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Category Archives: Freedom of Speech

Christmas is Coming Early this Year: Crandall Interviews

The Crandall interviews were done yesterday evening, and will be published in three segments during the week of October 21-25, 2019. There’s a lot of great information in those interview questions, so the Smalbany blog want’s to get it out there in small doses. A short commentary on the interviews will be published in advance of the Interviews. Get the word out and send this link to all your friends and contacts: https://smalbanynewyork.wordpress.com/


Only Cowards Hide Behind Silence and Lies

George McHugh has avoided debating Phil Crandall on at least three occasions. Crandall stated his willingness and provided McHugh with dates for at least 3 debate opportunities. McHugh has gone into hiding. His thugs, calling themselves “Friends of Coeymans,” are taking care of spreading the fear and the false facts (read: lies).

George McHugh was invited at least three times to be interviewed to answer questions about his background, the judgeship he doesn’t seem to want to talk about, his connections with LaFarge, Carver Laraway, Billy Biers, the Ravena News Herald, Mark Vinciguerra, the State Racing Commission, how he allegedly got fired by Carver Laraway, etc., etc., but he has refused to be interviewed. We wanted to know why he has to misrepresent the facts and talk gibberish in his campaign. All McHugh and his thugs can do is make wild vague statements without presenting any real meat-and-potato facts. We have the documents and the facts already, all we want from McHugh is his statements on what we have, but he’s running scared.

McHugh’s version of transparency is about as clear as mud; the same stuff he and his friends like to sling instead of arguing with facts and truth.

Mudslinging: promoting lies and making accusations against the opposing party in order to make themselves look better.
The McHugh campaign strategy supported by the Coeymanazi Clowns, Friends of Coeymans.

If McHugh Won’t Answer Questions Now, Do You Think He’s Going be More Transparent, Open, and Accountable IF Elected? NOT!!!

Why is George McHugh so terrified of debating or interviewing? 

We know why he’s so terrified of debating or interviewing. We have documents and facts to show that he’s a crook, a coward, and worse: a LIAR.

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Wouldn’t it be great if liar’s did actually catch fire?

Zach Collins and Brandon Lefevre: Daddy McHugh’s got your Strings, Boys. Just Dance for Daddy!

So you think Georgie Boy is such a war hero? You think he’s God’s gift to Coeymans with his two young pups; “pups”.that’s short for PUPPETS. Georgie will be pulling their chains and their strings just like he’s doing now. They’re too young and gullible to see through his sneaky plan for them.

Zach Collins + Brandon Lefevre
Enjoy the dance, boys. Daddy McHugh will pull your strings.

For the Tanners and Driscoll-s, and the rest of the friendless and brainless who hang out on the Friends of Coeymans page, and can’t read between the lines of their propaganda, we’re providing you with a picture that you just might understand.

George McHugh and his thugs, Friends of Coeymans, are playing Coeymans voters like puppets on strings.  Dance little puppets! Dance!
Manipulating and controlling with threats and lies. Facebook has become Friends of McHugh’s weapon of mass destruction, and McHugh wants to make Coeymans Ground Zero!


Read the Excerpts from Segments 1, 2, and 3 of the Crandall Interview:
Crandall Interview: Segment 1
Crandall Interview: Segment 2
Crandall Interview: Segment 3

Plus the Featured Resident Comment:
The Coeymans Clowns, the FoC, Are True to Their Reputation: Thugs


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“Friends of Coeymans” a.k.a. “Fiends of Coeymans”: McHugh’s Thugs

Coeymans has always been fertile ground for a bumper crop of bullies but the so-called “Friends of Coeymans,” popularly known by many Coeymans residents as “Fiends of Coeymans,” is a real special brand of domestic terrorist, the George McHugh campaign’s answer to Nazi Germany’s roaming fascist bands of thugs.

Thanks to a number of tips received from a number of Coeymans residents, who appear to be concerned about a new bully group in the Town of Coeymans — as if Coeymans didn’t have enough bullies as it is —, a local group calling themselves “Friends of Coeymans. ” The group’s bully tactics and brutish conduct in public meetings has earned them the dubious epithet of “Fiends of Coeymans.” So, in response to residents’ requests to investigate and to publish our findings, we’d like to respond in this initial post, pending our more in-depth investigations.


First of all, we note that these so-called “Friends of Coeymans” are a very small group consisting of three local clowns — for now let’s just be kind and call them the “Coeymans Clowns” —, with all the charm of a John Wayne Gacy clown, are closely associated with the McHugh campaign for Town Supervisor.[1] We’ll get to McHugh in a very revealing and troubling report on his past and present activities.

The Fiends of Coeymans appear to have an agenda of disrupt, disorder, and confuse the issues of the elections, the candidates, and to create general confusion and conflict in the Coeymans community. Far from being anything you could possibly define as a friend, these Coeymans Clowns are destructive and damaging. Of course, being on Facebook, they have collected a gaggle of Facebook freaks, addicts who spend their waking hours scrolling through illiterate comments posted by their fake friends.

If a group wants to be acknowledged as “friends” of any community, they should first state their goal as being for the public good and acting in the interests of the public, not a partisan political campaign. These Coeymans Clowns are interested in nothing but their Neanderthal sadistic pleasure, something that appears to be their perverse notion of masculinity or good citizenship. Maybe in Stalin’s Russia or Hitler’s Germany, but not here in the United States.

Unfortunately, some of the more ignorant and misguided souls (read: Mary Driscoll and her ilk) seem to have adopted this contemporary re-casting of the Three Stooges — and we believe they are actually stooges, stooges of George McHugh and his keepers [2]

Of course, the Fiends of Coeymans have a Facebook page, the Clowns practice their own brand of censorship, propaganda, and abuse on that page, which has also been a problem, say residents.

Creatures from the Shadows: Fiends of Coeymans.
[From left to right, Jeff LaQuire, Nate Boomer and Chris Hagen.]

This is a Fair Use site. One of our contributors received a threatening email from a woman called Kate Lisa, who is working for the rag, the Ravena News Herald, demanding that the Smalbany blog take done the photo of the Fiends of Coeymans. George McHugh is apparently still running the Ravena News Herald, despite the fact that Mark Vinciguerra has purchased it and his misnamed Capital Region Independent Media is mismanaging it. McHugh isn’t going to let his lackeys take any punches. At the contributor’s request, not Kate Lisa’s, we have removed the photo not because we had to, but out of courtesy. Our contributor asked Kate Lisa to give permission to use the photo, just to be friendly, but she refused. No problem, we got our mileage from it. But we do recommend that the RNH watermark their images or at least place a clear and conspicuous © on their images, like anyone else would have the good sense to do. Provincial is as provincial does. Do you smell pork belly burning?

The three clowns behind the Friends of Coeymans, and the operators of the Facebook Friends of Fascism page, have been identified as Jeff LaQuire (is that really pronounced “la queer”?), Nate Boomer (Boomer?!? Is he booming Jeff?)  and Chris Hagen. It may be worth knowing that one of the Clowns, Chris Hagen, is the brother of controversial Travis Hagen, the individual involved in the tragic death of 19-year old Riley Kern last year. It seems the Hagens have a tendency to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. As we mentioned above, the Clowns are associated with the McHugh campaign, and are garnering support from the News Herald, George McHugh’s pet.

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The Coeymans Clowns are a very good example of the worst in abuse of free speech. They are using not only the local opportunities for signage to mislead Coeymans residents — the Clowns can’t possibly afford to rent the billboard space they have on 9W, so our question is: Who is paying for it? Marc Vinciguerra of the Ravena News Herald? George McHugh? Carver Laraway? —  they’re all in bed together — and they have the willing ear of McHugh’s pet newspaper, the Ravena News Herald, the local media whore. What’s worse is that they have a Facebook page that most social media addicts can find with no problem,  and, if they say what the Fiends of Coeymans, rather, the Clowns of Coeymans want to hear, and if it supports their special interest agenda, it gets posted for all to read. But if you question any of the propaganda or disagree, look forward to being banned, and then after being banned and deprived of the opportunity to respond, they’ll proceed to trash you. Friends of Coeymans, Clowns of Coeymans, at their democratic best.

Lequire, Boomer, and Hagen are three very scary clowns!

Here’s the hypocrisy of the whole Fiends of Coeymans Facebook scam: They invite free and open discussion and even tout freedom of speech but, as in most dictatorships and fascist regimes, your freedom of speech goes only as far as the narrow limits of what the Clowns want to hear, and what they want their “friends” to see. In my book and by my definition, that’s called censorship and propaganda. It has no place in a free and democratic society.

