Friday, December 31, 2010

Benefit Concert Raises Awareness, Creates Discussion

Chris Rigsbee

12/30/10. Thursday evening. Live music at the Koffee Kat but there was more to it than entertainment.

People gathered to take a positive approach to the problem of assaults and rapes in Plattsburgh City. Chris Rigsbee was the victim of a violent incident one night that so far hasn't lead to any arrests. He and his girlfriend were attacked by four men, apparently college students, on Broad Street. Chris was brutally beaten and his girlfriend was punched when she tried to help him.

Between performances at the coffeehouse concert there was open discussion about what could be done about the problem.

One of the issues raised was that assaults and rapes are under-reported; most victims don't call the police. This leads to the wrong perception that Plattsburgh is safer than it really is.

At the same time the City Police Department should be more open with its blotter, sharing all information besides arrests. Open cases are never shared.

It was suggested that a neighborhood watch group could be created, volunteers with cellphones set to speed dial 911.

Lowell Wurster stated that rape and attempted rape are under-reported. He used to work part-time as a volunteer at the Crisis Center back in 2005-2007. After the open discussion he told me he received at least two calls per month pertaining to rape just on his shift. He stressed that under-reporting wasn't a local problem, that it happens in other communities. It's estimated that with 80 per cent of such cases the victims never contact the police.

Chris Rigsbee briefly talked about his experience, urging victims to speak out. At one point he had trouble speaking, the incident too fresh in his mind. He stepped back for a moment to collect his thoughts. Then he continued, saying that he could understand why victims were afraid or embarrassed to report an assault but it had to be done to raise the community's awareness.

During the open discussion there was speculation that the city and college, PSUC, might be too concerned about projecting the best image. Maybe they both prefer to keep bad incidents quiet because students mean money, bread and butter. Some might not attend PSUC if they knew how dangerous the city can be.

On the topic of PSUC I spoke with George Wurster later to get his view. He said that the college should "read the riot act" to students at the beginning of the year and continue to enforce it throughout the year. He said the college wasn't "hands on" enough with students.

The event was also an opportunity to financially support Chris Rigsbee to help him cover his medical expenses. Without any health insurance he quickly ran up a sizeable bill.

It was announced that a peaceful demonstration is planned on February 3rd from 3 to 6 PM in the vicinity of where Chris was assaulted. It was noted that due to legal concerns the area can only be described as somewhere between 50 and 60 Broad Street.

Violent Encounter And Its Aftermath

"I should've kept walking."

Looking back that's how Chris Rigsbee would have handled the situation.

2 AM. Chris and his girlfriend walked along Broad Street, one of the main thoroughfares in Plattsburgh City. They were on their way to visit a friend. Chris wore a cap with a rainbow design.

Some people on a porch were partying. Apparently they thought his cap was a symbol for gay pride. They shouted homophobic slurs at Chris: "Faggot!" "Queer!"

Chris admits he was a little intoxicated that night. He wasn't looking for a fight -- he says he isn't a fighter.

I had to agree with him when he discussed the incident with me. He is an easy-going person, friendly, not the muscular rough-and-tumble type ready to take on any man in the bar. A bully would quickly size him up as an easy target with his long blond hair, eyeglasses, and thin build. It took four bullies to work him over that night after he stood his ground, verbally confronting them.

Once again in hindsight, Chris says he should have ignored them. The men were out to bait someone into a fight. He shouldn't have stepped on the sidewalk leading to the house.

But his response didn't justify the men knocking out his teeth, bashing his head into the pavement until blood was gushing from his mouth. When they were done, leaving him unable at first to even move, they told him: "Get the fuck off our property!"

Chris found himself in the CVPH emergency room. For most people hospital treatment would mean the worse was over. But since he didn't have health insurance, the ER surgeon refused to treat him. Chris believes that if his father wasn't with him he would have never received a MRI to check for head injuries. As it was his father had to clean him up in the ER, wiping the blood from his face.

The ER gave his father the name of an oral surgeon to contact in the morning. Chris was taken home where his mother also cleaned his wounds.

