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veto, here we go.

I just dropped my veto message and accompanying materials off to the City Clerk only to learn that the Council has already put up the resolution to override, without the courtesy of reading the information contained in my document.

golf-bet-9923220

This is disappointing
to say the least. I don’t know of any dictionary that would define this as responsible or cooperative.

VETO MESSAGE

DATE: January 16, 2014

TO: City Clerk Susan Alibozek
Common Council
All Local Media

FROM: Mayor Ann M. Thane

RE: Veto of Resolution #13/14-150

I am vetoing this resolution as it does not protect the interests of both the taxpayers and golfers of the City of Amsterdam.

For almost two decades, the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course has underperformed as evidenced by dropping membership numbers and flat revenues. Despite significant cost cutting measures the course is barely breaking even. Without a positive change in operations the golf fund will likely exhaust its fund balance within the next five years.

In 2009, the City invited Masters in Business Administration graduate students from Union College, under the guidance of the President of the Union MBA School, to conduct an assessment of operations at the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course and to prepare a business plan for the course. This study indicated that course revenue could be increased by 85% (approximately $400,000 per year) if various recommendations were implemented. The contract authorized by this resolution is inconsistent with the changes recommended by the Union College Study and would prevent the implementation of any meaningful changes for the term of the contract. The City cannot afford to ignore potential revenue sources at the expense of property tax payers.

The longstanding trend is that membership has declined. Since the number of members has declined steadily over the years, outside play needs to be boosted so that the course is financially viable. The contract proposed by this resolution represents a continuation of failed prior policies; therefore, implementing this resolution will continue the decline.

The Golf Commission had issued an RFP that sought options for improvement of course operations. The report from the Golf Commission is attached. The Commission recommends an option that will immediately boost revenue by at least $30,000 and provide the opportunity to improve operations. This option will improve oversight and greatly enhance the golf experience. I firmly believe that the City should proceed with the recommended changes contained in the RFP response issued by our Golf Commission (see below).

The current golf professional contract provides compensation of $25,500 to the professional for working from April through October, as well as cart rental fees and all proceeds from the pro-shop and lessons. It is critical that the City receive the revenue generated from golf cart rentals, conservatively estimated at $67,000 net annually, which will grow as outside non-member play increases. If the City does not receive the cart revenues, any marketing effort to boost outside play will accrue not to the taxpayers, but to the golf professional.

Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course, designed by a world-renowned course architect, Robert Trent Jones, is a tremendous asset to the City of Amsterdam. It is unacceptable that operations do not generate revenue for the City. With proper management, the interests of both golfers and taxpayers can be protected and enhanced. This can only occur if we stop reinforcing failed policies and take advantage of the best advice available to us. Therefore, Resolution #13/14-150 is hereby vetoed.

Click on this link for SUPPORTING MATERIALS: 20140116124718219

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Kenneth C. Andersen (Dad)

The huge number of loved ones that showed up for today’s 8th Annual Out of Darkness Walk for suicide awareness, research and prevention in Saratoga was incredibly moving. Many of us were there in memory of those that we had lost suddenly, leaving pain that only time, faith, and the support of others can soften. I walked in memory of my father,
Kenneth C. Andersen, an intelligent, gentle, funny, generous, and loving man that took his life in 1974. There were many from Amsterdam that attended in support of the Fiorillo family remembering AHS student Vinnie Fiorillo, as you can see demonstrated by the number of purple shirts below. Organizer Marianne Reid’s family shared this day for her brother that passed five years ago.

There were a few thoughts that I came away with from this day:

1. Our loved ones succumbed to illness, many times resulting from depression or substance abuse. Shame and guilt are unecessary as this illness and its tragic end are no more desired or the fault of the family than cancer or diabetes. The taking of a life is the action of a desperately suffering individual.

2. Survivors do not carry a contagious disease. In dealing with those that have suffered this loss, please be compassionate, respectful, warm, and directly acknowledge their grief. It is the oddest sensation to have people casting furtive glances one’s way and speaking in hushed tones, or to avoid conversation completely. It’s 2012; suicide should not be stigmatized any longer. Suicide is not a dirty word.

3. There is so much love that surrounds us. Today’s walk proves it. For more information on suicide prevention, click here.

Thank you to all that paricipated.

