Herkimer NY Jewish Blogger Gassed

by Stephen Ames Berry

We must be doing something right: Herkimer Post Crime Editor Stephen Ames Berry in front of sealed, lethally gassed Herkimer Post office in Herkimer NY

When you defiantly live among a band of murderers, as we do on Herkimer New York’s hopefully-named Pleasant Avenue, you Herkimer New York Blogger gassed by local band of murderersshouldn’t be surprised when they try to murder you. Perhaps the irony of their gassing a Jew in an historic German-American community escaped them. Or not.

“Go back to some Arab country!”

The Herkimer Jewish blogger gassed? The Herkimer Post’s Linda Kaidan. In fairness, she’d been warned by frightened but good-hearted people, that if she kept writing about Herkimer crime, “They’ll kill you.” And Herkimer anti-Semitic thug Curtis Cool and his alt-right chums, catching her out along one dark night, harassed her with “go back to some Arab country!”

Our attackers botched it, and by botching it revealed much. (More of that in the next posting.)

The gas attack followed our post Herkimer Crime 2016 – 20,421 Worldwide Views. It celebrated the Herkimer Post’s growing readership, an audience drawn by Herkimer’s  brazen criminality, and by the antics of  cop-coddled criminals like Curtis Cool.  Several of our depraved Herkimer neighbors participated in the attack, as they have in previous such attempts.

Herkimer – The Gassing of the Jew – 2/22/17

Somewhere between 0200 and 0400 on 2/22/17, assailants using a ladder breached Linda Kaidan’s 2nd floor office-bedroom at 330 Pleasant Avenue.  Her office is well-known to our creepily-watching criminal neighbors as home to her writing nook and to The Herkimer Post, which I co-write.

We awoke sickened, tasting and smelling the faint but distinct metallic residue of pesticide. Our symptoms were immediate, debilitating and familiar from previous poisoning attacks on us.

Those symptoms are typical of organophosphate and carbamate-based insecticide poisoning: Between the two of us we experienced dizziness, nausea, heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, burning sensations in throat and eyes minor muscle spams, fatigue, joint and muscle pain. We’re still suffering discomfort, but are up and running.

Herkimer Jewish Blogger Gassed
The first gas mask I used wasn’t up to the job. I lasted 3 minutes amid the fumes in our office.

Our attackers avoided alarm sensors and motion detectors by perching on a ladder outside our house, silently dispensing with practiced ease a massive quantity of an aerosol-delivered, heavy-duty pesticide through the office-bedroom the window. They apparently poked a nozzle between the a/c’s insulation and the side of the window. A backpack sprayer was probably used. 

The Herkimer Post has transferred it’s flag. Linda’s office is sealed for later attention. That room has what’s probably a lethal level of pesticide in it, evident when you try to work there protected by anything other than  PT-100 certified respirator, of the sort used by hazmat teams and the military.

This murderous attack may be the first on an American activist blogger-a first for Herkimer New York. Given the US’ toxic political climate and its blossoming anti-Semitisim, there’ll probably be more.

We’ve reported this attack to the New York State Police. They now have everything we have on all things Herkimer. Future posts have all been written, which is why the delay in posting this one. They’re on a cloud server in Bulgaria and set for timed release, a virtual dead man’s trigger. We haven’t troubled Herkimer authorities with this matter.

 

 

Herkimer Crime 2016 – 20,421 Worldwide Views

by Stephen Ames Berry

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” Albert Einstein

Forget Herkimer diamonds. Crime-ridden Herkimer New York’s greatest attraction is the village’s anarchic three-ring circus of brazen criminals, trafficker-coddling cops and willfully failed governance. In 2016, Herkimer’s unchecked, in-your-face lawlessness brought The Herkimer Post and its YouTube videos over 20,000 worldwide views. The human fascination with the grotesque drove our annualized viewing audience up 33% from our last statistics posting in March of 2016.

The Herkimer Post enjoyed 8,432 page views from 2,379 readers across 6 continents in 57 countries, with an average of 1.95 minutes per view. Our YouTube videos–Herkimer crime, all the time–brought 11,989 worldwide views averaging 3.32 minutes apiece. Top Herkimer Twitter tweets sparked at least 13,674 impressions, engagements and retweets, which aren’t counted in the 20,421 tally.

Living in Herkimer Village is convenient: except for our Herkimer Meth Bridge series, we’ve rarely had to travel more than 20 meters from our home on Herkimer’s wistfully-named Pleasant Avenue to acquire source material: Herkimer criminals trying to drive us from our home and Herkimer cops trying to intimidate us into silence just kept coming into our cameras or onto our microphones.

Herkimer Post 2016 – WordPress Page Views, Users, Sessions

 

Herkimer Post 2016 WordPress Sessions – Top 10 Countries

Notes on Google Analytics’ Metrics

  • One session can have multiple page views. Herkimer Post visitors viewed an average of two posts per session.
  • 2,777 blog visitors landed on the  Herkimer Post’s home page rather than a specific posting. They could have then selected one or more more categories and scrolled through the posts. Their views of individual posts wouldn’t have been recorded.
  • Country = “Not Set”: Origin may be a hidden ISP.
  • Best reporting option is 365 days. Calendar year selection not offered.

Herkimer Post 2016 Top Page Views

Herkimer Crime 2016 Top Blog Post

Our top recorded blog post for 2016 was of our neighbor and first Herkimer visitor, young mom Melodie Shulze, who dropped by with her mom Melissa Shulze to cuss us out for photographing our street and accuse us therefore of being pedophiles. Although the incident occurred in 2015, Melodie Shulze’s elder abuse has proven an object of repugnant fascination both on our blog and YouTube. (Melodie recently vanished from our street following an unusual flurry of Child Protection Services’ activity.)

Joyce Barton and Douglas Barton Win Herkimer Crime 2016 Top Posts Tally

Otherwise it was a postings slugfest in lawlessness and depravity between 333 Pleasant Avenue’s Bartons and 328 Pleasant Avenue’s Curtis Cool. It was won by the Bartons with 4 top posts: Herkimer Man Sexually Abusing Car was our 2nd top post, harassment dished straight from the Barton’s as they gleefully helped harass our very pregnant daughter. (Captured on a highly visible surveillance camera. )

Three other top 2016 posts featuring appearances by Joyce Barton and or Douglas Barton were Drug Trafficking On Herkimer’s Slumlord Row, [VIDEOS]Herkimer Crime – Drunks Along the Mohawk [VIDEOS], and Mission Accomplished! Fire Chief Barton’s Fire Revisited. This last highlighted a forensic video analysis of then-Deputy Fire Chief Douglas Barton’s garage fire, coincident with what appeared to be a large state and federal crackdown on Herkimer’s abundant meth makers. (The Bartons have apparently since abandoned their home-based enterprises and seem to be scrambling to make ends meet.) The drug trafficking post and related videos are from 2015; they’ve taken on a life of their own, drawing viewers month after month. (IP addresses hint law enforcement may be using them for surveillance analysis training.)

Curtis Cool Takes Close 2nd In Herkimer Crime 2016 Top Postings Tally

Herkimer Court Clerk Harriett Tangorra’s long-time tenant Curtis Cool (aka Curtis Dolan) did well in three Herkimer Crime 2016 posts: Herkimer Thug Curtis Cool Again Fails to Burn Out Neighbors, in which his unchecked pyromania was on full display, and an associated post, Herkimer Fire Chief John Spanfelner Sees Nothing. But Curtis truly shined, along with Herkimer Police Officer Jason Crippin, in Herkimer Police & The Nanny Nanny Boo Boo. Accompanied by Curtis’ videoed zaniness, it relates how Officer Crippin gave us to understand that in Herkimer New York, the nanny nanny boo boo is exculpatory for criminal harassment. (As folks here sigh with a shrug, “It’s Herkimer.”)

Herkimer Crime 2016 – 11,989  YouTube Views

In 2016, Herkimer crime drew over 11,989 YouTube views in 51 countries with a total viewing time of 23,409 minutes, or 390 hours. (16.25 days.)

