Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Squeeze Play

© 2020 Luke T. Bush


PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY -- 6/24/20

In a previous post I discussed how the bike lanes on City Hall Place were blocked by concrete barriers put in to section off outdoor restaurant seating.


As you can see from the above image the bike lane in front of the Pepper comes to a sudden dead end.


In this photo someone did the right thing, having the concrete barriers placed to leave the bike lane open in front of 30 City Hall Place. As you can see in the background Irises' outdoor seating blocks the bike lane, creating a potential squeeze play for cyclists and traffic.

I hope no one gets hurt. It can still be dicey when the bike lanes are open. Now the chances are increased for an accident.


Monday, June 22, 2020

Aside Bicyclists -- They Gotta Eat!

© 2020 Luke T Bush


Images from The Pepper Facebook page announcing the reopening of outdoor seating.


PLATTSBURGH, NY – 6/22/20

Outdoor restaurant seating has returned to downtown Plattsburgh City – but if you want to use the bike lanes on City Hall Place you're screwed.

Previously the concrete barriers used to block off the outdoor seating areas on both sides of the street left the bike lanes open. But this year – probably due to Covid-19 restrictions – the barriers are also blocking off the bike lanes.

As you can see from the accompanying picture posted on Facebook bicyclists are now forced to share the street with traffic. The narrower free space means that cyclists will have to be extra careful when traveling in either direction. Also it means that drivers will have to wait for a slower moving cyclists when vehicular traffic occupies both lanes – unless they want to force cycylists into the concrete barriers.

In the winter unshoveled sidewalks force pedestrians to walk in the street. This has resulted in one fatality. With the busy traffic on City Hall Place whom will be sued if someone loses life or limb?


And there's the matter of the law. Here are some excerpts pertaining to cyclists from the NYS Vehicle & Traffic site 

Highway Laws That Apply To A Bicyclist Access

Entitled to Free Use Of Highways - Highway Laws Section 316

§ 331. Consideration of complete street design.

  1. For all state, county and local transportation projects that are undertaken by the department or receive both federal and state funding and are subject to department of transportation oversight, the department or agency with jurisdiction over such projects shall consider the convenient access and mobility on the road network by all users of all ages, including motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transportation users through the use of complete street design features in the planning, design, construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation, but not including resurfacing, maintenance, or pavement recycling of such projects.

  1. Complete street design features are roadway design features that accommodate and facilitate convenient access and mobility by all users, including current and projected users, particularly pedestrians, bicyclists and individuals of all ages and abilities. These features may include, but need not be limited to: sidewalks, paved shoulders suitable for use by bicyclists, lane striping, bicycle lanes, share the road signage, crosswalks, road diets, pedestrian control signalization, bus pull outs, curb cuts, raised crosswalks and ramps and traffic calming measures; and recognize that the needs of users of the road network vary according to a rural, urban and suburban context.

  1. This section shall not apply if it has been determined and set forth in publicly available documents that one of the following exists:

i. by bicyclists and pedestrians is prohibited by law, such as within interstate highway corridors; or

ii. the cost would be disproportionate to the need as determined by factors including, but not limited to, the following: land use context; current and projected traffic volumes; and population density; or

iii. demonstrated lack of need as determined by factors, including, but not limited to, land use, current and projected traffic volumes, including population density, or demonstrates lack of community support; or

iv. use of the design features would have an adverse impact on, or be contrary to, public safety.

e. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the department or agency with jurisdiction over a project to expend monies in accordance with subdivision (a) of this section that exceed the amount of state and federal funding for complete street design features.

And here's the relevant info from the NYS Complete Streets site:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed the Complete Streets Act (Chapter 398, Laws of New York  ) on August 15, 2011, requiring state, county and local agencies to consider the convenience and mobility of all users when developing transportation projects that receive state and federal funding. The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is working to ensure that its policies and procedures meet the new standards. The initiative presents an opportunity to expand upon existing programs and collaborate with bicyclists, pedestrians, people with disabilities and others to identify best practices and designs for transportation facilities.