But when the thugs get some computer skills, that’s the place where things go. Fascist thugs and computer skills are a toxic mix.

Problem is, there are so many gullible, ignorant, even downright stupid residents in Coeymans, who are such pitifully lonely creatures, they’ll do anything to get a friend. Hell, they’ll swallow anything — and I mean anything — if you’ll just say Hi! to them. So it’s that bunch that are really attracted to the Clowns’ group. The burning question is: Are you one of them?

If anyone has seen the movies about dictatorships like Nazi Germany or any place where fear ruled, you always have the scene where the thugs enter a public meeting, a gathering, or even a church service and intimidate or brutalize those present to the extent that no one goes to the public meeting because they’re afraid of meeting up with the thugs. Well, that’s exactly what we’re seeing now in Coeymans: the Clowns, the Fiends of Coeymans, are appearing at town government meetings ranging from regular town board meetings to planning board meetings and making unpleasant and embarrassing scenes. Just like in Fascist Germany. Their main purpose: to embarrass our elected officials and to intimidate citizens. Some of their Facebook freak friends actually congratulate them on “the good work they’re doing in the community.” Pure insanity! You can’t make this stuff up!

This sort of bullyism has to stop. Only YOU can stop it. Some of Coeymans misguided residents are urging these freaks on; others are encouraging them by giving them attention on Facebook; others are supporting them indirectly by staying away from important democratic institutions like town board meetings, planning board meetings, and public gatherings. Why? Because fascist thugs work that way: they work with lies, threats, bullyism, and intimidation.

Next time you express support for our military and our servicemen, just remember one thing: Our fathers and grandfathers fought against Fascism. Their sons and our brothers and sisters fought against totalitarianism in Korea and Vietnam. Our brothers and sisters fought terrorism in the Middle East. How can Coeymans residents support those sacrifices and still support a group like the Fiends of Coeymans, who are creating their own special brand of domestic terrorism?

Open your eyes! Open your ears! Open your mouths! Say NO! to the fascist thugs in your own front yard! You owe it to him or her who made the ultimate sacrifice so you can talk freely, assemble without intimidation, and exercise your free right to vote!!!


Editor’s Note: Mr George McHugh has recently published some misleading statements relating to his military service, if you can call National Guard service “military” and a cushy office job in the Staff Judge Advocate’s office (That’s where all the attorney’s hang out, far from any bullets or landmines!). We think he has no clue about what it is to be a real soldier. We’ve invited him to be interviewed to clarify those and other questions about his past but he has so far ignored two of our follow-ups. A third one will go out this week and, if he doesn’t have the guts to interview and answer the questions, we’ll publish the facts that we have. No one can say we didn’t give him the chance to clear the air.


[1] John Wayne Gacy was an American serial killer who raped, tortured and murdered at least 33 teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978 in Cook County, Illinois. All of Gacy’s known murders were committed inside his Norwood Park ranch house.

[2] The dictionary definition of “stooge” is “a person who serves merely to support or assist others, particularly in doing unpleasant work; perform a role that involves being the butt of a comedian’s jokes; move around aimlessly; drift or cruise.” Aptly applies to the Coeymans Clowns in all aspects.

 

Happy Independence Day! Everyday.

No Flag-waving, Sunshine Patriotism. It’s all Phony. We are Celebrating Truth, Instead.

Our gift to our readers, followers, and supporters on this Independence Day. From the movie Idiocracy (2006), President Camacho’s State of the Union address:


Editor’s Note: Idiocracy is a 2006 American science fiction satire/comedy film. The film tells the story of two people who take part in a top-secret military human hibernation experiment, only to awaken 500 years later in a dystopian society where anti-intellectualism and commercialism have run rampant, and which is devoid of intellectual curiosity, social responsibility, and coherent notions of justice and human rights. The main character, Joe Bauers, the definition of “average American”, is selected by the Pentagon to be the guinea pig for the top-secret hibernation program. Forgotten, he awakes five centuries in the future. He discovers a society so incredibly dumbed down that he’s easily the most intelligent person alive. Many in the media and commentators call the film a “documentary” rather than a comedy, and discuss how the theme of the film is actually coming true!


We’re celebrating the REAL America. We’re celebrating the Catskills!

Unlike most journalism and unlike most media, Smalbany is Independent, totally Independent, and doesn’t sell out for cash, ratings, future promises. Smalbany cherishes the guaranteed freedom of press and opinion, and will never abuse that guaranteed right. Smalbany is no slave to any special interest, any politician, or bribery of any kind. No other area print or online media can make that claim. That’s why we are the areas most read and most trusted journalistic source for truth and openness.

As of July 4th, 2019
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The Smalbany a.k.a. Albany, NY, team wish all of our readers a safe and peaceful Independence Day 2019.

The Smalbany Blog again celebrates their 5th Independence Day, Yes! 5 years already serving the community and beyond. Smalbany Blog confirms and re-asserts their

  • Independence from allegiance to any political party, ideology, special interest, religion, or group; Smalbany’s only allegiance is to Truth and Fairness.
  • Independence from greed and avarice as a motivation; Smalbany does not allow advertising and does not ask for donations nor even accept donations, if offered; Smalbany doesn’t owe anyone anything but justice and fairness.
  • Independence from ignorance and lies; Smalbany never posts an article without checking the facts and looking at both sides of the story.
  • Idependence from hearsay, rumor, or gossip. What you read on Smalbany has been investigated and vetted; that’s how we keep our credibility.
  • Independence from fake loyalty to any flag or national myth; Smalbany is supranational, above any nation or national symbol, Smalbany avoids idolatry and false prophets.
  • Independence from fear; Smalbany knows more than it posts, and keeps the scoundrels and villains in the community and beyond on their guard.
  • Independence from corruption in public services, public servants, elected officials; Smalbany doesn’t ask any public servant or elected official for any favors. This means that the crooks in government can’t buy their way out of their crimes.
  • Independence from any blame or guilt; Smalbany has always maintained the highest level of integrity — and will continue to do so — and has nothing to fear from the powers to be.

And speaking of misinformation, Most historians have concluded that the Declaration was signed nearly a month after its adoption, on August 2, 1776, and not on July 4 as is commonly believed. The actual resolution of independence was made on July 2, 1776, by the Second Continental Congress in a closed session. So why July 4th? The declaration resolution was publicized on July 4, 1776. In 1781, the Massachusetts General Court became the first state legislature to recognize July 4 as a state celebration. But it wasn’t until 1870 that the U.S. Congress made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for federal employees, and only in 1938 did Congress change Independence Day to a paid federal holiday; in 1941 the day was expanded to become a “national” holiday. (5 U.S.C. § 6103). (Source: https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/july-4th, last accessed on July 3, 2019)

That’s the kind of Independence we at Smalbany wish each and every one of our contributors, followers, readers, and supporters. We wish you all a Smalbany Independence Day, every day!

The Hudson River represents natural freedom and independence. Keep it pure and free.

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2019 in 19th Congressional District, 19th Congressional District, 19th Congressional District, 2019 Elections, 20th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, 46th District, 46th Senate District, Albany, Albany Classis, Albany County Civil Service Department, Albany County District Attorney, Albany County Elections, Albany County Executive, Albany County Legislature, Boris Jordan, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Business, Capital District, Capital Region Independent Media, Carver Companies, Carver Companies, Carver Construction, Carver Laraway, Catskill-Hudson Newspapers, Church, Church of St Patrick Ravena, Civil Rights, Civil Rights, Coeymans, Coeymans Industrial Park, Coeymans Town Board, Columbia Greene Media, Columbia-Greene Media, Conservative Party, Constitution, Daily Mail, David Soares, DEC, Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Homeland Security, District Attorney, Easton Mountain, Elections and Voting, FBI, FBI, FBI Criminal Information System, FBI Public Corruption Squad, First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Freedom, Freedom of Speech, George McHugh, Government, Governor Mario Cuomo, Greene County, Greene County Board of Elections, Greene County District Attorney, Greene County Elections, Greene County Independence Party, Greene County News, Hudson Valley, Independence Party, Internet Speech, Jason Tantra, Joe Stanzione, John B. Johnson, Johnson Newspaper Corporation, Johnson Newspaper Group, Jordon J. Anthony, Joseph Stanzione, Justice and Courts, Lafarge-Holcim, LafargeHolcim, Law, Law Enforcement, Mark Vinciguerra, Miami-Dade District Attorney, New Baltimore Assessor, New Baltimore Democrats, New Baltimore Elections, New Baltimore Highway Department, New Baltimore Republican Club, New Baltimore Town Board, New York, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State, New York State Constitution, New York State United Teachers, News Herald, NYSUT, Office of the Attorney General, Pledge of Allegiance, Port of Coeymans, Ravena, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk Central School District, Ravena News Herald, RCA, Reformed Church of America, Riley Kern, Riley P. Kern, Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, Russians, Russians are Coming, Sabic, Sex 4 Sale, Smalbany, Suffolk County District Attorney, Sycamore Country Club, Tantra 4 Gay Men, Terry Hagen Memorial Golf Tournament, Times Union, Times Union, Times Union Blogs, Travis D Hagen, Travis Hagen, Uncategorized, United States Attorney, United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, United States Department of Justice, United States Government, US Department of State, US Senate, Washington County District Attorney

 

Sex for Sale: The Follow-up II

It’s not a question of whom you choose to love, how, or where. That’s a very personal right.

