Thursday, February 21, 2013

Reader Comments: Can You Feel The Love?

The Shaft

Back in December a locally produced movie about skateboarders premiered at ROTA Gallery.  I wrote a post entitled "Thunder Road" Movie Pleases Skateboard Fans But Others Beware.  You can read the post by clicking on the preceding link.

Recently I received a couple of comments about the post.  They're pasted below in their complete unedited glory.

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"This is a joke. Im stoked to see someone have nothing better to do that hate on something people have come together try to do something we love to do. skate. Keep up the GREAT work. I will continue to skate until my very legs can't move. You have a lovley day."

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"Hey, guy. Do you work? No. You stroll around this dead end town and take your pictures. Does anyone bother you? So listen up, guy. I skateboard. I work full time and some. Would you like to know what i do? I build fireplaces. What do you do? Oh, we already went over that. What you describe here is retarded. And this specific crew is young and upcoming. Ive been skating these streets for over a decade. Your blog is distasteful and straight up boring. Does bashing seventeen year olds who like to do something that expresses themselves get you off? If so i suggest you seek mental help. Take your stereo type an shove it up your ass. I work harder in one week than you have your whole life. So please, stop judging something you are so ignorant to. You are just jealous that people find happiness in a piece of wood and a turning system. Because deep down, you can't find happiness in anything but negative blogs attatched to freelance photos. But no one is judging you for that, are they?"

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With those reactions in mind, read my original post and see if it exudes the malice claimed by the above readers.  I wasn't engaging in puerile ad hominem attacks like a couple of people I could mention.

I did write that there have been problems with a few skateboarders who damaged property, citing the church that appeared in the movie.  An inconvenient fact for some people.

For a post published back in December, I don't know why there was such a delay in reacting (commenter = no helmet = head injury = long time to heal?).

Like I tell people, I didn't end up in this world to think like everyone else.

Gee, I hope that last statement doesn't reek of negativity.  I might be judged.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Thinking Outside The Silo

Advocate Debra Buell, foreground, speaks about disability problems in Clinton County at the Coordinated Transportation Human Services meeting held Tuesday morning.

PLATTSBURGH CITY - Tuesday  2/19/13

Clinton County legislators were absent from the meeting.  Too bad.  They could've learned how to save money for their constituents, beleaguered taxpayers.

Then again space was tight inside the small county building conference room, almost every seat taken by community service providers and others interested in the issues at hand.  A representative from New York State Department of Transportation, Michael LaBello, through his PowerPoint lecture discussed how the county could help disabled citizens being underserved by present transportation options.  And it didn't mean more money being spent.

Also attending the Coordinated Transportation Human Services meeting was disability advocate Debra Buell.  She talked about the scheduling problems with the paratransit bus provided by Clinton County Public Transit (CCPT).  She and others with mobility issues find themselves at times without a ride to a doctor's appointment because the CCPT paratransit bus was booked up.

Such denials might affect governmental funding for CCPT.  Under the Americans with Disabilities Act certain criteria have to be met in providing transportation services to mobility impaired people.  Unmet criteria could mean funding gets yanked.

Disabled people have to be fighters, Debra continued, if they want the services they are entitled to.  But most find it hard to fight because they suffer from depression.

Part of the paratransit problem, she explained, was a subscription service that had been started by CCPT.  Individuals with regular appointments could subscribe, being guaranteed rides with certain times and dates.  The problem was that it wasn't a level playing field for all mobility impaired riders.  Changes had been made but those already using the subscription service were grandfathered in.

One solution would mean more expense, adding another paratransit bus and driver.  But things don't have to be that way, Michael LaBello pointed out.

NYS DOT Representative Michael LaBello answers a question during his presentation on mobility management.

His PowerPoint presentation featured an animated cartoon short with different vehicles – buses, vans, taxis – circling around each other in confusion, honking, while the green mercury in the money thermometer topped out at a high reading in dollars expended.

Michael said that all agencies in the county should come together, identify their transportation needs, and then look for ways to eliminate duplication of service.  Right now most agencies were stuck in their own individual silos when instead they could be pooling resources.

