In the early evening Monday, the Greene County Legislature took a quick vote that, in the overall scheme of things, would likely not mean much to our readers, but it was by no means trivial. That vote was a short, sharp blow to transparency in county government.

By a 10-3 vote (with one abstention), the Greene County Legislature, for the first time in memory, cut ties with The Daily Mail and made the Times Union the county’s official newspaper. And that wasn’t all. The Republicans chose The Mountain Eagle as their official newspaper and the Democrats selected the Daily Freeman as their official paper.

In short, important legal notices will be sent to newspapers miles away from Greene County, so far away that Daily Mail buyers are not likely to see them, let alone read them. It also means that significant revenue will be sucked from a local business and absorbed by newspapers that few in Greene County buy.

But this column isn’t about money or motive. It’s about informing the Legislature’s constituents of meetings, tax delinquencies, budgetary matters and much more that The Daily Mail is unable to report. By sealing off The Daily Mail, the Legislature is hiding from its constituents and diverting information to non-Greene County newspapers.

What do we mean by this? Here’s an example. We did a little research and found that The Daily Mail printed more than 1,000 local stories, staff-driven, press releases and assorted briefs and announcements, in 2019. On the other hand, the Times Union printed 34 stories — yes, 34, in the same time period. That is not daily local coverage. It’s fewer than three stories per month.

On the night of the vote, there were no Times Union reporters in attendance. The Daily Mail was represented as was, to be fair here, The Mountain Eagle. But the Eagle is a weekly based in Schoharie County and has little presence in Greene County.

Monday’s vote called attention to the need for transparency in government. The Legislature wanted to keep the meeting moving and offered no logical explanation or justification for its action.

Instead, one lawmaker told us we “really screwed ourselves this time” — presumably for doing our jobs — and complained about coverage, then complained about the newspaper’s delivery. When told there is a big difference between coverage and delivery, the response was silence.

Where’s the accountability in that?

And where is the transparency in publishing local legal notices about special meetings, special elections, annual tax payments and much more in newspapers that local readers may not see or care to wade through.

This is a troubling sign that suggests the Legislature may be more interested in holding meetings few constituents will know about than in working with its local newspaper.

We won’t speculate in this space about why the Legislature did this. It could be political retribution. It could be a bombardment of Freedom of Information Law requests. Who can tell?

One thing we will emphasize in closing is that the Legislature’s Buy in Greene campaign obviously does not include its local newspaper. Our lawmakers prefer to spend taxpayer money elsewhere this year.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(3) comments

jwp-cat

Readers and VOTERS might be curious as to which of our legislators believe we are better represented down in Kingston (the Daily Freeman) or up in Mountain Eagle territory. It was a "10-3" vote. It would be pretty puzzling to learn that a local Catskillian like Linda Overbaugh voted to post public notices down in Kingston instead of here in Catskill.

Why?

In a nutshell, spite and revenge is part of this but, the real question is whether the pending issues and questions about to arise regarding Peckham Industries play for setting up increased pollution and asphalt production with a license to accept "construction materials" played a role here.

To anyone who attended the November 26, 2019 Catskill Planning Council Meeting it was apparent that Peckham was peevish and defensive regarding its open ended application to accept way over 600 tons of construction debris without liner for "berm" to be randomly sampled and verified was being questioned. And they seemed to blame the messenger - the media - for heightening public awareness of this issue.

We are sorting through decades of FOIL materials which indicate that we are dealing with a lot more than a recent interest by Peckham in recoverable asphalt product. It would be highly unfortunate to learn that our local paper was being penalized for doing exactly what we want from local journalist: INVESTIGATE, BRING SUNLIGHT TO DIRTY POLITICS, AND HOLD POWER TO ACCOUNT.

The Daily Mail was instrumental in helping build awareness of the threat posed by Wheelabrator, and despite some politicians wanting to take credit for that local "win" - and it was a major bullet dodged by our county - it would be ironic to learn that they supported this 'spite play.'

