Monday, November 25, 2013

And on it goes in Malta

Dennis Yusko is reporting in the (Albany, NY) Times Union this evening that Malta Democratic supervisor candidate Cynthia Young has "filed a notice appealing a judge’s decision to toss two absentee ballots cast for her, which cost her the election."

And on it goes.

Read the TU story here.

Every vote counts, my friends!


Friday, November 22, 2013

Update on that Town of Malta Election

As I wrote here on Wednesday, this was a cliff-hanger of an election here in Malta, NY.
Today, the Albany (NY) Times Union reported that Judge Robert Chauvin ruled that two disputed absentee ballots for Democrat Cynthia Young could not be counted. This means that the Republican incumbent Paul Sausville has won re-election by one vote.

Malta ballot (Dennis Yusko / Times Union)
These photos from the Times Union show the front and back of a disputed ballot. Those handwritten words, "no vote", on the back of a ballot made the whole ballot void, including the unmarred choices on the ballot's front side.
Malta ballot (Dennis Yusko / Times Union)
So a word of warning to folks who vote by absentee ballot: Read the directions. "No stray marks" means no stray marks. In a close race, both sides are going to lawyer up and challenge the heck out of everything. Even a pin prick, as from a staple, becomes fodder for legal arguments. Really.
The Handsome Husband and I were at the Malta Sunrise Rotary-sponsored Red Cross blood drive today. (The HH was volunteering, handing out juice; I was donating blood.) While there, we saw and chatted with both Mr. Sausville, who was donating blood, and Mrs. Young, who was also volunteering. They both looked exhausted.
God bless them both. You know, it takes a lot of time and money to run for public office, not to mention a lot of intestinal fortitude. How many of us are willing to stand up and put ourselves out there to serve our communities in this way? Not enough. I can't imagine how Cynthia Young feels today. One vote. Man, oh man, that has to hurt. Thank you Cynthia, for your efforts and for your willingness to serve our town. Without folks like you, there is no choice, and thus, no democracy.
And thank you, too, Paul. Congratulations. At the end of what must have been a very taxing two weeks, you still made time to come in and donate blood today. Thank you for that, as well.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Oh, that Town of Malta race for supervisor ...

... and why you should not vote like my Handsome Husband did!

Our local election for town supervisor has been a cliff-hanger for days. Today, a judge was supposed to end the suspense, but no such luck.

Here is what happened. After election day, the voting results stood like this:
Democrat Cynthia Young had a 12-vote lead over incumbent Republican Paul Sausville, 1,537 to 1,525. But, there were more than 100 absentee ballots that needed to be counted the following week.

On November 13, 112 absentee ballots were counted by the Saratoga County Board of Elections. Democrat Cynthia Young’s lead over the incumbent Republican, Paul Sausville, dropped to just four votes.
Disputes over 23 ballots meant that the candidates were headed to state Supreme Court today.

As former Schenectady Gazette writer Carl Strock would have said, I hied myself over to the county court building at 11:00 AM today to see how it would all turn out.

Except, nobody was there. A kindly security person explained that the parties were across the street at the Board of Elections, trying to hash out their differences before resorting to the court for a decision.

So across the street I went and just in time, too. The two sides had agreed to count 22 of the ballots, leaving only one ballot still in dispute. This one ballot they would take to court only if it was necessary to decide the winner.

As each absentee ballot was opened, everyone leaned in to check it out.

The attorney for Republican Mr. Sausville objected to another of the ballots, making it two ballots under dispute. Both of these were votes for the Democrat, Cynthia Young.

When they were done, Mr. Sausville was ahead by one vote. There were two disputed ballots, both for Mrs. Young.

"It's going to the judge," Republican Attorney Walsh said.

In court, the arguments were about "stray marks" on the back sides of the two absentee ballots. This was the area where voters chose "yes" or "no" on six propositions. Here was the issue for the judge: Should marks on the back of a ballot invalidate the voters' clear choice of supervisor candidate on the front side?

