Of the many columns I’ve written, some of the most striking feedback has come to those about one of my favorite cocktails, the Manhattan. Rye (usually rye, though some use bourbon), a good sweet vermouth, a few dashes of bitters. Hard to beat. I discovered some months ago that lawyer Joseph Tock was a fan of Manhattans. His father had taught him how to make Manhattans, as his grandfather had taught his father.
So I was pleasantly surprised, there in Cold Spring Village Court last Wednesday, to see Tock in the front row. A fair piece from Carmel and Mahopac, and he had to cross through Putnam County’s version of a national border, the Taconic State Parkway that separates east and west. He had a whiskey recommendation for me, a rye from Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery. It’s in Gardiner, in Ulster County across the Hudson, and my wife and I had lived not far from Gardiner some years ago. Small world, right?
But neither Tock nor I were there to talk about Manhattans, though it did pass the time in a pleasant fashion. He was representing Carmel Councilman Michael Barile, who had been accused of grand larceny in the fourth, a felony, and criminal mischief and harassment, a misdemeanor and violation, in connection with throwing a water bottle at a nettlesome reporter, David McKay Wilson from the Journal News in White Plains, and then taking his phone and throwing it out into the street. At a town board meeting no less. My goodness. Wilson has been writing about the property Barile and his family and their entities own in Mahopac, and most recently about the sewer service for a restaurant of Barile’s along Lake Mahopac. In the course of this, he had filmed Barile, and his daughter (involved with the company business), during his reporting.
There were indeed things amiss in the sewers. According to a report by lawyers the town hired to investigate, the restaurant hooked into the sewer line virtually in the dark of night, and no one knew about it, years and years ago. No approvals, no bills, if what the investigators found is correct. How about that?
Back in Cold Spring, who should then show up but District Attorney Robert Tendy. Small world indeed, as the county’s legal heavyweights gathered. We chatted as well. In that way lawyers have, everyone was jovial and businesslike at the same time. It’s not personal, they’re representing a client, either the state or a defendant.
And then the judge, for this case only, came in. Camille Linson, whose normal post is as Philipstown town justice. She was also friendly, but very serious. Not amused at all. One of these counts was a felony. The plea bargain on the table would have the felony charge and the misdemeanors dismissed, and Barile would plead to disorderly conduct, a violation, agree to stay out of trouble for a year, and pay $149 restitution (which he had already done). Truth be told, it’s about what could be expected to happen, especially if the accused is regretful and has a lawyer as good as Tock.
Tendy said he had lengthy discussions in his office about the case. And, said Tendy, rather than recognizing the role of our press in our democracy, Barile chose to take action against a reporter whose conduct may have been annoying, but hardly criminal or harassing toward Barile. Tendy said just flat-out attacking members of the press couldn’t be countenanced. “My viewing of the video showed a reporter doing a job, and out of nowhere, the defendant did something stupid,” Tendy said. Under questioning by Linson, Tendy said Barile’s attack had been unprovoked. Linson put the brakes on the plea bargain. She wanted some kind of anger management assessment, by a professional, with potentially more counseling or followup if recommended. After the requisite recesses, while Tendy and Tock, then Tock and Barile, chewed over the details, Barile agreed to such an assessment.
What with bail reform, almost no one gets jailed anymore anyway in a court like this. But Barile and Tock were able to walk out with the case closed, or nearly so.
And I wondered: While this is the conclusion of a fascinating but really pretty small criminal case, what’s next? What can we expect from New York City and its Department of Environmental Protection, which controls so much of what happens in Putnam County because so much land is part of the New York City watershed? What will happen especially to projects in Mahopac and Carmel? And still, I wait for the Checkers speech from Barile, to explain everything to the public, and reporters like me.
Until next week.
Douglas Cunningham is editor of the Courier and the Putnam County News & Recorder, in Cold Spring. Reach him at 845-265-2468, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.