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Greene County Legislature approves $39 million jail bond

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    Sarah Trafton/Columbia-Greene MediaGreene County Legislator Harry Lennon, D-Cairo, foreground, reads a resolution with a capacity crowd of residents behind him. The legislature voted 10-4 to borrow $39 million to build a new Greene County Jail in Coxsackie on Wednesday
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    Sarah Trafton/Columbia-Greene MediaFolded orange jumpsuits were left on the desks of 10 Greene County lawmakers who voted to approve borrowing $39 million to build a new jail in Coxsackie as a sign of protest Wednesday. A bouquet of flowers was placed on Legislator Lori Torgersen's desk. She voted against the resolution.
September 19, 2018 09:23 pm

CATSKILL — A $39 million bond issue to build a new jail in Coxsackie was approved by the Greene County Legislature in a 10-4 vote Wednesday.

The vote was taken without debate in front of a standing-room-only crowd in the legislative chambers.

Legislators Larry Gardner of Hunter, Thomas Hobart of Coxsackie, William Lawrence and Harry Lennon of Cairo, Patrick Linger of New Baltimore, Matthew Luvera of Catskill, Charles Martinez of Coxsackie, Linda Overbaugh of Catskill, Lee Palmateer of Athens and Kevin Lewis of Greenville voted in favor of the bond.

Lawmakers Lori Torgersen of Windham, Aidan O’Connor Jr. of Durham and Kevin Lennon and Michael Bulich of Catskill voted against it.

In a quiet gesture of protest, a woman placed folded orange jumpsuits on the desks of the 10 lawmakers who voted yes. A bouquet of flowers was placed on Torgersen’s desk for voting no.

The proposal, containing an amendment capping the number of new beds in the jail at 80, will be submitted to the Commission of Corrections for approval.

It could take about 60 days to hear back from the Commission of Corrections, Martinez said. The jail will probably take two years to build.

Check back for more on this developing story.

I suggest that the voters of Catskill make their personal referendum known on voting day by voting "No" in the form of entering a write in candidate of their own creative choice for each of the legislators from our town who voted "yes" on this foolish bill: Overbaugh NO! Luvera no! - Overbaugh gets a capital NO for refusing to respond to any letters or call I sent her to discuss this issue. Too busy to listen to your constituents Overbaugh! We'll be too busy to vote for you. You should not be a legislator. This is not a "right or left" issue - this is a common sense issue.

Jon Phillips, Catskill Village
Hello Brendan!

As you know the now closed Greene County Jail was ranked just below Rikers Island as one of the worst jails in the State. The "well deserved" ranking was not just for poor physical plant conditions, but for alleged abuses of prisoners. Right now the same leaders of the jail, the elected county sheriff and the jail supervisor are through subterfuge, flaunting of laws and complicity, knowing or unknowing, of a bare majority of the county legislators, preparing to continue the abuses in a temporary jail (probably illegal) in Coxsackie; then, if they succeed, a proposed 96-bed jail to be built also in Coxsackie.

Why does one of the poorest counties in the state with an average jail population of 35 (and going down) need a 96-bed jail that will burden taxpayers with an estimated $189 million total construction and operating costs bill? Good question.

Why is the jail administrator receiving twice the usual salary despite documented allegations of abuse on his part?

Why has a local citizen advocating against the 96-bed jail been harassed and threatened by those in favor?

Why has a legislative committee refused to fund (at a net cost to the county of only $5 thousand) a feasibility study of a shared jail with Columbia County (which has already approved the shared funds for the study) when $189 million of local taxpayer money is at stake?

Why is the sheriff refusing to house inmates in the nearby Columbia County Jail and instead housing them in the farther away Ulster County jail? Because of this, the local public defender, has refused to travel to the farther away jail to help indigent detainees!

I can go on. But, you get the picture, and you have the investigative resources to ferret and sort out all of it. I urge you, and urgently so, to investigate. This story is far from local, as it plays into the need for criminal justice reform in the State and the nation.

