Monday, April 30, 2012

In disturbing coincidence, Milton's new tanker truck maintains nautical theme 4/30

If you picked up Monday's paper, you probably saw the story I wrote about the wet down ceremony.

To summarize, the Milton Fire District celebrated the arrival of its new tanker truck by hosting what was basically a Christening ceremony. Volunteer fire companies from as far away as Providence came to spray water on their new apparatus to officially mark the beginning of its service.

 (Erica Miller photo)

The ceremony draws its origins from a nautical rite of passage in which newly-promoted sailors would fade their newest sleeve stripe by either getting thrown in the ocean or having a bucket of seawater dumped over their head — "wetting down" the stripes.

The truck joined the district's fleet about a month ago and had even responded to a couple of calls, but it wasn't really "official" until yesterday's ceremony, which made Monday it's first full day of service.

Coincidentally, the tanker got called to a devastating structure fire that completely destroyed a Route 29 home, leaving its five inhabitants homeless. Firefighters said there was little the tanker — or any of the trucks — could do to save the home, which was fully involved upon their arrival.

Thankfully, the four people who were inside the house when it went up in flames escaped unharmed.

The unfortunate and somewhat disturbing coincidence between the two events, though, is the home to which the tanker was dispatched also had nautical ties. It was being rented by five Navy men who were stationed at the Kenneth A. Kesselring site in West Milton.

Until next time,

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

We all scream for ice cream 4/25

The jingle of an ice cream truck is one of summer’s most unmistakable sounds.

The trucks drive through local neighborhoods and play music to draw children out of their homes. The first hint of the sound of Mr. Ding-a-Ling’s truck is enough to cause children in Malta to come running.

It’s also apparently enough to send one resident to the town’s Code Enforcement office to file a grievance.

Town Supervisor Paul Sausville confirmed Wednesday that a woman in the Century Farms development lodged a formal complaint against the truck earlier this week.

“We get some really unusual complaints,” Sausville said, though the town “takes all complaints seriously.”

In the complaint, filed Monday, the woman claims that Mr. Ding-a-Ling’s loud music disrupts the quiet enjoyment of her home and – most egregiously – wakes her son up from his daily nap.

“Mr. Ding-a-Ling is depriving our child of adequate rest important for health and development,” the complaint states.

The town recently adopted a revised ordinance designed to combat untimely construction noise, though it also regulates the decibel levels. Sounds can’t exceed 60 decibels during the day and 50 at night.

Ordinary conversation is about 60 decibels, so surely an ice cream truck’s music must represent some kind of violation.

The only way to know for sure, Building and Planning Director Anthony Tozzi said, would have been to have a code enforcement officer stand in the ice cream line with a decibel meter in his hand.

“We just called Mr. Ding-a-Ling and explained he may be in violation,” Tozzi said, adding that the vendor agreed to turn down the music when entering that neighborhood.

Tozzi, though, noted that the loud music can actually be a safety device. It’s not exempt from the ordinance, he said, but the speaker notifies motorists that children are likely in the area.

“You just can’t please everybody,” he said.

As far as the town is concerned, the situation is resolved. Sausville said 99 percent of complaints are resolved without the town issuing a citation, as most folks simply want to be a good neighbor.

Had the town issued him a citation, though, Tozzi said the ice cream man could have wound up paying a $500 fine. That’s a lot of Klondike bars. If the judge was feeling particularly strict, he could have also sent the defendant in People v. Ding-a-Ling to jail.

“If we told him he couldn’t operate in Malta, we’d have 1,000 people come out with pitchforks,” Tozzi said.

Until next time,

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Frank Thompson Update 4/6

I heard a bizarre rumor the other day that former Milton Supervisor Frank Thompson, who really doesn't like current town Highway Superintendent David Forbes, was going to stage a big political comeback.

Someone at the county told me they heard if the fourth-degree conspiracy allegations against Forbes ultimately resulted in the highway superintendent losing his job, Thompson was going to announce his candidacy for the post.

Thompson, you'll recall, lost the Saratoga County Republican Committee's support after his wife was charged with stealing from an elderly woman while in charge of the woman's finances. She later pleaded guilty and received probation.

He was later cleared of any wrongdoing in the case, though it contributed to him losing a Republican primary to current Town Supervisor Dan Lewza last fall. When I relayed the rumor of his possible political comeback, Thompson was frank. 