Sounds to me outdoor seating doesn't take preference over bike lanes.

I wonder how al fresco diners will react if an unfortunate cyclist is hit by a car and flies over the barrier into their table. For some the sight of blood will ruin their appetites.




Friday, June 19, 2020

Flashback To 2009: A One Woman Protest

© 2020 Luke T. Bush


Video screencap, jail cell pile up.


A video posted on Facebook and featured in the local news triggered a memory: an encounter back in August 2009.

Recently Zachary Butchino posted an edited copy of a video recorded on Plattsburgh Police Department surveillance cameras inside the station. Back in 2017 Zachery was arrested for assault and taken to the station. He claims that excessive force was used to restrain him. He states he was drunk and suffering from a mental health episode at the time related to PTSD and anxiety

The video shows four officers cramming into the Zachary's cell and after they leave he is suffering a bloody nose.

WCAX-TV News interviewed Police Chief Levi Ritter. (Levi was not chief at the time of the Butchino altercation and was not involved in it.) He said an officer noticed on camera that Butchino was trying to kill himself with his t-shirt. The officers were moving him to another cell and wanted him to remove his drawstring belt. When he didn't comply they piled on.

There's a Facebook video by Zachery that includes the surveillance camera footage and text comments detailing his side of the story. Also added captions appear to be quoting the police officers: “Do you wanna give him the secret handshake?” and “I think it would be pretty funny on youtube.”

Zachery released his edited copy of the video because he wanted to bring awareness of excessive force by police and the need for more training for officers in handling a mental health situation.

Across the country Black Lives Matter protests against cops who committed indefensible killings of black people has brought the issue of policing to the forefront, some advocating defunding or abolishing the police. The acronym ACAB (all cops are bastards) was painted on the Macdonough Monument base. Not a good time to be a cop.

During the WCAX-TV News interview Levi didn't condone all of the actions the officers had taken against Butchino. He indicated that changes would be made.

Back in August 2009 I posted an article about a mother protesting one night what she claimed was mistreatment of her son by PPD officers.

Protester Andrea Provost.

Andrea Provost two carried protests signs, one with the image of a bootprint. She claimed a PPD cop stepped on her son's face, the mark lasting for two days. She also said the police backed off when they noticed witnesses. She asked for anyone who had seen what had happened to please come forward.

Andrea also alleged the police had threatened her son, saying they were going to beat him up if they had the opportunity.

The last thing I heard about her was she was demonstrating one day and the police asked her to stop. No more one woman protests.

As I said back in 2009: What was the real story?

Changes are being made.

The New York State Senate and Assembly repealed a section of the law that had kept police disciplinary records blocked from the public.  Access to those records will allow citizens to learn more details about investigations.

Also Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the “New Yorker's Right to Monitor Act” that allows a citizen to record police activity. The act also prohibits police confiscation from an individual of any such recordings and the recording equipment.

As a photographer who has been hassled in the past for taking photographs one less reason to be confronted is welcome.





Thursday, June 04, 2020

Legal Challenge Announced Against Durkee Street Parking Lot Proposal



© 2020 Luke T. Bush

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY – 6/4/20

The argument: the proposal by Prime Plattsburgh LCC to renovate the Durkee Street parking lot doesn't fit the character of downtown Plattsburgh. It's an unneeded renovation that will cost taxpayers and also doesn't replace all of the parking lost by the construction. Citizens opposed to the project want good, not bad, development.

The opposing view: Mayor Colin Read and some city councilors regard the project as a good use of DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) grant money, the future upscale apartment complex drawing more people downtown.

Today at noon the PCC – Plattsburgh Citizens Commission – held a press event on the front steps of City Hall. Downtown businessman and attorney Frank Zappala explained that a legal complaint had been filed, challenging the Prime project on the basis the city has no right to approve such construction on waterfront property. The Durkee Street parking lot sits next to the Saranac River.


Attorney Frank Zapalla

Frank added he didn't know how long the response would take since the courts were just opening up after the coronavirus pandemic had shut down the system. In the meantime, he continued, the complaint meant that all work related to the Prime Project would be stopped.

