Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Drop Shop

Amsterdam’s newest downtown business is The Drop Shop in the former Hotaling Florist building on 27 Division Street. Proprietor Michele D’Onofrio is very pleased with this great location right off of Pearl Street next to the First Niagara Bank. The building with 3,360 square feet of retail space is also ideal for the multifaceted business that Michele has envisioned.

The Drop Shop is a consignment sales and storage place for both large and small items. The customer pays 3% of the asking price when dropping off items for sale. If the item sells within 30 days, the customer will get 95% of the asking price. If the item does not sell there is an extra 3% charge due each month the item remains in the shop.  There are already dozens of items available for sale in the shop.

Store hours  are now Fridays 3-6, Saturdays 10-2 and Sundays 10-3 but will be expanding in a just a few months. Arrangements can also be made to drop off or view items at other times by contacting the store.

You can get more information about The Drop Shop by calling (518) 843-4300 or by emailing

Michele is an artist at heart, with a degree in Graphic Design she found her real passion in creating flower arrangements. She uses real flowers, silk flowers and has even created a realistic looking flower arrangement out of feathers. This second facet of her business is Silk N Lace Bouquets which includes wedding and formal gowns at very reasonable prices. A collection of vintage women’s  gloves still in their original packaging, manufactured in Gloversville, rounds out the wedding collection. Michele also sells gowns for young ladies as well as christening gowns.

The third facet of Michele’s business is selling David Oreck Candles. As a scent specialist for the David Oreck Candle Company, Michele can help customers start their own home shows.

It is great to see downtown Amsterdam slowly coming back to life!  Downtown encompasses much more than East Main Street. I wish Michele well in her new small business endeavor. The Drop Shop may even be a great place for an old photographer to sell some of his fine art prints!

Categories: Amsterdam, Art, Business | Tags: , , , ,

Bobby O’Brien 1963-2012

Local radio talk-show personality, Irish Folk Singer and local business owner, Robert B. Harold (aka Bobby O’Brien) died suddenly Wednesday afternoon at his home on Lefferts Street in Amsterdam.

Born in Donegal, Ireland, Bobby grew up in Ansonia, Connecticut before moving to Amsterdam at the age of 18.

Bobby O’Brien recorded an album Irish Songs I Love to Sing in 2002

The owner of Millennium Music store in the Town of Amsterdam was known locally for his sharp-tongued criticisms of local political figures.

The Bobby O’Brien Show aired Fridays on WCSS radio until 2010 when his show and the Bob Going and Mike Chiara show were taken off the air. They started the podcast The Show With No Name at the Europa Cafe in Amsterdam, NY.  It was the first topic of my newly formed blog, The Grove Street Grumble back on January 28, 2011. The following photos were taken during the taping of that first show. Bobby is in the blue sweatshirt seated next to Bob Going.

Rest in Peace Bobby O’Brien

Categories: Amsterdam, Media | Tags: , , ,

GOP and the Religious Wrong

Just when did the Republican Party become a religious organization? I am disgusted by anti-gay statements made by Republican candidates for the top elected office in the United States. These candidates are using religious-based bigotry to play on the public’s fears in an effort to garner votes from the religious right. Since when is it OK to demonize a class of people in the United States, vowing to strip away civil rights?

Barry Goldwater – Republican Senator from Arizona tried to warn us about this public threat in a speech to the US Senate in 1981.

On religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both.
I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in “A,” “B,” “C” and “D.” Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?
And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of “conservatism.”

Goldwater issued another warning in 1994 , as quoted in John W. Dean’s book Conservatives Without Conscience:

Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.

That time has come. Republicans using the name of God have declared war on gay Americans, vowing to repeal all marriage equality laws stating that gay Americans can be cured despite the fact that being gay is not an illness. We have Republican Presidential candidates like Rick Santorum wanting to reinstate the military’s failed DADT policy. Santorum who never served his country in the military, stated the repeal of the policy was “detrimental to soldiers”.  The Republican pseudo-religious group calling themselves the Family Research Council stated that repealing DADT would cause 30% of the military forces to leave the military.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The repeal of the policy has had absolutely no effect, other than to finally end the discrimination against gays and lesbians who serve.

The Family Research Council is listed as a HATE GROUP by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of their anti-gay rhetoric that uses false information to persuade political opinion such as linking gay men to pedophilia and pushing to criminalize gay behavior.  The actions of this group are not unlike those exhibited in Nazi Germany who criminalized, warehoused and executed gays and Jews in World War II.

The Family Research Council isn’t really pro-family as much as it is anti-gay. The FRC awarded Republican Representative Joe Walsh with a pro-family award despite the fact that the deadbeat dad owed $117,000 in unpaid child support to his ex-wife.

