Wednesday, October 29, 2008

News That Matters - October 29, 2008

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

"A survey by researchers at the University of Texas in 1998 found that one in four of the state's state school biology teachers believed humans and dinosaurs lived on earth at the same time." - George Monbiot

Good Wednesday Morning,

Has anyone noticed that the band "New Kids on the Block" is starting to look more and more like "The Village People"?

The NYJN recommends John Degnan for the 99th Assembly district in an endorsement so glowing you'd best put your sunglasses on before clicking here...


Carmel, NY:

In a stunning vote last evening the Carmel Town Board voted 3-2 to change the name of their town to the "Town of Camarda".

Supervisor Ken Schmitt said, "It's not that difficult and only requires altering the last few letters of the town's name from "rmel" to "marda". The costs would be negligible."

Speaking to reporters after the vote, Councilman DiBattista said, "I voted against the idea. We all know Paul Camarda owns this town, runs this town and has bought and sold this town, but everyone knows us as 'Carmel'. And though folks confuse us with 'Carmel' in California and mispronounce ours as Car-MEL, there are better ways to show our gratitude to Mr. Camarda." Asked what better ways there were, the councilman said, "We could designate Mahopac, for example, or Lake Camarda, or rename Route 6 to "The Camarda Inter-Mall Highway", which was my idea."

The changeover would take place beginning January 1st, 2009 with an official re-naming ceremony at Town Hall at which time the name on the building would change as would internal letterheads and other documents. Other documentation would be altered over time and the process would be fully resolved by June 1, 2009. The re-naming also comes with a change to the Town's Charter. In place of yearly elections, the Town's new namesake would hand-pick the town council and gain supervisory control of the Highway and Parks Departments as well. According to Supervisor Schmitt, this would simplify municipal management thus cutting costs for all Camarda residents.

Carmel Hamlet resident Walter Rider supported the idea. "I can't think of anyone else in Putnam County who has done more to support business and commercial development in my town other than Paul Camarda and this would be the perfect tribute to this visionary, this man among men."

Kent Supervisor Kathy Doherty acknowledged that the Town of Kent would benefit from the name-change. "For once Kent could have its own post office name rather than share one with Carmel," she said. "For too long we've been stuck to that town even though we don't live there and most of my residents don't venture too deeply below the Hamlet anyway."

The US Postal Service has said that a special new zip code would be introduced to coincide with the name change but could not yet say what it would be. "New zip codes are hard to come by," said Postal Service spokesman Bart Nadel, "So it will take us a little time to come up with something."

But not all residents were so pleased. Linda Kamp, a long-time resident said, "I can't believe this. I just can't believe this!" Route 6 business owner Matt Lamploght said, "Do you have any idea how much this is going to cost me in lost revenue? How are my out-of-area customers going to find me with this name and zip code change? This is going to kill my business!"

But Town councilman Richard O'Keefe responded, "We've recently struck a deal with Camarda Development Corporation where we're permitting him to build - tax free - an enclosed shopping mall that will run along the Route 6 corridor from where Dill's used to be northward and ending at the new firehouse in Mahopac. This will include Mr. Lamploght's business. Customers will have no trouble finding him as the new mall will be visible from outer space."

When reached for comment, Paul Camarda said, "The new mall will be the height of green construction. Not only will it encompass several miles of highway, thus cutting traffic in the surrounding communities, it will also enclose Lake Mahopac, giving us a pollution free source of water for the facility as well as the world's largest year-round indoor recreation lake. Just think, water-skiing in January!"

County Legislator Robert MacDonald said the mall would bring in $1.2 billion in tax revenues for the county and be the largest employer within 75 miles. "People will flock to Putnam County," he said.

When asked about the change of the town's name to his own Mr. Camarda had this to say, "I'm humbled. Really. Considering it cost me millions to get this far, I rather think I deserve it."

Check the Journal News for more on this story tomorrow.

If you're still wondering who to vote for come election day consider that - no joke - Al Qaeda likes John McCain while Hamas prefers Barack Obama. On the other hand, neither organization backs Nader, McKinney, Baldwin or Barr. Your mileage may vary.

In the meantime, comedian Al Franken is ahead in the polls in his race to unseat Minnesota Republican Senator Norm Coleman. Yes, that's "Me. Al Franken."

And now, the News:

  1. Putnam lawmakers approve budget; Bondi's vetoes stand
  2. Sales-tax revenue up in third quarter for counties, but expectation low going forward
  3. How these gibbering numbskulls came to dominate Washington (UK Guardian)
  4. Seven Things That Could Go Wrong on Election Day
  5. Will the Next World War Be Over Water?
  6. Wal-Mart Has Perfected the Art of Union-Busting, Researcher Says
  7. Solar Thermal Power May Make Sun-Powered Grid a Reality
  8. Green Party Bids For The White House       
  9. Bailout Bill a Sweet Deal for Rum Maker

Putnam lawmakers approve budget; Bondi's vetoes stand

Susan Elan
The Journal News

CARMEL - Putnam's finalized county budget calls for total appropriations of $136.4 million in 2009.

