State strangles local business

EVERYBODY LOVES SMALL BUSINESS. Our neighbors own them. They’re the backbone of the community. But you know how it is, the urge to shop is stronger than love, and now and then, mysteriously, I find myself at some big box store in Greenport, Albany, Pittsfield, Kingston…. It doesn’t matter where; they know what I want, and it’s on sale.

Consumers like me have plenty of company when it comes to divided loyalties over small business. Elected officials never tire of reminding us that small business is the engine of economic growth and the source of most new jobs. They heap praise on small businesses, but they win elections with cash from huge corporations. In return, big firms get laws and regulations that meet their needs; or if they don’t, they move their operations offshore and claim a tax break. Read more…

Food drive supports pantries

THE WOMAN REACHED INTO her Price Chopper grocery bag and pulled out a round tin of fancy cookies. Then she headed to the parking lot at the Catskill supermarket. The tin joined the stacks of food that had just started accumulating in the school bus.

The whole interaction took a few seconds last Saturday. It was one of hundreds of donations to the first of two “Stuff the Bus” food drives sponsored by the local Clear Channel radio stations and this newspaper. The small bus from Pulcher and Sacco had maybe 20 seats. The donations in Catskill went to the food pantries of Community Action of Greene County. The bus filled up quickly with things like canned goods, bread, cereal, pasta and sauce, juice, diapers, paper plates and that tin of cookies. Read more…

Moving from lever to scan

THINK OF THE LOOK you’ll get a decade or two from now explaining to young people how you voted in 2010. They’ll look at you with mouths wide open: “You mean you voted on a piece of paper and stuck it in an optical scanner?”

A little advice: Don’t admit that until this year you voted in a metal closet with cloth curtains, where you pushed down little gray levers that turned wheels with numbers that determined the winners. They’ll never believe you. Read more…

Murphy for Congress

WATCHING THE TV ADS attacking the candidates for Congress in the 20th Congressional District, you’d think two no-‘count cartoon characters are running. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The district covers all of Columbia County on its way from Dutchess County up to the heart of the Adirondacks, with a spur through the Catskills into central New York. We are currently represented by an energetic, moderate Democrat and former businessman, Scott Murphy of Glens Falls. His challenger is an equally energetic, recently retired army colonel, Chris Gibson of Kinderhook, a Republican. Both candidates are serious, thoughtful people; each is qualified to hold this high office. The groups funding the TV attack ads that portray them otherwise prey on the fears of people unwilling to pay attention. Read more…

Yes on the Kinderhook Library

WANNA GET ANGRY about something else? Think about how the state treats our libraries… like losers. Sure, some politicians find funds to help local libraries. But at budget time, library services take disproportionately big hits from Albany.

That happens because politically speaking libraries and the systems that support them have as much clout as a flea on an elephant. Unlike schools and healthcare, all the public libraries in the state don’t spend enough money to make politicians nervous, and libraries can’t make office seekers drool by dangling suitcases full of campaign cash in front of them as Election Day nears. Libraries can’t even get the public to pay attention to their needs much of the time. Read more…