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Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Board of Education Disses 911 Remembrance!!!

All over the United States, in schools, churches, government offices, courtrooms the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, were being remembered by observing a moment of silence.

The Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Board of Education Disses 911 Remembrance

It’s all over the place in the RCS school district: The schools of the RCS Central School District refused to remember the victims of the 911 terror attacks with a moment of silence. Even the students are outraged as we receive reports of Facebook posts posted by RCS students and expressing their outrage that there was no moment of silence on Monday, September 11, 2017. We find this disgraceful but are very impressed that kids who weren’t even born yet or were infants at the time of the attacks express such compassion and sensitivity to be outraged by their adult handlers’ lack of compassion and sensitivity to a national tragedy that resulted in multiple wars that are still causing misery and suffering at home and abroad.

What’s next?
Will RCS start flying the Saudi flag?

What’s next parents, residents, taxpayers? Do we start pledging allegiance to the flag of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? Will we next see the Saudi flag raised at the high school?

Most of us will remember 911 with a certain disbelief even today, years after the attack. We all know that the terrorists who planned and executed the attacks were from Saudi Arabia, a country with a long record of anti-West sentiments and whose human rights crimes are legendary. That’s Osama bin Laden’s home country and his family are affluent citizens of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia where Sharia or Islamic law requires women to be completely covered and still features public beheadings as their preferred capital punishment.

SABIC’s Flag Flies in Selkirk!

Right in our midst we have SABIC is a global leader in diversified chemicals and whose headquarters are in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabian government owns 70 percent of SABIC shares, with the remainder held by private investors in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries.Check out their website and tell us it’s not scary! SABIC is located in Selkiirk/Feura Bush and has recently been granted substantial school tax incentives locally. The plot thickens!

According to a 2014 Times Union report by Brian Nearing, “Selkirk plastics plant hit with third environmental fine in three years,” the Saudi company was fined $16,000 for those violations but in 2011 and 2013 paid $241,000.00 in fines for environmental violations. But then that’s mere pocket change to the Saudis. More improtantly, apparently the Saudis are not happy just killing Americans and destroying American property, they aim to destroy American environment, too, starting right in our own backyards. The plot thickens even more!

So why are we so concerned about a Saudi chemicals company in Selkirk who, like so many American companies, is intent on destroying our environment and our health? After all, it’s just a country several thousands of miles away with terrorist ties and human rights violations. Not much unlike so many of America’s “friends”. So what you might be thinking.

So what? Here’s why:

The property owners in the RCS Central School District pay millions in taxes to support the now more than $46 million school budget for the district, while local towns are giving companies like Sabic and Selkirk Cogen tax breaks. The residents of the RCS Central School District vote for the members of the RCS Central School District Board of Education. According to the RCS CD Board of Education website, the board is:

“A local board of education is an agency of New York State that is governed by state law and the regulations of the commissioner of education.”

The BoE website also states the five main responsibilities of the RCS BoE to be:

  • to establish all school district policies;
  • to develop an annual budget for public approval;
  • to approve or disapprove the superintendent’s recommendations regarding personnel matters and the many contracts the district must enter;
  • to review courses of study and textbooks;
  • to act as a two-way communications link between residents and the superintendent

The site also states that: “The decisions of your elected board of education affect your child, your child’s future, your tax rate, and the well-being of your community.

RCS BoE President James Latter is a SABIC Employee; Jason Hyslop, a BoE member is a SABIC Employee!!!

In 2013, we published two articles on this blog with very serious warnings: James Latter: Why He’s A Bad Choice and Latter-Hyslop-Brown: The VERY WRONG Choice! but somehow Latter and Hyslop got elected to the board, and it’s been downhill ever since. You see, both James Latter, RCS BoE president, and Jason Hyslop are employees of SABIC. Where do you think their loyalties lie? In their paychecks or in the interests of the school district?

So now you have two RCS Central School District Board of Education members, its president, James Latter, and a sitting board member, Jason Hyslop, both employees of Saudi-owned SABIC, “establishing school district polices” and to “review courses of study and textbooks“, and keep in mind that, according to the Board’s own statement, “the decisions of your elected board of education affect your child, your child’s future, your tax rate, and the well-being of your community.

So now that we have informed you AGAIN that you have two SABIC lackies on your board of education and you put them there, we hope that at the next meeting you will propose that courses for conversational Arabic be offered the elementary, middle and high school curriculums, because you’re going to need it to pledge allegiance to the Saudi flag. After all, the RCS CD Board of Education does establish all school district policies and their decisions affect your children, your child’s future, and the well-being of your community.

So why do you think there was no moment of silence in RCS schools on September 11, 2017? Do we really have to answer that question?

Here you go, we’ll get you stared. Repeat after Mr Latter:

لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله
lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāh, muhammadun rasūlu-llāh
“There is no god but God: Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”


Get the Saudi Companies off our Board of Education!!!

The Editor


Let your RCS Central School District Board of Ed members know what you think!
James Latter, President of the RCS-CD BoE and SABIC Employee
Teddy Reville
Bray Engel
Tina Furst-Hotaling
Kristin Hill-Burns
Jason Hyslop, BoE member and SABIC Employee
William McFerran
William McFerran
Peter Ross

Email all board members

 

A Toothless Town Board? New Baltimore Board Works for Hwy Super!

The list of misconduct and abuses grows and grows and grows for Town of New Baltimore Highway Superintendent Denis Jordan (D). The New Baltimore Town Board just sit and stare into space, wide-eyed, clueless while Jordan makes threats, harasses residents, creates dangerous hazards, damages private property, causes lawsuits against the Town, and even threatens the Board itself. Why does this craziness continue? why hasn’t the Town Board taken action against Jordan as provided under New York State Law? Politics? Cowardice? Ignorance? Indifference? Maybe a little of each but the incompetence and stupidity is damaging the entire community!

Why doesn’t the New Baltimore Town Board read the writing on the wall?


The entire New Baltimore Town Board met in public session on September 11, 2017. Supervisor Nick Dellisanti, Deputy supervisor Jeff Ruso, board members Shellie vanEtten, Chuck Irving, and Scott Brody were all present. Mr Denis Jordan, the under-fire New Baltimore Highway Superintendent, was sprawled in the last row. Four residents, three of them women, all with complaints against Jordan, were also present.

All four residents have significant claims against the Town of New Baltimore and all the claims are based on Jordan’s abuses, incompetence, and unethical practices. The four appeared at the meeting as a show of solidarity. One of them was to read a public statement into the record demanding answers to explain how Jordan has managed to keep his job while perpetrating all sorts of incompetent and crazy schemes.

We have the text of the resident’s public statement, and we’d like to share it with our readers now:


September 11, 2017

The Town Board of New Baltimore
New Baltimore Town Hall
3809 County Route 51
Hannacroix, New York 12087

Ladies, Gentlemen, Neighbors:

Subject:        Remarks addressed to the Board in Public Session.

I am here this evening to address the New Baltimore Town Board directly and to get answers to the many questions I have placed before the Town over the past year and a half regarding the lamentable performance of the Town of New Baltimore Highway Department under the authority and supervision of Mr Denis Jordan, Town of New Baltimore Highway Superintendent.

The Town of New Baltimore, in addition to the numerous email notifications and photographic documentation I have provided, has made at least one on site inspection visit of New Street, a roadway owned by the Town of New Baltimore, in response to the ongoing problems of runoff water drainage and the failure of the New Baltimore Highway Department to maintain gutters and storm drains. There is an at least six-year record of the incompetent installation of culverts, drains, and ditches and the resulting damage to private property in and around New Street.

