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Croton: A Village On Demand?

September 30, 2005

Michael Pollock, founder of local news website, met with Village Manager Rick Herbek in July, 2005 to discuss his proposal for video streaming Village board meeting over the Internet and making those streams part of an on-demand video archive for the public to view over the Internet at their convenience.

Subsequently, on September 12, 2005, the Village board discussed Mr. Pollock’s proposal at a work session meeting but did not arrive at a decision. Crotonblog spoke with Michael on Thursday, September 29, 2005, to better understand the benefits his service might be to Croton residents and the public at large.

Currently, Village board meetings are televised live and available to only Cablevision customers on channel 78, and are broadcast every other Monday at 8:00 PM, thus leaving subscribers of satellite TV without access to both of Croton’s community channels, one for the Village and the other for the Croton Harmon school district.

According to, 27 percent of U.S. households subscribe only to satellite service — up from 19 percent in 2004 and 12 percent in 2000. Sixty percent of households subscribe only to cable service — down from 62 percent in 2004 and 66 percent in 2000.

“The Internet would guarantee open and free access to anyone interested in viewing Village Board and/or Croton Harmon Board of Education public meetings remotely from any network attached computer or certain types of mobile devices. And since the meetings would be archived, viewers can watch, pause, fast-forward and rewind the videos at their convenience.”, added Mr. Pollock.

In addition, the cost to Village residents is very reasonable. Mr. Pollack said, “The proposal offers a cost of $125.00 per Village Board meeting, which includes archiving services and the ability to stream live video to 400 concurrent viewers.”

Streaming and archived videos would all be available from the Village website,, by simply clicking a link which would lead viewers to a page where the videos can be seen in an embedded 320 (w) by 240 (d) pixel video player in Windows media format.

To enable video streaming for the Village, Michael proposes installing his own dedicated media server at the Municipal building which splits the live camera’s video feed, encodes the signal, and at the same time, the processed video is pushed to live media server on the internet, and is subsequently available as streaming video.

Recently, Michael was featured by the Journal News, in an article written by Croton resident Robert Marchant, called “Municipal meetings online”, where he announced that he will soon begin offering video on-demand services to the Ossining Board of Education. His website,, also presents video advertisements from local businesses that are identical in presentation to his proposed initiative with the Village of Croton-on-Hudson.

Photo: Michael Pollock, pictured left, with Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad Poor Dad, which has been on the best seller list for 257 weeks, at his office in September 2005, in Phoenix, AZ.

On July 9, 2006 1:56 PM, dors said:

What’s all the fuss? Who could possibly be against videostreaming? Someone please share, what is the downside to videostreaming board meetings?

On July 9, 2006 9:29 AM, weewill said:

May I respectfully ask SeniorLady what difference it makes where and from whom Pollock purchased the domain name? I support the videostreaming of Croton board meetings and like having the ability to watch previous meetings verbatum. It affords everyone a good means to review the actual exchanges between citizens and board members. The “official” minutes of the village board meetings are only a summary of discussions taking place.

Also, isn’t it early to determine how many people watch the video streaming as there is only one meeting available to date?

Thanks for whatever clarification of your question you can suppl. Georgianna Grant

On July 8, 2006 10:04 AM, SeniorLady said:

Concerning Mike Pollock, video streaming board meetings,&

From Journal News, 12/28/2003, “Airman launches an Internet taste of home” by Marcela Rojas: “Pollock’s interest in Ossining’s virtual real estte was so great tht he tried for three years to get a domain speculator from Seoul, South Korea, to sell him the name, he said.”

Before Pollock bought the domain name, (on 01/24/2001), it was owned by Dominick Frassino, Pharmacy Consultants, 1815 Palmer Avenue, Larchmont, NY 10538. Phone #914-834-5451. This info was obtained from the Internet on WHOIS, a company that keeps records of domain names and their owners.

Larchmont is certainly quite a distance from South Korea.

Pollock is intelligent, but when you’re untruthful to the public sooner or later it catches up to you.

And you might consider asking your readers to WRITE in to say they’re watching Croton Board Meetings on the Internet. This way you’ll know for certain if the cost of this video streaming is worth what you’re paying for it.

On October 12, 2005 2:58 PM, bojangles said:

I’m learning a whole lot by reading through the old blog posts but I must say it’s almost impossible to figure out who are the good guys and who are the bad. Is is determined stricyly by main line politics?