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AUGUST
Mayor’s Report

Community Engagement:
• Community Task Force: Wishful Thinking
• Department Criminal Juvenile Justice Grant
• 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament – HUGE success
• 7 on 7 Kickball Tournament planning (September)
• Neighborhood Association “Meet & Greet” planning (September 22)
• Lois McClure Riverlink Park visit planning (September 22)
• Homecoming planning (October 5)


Economic Development:
• Interviews conducted for CEDD position
• Developer Luncheon planned – September 6
• MVREDC strategic plan – final touches for submission
• Train Station Relocation: meeting at DOT, August 9th – projected $45M impact
• Pedestrian Bridge community forum co-hosted with Amsterdam Common Council
• Land Banking Advisory Committee meeting
• BOA meeting: finalizing reports (East End, Northern Trolley Neighborhoods, Waterfront Heritage)
• CEO Roundtable Discussion hosted by Dusty Swanger: public/private investment and partnering for revitalization
• NYCOM Executive Committee meeting: mandate relief, training
• Hydro-electric study
• Waste Water Treatment Digester study
• Highland/Holland PILOT


Engineering/DPW:
• Market Hill water/sewer/road infrastructure improvements completed
• Market Street Traffic Improvements
– excavations nearing completion
– one bad valve identified
– State to start repaving in next few weeks
• I/I contracted, start September (need $90K to do manhole inspections)
• Traffic Re-patterning progressing rapidly
• Bell Hill: rebuild retaining wall
• Series of sink holes/excavations to be remedied in the coming weeks
• Only 19 hydrants out of service

• Interviews conducted: Codes – Wilkie Platt appointed

 Insurance/Trust Issues being resolved; accounting must be set up, finalize Delta/Davis contracts

Need attention:
• Capital Projects
• Professional Assistance: Controller
• IT Contract: County
• Dove Creek solution

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In response to a recent violent act that took the lives of two city youths and has affected hundreds of relatives and friends, a Community Task Force was formed between the City of Amsterdam, GASD, St. Mary’s Healthcare, Centro Civico, and passionate volunteers from our community. As is the case whenever we are faced with tragedy, there has been a welling up of support and compassion that is unmatched by any other community I’ve lived in.

The group’s been discussing aspects of grief and recovery and have come up with several tactics to help heal the deep wound many have suffered, especially our students that will be returning to school in a matter of weeks.

Recognizing this, four young men from the group organized a 3-on-3 basketball tournament focused on stopping violence and growing support for youth activities. John Sumpter, Calvin Martin, Casey Martin and T.J. Czeski put together an event that attracted hundreds of people of all ages. This is no small feat – volunteer scheduling, tents, raffles, refreshments, grills, generators, sound system, referees, score keepers, crowd control, promotion, t-shirts and team sign-ups had to be tightly coordinated. This was managed so well that the event ran as perfectly as the beautiful day God provided. I find it particularly inspiring that such young men are willing to take on the mantle of leadership, giving back so significantly to the city they have grown up in and love.

Huge thanks to all that were involved. The photos below are a few shots of the great day’s activities. Click on any individual photo to enlarge.

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No one exptects to lose a child. To help these stricken families raise money for funeral services, please donate at the following links:

Peace for Pauly

Peace for Jonathan

“Entre lo que existe y lo que no existe,
el espacio es el amor.”

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“Americans will put up with anything provided it doesn’t block traffic.”
– Dan Rather

Major construction continues on Market Street in preparation for modifications to traffic signaling along the corridor. The roadway will be resurfaced from Prospect Street to the northern city line, which entails moving and/or repairing over 40 structures such as telephone poles, manholes and catch basins. These photos show the changes begun at the entrance of VanDyke at RT30.

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Last Saturday saw the first concert of a planned summer series at Riverlink Park. It’s so great to see the park filled with 250 people just loving the music, the food, the venue, the evening air and the glorious sunset. Hope you’ll make it down this weekend (the Joey Thomas Big Band will be performing!) to see what all of the buzz is about!

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The “new” city pool at Veterans Field has been the place to be this summer. Last week, Beechnut made swimming lessons available to 200 children, compared to only 60 per year in the prior two years. This is a tremendous victory for all of those children that braved the waters to learn a skill that will serve them for a lifetime, and is a wonderfully generous gesture on the part of our corporate partner. Their contribution will also fund construction of a large pavilion that will provide families shade for years to come.

