EDITORIAL: This money goes a long way

IT DIDN’T TAKE LONG to give away $107,500. Less than two hours, to be exact, and that included refreshments and informal conversation among the roughly 100 people who attended the report and reception by the HRBT Foundation at Columbia-Greene Community College Monday evening.

The foundation was created in 1998 when a local savings bank went public and became, briefly, the Hudson River Bank & Trust Company. The new banking company donated $5 million in stock for a foundation and it’s been a good investment ever since.

The bank was absorbed in a merger years ago, but the original $5 million has grown… by a lot. Over the last 20 years the foundation has made grants to local non-profit organizations totaling $15 million with $18 million more to spend on all kinds of projects in the years ahead. Read more…

EDITORIAL: This won’t improve voting

IF SCHOOL BOARDS GOT GRADES on their performance like their students do, the Taconic Hills Central School District Board of Education might have earned a D-. And just like concerned parents, school district voters have to figure out what remedial steps are needed to improve the school board’s grade in a course called the Tools of Democracy.

Last June a majority of the school board voted to change the way the school district determines who is eligible to vote in school district elections. It no longer matters whether you have registered with the county Board of Elections or the school district and have voted within the last four years. Now you have to bring some sort of acceptable identification with you each time you vote, according to an attorney for the school district.

It doesn’t sound like such a big deal until you try to remember what kind of tax form or special driver’s license or, of all things, a “voter registration card,” which you’ll need in order to vote each year instead of just showing up at the school on Election Day. Instead of a one-time hurdle when you first register to vote, this one is recurring. It’s bound to increase the time it takes to clear the voter ID checkpoint (will Taconic Hills voters have to remove their shoes and empty their pockets before proceeding to the voting booth?). This will increase voter frustration and make voter turnout even smaller than it already is. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Impeachment

HOW STRANGE TO BE HERE again when the fate of the presidency and possibly the republic may hang on recordings of what the president said versus what he said he said.

Forty-five years ago President Richard Nixon tried to hide such recordings. But Congress got them… except for some “accidentally” erased sections. A year later, as the House was preparing to bring articles of impeachment, Mr. Nixon resigned.

The clock moves faster now. Over the course of a few days President Trump told us some of what he said in his “perfect” conversation with the president of Ukraine and then he produced a written transcript in which he talked about Ukraine investigating former Vice President Joe Biden, potentially the Democratic candidate for president next year. Read more…

EDITORIAL: How many tourists fill a museum?

NOTE TO TOURISTS: Skip this page. Nothing here you’d want to know. You’ll find good stuff to read on the next page or two. This is just, you know, local news.

Are they gone? If so, can anybody explain the tidal surge here of what you might call cultural activities, which must be part of the reason tourists come here, right? Maybe a longtime favorite like Olana is an exception because it’s about history, too. And leave room on that list for Lindenwald, Clermont, the Firefighting Museum and the county Historical Society. Then count on your fingers and toes a few times over all the galleries and stages and performance spaces from Hudson to Ancram, Ghent, Chatham and New Lebanon, plus the Art School, Omi, TSL and PS21 too. Even CSX delivers moving exhibitions of boxcar graffiti.

And now the Shaker Museum and Library plans to remake the three-story brick shell in uptown Chatham village that was at various times a cancer sanatorium, hotel, car dealership and gas station into what promises to be the museum’s new home. Read more…

EDITORIAL: What’s water really cost?

IT WASN’T HARD to find a plastic jug of clean water in the Village of Chatham village Monday evening. The shelves of a local convenience store were full of them, just like always. But this was 12 hours after the mayor declared a state of emergency encompassing the village and those parts of the Town of Ghent hooked up to Chatham’s extended water system.

Those residents who still had water running from the tap were ordered to conserve it. Under no circumstances should we drink it without boiling it first. Maybe some folks were home heating their tea kettles with one eye and checking their phones or TV for news of the water district. Otherwise you couldn’t tell there was an emergency.

Except for the 500 folks who live in mobile home park named Edgewood Acres and who had no water at all starting early Monday morning. It was near there that a worn-out pipe fell apart and drained the water storage tank that supplied their mobile homes and led village officials to fear that the whole system was at risk. Read more…