He cited the shared vehicle program in Oswego, NY, that reduced the number of vehicles being used from 62 down to 43 as part of multi-agency coordination.  Each agency paid into the system a portion of the operating expenses determined upon use by that organization.  Overall spending was down from 6 million to 4.5 million dollars.  

He stressed that each community was different and what would work for Oswego might not completely apply to Clinton County.  A mobility management program could be adaptable to a particular community.  It might be a mix of public buses, church vans, agency vehicles and contracted taxis.

Michael mentioned that a consultant hired by Clinton County had completed a transit study and it was a good place to start.  But, as noted at least a couple of times during the meeting, county legislators had to get involved.

Debra mentioned that Essex County is running a mobility management call center, using special computer software to keep everything coordinated.  She suggested that Clinton County could work with them

James Bosley, Planning Technician for CCPT, was in attendance, addressing certain points raised during the meeting.  After the meeting he told me that his agency is considering different options to deal with the paratransit denial problem.  One might be to drop the subscription service that had been grandfathered in.

A series of signs created by advocate Debra Buell cite statistics regarding disabled citizens in 
Clinton County.

[ Revised to correct Michael Labello's job title: 2/19/13 - 10:25 AM ]

Monday, February 18, 2013

Gharan Burton: Releasing The Form Within

Artist Gharan Burton (right) discusses his work with a guest at the opening of his exhibit, "Artassination," at ROTA Gallery on Saturday evening.


Gharan Burton recycles nature.

While walking through the forest his artistic eye seeks out a log or broken tree that can be transformed into a work of art.

Sometimes the shape of the wood triggers an idea.  He visualizes a form that he can carve out.  But as a creative artist he can also improvise, changing his mind.

"The Loud Voice" by Gharan Burton.

One of his sculptures now on display at ROTA Gallery – "The Loud Voice" – started out as a human figure but Gharan realized that material was better suited as an abstract work.  Instead of a figure the sculpture is a tall white oak cylinder with rectangular openings (mouths?), its length slowly twisting upon itself.

Gharan is originally from the Caribbean island nation of Dominica.  He came to Plattsburgh through the local university, majoring in computer science at Plattsburgh State.  Along the way with his studies he changed majors, deciding that he wanted to do something else with his life.  You could say that computer science was the wrong career form for him.

He earned a Bachelor in Fine Arts, his concentration on painting.  Later he discovered wood sculpture, teaching himself how to carve living art from dead wood.

Both his sculptures and paintings are featured in the exhibit, "Artassination," which is running for two weeks at the ROTA Gallery, 50 Margaret Street.  ROTA is usually open daily from 12 noon to 5 PM. For more information about the exhibit you can check out the ROTA Facebook page,

2D and 3d work by Gharan Burton on display at ROTA Gallery. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Unshoveled Sidewalk: 24 Hours Later

PLATTSBURGH CITY - Sunday  03/10/13

Compare the above image taken around 9 PM this evening to what I photographed yesterday evening and shared with a previous blog post.

Another day unshoveled, meaning pedestrians are forced to walk in the street.  I think sometime earlier today – morning time –  marked 24 hours since the storm called Nemo stopped dumping snow.  That's an important detail when you consider this excerpt from a recent PR article headlined Hello Nemo (2/9/13):

"Citizens of the City of Plattsburgh will be helping with snow removal as Nemo moves away.

"While they are not required to shovel the sidewalks in front of their homes during the storm, they are given 24 hours after the storm to do so, Public Works Superintendent Arsene 'Mike' Brodi said."

Looks like no Good Citizenship award for the Press-Republican.  Or does it get a special weekend pass on snow removal?  Supposedly the city fines owners who don't clear sidewalks adjacent to their properties by having public works employees shovel away the snow and then it bills the scofflaws for the work.

Unshoveled Sidewalk: Press-Republican Leads By Example

PLATTSBURGH CITY - Saturday  02/09/13

From a Cheers & Jeers column written by a Press-Republican editor on Dec. 19, 2011:

"JEERS to businesses that don't get to their sidewalks promptly after snowstorms. Look, we know entrepreneurs have lots to think about when they get to work every day, and we certainly respect that. Those businesses are the adrenaline of our community. But, when it snows, several liabilities are at work: Shoveling your sidewalks keeps pedestrian traffic flowing; it allows customers to safely enter your emporium without interference; and, in the City of Plattsburgh, at least, it's the law..."