In 2016, the town supervisor and deputy supervisor, as well as board member vanEtten personally visited the site of damage to private property. Mr Ruso himself discovered a culvert that was so poorly maintained that one end could not be identified. Two days after that inspection, Mr Dellisanti, Mr Ruso, Mr Jordan and Mr vanWormer were provided with a tour of the New Street and Madison Avenue East problem areas.  Shortly, thereafter, NBHD crews arrived to clear drainage ditches that had not been cleared of debris and vegetation for at least 2-3 years. They proceeded to identify the blind culvert and uncovered a drainage grate from under 2-3 inches of soil. Mr vanWormer remarked that he had no idea the drain was there, and he’d been with the department for at least 17 years. The department dug up the road, replaced the mystery culvert, installed culverts under two residential driveways, and left a so-called catchment hole and several bizarrely crafted storm drains. The runoff drainage problem was not cured.

The drainage problems were not cured and the department managed to create new hazards and aggravate the drainage situation.

In 2017, the town of New Baltimore Highway Department and its contractor Callanan, appeared unannounced and commenced paving operations in the Hamlet of New Baltimore. I personally sought out and questioned Mr vanWormer about what was planned, since residents were not provided with information, and the Town website merely stated that details would be announced; that notice still appeared even after the paving had been started and even after it had been completed.

The most recent operations of the NBHW department can be characterized best by saying it is half-assed done by halfwits! The epitome of jerry rigging.

Not only were the operations on New Street largely unsupervised by the Highway Department, upon arrival on the day New Street was done, I was practically speechless when I returned home at about 3:00 p.m. to find that the roadbed had been raised an average of 8-15 inches, a huge drop prevented one from using the front entrance to my home, another 10”curb made use of the second entrance a significant hazard. There was a raised sloped edge along the street on the East side measuring some 12-15 inches. You could not exit a car at the roadside and safely get out because of the slope and the drop-off.  The road has been substantially narrowed such that when unloading my car another car cannot safely pass by.

The highway department attempted to cure the drop-off to the residential parking areas by dropping crushed stone. That jerry rigged solution has failed because the stone is either compressing or washing away, leaving the dangerous curb exposed again. It’s incredible but the Department on the West side of New Street, right across the street and opposite the No 18 New St. parking area, deposited a blacktop ramp from the roadway onto the lawn of the Arndt property, apparently so that Ms Arndt can drive her car up onto her lawn. Even more bizarrely that ramp actually fills the drainage ditch along the West side of New Street, preventing runoff from draining along the ditch into the drains.

In another incompetent attempt to remedy the hazards caused by the deposition of untold truckloads of blacktop on New Street, the Department had to pour concrete steps supposedly to allow our entrances to be used. The concrete steps were not provided with a foundation and now vegetation is growing from under the steps. No doubt water can seep under the steps and frost will heave them. The concrete or cement mix used is obviously not the correct mix because the edges are already disintegrating, crumbling. At the top of the steps there continues to be a raised hump of approximately 6-8 inches in height, causing a significant hazard of tripping, and which will pose a particular problem in winter with ice and snow buildup. This needs to be corrected.

The Deputy [Highway] superintendent has already commented that the raised, sloped edge of the road will cause a problem when plowing in winter and will complicate snow removal.

In an apparent attempt to cure the raised edge of the roadway at the garage of No. 10, the Department dropped blacktop to form a sloped grade into the driveway. This sloped grade now forms a conspicuous channel along which runoff from the roadway is conducted into the foundations of No. 10 New Street. We continue to use sandbags there.

In short, ladies and gentlemen, not only has the Department created hazard after hazard, they have each time created a new problem.

There is no explanation why truckload upon truckload of blacktop had to be deposited on New Street to the extent of raising the road surface at least 8-10 inches above the pre-paving level! How much has that cost the taxpayers of this Town?


Editor’s Note: By any standard we consulted, the blacktop deposited by Mr Jordan’s contractors, Callanan Industries, should not have exceeded 2-2½ inches maximum. We can only speculate that the reason between 6 and 10 inches of blacktop was dumped on New Street was because Callanan Industries sells blacktop. What was in this excessive use for Mr Jordan, we might well ask?


And where was Mr Jordan when all of this was going on? Well, at 3 p.m. on the day New Street was being literally dumped on, Mr Jordan left early to attend a wake…regrettably not his own.

In the meantime, request after request after request has been brought to the Town to cure the hazards and remove the dangerous situations. The town has shown only indifference, and the incompetence and waste continues.

Rather than respond to residents’ concerns Mr Jordan prefers to harass a local woman property owner because of a privacy fence. Rather than cure the problems and remove the hazards created on New Street and elsewhere, Mr Jordan is off installing culverts on friends’ properties. I have heard of at least two such preferred operations going on in the Town over the past couple of months.

The glaring questions persist: Where is Mr Jordan getting the money to hire his own attorneys when the town has an attorney? Where is Mr Jordan getting the money to hire surveyors to continue his harassment of local property owners. Where is Mr Jordan getting the money to hire Delaware Engineering as consultants to establish that New Baltimore is the only place on Earth were water runs uphill? Where is the accountability? Where is the leadership? Where is the responsibility? Where is Mr Jordan getting the wherewithal to confront this board with his own threats of litigation? What has the board done in response to Mr Jordans now infamous refrain, “Let them sue us!”

Mr Jordan must be made accountable for the untold damage he has done as Superintendent of Highways not only in terms of incompetent roadwork, corrupt contract practices, but also to the trust and confidence of residents in this local government, a town board whose responsibility is to steward the public treasure and to act in good faith and fair play in performing their fiduciary duties to the residents of this town.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr Jordan must be held accountable. Mr Jordan must GO! And he must go NOW!

Need I remind you that this is an election year, and some of you are seeking re-election.  It doesn’t look good.

I am providing a copy of these remarks for the record and ask that the Clerk conform them as part of the record of this September 11, 2017, public regular session of the New Baltimore Town Board.


 


Mr Jordan was re-elected two years ago and won by ONE vote. With the public outcries and public knowledge of Denis Jordan’s years of misconduct and incompetence, waste of taxpayer money, abuse of residents, and his alleged favors being done for “friends” of Denis Jordan by Denis Jordan using Town of New Baltimore resources. Jordan’s neglect of his duties and obligations, his ignorance and incompetence, his questionable contracting procedures, and his refusal to respond to good faith questions posed by residents has been brought to the attention of the New Baltimore Town Board for almost 10 years now, multiple notifications, hundreds of photographs and yet Jordan is still there. Granted, two of the town boards were dominated by Democraps (under supervisors David Louis and Susan O’Rorke) and they wouldn’t lift a finger against their fellow Democrap, Denis Jordan. But now we have a Republican-dominated board and still nothing!!!


Editor’s Note: We have reliable and credible information that Jordan won the last elections by one vote because the Republican and Independent election leaders did not count the absentee votes for that election!!! If that is factually true, someone’s head has to roll. So much for the democratic process and we wonder why people don’t vote.

We have personally inspected the damage and situations described in the resident’s public statement, and we can verify those facts as being true. We have F.O.I.L.ed supporting documents from the Town of New Baltimore and those documents do not paint a pretty picture of the operations of the Highway Department much less of Mr Jordan’s management skills…they’re zilch! We have also spoken to the woman being harassed by Jordan. That woman keeps her property immaculate and takes great pains to keep it beautiful; Mr Jordan made the claims, stating that he had received several complaints about her property but would not say who made the complaints. In fact, he first made the complaints and only afterwards collected any facts. Sounds like harassment, putting the cart before the horse again, Mr Jordan.


We agree with the resident’s public statement and call on the New Baltimore Town Board to commence legal proceedings to remove Denis Jordan from office, to audit his performance and his recent dealings with Callanan and their paving operations in the Hamlet of New Baltimore, and to prosecute Jordan and his accomplices if illegal activity is revealed!

We want justice and compensation for those New Baltimore residents who have been injured by Jordan and his incompetent operations!

This book should be required reading for the Town Board!

The Editor

 

Campaign to Remove Denis Jordan from Public Office

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

Campaign to Remove from Public Office
Town of New Baltimore Highway Superintendent
Denis Jordan
and to prevent his running for public office in future

We have been informed that there is a campaign being organized by residents and taxpayers of the Town of New Baltimore, County of Greene, New York, to collect and organize information and evidence to be used in support of an action to remove New Baltimore Superintendent of Highways, Denis Jordan.

