Analysis of Amsterdam’s Chalmers Mill Lofts Project. Part One – Why Not Luxury Housing?

by Daniel T. Weaver

In 2008 the City of Amsterdam made its first serious attempt to redevelop the Chalmers Mill site on the city’s south side. Since then, two city administrations have made at least four major attempts to develop the site during an eight year period. Two guiding principles emerge from interviews, numerous published studies and other documents concerning attempts to redevelop this site. The first principle is—is the proposed project viable or can it succeed. The second principle is—will the proposed project stimulate additional economic growth. Continue reading “Analysis of Amsterdam’s Chalmers Mill Lofts Project. Part One – Why Not Luxury Housing?”

If You Oppose Amsterdam’s Chalmers Mill Lofts Project, You Might Be An Elitist (Opinion)

Sometimes we say things and don’t realize what we have really said. Such is the case with those in the City of Amsterdam who oppose the Chalmer’s Mill Lofts workforce housing project because they say the plot of land the housing project will be built on, the site of the former Chalmer’s Knitting Mill near the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook pedestrian bridge, is prime real estate better suited to luxury housing. What these opponents are really saying is working people don’t deserve to live on prime real estate or on waterfront property and that property should be reserved for people with money. Continue reading “If You Oppose Amsterdam’s Chalmers Mill Lofts Project, You Might Be An Elitist (Opinion)”

MTA Sends Cease & Desist Letter to Erie County Over ICE Tipline Signs (News)

Erie County Clerk, Mickey Kearns, who has posted ICE tip line signs in DMV offices in Erie County in an effort to combat New York State’s Green Light Law which allows illegal immigrants to apply for and receive drivers’ licenses, was sent a cease and desist letter yesterday from the Metropolitan Transit Authority. The MTA’s complaint was not so much about the signs themselves, although it did register its disapproval of them, but about Kearns use of the phrase “If you See Something Say Something,” which is a registered MTA trademark. Continue reading “MTA Sends Cease & Desist Letter to Erie County Over ICE Tipline Signs (News)”

Herman Melville & the White Whale That Swam to Albany (History, Literature)

By Daniel T. Weaver

Herman Melville, one of New York State’s greatest authors whose 200th birthday we are celebrating this year, had multiple sources to draw from for his greatest work, Moby Dick. One was the sinking of the Essex, a whaling ship, by a whale. Another source was an aggressive white whale known as Mocha Dick. A third inspiration for his novel may have been the story of a white whale that swam up the Hudson to Fort Orange, now the city of Albany, New York. Continue reading “Herman Melville & the White Whale That Swam to Albany (History, Literature)”

NYS County Clerks Employ New Tactic in Green Light Law Battle (News)

In his battle against New York State’s Green Light Law, which allows illegal immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses, Erie County Clerk, Mickey Kearns, has installed ICE tip line signs in county DMV offices. DMV workers are prohibited by state law from reporting illegal immigrants to federal authorities. However, other people can, so Kearns is posting signs which read “If You SEE Something SAY Something Report Suspicious Activity 1-866-DHS-2ICE.” Niagara County Clerk, Joseph Jastrzemski, is doing the same in Niagara County DMV offices. Continue reading “NYS County Clerks Employ New Tactic in Green Light Law Battle (News)”

Winston Churchill’s Upstate New York Ancestors (History)

By Daniel T. Weaver

Sir Winston Churchill’s maternal grandfather, Leonard Jerome, studied law for three years with Marcus T. Reynolds, an attorney born in Minaville, NY. Reynolds, a Union College graduate, was the first person to practice law in Amsterdam before moving to Albany where he became one of New York State’s top attorneys. Before studying law with Reynolds, Churchill’s grandfather attended Union College in Schenectady, graduating in 1839. Continue reading “Winston Churchill’s Upstate New York Ancestors (History)”

When Guy Johnson Drank Everyone Under the Table & Other Stories From Stone Arabia (History)

