Posts Tagged ‘Hudson River’

A Kennedy in Name Only

Wednesday, April 24th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

    Once upon a time, in an America in which politicians discussed, debated, argued and compromised in order to pass laws for the betterment of the nation, a man named Robert F. Kennedy ran for president.

       He had previously served as attorney general of the country and was a key adviser to the president, who happened to be his brother, John F. Kennedy.

       President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 and his brother, commonly called Bobby, eventually moved from Massachusetts (where his younger brother, Ted, would serve as senator for 47 years) to New York, where he was elected senator. Bobby served New York from 1965 to 1968, when he, too, ran for president.

       Life being sometimes cruelly unpredictable, Bobby Kennedy was also assassinated, being shot to death in a hotel kitchen while campaigning in California in 1968.

       Today, in an America in which one of the two major political parties has abandoned negotiation for fear, threats, lies and violence, Kennedy’s son, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., trading on the family name and legacy, is running for president. 

     Not as a Democrat, like his father and uncles, but as an independent candidate. Unfortunately, this apple has fallen far from the family tree. So far, in fact, that every member of his family has endorsed Democrat Joe Biden for president and encouraged Americans not to vote for RFK Jr. 

      When I decided to write about Kennedy’s third-party candidacy, it was mostly because I was angry that he would likely take votes away from Biden, since many Americans, while pridefully long on opinions, are woefully short on actual information. I thought, they’ll see the Kennedy name, think progressive Democrat, and figure, what the heck, he’s a lot younger than Joe.

      Yeah, but he’s more like Donald Trump and the Republican Party, which has abandoned all traditional American political principles. A lot more like Trump, in fact.

     Kennedy is a conspiracy theorist. An anti-vaccine activist. He says he’ll put the country on Blockchain currency if elected president. He threw the environmental group largely responsible for reclaiming the Hudson River, not far from me, into turmoil when he decided he wanted to take it over.

   And he’s definitely anti-Democrat. In fact, Kennedy’s New York campaign manager specifically said Junior was running as an independent, knowing full well he has no chance of winning, in order to take votes away from Biden.

    But guess what? Life being, as I said, unpredictable, those annoying polls, which keep popping up with dubious information, have apparently started showing Kennedy taking more votes away from Trump than from Biden.

     Maybe it’s the same theory: What the heck, he’s just as nutty and he’s a lot younger than Trump.

     For what it’s worth, Trump never got more votes than his opponent and he truly cannot afford to lose votes to a third-party candidate. Much more so than Biden, So Republicans are worried about Bobby Junior, too.

      I don’t know and I really don’t think the pollsters know. I do know that no third-party candidate is going to get elected president and that Americans who are familiar with history and cherish democracy have a duty to educate others who are familiar only with the name, Robert F. Kennedy. Names can be deceiving.

      I saw and heard Bobby Kennedy campaign for the presidency in person. This is not that Bobby Kennedy.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

     

 

        

The Story Behind the Name on the Sign

Thursday, April 27th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

  F92A48D4-B103-40C3-8E90-BA51D94911CC With the virtual disappearance of local newspapers, the crisis-of-the-moment atmosphere of news on television, heightened in recent years by social media, it’s easy for local happenings of note to sometimes slip by, umm, unnoticed. No cameras, no crowds, no name-calling, nothing going on here, folks. Just keep driving.

     Well, the other day as we drove a familiar route on Route 17 in slightly upstate New York, passing from Sullivan County into Orange County, I noticed an unfamiliar sight — a sign reading “Welcome to The Maurice D. Hinchey Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area.”

     Where did that come from? I wondered. What does it mean?

   08503BD6-0B61-4098-951C-40978753D117Some research revealed that the entire Hudson River Valley, including counties bordering on both sides of the river, was designated by Congress in 1996 as the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area “to interpret, preserve and celebrate the nationally-significant cultural and natural resources of the Hudson River Valley.”

    I assume I heard about it at the time and forgot. Considering  the river’s role in so much of this nation’s history, from the Dutch settlers to the Revolutionary War, to the Hudson River School of Painters and the wealthy industrialists living in the valley, that designation makes a lot of sense. So, good for Congress.

