Thursday, October 16, 2008

News That Matters - October 16, 2008

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

"The environmentalists are basically a communist-socialist concept, and it's become a religion..." James Faulkner -  93rd AD District Republican Candidate

Good Thursday Morning,

As of right now, your choice for President is...
Charles O. Baldwin, Constitution Party
Bob Barr, Libertarian
John McCain, Republican
Cynthia McKinney, Green
Ralph Nader, Independent
Barack Obama, Democrat free polls

It certainly is a stereotypical fall day out there! We're just about peak in colors now but the gray, foggy morning adds a tangible taste to the season.

NY Journal News Ad-Alert! Once again, the NYJN has it's online advertisements set to "funny as heck" mode. When your mouse cursor goes over the word "environment" you get a pop-up ad for.... ExxonMobil! There's no surprise there as that's been the longest running insult to mass  intelligence at the Gannett owned site. Then in this sentence, "Think about suburbia. What does everyone here like to have?" Spillo asked. "Big green lawns, flowers, absolutely," when you reach the word "green" you get an advert for... IBM! And lastly, at least for this morning, when you get to this: "Shanna Brown is ready to do her part. The Hendrick Hudson High School senior is not overly optimistic when it comes to the role others are willing to assume," when cursor goes over the word, "school" you get an ad for Pontiac. Stay tuned for more of this silliness as it comes up... as it does every day.

Now that the Presidential debates are over, it's time to make up our minds. Last week we asked you how it was you placed your vote - with the majority (66%) claiming that you'd vote for someone who supported your views even if they couldn't win. But, after speaking to so many I'm not buying it. The overwhelming consensus based on empirical evidence is that Democrats, even progressives who say Mr. Obama falls short on progressive values, will vote for Senator Obama for no other reason than to *stop* Senator McCain. And Republicans will vote for Mr. McCain in order to maintain party loyalty. At least to me, that's a sad state of affairs. It means we've drunk the cool aid (as my friend Vic T would say) that we have only two choices and that our democracy has become so shallow as to be essentially false.

This is evidenced and enforced through the televised Presidential debates where only Senators Obama and McCain were allowed to participate leaving the nation uneducated about the goals and opportunities presented by others in the race, especially those who are on the ballot in enough states to alter the outcome. Those candidates are listed above and I'd ask you to participate in this poll. If clicking in the poll above does not bring you to the full polling page, please vote at PlanPutnam. And let's see if we can get more of you to vote this time! Let's shoot for 100 votes this time so pass this poll on to your friends by sending them this link:

America needs a vibrant democracy and that means the more the merrier. Yes, it's messy. But a vibrant, working and effective democracy usually is.

If you'd like to hear more from one of those 'missing' candidates, Ralph Nader will be in New Paltz at 4:30 this afternoon at the New Paltz Friends Meeting House, 8 North Manheim Blvd. New Paltz. From the press release: "...consumer advocate and Presidential candidate Ralph Nader will hold a press conference that will be open to the public in the New Paltz Friends Meeting House. He will speak about the Wall St. Bailout, single-payer health care, the Iraq War, environmental degradation, and the state of the Presidential debates from which he was excluded."

The Hudson River Estuary Program partnered with the Chazen Companies to inventory Better Site Design/Low Impact Development stormwater practices throughout the Hudson Valley. The intent of this inventory was to highlight regional examples of these practices and inspire additional practices to be implemented in the Estuary watershed.
The inventory as of September 30th, can be found at the following link: 

Additionally, they have indefinitely extended the deadline for entering additional case studies and hope that more examples can be submitted to the inventory as they are built. Please take a moment to review the inventory, and use it as a tool to further promote the viability of these stormwater practices at the local level. (Scott Cuppett)
Anyway, that's a wrap for today. Tomorrow's edition of News That Matters is the weekly Things To Do Edition and so if you've got events taking place in the next week or so, make sure they're in by later this afternoon. Until then...