By Daniel T. Weaver

It was a summer night in 1765 at a tavern in Stone Arabia (now the Town of Palatine, New York), and Guy Johnson had drunk all his companions under the table. One of them, Capt. Cornelius Cuyler, was so drunk he “gott into bed with the Landlady…She Cryed out—alarmed the Family—& sett us all a going!” So wrote Lord Adam Gordon in a letter to Sir William Johnson, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Northern Division, on July 2, 1765, in which he apologized to Johnson for the behavior that had occurred. Johnson was there but slept through the “riotousness.” Continue reading “When Guy Johnson Drank Everyone Under the Table & Other Stories From Stone Arabia (History)”

Cuomo Should Emulate Rather Than Ignore Trump Tax Break That Benefits NYS (Opinion)

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s stance on the Trump Administration’s cap on State and Local Tax (SALT) deductions has placed him in a strange position, in which the self styled progressive governor is suing the federal government because he believes the rich are being unfairly penalized by the tax cap. Of course, that’s not the way Cuomo writes the narrative. The governor is not going to admit he is fighting for tax breaks for the wealthy, even though that is what he is doing. Continue reading “Cuomo Should Emulate Rather Than Ignore Trump Tax Break That Benefits NYS (Opinion)”

Made in Canada: Schenectady’s Historic Colonial Era Cannon Silent Witness to History

By Neil B. Yetwin

One of the most enduring and intriguing of Schenectady’s many antiquities is the mounted cannon at the end of North Ferry Street in the Stockade’s Riverside Park. For nearly a century this imposing piece of ordnance has stood watch eastward over the Mohawk River as if expecting to defend the city against any who threatened the peace and security of its inhabitants. Schenectady historian John J. Birch suggested in 1961 that the cannon’s history “is a mystery which undoubtedly will never be solved.” Yet physical clues and scattered anecdotal evidence might shed light upon those mysteries that have shrouded the cannon for more than two centuries and perhaps help restore it to its proper place in Schenectady’s history. Continue reading “Made in Canada: Schenectady’s Historic Colonial Era Cannon Silent Witness to History”

Empire Center Report Claims Tuition Assistance Better Than Tuition Free Excelsior Scholarship (News)

New York’s Excelsior Scholarship, now offering tuition-free public college to students from families making up to $125,000 a year is “deeply flawed,” and the $119 million the state now budgets for Excelsior would be better spent on expanding the state’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) for lower-income students, according to a report issued in late October by the Empire Center for Public Policy. Continue reading “Empire Center Report Claims Tuition Assistance Better Than Tuition Free Excelsior Scholarship (News)”

Thanksgiving Day 1822, 1893 & 2014 in Amsterdam, NY (History)

by Daniel T. Weaver

Thanksgiving Day 1893 was not a happy time for many people in Amsterdam. The Panic of 1893 was a financial crisis which lasted four years and had a negative impact on the city. Many newspapers blamed the crisis on free trade or the removal of tariffs on American goods. The city of Amsterdam was used as an object lesson for the “blighting effects” of “the tariff wreckers.” In an account in the Amsterdam Daily Democrat published the day after Thanksgiving, Amsterdam was described as a city where “Nearly every mill is shut down. Thousands of men and women, who a year ago were employed, are on the the brink of want. A recent Amsterdam dispatch declares that the Aid and Benevolent society is attempting to care for several thousand destitute families. People daily go from house to house begging for food. Local trade is at a standstill. Various charitable organizations are making constant appeals for help. Numbers are deserting the town.” Continue reading “Thanksgiving Day 1822, 1893 & 2014 in Amsterdam, NY (History)”

Burning Slaves at the Stake in the Mohawk Valley (History)

