Tuesday, October 28, 2008

News That Matters - October 28, 2008

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered." - Thomas Jefferson 1802

Good Tuesday Morning,

Well, I've made it! Today marks the anniversary of my living Ten Years In Putnam County.

There was a conspiracy to run me out of town a few years ago which involved several elected representatives, but with one exception they're all gone now and the one that remains is slowly coming around, though he still shows remarkable hesitancy in doing so. There was a nasty police investigation after saving Mt. Nimham from being turned into matchsticks and significant official harassment after beating back the Sewage Diversion plan which included being blacklisted by the Journal News. And I can't - for the life of me - get through to John Hall's office thanks to his Carmel and Washington office managers. But I wear those as Badges of Honor. I'm still waiting for Leibell, Bondi or Camarda to call to offer their congratulations and take me out to dinner but, with the power going on an off the last few days, I'm guessing I've missed their calls. Please gents, keep trying!

The NY Journal News has made two interesting endorsements for Putnam County residents. In Legislative District 8 they've endorsed Joe D'Ambrosio and in District 3, Dini LoBue.

According to media reports Sheldon Silver announced last Friday that the Assembly Ethics Committee did not find Assemblyman Ball guilty of violating Assembly rules and has cleared him of the charges. Well, not exactly. See, the Committee didn't rule that Mr. B *did* what he was accused of or *didn't* do what he was accused of, only that there was no evidence one way or the other to establish whether there was a violation of a specific Assembly rule. Whether or not the Assemblyman sexually harassed an employee is still up for grabs.

Here's the quote: "After an investigation which included witness interviews and a review of relevant documentary evidence, the Committee unanimously determined that a violation of the Assembly Sexual Harassment/Retaliation Policy was not established,"

Note, Silver did not say Greg didn't do it, only that a violation of the rule was not established.

This is contrary to what Mr. B has been saying of late and what the corporate media have been saying. You'd think reporters might actually read the release and report what it stated rather than interpret to their own biases.

It's convenient for Shelly to announce those findings at this time for it helps him protect Greg's tenure in the Assembly, which is apparently his intent.

You mean, Sheldon Silver likes Greg Ball?

Why not? Why would the Speaker need another Democrat in the Assembly when he's got more necks than he can stomp on with two feet now? It better serves his political agenda to have a Republican, especially one as outrageously over-the-top as Greg Ball, so that he can use him as a Poster Child for Assembly Republicans. Why else has the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee (DACC) not involved itself in John Degnan's campaign if not to ensure Greg's re-election?

And, who runs the DACC? Sheldon Silver.

I wrote the DACC last week asking them why they hadn't gotten involved in this race and guess what... They've never bothered to respond. They made some contacts and poked around to find out who I was, but apparently decided I'm not important enough to warrant a response. That's their mistake to make...  and they've made it.

A vote for Ball is a vote for Silver? It could be!

But then, there's this from over the summer:

NYS Assembly floor debate on A02712 - Fair Pay Act

Speaker: Mr. Ball.

Mr. Ball: Will the sponsor yield for some questions?

Speaker: Will you yield Ms. John?

Ms. John: Certainly Madam Speaker.

Mr. Ball: Hello Ma'am, how are you? I have a question, just to clarify, I'm a little bit slow. Uh, so if you could just help me. What exactly are the new mandates and regulations that will be required by small business owners? I was just hoping you could spell those out.

Ms. John: The legislation requires that an employer will provide to an employee a written statement of the job title and the wage rate. It also requires that the employer, pursuant to regulations developed by the State Department of Labor, provide that information to the Department of Labor.

Mr. Ball: When you're specifically talking about this piece of legislation, where is the efficiency argument? Where does efficiency come in? Because, you could conceivably have two people doing the same job, the same number of hours, and there has been a lot of emphasis as I listen to the debate in the amount of hours somebody worked. For instance, I grew up on a farm, have you ever milked goat?

Ms. John: No, I haven't.

Mr. Ball: Well I would suggest that if we were both on a farm, that if you allowed me four hours, and you four hours, in an agricultural setting, I'd work you under the table. And, you being a female and me being a male, uh, I may command a higher wage in that particular setting. So, in that instance, are small business owners... are they protected? Is efficiency... does that ever become part of the argument or is that too capitalist?

You gotta love this guy and the goat-milkers who vote for him.

It also seems that one of Greg's out-of-area backers, Tom Golisano, may be in for some legal  trouble which could affect candidates who accepted his money. Read that story here. But then, he only donated a measly $250 to Greg's campaign out of a possible $5,000,000. Even with the money-men Ball is small potatoes.

If you'd like to post to News That Matters, click here, sign up, and post away.