"I'm all done with them rotten (expletive)," Thompson said. "They're all dirty and I want no part of them. ... Politics is so screwed up I'm not interested in going back."

So there you have it.

Until next time,

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

More endorsements for Marchione 4/3

Republican committees in Mechanicville and Wilton are the latest to show their support for County Clerk Kathy Marchione, who will formally announce her bid for state Senate on Wednesday afternoon.

Marchione met with the committees on Tuesday night. She's also been endorsed by GOP committees in Ballston, Malta, Saratoga and Halfmoon, where she was town supervisor prior to becoming county clerk in 1997.

“Kathy’s dedication to the Republican Party and her strong belief in core conservative values make her the candidate best suited to represent the Republican community. Kathy’s hard work and proven track record of getting the job done make her the candidate best suited to represent our senate district,” Mechanicville GOP Chairman Chris Boyark said.

"The Wilton Republicans are proud to endorse Kathy Marchione," added Elaine Gerber, vice chairwoman of the Wilton Republicans. “She has the values, the courage, and, most importantly, the integrity we need in a senator.”

That out of the way, there's something that also needs to be addressed. Marchione's announcements generally say she is "considering a run for state Senate" and the announcement of her press conference said there was "speculation" about whether she would challenge Roy McDonald for the 43rd district. I call shenanigans.

For one, she's actively seeking endorsements. That's not something you'd do unless you actually intended to run.

Secondly, she has a campaign website. It's not live now, but her campaign e-mails all come from She registered the domain name on March 18, the day after the Saratoga County Republican Committee postponed its state Senate endorsement because of her interest in the post. Creating a campaign website is not something you'd do unless you actually intended to run.

Last but not least, she has an election committee, which on March 23 received a $6,200 transfer from the committee that helped get her elected to the County Clerk post. That was the day after the Saratoga Republican Committee endorsed her. Some of you may know where I'm going with this.

I understand she's trying to drum up excitement for the announcement by shrouding it in mystery, but there's really no speculation. I think the real question is whether she plans to resign from her clerical post to focus on her campaign. I plan on asking her tomorrow. 

The announcement is at an ice cream stand, which is awesome. With any luck I'll be able to grab some cookie dough while I'm there.

Until next time,

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Dewey's Doings 4/3

Earlier today, Charles "Dewey" Walling was sentenced to six months in Saratoga County Jail for stealing $27,111 from the St. Clement's Horse Show, a fundraiser for the Catholic church's religious school. He's paid back the money he swindled via cooking the books at the show's souvenir stand and will still face five years of probation upon his release.

The Rev. Paul Borowski gave a victim impact statement prior to the sentencing. He said he would be willing to forgive Walling if he asked for forgiveness, but that wasn't the same thing as justice. He asked the judge to enforce the jail sentence that was part of the plea package.

The most interesting thing about Borowski's statement though, was this excerpt:
"While I and all those involved with the case were conscious of not speaking publicly about this case and trying to keep a low profile about the subsequent investigation, it seemed that Mr. Walling had shown no remorse at the time about his crime. A few days prior to his being arrested on these charges, he willingly put himself front and center of the opening scenes of the highly-publicized Saratoga Springs Chamber of Commerce (sic) promotional video, hurting many people who worked so hard to make that production a success."
 I had to think about that one for a second. Then it hit me.

Sure enough, there's Charles "Dewey" Walling (left) as Sam the Bugler in last summer's "Lip Dub" production, which has more than 57,000 views on YouTube at the time of this posting.

Let's take a look at the timeline:

The horse show was in May. An internal investigation into the souvenier stand's finances began shortly thereafter. When organizers learned Walling was creating false invoices, Borowski said he tried to schedule a meeting with Walling. When he refused, the results of the internal investigation were forwarded to the Saratoga Springs Police Department. He said Walling knew that would happen.

That was in mid-July. The Lip Dub was filmed at the beginning of September, so at this point he probably realizes knows that things aren't looking good for him. You wouldn't know it from watching the video, though. Walling was arraigned on the charges Sept. 13. The Lip Dub premiered Sept. 27.

I'm not sure what the Chamber of Commerce can do in that situation. It's not like they were going to digitally remaster the footage to remove Walling from the video and it would have been even more ridiculous to re-shoot the whole thing. Borowski has a point: it put the chamber in a tough spot.

