Outdoor Art - Plattsburgh Public Art Project has installed other colorful murals in downtown Plattsburgh City.


(Click on each image to enlarge.)

Friday, July 20, 2018

Pipers In The Park


Police Pipes And Drums of Plattsburgh, NY.

Practice session in Trinity Park.

(Click on each image for larger view.)











Monday, June 25, 2018

New Mural: The First Step


By Luke T. Bush

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY - 6/25/18

The first step was taken today with the latest endeavor by Outdoor Art: Plattsburgh Public Art Project.  A large wall area on Durkee Street was cleaned with high pressure water, being prepped for the S. Booker Tribute mural.  The mural will recreate one of the works by the late local artist: 4th of July.


UNDER PRESSURE - Artist Les Cosgrove uses a pressure cleaner to wet down and clean the brick wall area on Durkee Street for the new mural.  Les hopes the weather will cooperate so that the project will be completed by August. 


DYNAMIC DUO -  Artist Les Cosgrove gets a helping hand from her son Gabe with the pressure cleaner. 

THE 4TH OF JULY BY S. BOOKER, the basis for the new mural to be painted behind the Ashley Furniture building.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Enjoy Sudoku?



PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY -- 6/18/18


The popular numbers puzzle appears daily on page A2 of the Press-Reublican.  If you want to solve today's Sudoku you'll have to somehow pry up the movie theater ad covering 99% of the puzzle.  Who's paying attention to the layout?   Anyone?

(Click on image to enlarge.)




Monday, June 04, 2018

Podcast Discusses The Question of Selective Enforcement




A local podcast called Trashcast -- part of the burgeoning Trashburg Empire -- opened its first show talking about the controversy over Koffee Kat and NAMI-CV being forced to take down posters for a public event. Here is the link:

https://bit.ly/2JbCPlW 

One point I want to emphasize: the complaint came from "higher up" and the police officer who visited the Koffee Kat was doing his job even though he probably thought the situation was silly.  I still haven't learned who the "higher up" was. 

My previous posts dealing with this issue:

Selective Enforcement?

Selective Enforcement - Update

Monday, May 28, 2018

Selective Enforcement? -- Update


By Luke T. Bush

Responding to a previous post -- Selective Enforcement? -- about the official order to remove posters promoting a NAMI event at Koffee Kat -- Mayor Colin Read responded via email:

"Dear Luke,

I have no knowledge of this. I will check to see what the ordinance states. I would want to be sure there is no selective enforcement, but that all ordinances are enforced equally.

Regards,

Colin"


Then Mayor Read wrote:

"The Chief is looking into this to ensure there is no selective enforcement. I am getting to know him well, and I know he appreciates the work of NAMI as much as I do. 

best regards,

Colin"


Friday, May 25, 2018

Selective Enforcement?



PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY -- 5/25/18

By Luke T. Bush


The local chapter of NAMI -- the National Alliance on Mental Illness -- had a successful open mic last week at Koffee Kat coffeehouse.

Three days later a police officer showed up at the Kat.  There was a complaint.  Noise from the event?  No.  The problem was the posters taped up around town to promote the event. The officer explained to the owner that there was an ordinance against leaving posters up.  If the owner didn't have the posters removed then she could face a fine and maybe even jail time.  (Sounds silly but...)

One key detail: Koffee Kat only provided the space.  It had nothing to do setting up the open mic or distributing the posters about it.

Each poster included a contact number for the one of the event organizers, not the Koffee Kat owner.  The organizer -- one would assume -- would have been contacted first.

The coffeehouse owner -- Patty Waldron -- and an organizer visited the Plattsburgh City Police Department to learn more.  The officer they met with said enforcement of the ordinance was to set an example to others postering downtown.  What was odd that there was no written complaint, only a verbal one by some unknown person.  (I'm not a legal expert but shouldn't the accused know the name of the accuser?)  The officer also explained that the complaint came from "higher up."

This raises questions.  Will all the posters promoting other events and businesses be taken down?  Why an anonymous complaint with no written report?  Why was this ordinance suddenly enforced?  Did Patty Waldron -- a reasonable and fair member of the Clinton County Legislature -- accidentally torque someone off with enough influence to extract petty revenge? 

And could this possibly lead into a free speech issue, i.e., the ACLU?



UPDATE: Mayor Colin Read has responded to this article.  His comments can be found here.


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Mushroomed




Yellow Burst: Story Behind The Image


The bright yellow caught my eye.  Fresh dandelions had sprouted all over the terraced hillside.  Evening sunlight raked across the dandelion buds, the sun low enough to separate the yellow tops from the shadowy sloped lawn in the background.

Of course everybody's a critic. While I was photographing the dandelions some street character passed behind me, grumbling: "Why would you want to photograph that?"

Indeed, why would I?




Tuesday, May 22, 2018

It's Dirty Diaper Season




I don't know why two rocks were placed next to the diaper. Artistic installation?

Find even worse stuff at https://dogtown12901.blogspot.com.