But it is a question of who is offering services, what services, how and where. There’s a difference between love, sex and Sex-4-Sale? There’s a difference between the backseat, the bedroom and the public arena, even if that arena appeals to a small segment of society.

We play too many games with language and fail to understand that language is connected with meaning, and meaning with values, and values with emotions. Just think what we have done to the simple four-letter word “love” in American English. We’ve destroyed it. Now just think about what “friend” meant at one time. and what “friend” means now in the post-Facebook era. “Friend” has become meaningless. When the basics — those little things most people take for granted and which make human beings into persons, that is, the things that change them from a What? to a Who? — lose their meaning and value, so do you and everyone else.


Have We Become Meaningless as a Doormat?

The United States once had meaning and value. It’s not only a question of ideology, or policy, or of how we think and what we do as a nation. It’s also a question of who we let in the country legally and what they do once they’re here. That’s a specific question of what our government is doing to protect the American way of life and living; literally, what it means to be the United States and the American people.

Are They Doing Their Jobs?

Or Are They Tantamount to Traitors?

Are you doing your job?

One of the questions we should expect the United States State Department and the Department of Homeland Security when vetting an applicant for entry in the United States and even more seriously, when admitting an applicant for entry in order to operate a business. The State Department and Homeland Security have been miserable failures in the past, and their failures have been the source of a great deal of tension, anxiety, dispute, anger, and suffering here in the American homeland. All of it unnecessary if our government would stop squabbling among themselves and do their jobs.


Editor’s Aside: The State Department authority for issuing visas is the Consular Service in the particular country. In the case of the UK, the applicant must have a valid UK passport, and will be able to obtain a visitor’s visa that is good for 90 days. Once here, no one — well, almost no one — keeps tabs on the “visitor;” he or she can do pretty much whatever and go pretty much wherever he or she wants. Many will take the risk and work illegally, and get away with it. But that’s no surprise to a nation who has been taking it from behind for so many years at Mexico’s pleasure. When the going gets really tough, the US government just makes them another US territory and pays them benefits without taxation, just like what happened with Puerto Rico. Everybody likes screwing Americans, even Americans.


We’ve recently had George McHugh and Carver Laraway in our sights because they are perpetrating a fraud on Coeymans, and need to be brought under control and fast. Residents are coming out with some very scary stuff about McHugh and Laraway, and our fact-finding is confirming much of what is being said. You don’t have to go far, for once the Albany Times Union is picking up on what McHugh and Laraway are up to, and more recently an individual with some very inside information has come forward and is ready to tell it all about McHugh and Laraway.

We’ve already raised important questions about George McHugh and Carver Laraway and their involvement with Russian businessman, Boris A. Jordan, and their marijuana businesses. We’re wondering why the Albany Times Union and the Ravena News Herald haven’t picked up the story, and Why? both papers are silent on the Russian connections in Coeymans. Well, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to guess why Mark Vinciguerra and his — or should we say George McHugh’sRavena News Herald haven’t uttered a word about the Russian connections.

Back to “Sex for Sale”

Is T4GM Selling Sex Services on a US Visa?

But that’s another story. We’re getting off track so let’s get back to “Sex for Sale” and our continuing follow-up and investigation.

Washington County, NY, District Attorney
Jordan J. Anthony
Are you doing your job?

In two previous reports we drew attention to an unusual case of a British subject calling himself Jason Tantra, who claims to be in the US on a visa issued in the UK, and operating a business in the US, again authorized by the US consular authorities in Britain. We reported our concerns that Mr Tantra does not give his real name, does not publish or disclose any information about his business registration, no address, and no tax information. Yet the United States government has issued Mr Tantra a visa to be in the US, to work here, and to operate a business here in the United States.

We have reported that Mr Tantra — if that’s his real name, which we seriously doubt — operates a sex and spirituality business called Tantra 4 Gay Men, a business that provides massage services, instruction in what he calls Tantric sex practices, and even calls his operation a “school” that provides instruction and even issues “diploma certificates.”

That’s it in a nutshell. If you want to read the previous articles, please go to these links:

Our initial interest was the fact that this Mr Tantra had the balls to have a website removed because the site had published critiques of Tantra’s operations and his claims. That was important because we very strongly believe in freedom of expression and the right of every citizen to express an opinion. We also questioned the right, the legality, and the ethics of silencing a citizen because some pervert doesn’t like what he or she has to say. In other words, we had concerns about violation of constitutional rights by both the Internet service provider and by Mr Tantra.

Are you doing your job?

Well, the case has taken on an energy of its own, and we totally support the continuing investigation of Mr Tantra, his company Tantra 4 Gay Men (T4GM), his collaborators in the United States, including the LGBT retreat organization, Easton Mountain (Greenwich) in Washington County, New York, and the law enforcement officials in several states.

Our Government is Stooping to Record Lows

We agree that IF Mr Tantra and T4GM have been granted authorization to operate in the United States, that is, IF Mr Tantra actually has a visa to work in the US, and IF T4GM has actually been approved to operate in the United States as a business operation, our government is stooping to record lows. What possible contribution can a fraudulent, yes we said FRAUDULENT company make to any economy, local, regional, or national, to merit its authorization by the US government? On the other hand, Mr Tantra and his business may be operating without authorization, and what he has shared about his visa, the authorization to operate T4GM in the United States, his tax status, and his qualifications — apart from his statement that his services are “unregulated,” a statement with which we have taken issue and with which we disagree — then there’s a serious problem here that needs to be investigated. That’s exactly what one citizen is demanding.

We have documents that are addressed to a number of government agencies, demanding that Mr Tantra and his T4GM be investigated and that the truth be told. We  have contacted Mr Tantra at his organizations UK email via his T4GM website (What a mess that is!) and Tantra has responded with some very contradictory and defensive reactions, including threats of legal action and blocking further communications. So much for openness.

Mr Tantra has no idea about the big mistake he made by doing what he has done. So, we looked further into his operations and his collaborators’ operations, and we’d like to share some of the content of the documents we have.

Are you doing your job?

One citizen has send demands for investigation to the following local, state and federal government officials:

  • US Citizenship and Immigration Service
  • Homeland Security (Albany, NY, Regional Office)
  • District Attorneys in Washington County (NY), Suffolk County (MA), Miami-Dade County (FL)
  • The Attorneys General of New York, Massachusetts, Florida
  • United States Attorneys for the Northern District of New York, the District of Massachusetts, the Southern District of Florida

The concerned citizen has also contacted several newspapers in Washington County, NY, and Her Majesty’s Home Office (UK), Department of Fraud Investigation.

Here’s an excerpt from the letter sent to the officials:

I am writing to you with a concern relating to the following areas:

  1. Operation of a sex services business by a foreign national in the United States, the state of New York, and sister states.
  2. Collaboration with said operator by a New York group operating as the Easton Mountain Retreat Community, located in Washington County, New York,
  3. Granting of “Diplomas” in a three-module series of training for payment by an unaccredited and unauthorized “school” of Tantra
  4. Provision of instruction, therapy, massage services, health services, psychological services, etc. by unlicensed individuals or individuals not qualified or credentialed to offer such services in the state of New York or elsewhere
  5. Questionable state and federal tax status and filings, reporting by Jason Tantra/T4GM
  6. Visa status and the nature of the business approved for operation in the United States and the State of New York granted to one Jason Tantra or T4GM.
  7. The possible perpetration of a multifaceted fraud by Mr. “Tantra” and his business, and his collaborators in the United States and in New York state, and elsewhere (e.g. Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, etc.)
  8. Violation of civil rights by Mr. Jason Tantra by causing the suspension of an entire blog for criticizing Tantra’s operations and his T4GM operation in the United States. Mr. Tantra has admitted to demanding the suspension of the site once he was notified of the existence of the posts.