For some time now Jordan has been the subject of numerous complaints and claims by residents of New Baltimore submitted to the Town Board of the Town of New Baltimore, but to date those complaints and claims have not been organized. This has all changed with some recent developments in the town, where Denis Jordan has finally crossed the line.

 

Taxpayers and Residents of the Town of New Baltimore are up in arms and claiming that Jordan:

  • Has abused and abuses his office and authority

  • Is unqualified and incompetent to hold the office of Town Highway Superintendent

  • Has abused his discretionary authorities as Town Highway Superintendent

  • Has shown special favoritism to select residents while abusing other residents in the context of his public office

  • As the result of the above has wasted public resources and obstructed the operation of good stewardship in New Baltimore Town government

  • Has abused employees of the New Baltimore Highways Department

  • Has exposed the Town of New Baltimore and its residents and taxpayers to unnecessary and burdensome legal actions and lawsuits

  • Causing damage to private property with a wanton indifference, and failure to respond to notifications of dangerous situations

  • Jordan has an established pattern of intimidation and bullying among Highway Department employees

  • Because of all of the above, Mr Jordan has placed the Town of New Baltimore at risk of losing its insurance coverage or being placed in a higher risk classification, which will result in additional expense and even reduced coverage of the Town of New Baltimore.

This list is not complete or exhaustive, since we are now on the track of investigating Mr Jordan and his dealings with local contracting companies, including Callanan Industries, Peckham Materials Corp. companies that have already been associated with Jordan’s questionable practices,  and others, in the public bidding processes, the planning and execution of roadwork, and the estimation of materials used in those projects. The picture is very grim from what we have been able to glean even at short notice. (Editor’s Note:  We’ve requested the bids and the background facts as well as the estimates of materials and the actual materials used by Callanan. We expect to prove serious criminal activity.)

According to informed and reliable sources,  Mr Jordan’s recent escapades and incompetence in conjunction with Callanan Industries’  “successful” but totally botched bid to execute repaving of streets in the Hamlet of New Baltimore, the Highway Department has been deluged with complaints from irate and angry residents complaining of the poor quality or disastrous effects of the work done by Callanan under Mr Jordan’s supervision.

In fact, on Monday, June 26, 2017, when Callanan crews were paving New Street and Madison Avenue, while New Baltimore crews were standing around counting farts on the corner of Madison Avenue and Rt 144, Mr Jordan left early, at around 3:00 p.m., to attend a wake. The wake was for a local but not a relative or close friend of Jordan, which raises the important question of: Couldn’t Jordan have stayed to supervise his contractors work on an important repaving project and stil paid his respects to the family of the deceased? After all, he could have left when the crews left at around 4:30, and had plenty of time to prepare for the wake, which certainly ran until at least 7 p.m. Shows where his priorities are. 

Suspicion was cast on Jordan’s re-election and his win over his former deputy highway superintendent Alan vanWormer; vanWormer lost the election by 1 (ONE!) vote. The election was not contested, which raised suspicions in the New Baltimore community.

We support the residents and taxpayers of New Baltimore in their efforts to clean up local government and to remove corruption, incompetence and crookedness. We urge all of our readers to support those courageous residents and taxpayers seeking to remove Jordan from office and to better local government and quality of life.

I you have any information or a complaint or know of anyone who has information about Jordan or wishes to file a complaint, we are here to assist you. Please contact us directly at rcs.confidential@gmail.com or write to us c/o P.O. Box 422, New Baltimore, New York 12124. All contacts will be strictly confidential and no information identifying you will be shared or published without your express written permission. We also encourage you to leave a comment telling all of our readers about any of your experiences with the New Baltimore Highway Department or Mr Jordan.

Recent roadwork done by Callanan Industries done under t he direct authority and supervision by Mr Jordan has generated a deluge of complaints and general dissatisfaction. According to a well informed and reliable source, the New Baltimore Highway Department has received numerous telephone complaints about the shoddy work done. Rather than call the Highway Department, where it is almost certain that your complaint will be lost in the dust, we recommend you make your complaint known via this blog, and then to write directly to the New Baltimore Town Board. That way you’ll be heard.

Please share this information with your family, friends and neighbors. It’s our duty and obligation to ensure that our New Baltimore community is a model of good government, honest and competent elected officials and public employees, and that our sense of community stands as an example for our surrounding communities. Your contribution to this effort will put all questionable and corrupt elected officials and public employees on notice that we will not tolerate ignorance, indifference, incompetence or dishonesty being paid for with our tax dollars.

Do your part and share what you know!

The Editor

 

 

Albany Police: Keystone Cops “To Disserve and Abuse”

This just in: An Albany, NY, resident witnesses the Albany Police Department in action. The resident was so irked that s/he sent in this story for publication. We think it’s worth the space and want to share it with our readers.


Editor’s Note: We don’t want to distract our readers from the current lead stories: but we don’t want this important story to go stale. Please read this and learn; then go back and read our current lead stories: Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Board of Education Disses 911 Remembrance!!! and A Toothless Town Board? New Baltimore Board Works for Hwy Super!


Keystone Cops Gang-Pursue a Homeless Man and Expose Motorists to Unnecessary Danger

While a gang of Albany cops pursued a sole black man, they put motorists at risk of an accident by unlawfully and carelessly parking an Albany Police Department patrol car No. 117 kitty-corner on the main drag New Scotland Avenue. When advised by a citizen that it was parked dangerously with no signal or warning lights, the driver occupant of the patrol car ignored the citizen. Albany’s best in blue. (The photo below was provided by the citizen, and shows the patrol car and another of the three patrol cars responding to an upset homeless 66-year old black man!)

Albany Police Patrol Car No. 117, Parked Dangerously on Corner of New Scotland Avenue with NO LIGHTS!


I am writing this to your blog because I feel you have a real interest in your community and in people. I also believe that if there’s going to be a better world we have to act from the individual on up to the community. Each of us has to tow the mark and stop being like a bunch of liberal drama queens looking for acceptance while losing all self respect.

Today, on Wednesday, September 13, 2017, a little after 5 p.m., I was sitting with a friend in front of the Ale and Oyster on New Scotland Ave., in Albany, NY. (I’m mentioning that because if there is an investigation, the time and location will be important.) It was a beautiful day and we were sitting outside at a table, and had just finished our meal and waiting for the check.

I noticed a slim black man walking down the street towards us and, so prone to stereotypes as our society is, noticed he was carrying the de rigueur large bags, and so judged him to be homeless.  That’s my problem, though. As he was passing, I didn’t avoid his gaze, and he cautiously approached and pulled up a chair. If we had just started our meal I would have been more proactive and asked him to please allow us our privacy. But we were finished and almost ready to leave so what was the big deal.

The man knocked my socks off when he started to speak because Poof! Gone! was the stereotype. He was articulate and well spoken. Very genial and mannerly. It is in my character not to be so dismissing of those less fortunate than myself and we engaged in a very robust and open conversation. He told me he was 66 years old and lived beyond his time; he had a moving story. My partner apparently thought I had gone completely nutz ,because he didn’t say a word and just looked at me, avoiding the man, who noticed and politely commented that he didn’t smile very much and looked like a professor. I had to laugh.

After about 15 minutes, the man, uninvited, got up and said good-bye, without any sort of pitch or gig.

I wished him well and blessings and he left.

About 5 or 10 minutes later, I heard him speaking in a loud voice and saw him exiting a Stewart’s shop just a couple of doors down the street. He had made a complete 180 degree turn in his manner, and being in a profession and trained in human psychology, I wondered how that could have happened. He was obviously very upset.

Long story short, about five minutes later, at about 5:30, I note an Albany Police Department police cruiser racing towards us and making a U-turn, parked at an angle at the opposite corner, and two patrol persons exited, raced towards the Stewart’s shop, and then down the street. Not minutes later two more patrol cars raced to our vicinity and now 3 more cops were in hot pursuit of this skinny black man, with his two bags, and his ironically Law Enforcement cap. I couldn’t believe my eyes!

