Monday, September 22, 2008

News That Matters - September 22, 2008

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

"This is the most extreme example that I can recall of socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor." - Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders

"Detroit automakers are now apparently trying to loosen the program’s requirements (which some argue are already too weak) and even double the amount of loans the taxpayer is backing. " - Taxpayers for Common Sense

"Responsible political leadership demands that the pain and suffering being experienced by the innocent today not be revisited upon them or the next generation tomorrow."
- Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney

Good Monday Morning,

Sheesh. You take a weekend off and when you come back on Monday you find the world's been turned upside down.

First the good news, then the weird news:

Putnam Valley's Stuart Hample portrays George Baum in "Kent Stories: Neighbors
Portray Neighbors"

This past Friday and Saturday evenings saw Arts on the Lake's newest production, "Kent Stories: Neighbors Portray Neighbors". The concept was simple: director James Shearwood interviewed a dozen long-time Kent residents then wove their stories into a coherent 90 minute narrative read by others.

Those whose stories were read included; Paulette Barrett, George Baum, Bill Bennett, James and Wilma Baker, Betty Behr, Marty Collins, Charles Connors, Jeff Green, Ethel Perrin and Gene Schmidt. Those portraying them were, Marty Collins, Lora Lee Ecobelli, Stuart Hample, Neil Hickey, Kate Hoekstra, Bruce Iacono, Kathleen Kane, James McGuire, Kevin O'Brien and Ava Rogers.

I have to say this again: Arts on the Lake is one of the best things to ever happen to Putnam County. If you're not a member and/or have never been to an event there you should do both - and fast!

Yesterday I attended two really nice events. The first was a drop-in at the First Annual Kent Democratic Party's picnic at Ryan's Field in Lake Carmel. There was a pretty fair band and the grill was cooking! Burgers, dogs, and an assortment of homemade foods completed the board. Everyone was in a great mood and as promised, Sandy Galef was there. And no, I did not get into an argument with her over property taxes. I behaved. Former town councilman and Legislative candidate Joe D'Ambrosio wasn't able to attend due to a death in his family the day before. Paul Spiegel, James Shearwood, Ed Durkee and all those who helped put the event together should give themselves a pat on the back.

(Dogs aren't allowed at Ryans Field, even on leashes. They aren't allowed at Heustis Park in the Free State of Western Kent either. That's just wrong.)

If you're having an event and you'd like it covered, just drop me a note. If there's free food, odds are I'll be there.

Later in the day, we drove down to the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Cross River to attend the opening of the Belle Manes art show at the Gallery in the Park. The big attraction for us, aside from Ms. Manes' art, was that Kent's own Beth Herr, an accomplished artist herself, was the curator for the show. Food, solo R&B and Jazz and the wonderful artworks on display, followed by a long walk up an old farm road and through an outdoor sculpture garden was a fine way to spend the day. Belle's show will run through December 31st and is worth the 30 minute drive downstate. Take 684 South to Route 35 towards Cross River. Turn right at 121 then immediately left into the Park.

Now the Weird News:

Tom Golisano and his $5 Million is backing Greg Ball for re-election in the 99th Assembly District. He's also backing Sandy Galef. The Money Lord giveth with one hand and smacketh itself upside the head with the other.

The NYJN finally picked up on the story about Patterson's objection to the Ryder Farm PDR project and adds that the City of New York, too, now objects. The city claims the $325,000 county contribution should be spent on stormwater related issues yet what could be more stormwater related than the protection of a half-mile long stretch of one of the basin's most polluted lakes?

You know, when the city first gave Putnam County its $30 million to clean up existing problems in the watershed, it was slated specifically for stormwater issues, among other watershed improvement projects. So Bondi goes out and buys a bunch of trucks for the county and a golf course and a nitrogen and phosphorus factory on the shores of the Middle Branch Reservoir and the city went along and no one objected. Not Patterson, not Riverkeeper, no one.

Now that citizens want to use the funds for an actual watershed protection project everyone is up in arms? I hope this lays to rest any reservations to my oft stated mantra that the city stopped giving a shit about protection for the Croton watershed when they decided, years ago, to filter the basin.

In the meantime, DEC supports Kent Manor and DEP has signed off on it. Here's what they said: "The NYS DEC staff has tentatively determined that the proposed project is in accordance with all applicable environmental laws and regulations and has produced draft water supply and SPDES permits for the public's review." (See the article below.)

Perhaps it's time for a little direct action? Yeah, I know, you all balk and cry and whine and say, "let's be nice!" or "we have to work within the system!" But I think we now have absolute proof that being nice gets you kicked in the butt and that the 'system' was designed by Sith Lords. Stay tuned... we'll get something demonstrative going. Maybe a little demonstration of incredulity at the Kent Manor public hearing on Wednesday evening?