 On both of the ballots, the voters had tried to correct a mistake. One wrote in "No vote" (after crossing out "yes") and initialed the change.  The second voter also changed his/her proposal vote but did not add initials.

Judge Robert J. Chauvin seemed to be more troubled by the ballot with the initials than the one without them. The initials, he said, could be used to identify the voter, and that could invalidate the entire ballot.

The judge wanted more time to research the statutes and case law and said that he will announce his decision tomorrow afternoon at 1:30.  If Judge Chauvin accepts one ballot but tosses out the other, the election is a tie.

Which brings me to my frustratingly non-committing Handsome Husband. The HH did not vote in this race. He went to the polls on Election Day and voted on other stuff, but he refused to make a choice for supervisor.  My husband and I know and like all three of the candidates whose names were on the ballot. The HH just did not want to vote for one over the other. He stayed out of it. (There was a third candidate, Peter Klotz, who withdrew from the race but whose name still appeared on the ballot and received over 400 votes.)

And because the HH did not vote, he just may have disenfranchised the rest of us. You see, if the election is a tie, that means it will not be the voters who choose their next supervisor; it will be up to the all-Republican Malta Town Board to appoint a supervisor.

You know how the Car Talk guys always end their radio shows with, "Don't drive like my brother"?

Well, I say, "Don't vote like my husband."


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hoppy in Clifton Park

The Handsome Husband and I checked out the tasting room at the Shmaltz Brewing Company in Clifton Park (NY) this afternoon.  As you can see, it didn't take me long to get comfy.

The tasting room is a cheerful place and it was doing a good business this chilly November Saturday afternoon.

 This new, state-of-the-art brewery opened this past July.

You can buy beer there, of course, but also plenty of other Shmaltz  stuff.

The tasting room has a variety of places to sit and relax. It is also well-stocked with decks of cards and board games. A few folks were playing cards when we arrived.

If you didn't  know this new brewery was there, it is unlikely you would stumble upon it by accident. There are no obvious signs visible from the road or parking lot.

It isn't until you get right to the door that you get confirmation that this is the right place.

But the beer is cold and delicious and for the young and hip like the HH* and myself, it was a pleasant place to relax for a little while.

Tours of the brewery are also available when the tasting room is open. If you like craft beers, you should try these. Delicious with lots of shtick. Be prepared to chuckle.

Find their website here.

*HH=Handsome Husband


Monday, November 4, 2013

One step ahead of the garden police

I never liked Japanese barberry shrubs anyway. They do not have pretty flowers. They smell bad, as in, cat urine bad. They have vicious thorns that really hurt whenever I tried to prune them or to weed in their vicinity. I never could see why folks planted them.

So last year, armed with thick gloves and determination, I did my best to hack to death the two Japanese barberry shrubs that were growing in my yard. I succeeded with one of them, but this remaining one, above, is still putting out a few suckers.
Bwaahahaha...I'll get you yet, my not-so-pretty!

These were not shrubs that I had planted. We inherited them when we bought this house seven years ago. I am guessing that they were part of the original developer's basic landscape package because I see them in all of my neighbors' yards.

And that's too bad because as it turns out, they are about to become illegal to possess. Seriously.

According to a recent story in the Albany (NY) Times Union, it would be illegal for New Yorkers to possess any of more than 120 invasive species under proposed state rules disclosed Tuesday [October 29, 2013]. Japanese barberry is on the list of soon-to-be-banned species.

However, the story goes on to explain that the state is going to delay the ban on selling and possessing Japanese barberry for another year because the Department of Environmental Conservation wants to give the 9,000 licensed nursery growers in New York State time to "sell their existing stocks."

Whaaaa????? These shrubs are so bad for the environment that we're gonna ban them, but not until the dealers get a chance to dump thousands more of them into the yards of unsuspecting homeowners.

Good grief.

Well, at least our landscaping will be in compliance, once I manage to finish off that last thorny, smelly, ugly, evil barberry bush.
(Insert mental image of me ghoulishly sharpening my pruning shears here.)