EDITORIAL: We are not a ‘side’

THE CALL CAME into the office at 6:45 p.m. last Sunday, August 13. The woman said there would be a demonstration on the Chatham Village Green that evening at 7 p.m. Could we have somebody there, she asked.

Once in a while we get kooky calls or reasonable requests that we can’t handle because there’s simply not enough time. But sometimes you just have to make the time. I don’t remember now whether she referred to “Charlottesville” but she didn’t have to.

By 7:30 there were about 40 people on the green. Most were white and middle-aged or older. A few carried small, handmade signs with messages like “There Is Only One Side… End Racism.” As the sun set people lit candles. One man carried a candle stuck through a clear plastic cup to protect the flame from the breeze. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Where can you go?

WHY WOULD ANYONE need to know anything that isn’t available on your cell phone? Prefer to call it a mobile device or pad? Go ahead. Some of us refer to it as “that damn thing” but the question remains: What are you missing once you’re connected?

Knowledge is at your fingertips as long as you have access to high speed internet service. Too bad we live in the county with the worst connections in the whole state. We hold unlimited facts and fiction in our hands if we can afford the data charges and the fees to get through the pay-walls where it lives. Oh, the things we can learn from reliable sources assuming we know what “reliable” means. And we can never forget to take precautions that discourage online crooks from looting our wallets whenever we browse.

We love our devices. We’re edgy without them. And yet in the parallel universe of human interaction there are still libraries. Imagine that. There are 11 of them scattered all over this county. Walk in to any one of them and you’ll find information that you need or want to know plus plenty of stuff you didn’t expect. You find people who can help you find it too. There are computers and connectivity as well as events for kids and adults, performances, lectures, instruction and books (yes, books!) the “e-” type and print, magazines…. And it’s free, kind of. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Hudson wins big

DOWN THE BACK STRETCH it’s Saratoga in the lead… coming into the turn Albany pulls ahead… now it’s Troy by a length. But on the outside here comes–Huuuuud-Sonnnnn! The City of Hudson wins the Cuomo Stakes DRI Derby!

The purse is $10 million. And the governor came to Hudson this week to make the award official. No doubt he also appreciated the warm welcome he received in this part of upstate New York (broadly defined), where polls show his popularity is not so great.

At this time last year the governor came to Hudson to announce a $500-million initiative to upgrade internet connections throughout upstate, with $2.5 million designated for Columbia County. That effort has proceeded more slowly than promised, though he’s not causing the delay. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Take A Closer Look

HERE’S YOUR QUESTION: The unemployment rate; Yes or No? (tick, tick, tick… Bzzzt)! Ooohhh. I’m sorry, you’re wrong. The answer is–It Depends! Good luck finding a job. Now let’s meet our next player.

But, wait, a low unemployment means fewer people looking for work, which has to be good news. And the word this week from the state Department of Labor that Columbia County’s unemployment rate in June was 3.5%–the lowest jobless rate of any county in the whole state–should make us proud.

Economists know that unemployment this low often involves folks who are between jobs or don’t have the skills that local employers need. But we don’t need economists to convince us that having a job is a good thing. Besides, the numbers crunching crowd always finds something to turn good news sour. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Creek is inland waterway

REMEMBER THE GOOD OLD DAYS when steamboats sailed Kinderhook Creek and whaling ships would drop anchor by President Martin Van Buren’s home at Lindenwald?

All right, that’s fake history. Any vessel traveling upstream on Kinderhook Creek from Stockport would have to levitate over the waterfalls at Stuyvesant Falls and Valatie, to name just two of the natural barriers to maritime travel. Add to that the stretches so shallow that any boat with a draft deeper than a kayak is likely to run aground (except in a flood, when everything tumbles south and east into the Hudson River). And despite this the state legislature has decided to designate Kinderhook Creek an Inland Waterway. You can almost hear pirates of the Kinderhook snarling, “Aaarrrgghhh! What be this?”

In fairness to state Senator Kathy Marchione (R-43rd) and Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R-107th), who represent all or most of the communities that border the creek, they were responding to a local request for the designation. The stream starts in the Berkshires, flows in and out of Rensselaer County and through the Columbia County Towns of New Lebanon, Chatham, Kinderhook, Stuyvesant and Stockport, and the Villages of Valatie and Kinderhook. Along the way it collects the waters of many other streams on its path toward the river, including tributaries like Valatie Kill, Stony Kill and Kline Kill. In effect the creek connects much of the natural surface water of northern Columbia County. No pirates or steamboats involved; just the single substance we cannot live without. Read more…