     The area was officially renamed in honor of Maurice D. Hinchey in 2019. Considering that Hinchey probably did more than anyone else to save and preserve the river, that makes even more sense. Even better for the politicians.

     But what took them so long? And does just putting up a sign along the highway do Hinchey justice? I don’t think so. People, especially those new to the area and those just passing through, ought to know something about the name on the sign.

    So … Maurice Hinchey built a reputation in his 17 years in the State Legislature as the premier champion and defender of the environment in New York state. As longtime chairman of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, he cracked down on polluters, investigated organized crime control of waste hauling, made Love Canal and toxic waste a national issue and, perhaps most importantly, raised an awareness of the importance of protecting our natural resources as a key to economic growth.

     Cleaning and preserving the Hudson River was one of his major priorities and no one worked more diligently at that.

     In addition to his 17 years in the state legislature, Hinchey served 20 years in Congress, representing an area that stretched from his home county of Ulster to the Finger Lakes region. He was a vocal opponent of fracking and consistently fought to bring resources to the Hudson Valley region that would improve the environment and boost the economy at the same time.

     A frequent visitor at the offices of The Times Herald-Record in Middletown, he spoke quietly and knowingly and dressed sharply. In sum, he was an impeccable champion for the region.

     Hinchey died in 2017, in his hometown of Saugerties, in the Hudson Valley. He was 79. Having survived cancer, he succumbed to frontotemporal degeneration, a rare terminal neurological disorder, according to his family. I was saddened when I heard the news, but his legacy as the champion of the Hudson River Valley had already been assured many years earlier.

     In fact, that legacy may be growing. Hinchey’s daughter, Michelle, a Democrat like her father, was elected to the State Senate in 2020, representing much of the same area that her father did. Among other things, she has been focusing on renewable energy and sustainable agriculture. She appears to be well aware of why her father’s name is on that new sign on Route 17.

    Hopefully, now you are, too.

                                  *** 

     From the National Park, Service website: The Hudson River Valley NHA is managed by the Hudson River Valley Greenway, a New York State sponsored program created to facilitate the development of a regional strategy for preserving scenic, natural, historic, cultural and recreational resources while encouraging compatible economic development and maintaining the tradition of home rule for land use decision-making.

The sites: https://www.hudsonrivervalley.com/sites

Bob Gaydos was editorial page editor of the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, NY, for 23 years.

rjgaydos@gmail.com



Save democracy, vote Democratic

Thursday, November 3rd, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

   62395128-094D-465D-A455-BC0B61B1AABD  I voted early. Easy. No lines at the Government Center in Monticello at 2:30 on Tuesday a week before Election Day. Helpful, pleasant volunteers. I voted for every Democrat across Row A. Also easy. There was really no other choice.

    The hamlet where I live is tucked in to the southeastern tip of Sullivan County in upstate New York, about an hour’s drive to New York City. It’s between the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River Valley. Pretty country. A lot of it is Republican country, but not as much as it used to be. Our area’s congressman and state legislators are all Democrats. A recent development.

       When I say there was no other choice on the ballot aside from Democrats, I don’t mean there were no Republicans running for federal, local or state offices. I mean, in my opinion, no Republican candidate for office even deserved consideration for my vote if he or she had failed to publicly voice any kind of criticism of the Trump disaster despite having six years and countless opportunities to do so. Two impeachments. The election conspiracy/lie. Thousands of other lies. The January 6 Insurrection incitement. Classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. Threats of violence. And, of course, total incompetence. Nothing.

       Republican silence on Trump goes well beyond party loyalty to the realm of blind allegiance to their leader and/or sheer cowardice, neither of which I want in an elected official at any level. As far as I can tell, it is a pandemic of its own within the Republican Party in every state at every level. Silence, obedience … or unhinged vocal support.

          I cannot think of one local Republican official in the three-county area (Orange, Sullivan, Ulster) which I call home who has publicly said a negative word about Trump. Not one. Six years. To do so, many apparently fear, would cost them votes and maybe end their political careers. The thought that it might gain them respect and new votes apparently hasn’t occurred to them.