According to his mother, Samantha Rigsbee, when the dental surgeon's office opened, the surgeon refused to treat her son because Chris didn't have health insurance, even though his parents to willing to pay. He had to be taken to the family dentist who worked on his injuries, pulling out a dead tooth. Samantha watched as the dentist also extracted embedded gravel out of her son's gums.

Chris wasn't the only victim. One of the brave attackers punched his girlfriend who was trying to help him.

In the aftermath Chris decided to be pro-active. He contacted the college, PSUC, because the four men who assaulted him were apparently college students. The PSUC official said that there was nothing the college could do. Did Chris really know if his attackers were students at the school? Anyway, it didn't happen on college property and a fraternity wasn't involved, so nothing could be done.

In loco parentis? Apparently PSUC speaks no Latin.

Chris went to the City Police Department to get a copy of the incident report. He was told that he had to file a FOIL -- a Freedom of Information Law request -- to get what should be public information.

Chris points out that while arrest reports are given out to the press, incident reports are held back from the public. This results in under-reporting, leaving the public in the dark with how many cases of violent encounters are still open. While revealing the number might create an image problem, he thinks that the public should know about the open cases because if more people are aware, then more victims would come forward.

He does raise a good argument. How many times has someone been charged with a crime and other victims realized they aren't alone, they come forward and reveal other crimes by same person? Maybe a case would be closed if other victims knew the police were actively pursuing the matter. Chris had to take his story to the media to get attention to the situation, newspaper articles detailing his case.

Plattsburgh has a problem with assaults. And sweeping it under a large rug isn't going to help.

I wonder if that rug looks like a mountain.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Santa Creep

Would you want your kids to sit on this Santa's lap? Check out his eyes. They're alive, gleaming with love and the holiday spirit.

Cancer For Christmas

Buy a few cartons for friends and relatives. Cigarettes: the perfect holiday gift that keeps on giving -- and later on, taking.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Remember Me?

Back in October you carved me and put me on a second story ledge as a Halloween decoration.

But now I'm feeling cold and depressed. Could you give me a proper burial before I slide off the ledge, sliming a passerby on Clinton Street?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Does This Offer Include Misspellings?

The Press-Republican: Keeping up with modern technology -- like spell check programs!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Cool Beans (It's In The Bag)

[Left to right: Stafford Middle School students Isiah D'Or, Benjamin Wells and Rachel Wells.]

The Teen Room at the Plattsburgh Public Library has a new bag -- three of them, as in beanbag chairs. Donated by the Friends of the Library, the remoldable chairs are popular with young patrons.

PPL sponsors a Teens & Tweens Library Club that offers various activities for patrons ages 10-18. The club will meet in the PPL Auditorium (2nd Floor) from 3:00 to 4:30pm on Dec. 16, 2010 and Jan. 20, 2011 to discuss ideas for the renovation of the Teen Room. For more information contact Youth Services Librarian Sharon Bandhold at 536-7437 or email her at

Monday, December 06, 2010

Coming Soon: Another Empty Storefront?

Signs point to yes. (When it comes to downtown Plattsburgh, you don't need a Magic 8-Ball.)

A Wreath Of Questions

For years Plattsburgh City has cut its budget due to rising costs and out-of-control spending. Back in 2007 there was no parade or fireworks on the 4th of July. That year the fireworks were moved up to the Mayor's Cup event, relocated to the city beach where there was a fee of $5.00 a carload. In 2009 the city council voted to lay off two MLD (Municipal Lighting Department) workers. Tough times.

So while the city skipped the 4th of July in 2007, it still puts up a plethora of Xmas wreaths on downtown streetlights. That fact leads to some questions:

1. How much cost and time are involved with installing and taking down the wreaths?

2. What are the benefits of the wreaths? Do they attract more shoppers downtown? After all, if the city is truly on a tight budget, "They look pretty" by itself is a dubious benefit.

