The Stars over the Hudson Valley

If you’ve known me for a few years, especially in person, you may be familiar with a monthly habit that I have. And no, I don’t mean my time of the month habits… I mean the habit that I have had since 2015, on the first of every month.

Monthly Horoscope Readings!

I live in the Hudson Valley. It’s New York, USA’s most reputable river valley and has been home to many of the country’s greats: Jimmy Fallon, Billy Joel, FDR, Willem DeFoe, Liam Neeson, Emma Roberts, and maybe even Snooki in addition to so many more. I don’t know about them, but living here makes me a little more interested in reading local publications. One such publication, which I’ve been reading since 2015 is Chronogram.

Chronogram is a culture, news, art, etc. magazine that comes out once a month. In the summer of 2015, I was introduced to it through it’s groundbreaking horoscopes section. My good friend Elizabeth and I, at the time, travelled the Hudson Valley working as canvassers for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), trying to save the environment, we enjoyed stopping at local, organic, and vegan cafes around the region for our lunches.

We weren’t alone, as our team at any time consisted of two or three other people about our age, so we would sit at a table together and read our horoscopes aloud.

They were ALWAYS on point and breathtaking.

Up until recently, June, the horoscopes were written by Planet Waves’ Eric Francis Coppolino. (Planet Waves, not to be confused with the album by Bob Dylan, another prominent figure of the Hudson Valley.)

Coppolino wrote brilliantly about the stars, moons, and planets, and how they interacted with each constellation of the zodiac. Every. Single. Time. We would read those horoscopes aloud, each one had it’s own weight in each of our chests. They spoke directly to our own experiences and feelings either at the time that we were reading them, or sometime down the road during the month.

They became a ritual for reflection, not only for myself, yet, very likely, many others. And while it was possible to reflect over the words being viewed on a screen, there really is nothing like feeling the large pages of a magazine, and reading them, and keeping them chronologically on a shelf for later annual reflection.

What happened in June?

That’s the question now, isn’t it? In June, Eric Francis Coppolino fell off the Chronogram map. Not on pages, as far as I could tell online, I had to turn to other methods of monthly horoscope such as Horoscope.com or Astrosofa. While these were wonderful, they certainly didn’t have the power in their words that Coppolino had in his.

This month, August 2018, a new writer has taken up the mantle left by Coppolino in Chronogram: Lorelai Kude. With her, less artistic representations of the twelve signs have also been installed. Read your horoscope in Chronogram here.

We’ll have to investigate further for next month’s post, what happened to Coppolino and why the post was left vacant by the writer.

Criticisms


Planet Waves

While you can sign up for Planet Waves’ newsletter, read the weekly and monthlies online, and maybe even still read some of Coppolino’s work in other publications such as the Daily News, Marie Claire, Harper’s BAZAAR, and others, there’s still something missing when it no longer appears in local print. The feeling simply isn’t the same.

Chronogram

Although it’s a really great thing to have someone back in the horo-sattle, I’m not impressed with the work of Kude. In comparison there’s a lot to be desired — call me spoiled by Coppolino.

For instance, my horoscope begins cute: “Fun fact: Virgo is the largest constellation of the zodiac, and the second-largest (next to Hydra) constellation in the Milky Way galaxy!” By the end however, it feels as if you’ve been listed at. It’s not so much cold and calculating as it is a drag in comparison to the almost personal style of Coppolino, that felt as if he knew more about you than sometimes you did. It’s scientific to the point of boring. There’s no story that goes with it suggesting more of a scientific approach and less of a writer’s touch out drawing out a reader’s interest.

After looking at other horoscopes, it’s possible that, after this or next month’s, readers may start losing intrigue and yearning for their Chronogram horoscopes. Readers want the story of their lives, not recommendations or matter-of-fact advice from their horoscopes. At least, that’s what I’ve noticed in groups, with friends, and in myself.

Let me know what you think about your monthly horoscope from Chronogram in the comments!

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PHOTOS: Snow Day in Port Jervis

Today is International Women’s Day. My drive to take photos of mother nature today was thus uncompromising. Enjoy!

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  • snowman spotted on Fowler (not mine)

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.

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.

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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

 

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

Former Cuomo Aide Indicted for CPV Bribery

NEW YORK — Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. a court proceeding began that has many Orange County residents and some from Sullivan Co. protesting, as well as citizens across the state concerned.

A former aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Joseph Percoco, is finally seeing trial over a year after a subpoena calling for his indictment on the charges of accepting bribes for official favors.

Organizations such as Food and Water Watch – New York, Concerned Citizens for the Hudson Valley, and Protect Orange County organized to further call attention to these charges, the corruption of Albany and the Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) plant transporting fracked gas into the Hudson Valley.

The bribes, from 2012 to 2014, as well as in 2015, recurringly came bank accounts set up by a shell company of Todd Howe, a lobbyist who first met Percoco and Cuomo while he was working Cuomo’s father, Mario Cuomo. Howe is now cooperating with prosecutors after having pleaded guilty to multiple felonies of a similar nature in September 2016.

Activists in the region are pointing to a particular instance when CPV paid over $287,000 to Percoco. Former CPV executive, Peter Galbraith Kelly Jr. was charged with arranging the payments. Now, Protect Orange County, wants to see the CPV fracked gas-fired plant removed from the Hudson Valley, and they aren’t alone.

The trial is expected to be ongoing for the next four to six weeks. Syracuse developers, COR Development executives Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, were also charged in the Percoco trial, as well as another, for their arrangement of nearly $35,000 in payments to help with economic development.

Susan Lerner, Common Cause Executive Director, believes that the evidence in the trial will “be eye-opening for the public” in terms of the “pay-to-play aspects” of government economic decision-making.

The trial is being held at the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse in Foley Square in New York City. Many have already gathered in protest. Footage from Protect Orange County’s Facebook Live feed is below.

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The Buffalo News reporter Tom Precious said Saturday that the “Percoco corruption trial is as much about Cuomo as it is the defendants.” In the article, Executive Director of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), Blair Horner, agrees with Lerner that prosecutors are “going to illustrate Albany’s pay-to-play culture, and it’s not going to be pretty for New Yorkers to see.”

Assemblyman Ray Walter, an Amherst Republican, takes it a step further.

“I think we’re going to see the inner workings of the Cuomo administration and how the economic development model he’s developed as governor leads to this type of corruption,” he said.

Tom Precious, The Buffalo News. Jan. 20, 2018

Chair of Protect Orange County, Pramilla Malick, has not yet responded to calls for comment. To be Updated as the trial continues.