Our YouTube audience wasn’t the same as that of the The Herkimer Post: most YouTube viewers didn’t come from our blog posts, but from other YouTube viewers and referrers. Many of our videos contain links to our other Herkimer crime videos, making it possible to build viewership through a chain of referrals embedded in video descriptions, and also build blog readership through links to our blog. Curtis Cool’s 13 videos and the Barton’s 14 videos provided the virtual framework for widening our follower base.

In 2016, videos of Joyce and Douglas Bartons’ Pleasant Avenue activities had 6,815 views, with a watch time of 6,698 minutes, or 4.65 days. Their top video was 2015’s enduring Herkimer Crime on Parade – 333 Pleasant Avenue (5088 views). But Curtis Cool (aka Curtis Dolan) blew the Bartons’ Crime on Parade out of the water with his bravura performance in Curtis Cool Street Harassment of 6/11/16: 154 hours (9,224) minutes, or 6.40 days. Herkimer’s untouchable Golden Child’s criminal harassment of his elderly neighbors was watched by 2,385 people on 6 continents, just one of Curtis’ series of street harassment videos. (Curtis abruptly moved after we hinted in a post that he might be involved in darker things than drug dealing. “The guilty flee where no man pursues.”)

Honorable Herkimer Crime Mention: Herkimer’s Historic Crack House Keeper. 926 minutes, 611 views. Not an elder abuser street harasser on a par with Curtis Cool, but the only one to have physically assaulted me. (He appears to have been deleted from the ‘hood.)

Herkimer Crime 2016 On YouTube – Top 10 Videos

Top 25 YouTube Herkimer Crime 2016 Videos

Herkimer Crime 2016 YouTube Viewers By Country

Herkimer Crime Watching COUNTRIES Page 1

 

HERKIMER CRIME WATCHiNG COUNTRIES Page 2

 

Herkimer Crime 2016 On Twitter

I didn’t go through Twitter to extract the analytics of views of our Herkimer crime tweets, which are automatically tweeted by our blog upon posting. They’d have to have been ferreted out of Twitter tweet by tweet, and the analytics for each manually copied and totaled. No. Life is short, death is long.

I have 72,000 Twitter followers. All of my posts make an impression. The more colorful, such as those of our Apricot Emperor or Herkimer crime, often create a thousand or more impressions. I’ve no idea what an impression is, and, reading Twitter’s definition, neither does Twitter. But those tweets do leave a large and consistent impression of Herkimer, and it’s not pretty.

Here’s a typical Tweeter analytics summary of some Herkimer crime tweets:

 

Acknowledgments

We thank all who’ve read our blog or viewed our videos. We hope they’ve given you some insight into what failure of governance looks like, and the stark reality of life when crime rules the streets of a once pastoral village.

We’d like to also thank Herkimer’s Curtis Cool (aka Curtis Dolan), his landlady Harriett Tangorra, our neighbors Joyce Barton and Douglas Barton, Herkimer Police officers Patrolman Haight, Patrolman Jason Crippin and Sgt John Scholl II, and Herkimer Fire Chief John Spanfelner, for helping make 2016 a very successful year for The Herkimer Post. Forward together into the New Year.

A sincere and especially heartfelt thanks to the New York State Police, Night Court, Trapper Ron, the New York State Intelligence Center, the US Drug Enforcement Agency and other US Department of Homeland Security entities, without whose officers’ vigilance and dedication to duty this post wouldn’t have been written.

And a big tip of the hat to Herkimer’s resident drones and their watchful wizards.

Quadcopter in dronebox
Quadcopter drone nested in a remote solar-powered recharging drone box. H3 Corp photo.

 

Herkimer Mobbing – Joyce Barton, Sgt. Tall, Officer Short

by Stephen Ames Berry

 

It’s been quiet along Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue. We’re keeping busy remodeling and writing posts that we hadn’t gotten around to, besieged as we were the last several years by neighborly attacks on ourselves, our pets and our home. As Herkimer has a new police chief, we’ll be having posts about past incidents involving some of his officers. We’re beginning with the Herkimer mobbing incident of June 15, 2015.

Herkimer criminals lend new meaning to homesteading
Outpost 330 – Herkimer Criminal Neighbors Give Fresh Meaning To Homesteading

It’s obvious that deprived of work hustling product from now-absent meth cookeries and crack makers, many of South Herkimer’s once abundant scrotes  have moved on. Pleasant Avenue is down to two homes owned by career criminal families, either in their own names or through proxies, and one homeowner who consistently rents her property to various members of a well-protected regional crime family.

State and federal law enforcement, augmented by surveillance drones, have swept the streets of Herkimer Village clear of its traditional  in-your-face wholesale drug trafficking. Attempts to move narcotics trafficking into the woods near the village were reported and crushed. 

Herkimer Police Stand Fast

Yet one Herkimer institution that’s endured unchanged through all the tumult of our three years on Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue is the Herkimer Police. In our experience, they’ve never heard a complaint worth taking, though some of its officers have proven quick to respond to the needs of well-monied criminals. (We do like several of the Herkimer cops, who do the best they can, boats against the stream.  My naming them probably wouldn’t help their careers.)

333 Pleasant Avenue Herkimer mobbing – June 15, 2015

One of our first experiences with a Herkimer police response was on June 15, 2015. The below is from my email of 6/22/15 to Herkimer Mayor Anthony Brindisi, supplemented by later information. (Mayor Brindisi is reportedly a former Herkimer police officer.)

My entire touchingly naive email to Mayor Brindisi follows at the end of this post. It was written before we realized that Herkimer enjoyed a wide reputation as pirate haven, it’s booming cash economy driven by well-protected, interlaced networks of criminals, protected by a co-opted local government. The orchestrated mobbing incident below is a typical ploy used by drug gangs to maintain turf control. (I’ve added the bracket information.)

Herkimer's Joyce Barton and Douglas Barton
Herkimer’s Joyce Barton and Douglas Barton in happier days

From my letter to Mayor Brindisi:

This past Wednesday evening,  we were the focal point of an obviously preplanned and terrifying outpouring of mob hatred triggered when my wife asked ball playing children in front of our home to please stop throwing objects at our house, notably a ball at the side, and rocks at the security camera covering our driveway. About 40 people stood watching from the opposite sidewalk and the porch of 333 Pleasant Ave.

Joyce Barton's 333 Pleasant Ave Herkimer NY
Barton Residence 333 Pleasant Avenue Herkimer

Within less than 30 seconds of her polite request of the ballplayer children, who were quite polite, the adults poured off the opposite sidewalk and the porch of 333 Pleasant Ave. and into the street, screaming at my wife, with one of them (Joyce Barton of 333) coming  within inches of my wife’s face and screaming that my wife was “crazy” “all cracked out” and “stupid.” The invective continued, with others, notably the red-faced male in his twenties (see below) repeatedly coming up to within inches of my wife’s face, showering her with similar invective.

Hearing the din, I rushed outside. People came up to our faces, taunting us.  Out of the raw chaos and tumult of the mob, we recall such distinctive phrases as: “Go back to Florida!” “Stay on your side of the street! “Don’t yell at my daughter!”(Joyce Barton again—very much a ringleader. We never raised our voices.) “Punch me! Punch me!” (This last screamed said by several as they thrust their faces into ours, notably again Joyce Barton, of 333.)

Former Herkimer Deputy Fire Chief Douglas Barton's Former Helmet
Following his garage fire, Douglas Barton is no longer a deputy chief

And, most frightening of all twice,
“We’re going to burn you out!” (This from a man in front of Deputy Fire Chief Douglas Barton’s 333 Pleasant Ave, whom my wife believes she can identify.)

I called 911.  [911 was utterly disbelieving.] Before the police arrived, I was assailed by a red-faced male in his twenties who told me inches from my face to “get off our fucking street!” and when asked who he was, said “None of your motherfucking business.” He appeared to be either drunk or high. Our exchange continued for a moment. (A former behavior teacher, I never raise my voice in a volatile situation.) He concluded by spitting at my feet and storming back to the porch 333 Pleasant Avenue. The moment before, he’d subjected my wife to the same treatment, complete with spit.