3. Why so many have to be put up? Would anyone notice if half of them were missing? Or would people notice if none were installed as compared to no parade and no fireworks for the 4th of July?

4. Instead of screwing around with Xmas wreaths, how about fixing that damn roof leak in the Public Library?

Thursday, December 02, 2010

No Dogs Allowed? Yeah, Right

Visual evidence -- disgusting visual evidence -- over at my bad blog: More Dogtown Dooings.

Plattsburgh, NY: Craphound Capital of the World.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Big And Useless

Ever notice used furniture left by the curb? Sometimes there's a FREE sign affixed in the hope someone is desperate for a bargain, albeit one with frayed edges or broken joints. Usually the item is dumped near the street for the trashman. Of all of the furniture disposed this way, guess which type is number one?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Datsa Lottadookie

The title of this post is the name of a reader who notified me via a comment in a previous post about certain dangers lurking on Clinton Street. Check out the gruesome visual details at my bad blog. (Not safe for work or mealtime.)

Speaking Of Dogs

In case anyone thinks the problem has gone away, check out this disgusting array of doggie decorations over at my bad blog,

And while you're visiting Dogtown, check out a real deal on an easy chair.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Will Plattsburgh Commit To The Dogged Pursuit Of Licensing?

How many dogs are licensed in Plattsburgh City?

And how many will be licensed after Jan. 1, 2011?

New York State is getting out of the dog licensing business, letting local communities handle it. More paperwork but on the plus side each community can keep all of the funds, no more sharing with Albany.

A municipality must pass its own licensing law before the new year begins. I might have missed any mention of it but has the Plattsburgh Common Council addressed this issue? I don't recall seeing anything in the local papers. I did a quick Google search and also searched the Press-Republican website; no hits on the change.

Of course, the Common Council has been involved with so many critical issues such as Halloween candy, fluoride in the water, and impeaching President Shrub. After all, local concerns like dog control and more funds for the city have to be put on the back burner.

Maybe Plattsburgh's new dog licensing law (if they're working on one) will also raise the fine for leaving dogshit in a public place -- like the middle of downtown sidewalk or anywhere on a park lawn. Saranac Lake nails scofflaws $75 for that offense. Plattsburgh's fine is a bargain at $25 -- that's if anyone bothers to enforce it. (See Plattsburgh Code, section 161-18.)

This a matter of public health and community image. Then again, maybe that's the image Peeburgh wants to project, someone scraping dogshit off a shoe.

For a city crying the blues for years about debt, one would think Plattsburgh would be at least looking at dog control, fines and licenses, from a financial perspective.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Halloween Leftovers

Why do some people spend two hours putting up Xmas decorations but won't take two minutes to toss a rotting Halloween pumpkin in the garbage?

Walk around Plattsburgh City and you'll see what I mean.

More putrid pumpkin images over at .

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Q & A

Nighttime. I'm walking along and spot an image. Trashcan on the corner with a metal ashtray on top. Manmade lights reflect off the silver of the ashtray's rim. I move in close, brace myself (slow shutter speed required) and snap a shot.

Young woman across the street, puzzled by my actions. "You're not photographing that trashcan, are you?"

No, lady, I'm photographing art.

Friday, November 12, 2010


“Hey, there’s a writers group in Plattsburgh.”

You’re looking through the arts listings, 8 Days A Week, in the Thursday edition of the Press-Republican. You call the telephone number in the item for more info. A recorded message tells you that the number you have dialed is disconnected or out of service.

You check with the Plattsburgh Public Library where the writers group allegedly meets. You find out there hasn’t been such a group for some time now. It’s kaput.

Thanks to deadwood in the PR arts listings, you have wasted time.

That’s because the PR doesn’t spend a little bit of time removing outdated listings. I did some checking; the Plattsburgh Writers Group (the second incarnation of it) has been dead since early 2009. But the PR keeps publishing the listing, too lazy to provide accurate information to its readers.

This is nothing new. For months it kept listing the Arts Council as if it was an active organization, even though it had faded away and was subsumed by the Arts Center.