As well, Dollar General Regional Manager Jim Glorioso arranged for a fantastic donation of pool toys including swimming googles, inflatable wings & vests, bouyant noodles and oodles of flip flops to fit every foot that steps into the welcoming blue water. Please spread the word that every individual that visits the pool will receive a FREE set of flip flops as long as supplies last, whether you choose to swim or not!

The following photos were taken of the swim class on July 3rd and of today’s visit by YMCA summer camp participants, just in time for the Dollar General delivery!

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It was a busy heavy construction day again in Amsterdam today. The long-awaited changes to Amsterdam’s traffic patterns have started at RT5 and RT30S. In the coming months, the State will create a two-way corridor in front of the Public Safety Building. Later phases will develop two-way traffic in front of the Post Office and bring automotive travellers back downtown.

We also finished resurfacing Church Street today and will button up Pine Street in the next few days. Keep you eyes peeled for upgrades to signals, replacement of substructures, and resurfacing of the roadway going up Market Street was well. Work to progress the pedestrian bridge project and train station relocation in tandem with downtown redevelopment and waterfront revitalization continues to be a priority. It’s gratifying to see the dramatic changes we have been talking about for years finally taking place.

The following photos show the start of the traffic repatterning project.

Looking east towards town from RT5.

Looking west on RT5 from the same spot referenced above.

Looking east from the Verizon parking lot.

Materials


Looking west from RT30 in front of the Verizon building.

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It’s been a busy few weeks for me, with trips to Rome, Schenectady, Liverpool and back to Schenectady, all in the pursuit of regional affiliation.

In Rome, I participated in a strategic planning session with members of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council (MVREDC). We’ve been focused on reviewing last year’s projects, identifying new scoring criteria and priority projects, and reporting on our progress as a newly formed and amazingly cooperative entity. We’ve all been pleasantly surprised at the willingness of all six counties to work collaboratively toward common goals.

In Schenectady, I was honored to serve as a panelist at Congressman Tonko’s “Mighty Waters” Conference, again, tailored to look at regional commonalities experienced by communities necklaced along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers. Two hundred fifty stakeholders from all walks of public and private life gathered at Union College to discuss waterfront development, job creation, environmental issues, educational opportunities, tourism and historic preservation throughout the Capital Region. In a manner that is in keeping with his progressive vision for this area, the Congressman unveiled legislation to create the Hudson-Mohawk River Basin Commission.

The Commission would carry out projects and conduct research on water resources in the basin, which stretches across five states and includes five sub-basins, increasing our understanding of these waterways and the dramatic impact they have on our lives.

The highway soon called me farther westward to Liverpool to enjoy a day with members of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission. “Stretching 524 miles across the full expanse of upstate New York, the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca Canals are among our nation’s great successes of engineering, vision, hard work, and sacrifice.” Similarly, the Commission works to showcase this tremendous asset and has been instrumental in facilitating tourism, economic development and historic preservation along this spectacular state treasure.


Lastly, I ended up at a meeting in Schenectady’s magnificent City Hall to launch a new partnership: one of New York State’s first landbanks, a collaborative effort between the City of Schenectady, Schenectady County and the City of Amsterdam. We are fortunate that Planning Commission Chairman Bob DiCaprio and URA Chairman Bob Martin have agreed to serve on our city’s behalf. As with the other efforts cited above, this progressive initiative marks a new age of cooperation between communities that had been traditionally separated by geographical and territorial isolationism.

I am profoundly honored to play a role in this emerging regional sensibility and believe strongly that these relationships will change our future in ways we are only beginning to understand.

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Thai Green Curry With Seafood
Bon Appétit | May 2009
by Jeanne Thiel Kelley

When the topic of chowder comes up, debates rage about the merits of the creamy New England style versus the red, tomato-packed Manhattan version. We’d be hard-pressed to choose a favorite, but one thing is for sure: We love chowder. It’s comforting, hearty, and full of seafood. The same can be said of Thai-style seafood curry. Coconut milk stands in for cream, and curry paste packs a warming punch. It’s global chowder— and it’s delicious. That’s something we can all agree on.
Yield: Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons unrefined peanut oil
5 green onions, finely chopped, dark green parts separated from white and pale green parts
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 tablespoons Thai green curry paste
1 1/4 cups water
1 13-to 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
2 small fresh red Thai chiles or 1 red jalapeño chile

2 kaffir lime leaves
1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 large carrot, peeled, thinly sliced on diagonal (about 1 cup)
4 cups thinly sliced bok choy
8 ounces uncooked medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
8 ounces bay scallops
1 pound green or black mussels, scrubbed, debearded
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
2 cups (about) steamed rice

Note: Thane eliminated the mussels and doubled the shrimp and scallop quantities.

