Monthly Archives: May 2012

Celebrating Buddha’s Birthday

The public was invited to celebrate the Buddha’s Birthday today at the Five Buddha Temple in Amsterdam, New York. The World Peace and Health Organization sponsored a celebration that included an introductory discussion about Memorial Day and Buddha, followed by costumed dance, ballet, Chinese Opera and a demonstration of Tai Chi. Refreshments were served after the performances. It was a great way to start the day.


Thanks to everyone who read this blog entry today, it has the highest one day viewing of any of my other posts with 1,480 total views!

Categories: Amsterdam, Celebration, Media, WPHO | Tags: , , ,

Jewel of the Mohawk

I love Riverlink Park!  It is truly one of the best attractions in Amsterdam.  Access to the Mohawk River is crucial to economic development.  It is after all, the reason Amsterdam was settled. In spite of the damage done to this beautiful river in the industrial era, it continues to be a source of recreation, travel and tourism for the Central New York Region.  It will be Amsterdam’s saving grace.

This is my 12th blog entry about Riverlink Park. I was covering the Riverlink Concert Series last season and donated my images to the Waterfront Foundation to promote the park. Here are links to some of last years concerts:

Chandler Travis Philharmonic     Tony’s Polka Band     Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys

Michael Poulopoulos, Matt Durfee, Michael Eck and Tom Lindsey

One Sweet World

I was there when artist Alice Manzi was installing her Painted Rock Sculpture for Riverlink Park Phase II and happened to catch Congressman Paul Tonko there as well in this entry titled Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

Of course there are times when I just want to see a little more done by our City Administrators to keep this precious jewel polished. The following articles were posted to get a little cooperation and bring attention to some much-needed work in the park.

Riverlink Park      Locked Gate     Phase II

On March 19, 2012,  I wrote this article: Riverlink Park Needs Help.

Given the history presented here, you can conclude that I really do care about this park and want the best for the citizens of Amsterdam.  Some may disagree with the methods I use to make my point, but it has proven to be effective. You can’t go through the world with blinders on ignoring everything and everyone you judge as negative. There are many roads to the same destination.

With that said, I present today’s photos of Riverlink Park. It is Memorial Day weekend and the park still needs work to get it ready for the season. Why is our park and Concession not ready for business on the traditional start of summer?  Where are the new floating boat docks needed to dock at Riverlink Park? Why are the boat electrical hookups not completed? Why are the missing lampposts not replaced? Why aren’t the park benches painted? It seems all the city’s efforts went in to repairing the concession stand and erecting a tent. We are only getting $300 rent for the entire season from the concessionaire. We are loosing potential revenue from boat docking fees that could be charged if we were ready

The 2012 Riverlink Concert Series begins on July 7th with the return of the Chandler Travis Philharmonic. The full schedule of performers can be found here. It is a great venue and it’s free!

Categories: Amsterdam, Entertainment, Photography, Politics | Tags: , , , ,

Dame’s Rocket

Blooming throughout the wooded areas of Amsterdam, NY this time of year is Hesperis Matronalis a herbaceous plant species of the mustard family commonly known as Dame’s Rocket.  They have clusters of flowers at the top of three-foot stalks that are purple, white or a combination of the two colors. This year must have been a particularly good year for the invasive plant because it can be seen everywhere in numbers that look like carpeting on the forest floors. There is an especially large group across from my house on the southern bank of Green Hill Cemetery.

Categories: Amsterdam, Art, Photography | Tags: , , , ,

Amsterdam’s Spring Fling

Donna Dickerson and the Spring Fling Committee did an outstanding job this year organizing Amsterdam’s 2nd annual Spring Fling. It was bigger and better than last years event. There was music, food, drink, a car show, a bike show, a Wresting Hall of Fame induction.  There were snakes and lawyers, clowns and politicians, although you would be hard pressed at times to tell the difference. There were religious groups and my friends in the World Peace and Health Organization were there with gifts of surveillance cameras they want to give to our City to help the Amsterdam Police keep an eye on things. There were twice as many vendors as last year and it seemed three times as many visitors as Amsterdam’s Main Street turned into a sea of people on this hot day in May.

I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story.