Hyperlocal is the big buzzword is J circles. Since people can get their national and international news elsewhere – especially with the Web – to survive newspapers have to place more emphasis on keeping readers updated with local information – correct local information – that no one else provides.

The answer to the problem of the PR listings is simple. Have each organization or group send in a monthly update. No update, no listing. And don’t tell me that this can’t be done. I used to send in monthly updates for two different groups, including the original Plattsburgh Writers Group.

Keeping the listings fresh and accurate means that there’s more room for all groups. It should eliminate this stupid notice generally included on a weekly basis:

“Due to space limitations 8 Days A Week was unable to run in its entirety.”

Yes, when I want to use a listing, I want an incomplete one, especially one with deadwood items for dead groups.

After all, the PR is owned by Community Newspapers Holdings, Inc. Time to think about the community, huh? Put some work in staying connected with it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

They're Back... (drip, drip, drip)

Terrorists Target Toilet Tissue!?

Want to attract attention and stimulate speculation? Put up a dubious warning sign.

Yesterday I was walking along and noticed a sign posted by the parking lot for the Georgia-Pacific paper plant, home of Quilted Northern Ultra Plush bath tissue, rated #1 by Consumer Reports. A key word in the warning caught my eye: cameras.

It was along the same stretch of sidewalk I had been hassled for taking photographs two years ago. (Read about it here and here). A GP building was being torn down and I snapped a shot. A company pissant told me I couldn't take photos, even though I was on a public sidewalk and the building was in public view. And to add to the stupidity, the daily newspaper had run a front-page photo that morning of the same building being demolished.

After that incident, I've been keen on maintaining my rights as a citizen and writographer. With no pissant around to stop me, I photographed the sign, wondering why "cameras" were mentioned in the warning. While the sign didn't prohibit photography of GP property in public view, it was still disturbing.

The sign says: "All persons, vehicles, lockers, bags, briefcases, tool boxes, lunch boxes and other packages or containers on Georgia-Pacific premises are subject to search and inspection at anytime without prior notice."

I like how "persons" are lumped in with various containers. So without prior notice a GP guard can tell you to bend over while he snaps on rubber gloves?

The whole thing smacks of post 9/11 paranoia and security kabuki. Are terrorists going to target the local GP facility? If Plattsburgh's paper products plant perishes, will brave US soldiers be forced to wipe with old issues of Stars And Stripes?

OK, I can understand that you don't want certain items in the workplace like illegal drugs, firearms, and alcoholic beverages -- no problem there -- but why are cameras included in the list of the forbidden?

What is the problem that GP seems to have with cameras? Will an employee be fired if he walks in with a smart phone with a built-in camera? I wonder if there is a concern about industrial espionage, i.e., the secret of the quilting pattern with its #1 buttwipe product might fall into enemy hands.

When I encounter challenges to photography beyond what is reasonable, I begin to think that maybe someone is trying to hide something -- and I don't mean a bath tissue trade secret. It wouldn't surprise me that GP, under the guise of anti-terrorism and workplace safety, is worried that a union or OSHA rep might visually document a possible problem or violation.

Of course, that's just speculation, but when I see a sign prohibiting cameras from the premises, it attracts attention and creates conjecture.

Margaret Or Weed Street?

If you say Weed Street, you're wrong. Weed Street looks a lot better than this, even though it's a side street, not a main drag like Margaret.

Maybe Plattsburgh City wants to greet visitors with this jungle jamboree to show how "green" it is. First impressions are so important.


(Click on image for larger view.)

Friday, November 05, 2010

Gharan K. Burton: Blending Images, Bending Reality

The Ghost Effect By Gharan K. Burton

At first you recognize the building in the painting -- and then you do a double-take. What is that long stairway doing there? The sign on the building says "Lily Pond," a store that specialized in selling works by local artists. But where the street should be are broad steps. Huh?

The artist, Gharan K. Burton, is playing around with your head with his work, "The Ghost Effect," an oil on canvas puzzler. Blame it on a fortunate mistake that inspired him to blend two images into one. One time he accidentally made a double-exposure with a film camera; the resulting image showed him the potential of overlaying one scene over another.