With each day that passes, more Americans are beginning to understand how the Bible was misused in the past to bolster personal prejudices and fears in trying to control the masses. It was used to enforce slavery, to prevent interracial marriage and to treat women as second class citizens. Today the minority target is gay Americans. It is NOT OK to bring these beliefs into the political arena. The Separation Clause of the 1st Amendment was interpreted by the US Supreme Court as prohibiting  the same.

Attempting to legitimize this type of bigotry against gay Americans in the name of religious teachings also has a detrimental affect on children in today’s society, giving them a reason to bully others who are gay.

New York State legalized same-sex marriage last year and previously instituted legislation to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation in the form of the Hate Crimes Act of 2000. In 2003 the term sexual orientation was added to the NYS Human Rights Act which among other things, prohibits discrimination in job hiring, public accommodation and housing.

Under NYS Education Law, the Dignity for all Students Act becomes effective July 1, 2012. This anti-bullying law states in part:

§  12. Discrimination and harassment prohibited. 1. No student shall be subjected to harassment by employees or students on school property or at a school function;  nor shall  any  student be subjected to discrimination based on a person’s  actual  or  perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic  group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender, or sex by school employees or students on school property or at a school function.

Gay Americans have faced discrimination and adversity for far to long to have these civil rights (yes they are civil rights protected by the 14th Amendment) stripped away by Republican wannabes wearing religion on their sleeves.

Categories: Family, Human Rights, Media, Politics | Tags: , , , ,

Cheez Doodles

I provide the service, and once I’m paid I can provide Cheez Doodles.
—Amsterdam Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis

The Cheez Doodle quote from 2010 describes the use of public money by DeCusatis to pay (or not pay) his secretary. After presenting the 2012 Common Council with a new contract that included a 25% pay raise, DeCusatis was not approved for the job of Corporation Counsel. The current salary for the City of Amsterdam’s Corporation Counsel is $59, 117.

The job of Corporation Counsel is part-time and DeCusatis chose to work from his own office, yet wanted pay for the extra work done by his secretary and included items such as a $60./month stipend instead of using a City owned cell phone.

Things were not all rosy when it came to the job performance of the Corporation Counsel. Under the City’s employ, DeCusatis has often acted outside of the scope of his duties regarding Council Meetings, speaking out of turn as if he were a member of the Common Council. During meetings, the Corporation Counsel’s role is an advisory one, to clarify questions about legal issues.

While DeCusatis worked with Ann Thane for a several years on the Waterfront Commission, it is often speculated that he has a great influence on decisions made by the Mayor. He has been the subject of heated debate by the Common Council and the community.

The City is being sued for $900,000 by the American Home Assurance Co, to recover monies paid to Thomas Eliopoulos owner of the former Edy Brush Company factory building that burned  July 14, 2010, due to arson on Brookside Ave. The building was foreclosed by the City and contained a large inventory of books and other property.

The City was also sued by Uri Kaufman which required the hiring of an extra attorney to represent the City.

Apparently DeCusatis has infuriated the Common Council ambushing them with a new contract increase of $15,000 tacked on to his appointment resolution.  When the appointment was voted down, DeCusatis quoted Public Officer’s Law stating he stays in the position. Let’s look at that section of Public Officer’s Law:

Public Officers Law/Article 2/ § 5. Holding over after expiration of term. Every officer except a judicial officer, a notary public, a commissioner of deeds and an officer whose term is fixed by the constitution, having duly entered on the duties of his office, shall, unless the office shall terminate or be abolished, hold over and continue to discharge the duties of his office, after the expiration of the term for which he shall have been chosen, until his successor shall be chosen and qualified; but after the expiration of such term, the office shall be deemed vacant for the purpose of choosing his successor. An officer so holding over for one or more entire terms, shall, for the purpose of choosing his successor, be regarded as having been newly chosen for such terms. An appointment for a term shortened by reason of a predecessor holding over, shall be for the residue of the term only.

The Amsterdam City Charter describes the appointment here:

C-41 Law Department

There shall be a Law Department, the head of which shall be the Corporation Counsel, who shall be appointed by the Mayor subject to approval by the Common Council as a part-time officer of the City.

Most people are not aware of this Charter provision:

C-29 Powers and Duties of the Common Council

I.  Should the Mayor fail to appoint any position required by the City Charter within 90 days of a vacancy therein, then the Common Council may directly appoint such position.

In my humble opinion, the longest the Common Council has to deal with this cheesy situation is three months. Hopefully they will have hired a new Corporation Counsel by then. This whole incident makes me wonder if the outrageous salary demand during a fiscal crisis, was Gerry DeCusatis’ way of bowing out of the appointment.

My congratulations to the members of the Amsterdam Common Council who had the balls to vote against the DeCusatis appointment. It will be interesting to see how Ann Thane functions without  him.

Categories: Amsterdam, Law, Politics | Tags: , , , ,

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