Even more to the point, when you find out that the fellow you never met from downstate who just bought the adjacent lot is running a driveway cutting into your right of way and it was never brought to your attention but was posted in Wyndham or Kingston - go yell about it to Mike Regaini at Code Enforcement.

We really seem to be devolving in the local spite and revenge politics of "petty" on this one.

scottmyers

The need for critical journalism is acute.

The first step to create a healthy community is accuracy, which comes from journalism.

Greene County’s BuyInGreene is false propaganda, and in stark contrast to Central Hudson’s Out Of Alignment. We have a DECLINING population and DECLINING per capita income.

This county is rated a “worst offender” by SCOC, which is why. Our jail at 80 Bridge Street had to close (not for the architecture). The 30 year $90 million obligation for a new jail is extremely irresponsible. It’s an instant anachronism. Scaled at 86 human cages. The justice reforms, now promulgated, mean we’ll have only 10 detainees at any one time. The finances for the jail bleed this county with no benefit. The interest on the $39 million loan ($18 million) leaves the county. None of the contractors are Greene County companies so that money leaves the county.

The $8 million that treasurer Peter Markou took from “reserves” is money for county worker retirement and health care. Now it’s gone. That money has to be put back along with another $34 million. Markou said he needs $42 to $120 million in the worker retirement and health care fund. Now he has almost none.

The 80 Bridge Street Sheriff’s Office can be rehabbed for $3.8 million (cheap), just like the library and courthouse were rehabbed. County law § 216 REQUIRES the sheriff’s office be in the county seat.

We have a lot more to do to flip this county to competence and growth. There’s almost no “new money” businesses here, no tech. That’s not a pretty picture.

The obvious effort to avoid truth is a symptom of the pathetic mismanagement of these same administrators and legislators. I was arrested in January just for bringing this all to their attention - because someone has to. That case is in the federal court and is deemed a 1st amendment access to government case.

I personally deeply praise the Daily Mail and it’s reporters for their enormous courage and persistence.

Thank you Daily Mail for your persistent courage and enormous talent. I’ll see you at the Lumberyard for Best In Catskill event. You’re enormously important to our success.

You can’t hide Greene County. See you in court.

scottmyers

The need for critical journalism is acute. The first step to a health community is accuracy, which comes from journalism. Greene County’s BuyInGreene is false propaganda, and in stark contrast to Central Hudson’s Out Of Alignment. We have a DECLINING population and DECLINING per capita income.

This county is rated a “worst offender” by SCOC, which is why. Our jail at 80 Bridge Street had to close (not for the architecture). The 30 year $90 million obligation for a new jail is extremely irresponsible. It’s an instant anachronism. Scaled at 86 human cages. The justice reforms, now promulgated, mean we’ll have only 10 detainees at any one time. The finances for the jail bleed this county with no benefit. The interest on the $39 million loan ($18 million) leaves the county. None of the contractors are Greene County companies so that Money leaves the county.

The $8 million that treasurer Peter Markou took from “reserves” is money for county worker retirement and health care. Now it’s gone. That money has to be put back along with another $34 million. Markou said he needs $42 to $120 million in the worker retirement and health care fund. Now he has almost none.

The 80 Bridge Street Sheriff’s Office can be rehabbed for $3.8 million (cheap), just like the library and courthouse were rehabbed. County law § 216 REQUIRES the sheriff’s office be in the county seat.

I personally deeply praise the Daily Mail and it’s reporters for enormous courage and persistence. We have a lot more to do to flip this county to competence and growth. There’s almost no “new money” businesses here, no tech. That’s not a pretty picture.

The obvious effort to avoid truth is a symptom of the pathetic mismanagement of these same administrators and legislators. I was arrested in January just for bringing this all to their attention - because someone has to. That case is in the federal court and is deemed a 1st amendment access to government case.

You can’t hide Greene County. See you in court. Thank you Daily Mail for your persistent courage and enormous talent. I’ll see you at the Lumberyard for Best In Catskill event. You’re enormously important to our success.

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