On information and belief and on the basis of personal communications received from one Jason Tantra, a British subject sojourning in the United States on a so-called visa, and the operator of a vaguely described business not only in New  York State, particularly in Washington County, at the venue calling itself the Easton Mountain Retreat Center, where said Jason Tantra by and through his so-called business T4GM, ostensibly provides a variety of sex-oriented, psychological therapeutic, instructional, etc. services, some of which I allege require accreditation, approval or licensure, which the operators do not have, or appropriate supervision for which the operators are not qualified or do not provide at all.

The fact that Mr. Jason Tantra — whether that is a pseudonym, an assumed name for the purposes of selling his snake-oil programs, or is his actual name is in question — is a British subject in the United State on a visa of some sort, and alleges that the business he is operating in the United States under such visa has been vetted by the United States authorities, is far from credible, and if true, raises significant questions of how such a visa should be granted to operate such a business in the United States at all!

Read the entire letter to the Washington County DA, J.J. Anthony demand 19Jun19 da wash co redacted.

Are they doing their jobs?

 

Sex for sale? The Follow-up.

We became interested in this Jason Tantra and Tantra 4 Gay Men because of what superficially appeared to be a First Amendment violation; upon investigation it’s far bigger than what we originally considered a cat fight between two individuals having different opinions on some arcane subject. This is now a question of what the federal authorities are allowing to get into the country and how the federal and state authorities are ensuring compliance with our laws.

Yes. There is a First Amendment question here, and Yes! we are still asking What right does someone have to limit another person’s free expression of opinion? Yes! We are asking the question of Why? if corporations are given the same rights as flesh and blood citizens, Why are they not held to the same standards? And YES! We are asking Why? If Jason Tantra and Tantra 4 Gay Men are doing what they appear to be doing, what they say they are doing, Why aren’t our immigration, state department, homeland security, federal and state tax authorities, federal attorneys, state attorney generals, county district attorneys doing their jobs and responding, investigating, and reporting on “companies” like Jason Tantra and Tantra 4 Gay Men?

This is still in effect, isn’t it?

We’re still concerned about the First Amendment question. How is it that an individual — a guest in this country, in fact — can demand that another individual — a citizen of this country — be silenced for exercising his Constitutional rights? Does that mean that say, GE, can kill a conversation that is critical of their environmental policies by just asking WordPress or another blog service provider to remove the conversation? And does that also mean that if a blog is critical of government or a government official, the blog can be silenced? Isn’t that where tyranny and dictatorship starts? Yes, people, there’s a glaring First Amendment violation here but there’s also a frightening precedent, too!


The first three lines of History of the Tantra Religion,[1] the author, a. renowned scholar and philosopher of Indian culture and religion scholar, N.N. Bhattacharyyaa, states the purpose of that remarkable book: “to present in a historical outline, the genesis, development and structural analysis of what is known as the Tantric tradition of India.” And he does just that in exquisite detail.

What occurred to me when reading the book is that Dr. B. covers even the most minute detail of the evolution of the Tantra tradition but says practically nothing about “sexual practices, orgasm, Tantric sex, etc. In fact, out of the some 500 pages of discussion, only 5 index entries  can be found under “sex rites” and those entries are but a couple of words mentioning erotic practices. Nothing is mentioned about Western neotantra or the perverse monetarization of the Tradition in the West but for a condemnatory statement in the Introduction (see below).

What is very conspicuous in Dr B’s  answers the question, What is Tantra? in these words:

Tantra was primarily the way or means to understand the mysteries of life and the universe…Tantra arose as the sum total of man’s knowledge of the objective world around him. It was a way of life that sought the significance of knowledge , not in the realization sic of an illusory absolute, but in the day-to-day activities of men, in the simple facts of life like agriculture…etc., and in experimental sciences like alchemy, medicine…with a deliberate theoretical orientation that the structures of the microcosm and the macrocosm are identical and that the key to the knowledge of nature is to be found in the body.

As we mentioned above, the conspicuous short shrift given to Western tantric practice, including those key figures in Western Tantra like theosophist Leadbeater and others, is a clear indication that Dr B. does not consider the Western perversion or its proponents to be worthy of consideration in an otherwise exhaustive treatment of the History of theTantra Religion, the revealing title of the book.

This is borne out by Dr Bhattacharyya’s concise and strident assessment in the Hindu perspective on what Tantra has become in the West, and writes concerning the union of opposites, that is, male and female, and how it has been perverted by opportunist used-car salesmen:

Bisexuality is inherent in all beings and this aspect has to be exercised in order to understand the truth of one’s own nature. Sexual partnership is therefore the best expression for the most intimate relation between the two opposites…Such rationalizations of Tantric sexual elements are basically subjective, the interpretations being in all cases largely conditioned by their author’s outlook and approach. Anyone working on Tantrism cannot ignore the sexual elements, but difficulty arises when the entire Tantric tradition is superimposed on these elements… Sole emphasis on things sexual has resulted in the publication of numerous books on Tantra containing glimpses of modern sexual psychology and burdened with erotic photographs of the Konarak-Khajuraho tradition;[2] in the development of the queer [viz. bizarre, peculiar, strange][3] conception of modern Tantric art depicting varieties of copulative acrobatics; in the production of pornographic fictions sanctified with Tantric quotations; and in the emergence of a class of recent godmen or gurus giving spiritual sanction to all forms of vulgar and gross sensualities of their moneyed clientele. All this is due to the insistence on a ‘misplaced reality ’in Tantric studies, which even the most qualified scholars could not avoid.” [our emphasis]

Translation: Tantra has been hijacked by unscrupulous, ignorant fakes who have reduced it to vulgar and gross sexuality by ignorant dealers in cheap sex thrills.

Our inquiry was not limited to books and publications by scholars; we also consulted with authoritative sources, that is, living organizations, in both the United States and in India, the home of authentic Tantra. With our request for opinions we send the link to Tantra 4 Gay Men, and asked the organizations to visit the site and to tell us what they thought in response to the fair question:

Is the person, Jason Tantra, offering Tantra or Neotantra, or no Tantra at all; in other words, are the teachings and “spirituality” expounded on the site compatible with what is properly called Tantra, or must they be equated with a Western perversion of the Tantric tradition?

The consensus was unanimous: Mr. Jason Tantra and Tantra 4 Gay Men is not Tantra at all.” One commenter, after having visited the site and reviewing several of the videos, described Jason Tantra as “confused.”

At a more basic, superficial level, googling tantric sex will set your hair on end when you read some of the rubbish out there; none of the sex-service providers don’t know shit from Shinola® about Tantra or even the yoga they are sexualizing in their undisguised pornographic offerings.

So we really have done our homework, as you have learned to expect from us when we get our teeth into an issue. What we have found it that there’s something very fishy going on and something needs to be done about it.

You don’t have to work your way through 500+ pages of scholarly writing or contact more than 20 authoritative organizations to find that the consensus of most authentic, genuine proponents of Tantra call the Tantra of the likes of Jason Tantra and Tantra 4 Gay Men, and neo-Tantra overall, to be the product of poorly developed persons obsessed with sex, or charlatans appealing to the appetites of spiritless and bored materialists.

Worse still, and very concerning, is the question of Why? adult human beings need to pay outrageous amounts of money to get naked in a group setting and practice promiscuous sex in weird positions? It’s either purely exhibitionist or they can’t satisfy their need for human touch and attention in normal interpersonal engagement or Facebook and social media just isn’t doing it for them.

Now, we’re not lambasting or pillorying the LGBT community, or rather the gay men who are the primary targets of the tantra charlatans, simply because Jason Tantra and Tantra for Gay Men has attracted our attention. Nor are we singling out Jason Tantra or Tantra 4 Gay Men; there are many such operations going on in the US alone. There’s something intrinsically pathological about the whole thing. we have studied the Tantra 4 Gay Men site, reviewed the videos, listened to Jason Tantra’s ravings, and we remain unimpressed and very concerned. we have also obtained access through a reader to the Tantra 4 Gay Men site and must note that most of the members are late-to-middle to senior gay or bisexual men. What that means to me is that Jason Tantra is appealing to — and very possibly exploiting, even if it is with their self-destructive consent — a very vulnerable group of men who may be marginalized in terms of their appeal to desired love objects, who may find it difficult to find others of their age and persuasion, or simply are incapable of getting what they think they need outside of paying for it!