While covering the event I heard two people talking behind me. Even though I was at the required six foot social distance I could plainly hear what was said.

One speaker was city councilor Mike Kelly, a big proponent of the Prime proposal. Apparently he was having a bad day. Mike – his tone evincing disgust – asked the other person if he agreed with the PCC stance. The other person said he was there just to listen to the viewpoint of the Stop Prime group.

Mike continued to express his displeasure, asking what PCC proposed to replace the Prime project. Well, Mike, how about the original proposal that preceded the creation of the present bloated behemoth?  Mike also commented that only relatively few people were against the project while PCC members held a banner that almost spanned the entire width of the front steps, 500 signatures of the 2000 plus people who opposed the project.


The councilor used two words to describe all of the PCC members but since this is a family blog I won't quote him.

Other attendees have stated he called them “idiots.” One person replied that Mike was an idiot since he wanted to have citizens pay most of Prime's taxes, a reference to the PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) agreement with Prime Plattsburgh LLC.

People have complained that the city doesn't listen to their concerns regarding the Prime project. If the city councilor's attitude is typical it's no wonder why PCC members gathered in front of City Hall to carry on their opposition.


Sunday, May 31, 2020

Loud But Peaceful



© 2020 Luke T. Bush


PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY – 3/25/20

Tell me Black Lives Matter.”

Matter!”

Tell me blue lives murder.”

Murder!”

As the leader of the chant continued from her spot on the City Hall front steps people driving by honked their horns, quick repeated taps to show agreement. One driver slowed down and yelled at the rally group: “Fuck cops!”

While riots and looting have erupted in cities across the US this rally was loud but peaceful

On May 25th in Minneapolis, Minnesota a white cop kept pressing his knee on a black man pinned down on the pavement, an action that resulted in the death of George Floyd. During the protests that followed peaceful demonstrators were overshadowed by violent mobs. Property trashed and set on fire including police cars. All thanks to a thug wearing a policeman's uniform ignoring the pleas of a man who said he was dying. The other cops on the scene did nothing to intervene while citizens with smartphones recorded the needless death.

Due to the reckless disregard by a few cops some people regard all police officers as bad. Two rally signs expressed the belief that there is no need for any cops, a POV not necessarily embraced by other demonstrators. OK, abolish all police officers but what will replace them to keep law and order?

Joke from the 1960's: If you're in trouble call a hippie.













Friday, April 17, 2020

COVID Crisis Refund Ripoff


© 2020 Luke T. Bush




I'm out $40 plus tax on a bathroom scale that doesn't work.

Why? Because Kinney Drugs refuses to give me refund due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The store manager didn't explain the connection between the coronavirus and the item I purchased. It's not like I was returning an used piece of medical equipment like a mask or a rectal thermometer. I didn't know bathroom scales were the prime target of COVID-19, attracting the deadly virus and then keeping it alive for ages. Does this mean my scale has been be buried deep in concrete for 100 years until the virus is finally vanquished?

The manager pointed to signs at each register saying no refunds. I didn't notice because the signs were placed off to the side, looking like another warning about wearing masks and gloves. Also when I wear a mask my eyeglasses fog up and when I take them off I still can't see. I wonder how many visually impaired and blind people will also get screwed. On my budget like many other people around here $40 is a lot of money.  This is just another version of price gouging.

If this store wants to play fair with customers the clerks should tell customers verbally before a purchase of the no refund policy. If I had know that I would have passed on buying the scale. I wanted a basic scale but the store was out of the $20 unit. I need the scale because I have to lose weight before hernia surgery.

I thought the scale would work by itself without hooking up to the internet with a special app. No go. It just sits there like a thick square piece of hi-tech shit. If you go to Google Play for the A&D Medical app you'll see complaints that it doesn't work. Don't buy any products from this loser company.