Next we find that you're about to dig really deep into your pockets and your children's pockets and their children's pockets so that Wall Street CEO's can keep earning their $17,000 an hour paychecks.

They're going to dig out some $700,000,000,000 worth of your money to keep Wall Streeters fat and happy and the lobbyists are having a field day.

The Fed bailed out both Fannie and Freddie and then kicked in another $85 Billion for AIG. While all that is going on, tens of thousands of homeowners were facing foreclosure and eviction and there's no federal bailout money for them. No guaranteed loans. No money from Communist China to buy the T-Bills. But wait, it gets better! US Automakers want $25 billion in corporate welfare and are hard at work getting the government to loosen controls so they can come and ask for more. And you know what? You're going to give it to them because you're powerless to stop it.

In the last few months you've bailed out the two largest mortgage lending corporations, one of the largest multi-national insurance companies in the world and you've given billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars to the oil and gas companies. And you know what you get in return? Bupkis.

Democrats insist that if they're going to bail out Wall Street they also want some bailing out for Main Street. But it's just political posturing on everyone's part. The dire warning Republicans are putting out there is this: If we don't do this, if we don't send Wall Street firms $1 trillion dollars of borrowed money and if we don't do it in a hurry, it will lead to an economic catastrophe and global depression.

The collapse of financial firms did not happen overnight and the rules and practices that led to this have been in place for a long time and for anyone watching, this decline has been warned about, noticed by government and financial analysts, and then soundly ignored hoping that you wouldn't notice.

In response, presidential candidate John McCain cried for more 'accountability' and said that when he's President he'd set up a funded organization to assist homeowners facing foreclosure. But you know, he's been in the Senate for years and we must have missed his bills and proposals to do just that.

We have an opportunity to completely revamp the way our financial markets operate and though Congress will do a few things, (some downright insulting, others completely meaningless but that grab great sound-bites), in the end the issue becomes this: do you think Congress is doing this for you or for the uber-rich on Wall Street? If the former, then there's a bridge for sale. Great views. Nice architecture. Easy access. Call for an appointment.

And now, what's left of it, the News:

  1. Billions for Bailouts! Who Pays?
  2. Comprehensive Environmental Enforcement Settlement Reached with Putnam County
  3. Walkway deck panels placed
  4. Vision or division? - a Putnam Courier Editorial
  5. State must slow down the gas rush
  6. Sullivan gas drilling expected to begin in 2009
  7. Notice of Public Hearing - Kent Manor - Read this carefully

Billions for Bailouts! Who Pays?

By Senator Bernie Sanders

The current financial crisis facing our country has been caused by the extreme right-wing economic policies pursued by the Bush administration. These policies, which include huge tax breaks for the rich, unfettered free trade and the wholesale deregulation of commerce, have resulted in a massive redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the very wealthy.

The middle class has really been under assault. Since President Bush has been in office, nearly 6 million Americans have slipped into poverty, median family income for working Americans has declined by more than $2,000, more than 7 million Americans have lost their health insurance, over 4 million have lost their pensions, foreclosures are at an all time high, total consumer debt has more than doubled, and we have a national debt of over $9.7 trillion dollars.

While the middle class collapses, the richest people in this country have made out like bandits and have not had it so good since the 1920s. The top 0.1 percent now earn more money than the bottom 50 percent of Americans, and the top 1 percent own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. The wealthiest 400 people in our country saw their wealth increase by $670 billion while Bush has been president. In the midst of all of this, Bush lowered taxes on the very rich so that they are paying lower income tax rates than teachers, police officers or nurses.

Read More

Comprehensive Environmental Enforcement Settlement Reached with Putnam County

Agreement addresses wastewater treatment, solid waste, recycling and petroleum storage violations

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis today announced the settlement of a comprehensive enforcement action with Putnam County to address multiple violations of the state's environmental laws regarding sewage discharges, petroleum storage tanks, a landfill closure and the changes to the county's recycling program.

The "consent order" requires the county to pay a $55,000 penalty and to commit to further action to address longstanding environmental issues at county facilities. The order sets forth a detailed compliance schedule and makes clear that the county could face an additional $100,000 or more in penalties if the environmental violations aren't addressed according to the terms of the order.

"DEC environmental enforcement efforts bring positive benefits to all of our communities, and nothing more clearly demonstrates that than this comprehensive action," said Regional Director Willie Janeway. "For example, an effective petroleum bulk storage program is the best way to protect residents, groundwater and drinking water supplies from spills. A good recycling program not only benefits local residents but also helps preserve natural resources for future generations. Proper landfill closures protect public health. Putnam County has recognized the significance of a clean and healthy environment by working cooperatively with us to address these issues."

Read More

Walkway deck panels placed

By Greg Marano
Poughkeepsie Journal

The first deck panels of the Walkway Over the Hudson are in place on the Highland side of the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge.