Here are a short list of individuals you may wish to contact:

Scott Meyers a former jail inmate who was abused in the jail and who is a leader in the opposition to the new jail and to the sheriff and jailer.
William Lawrence
Chairman Safety Committee
Greene County Legislature
411 Main Street
Catskill, NY 12414

September 4, 2018

Re: Any loan for construction of a new jail in Coxsackie
is the most irresponsible act any legislator can do

Dear Bill:

Thank you for your roll in the jail issue, but as you know we’re failing.

There is no money here. There is no plan or implementation of new money, for-profit, non-seasonal, jobs or industry. We are already operating under a shared/regional jail method. In all actuality, we don’t have much crime here.
The Worst Offender’s Report from the Commission on Corrections[1]notices the problem is the behavior of Sheriff Greg Seeley and Jail Superintendent Michael Spitz. Like Rikers, which is closing, it’s the management, not the architecture that needs an overhaul.
When I stopped the $90 million[2]jail bond in February the legislature created an Alternatives to Incarceration (“ATI”) committee. I attended every ATI and public engineering meetings. I didn’t see you at any of them.
As you know, the data from Ricci-Greene was wrong, but it’s these trumped up numbers that drove the sizing of the jail, first 138 now 98. When pressed they had no raw data. They lied and they were fired, but we’re still using their baseline to drive this monster’s size in Coxsackie.

The actual current number of detainees is 33. With aggressive defense and ATI intervention, this will drop much further. The conversation about the size of Hudson’s facility is largely moot since their numbers are also dropping. Isn’t it better if we incarcerate fewer people? Our safety needs are already well met.

The shared service with Columbia County is not a lessening of prestige for Greene County it's a giant step towards accountability, both in terms of justice and in terms of economy.

Albany, Hudson and the majority of GC citizens are wholly supportive of the regional jail solution. There’s no doubt whatsoever that a shared/regional jail is completely legal – we’re already doing it.

Every dollar wasted on a new jail is money borrowed, money not spent on addressing the root cause (poverty), and not spent on programs to cure. Coxsackie is further away from our courthouse than Hudson. Transportation costs (done by non-law enforcement) exists for the Coxsackie or the Hudson solution.

As USDA notes, the plans thoroughly incorporate the sheriff's office, But, as you completely understand, the Sheriff's Office must remain in Catskill. It can’t be moved without the success of a public referendum. A public referendum will fail of course, which is a reason it’s not on the November ballot. Both the civil and the criminal portion are moved according to the USDA narrative.

Greene County has a horrible history of poorly delivered justice. Let me provide the short list: Judge Spargo was sent to Federal Jail for taking bribes on the bench. Sheriff Richard Hussey was removed for being a perpetual drunk. Judge Pulver removed himself from my case after I provided evidence of bribes, land abuses and various illegal pictures of minors on his chambers computer. When I deposed Probation Director Allen Frisbee at trial he acknowledged he couldn't remember if he took psychology in college. I had to make certain Charlie Bucca didn’t inherit the position as District Attorney. Replacing Sheriff Greg Seeley and firing Michael Spitz are priorities.

We must rehab the 80 Bridge Street jail retaining the Sheriff’s Office, booking and some holding cells. Then we must formalize ATI as a standing committee to administrate our social and justice systems, and secure the shared/regional jail solution with Columbia County. Any other solution is irresponsible at best.

Scott Myers
414 Main Street
Catskill, NY 12414

C.c. Members of the public and the press

80 South Swan Street, 12th Floor, Albany, New York 12210 │ 518-485-2346 – phone │ 518-485-2467 – fax │ THE WORST OFFENDERS REPORT: THE MOST PROBLEMATIC LOCAL CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES OF NEW YORK STATE February 2018 . Thomas A. Beilein

Five most problematic jails in New York State with repeat ...
A New York State watchdog agency has deemed Rikers Island in New York City and four Upstate NY jails as the worst jails in the state. The Commission of Correction issued a report Wednesday to Gov ...