Herkimer Police Response – Sgt Tall and Officer Short

Herkimer Police
Herkimer Police Sgt Tall & Officer Short

Two Herkimer police officers  responded. In the chaos we didn’t capture their names, but have since referred to them as Officer Short and Sergeant Tall.  As they appeared, about ten people scuttled from the street, leaving about 25-30 people there, notably those from 333, headed by Joyce [Barton] and reinforced by the red-faced chap, who were the most vocal and aggressive. The sergeant went to [amiably] question the people congregating across from us on and around the porch of 333 Pleasant Ave, leaving us in front of our house with Officer Short. [later revealed to be  Officer John Scholl.]

Officer Short-Scholl took our names and asked my wife if we could have precipitated events by crossing “to their side of the street,” seemingly affirming our assailants in their belief that they owned a public area.  She said no. My wife asked [Officer Scholl] if he was familiar with what’s been happening on this street to us over the past year [see letter below], given the numerous police responses. He said no. She attempted to brief him, but after about three sentences his eyes and his attention wandered and he appeared overcome by boredom. He told her to contact the landlords of our assailants and perhaps, after multiple complaints, they’d evict them. “You never know.” She then asked him how many people are allowed to congregate in a public street and if there’s any statute governing this? He said there was no limitation or statute, adding that “Herkimer’s very casual about it.”

New York Penal Code – Article 240 – § 240.10, Unlawful Assembly, clearly defines what was happening on Pleasant Avenue as “an unlawful and tumultuous activity likely to cause alarm,” a Class B misdemeanor. [The mob members were also committing First and Second Degree Harassment.]

Things having quieted down somewhat in front of 333 Pleasant Ave, Sergeant Tall then rejoined [Officer Scholl] and us.  My wife…told him twice of the man from 333 threatening us with arson, which the sergeant twice ignored. [As with much else in Herkimer, it’s wise to hear nothing.]

herkimer ny government
The 3 Wise Monkeys of Herkimer

Then, shockingly, the officers departed without dispersing the remaining 20-30 still hostile belligerents once again lining the sidewalk across from our home.

herkimer-ny-pleasant-avenue-visual-motif-june-2015
What the Herkimer Police Left When They Skedaddled-Visual Motif-Herkimer Pleasant Avenue Mob 6/17/15

Aftermath

Later that evening, my wife was taking the trash out to our tote in the driveway, when hecklers on the porch of 333 Pleasant Ave began taunting her. To demonstrate that they were mistaken that they owned the street, she crossed over to their porch and attempted to humorously engage them in conversation. It didn’t go well. Insults were exchanged. (“Go inside and take a nap, granny.”) The same man as before threatened [from the Bartons’ porch] “We’re going to burn you out.”

The rest of the evening, the occupants of 333’s porch shined several large halogen lights at our bedroom window. Two cars of teenagers the age of those resident in 333 pulled up in front of our house several times, rap music blaring, screaming, “We’re gonna make you call the police!” (They sounded high or drunk.) Feeling we’d already trouble our police enough for one day, we didn’t bother calling them again…

Mayor Anthony Brindisi Responds to Herkimer Mobbing Incident

Mayor Brindisi called me the day after receiving my email. He seemed quite upset and said he’d look into it.

Two months later, Mayor Brindisi responded to his officers’ dereliction of duty by promoting Officer Scholl to sergeant–sending a clear message to his police, the community and its cash-heavy criminal enterprises.

Following a later Herkimer Police incident, Mayor Brindisi encouraged me to “play offense,” which we’ve done, though not in the way he meant.

Where Are They Now?

Sergeant Tall we never saw again. The Herkimer Police have some part-time officers; he may have been one of them.

Sgt. Scholl and I meet occasionally, most recently when I was attacked by a young meth tweaker on Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue. (The lad’s since disappeared, leaving open the position of Keeper of Herkimer’s historic crack house.)

Herkimer Police officers and district attorney
Herkimer police officers and District Attorney: Left to right: Officer J. Crippin, Herkimer District Attorney Jeffrey Carpenter, Sgt. John Scholl II, Capt. Jeffrey Crim

Joyce Barton and Douglas Barton appear to be having lean times–this following their cameo appearances in our posting and videos of drug trafficking on Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue. This was followed by our forensic video analysis of Fire Chief Barton’s garage fire, and videos of the Bartons’ harassment of our pregnant daughter. 

Both Bartons seem to be employing their vocations elsewhere, notably Douglas Barton, who leaves early, comes home very late and is sometimes gone overnight. Also absent are the fast food wrappers laughingly gifted our lawn by the some of the Bartons’ kids and their chums.

The Bartons threatened us with a lawsuit last year, alleging that our widely-viewed videos of their activities had caused them to “suffer[ed]damages to their reputation”  and “exposed the Bartons and their family members to contempt and ridicule.”  We were heartened. Apparently we aren’t the only ones who believed their conduct depraved and despicable.

The Bartons appear to have dropped the matter, perhaps after being told the amount of the required retainer and their chances of success.

More Herkimer crime and police postings to come. It’s a snowy day here in Upstate NY. Great day to edit videos and write.

Toodles.

 

Nightmare Along The Mohawk – The Herkimer Meth Bridge Part 3

by Stephen Ames Berry

The Herkimer Meth Bridge incident Part 3.  Part 1 tells how we stumbled upon a meth cook site beneath a major railway bridge in Herkimer NY and what we did about it. The bridge carries about 1,000 chemical tanker cars a day. Part 2 of the Herkimer Meth Bridge showed the initial massive state and federal response. In Part 3, you’ll see why there was such a massive response and what’s been done to safeguard the rails and lives and, as a wise man wrote, “Make Herkimer Safe Again.”

HARBINGER OF DEATH – THE DOT-111 CHEMICAL TANKER CAR

Surviving DOT-111 railway cars at Lac Megantic train explosion site
Surviving DOT-111 railway cars at Lac Megantic, Quebec train explosion site. Prior to the derailment they’d been detached from the other 63 DOT-111 cars that did explode .

The  2013 Lac-Mégantic, Quebec rail disaster was caused by the explosion of 63 derailed DOT-111 chemical cars carrying six million liters of petroleum crude oil. 47 people were killed and half the town destroyed. Lava-like streams of burning crude oil spread fire and more death through the town’s sewers.

lac_megantic-burning-day-after-dot111-chemical-cars-explosion
Police helicopter view of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec the day after the rail disaster.

 DOT-111 SODA POP CAN CHEMICAL CARS

dot111 chemical car derailment rockford llinois 2009
Aftermath of the 2009 Rockford, Il train derailment and explosion. Of 119 DOT-111 cars, 18 derailed, 13 were breached and caught fire. All carried denatured fuel ethanol. The train was traveling at 38 mph. There were fatalities and injures and the town was evacuated. (NTSB photo)

The DOT-111 chemical tanker car is the fragile workhorse of the chemical refinery industry. There are 272,000 DOT-111’s in service in the United States, comprising 67% of the US rail tanker fleet. 171,000 of them transport hazardous materials. The DOT-111 is highly susceptible to corrosion and containment failure. All models are notoriously fragile–critics call them “soda pop cans.”

Each car can carry 20,000+ gallons (78,200 L). The newer DOT-11A100W1 can weigh as much as 263,000 pounds (119,000 kg) when full.  They transport a witch’s brew of poisonous and volatile chemicals over our neglected, rickety national railway infrastructure. The DOT-111 is always a disaster waiting to happen.

My conservative guess is that over a thousand chemical tanker cars a day, most of them DOT-111’s, cross the CSX railway bridge over Herkimer’s West Canada Creek. The trains are frequent, often several an hour, and long, sometimes with as many as 100 DOT-111’s or other chemical tankers per train, sometimes just a few buffered by regular freight cars. The CSX line that traverses the Herkimer Meth Bridge is the major east-west rail conduit to and from the Northeastern United States.

WHAT’S IN THE TANKer CARS?

According to Pollution Law Watch, besides crude oil, the DOT-111 transports radioactive material, explosives, and some of the most toxic chemicals on earth… among them methyl bromide, ethyl trichlorosilane, methanol, sodium chlorate, sulfuric acid, chlorine, toluene, diisocyanate. Several are fatal if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Many if spilled have a recommended evacuation radius of 5-10 miles.