Yes, that was written some time ago but what was published still applies, especially this concluding statement from the same column:

"(By the way, the Press-Republican office in Plattsburgh is responsible for its Margaret Street sidewalk, which we always clear. The Miller Street sidewalk out back, for which we sometimes take heat, is the city's domain.)"

So unless the city has taken domain over the Margaret Street sidewalk in front of the PR building, why wasn't it shoveled today?  Most pedestrians were forced to walk in the street, increasing their chances of being hit by a passing vehicle.

I did notice that the parking lot and driveway were both clear of snow.  Apparently drivers count more than pedestrians, especially when the driver is a PR employee like an editor.

Some longtime readers of this blog might feel there's something familiar about this post.   Well, let's call it deja vu all over again  – right down to Fitzpatrick's Bar having cleared snow from its sidewalk unlike a certain scofflaw neighbor.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Crosswalk Incident

Last week I was downtown when city police cars and emergency vehicles converged on the corner of Bridge and Durkee streets.  There was a woman laying in a crosswalk surrounded by EMTs preparing her for transport by ambulance to the hospital.

It was reported later that the driver of a pickup truck was making a turn and struck the woman who was already in the crosswalk.  The driver was ticketed for not yielding the right of way.

As I've said before, it's sometimes safer for a pedestrian to jaywalk then it is to use a crosswalk.  Over the years I've had three close calls with vehicles in city crosswalks; each time I had the right of way.  One time a pickup truck driver did a right-on-red without looking, knocking me back.

Be careful out there.

Any Follow-Up After Letter Incident Comment?

Shouldn't we be getting our news through articles by reporters instead of comments by readers?

Below I have pasted a comment made to the Common Council back on November 1, 2012 by a Plattsburgh City resident upset with how he was being treated by the city police department.  The statement can be found at the Common Council meetings archives at the city website,  The direct link to the minutes that include the comment: .

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John Barry Retired from the Plattsburgh Police Department Westwood Drive said I’m here in reference to a recent incident, and I’ll try and keep this under 3 minutes actually, that happened. And I’m kind of concerned because it involved my name. I am just going to read a quick statement. In the spring of this year I was informed through a City Police office of an anonymous letter received by the City which accuses the Chief of misconduct. Soon after I was informed that the Chief was informing certain members of the agency and public that I wrote the anonymous letter. This was annoying to me since I did not write this letter. I assumed the letter would be investigated by the City and the original writer of the letter would be located and interviewed. After a while of not hearing anything about the letter so again I assumed the City investigated it and resolved the issue of the letter. I was apparently wrong though since last Saturday I was approached by Detective Matt Bell in a public place. This detective chose to question me about the letter and accuse me of writing this letter. Not only did he choose to do it in a public place but he did it in front of family members and friends. I was angry and annoyed and had to further explain the letter incident to family and friends that I did not write it. I also feel that the City is responsible for the incident since this was a city employee for the Police Department. He was interviewing me and making accusations to me about city business. At this time I’m asking the City of Plattsburgh to hire an independent investigator to look in to this anonymous letter received by the city so that maybe the original letter writer can be located and interviewed. I will fully cooperate with an independent investigator to give a sworn statement to what I know about this letter and any other matters. I will also provide a writing sample for comparison against the original letter and submit to a polygraph exam to show that I’m not responsible for this letter or if the original letter writer cannot be located. So in closing, I just want to make it clear that if I’m approached again by a City Police officer and questioned about this matter or if I hear that a city police officer is talking to a member of the public about this matter and using my name. I will pursue it as a legal matter.

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I did an online search of the Press-Republican online archives and found no mention of the above statement.  I only learned about it today by chance through a  comment at by a reader responding to a non-related news item involving a state trooper.  The commenter referenced the Common Council minutes, the date and who commented.  I followed up to verify the info.

Questions remain.  What is the alleged misconduct?  Any truth to it?  Is an independent investigator looking into the matter?

Instead of letting rumors fly, it's in the city's best interests to publicly respond to this matter.  Citizens have a right to know.

Then again, citizens have a right to media that acts as a government watchdog.