We lingered to see what was going to happen next, what with the one patrol car posing a hazard to traffic, and five cops in pursuit of a frail black man. As I waited, I became more and more reflexive about the situation, and wondered what I should do.

The waiter returned with the receipt and my guest decided it was time to leave. We got up and I headed for my car but, halfway there, turned around and decided I could not overlook the cops’ irresponsibility at leaving the patrol car parked like that with no warning or signal lights on. It was bound to cause an accident.

So I turned around and headed in the direction in which I observed the cops to have headed, identified one of the occupants of the offending vehicle, a gender ambiguous person of equally ambiguous ethnicity, could have been male or female, Oriental or Hispanic. I waited cautiously until s/he knew I was there and then approached saying, “Don’t you think you should get some lights going on your vehicle. You might have to deal with an accident if you don’t.” Shooting me a contemptuous glare only like a cop can do when confronted by common sense, s/he simply said “OK.” And disappeared around the corner. I started back to my car, and noticed that s/he was standing across the street talking to someone, and hadn’t  even bothered to put any lights on on his/her vehicle. By this time I had had enough of the Keystone-CSI comedic drama, and decided that if I couldn’t assist the unfortunate creature they were after, I would at least point out the indifference of the Albany police to public safety and, risking my own security, openly photographed the patrol car on the corner. I am providing you with that photo.

Judging from the man’s conduct when he was conversing with me at my table, I can only surmise that he had been maltreated in the Stewart’s shop and became indignant. He had his dignity and, when treated with dignity, obviously was gracious and polite. Anyone, including myself, if abused would react and respond appropriately. In this poor man’s case he was stereotyped and apparently didn’t appear to the Stewart’s people, staff and customers, to be worth human dignity. Their answer apparently was to abuse him and then play the victims, calling the police.

This entire scenario irked me for several reasons. The man and I had just discussed the virtues of simplicity and humility, and what it meant to him. I treated him with dignity and respect and he treated me with dignity and grace. The Bible-toting Christians preach that we should see Christ in the least of our brethren; the liberals teach that we are all equal and have human dignity. The problem is that no one practices what they preach.

I saw that paradox first hand today and it affected me deeply; I vowed to make a statement about it.

On another note, most people avoid getting involved, especially when there are police on the scene. They won’t get involved out of fear or some other poor excuse but certainly out of fear for themselves. I chose to get involved if only minimally. I regret that I didn’t get more involved and because of that I feel a bit like a hypocrite (surprisingly, something the man and I had also discussed).

The police claim to be public servants. The mouth the slogan “To serve and protect.” But it doesn’t seem to be true. Here we had a law-abiding citizen drawing a law enforcement person’s attention to a dangerous situation created by the law enforcement person, and the law enforcement person not only ignoring the citizen but further ignored the hazard s/he had created to the motorists having to make the turn onto the street. That was just not right.

Albany mayor Kathy Sheehan is running this year for re-election. As mayor she is the chief law-enforcement officer in the city and the Albany Police Department reports to her and the Common Council. I hope that she and the Acting Police Chief Robert Sears of the Albany Police Department see this letter on your blog, and that an investigation is launched to explore the reasons for this clown show I experienced today.

Is this a complaint? I guess it might be. You decide whether you want to send it in. Right now I’m a bit sour on Albany and the Albany Police.

Thank you!
[Name withheld by request]


This story raises a number questions about what kind of culture we have become, and how much of the great lie we actually live. PC, political correctness, literally a lie, a denial of the obvious. Gender-benders who confuse the hell out of anyone making an honest attempt to identify whether it’s male or female. But even more troubling is the obvious exclusivism, stereotyping, discrimination, unfairness, and inhumanity that we can observe at every level of our society. We have not evolved much from the animals we once were.

We really need to get a grip!

Worse still, we see an example of how the once respectable and admired men and women of law enforcement have become bully careerists. It’s now just a job and I’ll put my time in for this week’s check, and bide my time til retirement and my pension. I’m law enforcement and the law doesn’t apply to me. Whatever I do, I’m immune. Stay out of my way or I’ll hurt your ass.

Luckily there are still some human beings left out there who practice what they preach and who are willing to step forward and try to correct the indecency that floods our world and our lives.

We hope some of you might learn something from this story. We can only hope.

It’s time we started admitting and correcting the unpleasant truths!

The Editor

 

Does your funeral home provide customer service or human service?

An Op-Ed Republished with Permission


As a provider of psychospiritual care to the bereaved, as a professional bereavement chaplain, theologian and thanatologist, I firmly believe that some things just have to be delivered locally and face-to-face; these include sex, making friends, spiritual care, funeralization services. Not necessarily in that order or priority ranking.


Grief work is not achieved in three days nor with an online consult. That’s purely and simply idiotic.

The saying goes thus: “Death is the great equalizer.” We are all equal in death. Presidents, kings, supreme court justices, movie stars, athletes all die, all decay, all go the same way as the homeless man on the corner. But would you think of direct burial or direct cremation for a president, a queen, Mohammed Ali? So why skimp on grandpa? We celebrate the deceased’s achievements in life, not the fact of his or her being dead. And we do it with pomp, ceremony, rites, ritual, tradition, dignity and respect. Virtual mourning is none of the above and the grief work is not achieved in three days nor with an online consult. That’s purely and simply idiotic.

Furthermore, a death is a social, political and community event. The emotions involved in the acute grief experience are far too complex and idiosyncratic to be amenable to one method, one technology, one dose. As a social, political and community event death care requires real community involvement, hands on, and that means a local group understanding the local cultures, a “neighborhood,” if you prefer. This is a physical community, complex, deep, involved, alive; not a virtual make-believe, conjured up community.

One more thing: We have to stop giving Jessica Mitford and her estate post-mortem kudos for a book and a sequel book that was not only self-serving and conflicted in its interests, but a masterpiece of biased muckraking appealing to the titillation lust of the masses and their denial of death anxieties. Mitford couldn’t attack Death itself nor could or would she attempt to attack institutionalized religion, so she went after the next best thing, the funeral services industry. I’ve cited Mitford several times on my various blogs so I won’t waste bytes on her here.

I place Mitford in the same category as Kübler-Ross in that neither of them can claim any objective or scientific credibility but their main contribution to Western, particularly American society, was to get people talking about death and deathcare services. That, my friends, was a big step in a society frozen in preadolescent fascinations, psychosocial pathological denial, anxiety and narcissism, steeped in materialist humanism and addicted to corporate-fed consumerism.

It’s progressively gotten worse with the public health problem of Internet Addiction Disorder and the pathological subset, Facebook Addiction Disorder, and the emergence of the multistate funeral services groups like Newcomer Funeral Services Group, Service Corporation International and their alter ego Dignity Memorial, and StoneMor, who have all added greed and indifference to the corporate mix of tastelessness and deception of the consumer public. and their dead Again, I’ve commented extensively on these ghouls of the funeral services niche so I won’t waste time or words on them here.

Newcomer, SCI/Dignity Memorial, StoneMor
Ghouls of Corporate Death Services

They want your money not your brains!

Like it or not, death is inevitable for every mortal creature from cockroaches to presidents and kings. No matter how you define or think about it, you will have to some day deal with death so get a grip. How you deal with the death of a significant other in your life, whether that loved one is a pet or a parent or a child–or your own death is a matter of what I will term befriending death. No, I don’t mean the superficial, make believe, virtual “befriending” most of you are addicted to on Facebook and other social media. I mean the kind of be-friending that involves learning about, nurturing an intimacy with, even trusting, welcoming into your world, and frequent contact. Being at ease with, acknowledging, being aware of death is key. That may sound a bit bizarre so let me explain.