(Assuming a derailment at the Herkimer Meth Bridge, that would be at least Herkimer, East Herkimer, Mohawk, Little Falls and a large stretch of the New York State Turnpike. and the Erie Canal.)

graniteville_derailment_aerial_overview
Cloud of deadly chlorine gas spreads from a single breached DOT-111 chemical tanker car across Graniteville, SC. 60,000 tons of gas were dispersed.

In a 2005 train wreck in Graniteville, SC, a single derailed DOT-111 tank car carrying 90 tons of chlorine released 60 tons of chlorine gas, killing 9 residents, injuring another 250 and forcing the evacuation of 5,400 people for two weeks:

graniteville-train-wreck-dot-111-gas-release
Breached DOT-111 chemical tanker car that spewed 60,000 tons of deadly chlorine gas across Graniteville, SC lies amid other derailed cars.

Amid the heap of derailed railway cars above lies the breached DOT-111 chemical tanker car that spewed 60,000 tons of deadly chlorine gas across Graniteville, SC.

Derailment of any chemical tanker car anywhere can wreak havoc, destroying lives, property and the environment. The degree of devastation is determined by the volume and type of chemicals released, which depends upon the number of chemical tanker cars involved. In the horrific Lac Megantic disaster, six million liters of crude petroleum oil from 63 DOT-111 cars killed 47 and destroyed half the town. In Granitesville, one DOT-111 tanker car breach gassed 9 residents to death and injured 250. Both incidents occurred on land with no direct impact on watercourses. Here in Central New York, though, our major east-west railway line often parallels the Erie Canal and the Mohawk River:

csx-rail-lines-central-new-york-state
CSX Rail Lines Central New York State

The Herkimer Meth Bridge and Tanker car CATASTROPHE

223 mile marker

Here’s a 82 car DOT-111 chemical tanker train carrying methanol as it approaches the CSX railway bridge over Herkimer’s West Canada Creek at the 223 mile marker. Note the red flammable gas warning placard on the lower right.

Herkimer’s methamphetamine cooks aren’t Walter White and Jesse. Assume a night’s meth cook beneath the Herkimer Meth Bridge had gone wrong. And an explosion beneath the bridge triggered a derailment of a similar chemical tanker train. How many cars could have tumbled into the creek?

There are no online specs of the West Canada Creek railway bridge’s span. But just upstream is the much loved and long abandoned Herkimer Trolley bridge, which is 1,023.5 feet long. The bridges appear to be approximately the same length.

The Herkimer Trolley Bridge and the West Canada Creek Railway Bridge

Herkimer Trolley Bridge (just below Rt. 5 highway bridge), and West Canada Creek railway bridge (bottom).

 

dot-111-chemical-tank-car
Unexploded DOT-111 chemical tanker car.

The average DOT-111A chemical tanker car is 45 ft long. Given the bridge’s span, 22 chemical tanker cars could be on it when a derailment occurred. Most would tumble into West Canada Creek.

Given the DOT-111’s horrific history, many if not all the cars would breach, potentially spewing 484,000 gallons, or 15,242 tons of toxic chemicals into Herkimer’s air and water. Other DOT-111 cars that fell onto the embankments would also breach. The immediate nature and extent of the disaster in the Herkimer area would depend upon the cars’ contents: explosion, fire, poison gas or all three are possible. Whatever the outcome, it wouldn’t be pretty. And the rest of the hellish stuff would quickly flow 1/2 mile down the fast-moving West Canada into the Mohawk River and from there on into the Hudson River. It wouldn’t be the BP Oil spill, but the Hudson’s not the Gulf of Mexico.

Hudson-River-from-the-Poughkeepsie
The Hudson River seen from the Poughkeepsie Bridge

The Hudson River Watershed

Of the 65 major tributaries of the Hudson River, the Mohawk River is the largest, entering the Hudson near Albany. The Hudson River Watershed is comprised of 11 major sub-watersheds that drain approximately 13,400 square miles. About 60% of the water in the watershed is used for commercial or industrial purposes and is home to about 5 million people. Such a massive toxic spill would destroy marine ecologies and impact the health and livelihoods of the 5 million people who live in the Hudson River Watershed for a very long time.
hudson-river-watersheds

the herkimer meth bridge today

1005160930

The good news: since last winter law enforcement action at the Herkimer Meth Bridge, the bridge h1005160931as seen a lot of much-needed rail bed improvement, and upgraded electronic safety features.

The bridge is also the benficiary of more boots on the ground and eyes in the skies over Herkimer. And Herkimer’s itself is the beneficiary of an expanded policy enabling the domestic use of drone surveillance.

Most nights you can see several drones on station over West Canada Creek near the railway bridge, with others patrolling through the sky in every-changing surveillance patterns. Sometimes they hover lower, as one did last night in the vicinity of  Herkimer’s Eureka Avenue. (They don’t have to leave their navigation lights on. And probably sometimes don’t. That’s just a friendly hello. )

why herkimer has surveillance drones

Quadcopter in dronebox
Quadcopter drone nested in a remote solar-powered recharging drone box. H3 Dynamics photo.

It’s not just the bridge incident. That was but symptomatic of the anarchy spawned by Herkimer’s lawlessness and its rich tradition of failed governance.

herkimer government inaction
The 3 Wise Monkeys of Herkimer

It’s made the Village of Herkimer a pirate haven harboring all sorts of criminals, notably narcotics and child traffickers. Then came the threat of mass destruction posed by a potential rail disaster, mindlessly touched off by Herkimer’s cop-coddled criminals. So Herkimer is now guarded by drones. Lots of them.

Depending on the type of drone, operators can track up to 65 different targets across a distance of 65 square miles. Drone cameras have infrared, complemented by heat sensors, motion detectors and automated license plate readers. Military and police drones integrated with facial recognition technology and multiple databases make it possible to remotely identify persons of interest.

the battle for herkimer

The battle for the Herkimer Meth Bridge was but part of the battle for Herkimer and the future of New York. From a broader perspective, New York appears to be aggregating resources to Central New York in anticipation of climate change driving industry and people inland and north. Worldwide, we’re facing the largest migration of populations since the collapse of the Roman Empire. Our region has a wealth of natural resources. Herkimer’s strategic location astride principal transportation routes with quick access to major metropolitan areas are what attracted the organized crime and now, the state and federal governments. The team with the biggest stick wins. Care to bet?

The deadly, immortal dot-111 chemical tanker car

Sadly, the DOT-111 chemical tanker cars that could wipe us all out in a few chaotic moments will continue rolling along as the oil industry and refiners fight proposed safety changes.  If you live near a major railway line as we do, you might want to buy a gas mask.

The Herkimer Post would like to thank the officers of the New York State Police and agents of the US Department of Homeland Security, without whose vigilance and dedication to duty this series would not have been written. Also a grand tip of the hat  to Night Court and Trapper Ron. 

 

Nightmare Along The Mohawk – The Herkimer Meth Bridge Part 2

by Stephen Ames Berry

Part 2 of a 3 part series, Nightmare Along the Mohawk – The Herkimer Meth Bridge. Part 1 tells of our discovery of a methamphetamine cook site beneath a major railway bridge spanning West Canada Creek in Herkimer NY. The bridge is about 1/2 mile from where West Canada Creek meets the Mohawk River, and 1/4 mile from Herkimer Village.

“Ice is nice and will suffice” Robert Frost, Fire and Ice

Despite Night Court’s warning to stay out of the woods, a few days after alerting the New York State Police to the danger, we set out to return to West Canada Creek and the Herkimer Meth Bridge. It’s a ten minute walk from our home in Herkimer Village’s Camera House.