[2]$53 million at 3.5% for 30 years = $90 million. 98 cages is $918.367 PER CAGE! This doesn’t include operation, maintenance, staff, defense, transportation or program costs to the detainees. Taking $13 million from reserves does not reduce the principle – it’s the county retirement money.
Dear Pastor Snowden:

If you look closely at the project, as I have, you would not want it built.

The crews will not be from Greene County. The engineers aren’t from Greene County - Ricci-Greene, Pike, SMRT, Delaware. The interest for the monster loan will not go to a Greene County bank, but to the US Department of Agriculture. If I succeed we save a lot of heartache for the detainees (they will simply fill a new one up - 98 human cages) and save a LOT of county taxpayer money - $39 million + the $13 million taken from reserves (which is retirement and healthcare for county worker funds) + interest of 3.5% for 30 years + operation costs + maintenance, program, and defense costs - total ~$110 million. We’re being carpetbagged.

Moreover, on examination, we don’t have much serious crime here. The current number of detainees is just 30, and of these 15 could be released since they’re awaiting trial and aren’t a harm to themselves or others. The behavior of Sheriff Greg Seeley and more pointedly Jail Superintendent Michael Spitz is horrendous. Beilein’s Worst Offender report notices the management is 85% of the problem. I do not want this behavior rewarded with a new clubhouse for torture in Coxsackie. The plans included a gym for the staff. A YMCA is across the street.

$110 million is an entire year’s Greene County Budget. But when it’s spent as the budget most of it is spent here. This $110 million simply leaves. About 50 people are employed, but at $110 million in local taxpayer moneys, that’s a little insane. Hunter Skibowl for instance recently sold for $37 million, a huge piece of real estate with a substantial business income producing business.

Some complain that Greene County doesn’t have a hospital or college, but Hey!, let’s have more human cages. See the point? Not a good priority.

A shared/regional jail is a) legal b) handles our security issues within existing income. The USDA noticed that the plans Mr. Spitz created incorporate the Sheriff’s Office. County Law 217 requires a public referendum to move it out of Catskill. The rue that the civil part will remain here is fiction plus. A look at the 80 Bridge Street lot shows we’re misusing 40% of it. Look around the back, a large garage is there storing skidoo boats. I notice the Sheriff’s Office and jail were built at the same as the library and courthouse which were repaired perfectly.

You know from the needs of your congregation that there are few jobs here and almost no non-public, for-profit, non-seasonal companies. We don’t have $110 million to pay back a loan. In fact, the Treasurer Peter Markou knows there’s already a $42 million unfunded mandate he doesn’t have - the county worker retirement and health care money. And, when pressed, he says THAT’s more like $110 million - just the amount a new jail will blow. This leaves the real math at $220 million missing. Groden nor Hart have no plan for new money business here. So, there simply isn’t any money, which is why this idea can’t occur. I’m sure you agree once you look at the real numbers as I have. It’s simply grossly irresponsible. It harms our local society. I”m sure that’s the opposite of your intention.

Very best regards,


Scott Myers
Desktop Labs
414 Main Street
Catskill, NY 12414
(518) 291-8169

I look for what needs to be done. After all, that's how the universe designs itself. (Buckminster Fuller)

On Sep 2, 2018, at 10:54 PM, Pastor Rick <> wrote:

Hi Scott, just would like to inform you that I’m in favor of building the jail here in Greene County. I probably would not be of help to your cause. I respectfully disagree with your assessment on the matter! Thank you though! Have an awesome Labor Day weekend!

Pastor Rick Snowden and the Community Life Church Family

Sent from my iPhone
Show Quoted Content
On Sep 2, 2018, at 10:54 PM, Pastor Rick <> wrote:

Hi Scott, just would like to inform you that I’m in favor of building the jail here in Greene County. I probably would not be of help to your cause. I respectfully disagree with your assessment on the matter! Thank you though! Have an awesome Labor Day weekend!