The fact that Jason Tantra is selling sex services is obvious, conspicuous. The act that Jason Tantra’s “ teachers” include rent boys and a former porn “model/actor” is undisguised (See “Masseurs“). The fact that Jason Tantra himself, is a narcissist, and running an escort service for men who can’t otherwise find someone to accompany them on trips is obvious (J. Tantra offers his companioning service at Holiday Companion. He’ll travel with you and provide 3 hours of service a day.). Look, if you’re a whore or a prostitute just be honest and say so. If you’re running an escort service and a sex massage service, just say so! Don’t use the name of a time-honored religion to disguise your perversion.

Take Jason along with you on your next trip.

The fact that Jason Tantra claims that the United States State Department and the United States Homeland Security have vetted him and his operation and have granted him a visa to work in the United States and to operate his business in the United States is a shameful statement on how the United States government conducts its own business!

The fact that Jason Tantra operates under an assumed name and provides no details as to his identity or any legal details about his “company”, such as a business registration number or an employer identification number certainly raises questions as to his legality and the legal status of his “company.”

We have contacted the relevant federal authorities, the New York State Attorney General, several district attorneys and are awaiting their responses, reports.

Jason Tantra/Tantra 4 Gay Men, according to their website, offers “programs” in Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and in isolated locations across the US. The locations are a secret. The payment details are a secret. Where’s the state authorities and the federal authorities in all of this?

We became interested in this Jason Tantra and Tantra 4 Gay Men because of what superficially appeared to be a First Amendment violation; upon investigation it’s far bigger than what we originally considered a catfight between two individuals having different opinions on some arcane subject. This is now a question of what the federal authorities are allowing to get into the country and how the federal and state authorities are ensuring compliance with our laws.

Is this Tantra operation a fraud being perpetrated on a group of vulnerable men? Is this Tantra operation a fraud being perpetrated on several states and the feds? Is this Tantra operation a fraud that totally misrepresents a three-thousand year old religious tradition? Are we confronted here with a psychological and moral disease, a spiritual syphilis, a public health crisis which, like so many before it, is being ignored by our government and the public servants we pay to keep watch over such plagues?

Yes. There is a First Amendment question here, and Yes! we are still asking What right does someone have to limit another person’s free expression of opinion? Yes! We are asking the question of Why? if corporations are given the same rights as flesh and blood citizens, Why are they not held to the same standards? And YES! We are asking Why? If Jason Tantra and Tantra 4 Gay Men are doing what they appear to be doing, what they say they are doing, Why aren’t our immigration, state department, homeland security, federal and state tax authorities, federal attorneys, state attorney generals, county district attorneys doing their jobs and responding, investigating, and reporting on “companies” like Jason Tantra and Tantra 4 Gay Men?

We’re still concerned about the First Amendment question. How is it that an individual — a guest in this country, in fact — can demand that another individual — a citizen of this country — be silenced for exercising his Constitutional rights? Does that mean that say, GE, can kill a conversation that is critical of their environmental policies by just asking WordPress or another blog service provider to remove the conversation?


And does that also mean that if a blog is critical of government or a government official, the blog can be silenced? Isn’t that where tyranny and dictatorship starts? Yes, people, there’s a glaring First Amendment violation here but there’s also a frightening precedent, too!

This has now become a question of how corrupt our local, state, federal government has become, and because of that corruption, how much corruption it is allowing to insidiously infect our American culture and society.

We are posing these questions to our public officials and authorities and we demand a response, answers!

The Easton Mountain “retreat community” is in Washington County, near Greenwich, in New York State. They regularly host Jason Tantra and Tantra 4 Gay Men. Perhaps the Attorney General or the Washington County DA could start there asking questions? They’re in New York State and certainly should be able to answer questions, especially about operations, licensing, taxes, etc. Maybe those government officials should be showing as much interest in this issue as we are.

Easton Mountain is just another open-air j/o club or bathhouse posing as a legit retreat center

What’s even more disgusting — and you thought it had already hit rock-bottom – is that the freaks running Easton Mountain have the ignorance and gall to actually publish “Seven Principles of Tantra” . You can clearly see that Easton Mountain is just another open-air j/o club or bathhouse posing as a legit retreat center. Easton Mountain and their source, Rudy Ballantine, another fake guru/fraud, are egregiously misinforming their public and taking them for total fools! They know NOTHING about Tantra except that their perverse version of it is making them money. There are laws protecting the public against fraud and fraudulent practices! So where are our law enforcement people on all of this?


Notes

Update: We’ve bee provided with access to view the articles critical of Jason Tantra and Tantra 4 Gay Men and the content of the blog suspended by WordPress in response to Jason Tantra’s whining. To read those posts, please go to Neotantra Frauds.

[1] Bhattacharyya, N. N., History of the Tantric Religion. Second Revised Edition. (Manohar: New Delhi, 1999)  ISBN 81-7304-025-7

[2] The Khajuraho Group of Hindu temples and Jain temples in Chhatarpur district. They are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temples are famous for their nagara-style architectural symbolism and their erotic sculptures. The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is decorated with a profusion of sculptures with intricate details, symbolism and expressiveness of ancient Indian art.

The Konark temple of the sun is also known for its intricate sculptures of gods and goddesses, animals of many species, and tableaus from everyday life; the erotic sculptures of maithunas depict sexual union in ritualistic and romantic situations. These show couples in various stages of courtship and intimacy, and in some cases coital themes. Notorious in the colonial era for their uninhibited celebration of sexuality, these images are included with other aspects of human life as well as deities that are typically associated with Tantra, and these images may be the same kama and mithuna scenes found integrated into the art of many other Hindu temples. The erotic sculptures are found on the temple’s Shikhara, and these illustrate all the bandhas (mudra forms) described in the Kamasutra.

[3] Dr B’s use of this word is more in the sense in which it is understood in his culture, that is, peculiar, strange, eccentric. It does not even imply the meaning given it in the West to describe aberrant behavior and formerly used to describe homosexuals, or the more contemporary use of the term to describe a broad spectrum of non-normative sexual identities and politics.

 

Tantra or Sex Services?

We have received responses to several of our inquires and it doesn’t look good for Jason Tantra or Tantra 4 Gay Men. Several authoritative Tantra experts have condemned Mr Tantra’s site and his claims, as have several published papers. It seems the authoritative opinion is that Mr “Tantra’s” claims for himself and for his “teachings” are simply not Tantra at all, and, as one expert puts it, it “site looks more like sexual activity for gay men than serious tantric practice.” We agree. We are also reviewing a Google site that discusses Mr Tantra and his organization and we will include that information with the information received from government agencies in our next report. While the fact that Tantra 4 Gay Men and Mr Jason Tantra may be perpetrating a fraud on a vulnerable group, we are more interested in his visa, tax, and licensure status — but our US government agencies tend to drag their feet when it appears they might have been duped. We are contacting the New York State Attorney General’s office to make inquiries, since Mr Tantra is “appearing” at the Easton Mountain retreat lodge in New York State. Maybe a sting can be arranged.



Just when we thought that there could be nothing weirder than local politics and politicians, up pops a case that seems even more bizarre. We’ve received information on what appears to be a feud between two apparently vastly different organizations, rather individuals, on of all things, the question of Tantra vs. Neotantra vs. gay “sacred” sexuality. Yes, you are reading correctly, and NO, we’re not joking.

The bottom line is this: Yes! Lady Liberty is weeping because the Constitution is burning. We think that there is a civil rights violation here. If you believe you have been the victim of a civil rights violation, you should seek legal assistance through one of the many civil liberties organizations or through a private attorney. Get a free consultation or, if you need to spend $100 to defend your rights, it’s definitely worth it. Civil rights are fundamental rights and there are plenty of safeguards in the US justice system designed to ensure that your rights are protected.


Warning: This content deviates from our normal subject matter so we do urge caution, since it does contain material and discussion that might be considered “offensive” to some sensitive individuals.


We receive a great many tips on possible stories to cover so when we received this one, it piqued our curiosity and we started digging. Anyone who is familiar with this blog knows that when we identify an issue, we start the research process that includes deep fact-finding to verify the facts and the actual issues. This case is no different — or is it? Actually, it is different in two important ways:

First, it is pretty one-sided because the one party, an individual calling himself “Jason Tantra,” apparently from Bristol, England, and operating a company called Tantra 4 Gay Men, a company with a Bristol, UK, address, is battling with an American organization, not a commercial entity but an apparently spiritual-religious entity, largely because of a difference in doctrine and interpretation of what exactly Mr Tantra (Sorry! But that’s what he calls himself, and has refused to give his real name.) is offering in his so-called “sensuality workshops,” that are being offered in places like New York (Manhattan), Massachusetts (Boston), Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), and other “discreet” venues in the US. Of particular interest is a so-called “festival” that is hosted by the largely LGBT “retreat center” calling itself Easton Mountain Retreat Lodge, in New York.

