Tuesday, October 14, 2008

News That Matters - October 14, 2008

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Tuesday Morning,

I hope everyone enjoyed the three-day weekend, that is if you hold a job with enough social prestige that you were given the day off. Most people worked yesterday and so I don't see the need for National Holidays anymore since they're not really holidays, they've been turned into Shopping Days. Perhaps what we need is a reassessment of days like that? If we're going to have holidays then let's make them for everyone otherwise it's time to give up the ruse. More later this week.

The National Debt Clock has run out of spaces. That's right, since adding $1 trillion to the national debt (Wall Street bailout, AIG, Fannie and Freddie, etc.,) officials had to hack the initial dollar sign by adding a "1" in order to display $10 trillion... and growing,  in red numerals. Not to be outdone, the entire nation of Iceland is facing bankruptcy. Once a leading economic and banking centers, the international credit-crunch has hit this Nordic nation hard. The Icelanders, upset that their "friends" have not opted to assist, have turned to the Russians for a $5.5 billion loan.

Rock Out With Your Bailout After government rescue, insurance firm AIG partied at a swank resort. Just days after federal officials agreed to an $85 billion bailout of American International Group, the insurance firm spent more than $440,000 for a corporate retreat at a swanky California resort. An invoice from the week-long getaway, a copy of which you'll find below, was obtained by the congressional panel that has been holding hearings this week about Wall Street collapses and executive excess. The late-September AIG gathering at the St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach cost $443,343, according to the invoice. The six-figure sum covered hotel rooms, banquets, golf fees, and spa services at the resort south of Los Angeles. However, company funds apparently were not spent on exploding cakes or urinating ice statues. Read the rest of this here. Now you know why Congress cannot be trusted with your tax dollars.

"Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same sex partner of their choice. To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others." - Connecticut Supreme Court

I wish Sandy Galef had thought of that when she voted to deny equal rights to gays and lesbians in New York a couple of years ago. Instead, she held a poll. In response I reminded her that had a poll been taken in 1920 on the right of women to vote or had a poll been taken in Alabama in 1965 on the right of Blacks to be treated equally under the law, America would be a very different country today. Civil and human rights should not be based on polls but on what's right. Mazel Tov to those in Connecticut who worked so hard to bring us to this point in history.

Last Friday night I was at a party in Brewster celebrating the tenth anniversary of "They Hate Us", Putnam County's premier hard core punk band. It was a great time with good food, good music until 3AM from 5 different bands and especially good company. They'll be taking a month off while lead singer, Paul Duvay, continues a tour with the Murder Junkies, a GG Allin cover band.

Also performing on Friday night was Malcolm Tent (see image at left) who should be known to you as the past owner of Trash American Style, a Danbury based emporium for all things hard to find. "Trash" was pushed out by their landlord a while back (18 years of a successful business model was too much for them I guess) and so Malcolm has fallen back on his music and what a great musician he is! His 40 minute acoustic set was not to be missed. Another highlight of the party on Friday was an amazing ten minute drum solo by Dino Sex, the drummer for the Murder Junkies. After those sets and performances by three other bands, They Hate Us took the stage using past musicians in their former roles through the decade up to today's band with Jill on Bass, Ricky on Drums, Brian on lead guitar, Byron on rhythm guitar and lead singer Paul.

Anyway, keep an eye out for shows by They Hate Us. The band takes its music seriously and it shows. You don't survive ten years in that business if you don't.

This past Saturday we joined Del Jones and Eric Arctender and hundreds upon hundreds of visitors at the Saunders' Farm in Philisptown for the Mid-Run Reception of Collaborative Concepts Third Annual Outdoor Art Show. This time, rather than horses roaming the grounds we had cows... aggressive cows! The show runs every day from dawn until dusk through October 31st and admission is free. You really don't want to miss out on this.

This Sunday past, rehearsals began for Lora Lee Ecobelli's adaptation of "Spoon River Anthology" which will be shown later this month at the Cultural Center on lake Carmel. Stay tuned to these pages for more information.