So be on the alert for this no refund ripoff at other stores. And don't believe those bullshit TV ads with actor/good ol' guy Sam Elliot's voice saying that Kinney Drugs is local, it cares about you. Apparently to make up for lost sales during the crisis Kinney wants to stick it to customers in the meantime.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Sign Of The Times



Equal Under The Law



© 2020 Luke T. Bush

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY -- 3/27/20

Two days ago a moose was wandering around the city. This incident reminds me of the time a bear cub visited here. I was down at the shit water treatment plant by the lake with my camera and spotted him. I didn't approach him, just used the telephoto end of my zoom lens to grab a couple of shots. The little guy took off into the brush and I kept walking, not running, to get another image. A DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) officer ordered me and another photographer who also happened to be there to leave the area because we would scare the cub.

That was funny because the police chief at that time was driving around in his official vehicle. He pulled up near me and asked if I had seen the cub. Then he took off with his young daughters standing in the front seat, chasing the cub so that his kids could get a good look. I think a guy walking with a camera is less scary than a speeding SUV.



Saturday, March 14, 2020

Meanwhile At Dogtown 12901

Instead of further crapping up this blog here's a link to the latest post re: crow shit over at my other blog: https://dogtown12901.blogspot.com/2020/03/what-if.html

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Sisyphean



PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY -- 3/5/20

Yesterday city workers sprayed and wiped down this Trinity Park bench to remove crow shit. But as usual the crows returned last night and sat in the tree above, crapping all over the clean slate. The other benches were wiped down but they are also accumulating crow shit. Attacking the symptom but not the cause. There are ways to deal with the crows: http://writog.blogspot.com/2020/02/crow-crap_6.html


Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Saint Pat Cat



Scrub Time




PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY -- 3/4/20

I feel sorry for these two men stuck with cleaning off the crow shit splattered all over the benches in Trinity Park. This only attacks the symptom, not the cause. There are measures that can be taken to control the crow problem. Until those measures are taken city employees will be called out again to scrub down the latest carpet-bombings.


Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Let's Crow About Downtown!


WARNING: The link below will take you to  disgusting image.  I'm sharing this image to once again to point out a chronic problem the city continues to ignore.

https://dogtown12901.blogspot.com/2020/03/lets-crow-about-downtown.html

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Tedra Cobb Meets & Greets



By Luke T. Bush

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY -- TUESDAY FEB. 4, 2020

About 50 people this evening showed up at the Koffee Kat to interact with Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives Tedra Cobb, New York Congressional District 21. She as been traveling throughout the congressional district -- all 1700 square miles -- to hear from voters and share her views, trying to meet as many people as she can. She explained: "It's not about me, it's about you."

She is running against pro-Trump Republican Elise Stefanik. Tedra point out that in the beginning Elise promoted herself as a moderate but now the incumbent has proven she's not one for moderation. President Donald Trump's policies are usually Elise's policies such as her vote vote against the Affordable Care Act (ACA.)

Tedra questioned how much attention Elise was spending on her constituents in the her district. Elise is now serving Trump as one of his NYS honorary re-election campaign chairs. Time spent campaigning for Trump meant less time to work for NY-21.


One issue discussed was health care. Tedra said she preferred a public option over a universal health care plan. One attendee said that ACA wasn't benefiting her because she was a "smidgen" over the eligibility limit.

Tedra stressed that when she served on the St. Lawrence County Legislature Democrats and Republicans worked together. If elected she will try to bring more unity between those parties in the House of Representatives.

She said if voters send the same politicians back to Washington, DC they will get the same results.



Sunday, February 09, 2020

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Crow Crap



They're back.


PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY -- 2/6/20

(C) 2020 Luke T. Bush

One night a taxi driver was sitting in his vehicle, waiting for his next call when something hit his roof. Silence. Then something else hit his roof. Again and again.

Nocturnal squirrels dropping nuts on his vehicle? No. It was a mob of crows perched in the tree above him, carpet-bombing with their crap as usual.

Last winter I reported on the problem, long stretches of sidewalks covered with the disgusting droppings. It was as bad as the chronic dogshit problem.

