Correcting the Record: Hatchet-hurling Location Correction

PORT JERVIS, N.Y. — Yes you read the tile correctly. Viking Hatchet Hurling, Inc. is coming to the city of Port Jervis. At least it hopes to make Jersey Avenue its home.

The proposed B.Y.O.B. event venue is planning to make the former Port Jervis Marketplace its home. The vacant old Save-a-Lot by Family Dollar is in a mainly residential area, but optimistically diagonally across from the Venture Inn.

Sounds like an adventure waiting to happen. We’ll see how the new Open Container law in progress fits with this plan as well as the new promenade by the Fox N Hare Brewery.

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Audit Right There!: Debriefing of the Small Town Journalist

You’ll notice that this isn’t marked under news but blog. I almost didn’t write this article at all. In fact, today was almost my last day in the career track of journalism.

After this post, I’m switching focuses. I’ll still attend meetings and write about anything that intrigues me, correct the record and all that, but I’m staying away from the city that I grew up in.

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It’s two-faced.

Janus will say that he hates the local political games, hate-bating and pandering and that he wants to change things. As soon as you walk away however, the Port Jervis god will only spit profanities and vitriol on your journey home.

Liars. Or are they? Where exactly is the truth in what people say? There has to be some somewhere.

That’s one thing I may stay in town for though it doesn’t come close to the higher purpose of rending the newsworthy facts that citizens need in order to live, learn and grow.

It may be interesting to know how much of a statement is true or honest when people say marvelous things. I’d rather learn how we can all create a common ground, but that doesn’t seem to be the place people like me. I’ll just keep smiling silently then.

It’s not easy being the one to tell others that more communication is necessary, because if they don’t communicate already, they don’t believe that they need to. Omitting the truth is just as much a lie, no?

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Here’s the story:

I was hot on the trail of a risk assessment — a “pre-audit” — in the city, performed by State Comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli’s office.

The glance at documentation tediously gathered by the city clerk’s office is a determining moment before deciding whether there were next steps for the city to take or even a full state audit to be conducted.

The state risk assessment began Jan. 23.

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Mayor Kelly Decker replied this morning that there was no such necessitation according to what the state had concluded that day.

However, that doesn’t end the journey of auditing.

The city performs its own annual internal audit as well. This is when the firm Bonaddio comes in and does a thorough search through the city’s documentation. This organization has been used for years according to City Clerk Robin Waizenegger.

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“…closer to 4%.”

Kristin Trovei

Even with the consistent auditing the city’s fund balance has fallen in the past decade to more than “unhealthy” lows.

In an article in the Times Herald-Record, responding to the village of Walden’s status, Brian Burry, spokesman for the state comptroller’s office, stated that having a fund balance of ten percent of total municipal expenses was a “healthy” goal.

Waizenegger sallied that fifteen percent, or just under a sixth of the city’s expenses, was a more appropriately called “healthy” fund balance.

That’s the process that the city goes through every year. To be clear, that’s enough for me. If there was to be more done, that would have been fine too.

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This brings us back to my rant at the beginning.

Most people use Facebook these days. According to Pew Research Center, only eleven percent of people in the U.S. don’t use social media. Of the other eighty-nine percent that do, more than half use Facebook, and more than half of that half, use it everyday, multiple times a day, to read, take in news, and catch up with friends and family.

For that reason, I’ve been taking my calls for sources and comments from Twitter to Facebook.

Most recently I called attention to feelings about budgeting, finance, spending and city revenues following this pre-audit.

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“…negative posts…”

It got the usual respondents, those that may have something negative to say. Those that still don’t feel that their representative government is taking the right actions in allaying these worries. Yet, there are also those that are more optimistic.

My question was plain, and any more middle of the rode it would have been flying high up next to the pie-in-the-sky.

The difficulty in remaining, and being seen as impartial, was turned on blast when politics stepped in on the post: a blanket shaming that served to discredit the question and any comments anyone had in the thread.

Even though replies were asked to be made as a “DM” or direct message to me, rather than comments.

The most heartbreaking part was the source of the political reaction. Someone that I had interviewed several times and was starting to feel friendly towards.

Perhaps there’s something to be learned in the old saying, “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”

Port: The City Still Wearing the Derby

PORT JERVIS, N.Y. — On a chilly Monday evening, as cold wind found scarce passage through the council chamber’s windows, the meeting began.

The building’s heating, whether being either not up-to-date or simply with a thermostat in the wrong person’s office, did little to make it any better.