Pastor Rick Snowden and the Community Life Church Family
Dear Bettina:

This is not necessarily political information. Your work is political as much as a county is political, or how we manage our community is political. I am not favoring one party over another. In Kurt Vonnegut’s Cats Cradle he invents two political parties, their names are almost unimportant. As a satirist (and humanist - he was president of the US Humanist Society) Vonnegut saw with an acute eye.

Here, at potentially massive expense, in a county with very little new money industry, our government is excited to build human cages they clearly don’t need. We must use these resources more wisely. That’s not political, not democratic or republican, not conservative or liberal.


Scott Myers
Desktop Labs
414 Main Street
Catskill, NY 12414
(518) 291-8169

Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science (Buckminster Fuller)
Dear intelligent caring neighbors:

My approach for a while is to prepare for court. I filed a $100,000 libel suit against Ed Kaplan on Monday. I filed an Article 78 Mandamus against the county, for FOIL denials. I’m developing another since the Sheriff’s Office can’t be moved, a violation of County Law § 217. Finally, and from the successful FOILs from USDA and COC, I’m telling USDA NOT to loan Greene County any money. They’re violating the terms and likely violating law.

Again, notice that ALL construction and interest payments LEAVE THE COUNTY. Yes, there are justice issues that are ignored, where’s ATI. The money leaving is a real issue. Peter Markou, the COunty Treasurer, robbed the “reserve” of $9 million, but the “reserve” needs $42 or more like $120 to cover the insurance and retirement requirements of county employees.

I’m completing a letter to the editor for the Daily Mail and make have a cartoon by Brian Dewan “Carpetbaggers” to go with it.

Cheers champions of actual justice, including economic justice.

Scott Myers
(518) 291-8169
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Dear Lee:

The numbers provided by Ricci-Green were fraudulent. They were fired half way through their non-compete contract.

The current number of detainees is 51. 1 is in mental health in Albany. 10 are in Hudson, 40 in Ulster. Of this 75% are detained pending court. Removing adolescents (happening), improved defense (happening), improved ATI (happening but ATI needs to be a standing committee), all bring numbers DOWN. The trend is down, and the intention is to bring the numbers down. Jail ruins people, ruins careers and families. No jobs are lost avoiding a new mega-prison, and these aren't economy plus jobs in the first place. It's jobs watching people in human cages.

Our security needs are already well handled by the shared/regional jail solution AND that this is paid within budget. We're already there Lee.

You can't just make up stuff Lee. Your letters don't make any sense, don't connect to any actual facts, and aren't made better when you try to explain them. Mr. Groden's scolded you for the persistence of error.

Rehab the Sheriff's office at 80 Bridge street retaining booking and some holding cells. Secure the shared/regional jail solution and make ATI a standing committee.

Then... the county needs to get on with real business - attract and retain new money industry and tech.

Scott Myers
(518) 291-8169
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Dear Dave, and all good neighbors:

First, emphasizing the requirement for a new trend study is sound. I’ll take this route with USDA as well. It may be enough.

Second, yes, emphasize ATI. As everyone knows I want this to be a funded standing committee with authority over our social and non-court justice systems.

Third, IF Gardner votes for the bond a super majority is secured. He moved it out of finance but seems to be negotiating and may strategically deny. He should be canvassed like a painting is canvases.

Fourth, Mat Lubera is another slight less vulnerable vote. I emailed ALL of his colleagues at the elementary school. He’s sensitive about his reputation (read: ego). He can be influenced to vote NO. His strength so far is pointing out the Sheriff’s Office can’t be moved without a public referendum. USDA’s narrative acknowledges it IS thoroughly incorporated.

Finally, an update on the Article 78 Mandamus. Hon. Lisa Fisher’s sitting on it. In a few days I’ll move to recuse here. She may do the right thing and grant jurisdiction, at which point we have access to depositions, interrogatories and information subpoenas. We want to get everything on the record BEFORE the loan is provided and BEFORE construction. In Ulster they waited and had to operate Grand Juries AFTER construction. I is a dream for me that she’d recuse and it is assigned to Julian Schreibman (or Richard Mott).

