In a strongly worded response, attorneys from the New York Civil Liberties Union issue an ultimatum to City of Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane. The letter, dated September 22, 2014, advises the executive to rescind the employee gag order issued on August 6, 2014. The gag order attempts to restrict employee communication with members of the Common Council. The NYCLU gives the mayor 7 days to take action. The NYCLU has successfully sued other municipalities for similar behavior and cites State and Federal Court decisions supporting employees 1st Amendment right to free speech.
Saratoga Springs, New York comes alive during the Thoroughbred racing season. Its streets, restaurants and parks are full of visitors. For a photographer, this is a great opportunity to practice your skills and get photos that may normally be out of your comfort zone. With three trips to the track this year, this blogger has got a lot of practice. My third trip was monday, August 11, 2014. If you get to the track about 8am, there is plenty of parking and not too much traffic. If you are not planning on spending the day at the races, you can still visit the track for breakfast or just to watch the horses warm up on the track. There is no charge for this with your trackside parking fee ($12) refunded if you leave before 10am. Leaving the track at that time gives you the opportunity to visit Saratoga’s other attractions. The following photos represent an inexpensive and enjoyable half-day trip. These photos are my intellectual property and may not be used or reproduced without permission.
Saturday July 19, 2014 marked the 100th run of the Sanford Stakes at the Saratoga Raceway. The race is named for Amsterdam’s Stephen Sanford (1826-1913) , born in Mayfield, NY, member of the US House of Representatives, who among other ventures, ran the Hurricana Farm where he trained Thoroughbreds. The farm was renamed the Sanford Stud Farm by his son John Sanford II, Congressman and carpet manufacturer, born in Amsterdam in 1851, who built his home on Church Street (what we now know as Amsterdam’s City Hall). Sanford descendant Landine L. Manigault, her son Pierre Manigault and his daughters India and Gigi Manigault were at Saratoga Raceway for the Sanford Stakes. Pierre Manigault lives in Charleston, South Carolina and is Chairman at Evening Post Industries and Garden & Gun Magazine. His mother Landine Manigault lives in Stonington, Connecticut and is the daughter of Gertrude Sanford Legendre, sister of Stephen “Laddie” Sanford and Sara Jane Sanford, children of John and Ethel Sanford whose parents were Stephen Sanford and Sara Jane Cochrane.
Friends of the Sanford Stud Farm celebrated with a visit to the National Museum of Racing & Hall of Fame, followed by a luncheon at the Saratoga Raceway track-side clubhouse. Amsterdam artist Dan Czech designed the Sanford Stakes Centennial commemorative poster using period design. Pierre Manigault presented Friends founder Sam Hildebrandt an original purple and gold Sanford jockey silk. Sam’s father Louis Hildebrant was a very successful Sanford jockey.
It was a humid day but the air-conditioned clubhouse was a great way to watch the races. Some things have changed at the track since my last visit in the late 80’s. High definition flat screen monitors abound, posted on kiosks throughout the grounds with a huge monitor at center track. Cigar smoke fills the air as people study their racing sheets to place their bets. The racetrack grounds serve as impromptu campsites as people bring lawn-chairs, coolers and food, selecting a site on the lawn to claim stake for the day. The clubhouse patrons decked out in their finest causal attire, enjoy the day in the style. Beer and alcohol flowed on both sides of the fence, fueling shouts of enthusiasm as well as groans of disappointment.
The 7th race was the Sanford Stakes and thanks to the Friends of Sanford Stud Farm, I had a place at the finish line and access to the Winner’s Circle for the race. Big Trouble won the Sanford Stakes in the last stretch as he shot from 4th place to victory. The Sanford Stakes Cup was presented to Big Trouble jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. and trainer Tony Dutrow by John Sanford’s great granddaughters India and Gigi Manigault. A slew of reporters soon flooded Winner’s Circle including reporter Adam Shinder from The Recorder. Congressman Paul Tonko appeared in Winner’s Circle to support one of Amsterdam’s Historic events.
I heard the news today that Pete Seeger died at the ripe old age of 94. Pete Seeger was a legend in the folk music scene. A writer and performer who won Grammy awards and the American Music award, Pete was also an activist who fought for equal rights and environmental action. He founded the group Clearwater,Inc. that was established to educate the public about pollution in our waterways. Clearwater’s lobbying efforts helped win a court decision ordering GE to remove years of toxic PCB contamination from New York State’s Hudson River. Pete was also a friend who I met in the late 80’s through my late partner Ken Yeso who worked for Clearwater as an environmental educator. I became a Clearwater volunteer and freelance photographer, contributing photos for the Clearwater Navigator as well as the annual catalog. Pete and Toshi Seeger made you feel like you were part of an extended family. Their generosity had no limits. When Ken died in 1993, we held his service aboard the sloop Clearwater on the Hudson River near the Bear Mountain Bridge. Pete and other Clearwater members attended. Pete wrote and performed a short song in honor of my partner Ken. Pete Seeger will be missed by his huge extended family.
The World Peace and Health Organization presented their 2013 Holiday Celebration at the Goddess of Mercy Temple on 58 Grove Street in Amsterdam, New York on Saturday afternoon. It was a celebration of the Winter Solstice and Christmas bending and blending cultural barriers. There was a large representation from our local Native American tribes who shared their cultural traditions along with drumming and flute music. A local duo played their original metal composition on guitar and drums and a traditional Chinese song was sung in English by a Chinese native and in Chinese by an American. The Chinese Buddhists presented both song and a variety of costumed dance. Food and refreshments were served. It was a very colorful, festive celebration of the end of 2013.