And now, the News:

  1. Shredding Our Trust in the VA
  2. Greenwood Lake debate: aerate or dredge
  3. Downsized? Get a New Green Job!
  4. DRBC tells Sullivan officials they are watching gas drilling
  5. Art and Calm Just Up the Hudson
  6. Sorting out the truth on health care
  7. Group: Wal-Mart, Giant bottled water shows more contamination
  8. Failing Lehman in $100m payout plan

Shredding Our Trust in the VA

VA investigators find entire claims and other critical documents in shredding bins at Detroit Regional Office. VA official will only say, "I can't talk about that."

by Larry Scott

Many veterans who have filed disability claims with the Veterans’ Benefits Administration (VBA) of the Department of Veterans’ Affair (VA) will relate horror stories of misdated, misfiled or lost documents all leading to delays in processing or an outright denial of the claim. The mantra for veterans dealing with the VBA has become: “Delay, Deny and Hope that I Die.”

It has been assumed by many veterans, their Service Officers who help file claims and attorneys who specialize in veterans’ law that the VBA operates in such a way as to deliberately stall or hinder the claim process with the goal of frustrating the veteran to the point where they just forget about the claim and go away. This isn't some grand plan to purposely hurt veterans, but rather a combination of ignorance, arrogance, incredibly bad management and non-existent oversight. While this viewpoint has been labeled cynical by some and outright paranoid by others, new information is surfacing that shows the cynics, and even the paranoids, to be correct.

Read More

Greenwood Lake debate: aerate or dredge

Village says it can't wait for dredging
By Matt King
Times Herald-Record
October 13, 2008 6:00 AM

GREENWOOD LAKE — The largest lake in Orange County is in failing health, and the people responsible for its care can't reach a consensus on a cure.

Village leaders want to aerate the lake, a comparatively simple procedure but one that will last indefinitely at an uncertain expense.

Members of the Greenwood Lake Commission, meanwhile, want to opt for major surgery, a multimillion-dollar dredging that could help restore Greenwood Lake to health over one winter but an operation the commission can't begin to afford.

"It's a very complicated issue," said Steve De Feo, the New York chairman of the commission of the lake, which straddles the New Jersey state line. "What the dredging is going to accomplish is remove the sediments that have filled the lake in and get it back to its proper depth."

Greenwood Lake suffers from an overload of sediment and phosphorous and other nutrients that fuel explosive weed growth, making it harder for fish to survive and for people to boat and swim.

Read More

Downsized? Get a New Green Job!

Signs of Hope in a New Energy Economy
Chris Jobson of Darien, Conn. was recently downsized from his job in IT management. But Jobson is seeing the setback as an opportunity to do something he really cares about, while still contributing to the bills in the household he shares with his wife and children.

"I've been talking to several solar and wind companies. I've been saying that it doesn't have to be exactly IT management, but that I'm hoping I can use my years of diverse experience to help green companies grow," explains Jobson, who says he has been looking into both small, scrappy start-ups and green tech wings of major multinationals.

A quarter century ago, Jobson had been involved in a startup with several offices in southeast Connecticut (where many of those news-making hedge funds are famously located). Jobson says his firm offered a range of energy conservation services to businesses and homeowners, from water heater jackets to energy audits, storm windows and more. At first things were going well…

"Then in the 80s everyone went back to bad habits, and we couldn't make it," says Jobson. He never gave up entirely on the green dream, however, and Jobson continued to work with land trusts, and has served on the Constitution State's energy advisory board.

In many ways, Jobson's career mirrors that of the nation. Given Jimmy Carter's historic efforts to promote energy conservation (not to mention that pesky oil crisis), things were looking pretty green, and the U.S. was the world leader in solar power, wind energy and other green tech areas, with hundreds of start-ups and thousands of high-paying jobs. But then Reagan and the go-go, booming, me-generation 80s hit like a bad hangover.

Read More

DRBC tells Sullivan officials they are watching gas drilling

MONTICELLO – A Delaware River Basin Commission engineer says the two states that share the upper Delaware River are reasonably up to speed with Marcellus Shale exploration. 

William Muszynski said they are paying particular concern to water resources, and the chemicals used in the gas extraction process.

“We want to make sure, again, that the groundwater structure and the surface water in the area are protected, not just from withdrawal aspect, but that if you withdraw water, you may injure that stream, just by taking water out.  But, also, as they inject, and take this material out of the ground, that it is handled properly and not reintroduced either in ground or surface water.”