One more thing, I served and file a law suit for libel against Ed Kaplan this morning. $100,000. He said I called him on the phone and cursed. I’ve never phoned his office or his cell. These are easy records to obtain.

As for Wednesday. I’m debating about whether to come. This issue was never about me. The public interest is extremely reinforcing. I don’t want to polarize anything. I’ll send handouts though.

Thank you all!!!

Scott Myers
(518) 291-8169
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Dear caring neighbors:

We all want our government to be competent. We all want local government to spend our tax money efficiently. We’re all concerned that our local justice system works. The following is complicated, but it is incomplete without the details.

Last night’s “Safety Committee” meeting sent the jail bond forward by a 5 to 3 vote. On the 17th the finance committee (run by the excellent Larry Gardner) meets and may or may not send the bond to the whole legislature. If they do a supermajority vote on the 19th is needed, the 19th is also Yom Kippur, which means Larry won’t be there. Someone absent is a no vote.

At last nights meeting, Sheriff Greg Seeley cornered me in the Administrative Office and said he’d put handcuffs on me 5 times. For some reason he had 3 deputies at the meeting, each confronted me during the meeting. It’s not that I’m fearless it’s that is who these people are.

The past two weeks were supposed to provide accurate FAQs, but they didn’t. I FOILed the missing material and was largely denied. I FOILed from the other end and got the horrible correspondence from COC and the actual loan application from USDA.

Therefore I’ve sued Kaplan in the Supreme Court here, Judge Lisa Fisher. Kaplan filed opposition papers to my poor person application but did not give me copies until after the hearing date. I found them during my search at the clerk’s office. Kaplan’s office would not give me a copy so I printed out what I needed, prepared reply papers and filed them. Interestingly, he included affidavits from 3 guards in the 411 building. They said they saw the contents of my backpack and I have a laptop so he concludes to the court that I’m not poor. He’s contesting poor person relief as a way to intercept the Article 78 Mandamus. This is a link to those court papers. 2018-0789 Article 78 Jail FOIL matter.

IF the poor person is granted I can subpoena the records that Kaplan’s denied by my FOIL. The point of the suit is that he fails to provide the FOIL material. He’s working VERY hard on this. He said in open session that a shared jail is legal. Now his position is changing, that COC won’t allow a shared/regional solution. I asked formally for him to provide legislative or case law and he said informally that he wouldn’t reply.

A pissing match is going on between the Public Defender Angelo Scaturro and Sheriff Greg Seeley. Seeley refuses to send detainees to Columbia - 0 -. He sends them to Ulster. Scaturro refuses to go to Ulster to see his clients. The ones harmed are the detainees. The taxpayers are also harmed by the overtime and transportation, but that’s not the main point. I want to interest Dan Zuckermann in writing about this part of the story. His coverage is very very good.

Meanwhile, the county’s secretly rented a closed Bank of Greene County and are assembling the Sheriff’s Office there, buying cells. No one authorized this in the legislature. They announced they’ll completely tear down 80 Bridge Street, but as everyone knows County Law 217 requires it remains in Catskill unless approved by all the voters. It’s not on the November ballot.

The shared/regional jail is resisted by Greg Seeley, which means he may need to be replaced. He’s elected but he is not autonomous. It’s a complete surprise that Jail Superintendent Michael Spitz is still on the payroll (triple dipping) since he’s the subject of the worst of COC’s Worst Offenders report.

The next couple of weeks need active involvement. The best result is to formalize ATI as a standing committee to administrate our local social service and justice issues (non-court). The failure of defense and the lack of use of Columbia County needs to be fixed yesterday. Thank you for your attention. It’s our county. We all have an interest to get this right. The affordable solution is available, it’s not a new set of human cages in Coxsackie. We’re very close to a transformation. It’s likely I can prevent a loan from USDA based on the abject failure of the shared/regional jail solution. I can't do any of this alone.

Scott Myers
(518) 291-8169
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