Technology has evolved faster than we as human beings have done. We lag far behind technology in our understanding of it and our ability to wisely and prudently steward it. In fact, technology has overrun us and has taken over our lives; this can’t be denied. This fact has been used to the level of Dr Strangelove proportions by corporations and big business, and even by individuals with pathological ambitions like Donald Trump on Twitter and Mark Zuckerberg with the Facebook phenomenon. The medical, psychological and ethics journals are full of reports on the so-called Internet Addiction Disorder, which was described back in the 90’s, and now there’s a subset of that disorder termed the Facebook Addiction Disorder and the Internet Gaming Disorder, which all share the same symptoms as alcoholism and street drug addiction like heroin or the like. Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it, just go to Pubmed and plug in a couple search terms and you’ll get all the proof you’ll ever need of this fact.


Editor’s note: For those of you who are not familiar with Pubmed, it is the database and search engine maintained by the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health; it provides access primarily to the MEDLINE database of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics. (Access Pubmed here. )


You have to admit you have a problem when you need Facebook to help you grieve!

The stimulus for this editorial, however, is not Newcomers or SCI. Nor is it Twitter or Facebook. The funeral service corporations and the social media and networking evils do figure in the theme of this communication, however.
If presidents and perverts have discovered social networking and social media, neither of which are social in the benevolent meaning of the word but serve a more sinister, asocial purpose of getting people hooked and then controlling them, just as the word “service” is used deceptively when used in conjunction with such greed mills as Newcomers or Service Corporation International.
The stimulus for this commentary is, in fact, an article that appeared in Forbes online, “Customer Service In Deathcare: How The Funeral Home Industry Cares For The Living” (contributed by Micah Solomon, MAY 26, 2017).—

Mr Solomon describes himself as a “customer service consultant” and “consumer trends expert,” — he doesn’t say how he got those credentials, though — catchy phrases but a bit too catchy to inspire any confidence or credibility. I’m a bit at a loss not at the What? but at the How? when Mr Solomon then goes on to say:

While some of my own work with the death care industry as a customer service consultant and consumer trends expert has been on innovation in the deathcare customer experience (methods for serving today’s far-flung bereaved customers by using connectivity, videoconferencing, and recording technologies to allow them to take part in memorial/celebration of life service) most of the work I do in this industry and that matters the most, in my opinion, is simply aimed at improving the customer experience, which, of course, is for the living.

Likewise unclear is Solomon’s terminology “far-flung bereaved customers” and “connectivity, videoconferencing, and recording technologies” to involve them in the “memorial/celebration of life service“. Maybe it’s Mr Solomon’s sense of compassion that is represented by his use of the term “far-flung” to describe the unfortunate mourners who are separated by distance from the event. Describing the bereaved as “customers” further chills the atmosphere he’s creating. Technical jargon like “connectivity, videoconferencing, and recording technologies” somehow put a damper on my sense that this guy has any clue about the nature of bereavement, acute grief, mourning, tradition, spirituality, cultural sensitivity, or even the characteristics of the vocation of funeral director. I’m therefore at something of a loss how he, with his frigid and disconnected technospeak, can improve the customer experience! This he leaves to the funeral directors he’s interviewing. Wisely so.

But even more poignant ar the three phrases caught my attention in that unimaginitive and deceptive title: “customer service,” “deathcare,” “funeral home industry.”

We alone, as moral agents and social actors, are responsible for what we do and how we do it

Inserting a bit of Kantian deontology that I’d like you to keep in the back of your mind while reading this, I’d like to say that we are not measured by what the other guy or gal does, but by what we do; we alone, as moral agents and social actors, are responsible for what we do and how we do it. It’s the quality of our values, morals and ethics that govern our behavior. As moral free agents we alone are responsible for what standards are used to guide our conduct.This applies not only to our inner forum, our conscience and how it guides us, but to the external forum, the community in which we live, work, and may disinterestedly interact.

Human service becomes “customer” service when an goods or services transaction forms the basis of the interaction

Customer service is at its most basic human service, service to human beings, human interaction, relationship building. By human services, I mean a broad range of interdisciplinary services whose commitment is jointly and individually to improve the overall quality of life in diverse populations through guidance in meeting basic human needs and support remediating real or perceived social challenges.  Human service becomes “customer” service when a goods or services transaction forms the basis of the interaction but it is still a subset of human services. Accordingly, customer service cannot separate itself from the humane aspect, the relationship aspect of its nature. The problem I have with the Forbes article is that, true to the materialist consumerist interests of Forbes, the article defines customer service purely in terms of selling and purchasing relationships but in the context of the so-called, malapropism, funeral service industry. Customer service must be human service, especially in the funeral services professions. Human service and hence customer service in this framework is near impossible on a corporate or industrial scale for reasons I’d be happy to substantiate in another article, if required.

Try doing this on Facebook or in cyberspace!

The second term that raised my suspicions is “deathcare.” We can defined death care as the care given to the dead or as post-mortem care. This would involve respectful and dignified custodianship and preparation of the dead body for whatever funeralization rites and rituals are appropriate as defined by the deceased individual during his or her life or as requested by the survivors. We must not oversimplify deathcare with the deathcare services businesses and industries that commonly provide services related to the dead body and death traditions, that is, preparation of the dead body (removal, embalming, cosmetology, etc.), funeral rituals, disposal (burial, cremation, etc.), and memorialization. The deathcare business includes for example funeral homes and their operations, including transporation services; containers like caskets, coffins, urns; accelerated decomposition services such as alkaline hydrolysis, cremation, etc.; cemeteries and burial plots, and headstones, markers, etc. What we most neglect in the discussion of deathcare services is psychospiritual care, and here we must include the professional bereavement chaplain and some but not most clergy.

The phrase that most raised my hackles is “funeral home industry.” First of all, the funeral home is not an industry. It may operate like a business but it is a professional operation requiring very specific training and licensure in most places. Most states require a trained and licensed funeral director to at least oversee the operations of a funeral home. The term “funeral home industry” is grossly misleading and deceptive because it creates an image of the traditional funeral home with all of its warmth and amenities together with the dignified and compassionate professional funeral director at its helm. Nothing could be farther from the truth if one looks at the funeral services industry, the more correct designation for the funeral services groups and corporations such as Newcomer Funeral Services Group, Service Corporation International (Dignity Memorial) or StoneMor, who operate more like waste disposal business than funeral homes. Remember corporations operate according to policies, procedures, protocols and most of all the bottom line and shareholder satisfaction. No room here for stuff like compassion, empathy, much less “human service”.

Their focus is twofold: dignified care of the dead and compassionate care of the living.

The traditional, community funeral home is a hub of interdisciplinary teamwork.

The role of the funeral services provider, more accurately the funeral services team, is just that: to provide human services. Those human services are provided by a team of specialists that range from the funeral home cleaning and maintenance person(s), to the housekeeper, the groundskeeper, the funeral home assistants, the behind the scenes professionals (the cosmetologist, the hair stylist, the embalmer), to the front of house staff (the assistants, the funeral director(s)), to the psychospiritual care provider (the funeral home chaplain or associated clergyperson). Their focus is twofold: dignified care of the dead and compassionate care of the living. The human services aspect persists far beyond the care provided with the first call, the removal, the arrangements conference, the chaplain visit and consultation, the visitation or the funeral; what happens at any of these milestones significantly affects the survivors during, immediately after the services, and well into the future, perhaps for years. That’s what the funeral services industry, the large groups, the corporations can’t provide but what the local family-owned funeral home pride themselves in: the human side of funeral services. So be clear on this point: once you start talking “industry” you are not talking “human”. Period.

So far I’ve taken issue only with three phrases that occur in the title of the article alone. But what about the remainder of the so-called article at issue? Well, there’s not much to say about it because the bulk of it is made up of questions put to three selected funeral directors and their responses. Their responses are totally acceptable in terms of the language, and to be honest I can’t find much with which I’d tend to disagree. The funeral directors seem to have their acts in order and say the right things. They are in a highly competitive business and have to be realistic, not necessarily traditional. Read into that what you like.