(The image above is mine, taken at an open house at Apple Pond Farm near Jeffersonville, NY. Assemblyman Ball was not in attendance.)

And now, The News:
  1. Southeast supervisor: Cut property taxes by 10%
  2. Hall a staunch veterans advocate (NYJN Letter)
  3. NY District Court Finds Takings Claim Not Ripe Where Developer Did Not Seek Variance
  4. The Energy [R]evolution
  5. The World's Worst Pollution Problems - 2008
  6. Economic Downturn Might Be a Catalyst for Smarter Growth
  7. Running on empty, motor city where houses sell for £500
  8. There's Nothing Conservative About Mountaintop Removal
  9. Earth Talk: Natural headache remedies

Southeast supervisor: Cut property taxes by 10%

Marcela Rojas
The Journal News

SOUTHEAST - Supervisor Michael Rights has proposed cutting property taxes by more than 10 percent in his tentative 2009 budget.

Under the supervisor's plan, residents with an average home assessment of $401,000 would pay $462 in town property taxes in 2009, down from $514 this year, officials said. The $13 million budget encompasses about a $9.14 million general budget plus $3.88 million for the town's special districts, including water and sewer.

"(Councilman) Dwight (Yee) and I went through the budget line by line looking for fat and we cut it," Rights said.

Some of that "fat," he explained, includes decreasing the attorney's contractual expenses by $65,000. This year, the town attorney's $186,970 budget included a $101,970 salary and $85,000 in contractual expenses such as fees paid to special counsel. Rights has proposed increasing the town attorney's salary to $104,519 and decreasing the contracts to $20,000.

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Hall a staunch veterans advocate (NYJN Letter)

They come into our office hesitantly, clutching large brown envelopes containing their service records. Their eyes show only a glimmer of hope that we might help, because post traumatic stress disorder has drained them of all positive emotion and left only despair. They are combat veterans, and they come to see my wife and me because we're National Service Officers, unpaid volunteers accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs, to help veterans file claims for disability compensation.

Read More

NY District Court Finds Takings Claim Not Ripe Where Developer Did Not Seek Variance

And Did Not Pursue Action in State Court for Compensation

In an ongoing effort to develop a parcel of property for multi-family housing in the Town of Greenburgh (NY), the developer was told prior to purchasing the land that it was located in a CA (Central Avenue Mixed Use Impact District) which would allow for the development of a multi-family complex containing at least 82 bedrooms. At the time of acquisition, the Town zoning map also reflected this designation.  Following a significant amount of pre-acquisition due diligence (examining all available versions of prior zoning maps, retention of an architect and an appraiser), the developer purchased the property and demolished the existing structure pursuant to a Town permit.  Immediately following the demolition, the developer was notified that a neighboring Nature Center opposed the development of the property containing more than one or two homes. This began a series of meetings where moratoria, conservations easements and possible condemnation of the property were discussed as the public and political leaders were voicing opposition to the proposed development of the parcel. This was followed by a “discovery” by a Town Board member that the property had actually been zoned R-20, a one-family residence district and not a CA zone, and the Town Engineer was directed to alter the zoning map to reflect change based on the fact that the previous map designation was in error.

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The Energy [R]evolution

Monday, 27 October 2008 GreenMuze
A recent report by the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) and Greenpeace International - Energy [R]evolution: A Sustainable World Energy Outlook - demonstrates that “…aggressive investment in renewable power generation and energy efficiency could create an annual US$360 billion industry, providing half of the world's electricity, slashing over US$18 trillion in future fuel costs while protecting the climate…”

Their report provides a blueprint for rapidly cutting energy-related CO2 emissions to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions peak and then fall by 2015.

"Unlike other energy scenarios that promote energy futures at the cost of the climate, our energy revolution scenario shows how to save money and maintain global economic development without fuelling catastrophic climate change. All we need to kick start this plan is bold energy policy from world leaders," said Sven Teske, Greenpeace International's Senior Energy Expert and co-author of the report.

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The World's Worst Pollution Problems - 2008

Blacksmith Institute in collaboration with Green Cross Switzerland issued a Top Ten list of the world’s most dangerous pollution problems. The report names pollution as one of the leading contributing factors to death and disability in the world and highlights the disproportionate effects on the health of children.

The Top Ten list includes commonly discussed pollution problems like urban air pollution as well as more overlooked threats like car battery recycling. The problems included in the report have a significant impact on human health worldwide and result in death, persistent illness, and neurological impairment for millions of people, particularly children.  According to the report, many of these deaths and related illnesses could be avoided with affordable and effective interventions.