Despite it being mid-winter, there was only a dusting of snow. Bear leading the way, we turned from the CSX access road and onto the cornfield road that goes to the bridge. And stopped, confronted by an alien landscape. Neither we nor anyone else was getting to that bridge until after the Spring thaw:

Herkimer Meth bridge access blocked
Freshly laid ice carpet block access to Herkimer Meth Bridge, seen at right

The ice was neatly sculpted, as became more apparent when a few months later it began to melt:

Neatly sculpted ice blocking the road to the Herkimer Meth Bridge.
Neatly sculpted ice blocking the road to the Herkimer Meth Bridge (Photo taken mid-Spring)

The other side of the bridge had been given the same treatment, preventing land access from the south:

Ice barrier applied to south side of Herkimer Meth Bridge
Ice barrier applied to south side of Herkimer Meth Bridge

Only a few days before, an unharvested field of corn had filled the huge cornfield. The corn was gone. The field looked as though it had hosted tank maneuvers:

Freshly harvested cornfield on access road to the Herkimer Meth Bridge
Freshly harvested cornfield on access road to the Herkimer Meth Bridge

Folks who hadn’t recently ventured over to the village’s cornfield road told us the ice was a natural occurrence–West Canada Creek was subject to flooding that would often lay swathes of ice along its banks.

If this was the river god in action, he’d perfectly laid out the ice along the road, paralleling the tree line and the flood control levee. And he’d used some truly impressive equipment.

Herkimer meth bridge giant tire tracks
Bear examines giant tire tracks along cornfield road
Herkimer meth bridge more giant tire tracks
Different giant tire tracks leading toward the Herkimer Meth Bridge. The walking stick is 5 feet long
turnaround-area-for-very-big-vehicles-clearnng-up-herkimer-meth-bridge
Turnaround point for very big vehicles at end of CSX access road from Herkimer’s East State Street.

Other areas of cover and concealment near the cornfield road had also been scrubbed:

undergrowth near Herkimer Meth Bridge scrubbed
Area of undergrowth removed by heavy equipment adjacent to CSX access road from East State Street and cornfield road leading to the Herkimer Meth Bridge.

“So what happens when the ice melts?” I asked Night Court when I sent him some of these pictures. He replied, “Bear looks perplexed.”

After the ice melted the bridge sprouted earthworks, blocking vehicular access:

earthworks-herkimer-meth-bridge
Earthworks defending the Herkimer Meth Bridge

the hammer of god quickly falls

The response to the threat was on the order of the Hammer of God. We were astounded by its scope and speed and the resources it must have required. It may have been drawn from a contingency plan, but there’s many a slip between plan and execution. It was a rapid, meticulous and flawlessly executed, multi-agency effort, probably involving the State of New York, the Federal government and possibly the Army Corp of Engineers.

The law enforcement agencies responsible knew what was traveling across that bridge day and night: the angel of death of the rails, the DOT-111 chemical tanker car. Hundreds of them roll across the Herkimer Meth Bridge every day. No wonder the Big Red Button was pushed.

dot111 chemical car derailment rockford llinois 2009the Series concludes with:

Nightmare Along The Mohawk – The Herkimer Meth Bridge Part 3

 

Nightmare Along The Mohawk – The Herkimer Meth Bridge Part 1

by Stephen Ames Berry

Late January of this year in Central New York was unusually mild. Linda, dog Bear and I were happy to continue our morning walks in and around historic Herkimer Village.

On one of those winter walks, we discovered Herkimer’s abundant drug traffickers and manufacturers had also taken advantage of the nice weather to cook and distribute meth from beneath the safety of a major CSX railway bridge. The bridge passes over West Canada Creek, about 1/4 mile from its confluence with the Mohawk River. It carries about a thousand chemical tanker cars a day. The criminals had no idea and even less concern for the catastrophe they could have unleashed.

CSX Railway Tracks Crossing Bridge Over West Canada Creek Herkimer
CSX Railway Tracks Crossing Bridge Over West Canada Creek Herkimer

Drug traffickers had been largely absent from Pleasant Avenue, Herkimer’s principal drug street, since mid-November, after we published a series of videos documenting and analyzing one night’s drug trafficking along Pleasant Avenue, and shared it with the New York State Police. (With the drug traffickers mostly gone, Pleasant Avenue is again looking pleasant.)

Herkimer Meth Bridge area

The area around the railway bridge is not the Great North Wood. It lies within the boundaries of the Village of Herkimer and within the jurisdiction of the Herkimer Police.

West Canada Creek Herkimer approaching confluence with Mohawk River after passing beneath the Herkimer Meth Bridge
West Canada Creek approaching confluence with the Mohawk River after passing beneath the Herkimer Meth Bridge

A well-traveled public path runs beneath the bridge, paralleling West Canada Creek and a few hundred yards later, both it and the Mohawk River, moving down a narrowing spit of land between the two to their confluence, known locally as The Point. (West Canada Creek at the bridge is wider than many rivers.)

Meeting point of West Canada Creek and Mohawk River Herkimer NY
West Canada Creek (left) meets the Mohawk River at The Point, Herkimer, NY

herkimer meth makers move – a bit

Driven from Herkimer Village by the state and the feds, Herkimer’s meth makers had brazenly set up a semi-permanent encampment in plain sight of the public path, hidden from aerial observation by the CSX railroad bridge. As the Herkimer Police had never troubled them in the village itself, their only concern would have been the New York State Police and the DEA, who probably relied heavily on aerial observation for activities outside the village.

The path under the bridge gets a lot of foot traffic–it’s the remains of an old road predating the Erie Canal, and a pleasant walk or easy ATV drive  to The Point. Herkimites have long known to mind their own business when signs of drug and child trafficking appear, or risk an intimidating visit from the Herkimer Police or nighttime visits from neighbors.  And despite its closeness to the village proper, no one goes to the CSX railway bridge area after dark.

For ease of transport, the bridge could be quickly reached by vehicle from Herkimer’s East State Street via a dirt road running past an adjacent cornfield and flood control levee. We’d noticed the tent shown in the below photo for about a month, but hadn’t given it much mind. It was just another feature of the desolation zone near the railway bridge, a bleak and eerie place scattered with the derbies of stunted lives and failed hopes.

herkimer’s eerie desolation zone

Early Morning Fog Near West Canada Creek at Herkimer Meth Bridge
Early morning fog near West Canada Creek at the Herkimer Meth Bridge
Headless Horseman Tree near the Herkimer Meth Bridge Herkimer NY
“Headless Horseman Tree” near the Herkimer Meth Bridge
One of several abandoned piles of clothes near the Herkimer NY Meth Bridge
One of several abandoned piles of clothes near the Herkimer Meth Bridge
Abandoned shelter Herkimer along path between Herkimer Meth Bridge and meeting point of West Canada Creek and the Mohawk River Herkimer
Abandoned shelter along path between the Herkimer Meth Bridge and meeting point of West Canada Creek and the Mohawk River

Herkimer meth bridge encampment

When we’d last noticed the tent, there’d been no large plastic tarp, no translucent storage box filled with what appeared to small plastic envelopes of some crystalline substance, nor discards typically used in methamphetamine production. bridge-13Whatever heat source was used for a night’s meth cook could have easily been removed by pickup truck.

meth-tent-and-box

We didn’t look to see if there was anyone in the tent, but thought if we opened the plastic box, we might find out. We’d seen identical boxes confiscated by the New York State Police during an early morning drug raid on Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue.  Also, it seemed likely someone might soon be by to pick up the box of valuable goods. So we left.

Exchange with the New York State Police

I emailed a narrative and a raft of photos of the encampment to the New York State Police command center in Albany. I noted that one of the photos indicated possible scorching of an adjacent concrete bridge abutment, adding:

The bridge is well-built and itself probably impervious to a typical meth explosion, IMO.  But any explosion under the bridge could trigger catastrophic consequences: e.g., a panicked train operator jamming on the brakes at an explosion and the sight of [fire] erupting from beneath the bridge could trigger a derailment. As you’re aware, hundreds of tanker cars filled with deadly, highly volatile chemicals cross that bridge daily. Were one or more of them to fall into West Canada Creek so near its confluence with the Mohawk, it could cause an environmental cataclysm from here down to NYC. Our village leaders often speak of “putting Herkimer on the map.” That would do it. 

hudson-river-watershed

The state police quickly replied, asking me not to say anything until they could deploy resources. Which they did. I’ve kept silent till now, but if you look up at night sky you’ll see a solution is in place, providing comprehensive surveillance of the bridge, local waterways and Herkimer.