No one can be opposed to open government. The more things available to keep ourselves up to date on village issues the better it is for all of us. It looks like there are real hard feelings over a whole lot of different things. Believe me when I say this is a sure way to tear a town apart. I came from one of those towns where neighbor didn’t talk to neighbor. It was over a school policy that could easiy have been resolved if both sides had only sat down and listened to each other. They didn’t and it nearly destroyed what once had been a nice little town. It was very unpleasant and shouldn’t happen to nice people.

On October 11, 2005 1:51 PM, weewill said:

It should surprise no one that Ms.Cudaquest is “a little concerned” and worries that “others” might use videostreaming for “political commercials” or that it would turn up “someplace inappropriate.” We would be abe to immediately “go to the video” when we had questions or concerns. That should not present a problem when dealing with facts.

Those of us who are sincerely interested in village government and not just the “politics” of every issue, welcome every means of getting information out. Even if 61 out of 124 (an amazing response rate of 50% if it’s to be believed!) and 31 of them are able to access first hand government business, it would be fantastic. No one would then have to depend on ccc1’s one-sided perspective and often faulty analysis.

It would be a tremendous boon to the open government promised during the recent campaign.

On October 11, 2005 1:48 PM, Mrs. Smith said:

Can Maria Cudaquest ever do anything without having to harp back to her negative ramblings about the previous board? Frankly I am so tired of her ridiculous comments, I am tempted not to bother reading the blog - she is like a broken record. This has to do with video streaming - not her impresssions of what the previous board did.

On October 11, 2005 12:28 PM, TeaDrinker said:

A friend passed on some recent preliminary market research to Crotonblog, completed by Maria Cudequest via her CCC1 email list regarding the Pollock proposal… The following message was sent to Mayor Schmidt and the Village Board of Trustees.

———— Original Message ————

Subject: VIDEOSTREAMING Date: Fri, 07 Oct 2005 14:37:59 -0400 From: “Maria Cudequest” Reply-To: To: CC:,,,,

To the Croton Board:

I thought I’d let you know that we selected a random 125 residents from the CCC1 list and asked them if they could—using their current system configurations—-take advantage of video streaming capabilities—should the village go forward with a video streaming proposal.

61 of these residents responded.

Only 31 can utilize this service (myself included).

I realize this is not a scientific analysis and I could do a broader survey of the entire CCC1 list, but it does speak perhaps to the prudence of a pilot first to see who will actually take advantage of it. I know that in speaking with the Ossining equivalent of Concerned Citizens of Croton—for lack of another way to put it—they also indicated that “many” on their list cannot utilize video opportunities due to existing system/software/equipment issues.

I know that the Pollock offer is between $125 and $150.00 but you should also know that Ossining signed on with Pollock at $100 per (at least that was what the minutes stated—though I don’t know exactly what they get for that).

I’m also a little concerned—and perhaps it’s a misplaced concern—about how others might “use” video streaming; could they record it and use it in political commercials for example—or would it turn up someplace “inappropriate”. Under the past board, if a resident missed a board meeting and did not record it—and could not wait whatever length of time it took to get a copy into the library—which sometimes did not happen for many weeks—we were forced to submit a freedom of information request to the village and pay $20 a copy. Since a freedom of information request was necessary under the old board… Well you get the idea.

Maria Cudequest

———— End of Message ————

On October 3, 2005 7:09 PM, SeniorLady said:

A writer wrote (to paraphrase): “Why reinvent the wheel? If Ossining Town’s doing it, it’s okay.” Huh? Ossining Town goes with how they feel for the moment. They check out squat. My question was, and remains: Was the cost for this in Croton’s 2005 Budget? If not, taxpayer funds should NOT be used. Period. End or story.

On October 2, 2005 7:09 PM, Pat Barua said:

The cost sounds pretty modest (at $125-$150 per meeting, about 26 meetings, that’s $3050-3900 per year).

Those without cable could see the meetings. Those with dial-up only could go to the library (or a friend’s, or perhaps at the office) and watch the meetings on someone else’s computer. Those travelling on the days the meetings are aired could see them live or at their convenience. Some of our neighbors in Cortlandt and Ossining — who are often affected by our goings-on but who don’t get our cable channel — would have an easy way to view our meetings. The advantages just seem endless.

Yes, of course if there’s a cheaper way to do it, let’s do so. I leave to the Village administration whether they think they can do it cheaper in house or through another vendor. But since Ossining has already signed on, maybe we could see what research they did and not reinvent the wheel.

On October 2, 2005 6:30 PM, SeniorLady said:

I will stay on target. Discussion was about streaming video; putting work sessions on computer. Was money put into the budget for this would be my first question. If you want streaming video of work sessions, why can’t it be put on Croton’s own website? This could be done maybe by the person(s) who maintains the official website. Also, many people still have dialup service and it would take forever to download I would think.