Kristin Trovei, one of the Third Ward’s councilpeople, pulled a coat over her arms, “a Maria [Mann].”

This, the public was informed, is the room now slated to be the polling location for the Second Ward. The, perhaps only, upside to this is that because Port Jervis will not be able to recycle sooner than hoped,  continued global warming could make November, hopefully a small fraction closer to melting people all over the ballot.

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Since the last Common Council meeting Mayor Kelly Decker received a single piece of correspondence from the office of the governor of the state of New York, Andrew Cuomo.

The subject  was presumptive release.

The high school teacher and former police officer, following Regis Foster’s report on last month’s Police Department statistics, spoke very grimly of the policy’s effect on the drug war at home, combating Representative Sean Patrick Maloney’s opioid epidemic.

“228 tickets….16 simple assaults.”

Regis Foster

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For Mayor Decker, the focus is  where I left off last:
the Soap Box Derby.

Well, of course, the wooden cars used to go “thirty miles an hour” down Sussex Street!

The grade of the hill at Church Street with other changes They’re down to 24-5 miles an our with a hill which has a gradient of only

Port

Home of the World’s Largest Soap Box Derby.

Jervis

Coincidentally, the separate entity presented plans.

The vision for the future of the Derby was read to the council and public by mother and Derby-er, Tanya Addy, whose proposal included a summary of a new schedule and the expectations of a welcoming community on Church Street rather than its home, for the past eighteen years, on Sussex Street’s hill.

The new hill is designed to cut costs, make the event easier for everyone and help busy families in a fun way.

Stanley Siegel, Fourth Ward’s Councilperson commented that the adjacent hill, Seward Street, was a mid-50’s “sleigh riding” joy created by community.

Councilperson for the Third Ward and Recreation Committee liaison to the Common Council, Gina Fitzpatrick, stated that the presentation was not initially made to the Recreation Committee for any sort of city assistance although the Derby will be aided by DPW, the Department of Public Works. Vehicles included to be made clear.

Police Chief William Warden

 

Mirrors for Mayors: The Press, Opinion, and Freelance Writers

PORT JERVIS, N.Y. — Less than a week after his hopeful State of the City Address for a Port Jervis “that still needs nurturing to succeed,” Mayor Kelly Decker has, as many in the city would characterize, came out of his face.

Monday, in a letter-made-public-rebuttal on his Facebook Page, to a Sunday piece by the Times Herald-Record under the editorial tagline “Our Opinion,” entitled “A methadone clinic is not a crime scene,” Decker not only calls out the Record’s editor, Barry Lewis but also calls the newspaper in.

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While plausible arguments are made by the Port Jervis Mayor, he goes on to completely flout arguments such as this one:

“Numbers, percentages, and statistics can be skewed in many different ways depending on the presenter’s angle.”

Mayor Kelly Decker

By leading with this aside before what should be the meat and potatoes staple of his argument, Decker builds up a strawman, an easy target to set ablaze. A simple reframing to make the dominoes fall easier, per se.

Nonetheless, those dominoes fall in both directions.

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As Decker goes on to “assert that [Lewis’s] math is wrong” he has already given readers contrary to his viewpoint an out. Whatever math he cited, became all methed up, when he cast doubt upon mathematics as a whole prior to playing the Texas sharpshooter. He lost those that he needed on his side as he attacked the publication.

Yes, the letter was “a response” to the editor of the Times Herald-Record, Lewis, regardless, here a few factors that make this more of a political attack:
  1. It was an opinion piece, and as such, didn’t necessarily merit such an official response as taking to the Elected Official Page that his Facebook is. Perhaps simply a letter-made-public-rebuttal on his personal page would have sufficed.
  2. Decker’s political, elected official position put him at a disadvantage for a fair fight against the editor of a counterbalance of government.
  3. Decker’s logical argumentation in his letter is riddled with fallacies.

Lewis, the editor of the Times Herald-Record deals in a world of changing opinions and changing headlines. It’ll be perceived as a political attack from the Mayor’s office not only because of these three factorss but most of all because of public opinion.

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One: Opinion

In the end, shouldn’t matter to the Mayor, as many who read opinion pieces have already made up their minds, they’ve already voiced their own opinions and they have already signed their positions’ petitions.

“Once formed,” the researchers observed dryly, “impressions are remarkably perseverant.”

The New Yorker, Feb. 27, 2017

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Two: Authority

Now the inseparable quality of their positions immediately puts Decker at a disadvantage: Mayor of Port Jervis versus Editor of the Times Herald-Record. Not a pretty fight. Nor a fair fight.

