Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hudson Valley Press: Newburgh to get more police officers

July 28th, 2009
Newburgh and Poughkeepsie Receive Money for Police

Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) today announced more than $2.2 million in federal economy recovery funds for three local law enforcement forces to add or retain 10 police officer positions throughout the next three years. Monticello has been awarded $253,313 for one officer position, Newburgh has received $843,543 for four officer positions, and Poughkeepsie will receive $1,050,400 to pay for five officer positions. The funds come through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which Hinchey actively supported and voted for earlier this year.

"At a time when local municipalities are facing difficult financial circumstances, this federal economic recovery funding will help keep police officers on the beat and ensure the public remains adequately protected," Hinchey said. "Public safety must never be compromised and these federal funds will ensure that these three municipalities have the resources needed to staff their police forces. I'm very pleased that the economic recovery funds we approved earlier this year in Washington are making their way back up to New York in an effective manner."

The funding is being allocated to the municipalities to hire and/or rehire career law enforcement officers in an effort and to increase their community policing capacity and crime prevention efforts. The grants will provide 100 percent funding for approved entry-level salaries and benefits for three years for newly-hired, full-time sworn officer positions (including filling existing unfunded vacancies) or for rehired officers who have been laid off, or are scheduled to be laid off on a future date, as a result of local budget cuts. Communities receiving the grants are required to maintain adequate funding levels for a fourth year.

The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) is administering the funding through its COPS Hiring Recovery Program. COPS grants are used to address retention of police officers to fight crime and provide more effective policing.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

City Manager leaves us in a lurch

The interim Newburgh City Manager is out. He no longer wants to play ball in our park. He took his jacks and $3,200 a week part-time and went home. To the other side of the river. The wealthier, more civilized, more positive side of the river.

I am sadly disappointed that he bailed. Admittedly, I didn't find his arrival too favorable at first. Maybe I was caught up in the rumors and negativity at the time. But being somewhat pragmatic, I later thought the man could do something while he was here. After all, he did weather the storm of bricks that Newburgh threw at him. Dwight Douglas, at least, had some marketable skills to bring to Newburgh. And the most important skill he had, which we will sorely miss, is his ability to write a sensible, fiscally responsible and timely municipal budget.

The Community Lyceum Group has several committees which investigate information about the city and report back to the main group monthly on Saturdays at the library. I head up the Taxes and Fiscal Management committee. During our April meeting, I made a presentation about the city's 2009 budget. I am not terribly good at numbers, but I can see a 2.8 million dollar deficit with one eye shut. And that is what I reported to the Lyceum group when I saw a revenue stream that included the sale of 2.8 million in city-owned properties being sold. There was no plan to sell any city properties. This was Jeanne McGrane's budget that the council swallowed hook, line, and sinker.

On April 24 in the Times-Herald Record, Douglas announced the same $2.8M shortfall and warned of a $1.3M deficit by the end of fiscal 2009. And that was with $2.1M being spent out of reserves. This was about the time I started to like Douglas. Not too many City Managers came forward in the past to warn of impending danger. So he was, at least doing the right thing by informing the public. He later tried to set up an auction in October to sell off some of the city-owned properties.

So the main question right now is: Who is going to write the City's 2010 budget? Some may gloat over Douglas' demise. Some say he left because Bello bit him too hard. Others say he left because he did not want to deliver the bad news that 50 plus jobs may have to be cut in the City Hall. Others say he left to save his pension from being lost. It is not about him! It is about finding an administrator to do the city's most important task: delivering a fiscally responsible plan to spend taxes to make improvements in services provided. A novel concept in Newburgh but obviously important to taxpayers and city employees.

Again, who is going to write the 2010 budget?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Politicians Can Sing

I am pleased that I got a chance to participate in the Quadricentennial Celebration. Here I am flanked by Newburgh's mayor Valentine and orange County Executive Ed Diana. It was a hot day for a tuxedo, but I was re-enacting the presence of Ulysses J. Alsdorf. In 1909, he wrote the music for the Hudson Fulton Celebration: Dear Hudson Fulton Days. Of course, we sang the song and had a few laughs about the words:

Dear Hudson Fulton Days
Dear Hudson Fulton Days
Achievements great we celebrate get on the job and fly.
Our river beats the Rhine
Steam Navigation's fine.
For you we'll blow, blow, blow ourselves
Toot toot...bye bye.

Now in 1909, Newburgh Bay hosted a full flotilla of several hundred boats. And during this song, all the boats tooted their horns. It must have been quite an event.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Positive Petition Prospects Possible

I knocked on a door to get a signature for my Independence Party petition. A young woman answered the door and I introduced myself.

“My name is Kevin Barrett and I am running for Orange County Legislator in our district and I need your signature on my petition to secure a place on the Independence Party Line.”

She was happy to sign for me and complimented me on getting into politics. We need more people brave enough to do what you are doing, she said.