As for comments made that some felt inappropriate, right or wrong it’s someone’s opinion. In the real world everything can not remain “nice nice” all the time. The interesting thing is that it gets people thinking, and that is what communication should be about.

This is a lovely addition for the community.

On October 2, 2005 12:15 PM, TeaDrinker said:

Editor’s note: Regretfully, deepsix50/puppaluv and culliganman have become “comment spammers” here on Crotonblog.

This is an article about video streaming board meetings (sorry Michael Pollack for the diversion). It is open and meant for commentary for that subject, and that subject ONLY.

Please rememeber, that commenters are here as OUR guests. This OUR site. WE make the rules and the decisions regarding written conduct.

Here is a final warning to ccc1 bloggers and any other non-affiliated individuals…

If you continue to comment spam, by leaving diatribes and attacks on others within posts that have NOTHING to do with the subject matter of an article, two things WILL happen:

  1. Your comment will be deleted.

  2. If you persist in comment spamming, your IP Address, the address from which your computer is identified on the Internet, will be banned from Crotonblog via TypeKey. Thus, making you unable to leave comments, ever, on Crotonblog.

ccc1 groupies will not be allowed to continue abusing the privilage of commenting on Crotonblog any longer, as of now.

By the way, your current comments will live on within this article, as an example of bad conduct.

On October 2, 2005 10:17 AM, poppins said:

Does anyone else see what’s happening here? What started out as an informational post about the possible video streaming of village board meetings so that everyone could see firsthand the workings of the village board quickly deteriorated into a phony and boring dialogue.

Instead of contributing to a helpful discussion about the issue, Deepsix immediately turned it into a defense of the new board and a continuing boring attack on the old board. From there it deteriorated into a rehashing of gripes and complaints, attacks and defenses, all having nothing to do with whether or not we should be video streaming board meetings.

Maybe crotonblog should start a special category for Politics so we can keep agendas straight. These kinds of biased and obvious political rantings are extremely transparent and serve no prpose in this kind of meaningful exchange of ideas.

Having said the above, what do you think about video streaming the village board meetings? I happen to think it’s a good idea.

On October 2, 2005 10:12 AM, dors said:

Boy, did this thread take a turn. The initial post was about Michael Pollock video streaming Croton board meetings. I, for one, beg for a new outlet to view the meetings. I get dizzy watching the camera bump and sway from dais to the public (no offense to the camera person).

Local politics bring out the best and the worst in people because everyone’s views are so personal. culliganman, just because people disagree with you doesn’t mean you’re not welcome. Keep blogging and we’ll keep reading. Toughen up and say what’s on your mind. Kudos to the crotonblog and the vigilant bloggers.

On October 2, 2005 9:36 AM, weewill said:

Just a few observations -

Not supprised that the NY Post is Culliganman’s choice of reading. Other papers use very big words that make it hard to understand.

We have to wonder how you know that other writers are Democrats when you can’t possibly do more than guess at who they are. A constant thread in posts supporting CCC1 is that posters hide behind tag names and no one can tell who they are.

I hope you “lurk a lot” on the blog so you can at least hear both sides of issues and not just those biased, one-sided CCC1 reports.

Depending on CCC1 for the facts is like depending on the NY Post for complete reporting.

On October 1, 2005 11:57 PM, culliganman said:

Mrs Smith: Schmidt ran five years in a row??????!!!! And you watch meetings?????? Trustees have two year terms here. But that’s not the real point.

The Democrats outnumber Republicans here 2 to one. Do the Math. Figure out the cross over vote. A substantial number of Democrats, myself included, abandoned those from their own party that were running! THAT is the true number.

Once again, CCC1 is made up of many many residents. This fixation with Cudequist, (an independent) Palicci (A Democrat), Goldman (A Democrat), Tuttle (A Democrat or Independent I believe), will really undo the local party. Please by all means continue. At this rate, we’ll never get another Democrat elected.

Think I’ll just lurk from now on. What people say about this blog is true. Only certain Democrats are welcome here.

On October 1, 2005 10:57 PM, Mrs. Smith said:

I should have realized when I saw that all your family, friends and neighbors were democrats and voted for Schmidt that you were another voice for CCC1. You all seem to know exactly what your neighbors voting record is, and it is always for the Republicans - we are running out of people here, and Schmidt - who ran five years in a row, only won by 100 and something votes. Ms Cudaquest has her own agneda, and you will never persuade me or my family or many of my friends that she is an unbiased source of information. She has been proven wrong too many times in the past and her strange obsession with former Mayor Elliott has long been recognized by many people.