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add white and pale green parts of green onions, 1 tablespoon cilantro, and garlic; sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. Add curry paste; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 1 1/4 cups water, coconut milk, chiles, lime leaves, and fish sauce. Bring to simmer. Add carrot; cover and cook until carrot is just tender, about 5 minutes. Layer bok choy, shrimp, scallops, and mussels in pan. Cover and simmer until mussels open and seafood and bok choy are cooked (discard mussels that do not open), about 5 minutes. Stir in dark green parts of green onions, 2 tablespoons cilantro, and basil.
Divide rice among 4 shallow bowls. Ladle curry over rice and serve.

Ingredient tips:
Unrefined peanut oil can be found at natural foods stores and Asian markets. Thai green curry paste, coconut milk, and fish sauce are sold at many supermarkets and at Asian markets. Look for fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves at Asian markets. If unavailable, use 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon grated lime peel for each lime leaf.

Epicurious.com © Condé Nast Digital, Inc. All rights reserved.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/printerfriendly/Thai-Green-Curry-with-Seafood-352634#ixzz1xRAEtUGf

String Bean & Arugula Salad
Epicurious | May 2012
by John Schlimm


Grilling Vegan Style
In this unusual pairing, the string beans and baby arugula work wonders for each other. Wilting the arugula with the hot, garlicky grilled beans is a nice trick for bringing the two together. While you can use regular arugula if you must, baby arugula is far milder in flavor, so try to find it if you can.
Yield: 3 to 4 servings

3/4 pound green and/or yellow string beans, trimmed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
2 cups baby or regular arugula, trimmed and chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the grill to medium-high.
In a large bowl, toss the string beans with the olive oil and garlic. Let the beans rest for 10 minutes or so, then place the beans on a large square of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Fold the foil over the beans and fold down the ends of the foil twice. Place the foil packet on the grill, seam side up, and grill for 25 to 30 minutes. Let the beans cool for a few minutes, then combine them in a roomy bowl with the arugula, lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste, tossing until the arugula is wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.

Note: Thanes only tossed for a minute or so, and went for a livelier arugala leaf.

Source Information
From the book Grilling Vegan Style: 125 Fired-Up Recipes to Turn Every Bite into a Backyard BBQ by John Schlimm. Reprinted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2012.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/printerfriendly/String-Bean-Arugula-Salad-51100200#ixzz1xR9lJTLd

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Spring Fling 2012: Click HERE!

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full circle

Full Circle

When the sweetness seems all gone
When the world’s not on your side
Remember I believe in you
My love is open-eyed.

And when you reach too far and fall
And the laughter stings your ears
You never have to be ashamed
And let me say it clear

That your love brings me round full circle
And I see through the eyes of a child
With every step you take
Another vow I make
To stay right by your side.

When your world is turned around
And you can’t find your way home
Remember me
And try to see
The way I might have shown.

And when you look and find me gone
Don’t think that life has been unfair
Just gather all your children round
And you will see me there

Because their love brings you round full circle
And you see through the eyes of a child
With every step they take
Another vow you make
To stay right by their side.

A thread runs through us all
And without it we would fall
So pull your heartstrings tight
Along the way.

And your love brings me round full circle
And I see through the eyes of a child
With every step you take
Another vow I make
To stay right by your side.

With every step you take
Another vow I make
To stay right by your side.

– Newfound Road, from Same Old Place

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Good evening and welcome. To each and every one of you in this room and to those of you watching at home or online, thank you for caring about our City. It is a privilege to serve as Mayor of the City of Amsterdam, and to once again deliver this annual message.

This exercise makes me realize the wisdom of those that put the practice of the annual speech into place. While my experience may be one of studying city operations through a microscope, I remember that most constituents are gazing down from the window of an airplane.

The annual speech is a necessary discipline and an honor, but I must admit that it is a daunting task, as its content is so vast. While pondering this undertaking, I’ve been drawn to one theme that resonates with recent events and our shared fortunes. The phrase “tough times” comes to mind in relation to the difficult economy, crazy weather, infrastructure problems and at-risk neighborhoods.