One thing's for sure, though. Walling looks way happier in that video than he does in his mug shot.

Until next time,

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Final bracket challenge standings 4/2

With the benefit of hindsight, I should have seen this coming.

Last month, I asked Saratoga County supervisors to fill out NCAA Tournament brackets.

I figured it'd be a fun way to foster some competition between the supervisors, who were vying for bragging rights. I used the bracket I'd done the day before as a barometer and gave an extra bracket to County Administrator Spencer Hellwig.

Wouldn't you know it? We, the only two entrants who weren't Saratoga County supervisors, finished 1-2. Actually, Hellwig beat me on the final day of the tournament because he selected Kentucky over Kansas in the National Championship. They just put the finishing touches on a 67-59 win.

I had KU over UK, which is just about as close as I could have gotten without actually winning.

The top finishers among supervisors were the three who picked Kentucky. They were Day's Mary Ann Johnson, Clifton Park's Anita Daly and Malta's Paul Sausville, who admitted he'd never filled out an NCAA bracket prior to last month. This calls for a celebratory anthem.

Here's the full order:

Scoring: 1st Round = 1 point; 2nd Round = 2 points; Sweet 16 = 4 points; Elite Eight = 8 points; Final Four = 16 points; National Championship = 32 points.

1. Spencer Hellwig, County Administrator
Score: 130 (First round 20, Second round 9, Sweet Sixteen 3, Elite Eight 2, Final Four 2, Championship 1)

2. Michael Cignoli, The Saratogian
Score: 122 (22, 10, 6, 3, 2, 0)

3. Mary Ann Johnson, Day
Score: 115 (19, 10, 5, 1, 1, 1)

4. Anita Daly, Clifton Park
Score: 106 (16, 9, 4, 2, 1, 1)

5. Paul Sausville, Malta
Score: 103 (17, 5, 3, 2, 1, 1)

6. Art Johnson, Wilton
Score: 93 (21, 10, 4, 1, 1, 0)

7. Jack Lawler, Waterford
Score: 85 (17, 10, 4, 1, 1, 0)

8. Thomas N. Wood III, Saratoga
Score: 62 (20, 13, 4, 0, 0, 0)

9. Alan Grattidge, Charlton
Score: 51 (21, 9, 3, 0, 0, 0)

10. Phil Barrett, Clifton Park
Score: 44 (20, 8, 2, 0, 0, 0)

11. Matthew Veitch, Saratoga Springs
Score: 39 (19, 6, 2, 0, 0, 0)

12. Jean Raymond, Edinburg
Score: 35 (19, 6, 1, 0, 0, 0)

I share a life philosophy with fictional race car driver Ricky Bobby – if you ain't first, you're last – so I'm a little disappointed with my late collapse. No worries, though. At least I beat the supervisors.

How'd you guys do? Let me know.

Until next time,

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Marchione Endorsement 4/2

County Clerk Kathy Marchione, who is challenging Roy McDonald for his state Senate seat, received the endorsement of the Town of Malta Republican Committee late Sunday.

How late? We got the announcement at 11:11 p.m. I'm sure we'll have more on this tomorrow later today, but I wanted to pass the abridged version along before I head out for the evening morning.

Malta was one of the local town Republican committees that publicly voiced their disapproval of McDonald about a month ago and declared he would not receive their endorsement.

McDonald also lost the endorsement of the Saratoga County Conservative Party in the wake of his votes on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's tax plan and the marriage quality bill.

Marchione, who was Halfmoon's supervisor before she became County Clerk in 1997, said she's running because she thinks Saratoga County has lost a consistent, conservative voice in the Senate and she feels she can provide that. So do the Malta Republicans.

“Kathy is a model public servant and was wholeheartedly supported by the Malta Republican Committee," Malta GOP Chairman Bill Smith said in a statement. "We believe that she will represent not only the 43rd Senate District but the people of the State of New York by bringing a conservative voice back to Albany.”

For those keeping score at home, Marchione now has the endorsements of the Malta, Halfmoon, Ballston and Town of Saratoga Republican Committees. McDonald has been backed by the Stillwater and Washington County Republicans. He's also been endorsed by the state Independence Party.

The last time I spoke with Saratoga County Republican Committee Chairman Jasper Nolan – about a week ago – he said that committee likely wouldn't be making an endorsement in the race until mid-April. I'll follow up with him Monday and see if that has changed.

Until next time,

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