It should be clear by this point that I do not advocate virtual or technological or corporate solutions to anything as profound as the death experience or any occurrence of acute traumatic bereavement. Electronic signals, bits and bytes, virtual compassion just do not and cannot replace the warmth of human spirit, the compassionate embrace of a friend or loved one, the immediacy of the death experience, the real-ization of the death and its sequellae. The funeral home and its resident and on-call team members are the experts in offering compassion and comfort and no social networking scheme, no corporate disposal package, no virtual event and no DVD can replace the authenticity and true empathic response of face-to-face, human-to-human, verbal and non-verbal communications, the symbols and rituals that give meaning to this most mysterious of life events, death.

… some things just have to be delivered locally and face-to-face; these include sex, making friends, spiritual care, funeralization services.

This is what we do.

The Editor

 


Editor’s Note: Solomon’s self-description reads line a narcissist’s mini-bio: “I’m best known as an author, keynote speaker, consultant, and thought leader in customer service, customer experience, company culture, leadership, hospitality, innovation, entrepreneurship and consumer trends. I travel nationally and worldwide, and home base is metro Seattle. Reach me at 484-343-5881 or micah@micahsolomon.com or http://www.micahsolomon.com” We’ve contacted him for a comment on this editorial.


Acknowledgement: I’d like to extend my special thanks to my colleagues on LinkedIn, Ms Linda Williams M. Ed., M. Th., who describes herself as an Entrepreneur, Virtual Event Planner and Facilitator, Instructional Designer, Educator, Inspirational Speaker”.” Ms Williams describes her business, In-Person Away Virtual Events, as an operation that provides “our clients, their families, and friends with a virtual alternative to come together in an engaging, realistic and meaningful way, as well as host and attend social events, without breaking the bank on travel expenses.” Ms Williams does not advocate virtual resources as a substitute for real presence but only as a valuable alternative affording an opportunity to share where no other viable options are available. I agree.


 

Perv Patrol Report: Judge needs to get a ticket or two.

Perv Patrol Report

Judge Violates Multiple Traffic Laws in One Trip

This Just in from Our Perv Patrol Reporter 

On Thursday, August 24, 2017, at about 3:30 p.m. I was leaving Price Chopper plaza in Glenmont, and was following another vehicle, a Ford F-150 ARE SUV, dark blue, and approaching Glenmont Road. There is a STOP sign there but the vehicle ahead of me ran the STOP signe as if it were invisible. No turn signals. I beeped a warning but it was too late. I pulled out and traveled towards Rt 144 and observed the vehicle to take a right turn onto Anders Lane, a short cut to Rt 144 I usually use, and he barreled down Anders Lane as if it was the Thruway (the recommended speed on that narrow tiny road is 10 mph). He attempted to run the stop sign but apparently reconsidered, seeing oncoming traffic. No signals, he made a right hand turn onto Rt 144. Going my way I followed the vehicle and watched as it weaved back and forth across the yellow line, wheels in the oncoming lane, then moving back across the road onto the shoulder, crossing the while shoulder line. I beeped again because he was obviously having a stroke, drunk or using his phone. Totally oblivious to my warnings the vehicle continue its erratic search for a lane, dangerously on the yellow line until the very last second even when several large trucks were approaching in the oncoming lane. At one point the vehicle crossed the shoulder line and I was almost certain I was going to witness an accident but he then returned to the center line. At this point I noted the license plate and attempted to take a picture of it. I was amazed! The license plate displayed the New York State seal and was an SMA plate, State Magistrates Association, the association whose members are New York State Judges!!!!  999 SMA. Gotcha!!! By now I was curious so I continued behind the vehicle all along 144 into Coeymans, and the vehicle turned right onto Church Street, again no signals. I had to go to Shop’n Save anyway so I continued following him until he turned onto Orchard Avenue and crossed Cary into Woodlawn. I didn’t follow, figuring the driver lived nearby, and so I continued on to Shop’n Save, planning to drive down Cary Street to see if I could find the parked vehicle and get an address. When I arrived at Shop’n Save Guess Who? was pulling in ahead of me! My old friend 999 SMA, the Hazardous Judge!!! I parked a short distance away hoping to get an ID on him but a woman passenger exited, and went into SnS. I tried to ID the driver but he was glaring at me so I avoided a confrontation. Driver: Male, late 50’s early 60’s.

Well, dear readers, there you are. One of our fine judiciary driving like a drunk and violating every rule in the book that he’d throw at you if you had to appear before him with a ticket or two. Of course with the SMA plates, it’s unlikely he’d have been stopped because the cops would ID him as a judge due to his SMA plates. Now is that fair? Why should someone drive like an idiot, endangering other peoples’ lives, breaking the law, and not be answerable.

We have to laugh because the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct posts on its website that judges are to be held to a higher standard of conduct than the average person. We agree but have yet to see any of these arrogant bastards behaving any better than a local hooligan. In fact, most of our local judges are local hooligans, especially our town and village justices, most of whom don’t know their asses from their elbows!

But this enema bag who was observed by our Perv Patrol really needs to be ID-ed and shamed. We have his vehicle make, a Ford F-150, ARE sticker on the rear window, dark blue. His license plate is NY 999 SMA, not going to be hard to spot.

Help us ID this vehicle and it’s owner, the Jerky Judge who can’t pick a lane and stay in it.

If you see this vehicle parked at a residence or at a local town or village office or at a city or county building, please leave a comment. We’ll be working to ID this character but would like community help in putting a finger on him. He’s answerable just like the rest of us are.

You, sir, are an idiot!
The Editor

 

Belgian Ails. Ommegang Brewery: The Crash and Burn of a Venue.

The Foodie Review

Reviewing:

Ommegang Brewery, Cooperstown, New York


UPDATE: On August 24, 2017, we visted a local bar and eatery for a Restaurant Week meal. The venue was the Hollow, 79 North Pearl Street, Albany. Food was good. Had to send back a beer because it was served flat as a week old pancake. A bit pricey but here’s the point: $6 for a 14 oz draft Ommegang!!! Why pay double the price at the Ommegang Bar and Brewery where the stuff is made when you can get twice the draft beer for less at a local restaurant or bar??? Does that make any sense to you? Why does the now corporate Ommegang have to gouge their guests? Belgian hospitality? Corporate greed? Poor management? You decide.


Never again!

When you find a place you like and go there for years, you tend to have reasonable expectations. When you take the time to plan the trip, drive for more than an hour and a half, get there you would like to experience a welcome and a sense of being a part of it all. Going to that effort—especially in view of the time, effort and the likelihood of dropping a substantial amount of money at your destination—you’d reasonably expect some appreciation. Well, those days are over.

Used to be you’d go to the home of a company and you’d be treated with hospitality, like visiting royalty. Given the grand tour, get to sample the product. Enjoy some really good, unique food and beverage. Well, those days are over, too!

A bit of the history…

The Ommegang Brewery opened its doors in 1997 as a microbrewery specializing in artisan beers brewed in the Belgian tradition. That’s about the time we started going there and we became regulars visiting 2-3 times a year and making our beer purchases of what then were good and unique beers. The trip usually became a day trip with the beautiful drive through vintage farm country and rural beauty to the brewery and its amenities nestled in the hills, lunch on the lovely café-tabled patio with rich botanicals from local nurseries, smiling service, and very good food. If the day didn’t turn out sunny and summery or comfortably cool and autumnal, we could opt to sit indoors in the scant, often very loud but genial dining room. If we brought guests or met friends at the brewery, we’d do the tour and then the tasting, which was free as you’d expect, and then head for the retail store to drop $200-300 on a couple of cases of our favorite artisan brew. The next stop could be Cooperstown or some other interesting place for dinner, a stroll, and then the drive home. Sound idyllic? It was. Well those days are over, friends. We won’t be making that trip again any time soon!

Here’s Why? Ommegang Brewery went to hell in a Belgian bread basket.

When a corporation gets involved say Goodbye! to quality, service, and overall enjoyment. By 2003, the Belgian breweries had all been absorbed into large corporations. Feinberg and Littlefield sold their share of Ommegang in 2003 to Belgian brewer Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat, brewers of the world-renowned Duvel Golden Ale. Duvel Moortgat brewed limited amounts of beer for Brewery Ommegang in 2006 to help meet demand, but has not brewed any since then. And of course, everyone loves and trusts New York governor Andrew Cuomo, so when he announces that Ommegang  along with the Roscoe NY Beer Co. to be the winners of the Taste NY Inaugural Craft Beer Challenge. All of 5 New York craft beer breweries competed.