Yes, times are certainly tough.

But just because times are tough, we do not give up. Adversity is something we are familiar with and despite the difficulties we face as a community, we meet our challenges with forceful determination. We are fighting through one of our most challenging periods in our City’s history and are holding our own. We are small, but we are tough.

2011 was a year that tested our resolve and spirit, and our community has risen to the occasion. We have reason to be proud on so many levels. Despite the financial stress felt by municipal budgets on all levels, we have weathered economic turmoil better than surrounding municipalities. Unlike the County and the School District, we have held to a self-imposed 3% tax cap. We managed this feat through creative measures that have added hundreds of thousands of dollars to our annual budget and cut spending to a bare minimum. In this past year:

• We’ve secured nearly $500,000 in additional sales tax revenue from the county.

• We’ve negotiated a new revenue sharing agreement with GAVAC that brings in $200,000 a year.

• We’ve taken recycling in-house, saving over $100,000 a year in expense.

• We are controlling discretionary overtime in all departments and have realized significant overtime savings with the addition of three patrol officers to the Amsterdam Police Department.

These initiatives have helped to shelter us from major tax increases or deeper cuts to essential services.

Our drive to succeed in tough times has resulted in the completion of key capital projects in our city that serve to enhance the quality of life of our residents. The completed projects are as diverse as they are numerous, rounding out one of our busiest construction periods ever. They include:

• Reconstruction of the Bridge Street corridor.

• Upgrades to infrastructure, including water, sewer and road systems on the South-side.

• Asbestos removal from City Hall, rewrapping of pipes, and new window inserts have resulted in tens-of-thousands of dollars in energy savings.

• $13 million dollars worth of improvements at the wastewater treatment and water filtration plants, paid for in part through stimulus funding and our agreements with Hero Beechnut.

• Removal of the fire-damaged Eddy Brush Company building and site remediation of brown-field issues.

• Demolition of 45 dilapidated and dangerous structures with some participation from Montgomery County.

• Repairs to Amsterdam’s Transportation facility including a new furnace, flooring, portable lifts, energy efficient lighting, as well as new buses, also funded through the federal stimulus program.

• Resurfacing of streets in each ward in the 2011 Road Program.

• Remediation and replacement of asbestos-covered water lines beneath Grieme Avenue Bridge.

• Construction of Riverlink Park Phase II includes new walkways, lighting and the new sculpture entitled, The Painted Rocks of Amsterdam by world-renown artist Alice Manzi.

• Additional improvements to the park include a new band shell, café deck and landscaping.

We have managed to complete these phenomenal projects in a year that we were challenged by a flood of dramatic proportions not seen in recent memory.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, we triumphed over a tumultuous set of circumstances which enabled us to see city operations at their finest. Staff mobilized to appropriately and effectively respond to the safety of the public, coordinating a comprehensive evacuation strategy, rescue efforts, temporary shelter, and traffic management protocols, all in a matter of hours.

Throughout the emergency, we were able to disseminate information in real-time through our facebook page and in partnership with WCSS and the Recorder. Because of this achievement, we now understand social networking to be more than a pastime. It is an essential tool of effective communication.

Volunteers displayed incredible compassion and selflessness, showing up in droves to assist their neighbors in recovery from tragedy in the weeks after the storms. We witnessed community partners cleaning homes and businesses, organizing donation drop-off sites and distributing supplies, all of which lent support in a time of great strife.

We are tough. We pull together.

Our strength is in numbers and our commitment to one another demonstrates the true character of the people of Amsterdam. 2011 was a banner year for volunteerism in our city. Not only did we host several successful events including National Night Out and the Main Street Winter Mixer, but we also geared our efforts towards community beautification with litter clean-ups, graffiti paint-outs, murals, plantings and gardens, all of which have had a positive effect in reshaping our image. We offered free concerts over the summer at Riverlink Park and Hero-Beechnut sponsored swimming lessons for 125 young children at Veteran’s Field swimming pool. Additionally, Spring Fling sought to highlight the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame’s Induction ceremonies while promoting commercial space in our Downtown area. This much-celebrated occasion brought 3000 people to Main Street. All of these initiatives were provided at no cost to our taxpayers.