         Of course, there are those Republicans who support Trump vocally, if not vigorously, yet deny that this defines them as racist, bigoted, fascistic, phony, cruel, anti-science, anti-free press, ignorant of the law, misogynistic, double-dealing, anti-education, anti-veteran, hypocritical, self-absorbed, lazy liars. There’s more, but you know it all. If the Republican Party, individually and as a whole, supports Trump, it is Trump. The whole ugly package.

  Full disclosure: Most of what you’ve read so far is repeated from a column I wrote two years ago, prior to the presidential election.  Fortunately, Democrats prevailed. Yet, today, many of the leading voices in the Republican Party still parrot Trump’s lie that the election was stolen from him. Indeed, Republican candidates for all sorts of state and local offices also repeat the lie. For many it’s their only campaign issue. Truthfully, the only issue Republicans seem to have is to gain power and maintain it in any way possible, legal or otherwise. Violence is apparently not ruled out.

     That’s a pretty harsh statement, but I repeat, I see no evidence that it is offbase. The only Republicans who have criticized Trump have been ostracized from the party. The silent ones are complicit in what I believe is the greatest threat to our democracy in my lifetime.

    I am 81 years old and after more than a quarter century of writing editorials for daily newspapers I never imagined I would write these words. But then I never imagined one of the two major political parties would abdicate all responsibility to govern in favor of creating an authoritarian system of government designed primarily to protect conservative white Christians. 

      This column is directed primarily at those who say their vote doesn’t matter. Or that both parties are the same. Wrong. Every vote for every office matters this year. Joe Biden’s two years as president with a Democratic Congress produced meaningful legislation for all Americans. If Republicans control Congress, there will be two years of stalemate and phony hearings, but no meaningful legislation. If they control state governments, no Democratic victory will be accepted. Constant turmoil.

     Vote like democracy depends on it, America,  because it does. And vote for every Democrat on the ballot. Please.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

Take America Out to the Ball Game

Friday, July 1st, 2022
Playing ball at Dutchess Stadium. RJ Photography RJ Photography

Playing ball at Dutchess Stadium.
RJ Photography

By Bob Gaydos

It was ‘90s Prom Night. All the music was from the ‘90s. There were teenaged girls in lovely prom dresses. Their dates wore matching tuxes. There was a race against a video opponent. Sing the next line of the song. Show us your best ‘90s dance moves. Yes, musical chairs! Crown a prom king and queen. A rousing chorus of “God Bless America.” A six-year-old boy wearing a DiMaggio #5 jersey. A 66-year-old wearing a Maris #9. Another rousing chorus of “Take Me Out to ….” … Yes. The ball game.

     But not just any ballgame. A Hudson Renegades/Brooklyn Cyclones ballgame. Class A minor league baseball at its best. The future Yankees (the Renegades) hosted the future Mets at a splendid ballpark in Dutchess County, not far from the Hudson River and a one-hour commuter train ride from the big ballpark in the Bronx.

    What better way to spend a perfect summer night than with America’s traditional pastime when much of the rest of the country was participating in America’s new pastime — bickering over how serious it was that a defeated president threw his lunch against the wall because his coup attempt was not going well. A couple of thousand locals thought the same.

     The only hint of possible friction at the ballpark came when the public address announcer reported that the Houston Astros had defeated the Mets that afternoon. The hometown Renegades/Yankees fans cheered loudly. All in fun.

      Americans, I think, are desperate to have fun again. Real fun, relaxed fun, not frenetic demonstrations of rebellion against a Covid mask mandate or some other hyped display of look-at-me bravado.

     A hot-dog-at-a-ballgame kind of fun.

     Without trying to sound corny, a night out with friends at Dutchess Stadium really was a perfect antidote for what ailed me — Trumper tantrums, MAGA mania and a Supreme Court run amok. I had had the unsettling talk with myself earlier that went something like, “I’ve been promoting a pro-choice, gun control, equal rights, save-the-planet agenda in my writing for decades and yet, here we are. I need a ballgame.”

       I was right.