Unfortunately, because Mr Tantra went ahead and complained to WordPress, the social media platform, about the articles, WordPress suspended the blog owner’s site — actually in violation of their own Terms of Service — and so we have no way of reviewing what the author posted or the impact it might have had. That’s a double-edged sword because (1) we normally would investigate both sides, and (2) if Mr Tantra caused the site to be permanently deleted by WordPress, Mr Tantra has no basis to prove his allegations.

The second difference is that we are not particularly interested in the superficial issues of a squabble between two individuals or organizations but the cherished principle of freedom of expression, and its protection at least in the United States of America under the provisions of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. That’s a serious issue that we will likely focus on and the question of the extent of a person’s right, if any such right exists, to deprive another person of his/her right to freedom of expression, even if person No. 1 feels that person No. 2 is unfair or inadequately informed. The second part of this question is that of due notice. In New York state, at least, before anyone can be deprived of his or her rights or privileges, the law requires that s/he be provided with due notice.If that is not done, then there is the possibility that yet another protected right, that of due process, may have been violated.

Now, of course,we operate as journalists and not as attorneys, so our questions may or may not have legal weight in a real-life dispute, but they are worth considering because if those rights can just be arbitrarily eroded just because of a difference of opinion or because there is some sort of economic competition between the parties, which is not the situation in this case, then it can affect each and every one of us in various ways. The cherished American protected right of freedom of expression, including opinions, should not be cast so lightly aside simply because one party has a paranoid delusion of competition or an inflated sense of right, or simply because he doesn’t like what someone has to say.

Unfortunately, thanks to Mr Tantra’s draconian step of somehow inducing WordPress to suspend not just the posts about Mr Tantra or his company but allegedly the blogger’s entire site, has, as mentioned above, deprived us of the opportunity to review the particular posts but also places Mr Tantra and his company in a very different light.

We are navigating perilously close to tyranny by private interests and corporations

Moreover, it raises important questions about your rights and the arbitrary and unilateral adverse actions taken by social media, especially relating to your right to express yourself. When social media operators like Facebook and others can simply vaporize an account or a site without having to give an explanation, we are navigating perilously close to tyranny by private interests and corporations, and government not protecting our rights.

You see, in the UK there are very different concepts of freedom of expression and the laws differ considerably; in the UK you’d have less protection and more liability, that is, if you are subject to those laws. In the United States, the rights of freedom of expression are constitutionally protected and have received very broad interpretation in the courts.

Mr Tantra is a UK subject allegedly working in the United States on some sort of a visa. He claims also that his company and its services received extensive scrutiny by “the Visa office” of the “US embassy,” who allegedly authorized him to operate his business in the United States. We have requested details of his claims but Mr Tantra has refused so far to produce any documentation.

Our information indicates that Mr Tantra operates his business not only in the United States generally, but in several states, including New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and others. This raises the question not only of authorization generally to operate a business in the US but to operate a business in several sister states. Again, Mr Tantra is silent on these questions.

A very salient question we posed in the course of our initial exchange was that of taxes. Does Mr Tantra file federal returns and state returns for his income and revenues generated by his activities in the several states in which he operates his business. Mr Tantra states that he does file returns, that an accountant files his returns, and that he pays substantial taxes, but Mr Tantra does not provide a taxpayer identification number or any other documentation of his claims. We have requested at least some proof of his statements but have not yet received any.

Mr Tantra operates a business in the United States but doesn’t actually say what it is. We have visited his Internet site and from what we can glean from the information there — it’s a bit confused and well, ambiguous and vague, but see for yourself. Here’s the link: Tantra 4 Gay Men / Jason Tantra. We have also viewed a number of his YouTube videos which we find a bit amateurish and rambling but there are clear indications on both his Internet site and his YouTube videos that his company concentrates on sex practices, intimacy, tantric (sensual) massage, orgasm, awakening and enlightenment, bliss, and ecstasy. All of the keywords we’ve been able to identify are oriented towards gay men or “men who love men.” Seems like an unusual type of business or company to receive authorization from a US embassy to operate in the United States but who are we to decide US policy, we’re only voters, citizens, and taxpayers. Right?

Whatever. We have asked Mr Tantra to provide any copies of any blog articles he have from the suspended blog. We have also requested specific information from Mr Tantra so that we can be fair and even-handed in our upcoming report.

Mr Tantra’s responses are rambling and in part contradictory so we don’t really know if he understands what we are asking for, or if he is refusing to provide the documentation. Of course, he is under no legal obligation to even talk us but we feel it is in his interest to cooperate. We can’t accept simple statements as proof of what he says; we need to have something solid, official to show he’s legit.

As most of our readers know, we know where to find information and so we have contacted state and federal agencies with our requests for information. But in the meantime if any of our readers know of Mr Jason Tantra or his company, Tantra 4 Gay Men, we’d like to hear from you.

Since we have far more than 400,000 readers worldwide, we’d like to hear from anyone, not just Americans or persons in the US, but anyone worldwide who knows of Mr Jason Tantra, his company, Tantra 4 Gay Men, or who has participated in any of his “programs.”

We’d particularly like to hear from the author of the posts that so upset Mr Tantra or the owner of the blog that was suspended at Mr Tantra’s demand. Better still, if anyone can provide copies of the blog articles concerned, that would be a real boon.

We do know that the gay retreat venue Easton Mountain, is hosting at least two Jason Tantra events this year: the Tantra4GayMen Diploma Program: Healing & Surrender Module (there are apparently 3 modules) and The Tantra Experience, and in past years has hosted Mr Tantra for a number of events and he is allegedly next presenting there June 22-28, 2019, for some kind of “diploma-certificate” program he offers. It gets pretty pricey at between $1,999-$2,199, depending on whether you want multiple occupancy rooms or camping. You can find his US offerings at US Events and Workshops.

We do emphasize that our interest in this case has nothing to do with the parties’ squabble or the particulars of their offerings, even considering we do not have the advantage of details from Mr Tantra’s alleged adversary. We are examining and investigating this case because of the First Amendment issues and the overall issues of doing business in the United States and the laws regarding taxation, filing of returns, what you can and cannot do with or without a license to do it, and generally the principles of freedom of expression.

Moreover by posting links to the various sites of interest we in no way whatsoever intend to suggest that we support or do not support those operators. The links are provided solely for the information of our readers and serve no other purpose or intent whatsoever.

We have communicated with Mr Tantra and have informed him that if we do not receive reliable documentation from him by June 5, 2019, we will proceed with our findings without his inputs. We feel that’s only fair.

We’ll get the answers one way or the other.

 

Update: We have initiated inquiries on this matter with the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and the Office of the United States Attorney, Civil Rights Office, in addition to our other inquiries.

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Special Notice & Legal Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Persons accessing this site are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.
 

New Baltimore Property Taxes: Absolutely No Rhyme, Reason, or Answers!!!

The New Baltimore Board of Assessment Review met on Grievance Day, May 22, 2018, and the Final Tax Roll was published on July 1, 2018.

The Office of the Sole Assessor, currently occupied by Mr. Gordon Bennett (an employee of the Town), and the New Baltimore Board of Assessment Review (all appointees by the current Town board) is representative of the rest of New Baltimore’s dog-and-pony act, their excuse for Town government: Complete Incompetence and Ignorance!!!

Grievance Day is also a dog-and-pony act, where a gang of five appointees sit and demonstrate how ignorant and poorly qualified they are for determining the quality of property assessments in the Town of New Baltimore. The assessor sits by and listens, not contributing much in the way of assisting the poor wretches or preventing them from making complete asses of themselves and taxpayers!

Here’s this year’s tally of stupidity based on documents provided by the Town of New Baltimore and the official taped recordings of the New Baltimore Board of Assessment Reveiw of hearings held on Grievance Day, May 22, 2018, at New Baltimore Town Hall:

Shyster Michael Biscone of Ravena, apparently a bosom buddy of Mr. Bennett, since they are on a first-name basis, even in an official proceeding like Grievance Day, represents two property owners before the Board of Assessment Review, and presents their cases in a rambling fashion, so you have to pay close attention to understand the bottom line on the tapes. [Editor’s Note: For those of our readers, we are providing links to the Greene County online Property Tax Information website, where you can read everything about the properties we’re discussing. It’s all public access. Just click the links in the text below to go to the property information. The link to the main page, where you can search properties by municipality, tax map number, last name, first name, etc. is Greene County Search. ]

The first property is on Roberts Hill Road (565 Roberts Hill Rd, West Coxsackie NY 12192); it’s actually two properties that were once one but was divided in order to sell them. One has a house on it sitting on three acres (Tax Map No. 28.00-2-31.2). The other portion is 37 acres of undeveloped property (Tax Map No. 28.00-2-31.1). Mr. Biscone, on behalf of David Hales, whom he refers to as a “fine young man,” argues that the two properties should be assessed as one. He also admits that Grievance Day is not the place to argue his reasons but he does so anyway. Hales purchased the property in 2017 for $206,000. Bennett assessed the property for $210,000. The New Baltimore Board of Assessment Review, practically no questions asked, reduced Hales’ assessment by $49,000. Why? You’ll never know.

