Speeches & Action


I have long thought that politics, as practiced in Putnam County, is among the most vicious in NYS. I’ve covered politics, to varying degrees, in several other counties – Orange, Ulster, Sullivan. None has the regular and steady cut-throat nature of Putnam’s. Remember 2010? What a year. And that year hardly stands alone.

Anyway, it was therefore refreshing to attend County Executive MaryEllen Odell’s State of the County speech last Thursday. Understand, I don’t mean to say it was free of partisan coloring. It wasn’t. But it did seem to me that Odell’s speech addressed substantive matters and that reactions to it – agree or disagree – were appropriately serious. Of course, the opioid crisis, the focus of her talk, continues to ravage the nation and, to a lesser but still very serious extent, Putnam County. Our county has been a leader in adopting the use of Narcan, the overdose antidote, and that is surely the main reason overdose deaths are not even worse.

Also in terms of the mood last week, the Legislature – and this was technically a designed to fire up a certain part of the Republican base vote. From the President on down, there are vested Republican political interests spreading unconscionable lies about women and about Democrats.”

Colamonico went onto say if the town board’s interest was genuine in reducing abortions it could have chosen a platform to promote birth control such as “affordable and accessible measures or comprehensive sex education to empower women and girls to prevent unwanted pregnancy.” meeting of the Legislature, where Odell was giving her report – has one Democratic member now, Legislator Nancy Montgomery of Philipstown. Of all places in the county for a Democratic pickup, certainly Philipstown was the most likely. But it is unlikely to be that way forever, with just one town a Democratic preserve.

Putnam County is changing – I agree, sometimes glacially (witness that pesky border crossing at the Taconic State Parkway). After Odell’s address last week, I spoke with a leading Republican legislator. We agreed the demographics are shifting, and that it was likely inevitable that party demographics would shift too. He gave it 10 years until that shift was evident. Ten years.

Here’s another item from the speech: Those in public health and law enforcement I spoke with Thursday (joined by most county officials statewide), are scared to death of what legalized marijuana will bring. The pot today is far more potent than that available in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. For many, it is addictive. We have spent decades, DECADES, trying to reduce the levels of cigarette smoking. We are now prepared to unleash legal pot with zero mechanisms in place to deal with it.

No revenue agents to ensure tax collection and enforcement. Of all states, wouldn’t you think New York would be a leader in assigning bureaucrats to deal with this? No one studying the health impacts. It almost seems benign, how we’re treating it, beginning with Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Really, probably better than alcohol. We will rue the day, my friends.


Also from Thursday, but a new topic: Public health officials are gravely, gravely worried about the anti-vaccine mania that has consumed some regions of our nation, including parts of Orange and Rockland counties.

This is not merely an academic question, not a simple thing. You don’t have to go too far back in our nation’s history to get to the point when people died from these diseases. My mother’s brother died from tetanus as a young child, before the vaccine was available. Died.

Get your kids vaccinated. To do otherwise is irresponsible and dangerous.


Sometimes, there are surprising nuggets in the obituaries. My favorite quote of the week, in fact, is likely from the obituary for Christie Dentato, of Putnam Ridge, who was a World War II veteran and died Saturday at 94. One of his favorite expressions was said to be, “It never hurts to be nice.” We could stand a bit more of that in these often difficult times.

Until next week.

Douglas Cunningham is editor and publisher of the Putnam County Courier and the Putnam County News and Recorder. Reach him at, or just call 845-522-6144.

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