While community-initiated efforts have begun to transform our image, we have also taken a more direct and professional approach to marketing our community. This year, those efforts were recognized by Empire State Development as “best in class” for website design and collateral printed materials. We were able to augment our presence with videos produced by Amsterdam High School students that are broadcast over the Internet and continue to garner attention.

In these tough times we have decided who we are and who we choose to be. We must embrace change and understand the opportunities it presents. We are a community of many cultures, and must be welcoming to those that wish to make Amsterdam their new home. Recently, Chinese immigrants have purchased 40 properties. They have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in materials, taxes, fees and labor, with the intention of bringing many more friends and families to our community. The investment made by these individuals will be transformative.

The coming year invites a host of exciting prospects, even those that will be difficult to surmount. We are faced with the imposition of a 2% cap on property taxes that will force us to be both brave and creative. Upon entering into the new budget season, we must have a complete and accurate accounting from our new Controller of all revenues, expenditures, departmental budgets, fund balance and debt.

These difficult economic times demand that we break new ground and create new relationships. We must meet our challenges with civility and measured thought as we reach out to our partners at the county, regional and state levels to find solutions. We must function as a regional participant to share funding sources, labor and equipment to adequately provide for the future.

Traditionally we have only thought to reach out to the County Board of Supervisors as partners. While we may certainly engage with the County in a number of cost saving initiatives, including records management, energy conservation, joint purchasing and cross-agency transportation options, we must establish new relationships with surrounding municipalities in the Capital District and Greater Mohawk Valley. We’ve seen evidence of this successful approach with the recent awards to the Regional Economic Development Councils. By establishing a commitment to collaboration we will increase the likelihood of securing necessary resources to realize economic growth.

This commitment must extend to the political parties that have traditionally been drawn to stances that are dramatically polarized. Our problems are universal. It is time to put political agendas aside, to identify commonalities in our positions, to rally people and resources, and solve the problems that we are charged to overcome. To this end, I have invited the chairmen of the Republican and Democratic City and County Committees, as well as the members of the Common Council, to assist me in this pursuit. This may be tough to do, but it’s time for the factions to move past their differences.

Tough times dictate that we create a network of like-minded communities. We have established a dialogue using the State’s regional model to explore avenues such as land banking, the continued expansion of water and sewer infrastructure for residential and commercial development, as well as long-range planning and investment in waterfront development and downtown revitalization. This dialogue also includes a proposal to relocate state offices to our city, which identifies us as a community worthy of investment. We are creating a new dynamic and have pride in the fact that several industries in our city have seen significant growth over the past year. Breton Industries, NTI Global, FGI and Mohawk Fabrics have all undergone expansion of their facilities resulting in more jobs and investment in our community.

We are going to continue to succeed in tough times. Over the coming construction season we will progress water distribution improvements on Market Street Hill. We will identify and remediate storm and sewer cross-connections around the city and we will implement the new traffic patterns to route visitors back to our downtown. We will install a new memorial at Riverlink Park to honor those lost on 9/11, roads will be resurfaced, valves and hydrants will be strategically replaced and we will complete the demolition of the Chalmers property.

We must also turn our attention to the Esquire property at the Mohasco site. On account of its advanced state of deterioration, the building has been found unsafe and requires demolition. The site must serve as a key driver for revitalization of that district. This coincides with other active projects targeting neighborhood revitalization on the East End, Reid Hill, waterfront heritage area and along the Chuctanunda Creek. As well, we are partnering with the Amsterdam Urban Renewal Agency, Montgomery County Habitat for Humanity and the Amsterdam Homeless Project to provide opportunities to those most in need during tough economic times.

We continue our fight to keep our residents safe despite economic stressors. Our neighborhood watch groups have been instrumental in bridging a relationship between the community and law enforcement. Awareness within the neighborhoods has netted arrests for drug and other non-violent offenses as officers utilize the information provided by the watch groups to enhance public safety. Thanks to these efforts, Amsterdam remains one of the safest communities in the Capital District.

It is during tough times that we need to be the most optimistic and hopeful. I am reminded each day that I am surrounded by a highly qualified and talented team who come to work each day impacted by limited resources and staffing, yet together we find the resolve to shoulder our responsibilities to those of you who pay our salaries. I want to thank these good people, our employees, on behalf of the residents of this community for the fine job that they do. When times are hard, they work harder.

