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Saranac Laker, TV host considers run for Congress

SARANAC LAKE — Former MSNBC pundit, businessman, Saranac Lake native and Lake Placid resident Dylan Ratigan is considering a run for Congress as the 10th Democratic candidate in New York’s 21st Congressional District. He said he expects to announce his decision by the end of the weekend.

Ratigan, who has been a television commentator on economics, Wall Street and politics for MSNBC’s “The Dylan Ratigan Show,” Bloomberg News and The Young Turks, said he will run if he is able to clear his candidacy with three stakeholders: the 12 district commissioners, his family and the business he has been involved with for five years.

He said he wants to form cordial relationships with the commissioners, ensure that his family is comfortable with his decision to seek public office and allow the company he has invested his life savings in, Helical Holdings, to continue on its path unaffected by his campaign.

Helical Holdings employs veterans to run and install solar-powered hydroponic equipment on farms, and Ratigan wants confirmation that the company, which he started with several oil executives in Louisiana, will be able to continue.

He said he has lived in Lake Placid for the last five years or so, in a house he owns. His website bio says, “He’s now a nomadic road warrior constantly traveling around the country, primarily residing in New York City, Louisiana, California and Chicago.” He got married in December 2016.

Ratigan’s platform, if he runs, would likely center on money’s influence in politics, treatment of veterans, decriminalization of drugs and support for what he calls “healthy capitalism,” based on his website bio and social media postings in recent months.

New leader hired at Queensbury Senior Center

QUEENSBURY — The Queensbury Senior Center has a new director, but only for the next six months.

Peter Aust, the former president and CEO of the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce, agreed to a six-month contract to help restructure the center.

He would not describe his salary, except to say he was accepting a much lower salary than he was accustomed to.

“Part of this is my giving back to the community,” he said.

He was brought on Feb. 1 by the center’s new board president, retired Rev. Monty Robinson.

Robinson is hoping Aust stays, but that’s apparently not in the cards.

“I’ve been very clear with him,” Aust said. “Six months.”

His job is to bring order to a group that was fractured internally by arguments over whether to keep offering free condoms in the bathrooms. The previous board president objected when the condom project was spotlighted in The Post-Star, and the board argued over whether to support then-director Kathryn Cramer.

She had started the project as a way to combat the growing rate of sexually transmitted infections among seniors. She quit over the dispute.

The board president left as well, and Robinson took over. The condoms are still in the bathrooms.

“It’s behind us,” Robinson said of the controversy. “We’re moving forward and healing has taken place.”

He tapped Aust to help organize the center as a true nonprofit. The center used to be a social club, but is now a 501©3.

“We tried to keep the old club rules and atmosphere in place, and that really doesn’t work,” Robinson said. “We’re trying to formalize things. We have to adopt a more institutional model.”

Aust said much of that work will be at the board level, not at the center itself.

The board should set objectives, ranging from financial projections to increased membership growth, he said.

He’s working on a three-year plan now.

“In any organization, whether it’s a senior center, chamber of commerce or a newspaper, you have to set out goals to achieve,” he said. “You have to have a vision.”

Aust is also setting up the proper nonprofit paperwork required by the state and federal governments. Robinson said Aust has already accomplished much of that.

“His organizational skills are just outstanding,” Robinson said. “What would take the rest of us months, he can do in days.”