Though it didn’t have to be a bout.

The majority of Port Jervis constituents would likely agree, that Donald J. Trump as President could teach mayoral successors a thing or two about responding to the media:

  • When put into a defensive position, don’t show it:
    Deny, deny, deny.
  • When refuting statements, as there’s no option for denial: use keywords that fire up your base and monosyllabic words and arguments that are guaranteed to win public opinion.

 

Don’t do as Decker did. But don’t do any of the above either. The media is wise to it all. Readers, listeners, and viewers, too.

Not responding at all, would have been the denial. Yet, Decker chose to tear off his suit, snap his Port Pride singlet and dive headstrong into the muddied ring for a political King-of-the-Hill match.

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Three: Logic

Although the location has already been ruled out, there were, and still are, three positions available in the methadone clinic debate. As a reporter, here not discussing either of the former, being of the latter position: for the clinic, against the clinic, and neither for nor against the clinic.

This writer puts aside the journalist hat now and dons the hat that she studied in college: philosophy and linguistics. Mostly philosophy as logic is delved into here past the Texas Sharpshooter data cherrypicker argument. This is the writer’s playground, and those in politics could learn from this and avoid unnecessary future debate and compunction.

Editor of the Times Herald-Record, Barry Lewis: making positions for the cure of addiction, for the clinic.

Mayor of Port Jervis, Kelly Decker, coming from a position of the war on drugs: on record, against the clinic.

While most readers opposite to Decker’s view may stop at his first paragraph, they’re surprisingly not alone. Even those that agree that a methadone clinic is unnecessary in the city stop at the argument that he presents. It’s a no true Scotsman argument that precedes a genetic argument.

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Paragraph-by-paragraph

A genetic argument is one that means most of the following logic relies upon the first clause. That first clause here is an argument similar to an ad hominem, or an attack on one’s character rather than their argument: it’s a no true Scotsman argument. It’s an argument that focuses on the purity of one’s position, which sounds a lot like Nikki Minaj.

That’s not even including the child-human shield appeal to emotion argument ending the tu quoque “Let’s begin with this question” paragraph where the critique is turned 180 from Decker to Lewis.

“What do you know about Port Jervis? Clearly, you hardly know nothing about us at all! Except for one public forum about the opioid epidemic in our community, you have been non-existent in this community for at least the last 4 years. You didn’t even have the decency to respond to an email that I sent to you back on June 12, 2017 that said how dismayed I was with your paper and their lack of coverage for our Soap Box Derby. This is a kid-friendly event that brings thousands of people to our city each year and there was not one mention of it in your paper. However, now you feel compelled to write about a free or reduced pay clinic that wants come to our city? Your priorities are clearly miscued.”

Mayor Kelly Decker

To the point within the no true Scotsman argumentation by Decker, I have to insert my agreement. Indeed, the newspaper requires more coverage of the “city that is on the move.” If it’s of any solace to either party in this regard, I offer my services as a freelance writer and reporter.

Paragraph Two

Again, Nikki Minaj. Since she’s so relevant here, enjoy a video:

The following paragraph is the foremost example of the Texas Sharpshooter logical fallacy. The one referenced above is a muddled example to heat up the conversation about logic. Decker would have been better off simplifying this letter down to, or at least, leading with this second sentence in his fifth paragraph:

“I have never said ‘No.’ I said put it in a medical facility, especially one with detox and mental health.”

Mayor Kelly Decker

Decker may have also done very well leading with the knowledge that he personally has. Rather than trying to chop up the data that was served against him. For instance, without condescension:

“… your [claim] that I am making the situation more dangerous. […] it’s called Mens Rea, or the guilty mind of criminal intent, and then acting on that criminal intent is Actus Reus. The majority of Cornerstone’s clientele are heroin attacks. Heroin is illegal. [….] Therefore, these patients not only have Mens Rea but also Actus Reus and those are the people I don’t want invited to our city […]”

Mayor Kelly Decker

The next few paragraphs are called a bandwagon argument. It’s not that critical and really only acts as a public support rallying cry. Trump is great at using this, however, Decker should steer clear of it, and stick to the simplest of facts. He doesn’t need to reassert his position as an elected official in this way, especially not so deep into an already messy argument, but perhaps could have opened with some of his own facts rather than refuting those offered by Lewis.

Before his closing paragraph, he sets up a nice strawman argument against the Editor. The alcohol and criminality strawman. If the Mayor had used alcohol and criminality statistics, along with his own facts, in a second paragraph, he would have solidified a solid logical argument.