Up in Dutchess County incumbent Assemblyman Joel Miller has refused pre-election debates with challenger Jonathan Smith. Apparently Mr. Miller feels that debating Smith would give him access to voters he does not have now. On the other hand, it would give voters access to Mr. Miller's voting record and that's more inline with his refusal to debate.

Here in Putnam I see that Bill Gouldman, challenger to Sandy Galef, still has signs up on Route 301 in the middle of Fahnestock State Park. Yeah, I know it's a public highway but Bill, just for that two mile stretch of one of Putnam's most beautiful highways, can you please spare us the visual pollution? Pretty please? I know you're reading this so come on man, give us a break. In fact, I'm calling on *all* candidates to pull their signs from Route 301 from the Taconic Parkway to Dennytown Road. It's just good manners. If you see a campaign sign up on that stretch of road, call or write the candidate and complain. Just do it.

Also here in Putnam the Ball/Degnan race has been unusually quiet and that's a good thing. Now that Greg has the Republican line and Senator Leibell has shot his, er... shot, and abandoned Mr. Degnan, both candidates are cash starved and the voters are the beneficiaries. But it really is important to send Assemblyman Ball into retirement in November and that should be the aim. This coming Thursday morning at 10AM there will be a press conference in support of John Degnan at the Yorktown Town Hall at 363 Underhill. "Women for Degnan" intend to stress the case... and a good one it is.

And now, the News:

  1. In-store plastic bag recycling required by new Westchester law
  2. NYSDOT Commences Construction on Interstate 84 Noise Wall
  3. Army Corps: Watershed study justified
  4. Walkway capital campaign launches
  5. Governor Rell: Turn Off the Lights!
  6. Sheriff: I will stop enforcing evictions
  7. Palin’s Kind of Patriotism

In-store plastic bag recycling required
by new Westchester law

WHITE PLAINS – Starting next Monday, [today] every large store in Westchester County that uses plastic to bag consumer goods will be expected to have an in-house recycling program up and running.

A new law requiring any retailer that provides plastic carry-out bags to its customers and occupies more than 10,000 square feet must have an in-store recycling program. That means placing a “visible’ clearly marked collection bin near the entrance and then finding a way to transport and recycle them.

A number of retailers, primarily supermarkets, such as A&P, have voluntary programs to collect and recycle bags, but not everyone does. This law will ensure that everyone complies,” said County Executive Andrew Spano. “As damaging as they are to the environment, the bags are almost entirely recyclable and millions of pounds each year are made into durable outdoor decks and fencing.”

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NYSDOT Commences Construction on Interstate
84 Noise Wall

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) today announced the award of a project to construct a noise barrier along the westbound side of Interstate 84 in the Town of Newburgh, Orange County.  The $1.3 million contract was awarded to Mohegan Associates Inc. of Carmel, New York. 

The project will construct approximately 1,000 feet of noise barrier between the interstate and a residential neighborhood in the proximity of Coach Lane.  The noise barrier will be on average 14 feet high and was designed to minimize disturbance to existing trees and shrubs.

This noise barrier will help improve the quality of life for many residents in the area.  NYSDOT worked closely with elected officials and the community during the development of the project, including involving the local community in the final color choice for the barrier.

Construction is planned to begin in November and is anticipated to finish during the summer 2009.  Although this project will not require lane closures along Interstate 84, the shoulder along the westbound side of the interstate will be closed in the work area during construction.

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Army Corps: Watershed study justified

Ten Mile flooding could be eased

By Michael Woyton
Poughkeepsie Journal

DOVER PLAINS - After two major floods in the last three years, the Army Corps of Engineers has recommended a study of the Ten Mile River watershed to see what can be done to prevent future disasters.

U.S. Rep. John Hall, D-Dover, unveiled the report Tuesday on a reconnaissance study of the watershed that began almost a year ago.

The next phase, if funding can be found, will look at alternatives for flood damage risk reduction and ecosystem restoration. The study is estimated to cost about $2.5 million.