The second property is an interesting case. Again, it’s presented by shyster Biscone and is a property owned by William Brant, who, by the way, gives his address as 72 Brownstone Way, Apt. 410, Englewood, New Jersey (!), and owns the property on US Rt. 9W, between the Best Western and New Baltimore Family Dentistry (Tax Map No. 40.00-4-2.111). He’s had his plan for a for-profit senior living project that has been before the New Baltimore Planning Board for several years now, and has finally gotten approval. If you drive down US Route 9W going South, you’ll come to the Best Western Hotel, and then New Baltimore Family Dentistry. The Brant property is between the hotel and the dentists there’s a cute little cottage sitting in the middle of the field (that’s the Brant property) . In fact, you can see the temporary road leading into the property, where construction preps are being done. Looking towards the back of the property is a small building, a “well house” that is discussed below.

The property is assessed at $120,000 land value, but Biscone somehow convinces the New Baltimore Board of Assessment Review that it’s overassessed at $70,000 because of a “well house.” Biscone argues on behalf of Brant that the “well house cost” Brant only $27,000 but Bennett has assessed it at $70,000. If you’re lost here, don’t worry, it doesn’t make sense unless you listen to the tapes about 3 times. It’s a smoke and mirrors act and works for Biscone and Brant because the BAR buys it and reduces Brant’s assessment by $25,000. You’d think the members of the BAR would have the property tax reports in front of them to follow along but Hey! If they did that they might have smelled a rat and caught it. But that would be asking too much of a bunch of sillies trying to look important.

One tidbit that Biscone drops is that he will “drop off a number of receipts” that would prove what he was saying (not that Michael Biscone was ever concerned with the truth). But he never had to do that because the BAR made their decision to reduce the assessment that evening, on May 22, 2018, without the benefit of any proof or documentation.

What’s even more interesting is the fact that Biscone mentions that one of the contractors, whose receipts he was going to produce, is none other than Robert van Etten, New Baltimore Town Board member Shelly van Etten’s husband. What’s even more interesting is that van Etten, who owns an excavation-construction business located in Ravena, New York (only per the address), is the chairman of the New Baltimore Planning Board (and of the New Baltimore Town Committee on Agriculture)!!! Yes, readers, that’s the same Planning Board that kept Brant’s application in Limbo for several years and only just approved it! Does anyone smell something like conflict of interest here? Corruption? Stupidity?

Does anyone wonder Why? Mr. Brant got his Planning Board approval for his project after so many years of hassle? Just saying …

Case No. 3 is a property owner whose primary residence is in Long Island and who owns a property on North Ridge Road in Hannacroix. 2 acres with a 1 family house on it. Mr. Crimeni, whose primary address is 48 Lace Lane, Westbury, NY, is crying poverty. You see, he thinks his assessment is too high and he’s paying too much in taxes for his weekend country estate, comparing his New Baltimore taxes to his $8,000 Long Island taxes. Crimeni’s property (Tax Map No. 4.00-3-20)  full market value is $195,000 and is assessed at $145,000 but Crimeni is still not satisfied. (There seems to be some confusion also in the tax records because on one page for the same property we find the full market value to be $195,000 and on another page we find that value to be $116,000. It also shows it to be a 1-family house but the house has 0 living space! Maybe there’s an explanation for this?) Anyway, Rocco Crimeni co-owns the property with Nicola Crimeni (apparently his brother) and to listen to their story and compare it to the tax records is like, well, it’s like pure steaming bullshit. The original assessment was on a full market value of $195,000 which was assessed by Bennett at $145,000 for the 2 acres and the house. After the BAR heard Mr. Crimeni’s sad story we find that the assessment for the 2 acres and the house was reduced to a full market value of $119,298, and an assessed value for 2018 of $85,000, total tax bill of $ ??? The final assessment is $85,000, a total reduction of $60,000 !!! Great job, Ms Degnen and company!

Just for kicks and giggles, here are a couple of excerpts from the Crimeni hearing:

Crimeni: There was a trailer on the property and it burned down because of a wood stove we had there.

Crimeni: We purchased an Amish house for $38,000…the Amish people built it…it’s a shell…We’re finishing it ourselves.

Crimeni: We’re not rich people … the disparity in Mr. Bennett’s assessment is tremendous…We have a house on Long Island…and the taxes are $8000…

Degnen: You said it was a shed…[Editor’s Note: Crimeni did not say it was a “shed”, he said it was a “shell”! Degnan makes many such mistakes throughout the hearings. Is she hard of hearing or just demented?]…What are the dimensions?

Crimeni: 26 x 28, 2-story…We don’t have the money to finish it.

Degnen: Are you living there now? [Editor’s Note: Apparently Degnen missed the part where Crimeni says he lives on Long Island. She also hasn’t done her homework or she would know that Crimeni’s primary address is on Lace Lane, Westbury, NY!!!] … Do you have water and electricity? [Again, Degnen, homework? Familiarity with properties?]

BAR Member: Do you have the amounts of houses near you…did you bring the houses near you? [Editor’s Note: Apparently the BAR member is asking if Crimeni has any comparables, that is, information on similar properties in New Baltimore. The BAR member should know she should have these or could get them online in a couple of seconds. We did! In fact, if you go to the Greene County link we provided, enter the tax map number and go to the property page, you’ll be able to see the comparables for the property. Here’s the page for the Crimeni property:  Comparables.]

Crimeni: We ran out of money…We don’t have no money … We can’t afford this … [Editor’s Note: Here comes the best one: ] … We don’t live up here!

Hi, I’m the village crazy lady, and I’m on the Board of Assessment Review.

Now don’t you just have to sit down and cry hearing a story like Crimeni’s? Well, he apparently tugged at the heart-strings of the BAR because they allowed him a $60,000 reduction in his assessment, no questions asked!!!

For your information, you can find out any information you want on Greene County properties on the Greene County online property tax site, SDG Mate Online, and can search by property tax map number, owner’s name, etc. It’s all public access and available to anyone who is interested. Here’s the site link: Greene County Property Tax Info .

We could go on with the remaining 6 properties that received similar reductions but we’ve made our point. There’s something really wrong in the New Baltimore Assessor’s Office and on the New Baltimore Board of Assessment Review and it needs fixing. We think it’s corruption and collusion because there’s no rhyme, reason, or fair play in these determinations. Here’s why:

Two properties on New Street in the Hamlet have been the subject of a great deal of anxiety and discussion because since late 2016, severe damage was identified. In the one case, runoff from the street caused the collapse of the building foundation, making it unusable. Then Town supervisor Nick Dellisanti (now Deputy Town Supervisor) and then Deputy Town Supervisor Jeff Ruso (now Town Supervisor), together with Town Board member Shelly van Etten, personally inspected the site and identified a number of problems. Two days later Dellisanti, Ruso, and then Highway Superintendent Denis Jordan and Deputy Highway Superintendent Scott van Wormer visited the site and confirmed the same problems. After that the New Baltimore Highway Department created new problems and the Town was served with a number of Notices of Claim for the damage. In 2017, the Highway Department and Callanan paved New Street and created a mess. We won’t go into details here but if you want details go to our article: “New Baltimore Superintendent of Highways and Board to be Sued – AGAIN!

Dellisanti and Ruso’s game was “deny and hide,” handing the matter over to the town’s insurance company and their lawyers. Town Law would allow the town to make out-of-court compensation to the owner subject to the approval of a NYS Supreme Court judge but NO! they’d rather force the already traumatized owner to have to go to court and then to the poorhouse. That’s Republican fair play, apparently. No one in Town Hall wants to admit the wrong done. In fact, Dellisanti’s personal notes of a discussion with then Superintendent Jordan records that Jordan’s response to the resident’s request for a meeting was, “Let them sue us!” Apparently Dellisanti and Ruso agreed.

The owner of the property continued paying his taxes like a good citizen even though he couldn’t use the property and the damage was continuing because the Highway Department didn’t know what they were doing and Dellisanti and Ruso didn’t either – or they didn’t have the balls to go after Jordan directly. So the property owner requested a reduction in taxes on the collapsing building and the other impaired property, and appeared before the New Baltimore Board of Assessment Review with a complete written history of the case and numerous photographs showing the damage.