In closing, Decker uses another purity, or, no true Scotsman argument. He follows it with my favorite logical fallacy: the loaded question. This writer is going to do him a service, free of charge: reorganize and rescue what can be in a whole new letter:

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Letter to the Editor:
re: “A methadone clinic is not a crime scene.”

For starters, “I have never said ‘No.’ I said put [the methadone clinic] in a medical facility, especially one with detox and mental health.”

“Your [claim] that I am making the situation more dangerous [is unfounded…] It’s called Mens Rea, or the guilty mind of criminal intent, and [to then act] on that criminal intent is Actus Reus. The majority of Cornerstone’s clientele are heroin [addicts]. Heroin is illegal. [….] Therefore, these patients not only have Mens Rea but also Actus Reus[,] and those are the people I don’t want [to be] invited to our city[.]”

“[I invite you to hire more reporters for our growing city to see that there’s more than only an] opioid epidemic in our community[. For instance, there could be more coverage of city revenue-driving events, such as] our Soap Box Derby. This is a kid-friendly event that brings thousands of people to our city each year[.]”

Short and sweet.

Power in Numbers: Second Port Common Council Meeting

PORT JERVIS, N.Y. — Of words disyllabic and greater used in repetition at the Monday, Jan. 22, Common Council meeting,  petition was the word on the mouths of many.

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The meeting started off to a great start with a reflection on the last meeting when the first local law of the year was passed.

The wrong local law.

The Trade Shops Law while requiring no remaining work in committee was originally preceded by a Sandwich Boards law. The latter still required committee attention. Therefore, it was a happy mistake remedied with a vote to pass the same first local law.

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This followed quickly with a Public Comment period of five minutes per person. A line had surely formed in the minds of those residents that were speaking. There were many present with something to present, namely petitions.

As many residents and councilpeople had expected, the methadone clinic debate was taken to the podium. However, before sides were presented, Kurt Daniels asked for more information regarding what the Mayor knew about the impending clinic.  From there Denise Conklin Billman presented her case for it and then William Mann and another, against it.

[Article on the subject, forthcoming.]

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After the methadone clinic section of the Public Comment line, Jill Lindner delivered her experience of canvassing the Fourth Ward in support of her idea for a community garden. Her petition garnered 52 signatures and volunteers. After she had finished it was back to business as usual without comments from the Council regarding the community garden plan.

[Here’s the full story behind the petition.]

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Highlights

  1. A “pre-audit” will be underway starting January 23.
  2. The Tri-State Bridge project is almost completely funded, with only another $7-8 million needed to be raised.
  3. County Shared Services update will be this next Common Council meeting.
  4. 15 Second Street, similar to the firehouse had to be demolished and have asbestos removed.
  5. A Resolution for funding of travel costs Incurred by the City Assessor as they commute for education
  6. There was a Longevity Calculation error in the Police Benevolence Association (PBA) contracts.
  7. A Resolution to sell surplus firehouse equipment was passed.
  8. Approved the Waiving of Education Fees to certify a Department of Public Works employee.
  9. Approved the removal of trees along Main Street in accordance with the New York State Department of Transportation Roadways Expansion program.
  10. Christmas Trees will cease to be picked up by Department of Public Works after this week.
  11. Mayor Kelly Decker made quite a few appointments to committees, the full list will be updated in a separate article and linked here, after appointments are approved.cropped-1cd0e-22637633_137440200232384_6089219884250562560_n.jpg

Growing Community: Lindner’s Vision for Fourth Ward Vacant Lot

PORT JERVIS, N.Y. — Monday evening, former 2017 Fourth Ward candidate and activist Jill Lindner delivered her results to the Common Council and the public regarding a petition that she had started earlier this month.

The petition, signed by 52 people, began after news broke that the firehouse property at 15 Seward Ave. was expected to be sold by the city to the Salvation Army next door as had been done with 17 Seward Ave. not long before.

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Lindner, with her concept, hopes to not only beautify the neighborhood but inspire, educate and enrich the lives of her neighbors in the Fourth Ward.

That’s the simple reason.

There is a more pervasive problem of the property pertinent to those who pay taxes in the City of Port Jervis.

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In 2011, the city sold the property for $57,500, turning an immediate profit on the property of 17 Seward Ave. after having spent $35,500 to clear the property. Therein lies the problem however: the city, therefore the taxpayers, foot the bill to see their taxes raised ever more slightly by the rescinding of the property from the tax rolls.