Workers installed the first two panels, 6 feet by 24 feet, on Sept. 11. By Thursday evening, 28 were to be set across the width of the bridge, completing 168 of walkway's 6,768 feet.

When construction reaches the point of the bridge that is over water, 6-by-32 panels will be laid lengthwise, four abreast, to cross the river.

"It's a complicated matter because they have to be fit in exactly, they have to be connected to the steel, and they have to level them off," Walkway Over the Hudson chairman Fred Schaeffer said. "It's important that they all line up and be completely level so people can bike and roller blade across them."

A total of 950 panels will be installed by the time the bridge is finished. Schaeffer estimates about six panels will be installed daily. At least three more of the 13-ton panels were laid down by Tuesday afternoon, bringing the count to 19.

Read More

Vision or division? - a Putnam Courier Editorial

The race for the 99th Assembly seat began in May when John Degnan, former mayor of Brewster, announced his intention to primary incumbent Assemblyman Greg Ball (R-Patterson), someone already known for his no-holds-barred tactics.

At the time, Degnan said he knew it would be an uphill battle, but that he meant to keep the race clean. Well, the race has not been, but it's not clear how much this has to do with Degnan.

Several alleged, unsavory incidents from Ball's past have come mysteriously to light. Although these supposed past actions do not reflect particularly well on Ball's character, they did little to slow his primary momentum.

Unlike the rest of the country, which is sharply divided along party lines, Putnam County has Republicans pitted against Republicans. State Sen. Vincent Leibell's (R-Patterson) controversial contribution to the Southeast Republican Committee fund, presumably to benefit the Degnan campaign, is one example of the dearth of political pals Ball has acquired in Albany and at home.

Read More

State must slow down the gas rush

Talk to anybody in a state overwhelmed by the rush to extract gas or oil and you'll get a long list of things that the landowners or authorities should have done or wish they had known. One item on the list would be a way to make drilling companies leave the land in decent shape when they rush on to the next fertile ground.

The people who show up with contracts, big trucks and drilling rigs already know what they want, what it's worth, what they're willing to pay and what they can get away with. And they know that the faster they move, the better they make out.

New Yorkers, both those in the Catskills, where the latest gas rush is on, and those in New York City, where concerns are building about the effect of drilling near the reservoirs that supply drinking water, must make sure that they ask the important questions before, not after, the fact. And there are now two complementary efforts to help that happen.

Read More

Sullivan gas drilling expected to begin in 2009

By Adam Bosch
Times Herald-Record
September 19, 2008 6:00 AM

MONTICELLO — A gas company vying for land in Sullivan County told local officials it expects to start drilling by the end of 2009. The company said it would pay to repair road damage, but would not voluntarily store wastewater in closed containers.

Representatives from Cabot Oil & Gas, one of the companies soliciting land leases to drill for natural gas in the Marcellus shale in Sullivan County, flew from West Virginia late this summer to meet with officials.

During their visits, gas companies tried to placate many environmental and infrastructure worries. Cabot said it would reveal all the ingredients of its "fracking fluid," the allegedly toxic mixture that is shot into the ground to release gas from the shale. Gas officials also volunteered to put money in an escrow or bond to repair damage to roads. "They've started to videotape roads and bridges before, during and after drilling to document any damage," County Manager David Fanslau said. "They claim they're willing to repair any damage caused in the process."

Cabot officials told Fanslau they expect to begin drilling in Sullivan by the end of 2009.

Read More

Notice of Public Hearing - Kent Acres

Kent Acres Development Company, Ltd.1
September 24, 2008 7:00 p.m.
Project Number: 3-3722-00041/00003

This notice is issued pursuant to Part 621 of the implementing regulations pertaining to Article 70 (New York State Uniform Procedures Act [UPA]) of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL). The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC or Department) has determined that a legislative public hearing will be held on September 24, 2008 at 7:00 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus, 10 Fair Street, Carmel, NY to accept unsworn, oral comments on the applicant's proposed modification to its state pollutant discharge elimination system (SPDES) permit and other permit applications related to its project.

Name of Action: Kent Manor Residential Development
SEQR Status: Type 1 - Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) accepted April 18, 2007 by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, as the lead agency.

UPA Status: Major

Description of Project: Kent Acres Development Company, Ltd. and related entities have applied to NYS DEC for permits to construct a 273-unit condominium complex in the Town of Kent, Putnam County on a 113 acre site located on the north side of Nichols Street, approximately 0.3 mile west of the intersection with NYS Route 52. In 1988, the Department issued a sanitary SPDES permit (1988 SPDES permit), a public water supply permit, and a protection of waters permit. The SPDES and public water supply permits remain in effect; however the applicant seeks modifications to these permits.