These tough economic times cannot be used as an excuse to pull back or avoid progress. It’s a mistake we have made too frequently in the past. In this regard, we must address inadequacies in staffing that negatively impact city operations. These shortcomings limit our opportunities to generate revenue and address issues of great concern to our citizens. The condition of blighted properties is perhaps the most often-cited complaint heard in my office, on the radio, or on the Internet. We must strengthen our codes department by adding an additional inspector, even if the position is part-time, to manage health and safety matters. As well, we need additional seasonal help to cut grass and pick up garbage when property maintenance is an issue. In 2010, the year before the flood, we cleaned 210 properties, generating 351 full dump trucks of debris. Of course this past year, much of the efforts of these four men went to cleaning up after the disaster.

If we are to grow our tax base, we should again look to refunding the Community and Economic Development Department. While several development agencies exist, there is no organization that can fill the void created by the absence of this entity. We need this department to muscle comprehensive planning which includes revamping the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, Brownfield programs, the zoning rewrite, neighborhood and downtown revitalization; to coordinate community events and activities; to oversee property disposition and grants in a coordinated fashion; to coordinate activity between departments, state, county and development organizations; to assist struggling not-for-profits; to update the website; and to proactively research and propose new incentives for development and growth.

We cannot let naysayers and negativism determine our fate. We’ve been through floods, a hurricane and a global economic downturn and we are still here. We are small, tough and determined. I am reminded of a short quote by Thomas Buxton, “With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.“ In every sense of the word, our community has been heroic in its perseverance. To those of you in our community that taken up the load when times are tough, that have reached out to your friends and neighbors with the offer of help, that love this community for what it has been, for what it is and for what it will be, I thank you for your commitment.

We are going to make it. We will be galvanized by our experiences; we will be better; we will be stronger.

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bruce

This one ages better than wine.

Thunder Road

The screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey that’s me and I want you only
Don’t turn me home again
I just can’t face myself alone again
Don’t run back inside, darling you know just what I’m here for
So you’re scared and you’re thinking that maybe we ain’t that young anymore
Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night
You ain’t a beauty, but hey you’re alright
Oh and that’s alright with me

You can hide ‘neath your covers and study your pain
Make crosses from your lovers, throw roses in the rain
Waste your summer praying in vain for a saviour to rise from these streets
Well now I’m no hero, that’s understood
All the redemption I can offer, girl, is beneath this dirty hood
With a chance to make it good somehow
Hey what else can we do now
Except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair
Well the night’s bustin’ open, these two lanes will take us anywhere
We got one last chance to make it real
To trade in these wings on some wheels
Climb in back, heaven’s waiting down on the tracks

Oh oh come take my hand
Riding out tonight to case the promised land
Oh oh oh oh Thunder Road, oh Thunder Road, oh Thunder Road
Lying out there like a killer in the sun
Hey I know it’s late, we can make it if we run
Oh oh oh oh Thunder Road, sit tight, take hold, Thunder Road

Well I got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk
And my car’s out back if you’re ready to take that long walk
From your front porch to my front seat
The door’s open but the ride it ain’t free
And I know you’re lonely for words that I ain’t spoken
Tonight we’ll be free, all the promises will be broken
There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away
They haunt this dusty beach road in the skeleton frames of burned-out Chevrolets
They scream your name at night in the street
Your graduation gown lies in rags at their feet
And in the lonely cool before dawn
You hear their engines roaring on
But when you get to the porch they’re gone on the wind, so Mary climb in
It’s a town full of losers, I’m pulling out of here to win

– Bruce Springsteen, 1975

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duet

I’m so sad that Amy Winehouse was lost to us. This duet is all the more touching.

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Much has been made of the recent campaign mailing from my opponent’s camp. In this case, the offenders feign innocence and the local media moves on.

It is what it is.

Copyright issues aside, I am baffled by the claim that Joe Emanuele is paying for his materials, when his NYS Board of Elections Campaign Finance Reports do not show this activity or the resources to produce them. His campaign manager tells us the committee to elect Joe paid for them and they only used the NYRSC return address for a better postal rate. There is no claim to support this activity on the NYRSC report, though they show contributions to races around the state. How can this be so? What gives? or who? and why?