Night Court

I sent a  copy of my email to the state police and the photos to an old friend from Army Intelligence, Night Court. (“Some justice is best meted out in the dark.”)

Night Court has a key role in US counter-terrorism. I thought he should know that while all eyes are elsewhere, meth heads in Herkimer New York

old army friends
Old Army photo. Berry and Night Court. NC still has his goose feathers. My ex tossed mine.

had put a major railway bridge and the Hudson River watershed at risk of an ecological 9/11. What damage, I asked, could people who knew what they were doing cause? “It’s the Wild West here. Deadwood had more law and order than Herkimer. And it’s the backdoor to NYC and the rest of America.”

I was confident that the New York State Police and DEA would deal with immediate threat with their usual efficiency, but release of counter-terrorism funds–a bottomless treasure chest–to expand their operations might help provide the resources necessary for a permanent solution. Not that they’d be shy to ask, but if anyone could help catalyze that, it would be Night Court. The US takes any threat to its rail and waterways very seriously, especially since 9/11, and the Herkimer Meth Bridge represented both.

Night Court wrote back:
You might want to invest in a MAC 10. That’s dangerous work for someone of our age. [He has long enjoyed pushing my buttons.]
Speak for yourself, Night Court! I’m not entirely convinced you’re always in that nice office.
There seems to be a notion that we dodder about in the woods, looking for stuff. We don’t. Those pictures were taken along a popular trail from the village to the point of land where West Canada Creek and the Mohawk meet. It’s about a ½ mile from our home and Herkimer Village proper.

I added that we would be going back along that public trail to the bridge in a few days. And nothing, as our neighbors can attest, stops us from asserting our right of way.

Only later did I wonder if Night Court had known what we’d be walking into.

Nightmare Along The Mohawk – The Herkimer Meth Bridge Part 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Herkimer Police & The Nanny Nanny Boo Boo

12/17/16 Curtis Cool has put Herkimer on the map: 6,100+ views of his videos and growing, as referring sites offer them for free download. One comment on a British site: “The Herkimer Police–the strong arm of the law.”  

by Stephen Ames Berry and Linda Kaidan

“I’ve got a strong law enforcement community which is actively conducting … investigations.” Herkimer County District Attorney Jeffrey  S. Carpenter (9/8/16)  Herkimer Police wouldn’t take criminal harassment complaint.

Linda Kaidan making the Nanny Nanny Boo Boo gesture

Linda Kaidan unwittingly making the Nanny Nanny Boo Boo, ignorant that it was exculpatory for harassment  in Herkimer New York

Despite a change of command and increased patrols, Herkimer Police wouldn’t take criminal harassment complaint, even for this outrageous and well-documented incident. (We have more.) This one is fresh, others occurred under Herkimer’s previous police chief, Joseph Malone, who abruptly retired in the teeth of an ethics investigation. It demonstrates an alarming ongoing pattern of failure to protect by the Herkimer Police.

Typically the Herkimer Police say they’ll only take a complaint following a second incident of harassment, because Herkimer District Attorney Jeffrey Carpenter won’t prosecute. Harassment must be repeated to qualify as a criminal offense.

Not true. Your tormentor must either “engage in conduct or repeatedly commit acts which alarm or seriously annoy the victim and serve no legitimate purpose,” according to New York state lawHere’s a local aggravated assault case that resulted in an arrest by the New York State Police for second-degree aggravated harassment, based upon “19 menacing phone calls within a 20-minute time span.” We endured 7 threats of grave bodily harm in 10 minutes, following a previous incident of public harassment.

Harassed? Take your evidence to the State Police. They know the difference between an Or clause and an And clause. If Herkimer District Attorney Carpenter refuses to prosecute, he’ll have to make his excuses to the State of New York, not to the easily cowed Village of Herkimer. Here’s a very good explanation of New York’s harassment laws.

Herkimer Aggravated Harassment Incident of 8/23/16

Curtis Cool Herkimer drug and child trafficker
Curtis Cool. Cop-coddled Herkimer drug thug and child trafficker

On Tuesday August 23, 2016, we were again verbally harassed and then threatened with multiple acts of physical violence by 328 Pleasant Avenue tenant, Curtis Cool, aka Curtis Dolan, first in our driveway and then on the public sidewalk. The previous night we’d again reported Cool for yet another of his multiple illegal late night fires.)

The Herkimer Police and the New York State Police responded promptly and again defused Curtis Cool. The responding officers were very supportive and encouraged us to file a harassment complaint at the Herkimer Police station. Cool’s actions seemed to us to be obviously either 2nd or 1st Degree Aggravated Harassment. With Cool charged, we could obtain a Temporary Order of Protection, which would force him to move from his base at Clerk of Court Harriett Tangorra’s 328 Pleasant Avenue house.

On Wednesday 8/24 we gathered our evidence–two cellphone videos, a surveillance cam video and a detailed narrative.  At approximately 2:30 p.m, we went to the Herkimer Police station after first calling to see if it would be convenient to do so. The officer on duty, Officer Jason Crippin, said to come down.

Herkimer Police Say Nanny-Nanny-Nanny-Boo Excuses Aggravated Harassment

Officer Crippin asked us to wait while he looked at abundant evidence. He briefly reviewed a short portion of our first cellphone video, seen below, then stopped and refused to write up a complaint. “It would just be a waste of time,” he said.

Jason Crippin Herkimer Police
Criminal-coddling Officer Jason Crippin, Herkimer Police. Twice we’ve seen him protecting monied criminals.

His reason? Officer Crippin said one of us (Kaidan) had triggered Cool’s menacing and threats of grave bodily harm by making a nanny nanny nanny boo gesture from our driveway at Cool as he peppered us with taunts and obscenities. Officer Crippin’s implication? That Herkimer County District Attorney Jeffrey Carpenter would not prosecute Cool, as Kaidan’s nanny-nanny-boo-boo would exonerate Cool, holding him harmless for his threats and menacing.

Here’s the portion of the cellphone clip reviewed by Officer Crippin before dismissing us. It has been closed captioned for the selectively hearing impaired. (Full Screen/click on the CC icon.): [Yo! It’s Curtis Cool: Parents strongly cautioned.]

The incident continued a moment later as Kaidan, refusing to be driven inside her home by Cool, asserted her right to walk along the public sidewalk in front of Cool’s house. Here’s an extract from that clip. (Officer Crippin didn’t review it, so we didn’t closed caption it):

Both full length videos from 8/23 (7 threats of grave bodily harm), and our surveillance camera footage confirming the events, place, date and time are on our flash drive, gathering dust at the Herkimer Police station. Included with them is our narrative of the incident and our video of Cool’s previous public harassment of us on 8/11/16. (During this last he cited his landlord, Harriett Tangorra in demanding our arrest. For having surveillance cameras.  ) Officer Crippin used our narrative to review the first clip. Seeing the nanny-nanny-boo-boo, he gave Cool a pass and  sent us packing.

Officer Crippin’s Advice

Herkimer village trustees
The 3 Wise Monkeys of Herkimer

Officer Crippin’s advice was the same as that of Herkimer’s drug thugs when we first unwittingly moved to Pleasant Avenue: Hide: “Keep away from him and just stay in your apartment, ” Crippin advised.  (

It’s our house. We own it. It’s next door to Tangorra’s. The sidewalk is a public place. We asserted our right to use it. We will continue to do so.

Officer Crippin then belatedly added this was just this opinion. And that we might try our luck with one of the responding officers–maybe they’d take a complaint. He seemed miffed that we’d distracted him from his law enforcement duties.

the Herkimer Police wouldn’t take criminal harassment complaint- WHo wins?

This is the 4th time in two years we’ve had the Herkimer Police ooze out of taking some flavor of a harassment complaint against cash-heavy criminals. We’ve heard the same from others. This isn’t policing, it’s depraved indifference. It throws  Herkimer’s people to the wolves for the sake of politicians cynically running for office as crime fighters. And it emboldens criminals like Cool, who recently moved away unscathed despite many police and fire department visits. (To our knowledge, Cool was never cited for his illegal bonfires nor charged with harassment.) When Herkimer Police refused again to take a criminal harassment complaint, they made it clear that law and order is not their priority.