“Gardens = Quality of life, making property worth more.”

Jill Lindner

So when in 2017 the city spent $101,752 to demolish the old firehouse at 15 Seward Ave. and test for asbestos, concerned neighbors spoke up and Lindner listened.

If it was to be of detriment to the situation of taxpayers, Lindner saw no reason why it couldn’t be, more positively, a tax-free project that served the community directly. Owned by the Ward for the next hundred years.

For the neighborhood, by the neighborhood.

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When the idea was first raised by Lindner to a closed meeting with Mayor Kelly Decker, there was supposed to be two Fourth Ward representatives present to hear the notion. Yet, only Lisa Randazzo was present

According to Lindner, when she asked Stanley Siegel why he was a no-show, the councilman with a dozen years under his belt responded that he had not been called.

Though the shortcoming in communication, Lindner later says that not only did she get support at the meeting, but she was introduced to ways and means of financial support for the project.

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Although Lindner has found volunteers “already rolling up their sleeves,” there has been “negative spin” from those with a voice that’s well-heard.

For instance, at the first Common Council meeting of the new year, in response to her open letter calling for public support, Siegel had the following to say:


“Not sure that site would be in the best interest of anybody.”

Stanley Siegel

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Jill Lindner, as an environmental activist and artist, wishes to create and inspire a healthier, greener planet. Believing in “starting where you are” she ran for councilwoman to the Fourth Ward in 2017 after years of demonstrating and getting closer to the Earth. Now, beginning with this garden project, she is finding new ways of doing whatever she can to make a positive impact on the world around her.

That’s why it wouldn’t be a surprise to any that have spoken to her if she saw this project through to completion and set a precedent for creating positive, organic change.

Jill

2018’s Port Jervis Women’s March

PORT JERVIS, N.Y.  — Yesterday, Saturday, Jan. 20, over 200 individuals came in respects to sister marches happening across the state, and around the nation, in solidarity with disempowered women and especially those most at-risk with the current Presidential Administration.


“Ignite people into action.”

Patty Baughman

St_PetersAt the St Peter’s Lutheran Church in Port Jervis an estimated 250 individuals gathered for the first anniversary of the March. Last year, in sheer protest of President Trump’s inauguration, 800 demonstrators, according to organizer Patty Baughsman, packed the streets for the 1.5-mile march through Port Jervis. This year, in respect to those less able to make the hike, the March route was cut short to a tenth of a mile, with handfuls staying behind at the Church.

Get another idea of what it was like here.

Here you’ll find the top five greatest signs at Port’s Women’s March.

First organized, last year, as the brain-baby of her friend, Gaye Hartwig, the March was pulled together by Baughman a week before the event.

In addition to suggesting the work of Sojourners, a faith and political organization in Washington, D.C., when asked what Hartwig would hope people took away from what she had to say Saturday, she answered that it could be summed up by verse:

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Matthew 25:40, New International Version

A half-dozen women spoke across several topics all including the importance of getting involved, supporting those that are marginalized, and of course, getting out the vote. Pastor Aaron Baughman closed the preceding speeches before the event-goers moved to the street to demonstrate and protest.

The women who spoke ranged from members of the Church and the community to local activists and politicians. After Patty Baughman opened the floor this was the lineup:

  • Gaye Hartwig
  • Aileen Gunther — New York Assemblywoman  D-Forestburgh (keynote speaker)
  • Melissa Martin — full-time mother and community activist
  • Pramilla Malick — Protect Orange County Chair, and a recent candidate for office
  • Julika von Stackelberg — Cornell Cooperative Extension Orange County, Parenting and Family Life Educator
  • Michele McKeon — RECAP, Chief Operating Officer

Audio samples, so that you can be there without being there, and transcriptions, for continued discussion, forthcoming.

An Ending Note here:

It was interesting to see many women, children, and men (sadly no doggos tho) wearing pink, eared hats. The Pussyhat (like “pussycat”) as a number of ralliers had relayed, including member of the local activist group DemBones, Linda Louise, that the hat was a response to “grab them by the pussy,” a statement made by Donald Trump as “locker room talk” prior to the 2016 Presidential race.  However, this topic was avoided in the recent Times Herald-Record article about the event, avoiding the controversy of the word. Louise commented that the hat is to fight back against the misogyny of Trump, and not to perpetuate transmisogyny as someone she follows on Twitter, Tamela J Gordon, believes.


This post is in addition to Silence and Strategy, the Weekly Photo Challenge by the Daily Post, as well as their Daily Prompt, respectively.