On October 1, 2005 10:23 PM, culliganman said:

It is this constant unwillingness to accept the record here at the blog that is also terribly disturbing. But first, I must correct a prior comment. I should have said that I was approached AFTER the meeting by a Democratic trustee who informed me that “Democrats” do not air their laundry in public, and that in addition, wasn’t it better to ask these questions privately (it was around the 2003 election). I disagreed.

As for spending hours away from their families, the same could be said about the residents who appeared meeting after meeting and brought up now substantiated concerns about Metro and often with the paper to back to it up. If the board wasn’t grateful at least the public and the authorities were.

They said so, often. But perhaps it was said most clearly this past March. Violation after violation was ignored by the board as they desperately tried to insist that all was well. But all that is water under the bridge now because they are no longer in charge, Metro is closed, the people have spoken, and the new board will try and undo the damage.

No one said that the prior board did not accomplish some good. I did try to make that clear in my post. But they also lost their way. That too is clear. It is not a sin to say so simply because we also happen to be Democrats. Only by recognizing problems can we ever hope to correct them.

As for being involved, rest assured there are scores of residents who volunteer their time in this village but never get a wink of credit. Many of those are subscribers to the CCC1 list.

As for documents being given to friends, please ask CCC1 for more information. Rest assured they have it. In the meantime, here is the latest from CCC1 on Northeast’s Mr. Vacco from today’s NY Post.

——-Original Message——- From: Maria (This reader was BANNED from Crotonblog for comment spamming on 12/06/05, see “A Penal Process Known as Banishment… Explained”) Cudequest [] Sent: Saturday, October 01, 2005 9:56 PM To: ‘’ Subject: SNAKE EYES FOR VACCO IN CASINO CASE

cc: AllOhio/Croton Bd/CCC1 Special/AG/Solid Waste Commission/Press/Abinanti/Oros/OurLivesCount

As you are all aware, Mr. Vacco is involved with Northeast, Regus, etc. I therefore thought everyone, including Ohio, would have an interest in this article from today’s NY Post.

Thank you CCC1 Vacco watch.

Maria (This reader was BANNED from Crotonblog for comment spamming on 12/06/05, see “A Penal Process Known as Banishment… Explained”) Cudequest


October 1, 2005 — ALBANY - Former Attorney General Dennis Vacco’s lobbying firm is facing a $50,000 fine next week to settle a state Lobbying Commission investigation into a potentially illegal contract with a group seeking to open an Indian-run casino in the Catskills, The Post has learned.

At issue is whether the client offered Crane & Vacco a $5 million “success fee” for helping the group get approval to open the casino. Success fees are illegal under state law.

Crane & Vacco - which claims to have never signed a contract that included a success fee - agreed to pay the maximum $50,000 civil penalty after the state Lobbying Commission rejected an offer to settle the case in June for $7,500, a source said. The firm will admit to no wrongdoing as part of the agreement.

Vacco could not be reached for comment, and commission Executive Director David Grandeau and spokesman Kris Thompson declined to comment.

Grandeau did question the arrangement several months ago, after an upstate developer claimed to have entered into a contract with Vacco that included a success fee.

Vacco, a Republican who served as attorney general from 1994 to 1998, maintains that he never signed that contract

——-End of Message——-

On October 1, 2005 9:38 PM, Mrs. Smith said:

“I like not having to submit a foil request and having to pay 25 cents per page for something I would later find out had been freely given to “friends” of the old board” “Once I was told, when I was bold enough to ask some pointed questions at a board meeting on MetroEnviro, that “Democrats” do not air their laundry in public. I was appalled by that”

Sometimes I think that you all just make things up. The “Old” board did not give things away free to friends - give me a concrete example if they did. And I watched or attended every board meeting for many years and NEVER ever heard the phrase that “Democrats” do not air their laundry in public”.

I get sick and tired of listening to people denigrate others who volunteered their time to do what they felt was in the best interest of the village - they spend hours of time away from their families attending meetings and they are certainly not doing it for the big bucks. Instead of sniping away, get involved and run for office yourself. You will see that it is not easy to make hard decisions especially when they are unpopular, but that is what a board is elected to do and with the help of sound legal advice, they do it. Give us all a break and stop being so petty and negative. These are good people you are talking about, and if you had to sit on the podium and listen to hours and hours od Cudaquest, Pellici, Minet and Konig prattling on as they did week after week, you might end up looking kind of bored too - same old story week after week. Enough is enough.