The corporate involvement in this small craft brewery is mindboggling. Just trying to trace who owns what is an acid trip. But the bottom line is that Ommegang sold out a couple of years ago to Duvel Moortgat, a large Belgian beverage corporation, later Anheuser-Busch purchased considerable interest in the Duvel Moortgat corp, and then the international beverage megacorporation InBev acquired the companies. In short, Anheuser-Busch and InBev got their greedy fingers into the operations of the quirky Ommegang operation after Dubel Moortgat showed interest and acquired the brewery. That’s when things started rolling downhill to hell in a Belgian breadbasket.

In fact, Ommegang Brewery lost its status and privileges in New York as a craft brewery once it started sleeping with the large corps. In an article appearing in The Street, “5 Craft Beer Brewers Who Have Lost Their Craft Privileges”  The bottom line is: ” The craft beer community will put up with a lot from its small brewers, but it won’t suffer defections to big beer.” Ommegang now fits that category of defectors to big corps and excommunication from the craft beer classification and its privileges. Not only that, Ommegang over the past several years has received considerable amount of New York State money in the form of tax credits. For example, in 2012 they received $140,000 from the state and requested another $360,000 that same year (Cuomo continues economic development tour). The abuses never get to the public’s ear and you won’t get a hint of the public’s money that’s gone into Ommegang over the years. You certainly won’t enjoy the benefits of your tax dollars in terms of hospitality or anything else at Ommegang. It’s all corporate bottom line now.

Despite the glowing reviews on Tripadviser and Yelp, to their discredit, and keeping in mind that of the tens of thousands of suckers that visit Ommegang each year, a mere handful of positive goody-two-shoes, wanna-please types or simply beer-swilling slouch couch potatoes does not make put the place on the A-list by any means. It’s the loyal, legacy visitors and patrons who over the years have noticed the downhill trend Ommegang has taken under it’s ever-changing and ever oblivious-to-the-notion-of-hospitality corporate owners, and the strategists they call hospitality managers.

The current manager of the “visitor center and hospitality”, Andreas Handrinos, describes himself like this:

Dedicated and enthusiastic operational manager 15 years in the hospitality industry, and 10 years of management. Recently developed a high-end brewery taproom concept from the ground up, balancing the needs of brand image and manufacturing hurdles during daily operations while developing the venue for brand, and private company events. Efforts resulted in an average 30% increase in on-site revenue over the last three years. Currently seeking new challenges in creating and developing premium event and service concepts with an emphasis on big picture business growth.

That’s Handrinos’ goals and mission statement taken verbatim from his LinkedIn bio. If you can find anything in there about caring about customers, patrons, visitors, people, service to the public, or anything akin to traditional hospitality in that idiotic rant of corporate gibberish, I’ll buy you a pint. But that’s the type who’s managing the “visitor center and hospitality” at Ommegang. Given that statement, you’ll have no problem understanding what follows. Dedicated to What? To “big picture business growthnot to customer service and satisfaction. But it’s your money that he’s after because it means revenues for his handlers and gets him closer to his goals.

Utter misinformation and double-talk is the Ommegang message. In my discussion with the on-duty manager at the time of our visit, Carie, I referred to the bar as a bar. Her miffed response was that “This is a café not a bar.” Sure as hell fooled me. Looked like, smelled like, sounded like a bar to me. A bar with noisy children romping about. Is that legal in New York? Does a bar become a café just by calling it a café? Alcohol and drinking at every table on every inch of the premises and it’s a café? C’mon people, let’s get back to reality. Ommegang is a brewery. They make alcohol! They sell alcohol. They serve alcohol. If you visit their official site at Wecome to Brewery Ommegang, you can’t even get on the site until you confirm you’re 21 years or older! If you click I’m not, you’re told you can’t enter the site. You’re not exposed to virtual alcohol on the site but it is a site about alcohol and you have to be 21 or older to enter! How is it you can be under 3 years old and sit in the “café” [the bar!], run around wildly while your parents are enjoying their brewskies? Something’s a bit crazy in Cooperstown, wouldn’t you think?

It’s quite obvious that Ommegang not being quite sure of what it is: Here’s another inconsistency. Go to the Ommegang Facebook page and what do you read at the top? Let me tell you: “Ommegang Bar and Brewery“!!! But Carie, the manager, tells me “This is not a bar, it’s a café.” And you’ll read the same thing on several Ommegang Internet pages. I think they need to have a meeting to get their stories straight. I also think the state of New York has to take a look at what’s going on. I think the whole Ommegang outfit needs to be re-examined.

Ridiculously Outrageous Prices for Some Pretty Lousy Food and Worse Service!

In fact, when these reviewers actually give high marks for food prices and praise the quality of the food that along sends up red flags as to their credibility and whether they’re employees or shareholders in the corporation. Deception is a truly American art form. Here’s an example of some of the ridiculously outrageous prices (straight from the Ommegang café menu) for some pretty lousy food:

Endive and arrugula salad $14
A small paper boat of french fries “frites” $9
Croque monsieur (not really!) $16
Bratwurst and kraut $19
Soft prezels with mustard $11
Bottled beer $7
Canned beer $6
Draft beer (about 8 oz. cup) $7

THEN: As I mentioned above, until about 2 years ago, you could sit on a lovely patio at umbrellaed café tables amidst a beautiful array of potted trees, shrubs and colorful pots of flowers. Very European, in fact. There was real atmosphere. The servers were cheerful, young people, probably college students. The food quality was very good. The beer was cold and served in attractive glasses. The cutlery was stainless steel. The condiments, ketchup, dips, etc. came out in nice ramekins and were house made. It was worth the trip from Albany to Cooperstown. Really.

NOW: If you want to enjoy the weather outdoors you’ll have to sit under a tarp at ugly picnic tables. You can sit along the edges of the concrete slab patio at a café table for 4 but it’s a gamble (1) to find a table, (2) to find a clean table, (3) to find a table where you can have a conversation amid the screaming, running children and the loud adults pitching beanbags (Really!!!). There’s no table service anymore and you’ll have to stand in line to order and to pay. The sombre-faced ordertaker will glumly take your money for the overpriced food and beer, and then hand you a table stand with a number on it. You’ll place that on your table so that a runner can find you and deliver your food some ridiculously long wait later. Once it arrives it becomes a post-mortem experience trying to identify it (see below).

Your food will arrive stuffed into a cardboard boat. If you’re really lucky it might arrive hot or warm. You’ll spend a minute or two trying to identify it because it won’t look anything like what you expected or what you paid for. You’ll look at your companions with a half-smile of disbelief and a questioning look on your face saying, “I don’t know if this is what I ordered. Does yours look familiar.” Your glances will be met with similar glances from your companions, while your table neighbors will be shooting furtive glances in your direction, probably wonder, “WTF!!!”

The food is manufactured and prepared out of a large food truck, similar to what you’ll see on campuses and on Manhattan streets. The beer is distributed from taps on the side of a large refrigerator truck and is now served in perilously frail plastic cups of dubious content. For example, my $7 cup of draft ale came in such a frail cup that I had to be very careful not to wear the contents. Oh! And when I got back to the table, my companions and I had a ribald conversation trying to guess whether it was a 6 oz. cup 8  oz. cup. It was definitely not a pint cup, or if it was, it didn’t contain a pint of beer. Whatever. It was disgusting. Not the beer. The one cup that I did [not] enjoy was good, it was the presentation and the price that put you off and deprived you of any feeling of enjoyment.

croque monsieur omegang_cropped

Omegang Croque Monsieur – $16

Back to the food. The croque monsieur was disgusting and not a croque monsieur. It came in a paper boat atop a small mound of french fries. A slab of thick fatty bacon-like meat was on a small piece of baguette soaked in some sort of mayonnaise-like pinkish dressing (French? Maybe.) On top of that was a whitish sauce or cheeselike sauce. It was hard to say but the imagination went wild. Soggy, greasy. All this heart-unhealthy greasy belch crap for only $16.