And so it goes on, with Herkimer’s reputation as a lawless jurisdiction attracting more criminals and endangering even more people.

“A matter of public safety”

Herkimer’s good cops seem to leave if they can, the few bad ones content to stay, cozied up to criminals and even sometimes running interference for them. Crime goes unreported and soars, with entire streets abandoned to drug traffickers. Herkimer’s reputation as a lawless jurisdiction attracts more drug and child traffickers. It becomes an even more dangerous place to live. There’s a strong smell of rotten fish in the air.

What does it matter that Herkimer Police wouldn’t take criminal harassment complaint?

Who stands to win if we all lose? Criminals, greedy landlords, criminal defense attorneys. And some politicians: Incumbent Herkimer County District Attorney Jeffrey Carpenter is trumpeting a lowered violent crime rate in support of his reelection. It’s easy to lower the crime rate if your police don’t take criminal complaints. To take them and act on them, though, is “A matter of public safety.”

[Narrative of incident of 8/23/16 submitted to Herkimer Police is below. Times stated refer to the full videos submitted to the Herkimer Police. Here’s the concrete block Cool was hefting off-camera.] And here’s the unedited clip given the Herkimer Police.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rights of Bloggers As Journalists – Barton v. Berry & Kaidan

by Stephen Ames Berry

Bill of Rights enaces Herkimer NY drug dealers and child traffickers
The US Bill of Rights, no matter how menacing for criminals and some cops, applies even in Herkimer NY

What are the rights of bloggers as journalists? Case in point: our neighbor Curtis Cool’s (aka Curtis Dolan) female caretaker mentioned the captioned lawsuit the other day during an exchange of pleasantries. (Curtis rents 328 Pleasant Avenue from Harriett Tangorra, Herkimer Supreme Court clerk of court, upon whom he apparently relies for legal advice.)

There is yet no lawsuit. We await.

We received a letter about a month ago from Herkimer attorney Todd D. Bennett, written for 333 Pleasant Avenue’s Douglas and Joyce Barton. The Bartons allege that they’ve “suffered damages to their reputation (sic) as a result of your publication.” (“What reputation?” asked my wife. “As drug dealers?” “Harassment? Arson? Menacing?” I suggested. “But surely our posts would only enhance those reputations?”) The Bartons demand we take down all Herkimer Post articles regarding them. It bewails the worldwide notoriety our postings have brought them. (And obviously  Herkimer itself, which has long failed to protect the Barton’s neighbors from them. Some Herkimer police officers have seemingly acted in league with the Bartons to intimidate us.)

The letter further alleges that our articles “have exposed the Bartons and their family members to contempt and ridicule.” If true, the Bartons have only to look in a mirror see the source of that contempt and ridicule. Attorney Bennett states that “according to my clients, your published statements are false and constitute defamation per se.”  Mr. Bennett does not offer his own opinion as to whether or not such statements would constitute defamation; that would have required reading the posts.

The Final Threat: Copyright Infringement?

Lastly, Attorney Bennett states that his law firm does not “attempt to restrict freedom of speech…”, then in his letter’s last sentence attempts to restrict our freedom of speech by vaguely threatening “that the publication of this legal correspondence…is unauthorized and may subject you to further causes of action.”

There is no law protecting legal correspondence per se from publication. That would be an infringement of the 1st Amendment. What Mr. Bennett may be implying is that his letter to us is protected from publication as a copyrighted work. This is often the parting shot in Cease and Desist letters, meant to further intimidate recipients into silence.

We’ve posted Attorney Bennett’s letter on The Herkimer Post because:

  • It’s only possible to understand our letter in response to his  by seeing Attorney Bennett wrote; we believe its publication clearly falls under the protection of the Fair Use statute;
  • We think his letter a fine example of a typical meritless threat often used by attorneys to attempt to silence their clients’ critics;
  • We don’t believe the copyright laws prevent us from posting Attorney Bennett’s letter: It’s not register with Copyright Office. Until it is, Attorney Bennett cannot sue to enforce a copyright claim.  (17 U.S.C. § 411(a) His law firm could still register the work and then sue for infringement, but even if it could get past the fair use defense, his damages would be limited by his failure to register his letter with the Copyright Office before the alleged infringement.

    Posting Attorney Todd Bennett’s Cease and Desist letter is a clear example of Fair Use. Attorneys should not be able to make threats and then hide from criticism behind the Copyright Act. Copyright laws are intended to protect writers, not be perverted into a tool of intimidation meant to squelch freedom of  speech.

Mr. Bennett’s letter on behalf of the Bartons and our letter in response are posted at the end of this article.

SLAPP Suits and Freedom of Speech

Attorney Bennett’s letter was a typical SLAPP suit threat letter. A strategic lawsuit against public participation is a lawsuit intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. SLAPP suits are illegal in many jurisdictions as they impede freedom of speech and as such are a violation of the First Amendment.

We are grateful to Herkimer’s Joyce Barton and  Douglas Barton for their SLAPP suit threat. It inspired us to find fresh case law that grants us, as bloggers writing on matters of public concern, the same protections as that accorded traditional journalists, including the protection of New York’s awesome shield law for journalists. Under the shield law, as de facto journalists, we cannot be compelled to reveal our sources. We can and will cite as anonymous and protected, tips and information that come our way and are used in our posts. (Feel free to write us anonymously at herkimerpost@gmail.com.)

A Double Burden of Proof of Libel and Slander by Bloggers as Journalists Now Lies with the Plaintiff

Those itching to hit bloggers with SLAPP suits must now meet a huge burden of proof:

In 2014, in Obsidian Finance Group LLC and Kevin Padrick vs. Crystal Cox, 12-3523, the 9th Circuit Court ruled unanimously for the Cox, who appeared Pro Se: “We hold that liability for a defamatory blog post involving a matter of public concern cannot be imposed without proof of fault and actual damages,” wrote Judge Horowitz.Bloggers gets same speech protections as traditional press: U.S. court,” headlined Reuters.

Joyce  Barton, Douglas Barton or anyone else shrieking slander, would have to not only prove our posts were false, they would also have to prove that we had actual knowledge that a post was false when we published it, noted UCLA School of Law professor Eugene Volokh commenting on the Obsidian ruling in the Reuter’s article. This is a tall hurdle. 

And the same ruling noted that as bloggers on matters of public concern, such as crime, we’re free to express our opinions as to what our posts may imply. Did former East Herkimer Deputy Fire Chief Douglas Barton burn down his own garage? Our forensic video analysis of key moments of the fire would seem to imply that. If so, why? In our opinion, it was triggered by last winter’s huge state and federal crackdown on Herkimer narcotics trafficking, notably meth amphetamine production and distribution. As word of arrests near and far spread, panicked Herkimer meth cookers would have rushed to destroyed and remove evidence, such as garages, sheds and woodland sites. (Apparently even a meth cookery under 24/7 video surveillance. )

Were the Bartons involved in drug trafficking along Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue? Our video posts seem to strongly imply that. (Just Google Joyce Barton Hekimer.) Did Joyce Barton egg on some thug and some of her family members to harass our pregnant daughter as she walked on a public sidewalk, then revel in their depraved antics? If you don’t think this video post shows that, I’ve a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

Possible New Source of Legal Advice for the Bartons: Harriett Tangorra?

As noted at the start, the Barton’s friend and neighbor Curtis Cool (aka Curtis Dolan) has cited his landlord, Harriett Tangorra, as the source of his advice on the illegality of our surveillance cameras. Mrs. Tangorra is the Senior Court Clerk of the Herkimer Supreme Court. Maybe Joyce Barton should give her a call for legal advice?

Here’s Curtis on June 11th, quoting Harriett Tangorra to the police in yet another failed attempt to have us arrested for being on a public sidewalk, and for monitoring his yard for dangerous late night fires:

The Herkimer police were unmoved. Video surveillance continued, and more illegal fires were recorded, reported and responded to. This week Curtis Cool, aka Curtis Dolan, escalated to almost hysterical threats of bodily harm against my wife and I following a fire department and a police visit the previous night–visits in which as usual no Herkimer police or fire official cited him.