Then a strange thing happened. I remember her exact words because they seemed so oddly refreshing. She said: Newburgh has been very good to us. We love living here. Now that is not an unlikely thing to say, but we don’t hear too often.

What street she lived on is not important. She works in the City of Newburgh and her household is double income. She said she bought her house ten years ago and they have made improvements along the way. Actually, it was a beautiful home.

Not every resident of Newburgh can feel good about Newburgh right now. But a positive perspective is encouraging. There are still many positive aspects of our city. And it is nice to hear from people who enjoy living in the City of Newburgh.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Newburgh is the place to be patriotic...

Every year on July 4 we celebrate the Independence of our nation.
The picture above is from the Tower of Victory at Washington's Headquarters. Our first President George Washington's image stands triumphantly looking out over Newburgh Bay to Mount Beacon. It is here in Newburgh that our great nation and the freedoms we now enjoy began. Newburgh is the birthplace of our republic.
As we feel proud of our nation, we should feel proud of its birthplace. Newburgh is a great city on the hillside in need of leadership and direction. All of us are charged with the responsibility of making our city a better place to live. I have taken on a great responsibility by seeking the office of County Legislator.
So as we enjoy our Bar-B-Cues and ice cream with family and friends, we will have a chance to look out over Newburgh Bay to Mount Beacon and see the marvelous fireworks. It is a celebration that ignites our potential to improve our city for future generations.
I hope everyone enjoys this holiday safely.

Rockin and Rollin in Newburgh

You've got to be there Friday, July 10th at 7:30p for the Hudson Valley movie premiere of "American Artifact: The Rise of American Rock Poster Art" by local flimmaker, Merle Becker at the Ritz Theater in Newburgh.

This film, which was mentioned this month in USA Today and on NPR, will be screened at 7:30p. Afterwards, there will be screen printing kit giveaways, Q & A with the director, and after-party at the uber-groovy Wherehouse Restaurant (119 Liberty Street). Sponsored by the Wherehouse Restaurant and Newburgh Art Supply.

Seating is limited, and advance tickets are suggested: . Tickets are also available at the door. This movie is suggested for age 18 and older.

RITZ THEATER, NEWBURGH, NY: July 10th, 7:30p
111 Broadway
Newburgh, NY, 12550
tickets: $15

For more information about the film, go to:

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Newburgh comes in second

The US Census Bureau announced the current populations of cities in the Mid-Hudson Region. To my surprise, Poughkeepsie has a slightly larger population than Newburgh. I hate being second. Poughkeepsie has 29,654 residents while Newburgh has 28,101.

Interestingly, according to, cities are losing their population base. Well slightly. All cities have dropped in residency except Middletown, Port Jervis, and Peekskill. These cities actually had an increase in residents. But then again, the statistics are estimates. The real numbers will be part of the 2010 Census which is starting to move forward now. It will be interesting to see if they accurately count all the residents in Newburgh. Despite all the abandoned buildings, I tend to believe that our population numbers will increase.

A more interesting stat is the number of residents under the age 18 that dwell in these Mid-Hudson cities. Newburgh is the winner there.

Percent of residents under 18

Newburgh 33.8%
Middletown 27.8%
Poughkeepsie 25.9%
Peekskill 24.4%
Kingston 23.9%

A third of our city is under 18. And you can't help but notice.

This large population of children under 18 is not problematic. But the fact that these youngster are city dwellers and have no programs or activities to do is a big problem. I see them running the streets in large groups looking for something to do. They would benefit from structure. But they tend to run rampant with little to no supervision. The result is graffiti, petty crimes, destruction of property, and low expectation of their lives and future. Without guidance, more will join gangs and continue in a life of vandalism and exploration.

Now obviously, not all of our youth is prone to such behavior. But we can't deny that a large number of these kids are moving in the wrong direction. To them it is normal. And they will continue with this "normalcy" until they are well into their adulthood.

Reversing this cycle is not easy. There are not enough adults out here willing to volunteer their time to make some sort of impact. But the reversal of this trend and taking action to do something for our Newburgh youngsters is necessary in looking at the future of Newburgh.

Newburgh desperately needs a Cub Scout and Boy Scout Troop. I think it would be great for these inner city kids to go camping for a weekend. Anything that gets them out of Newburgh is a welcome change.

These kids seem hardcore sometimes, but they are kids. They may not show it, but they would love to play out in the countryside, or go to a museum or concert. It is exposure to a world outside of their own which best educates young people. If you think about all your life's experiences, you will find that the person you are today was not formed in a classroom in school. You became the person you are because of your parents, family and community. But there was a moment when the exposure to something new or different shaped your life. Maybe you went to Central Park and saw a juggler and wanted to join the circus. Or maybe your parents dragged you to a Shakespeare play, and you were inspired to read and write your own stories. These exposure have impact. Not for all kids, but maybe just a few. And a few is what it takes to start to change the rest.