The problems first began when New Baltimore Sole Assessor refused to provide the members of the Board of Assessment Review with copies of the property owners request saying, “It’s not our responsibility.” But it is his responsibility to provide the BAR with copies of all complaints, it’s in the Real Property Tax Law!!! At the Grievance Day hearing, Gordan handed the four members present ONE copy, his file copy, of the requests for reduction of assessment on two properties. The hearing was a complete mess, confusion, the BAR couldn’t follow the conversation and Degnen kept on saying, “That’s not our problem. You have to go to the Highway Department,” and had to be repeatedly reminded that the information was being provided for background only, so the Board would understand the history of the problem. Degnen just couldn’t get it. The rest of the Board had no idea what the property was.  By the way, New York Real Property Tax Law requires the Board of Assessment Review to be familiar with the properties they are considering. They were not, which was obvious already in the Hales, Brant and Crimeni cases.

The bottom line: The New Baltimore Board of Assessment Review made all their decisions that evening, during the 4 hours they were hearing 11 case presentations, and did not adjourn to reconsider additional information, did not go into executive session to discuss any details of any property, as they should have done, did not request additional information, and refused to inspect the property. They approved 9 out of the 11 cases for reductions of between $12,000-$60,000, properties whose owners simply thought they were being taxed (Hales, Brant, Crimini) but the properties that were damaged and destroyed because of Town of New Baltimore negligence got NO CHANGE!!!

The Town of New Baltimore, the Office of the Assessor, and the Board of Assessment Review refuse to respond to inquiries or to answer communications on the subject. New Baltimore public servants at work, it seems. Any questions? You won’t get answers from Town Supervisor Mr. Jeff Ruso, Deputy Supervisor Nick Dellisanti, Highway Committee member Shelly van Etten, Sole Assessor Mr. Bennett, or Board of Assessment Review Chairperson, Donna Degnen.

The board is made up of five appointees including: Donna Degnan, Linda LeClair, Ronna Smith, Lynn Taylor, and This year, the members of the  Board of Assessment Review, chose Donna Degnen to be the chair. The fifth member, Bernard “Bernie” Jones was absent on Grievance Day.

The members of the BAR receive $200 each, and the chair, Ms Degnen, $250, with an additional $50 per meeting for meetings beyond two meetings. So that came out to about $50.00/hr for each of the members of the BAR for the 4-hour Grievance Day hearings. Degnen received an additional $50.00. Total for Grievance Day circus appearances: at least $1050.00 to give away almost $300,000 in property tax reductions, the majority of which were totally unsubstantiated if you listen to the tapes!

The Board of Assessment Review and the Office of the Sole Assessor are just as indifferent and incompetent as the Office of the Supervisor and the New Baltimore Town Board.

We have obtained the taped recordings of the proceedings of the Grievance Day hearings before the Board and can only say that the bowel sounds in a special ed class would make more sense than what we had to listen to in the tapes. Degnen was dithering and the rest seemed intent on making their presence and importance known by asking irrelevant and generally uninformed questions. None of the four Board members were familiar with any of the properties presented. Just a minute, one member, Linda LeClair, was the only member who showed any interest in the properties and the only member who had personal knowledge of a property. That’s a very poor showing.

But the Board did hear presentations on a total of 11 properties and granted reductions in 9 of them. Two properties, one literally collapsing and unusable and the other defaced by former Highway Superintendent Denis Jordan’s incompetence, were left unchanged, despite comprehensive exhibits and a clearly well-founded presentation. We think that there’s some collusion/conspiracy with the Town of New Baltimore and the BAR to avoid admitting any damage to the two properties, since, if any department or agency of the Town of New Baltimore admits the severe damage to the properties, it will cause havoc in Town Hall. Town Hall has been ignoring the damage and trying to discourage the owner from demanding compensation in their usual way, that is, let their insurance company lawyers make any court case impossibly expensive. That’s New Baltimore Town Hall at work. They ask for residents’ votes and then send them to the poorhouse when something goes wrong and the resident asks the Town to be fair and evenhanded. It’s a lousy system.

Several of the 9 reductions stand out as particularly loathsome and examples of the corruption in small town appointed committees. But first of all, let’s look at some general facts:

The assessments in New Baltimore are done on the basis of the Full Market Value and an Equalization Rate is applied. The Equalization Rate is a percentage that is applied to the Full Market Value to arrive at the assessed value. In New Baltimore this year the ER is 71.25% which means that the assessed value of properties this year is 71.25% of the Full Market Value. That’s legit in our estimation. But that’s were the legitimacy stops cold.

The total value of the properties is divided into two items: the land value and the property value (living area, etc.). The problems start with the Sole Assessor’s, Mr. Bennett’s method for determining the land value, which has absolutely no rhyme or reason and, in Bennett’s own words, the basis for determining the land value is, “Because it’s easier.” “Easier?” Yes, it’s easier to just apply a random value per acre than doing an actual calculation. It’s easier for Bennett.

Here are some examples:

In the Town of New Baltimore, Bennett has assigned land values to comparable properties as shown in the examples below:

The wide discrepancy in the Sole Assessor’s land values is one example of a huge irregularity.

The chart shows properties that are in the same area of the town, actually the Hamlet, but if you look at the land assessment, compare it to the acreage, and then to the per acre assessment, you’ll see why we are so up in arms about Bennett’s crazy assessments! They just don’t make sense! How can the land value of a property of 0.18 acre be assessed the same amount as a property of 1.03 acres, that is, a land value of $11,000??? Then have a look at the difference in the proportional value (last column) per acre!

A property on S. Main Street in New Baltimore of 0.05 acre (Total assessment: $56,700, Land assessment: $9,600) has a proportional price per acre of $192,000!!! WTF?!?!

We’ve written to Mr. Bennett several times and he refuses to answer. We’ve also complained to New Baltimore Town Supervisor Jeff Ruso about the fact that his employees and appointees refuse to answer inquiries but he’s refused to respond as well. It appears that when New Baltimore officials feel the heat of unpleasant questions, they tend to hide or ignore questions. (See Ruso’s comments regarding the resident’s letter, above.)

What’s even worse is the fact that the Board of Assessment Review was very generous in granting their friends handsome reductions, while denying reductions to touchy properties, like ones that are impaired because of Town incompetence. Here are the results of the Board’s “deliberations”:

The Board’s reductions ranged from $0 – $120,000 but there’s no logic; the stories behind the reductions are, however, very troubling. For example:

Brant is the developer who has the property on 9W, just behind the New Baltimore Family Dentistry buildings. Brant is a developer and has been planning to develop the property to put in some sort of housing project. He’s complaining because he feels his property is being overassessed. So, moneybags Brant pulls on the heart strings of the Board and they give him a reduction in assessment of $25,000.

Another property owner, Spence, is apparently interested in selling the property but wants a reduction in assessment for some reason. So the board hands Spence a reduction of $12,000.

But the worst example we have to offer from our investigations, listening to the hearing tapes, and reviewing the documents produced by the New Baltimore Board of Assessment Review and their determinations is a property owned by a downstater, Mr. Cremini and his partner:

Cremini owns a primary residence in Long Island and 2 acres in New Baltimore, where he and his partner a building a weekend home, which is livable and has electricity and water. Cremini is crying the blues because his assessment is “too” high. He pays about $8,000 in property tax on hi primary residence in Long Island and, convinced the Board that he can’t afford the taxes on his New Baltimore property. So the board reduces his assessment by $60,000!!!! Cremini lives in a primary residence on Long Island, can afford to own more than 2 acres and a house in New Baltimore, cries poverty and the Board reduces his assessment by $60,000!!! Of course, Mr. Bennett agrees.

Another property got a $12,000 reduction. Go figure.

Of course, the Board of Assessment Review doesn’t response to our inquiries regarding the reasoning behind these reductions. But our information comes from the actual tape recordings of the hearings made by the Board, and from the official Order for Change in Assessments and the so-called “minutes” of the Board’s meeting.

Got questions? New Baltimore’s got secrets and no one is talking. But these are the facts, people.

 

Go to other articles in this mini-series on New Baltimore:

Open Letter Blasts New Baltimore Supervisor, Town Board over Jordan Affair

New Baltimore Town Supervisor Jeff Ruso and his Board: Hide and Deny

New Baltimore Sends “Acting Superintendent” to Highway School. Why?

The New Baltimore In-Justice Court and Kangaroo Judges: Thomas Meacham, A Case Study.

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