Why Curtis Cool’s overreaction and such fear of surveillance cameras? Reviewing our data and observations with new eyes, we think Curtis may have feared exposure of deeds far darker than fire. Stay tuned.

Update – 11/11/16. Shortly after this post was published, Curtis Cool, aka Curtis Dolan, cut and ran, abruptly moving to an undisclosed location. Curtis may have thought our hints of dark deed’s were related to our observations of his interactions with small children.  If so, he was right. 

Bartons’ SLAPP suit letter and Herkimer Post’s response

Stephen Ames Berry and Linda Kaidan live in Pleasant Avenue’s landmark Camera House.

 

1 AM Fire at 328 Pleasant Ave Herkimer — Police Say Safe!

remains of open late night fire at 228 pleasant ave Herkimer
          Remains of open blaze at 328 Pleasant Ave Herkimer

One AM and all is not well

Last night at about 1:00 AM I was woken by the sound of rustling next to my back fence, which has been vandalized many times. I also heard the chinking sound of glass bottles. I thought to myself, at last I’ll catch red-handed the vandals who’ve been making holes in my fence. I discovered a fire in the backyard of Harriett Tangorra’s rental propterty at 328 Pleasant Avenue..

328 Pleasant Ave Herkimer NY
328 Pleasant Ave Herkimer

When I looked out the window, I saw a bonfire with sparks flying everywhere, notably into the tree limbs. Such fires, even when supervised, are very dangerous. When it is dry as it is now, they can easily spread to fences and homes. Antique homes can be burnt to the ground in 3 minutes because the wood is so dry!

 1 AM yard blaze Herkimer police deemed safe - seen from window

I called the Herkimer police, who came and quickly went with the belief that this fire was safely under control, neglecting that fact that an open fire within 100 yards of a structure is illegal within the Village of Herkimer.

With great consternation, I ventured outside to assess the situation personally. Three tall, thirtyish, burly gentlemen wearing army camos surrounded the backyard fire at 328 Pleasant Ave. One, later identified as Harriett Tangorra’s tenant Curtis Cool, aka Curtis Dolan, challenged me when I said I objected to their fire. Calling me names, Curtis Cool told me to “go back to some Arab country.”  (I’m Jewish, a 4th generation American, educated in Israel.)

Ho Hum – More Neighborly Harassment

Curtis Cool’s pack of cowardly loafers enjoyed harassing their elderly neighbor, with Cool calling me a crazy, lying, swearing, child molester who should be sent to a loony bin. All accused me of instigating the altercation, though I told them that their illegal fire had woken me up and that I had to go to work at 5:00 AM.

My husband then again called the Herkimer Police. Again. It says much about Herkimer’s rich tradition of lawlessness that the responding officer didn’t enforce the law, allowing the thugs to continue with their illegal open fire, its embers flying within 3 feet of tinder dry fencing. It was sad to know that this officer seemed entirely unaware of the massive harassment and vandalism caused by this neighbor and others.

Neighboring children have been sent to molest us in our own yard breaking holes in our fence in order to trespass and despoil our yard with trash.  We have captured these actions on video, and posted them on this blog. It seems to be nearly impossible to repel these weaponized, vandalizing children from our privacy-fenced yard, even with a locked gate and multiple security cameras.

Advice to Herkimer Village administrators concerned with  community safety

  • Please make sure your officers can distinguish between a safe fire and an unsafe one.  Please don’t call an open fire a covered one.
  • BTW, it’s quite evident from the above photo that this fire you described as safe is not and such fires should not be legal in this area at any time of day!
  • I have heard there are 3 criminal hot spots in Herkimer, of which Pleasant Ave is one and 328 Pleasant Ave all too typical. Would it be too much trouble to acquaint your officers with the ongoing criminal activity in this area?

 

 

 

Neighbor Kicks Ball at Homeowner – Herkimer Police Threaten Homeowner with Larceny

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In this story you’ll discover how a malicious, well-executed kick transformed the acts of a neighbor recycling stuff on her own property into an act of larceny as defined by officer Haight of the Herkimer Police Department. 

On July 15th at approximately 9:21 PM, I was placing a few items in the recycle bin that I keep outside in my driveway here in the Village of Herkimer. As I was finishing up and about to return to the house, something struck the back of my legs. I turned around to find a soccer ball at my feet.

I picked the ball up and approached my house. Nearby voices in the dark called for its return. As with many parents whose children do something they shouldn’t, I refused to hand the ball over. My driveway is very narrow and virtually inaccessible to normal ballplayers; the ball could only have entered it if had been kicked from across the street, not down it.  It was obviously part of an ongoing and escalating pattern of harassment directed against my husband and I.  Some neighbors strongly opposed our driveway security camera that records the stream of nighttime traffic. The Bartons of 333 Pleasant Avenue, who a regional DEA agent referred to in a phone conversation as “the porch people” were especially outraged by this camera presence.

1. At 9:24 PM., according to our video recording, Herkimer Village’s Officer Haight, appeared at our door.

Officer Haight said our neighbors, Douglas and Joyce Barton, had reported us for taking their ball and demanded to know if this was true. I admitted I’d taken their ball and explained why. Officer Haight was unmoved by my explanation and advised that if our neighbor wished to press charges, he’d “have no choice” but to enforce the law regarding larceny. The threat of arrest hung heavy in the night air. He expressed his opinion that we were in the midst of an ongoing feud with our neighbors. (We are, in the sense that the Allies were feuding with Nazi Germany.)

Officer Haight confessed ignorance of any of the multiple acts of vandalism, mob menacing and break-ins we’ve suffered over the past year, at least one orchestrated by the Bartons. I was thus accused of victimizing the Bartons by withholding their ball, which had just been used to assault me.

Officer Haight demanded to know the ball’s location. My husband said it had migrated to an adjacent empty yard. Officer Haight’s supervisor then arrived and the two went off to fetch the ball for the Bartons, who were consumed with mirth as they lounged watching from  their porch at 333 Pleasant Avenue. The Herkimer police officers respectfully returned the ball to the Bartons and departed – our harassers were treated with deference while we were disdained.

2. Only afterwards did I discover this is a typical ploy used by thugs to harass and intimidate their neighbors, sometimes aided by allied police officers illegally acting under the color of law. The object is to have a victim cited and fined for petty larceny by police, hoping that the neighbor then won’t complain when the thugs trespass on their property to stash contraband, vandalize it, menace them or disturb the peace. It’s the dim mindset of social parasites who spent their brief school years in behavior remediation classes. The remedy, according to attorneys, is to demonstrate harassment by keeping security cameras on the street. This we will do. (Probably not the outcome our neighbors desired.  )

I was dumbfounded that Officer Haight attempted to characterize my removing the ball with which I’d been assaulted as an act of larceny, when it was clearly an act of self-defense. He seemed ignorant that a condition of larceny is that there be an intent to steal. My intent was:
1. to place my recyclables in my bin and return inside to watch True Detective;
2. To avoid being ridiculed by neighbors and hit with their expertly aimed balls;
3. To avoid having neighbors continue to trespass on my property.

I never play ball. I spend my time hiking, writing and mending the myriad of worn out portions of my dilapidated and ancient (yet adorable  ) Herkimer Village home.

In the past year due to neighbor trespass, break-ins and vandalism, we’ve had to expend resources on security systems and cameras, rather than on our home’s aging infrastructure.

My husband and I have been so undeserved by the Herkimer Village police that it borders on depraved indifference. Notably,
1. a direct statement by a Herkimer Village police officer that that there’s no New York State law restricting the gathering of a menacing mob of 30—40 in front of one’s home, and that the police aren’t required to disperse such a belligerent gathering. And of course,
2. The unblushing statement by a Herkimer police officer that I appeared to be guilty of larceny because I removed an old ball with which I’d been deliberately struck while putting out the recyclables at a bin in my driveway. (To be larceny the propertymust have been lost or mislaid…or delivered under a mistake.” As it was used in assault, it wasn’t delivered under a mistake but deliberately and with intent to harass and harm.)

Police who aid and abet the victimization of peaceful retirees by neighbors who act criminally, and make ill-informed, self-serving and egregious statements, are at the very least in need of remedial training.