Before the primary, I mailed out an 8.5″ x 11″, full-color card much like those now being delivered to households in Amsterdam every other day. The mailer cost me $3,234.77 for design, printing, and postage. We sent this card to Democratic voters in the city. The Emanuele pieces are evidently being mailed to Republican voters, but the numbers of cards being sent must be relatively close in number, so that I’d wager the cost is as well. To date, we’ve received four mailings at my house and I figure they must run around $3,000 a pop. Since August, the Emanuele coffers have hovered between $4,200 and $5,200, with small expenditures listed for literature: postcards, magnets, stamps… nothing over $210.00. My question becomes, how was the approximate $12,000 disbursement for mailed campaign material (and I dare say, there will be more) paid for?

As well, I notice when driving around our city a plethora of Emanuele signs of all sizes and materials. I purchased 250 signs for $1,438 and, once 70 or 80 of them went missing, reordered another 100 for $672. Mr. Emanuele shows no expenditure for signs, though he does show an expenditure of $108 for stakes. Research shows the Montgomery County Republican Committee paid $486 for Emanuele signs. To my mind, this just doesn’t add up, even without a math degree.

Take a look for yourself: Campaign Finance Reports. What do you think? While you’re there, check out your candidates for Aldermen. It’s fascinating who has reported and who has not, especially if you are paying attention to signs in the first ward.

Where’s all of this money coming from? How come it is not being reported, even as in-kind donations? Why isn’t the lack of reporting being reported? Doesn’t this matter when my opponent has made integrity an issue in this campaign?

www.mayorthane.com

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I’ve listened with a mixture of patience and fury to misinformation circulating for quite some time, but now that the election is upon us, it’s time to set the record straight. The fund balance has not suffered from gross misuse of funds. We have not been spending wildly for four years, and in fact, I’ve never exceeded my departmental budget or overspent what had been budgeted for city hall repairs. We’ve been very careful with your money and have, in fact, grown our sources of revenue.

Fund balance fallacy
My opponent states that he left the city flush with a $3M fund balance. The actual calculation was closer to $2.7M, but that was also incorrect. During my first year in office, the Controller informed the council of a $500,000 error, as she had failed to budget for MVP premiums. This came after the budget committee had already allocated funds to maintain a flat tax rate at budget time. So, from the get-go, we had started with much less in the coffers than we had anticipated.

Couple this scenario with an $800,000 shortfall that had been decades in the making and not discovered until the sale of foreclosed-on properties last year. Reserves had not been adequately set aside for uncollectible taxes (when a tax bill goes out, it is considered paid whether it is collected or not. It is necessary to budget reserve funds to offset this loss. This had not been done for many, many years.)

Toss in the $300,000 reduction in state aid, sales tax, and mortgage tax and we find ourselves where we are today. These losses would have occurred regardless of whom was in office.

My tax and rate increases were less than those of my opponent’s.
Over four years, my opponent increased city taxes 9.37% and water/sewer/sanitation fees a whopping 24.58%. This compares to a 6.91% increase in city taxes during my four years and 8.19% increase in fees. Obviously, my opponent doesn’t acknowledge this record when telling us he is going to protect us in the future (in fact, his record is never mentioned at all, nor a plan as to HOW he plans to protect us in the future. Personally, I find that troublesome.)

Truth: monumental budgetary successes over four years.
In my first two years of office, there were no tax increases. Money was appropriated to keep taxes stable and provide for legitimate operational services. In years three and four, excluding debt, we stayed within the 3% cap.

We’ve gone on to harness over $1 million dollars in new revenues that will add to our budget every year from agreements with Beechnut, GAVAC, the County for sales tax redistribution, and the towns for water. We’ve realized real savings by reining in discretionary overtime, renegotiating labor contracts and switching insurance carriers. We’ve shaved thousands off of our lean budget and are running departments more efficiently.

We’ve been tremendously successful in securing over $20 million dollars in grants for everything from infrastructure and neighborhood revitalization to recreational enhancements and marketing (most of our marketing materials were produced with the $40K in grants I received in my first year of service.) Beyond funding, you cannot discount the value of the time, effort and donations of our volunteers that supplied us with flowers for Church Street (FREE), videos (FREE), events such as Spring Fling and National Night Out (FREE), city-wide litter pick-ups (FREE), neighborhood watch (FREE), and murals (FREE).

I’m proud of the performance of my administration. Running the city has been a full-time, passionate commitment for me. I’m proud that I have more to reference than tired slogans and empty words. We deserve better and should expect better. I will always try to live up to that expectation.

www.mayorthane.com

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