The applicant is seeking to reduce the permitted flow in its SPDES permit; for water supply, to take an average of 70,000 gallons per day (GPD) on a monthly basis from four on-site wells, and eliminate the prior requirement to replace nearby wells prior to operation. Based on well pumps tests performed by the applicant in 2007, the four wells have a combined tested capacity of up to 99 gallons per minute (GPM), over twice the capacity needed to meet the average daily demand of 48.7 GPM.

In addition, due to updated mapping of freshwater wetlands (Freshwater Wetland No. LC-57 [Class I]) by the Department affecting the project site, the applicant now must obtain a freshwater wetlands permit because portions of the freshwater wetland and its 100 foot adjacent area will be affected by the construction of the project's wastewater treatment plant, installation of some residential units, stormwater management measures, and water supply and distribution infrastructure.

Permits Required: SPDES, Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), Article 17 and Parts 750 - 758 of Title 6 of the the New York Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations (6 NYCRR); SPDES General Permit for Stormwater and Discharges from Construction Activities, Article 17 and Parts 750 - 758 of 6 NYCRR; Public Water Supply, ECL Article 15, Title 15 and 6 NYCRR Part 601; Protection of Waters, ECL Article 15, Title 5 and 6 NYCRR Part 608; Freshwater Wetlands, ECL Article 24 and 6 NYCRR Part 663; Water Quality Certification, Section 401 of Clean Water Act.

Revised Draft SPDES Permit: In response to written public comments received during the public notice period, Department staff have revised the draft SPDES permit to correct typographical errors and amend language related to the permittee's compliance with phosphorous offset program requirements. The revised draft SPDES permit is available for review during normal business hours at the NYS DEC Region 3 office as noted below. The Department has made a tentative determination to approve the revised draft SPDES permit for the discharge of a monthly average of 70,000 GPD to an unnamed tribuary to Palmer Lake (a/k/a Michael's Brook), a class B stream. The 1988 SPDES permit issued for this project was for a 313-unit proposal allowing a monthly average discharge of up to 102,000 GPD to the same stream. In addition, effluent limitations for phosphorous will be reduced from 1.0 mg/l in the 1988 SPDES permit to 0.05 mg/l; and seasonal limitations for nitrogen will also be required. The Department's decision on the revised draft SPDES permit remains contingent on the applicant's formation of a sewage works corporation in accordance with Article 10 of the New York State Transportation Corporations Law, or satisfying the criteria for a variance pursuant to the Department's SPDES regulations contained in 6 NYCRR Part 752.1 (f).
Availability of Application Documents: Copies of the filed application documents and Department draft permits are available for inspection during normal business hours at the Department's Region 3 office located at 21 South Putt Corners Road, New Paltz, New York 12561. Please call: Scott E. Sheeley at: (845) 256-3041 or e-mail to: if you wish to schedule an appointment to review these records.
State Historic Preservation Act (SHPA) Determination: Cultural resource lists and map have been checked. No registered, eligible or inventoried archaeological site or historic structure has been identified at the project location. No further review in accordance with SHPA is required.

Public Hearing: As a result of the comments received after publication of the notice of complete application in February 2008, the Department staff has revised the draft SPDES permit and determined to hold a legislative hearing to receive public comment. The hearing to receive comments on the available draft permits and permit applications will be held on Wednesday, September 24, 2008 at 7:00 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus, 10 Fair Street, Carmel, New York.

It is not necessary to file in advance to speak at the legislative hearing. All those individuals, organizations, and businesses who wish to provide comments are encouraged to attend. Lengthy statements should be in writing and summarized for oral presentation. Written comments are also welcome up to and including October 6, 2008 and should be mailed to Scott Sheeley at the address noted below. Equal weight will be given to both oral and written statements. The hearing location is reasonably accessible to persons with a mobility impairment. Pursuant to the State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA), interpreter services shall be made available to hearing impaired persons, at no charge, upon written request to Scott Sheeley at the address noted below.

Department Staff's Position: The NYS DEC staff has tentatively determined that the proposed project is in accordance with all applicable environmental laws and regulations and has produced draft water supply and SPDES permits for the public's review.
For further information, contact:

Scott E. Sheeley
NYS DEC - Region 3
21 South Putt Corners Road
New Paltz, New York 12561
Phone: (845) 256-3041

1. Historic permits and current permit applications for this proposal have been issued and submitted under the following entities:
Public Water Supply: Kent Acres Development Company, Ltd.
c/o Joseph Cioccolanti
2022 Route 22
Brewster, New York 10509

Sanitary SPDES:- Kent Manor Homeowner's Association, Inc.
c/o RFB, LLC Charles V. Martabano
c/o Terrapin, LLC
120 Main Street, P.O. Box 593
Mount Kisco, New York 10549

Freshwater Wetlands, Protection of Waters, Section 401 Water Quality Certification: RFB, LLC
c/o Charles Martabano
120 Main Street
Mount Kisco, New York 10549

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