On September 30, 2005 11:52 PM, deepsix50 said:

Thank you Culliganman!!!! Thank you thank you!!!! A little less time on Rove and a little more on fixing the village. If I might also add, I would not fault the mayor for removing Gallelli as chair now. He tried. Now it is time to let her go. We have so many problems here that the new board has to deal with. They don’t need to be watching their back all the time and need to concentrate on brown water, keeping the garbage men out of Croton, and trying to deal with a budget mess that spent too much time on the river and not enough on the actual streets of Croton. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

On September 30, 2005 11:32 PM, culliganman said:

Hello all. Since there seems to be conflicting reports here, why not just ask the board instead?

As for the rest, I did not sense the “anger” Deepsix is purported to have expressed in his post. A comment was made by Weewill that the new board is supposed to be about open government. Deepsix provided examples of what indeed made it open government. One of those included the fact that freedom of info requests are not as ncessary as before. This is true from my own experience. Deepsix also gave another example that this board does not have two opinions lodged against it for violations of open government rules unlike the old one. This is true as well.

It is somewhat ironic to me as a dyed in the wool Dem that there are suddenly cries for open government of this new board when it pains me to say this, the old board had such an abysmal track record. I am one of those Democrats who crossed over not only because of the old board’s questionable stance on MetroEnviro, but because of their insular nature. Please don’t tell me they were always doing this on advice of counsel. Mr. Girrard never advised that board to violate open government rules and their insular nature extended to more than just Metro Enviro. I am also one of those people who hope that these people will not be back in a few years. I like the way things are going. I like getting my phone calls returned. I like not having to submit a foil request and having to pay 25 cents per page for something I would later find out had been freely given to “friends” of the old board. Look, let’s be honest here. They did some good things but in the last few years, they turned off even their “own”. Perhaps they did not mean to be patronizing but they were. My family, my neighbors, and I were among the people who could not allow them to go on like that. And we will be there again if they ever seek office again.

Once I was told, when I was bold enough to ask some pointed questions at a board meeting on MetroEnviro, that “Democrats” do not air their laundry in public. I was appalled by that. I also got tired of Elliott’s smirking, Grant’s bored expressions, and Gallelli’s comment after the election that people want change without understanding basically what they had done. THAT was exactly the kind of patronizing attitude that made so many Democrats cross over and Grant come in dead last (aside from her performance at the debate)

I’m not angry. Just tired of Democrats who have suddenly found religion. Where were you all when our own was making such a mockery of the process. I’ll take Schmidt, Brennan and Steinberg any day of the week. They have humility. That’s something that went the way of the dinosaur I am sorry to say with my fellow local Dems. As for Cudequist, Palicci, Goldman, Tuttle, and Konig, these are exactly the kind of people we need. But even if they had never said a word, I would still feel this way and so would myneighbors. The old board and Gallelli lost the election because they forgot who it was they were elected to serve. That’s not anger. That’s just fact.

On September 30, 2005 10:30 PM, Pat Barua said:

I was told that the Mayor suggested tabling this proposal until the next round of budget talks — May 2006 — and that research on it has now been delegated to “staff”.

I believe that’s called “procrastination.”

On September 30, 2005 5:53 PM, weewill said:

For people who claim to have no personal or private agenda and who are critical of crotonblog and some of its writers, you certainly seem to check in several times a day.

Deepsix, you and your angry group are forever claiming you are not going to read or post any longer but surprise, surprise… as soon as anything is posted that is touches a nerve or sensitivity with you, there appears an immediate response.

Are you or are you not going to contribute to this valuable crotonblog?

If you are, please just state your opinions reasonably and without constantly criticizing the prior board. They’re not in office now. They’re gone.

Many good people hope they’ll be back in office in the next few years. So count on them staying very much involved. That they and their supporters continue to show interest in this village seems to irritate those of you who think you have sole ownership of goodness and right. You don’t!

On September 30, 2005 2:14 PM, deepsix50 said:

As someone who reviewed the work session audiotape, the trustees simply requested more time to review the proposal. That’s called prudence. What is perhaps imprudent is the tendency of blog staff to interview firms (like the sailing school as well) that may potentially be negotiating with the administration.

I also remind Stu that under the new administration, the need to submit a foil request for info has literally been cut in half compared to the prior board’s policies. In addition, the prior board had two decisions lodged against it for violating aspects of open government state regulations by Robert Freeman. They are on file in the village office.

On September 30, 2005 1:10 PM, Stu said:

This sounds like an excellent idea. The cost seems reasonable and it provides an easy way for residents to be informed about local government events.

Open government is supposed to be the hallmark of this administration.


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