I didn’t bother our busy congressman for a comment.
Arghh! It’s an ugly brew when politics and money mix.
Last week, the county Industrial Development Agency cancelled, as promised, Kingston developer Steve Aaron’s tax agreement on his 80-unit Birches low-income housing complex on Flatbush Avenue inKingston for failure to pay some $200,000 in back taxes owed under the agreement. Aaron had previously paid some $70,000.
In published reports Aaron said only that he wasn’t paying because courts have yet to decide on his appeal against his city assessment on the project. Final oral appeals were heard before Judge Mary Work last month. Some courthouse denizens think it more than likely the developer and the city will sit down to hash out a payment schedule based not on property value but on income.
Aaron knows he cannot expect a friend at court in Mayor Shayne Gallo, who has said repeatedly that Kingston will not do business with people who owe it money. One assumes that $200,000 owed to the city, school district and the county will be on the table in one form or another.
It is entirely possible that Aaron, a shrewd businessman of great tenacity in his dealings with politicians, could wind up paying considerably less to the city under a formula based on income. State law dating to 2006 allows such treatment of low-income properties. Aaron, for his part, considers himself something of a public benefactor in providing low-income housing. Rupco — Rural Ulster Preservation Company — is another player in that field.
Aaron is drawing on a deep well of self-righteousness. If minimal payments to the city or other host municipalities are what he thinks he is owed, then so be it. Aarghh! We might term Aaron a tortured humanitarian, a one-liner I borrowed from former alderwoman Jen Fuentes.
Here and there
Promoting the legacy of the obscure former president James Buchanan must be one of the toughest public relations job in the world. Kingston native Tom Ryan faces that unenviable task every day as president of the Lancaster County Historical Society, where the 15th president’s home is located. “Ole Buck,” as he was known to contemporaries, has consistently placed last among presidents in surveys taken over the last 60 years. Preceding Lincoln, Buchanan is generally blamed for letting the dispute over slavery escalate into the Civil War. Ryan, lecturing in Kingston on Sunday, insisted Buck’s bad rating was actually a positive. “Historians like to write about him,” he said.
And if he can sell Buchanan, Kingston can certainly sell Kingston, he added.
Wow, did the New Paltz school board take a shellacking in asking voters to approve the purchase of some 22 acres of land and a house near one of its elementary schools. Cash-strapped voters, turned it down by an almost four-to-one margin. Talk about being out of touch. Will that rejection spill over to the May 15 school budget vote? Probably not, but this was not a good trial run.
Depending on how they count, GOP Congressman Chris Gibson and (main) Democratic challenger Julian Schreibman were in a dead heat in terms of fund-raising, says Capital Confidential. Preliminary reports show Schreibman raised just over $200,000 (with a $100,000 loan from the candidate) for the first reporting period ending April 15, about tied with Gibson. For Schreibman, the trouble is that Gibson had more than $700,000 going in. Long-shot Joel Tyner — he of the 99 percent — didn’t file, suggesting there isn’t much green among those grass roots.