A real croque monsieur!

The two pieces of bratwurst appeared to be either grilled or steamed. Again, it was hard to say.

Real Bratwurst!!!

The bratwurst and kraut was equally disappointing. Again, it came out in a paper boat. The sauerkraut was crisp but absolutely tasteless. The two pieces of bratwurst appeared to be either grilled or steamed. Again, it was hard to say. But however they were cooked they were so loaded with spices and grease that they were more like a spicy Cajun or chorizo than a bratwurst. The bratwurst was brought on top of a mound of sauerkraut. I waited for a roll or a piece of bread but when it became obvious that none was coming I went to the counter and asked if the brats came with a piece of bread. Looking at me as if I came from outer space the two persons behind the counter said “No. That’s how it comes. You don’t get bread with it.” I persisted saying that I had never had bratwurst without at least a piece of bread or mustard with it and they repeated “That’s how it comes.” No one. NO ONE thought to fix things by offering a slice of bread or baguette or some mustard. I repeat: NO ONE thought to fix things by offering a piece of bread or some mustard. This cost me $19.

brats omegang_cropped

Omegang Brats as Served – $19

Not enough insult and abuse? When you ask—and you will have to ask—for cutlery, a knife and fork, you’ll be unceremoniously told that there is plastic ware on the other side of the patio. There you will find quite flexible cellophane packaged plastic knives and forks packages with a piece of paper product, presumably a napkin but more of the consistency toilet paper. The toilet paper consistency was probably responding to the quality of the food and service. Well, trying to get that fork into a bratwurst was like trying to have sex with an overripe banana. The tines of the fork actually broke and I had to find it before continuing with the so-called meal. The knife was useless and couldn’t cut through cottage cheese without bending.

Where once we were served delicious dips and ketchup or mustard in a ramekin, you now either don’t get a selection, or you get prepacked Sysco ketchup in small packets, or you don’t get any at all—even if you ask.

Ommegang Cutlery and Condiments

Her reply was, “I am the manager.”

After the experience with the bratwurst and the ordertakers, I decided enough was enough and I went into the dining room to find a manager. Servers didn’t notice so I had to actually almost go behind the bar to get some attention. A server asked if I needed help and I asked to see a manager. I waited. And waited. I got her attention again and told here where I was sitting and that I wanted to speak to the manager. I returned to my seat and waited. And waited. I went back in, went to the bar, asked for the manager again, and waited. And waited. Finally, a woman, apparently a server, approached me with the words, “I’m Carie.” I replied, “That’s nice. Can I help you? Are you supposed to be the manager?” Her reply was, “I am the manager.” I responded that it would have been nice had she included that information in her initial approach.

Ommegang Broken Plastic Fork

I explained to her my dissatisfaction amid her numerous defensive interruptions which included everything from Why they’re using paper and plastic products to their employee training. Her main argument for the paper and plastic products was of all things, children!!! She mentioned that because there were so many children about and that they were breaking glasses, they had to resort to unbreakable plastic and paper products. I remarked (1) that it was a bar environment serving alcohol and should be no place for children to be romping about, and (2) that most of the adults were more likely to be dangerous than kids. Her response was that “This is a café not a bar.” Sure as hell fooled me. Looked like, smelled like, sounded like a bar to me. A bar with noisy children romping about. Is that legal in New York? Does a bar become a café just by calling it a café? Alcohol and drinking at every table on every inch of the premises and it’s a café? C’mon people, let’s get back to reality. Ommegang is a brewery. They make alcohol! They sell alcohol. They serve alcohol. If you visit their official site at Wecome to Brewery Ommegang, you can’t even get on the site until you confirm you’re 21 years or older! If you click I’m not, you’re told you can’t enter the site. You’re not exposed to virtual alcohol on the site but it is a site about alcohol and you have to be 21 or older to enter! How is it you can be under 3 years old and sit in the “café” [the bar!], run around wildly while your parents are enjoying their brewskies? Something’s a bit crazy in Cooperstown, wouldn’t you think?

Here’s another inconsistency. Go to the Ommegang Facebook page and what do you read at the top? Let me tell you: “Ommegang Bar and Brewery”!!! But Carie, the manager, tells me “This is not a bar, it’s a café.” And you’ll read the same thing on several Ommegang Internet pages. I think they need to have a meeting to get their stories straight. I also think the state of New York has to take a look at what’s going on. I think the

“They were indifferent. They just didn’t care.”

When I got to the part about the brats and my failed request for bread and mustard, Carie’s managerial response was, “Were they rude to you.” I replied, “They were not rude. Rude I could handle. They were indifferent. They just didn’t care.” Carie’s apparent canned response was a very robotic, “We put our employees through rigorous training, and we have a protocol.” My response was “Rigorous or not, the training certainly doesn’t include customer relations or customer satisfaction. That’s obvious.” I also remarked that the use of the word “protocol” was troubling. Protocol means a set of prescribed actions and behavior, very corporate, that rules out any discretion on the part of the employee. This is how you do it or else. That explained the “indifference” they were simply corporate robots doing it by the book. “Brats don’t come with bread or a roll; you’re not getting bread or mustard. Brats don’t come with bread or mustard. It’s not in the book!”

Does Ommegang give a shite about your experience?

We all know that usually when a restaurant gets a complaint the manager or the server will normally try to make things nice and either comp something, bring a little something extra to the table, send over a house drink. They do something, anything to patch things up and to show they care. At Ommegang that doesn’t happen. Did the manager even come to the table? NO. Did the manager make any sign of sympathy or empathy? NO. Just defended their practices. Did the manager comp anything or try to make us feel better? NO!!! Did I get my bread and mustard? Nope. Does Ommegang give a shite about your experience? Do I need to answer that for you?

I gave up on expecting anything from Carie and finally simply asked for her name and that of the general manager. She didn’t seem pleased that she hadn’t convinced me of her consummate good will and interest in guest satisfaction, and grudgingly went behind the bar and returned a few minutes later with a chit of paper with the incorrect spelling of the general manager’s name and his email, and her name.

We left Ommegang Brewery promising ourselves that this was our last visit. We left Ommegang Brewery after a lousy meal and a bad experience. The meal cost us about $60. We didn’t make our usual beer purchases and left without spending $200-$300 for this seasons beers. Ommegang and their corporate handlers not only lost money that day, they lost previously loyal and regular customers.

Avoid this place:

Summary: Rating POOR. Inconsistent Message, LousyService, Disgusting Food, Extremely Expensive.

Ommegang Brewery
656 County Highway 33
Cooperstown, NY 13326

General manager: Andreas Handrinos.

Our recommendation based on our years of experience with Ommegang: Forget about getting guest treatment at the manufacturer’s home base. For example, up until recently the brewery tour and tasting were free. Now the tasting is $6, and you shouldn’t expect a discount on the beers you purchase afterwards. We find you can get Ommegang and other craft beers for the same price or even less at your local beverage center! Save yourself a longish drive, a lot of money, and the disappointment of being taken for a ride by people who don’t give a shite. There are plenty of local family owned and operated businesses that need your support and will be grateful for it. Forget the foreign corporation owned “craft” beers, forget Cuomo’s political recommendations, forget the fake ratings. Get great wurst and meat products at Chester’s Smokehouse in Albany Find great unique beers locally at one of the many locally owned beverage centers who will be grateful for your business. Find a local picnic area along the beautiful Hudson River and enjoy Mother Nature’s free ambiance.

The Editor

Post-publishing note: We have forwarded a link to this editorial to Mr Andreas Handrinos, general manager of the visitor center and hospitality at the Ommegang Brewery, and to the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce. We are awaiting their comments or responses. Mr Handrinos was not available at the time of our visit. You’d think the manger of the visitor center and hospitality would be available on the weekend, the busiest time of the week?