      The whole country needs a ball game, especially one between young men in their early 20s chasing a dream – to someday become a Yankee or a Met. I’d venture to say that, to most in the crowd, the outcome of the game didn’t matter nearly as much as simply being there.

        Even when the Renegades pitcher walked the first Cyclone batter, hit the next one with a pitch and gave up a home run on his first pitch to the third batter, everyone seemed to be pretty relaxed, having a good time, except maybe the Renegades pitcher.

       But never fear, there was still a lot of baseball to be played. And hotdogs and burgers and peanuts and popcorn and french fries and even tacos to be eaten. Local sponsors got promoted on the big screen. Birthdays were announced. Bases were stolen and home runs were hit. Three in all. 

        In the end, the Renegades won, 8 to 5.  In honor of the evening’s theme, there was dancing on the field after the game to ‘90s music under flashing colored lights. Dancing on the field!

         To top it off, since the Renegades are now an uptown team, they play the Yankees’ traditional send-the-fans-home-happy song — Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York.” We all knew the words.

          Start spreading the news. The MAGAs will still be there. I’ll make a brand new start of it … Tomorrow.

         Boy, did I make the right call about needing a ball game.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.     

       

 

Getting Back to Indian Point

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

By Jeffrey Page

Indian Point

Indian Point

I had conveniently forgotten to think about Indian Point and its attendant horrors, but as always seems to happen when you’re in a state of denial, the truth taps you on the shoulder and howls in your ear.

Several days ago I was at breakfast with some friends, a regular Friday event. I don’t recall what led to talk about Indian Point, but all of sudden there it was, the silent monstrosity that sits on the banks of the Hudson seeming to bide its time. I think everyone at the table harbored a fear that one of these days, Indian Point will do the unimaginable.

It will explode, or it will leak, or it will send plumes of radioactive smoke into the sky and force millions of people to wait to see where it comes down. Or it will be visited by people who despise us and it will fail to stop them from making off with material to make dirty bombs.

There seems to be enough radioactive waste stored at Indian Point to make more than a few such bombs. In fact, Riverkeeper estimates that Indian Point now holds about 1,500 tons of waste material – with no place to dispose of it permanently.

I have to wonder about security at Indian Point. A couple of years ago, a photographer and I chugged up the Hudson to do a story on sailing the river and the Erie Barge Canal. We were in mid-river as we passed Indian Point. My friend attached a very long lens to one of his cameras and started shooting pictures of the plant. Then the two of us waved.

Response from the ever vigilant Indian Point?

There was no response. No federal agents, no armed guards in fast boats, no loud warning buzzers played over big amplifiers.

If all this is not enough for the feds to reject the application by Entergy – the Indian Point operator – for a 20-year extension on its operating license, there is the matter of the size of the population near Indian Point. There’s another problem: Entergy’s evacuation plan is utter nonsense.

On a map, draw a circle with a 50-mile radius around Indian Point, step back and understand that roughly 20 million people are in that circle. People in Goshen, Middletown, Newburgh, the mid-Hudson, North Jersey, etc. Let us not forget that there’s an important federal interest in taming Indian Point – its proximity to West Point, just five miles up the river.

And there’s the little matter of New York City. Indian Point is about 23 miles from Times Square.

The word “evacuation” should not be allowed when discussing Indian Point. Not when 20 million mostly panic-stricken people would be trying to leave the 78 square miles around the plant all at the same time.

You can’t evacuate an area when the evacuation routes are clogged. Ever notice what happens on Route 17 when two cars smack each other in Sloatsburg during the morning commute? The backup builds quickly and there’s no way out. And that’s just for a jam of a few hundred cars. Now picture that traffic knot with thousands upon thousands of cars trying to escape.

Indian Point needs to be taken more seriously by people like me – people who have managed not to think much about it lately. It needs to be always in the public consciousness. Remember, most of us never heard of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima until they blew.

And may I offer a piece of gratuitous advice for nuclear regulators: Before that license extension is considered, I suggest that the officers and directors of Entergy be required to move – with their spouses and their children – to Buchanan, N.Y., home of Indian Point.

I’m sure this has been suggested before. It’s time to suggest it again.