"This will be an opportunity to assess the state of the Ten Mile River and to improve our future safety and security," Hall said.

More than $4 million worth of damage occurred in the Town of Dover during the October 2005 and April 2007 storms. The reconnaissance study, which cost $100,000, looked at the river's watershed in the towns of North East, Amenia, Dover and Pawling as well as Litchfield County in Connecticut.

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Walkway capital campaign launches

POUGHKEEPSIE – The capital campaign effort to raise $12.5 million in local funds to complete the funding for the $35.5 million Walkway Over the Hudson project has begun.

The project, which is transforming the old Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge into the world’s longest and tallest linear park over the Hudson River, is hoping to raise the money from residents, companies and foundations, said Walkway Chairman Fred Schaeffer.

“We need not just to raise a large amount of money, but to show that the whole community is supporting this project,” he said. They are encouraging small donations to show that everyone is behind the project.

Officials hope to have the work completed in time for next year’s celebration of the Quadricentennial of Henry Hudson’s voyage up the river that bears his name.

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Governor Rell: Turn Off the Lights!

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP)  -- Gov. M. Jodi Rell is directing state agency heads to close all state buildings at night and during the weekends to reduce energy costs.
Rell also wants the lights turned off and the thermostats turned down when those buildings are closed.
The state owns or leases hundreds of buildings. Rell's directive takes effect on Oct. 15. There's an exception for essential functions, such as activities that affect public safety, public health and emergency response.
Rell wants state offices with a single shift shut down by 9 p.m. or earlier on weekdays. Managers on each floor must make sure internal lights are turned off after hours.
The Department of Public Works estimates closing the State Office Building in Hartford on Saturdays will save about $150,000 a year. 

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Sheriff: I will stop enforcing evictions

Legal, real estate experts wonder how Dart's promise will play out

By Azam Ahmed and Ofelia Casillas
Chicago Tribune reporters
October 9, 2008

As the nationwide mortgage crisis puts the squeeze on homeowners, the Cook County sheriff's office is on pace to evict more people than ever from foreclosed homes.

At least it was until Wednesday, when Sheriff Tom Dart announced he wouldn't do it anymore.

Dart cited the growing number of evictions that involve rent-paying tenants who suddenly learn their building is in foreclosure because the landlord neglected to pay the mortgage. By refusing to do any foreclosure-related evictions, the hope is that banks will change their policies.

As it happens, the decision also will spare from eviction those legitimately in foreclosure.

It is the latest, and perhaps most curious, government response to the soaring number of foreclosures. Even as federal bailouts and rescues are under way, the local action provoked a mixture of respect and confusion from housing advocates and banks.

Indeed, some mortgage experts suggested Dart's vow could compound problems by making lenders reluctant to extend credit at a time when loans are already hard to get.

In Cook County, foreclosures are expected to reach a record high of 43,000 this year, compared with 18,916 in 2006.

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Palin’s Kind of Patriotism


Criticizing Sarah Palin is truly shooting fish in a barrel. But given the huge attention she is getting, you can’t just ignore what she has to say. And there was one thing she said in the debate with Joe Biden that really sticks in my craw. It was when she turned to Biden and declared: “You said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America, which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that’s not patriotic.”

What an awful statement. Palin defended the government’s $700 billion rescue plan. She defended the surge in Iraq, where her own son is now serving. She defended sending more troops to Afghanistan. And yet, at the same time, she declared that Americans who pay their fair share of taxes to support all those government-led endeavors should not be considered patriotic.

I only wish she had been asked: “Governor Palin, if paying taxes is not considered patriotic in your neighborhood, who is going to pay for the body armor that will protect your son in Iraq? Who is going to pay for the bailout you endorsed? If it isn’t from tax revenues, there are only two ways to pay for those big projects — printing more money or borrowing more money. Do you think borrowing money from China is more patriotic than raising it in taxes from Americans?” That is not putting America first. That is selling America first.

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