"The Ghost Effect" mixes Plattsburgh City Hall with a building on the corner of City Hall Place and Bridge Street. If you're familiar with those locations, you become disorientated, trying to force both images into one. Are the steps a reflection in a water puddle or window?

This work and others are now on display this month at the Great Adirondack Soup Company, 24 Oak Street, across from the Plattsburgh Public Library. The restaurant is open Monday through Friday, 10 AM to 5 PM. Call (518) 561-6408 for more info.

Artist Gharan K. Burton

Reception at the Great Adirondack Soup Company, Friday evening, 11/5/10.

Diaper Watch Day 4 - No Payphone To Call

Visual details over at my bad blog,

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Is The PR Being A Schmuck About The Term Tea Bagger?

At its website the Press-Republican allows comments to be posted about various articles. But there is this warning:

Don’t use profanity. This includes the term “tea bagger.”

Fine. Then if that applies to article comments, how did this Speakout item slip by the editor? (You can read it online here.)

11/2/10 Smoke

To the schmuck who wrote Fires on 10/25; I do believe smokers are already outside, and the real "whiners" still aren't happy...

That's nice. Check out this source:

schmuck — n slang ( US ) a stupid or contemptible person; oaf

OK, nothing wrong with that by itself but there's more to the story. At the above link is an explanation of the word's origin by the Online Etymology Dictionary:

"contemptible person," 1892, from E.Yiddish shmok, lit. "penis," from Old Pol. smok "grass snake, dragon."

This source also notes:

In Jewish homes, the word was "regarded as so vulgar as to be taboo" [Leo Rosten, "The Joys of Yiddish," 1968] and Lenny Bruce wrote that saying it on stage got him arrested on the West Coast "by a Yiddish undercover agent who had been placed in the club several nights running to determine if my use of Yiddish terms was a cover for profanity."

Below that source is this listing from the Slang Dictionary.

1. n.
a jerk; a repellent male. (Also a rude term of address. Yiddish.) : Who is that stupid schmuck over there?

2. n.
a penis. (Yiddish. Usually objectionable.) : If I hear that joke about a camel's schmuck one more time, I'm going to scream.

Yup. According to PR logic, Tea Bagger is profane but schmuck/penis isn't.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Dirty Diaper Replaces Payphone

Read and see all about it at my bad blog, Dogtown 12901, here.

Warning: Not pleasant.

It's Election Day

Make a real difference.

Don't vote.


PO Readers And Maximize Sales?

A while ago I wrote about the Press-Republican website and its annoying pop-up ads that would interfere with your reading:

So the PR did away with that crap and decided to try the sneaky pop-under ad ploy. As I've mentioned before, it has one for local car dealers. When you close any windows you had open before signing out, this nagging page is waiting for you:

Well, let me share this item from Speakout, the Press-Republican's sound off feature for its readers, dated Oct. 31, 2010:

* * *


Can the Press-Republican please stop the pop-up full-page ad of the cars for sale— It's bad enough tossing the drop out ads stuffed in my daily paper, but taking over my computer with unwanted junk goes too far. Actually, I shouldn't be asking, I'm telling you. Stop it!

* * *

I spoke to someone who said he called the car dealers in the same ad and told each one that he would never buy a car from them.

Pissing off readers -- that moves the merchandise.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

John Kokoszka: Humanity In Steel

Inspired by Da Vinci's The Last Supper metal sculptor John Kokoszka has brought that painting to life with his latest welded creation. And despite that it is constructed of cold steel, his work expresses the humanity in each figure, especially Christ with his barb wire crown of thorns.

The unveiling on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 24, was greeted by cool and rainy weather. But that didn't keep the people away: everyone dressed in layers and most popped open their umbrellas.

The full scale work is on display at the Stone Ledge Sculpture Garden, 3901 Route 9, about 4 1/2 miles south of Plattsburgh City. For more information: (518) 561-2683.