But like with dogshit Plattsburgh City has failed to address crows defecating on downtown. Of course the city has passed bans on fracking, plastic straws, and public smoking in wide open areas which all take precedence over animal scat.

Auburn, NY has earned the unenviable sobriquet Crow City. Crows have plagued the city for years but at least it takes action. In the evening exploding firecrackers drive away the pests.

There are options to deal with the crow problem. Just Google the keywords "crow deterrent" and a plethora of answers will pop up on the screen.



Maybe the city will cry "No money."  Well there are some free options available, The video below can be downloaded, using hawk calls to drive off the black vexations.



Or how about a crow in distress recording? When a raucous gathering disturbed my sleep early in the morning I played the recording linked below with a boombox in an open window. Good riddance. No mobs have returned, just one solitary crow, so this seems to work.


I could go on but I'm not paid to do research for the city. There's no excuse to allowing another winter of splattered Corvus crap to adorn the city.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Adirondack Art House Meet & Greet

By Luke T. Bush



PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY - 1/25/20  Today local artists checked out a new creative outlet. Located at 131 Cornelia Street in Plattsburgh City, Adirondack Art House provides a spot to sell, share and learn. After entering underneath the misleading pickle company sign you will be greeted by an array of artwork for purchase.

When Kristine Minster (above) moved to the North Country she left behind a successful business in the Finger Lakes area.  With the Art House she hopes to reestablish Sew Surprised! which offers clothing, fashion acccesories and home decor items.  She can be contacted at sewsuprised@gmail.com .


More info about Adirondack Art House: Denise Duprey, 518-335-5753 or adirondackarthouse@gmail.com .


Saturday, January 25, 2020

Focus On Macro

Extreme close up photography -- macrophotography -- is difficult. Sometimes you're only dealing with a slender slice that is in focus, 1/16th of an inch or less. I recently purchased a macro sliding rail that makes focusing easier with a tripod, moving the camera and lens instead of the tripod or the subject. Now that I can shoot a number of photos with a progressive series of an object at different focus points and combine those images into one sharper image thanks to focus stacking software. I'm still learning this new technique but so far I'm doing OK. You can see the difference in the depth of field with the photos below, unstacked and stacked, of the eye in a peacock feather.

Click on each image to enlarge to see the difference in detail. 



Monday, January 20, 2020

City Doesn't Shovel Its Sidewalks





PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY -- 1/20/20

Some pedestrians had to walk in the street due to unshoveled sidewalks this morning. Sidewalks offer safer passage for pedestrians over streets.

The sidewalks not shoveled were adjacent to city property, Trinity Park and the parking lot on the corner of Margaret and Court streets.

Under city regulations it is stated:

295-40 Duty to remove ice and snow.
It shall be the duty of the owner of a developed or vacant lot that adjoins a public sidewalk to remove or clear snow and ice from such public sidewalk within 24 hours after the end of a snow or ice event, as publicly declared by a designated City official. Except as provided herein, the entire width of the sidewalk shall be cleared, edge to edge, creating conditions that allow safe pedestrian travel and preventing any accumulation of ice and/or snow, or impenetrable ice/snow that is not treated to prevent slipping.

Usually the city sends out a notice about the end of a storm but I didn't see any. Even then most businesses have shoveled their sidewalks bare so why can't the city do the same?





One could say today is a holiday and that gives the city an excuse. Really. Check the photo of the Court Street sidewalk adjacent to Clinton County property: the whole stretch is completely clear while directly across the street snow and ice covers the city sidewalk.


Once again Plattsburgh City leads by example.



ADDENDUM:

More unshoveled sidewalks seen this afternoon: City Hall, Verdantique Park, and Smith-Weed Bridge.

If you're young and healthy no problem trudging through.  A senior citizen with limited mobility?  Tough.



For a real obstacle course check out Smith-Weed Bridge.  A passing city snowplow has clogged the sidewalks but without any shoveling to fix the problem.


Having a heart attack while shoveling snow is bad enough but how about having one while slogging through on a sidewalk piled over two feet deep with the white crap?