Muszynski and County Legislature Chairman Jonathan Rouis say they believe the state is keeping pace.

“We need to balance the economic opportunities for landowners with making sure it is done in a responsible manner, which, I think is one of the things you heard today that was …  We have to watch this.  There’s probably a mechanism to move forward in a way that is proper and safe.”

Read More

Art and Calm Just Up the Hudson


ARI KRESCH tipped me off as I recently embarked on an outing from Manhattan to Dia:Beacon, the contemporary art museum in Beacon, N.Y. Just as I was about to take a seat on a Metro-North train out of Grand Central Terminal, Mr. Kresch, a lawyer riding the train on business, advised me to switch to the left side. That way I wouldn’t have to crane my neck to see the Hudson as our train rolled north on the east bank during the 59 miles to Beacon, a waterfront town in Dutchess County.

Front-row seats on the river are just one reason to make the 80-minute journey to Beacon, a former mill town reborn as a center of the arts. With its high culture and good food, it is the ideal destination for any New Yorker in need of a head-clearing day trip from the city.

Although the train to Beacon runs on the Hudson Line, it takes its time getting into a northbound groove along the river for which the route is named. After hurtling out of the tunnel from Midtown, our train crossed the Harlem River, then skirted it, swinging west above the very tip of Manhattan Island, past rowers plying the channel around Columbia University’s two boathouses.

When we finally reached the Hudson, the river opened up expansively, the undulating tree-covered west bank a backdrop to the calming scene. Sailboats glided on the glassy water. Ducks tipped their bodies into the deep. A solitary crane stood in the shallows. The river widens around Irvington, and marinas large and small came into view. I leaned back in my maroon and royal blue seat, and found myself breathing more slowly and deeply the farther we rolled along.

At the Beacon station, there were two signs to Dia:Beacon — pointing in opposite directions. The preferable route, I discovered, is the one reached by following the sign that reads, “Dia:Beacon Via Walkway.”

Read More

Sorting out the truth on health care

By Angie Drobnic Holan
Published on Tuesday, October 14th, 2008 at 07:04 p.m.

SUMMARY: This is Part 4 of our series on key issues of the presidential election. We'll distill the candidates' positions and examine key rulings. This time, health care.

In an ongoing series, we're examining issues from the presidential campaign. For each topic, we’ll distill the candidates' positions and present some key rulings. Part 1 was taxes. Part 2 was Iraq. And Part 3 was energy. This week, we take on health care. Read all our rulings on health care here.

Read the rest of the report here.

Group: Wal-Mart, Giant bottled water shows more contamination

By Jeff Donn, Associated Press
Tests on leading brands of bottled water turned up a variety of contaminants, including cancer-linked chemicals three times higher than California's health standard, according to a study released Wednesday by an environmental advocacy group.
The findings challenge the popular impression — and marketing pitch — that bottled water is purer than tap water, the researchers say.

However, all the brands met federal health standards for drinking water. And most of the detected contaminants are common in tap water, too.

Lab tests detected 38 chemicals in 10 brands, with an average of eight contaminants found in each kind of bottled water. Tests showed coliform bacteria, caffeine, the pain reliever acetaminophen, fertilizer, solvents, plastic-making chemicals and the radioactive element strontium.

The two-year study was done by the Washington-based Environmental Working Group, an organization founded by scientists that advocates stricter regulation. It bought bottled water in California, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

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Failing Lehman in $100m payout plan

The company approved huge packages for executives days before it went bust
Danny Fortson and Maurice Chittenden

THE Lehman Brothers board signed off on more than $100m (£59m) in payouts to five top executives just three days before the bank went bankrupt leaving thousands of employees out of work in London.

The payoffs, approved on September 12 by the Wall Street giant’s compensation committee, included over $24m in severance packages to the collapsed firm’s top three London executives.

The committee agreed a $16.2m pay-off for Benoit Savoret, chief operating officer for Europe. This payment had been guaranteed by the firm after Savoret had turned down an approach to join a rival firm. Andy Morton, the fixed-income business head, was set for a $2m golden goodbye.

Both were forced out in a shake-up orchestrated from New York in the waning days at the troubled bank. A $5m package for Jeremy Isaacs, the European chief executive who also left, was approved as well.

Read More
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