There are so many images, I had to make use of the slide show feature to view them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For those that want to compare, last years Spring Fling images can be found here


Categories: Amsterdam, Celebration, Photography, WPHO | Tags: , ,

Mayor Proposes Two Condoms for the City of Amsterdam

On the agenda for the May 15, 2012, meeting of the City of Amsterdam Common Council are two proposals by Mayor Ann Thane that prophylactically override the tax caps for property tax and utility fees. This is being considered without even the suggestion of a tentative budget proposal from the Controller. It is irresponsible to the taxpaying public to propose a blanket override without even attempting to make the necessary cuts in the budget to reduce the need to raise our already heavily taxed citizens. Here is how Montgomery County stands.

Thane’s proposal to override Governor Cuomo’s 2% tax cap can be found here.

The procedure to override the Governor’s tax cap is spelled out in this Citizen’s Property Tax Cap Guide published by New York State.

Thane’s proposal to amend the Charter Section XVI § C-89 eliminates the current required mandatory referendum to change the 3% utility fee cap already in place can be found here.

One would think that the Mayor learned something from last years public meeting held in the Riverfront Center, where she tried to do this very same thing and was confronted by a horde of angry citizens. That May 16, 2011, meeting was covered in the Grove Street Grumble article The People Speak.

History is definitely going to repeat itself as the people object to this illegal act. New York State  Municipal Home Rule law dictates which local laws can be passed.

Municipal Home Rule Article 2 §11.  Restrictions on the adoption of local laws.

2. Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter, the legislative body of a county, city or village shall not be authorized by this chapter to adopt any local law which:

a.  Amends the charter of the county, city or village, as the case may be, contrary to any provisions of such charter regulating its own amendment. This provision shall not abridge the right of the people of a county, city or village to amend their charter or approve a proposed new charter, where such amendment or proposed new charter is subject to a mandatory referendum.

b.  The legislative body is by provision of the charter prohibited to adopt.

Look at the language of the City Charter Section XVI § C-89 Annual Tax Levy.

A. The amount to be raised by tax on real estate in any fiscal year, in addition to providing for the interest on and the principal of all indebtedness, shall not exceed 1% of the average full valuation of taxable real estate in such year; nor shall the real property tax rate or any user fee in any fiscal year exceed by 3% the rate or fee of the previous fiscal year, exclusive of any amounts appropriated for debt service.

B. If in any fiscal year it is deemed necessary and in the interest of the municipality to increase the percentage rate established, the Common Council with the approval of the Mayor may submit such request for increase as a mandatory referendum to be voted on by the voters at a regular or special election. No new user fee may be established without the prior approval of the electorate pursuant to the above procedure.

We have a Charter that states any increase in the percentage rate will be voted on by mandatory referendum.  A local law cannot supersede that Charter provision. It will take another mandatory referendum to change it. The Mayor and Common Council have no authority to amend the City Charter without referendum.

Please contact the Mayor and Aldermen and tell them we do NOT want to override either tax cap.

Mayor Ann Thane –

1st Ward Alderman Joe Isabel –

2nd Ward Alderman Valerie Beekman –

3rd Ward Alderman Gina DeRossi –

4th Ward Alderman Dave Dybas –

5th Ward Alderman Richard Leggiero –

Categories: Amsterdam, Politics | Tags: , , ,

Guang Huan Mi Zong

Zinguang Shang Shi is back in Amsterdam, New York after a seasonal pilgrimage to California and Hong Kong to spread the word about his teaching or Dharma that has the power to heal.  Accompanying him are his monks forming the World Peace and Health Organization and a new group of students from China and the US.  On Sunday, May 6, 2012, the new students started the basic course of the Guang Huan Mi Zong Health Dharma.

Having already taken the basic course, I was allowed to take part and photograph the class for this blog.  The classes are held at the Five Buddha Temple (formerly St Casmirs Lithuanian Catholic Church) on 260 East Main Street in Amsterdam, New York.  The World Peace and Health Organization preserved the architecture and styling of the church while adding their own altars and statuary. The interior of the former church is one of the most beautiful I have seen with frescos painted on the curved ceilings and the original stained glass windows depicting the life of Jesus Christ. Buddhism predates Catholicism by about 500 years.

The practice of Buddhism is based on attaining nine levels of achievement to become a Buddha. Although few reach that level, it is often  a lifelong process.  The principal is based on the theory that there is an ultimate and never-ending supply of energy or light in the universe that is the basis for all things and that flows through all things. By practicing meticulous meditation one is able to focus solely on the energy within each one of us and harness its power to heal. Advanced levels of achievement allow you harness the energy from the universe and use its power. When one has achieved all nine levels he or she is said to be Buddha or one with the universe.