By Daniel T. Weaver

The sentence of the five man court was that the prisoner “be carried to the place from whence she came + to be brot from there to the Place of Execution and there be burnt till she is dead.” The five Tryon (later Montgomery) County, New York justices were Jelles Fonda, (ancestor of Jane, Henry, Peter and Bridget), Adam Loucks (later a Stone Arabia tavern keeper), John Butler (notorious Tory raider during the Revolution), Joseph Chew (his son was Sir William Johnson’s god-child) and Peter Masten, Continue reading “Burning Slaves at the Stake in the Mohawk Valley (History)”

Number of New York State Double Dipping Retirees Increases by 10% (News)

The number of New York state and local government early retirees collecting both a paycheck and public pension grew by 10 percent last year, according to data posted on SeeThroughNY.net, the Empire Center’s transparency website, bringing the total number of double dippers to 947.

At least 30 government retirees were approved to collect combined pay and pensions of $200,000 or more—including six exceeding combined totals of $300,000. Continue reading “Number of New York State Double Dipping Retirees Increases by 10% (News)”

Herman Melville in Schenectady (History)

by Neil Yetwin

The name of Herman Melville continues to retain the power to evoke images of New England whalers plying the South Seas, of desperate mutinies aboard British naval vessels, and of the epic pursuit of an elusive white whale. Yet Melville’s life prior to his attaining an honored place in American letters was anything but adventurous, marked as it was more by personal loss and financial instability than by any literary success. It was during those uncertain early years that the future author of Moby Dick and his lesser-known elder brother Gansevoort both had brief associations with the city of Schenectady. Continue reading “Herman Melville in Schenectady (History)”

Lord & Tailor: Sir William Johnson and his Clothier (History)

While wealthier residents of colonial Johnstown, New York afforded custom tailoring, almost everyone else wore clothing that itched, chafed, bagged up, or was too hot in summer and not warm enough in winter. Settler’s clothing mostly derived from sheering their sheep, spinning the wool into cloth, and sewing that into ill-fitting, patched breeches and shirts. Meanwhile, the Johnson family quartet – Sir William Johnson, Sir John Johnson, Guy Johnson and Daniel Claus – plus others of wealth and prominence, enjoyed clothing that actually fitted and was reasonably comfortable, being ‘tailor-made.’ Good tailoring has always been appreciated by those who can afford it and envied by those who can’t. Continue reading “Lord & Tailor: Sir William Johnson and his Clothier (History)”

New Law Forces Pro-Life Groups To Hire Pro-Abortion Employees (News)

Signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on November 8, a new law (S-660) makes it illegal to discriminate against an employee based on their reproductive healthcare decisions. While the law has the potential to protect women from discrimination who choose to carry a baby to term, the law’s justification makes it clear that its purpose is to protect women who decide to have an abortion. Justification for the bill as provided on the New York State Senate’s website is as follows: Continue reading “New Law Forces Pro-Life Groups To Hire Pro-Abortion Employees (News)”

Dear Jeff Bezos Why Are You Allowing Amazon To Ban & Burn Books? (Open Letter)

Mr. Bezos,

I received an email from one of your bots yesterday stating my book business, the Book Hound in Amsterdam, New York, could no longer sell two titles on amazon. Your botnote said, “This product was identified as one that is prohibited for sale. Amazon reserves the right to determine whether content provides an acceptable experience for customers.” The email did not enlighten me as to the following:

Continue reading “Dear Jeff Bezos Why Are You Allowing Amazon To Ban & Burn Books? (Open Letter)”

Angry Mob Threatens Conservative Students At Binghamton University (News)

Over 200 radical students at Binghamton University surrounded four College Republican Club members on Thursday, November 14, who were promoting a lecture by renown economist Dr. Arthur Laffer and began “harassing, cursing, yelling and physically destroying tables and displays,” according to a letter of complaint sent to the university president, Harvey G. Stenger, by NYS Assemblymember, Douglas M. Smith. Continue reading “Angry Mob Threatens Conservative Students At Binghamton University (News)”

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