This blog chronicles and analyzes developments in the Upper Delaware Valley, with an emphasis on public affairs, politics and what people are doing to make this a better place. You can find news here as well as commentary - but don't expect neutrality. The award-winning editorial writer for The River Reporter from 2004 to 2012, I am an advocate for sustainability, self-sufficient economic growth vs. globalization and protecting the environment on which our health, prosperity and quality of life depend.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday night gossip at the Callicoon Wine Merchant

Shouldering my way into the Callicoon Wine Merchant at sixish on Friday, I ran into a friend who is a member of the Loyal Opposition. I say "shouldering my way in" because there was a considerable crowd of people standing around talking, some holding glasses of wine. I wondered if it could be a political fundraiser -- it's the season, after all -- but my friend told me no, it's just Friday night after five at Callicoon Wine Merchant. Apparently there's a bit of a mini-bar-scene there that I had not been aware of.

After making it to the cash register to pay for the cosmetically flawed but ambrosial Honey Crisp apples that I had picked up from a wooden crate sitting on the bench outside, I returned to my friend for a bit of a gossip. He said he had a couple of tidbits for me, both of which proved related to the natural gas drilling commission which had been approved two town meetings ago, and whose members' names (supposedly) Ed Sykes had announced at the most recent meeting.

Tidbit one (add salt for the hearsay) was that someone had told my friend that Fred Stabbert, one of the named commission members, has said that he is not pro-gas drilling, and therefore is going to resign. We were both scratching our heads over that one. It's true that Ed described Stabbert as one of the three members of the six-member commission who tended to lean pro, but Sykes also reiterated that the whole point was to find people who are not rabid either way. Combining what is generally perceived as the somewhat pro stance of Stabbert's newspaper with his personal (if this hearsay is correct) affirmation that he is not pro drilling, that might actually bring him pretty close to the balance Sykes is looking for. So why quit? All I can think of is that he's not happy to be designated as holding one position or the other in the case of something so controversial. In that case, I would imagine he can be persuaded to stay on the commission once he has made his objection to Sykes' characterization clear.

Tidbit two, without going into specific names to protect the innocent, is that another named member admitted that Sykes had spoken to him, but had not agreed to be on the commission and indeed didn't want to be--it apparently came as a surprise to him that he had been publicly named. But once he was told he had been named, so the tale goes, he allowed as how maybe he'd agree to be on the commission after all.

 As noted, add salt. But the general impression is that the gas commission is a bit up in the air. I wonder if any of the members, for instance, has been charged with convening an initial meeting? Or if they're all sitting around waiting for somebody else to get started -- those who are aware they are on it and are unequivocally willing to accept the appointment.

 Meanwhile, Callicoon Wine Merchant owner Robin says he will have more apples out there on Sunday, September 30. You can't beat $1 a pound, they're clearly local, and they beat those shiny round things in the supermarket all hollow.

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