"Our goal with the 2008 report is to increase awareness of the severe toll that pollution takes on human health and inspire the international community to act," said Richard Fuller, founder of Blacksmith Institute. "Remediation is both possible and cost-effective."

Read More

Economic Downturn Might Be a Catalyst for Smarter Growth

By Roger K. Lewis
Saturday, October 25, 2008; F04

The land use and transportation policies of the 20th century are destined to change dramatically. They enabled sprawl -- the unbridled expansion of American cities that has engendered enormous unforeseen economic, social, environmental and aesthetic costs.

Instead, we are turning to a list of R-words: rethinking, redeveloping, renewing, revitalizing, retrofitting.

Those words have figured repeatedly in recent articles about major proposed suburban makeovers in Tysons Corner, Rockville Pike and downtown Columbia. Private and public entities also are developing plans for other sites in the Virginia and Maryland suburbs, as well as in the District.

Sprawling American suburbs, developed at very low densities, have been zoned and subdivided into residential enclaves designed primarily for driving convenience. Widely dispersed employment, commercial and recreational destinations, coupled with inadequate road systems, have produced severe traffic congestion and climate-changing carbon emissions while denying suburbanites the choice of conveniently walking, biking or using transit.

And does anyone find beauty in sprawl?

Read More

Running on empty, motor city where houses sell for £500

Detroit suffers spectacular property market plunge

What can you buy in America for $1,000? A flat-screen television, perhaps. A weekend break in the sun. Or a three-bedroom suburban home with stripped wood floors and a garage in the country's motor capital.

Property markets on both sides of the Atlantic have plunged, but nowhere has the collapse been more spectacular than in the down-at-heel industrial city of Detroit. Prices are so low that it is possible to buy a repossessed house for the cost of a couple of months' rent.

"If you've got just a little money coming in, you can afford to live here," says Lolita Haley, a resolutely upbeat estate agent in Detroit's inner suburbs. "I've had people call me from as far away as India in search of property at these prices."

Haley's firm, Prime Financial Plus, has homes on its books for as little as $649 (£411). But these tend to be in poor shape, damaged by vandals. For something classier, buyers will need to dig deep - by writing a cheque running into four figures.

The princely sum of $1,250 would be enough to secure 14918 Stansbury Street, a three-bedroom brick house on a tree-lined street with a garden.

Read More

There's Nothing Conservative About Mountaintop Removal

Would McCain or Obama Stop This Destructive Coal Mining Practice?
October 26, 2008 at 6:56AM by Jim DiPeso | comment

Rural values, family, and tradition are the warp and woof of conservative messaging. For better or worse, Sarah Palin has hit those hot buttons repeatedly at campaign rallies where the cultural prejudices of Big Media windbags are distinctly unwelcome.

Nothing could be more destructive of those conservative values than mountaintop removal coal mining. The high explosives and draglines that are gouging an alien topography onto West Virginia and neighboring states also are butchering old ways of life in the mountains.

The Bush administration has proposed a rule that would exacerbate the damage by easing stream buffering requirements. Since those requirements are largely honored in the breach, the rule would legitimize what has been going on anyway.

But it's not just Republicans who kowtow to mountaintop removal. At a Society of Environmental Journalists conference October 18, Congressman Nick Rahall, the West Virginia Democrat who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, listed all the great things that flattened mountains can be used for. Imagine the shopping centers that could be built, said Rahall.

You would have thought that Richard Pombo was still chairing the committee.

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Earth Talk: Natural headache remedies

Are there natural headache remedies that can get me off Tylenol, Advil and other medicines whose side effects can be as bad as or worse than the pain that led me to use them? - Jan Levinson, Portland, Maine

Many of us may be too dependent on over-the-counter painkillers to treat the occasional headache, especially given their potential side effects. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) can increase the risk of heart and circulation problems - including heart attack and stroke - and is also tough on the digestive tract. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) has been linked to nausea, diarrhea, and kidney and liver problems. Many natural health-care practitioners disparage drugs for merely masking symptoms of larger problems.

All headaches are not the same, and gobbling down pain pills will not address the causes. Some headaches are caused by tension; others stem from sinus congestion, caffeine withdrawal, constipation, food allergies, spinal misalignment or lack of sleep. And then there are migraines, which researchers think are neurological: The brain fails to constrict the nerve pathways opening arteries to the brain, resulting in a pounding headache as blood flows in unchecked. Assessing what kind of headache you may have can help lead the way to a solution.

To ease tension headaches, the Farmers' Almanac recommends applying an ice pack to the neck and upper back, or getting someone to massage those areas. Soaking the feet in hot water can also divert blood from your head to your feet, easing any kind of headache pain in the process.

Read More
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