Mr. Bala Peri (Balakumar Periyasamy) is an American citizen from Leesburg, Virginia. He has a wife and two young children with whom he recently shared a cross-country trip making stops at all the National Parks along the way. Bala now works for the IRS in the IT department but plans on retiring and moving his family to New York. Bala’s reason for the move is to oversee his new investment that he hopes will help finance his children’s college education. Bala’s new investment is the former Park Hill Adult Home at 52 Grove Street in Amsterdam that this blogger previously described in the 2011 article Park Hill Adult Home for Sale and the 2012 article A Copper Caper.
This historic building was once the mansion of an early Amsterdam landowner, it then became a convent for the Sisters of St Joseph who taught at the former St Mary’s School before the transition into an adult home. The original building has two rounded towers nestled on either side of a three-story cross-shaped building. There is a large wrap around porch on the front and eastern side of the building. All of the original woodwork including complete sets of pocket doors, ornate moulding, staircases and six fireplaces are in excellent condition. An upstairs room is fitted with stained glass windows bearing religious symbols of the Catholic faith. There were several additions built on the West and back sides of the building including fifty-three patient rooms, an industrial kitchen, day room, dining hall, nurses station and even a beauty salon.
Bala purchased the buildings mortgage from the bank that foreclosed and had traveled back and forth from Leesburg to Amsterdam for the past two weeks to supervise work on his new investment. He began by hiring a team for a much-needed carry out of accumulated junk and a good cleaning. A security system was installed including video cameras and motion detection alarms. General building maintenance and repair will start very soon.
It has only been two weeks and Bala has already employed five people from this neighborhood to work on his project. A consulting team has been through the building to advise Bala of the steps he must take to get licensed to run an adult care facility. Bala will run under the name Trilok Noble Care, Inc. A member of the consulting team is a retired NYS Department of Health inspector. Bala will be meeting with a representative from NYS Veterans Affairs next week. He would like to open an adult home for Veterans, however the licensing process may take up to 20 months. In the interim he wants to get his building in working order so he can use it as a bed and breakfast facility.
I commend Bala for his willingness to invest in our city and for his initiative and drive. He previously established a successful adult home in India. He has three close relatives in the United States who are physicians and will provide needed references. He has already provided employment for our citizens with the number soon to increase.
Friends of Sanford Stud Farm started the 2013 season on February 26, with their annual meeting held in the Sanford Room of the Raindancer Restaurant in Perth, NY. The Friends of Sanford Stud Farm is a not-for-profit organization in unison with the Town of Amsterdam formed to help oversee the restoration and preservation of the former Sanford Stud Farm as a heritage center because of its historical, architectural, and cultural significance.
Last night that mission took a giant step forward as Dan McEneny, representative from NYS Parks and Recreation National Register Unit, announced the Sanford Stud Farm will be formally listed on the NYS Historic Places registry next month. The Sanford Stud Farm will then be nominated for the National Historic Places registry so the history will not be forgotten.
Master of Ceremonies last night was Tom Foster standing in for Board President Scott Friers who was home with the flu. Past FSSF President L.F.”Sam” Hildebrandt gave the keynote speech which included funding and restoration initiatives. Jim & Janice Kelly, Sheri Brown and Ron & Audie DeCaprio were presented with the 2012 Raymond Pischel Volunteer of the Year Award for exemplary contribution and efforts on behalf of the Friends of Sanford Stud Farm.
We also heard from Cecilia Tkaczyk, newly elected State Senator for the 46th District, who pledged her support for the cause.
This year my blog went through some changes. The Grove Street Grumble became The Grove Street Photographer. The Buddhists helped me discover that I had more to be thankful for than to grumble about. While the statistics showed people really liked my grumbling posts, there was also a number of people who did not. One reporter for the Gazette even described my writing style as acerbic. While I still have a few acerbic posts now and then, for the most part I have tried to focus on what I can do well, photography.
Sixty posts were added to the Grove Street Photographer blog in 2012. The blog had 33,000 views from 95 countries. May 29, 2012 saw the highest number of views in one day with 1,134 people viewing the post Celebrating Buddhas Birthday.
Other popular posts viewed in 2012 included two from 2011. In the number two spot is A New York State of Death followed by Photo Restoration in the third place. The fourth and fifth places go to my 2012 acerbic posts The Many Faces of Michael Chiara and Letter to the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors.
The 2012 post with the largest number of comments was another acerbic post Mayor Proposes Two Condoms for the City of Amsterdam.
What I took from these statistics was that people would rather look at my photos than read about my political views and I’m good with that. The local papers use talented journalists who are very good at covering local politics. When it comes to photography, I have the edge.
See you next year!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Today is December 21, 2012, the day the world was to end but didn’t. I thought it would be right today to post photos from another significant date this month, the twelfth day of the twelfth month of the year two thousand twelve.
The Photo Center at 404 River Street in Troy, New York 12180, is sponsoring a juried photography show From January 18 to February 17, 2013. The show will feature a slice of life from submitted photographs taken on 12/12/12. The show is open to all photographers and digital submissions are due by 6PM on Wednesday, January 2, 2013. You may submit up to four photos along with a $30 fee payable to the Photo Center.
With that in mind and my new Canon EOS-M camera, I took some photos. The camera is smaller than my iPhone 4S in length and height but packs a powerful APS-C sensor. It is very good in low light and all the following photos were taken with existing light. My day took me from Church Street to Price Chopper, Schenectady library, Morette’s King Steak House and then to a meeting of the Schenectady Photographic Society. This group is one of the oldest continuously running camera clubs in the United States. It has been in existence for over eighty years!
The first photo taken at 12 midnight from my house on Grove is followed by the Church Street photos taken at noon.