While the main group are practicing Buddhists, one does not need to change their religion or become Buddhist to learn the meditation techniques taught in this class.  The basic class gives a brief history of Buddhism and then progresses to meditation, teaching  positioning, hand gestures, and concentration. There are rules for the proper times during the day, frequency and duration of the meditation sessions. There are alternative positions for people who cannot at first achieve the cross-legged lotus position.

Zinguang Shang Shi speaks in Mandarin Chinese, but he has learned a few words in English since I first met him two years ago. Interpreters are provided and translate on the fly as he teaches.  It is a little disorienting at first but after a few minutes you understand.  This is an experience that is well worth the effort.  If you have any doubts, ask your doctor about the benefits of meditation.

The World Peace and Health Organization would like to invite the public to a celebration of the  Sakyamuni Buddha’s birthday on Monday, May 28, 2012, 9am at the Five Buddha Temple, 260 East Main Street, Amsterdam, NY.  

For more information about the World Peace and Health Organization or the Guang Huan Mi Zong Health Dharma, click here.

Categories: Amsterdam, Celebration, WPHO | Tags: , , , , ,

A Tour of the Sanford Stud Farm

The Friends of Sanford Stud Farm is a not for profit corporation formed to preserve the remaining buildings of a horse farm once owned and operated by Steven Sanford who was a carpet manufacturing innovator turned racing entrepreneur in the late 1870s. Race winning thoroughbreds were bred, raised and trained at the Sanford Stud Farm. The building that now houses Amsterdam City Hall was the former home of the Sanford family.

On Saturday, May 5, 2012, Sam Hildebrandt and Scott Friers gave a tour of the Stud Farm now owned by the Town of Amsterdam.  Historian, author and WVTL radio personality, Bob Cudmore was the guest speaker who gave a history of some of the famous big money winning horses. Only a few of the original buildings remain as most of the farm was sold to developers who built a strip mall on what was once the horse training track.

Two barns were restored by the group with the cooperation of the Town of Amsterdam. Their hope is that it will become a visitors center so the legacy of the Sanford Stud Farm will not be forgotten. My contribution to the effort are these photos.

Categories: Amsterdam, History, Photography | Tags: , , ,

Amsterdam Artists Chosen for Juried Exhibition

Essential Art is the title of the Cooperstown Art Association 21st Annual Regional Juried Art Exhibition on display through June 1st, 2012.  The Art Associations Galleries are located at 22 Main Street Cooperstown, across the street from the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Jurors Leila Durkin and Susan Benedict Hand had the difficult task of whittling down the 189 entries to just 88 they felt were worthy enough to take part in this year’s exhibition of New York State artists.  Among those chosen this year were three Amsterdam artists; Lucy Suhr, Jessica Murray and Jerry Skrocki.

Lucy Suhr’s mixed media work titled, Eagle and Pine

Jessica Murray’s block print and acrylic work titled, Your Face – My Feelings

Jerry Skrocki’s digitally enhanced fine art photographic print titled, Phoenix

The unusually warm spring this year brought out the blossoms on Cooperstown’s Main Street.

The weather was so nice we just wanted to stay outside.

Susan Liberantowski and Jessica Murray

The opening reception for Essential Art was held Friday evening, May 4, 2012, in Gallery A.

Museum Director Janet G. Erway greeted the artists and guests at the sign in desk.

This was the grand price winner of a solo exhibition

Members of the World Peace and Health Organization (and fellow artists) were kind enough to show their support of the Amsterdam artists by attending the exhibition opening.

Sarah Cui, Jennie Wong, Sita Mak

This is a great experience and I am honored to have my work displayed among New York State’s best artists.  I am very humbled by the overwhelming show of support I received from my friends in the WPHO and on Facebook when I announced my work was selected to take part in Essential Art.

There is some really great artwork on display in Gallery A in Cooperstown and it available for purchase. If you get the chance, please stop by and take a look. The gallery is open daily from 11-4pm, Sunday 1-4pm, Closed Tuesdays through Memorial Day.  If you have questions, call the Cooperstown Art Association at (607) 547-9777.

Categories: Amsterdam, Art, Entertainment, Photography, WPHO | Tags: , , , , ,

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