That means the average homeowner will pay $2.92 per $1,000 of assessed value next year, up from $2.72 this year, or a 7.35 percent tax rate increase. The average annual tax bill would go from $879 to $901 next year.

"They nickel-and-dime us to death," said Frank Bruno, a retired New York City detective who moved to Mahopac in 1966. "Twenty bucks is no big deal, but it happens every year."

William Carlin, the county's finance commissioner, said individual tax bills would vary, especially in view of falling property assessments. The county portion of a homeowner's total property tax bill is 8 percent, Carlin said.

The county Legislature, at its last 2009 budget session Monday night, failed to override County Executive Robert Bondi's veto of four budget measures that would have increased the amount of revenue expected from sales tax and established a tax stabilization reserve fund in which to deposit $1 million in anticipated sales tax money. An override requires six votes by the nine-member board. Seven legislators attended the meeting at the County Building in Carmel.

Read More

Sales-tax revenue up in third quarter for counties, but expectation low going forward

Gerald McKinstry and Jorge Fitz-Gibbon

Sales-tax revenues were up in the Lower Hudson Valley for the third quarter - but all bets are off for the rest of the year.

The latest figures released by New York state show sales-tax revenue gains in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties through Sept. 30.

Putnam led with a 16.24 percent increase, followed by Westchester's 3.24 percent gain and Rockland at 2.96 percent.

Westchester is expected to get $118.9 million, Putnam $13.7 million and Rockland $44.4 million, according to state tax records.

Read More

How these gibbering numbskulls came to dominate Washington

The degradation of intelligence and learning in American politics results from a series of interlocking tragedies

How was it allowed to happen? How did politics in the US come to be dominated by people who make a virtue out of ignorance? Was it charity that has permitted mankind's closest living relative to spend two terms as president? How did Sarah Palin, Dan Quayle and other such gibbering numbskulls get to where they are? How could Republican rallies in 2008 be drowned out by screaming ignoramuses insisting that Barack Obama was a Muslim and a terrorist?

Like most people on my side of the Atlantic, I have for many years been mystified by American politics. The US has the world's best universities and attracts the world's finest minds. It dominates discoveries in science and medicine. Its wealth and power depend on the application of knowledge. Yet, uniquely among the developed nations (with the possible exception of Australia), learning is a grave political disadvantage.

There have been exceptions over the past century - Franklin Roosevelt, JF Kennedy and Bill Clinton tempered their intellectualism with the common touch and survived - but Adlai Stevenson, Al Gore and John Kerry were successfully tarred by their opponents as members of a cerebral elite (as if this were not a qualification for the presidency). Perhaps the defining moment in the collapse of intelligent politics was Ronald Reagan's response to Jimmy Carter during the 1980 presidential debate. Carter - stumbling a little, using long words - carefully enumerated the benefits of national health insurance. Reagan smiled and said: "There you go again." His own health programme would have appalled most Americans, had he explained it as carefully as Carter had done, but he had found a formula for avoiding tough political issues and making his opponents look like wonks.

Read More

Seven Things That Could Go Wrong on Election Day

Thursday 23 October 2008

by: Michael Scherer, Time Magazine

We can go to the moon, split atoms to power submarines, squeeze profits from a 99 cent hamburger and watch football highlights on cell phones. But the most successful democracy in human history has yet to figure out how to conduct a proper election. As it stands, the American voting system is a worrisome mess, a labyrinth of local, state and federal laws spotted with bewildered volunteers, harried public officials, partisan distortions, misdesigned forms, malfunctioning machines and polling-place confusion. Each time, problems pop up on the margins; if the election is close, these problems matter a great deal. Republicans and Democrats predict record turnouts, perhaps 130 million people, including millions who have never voted before.

The vast majority will cast their votes without a hitch. But some voters will find themselves at the mercy of registration rolls that have been poorly maintained or, in some cases, improperly handled. Others will endure long lines, too few voting machines and observers who challenge their identities. Long a prerogative of local government, the patchwork of election rules often defies logic. A convicted felon can vote in Maine, but not in Virginia. A government-issued photo ID is required of all voters at the polls in Indiana, but not in New York. Voting lines are shorter in the suburbs, and the rules governing when provisional ballots count sometimes vary from state to state. As Americans cast their ballots on Nov. 4, here are some problems that threaten to throw this election to the courts again.

Read More

Will the Next World War Be Over Water?

The Perils of Water Scarcity and Pollution

Dear EarthTalk: I saw a cover line on a magazine that said, "The next world war will be over water." Tell me we're not really running out of water! -- Nell Fox, Seattle, WA
Today fully one-sixth of the world's human population lacks access to clean drinking water, and more than two million people -- mostly kids -- die each year from water-borne diseases. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) predicts that by 2025, one-third of all humans will face severe and chronic water shortages.

Needless to say, water is of primary importance to our survival, and protecting access to and the quality of fresh water supplies will likely become more and more of a challenge in the coming years. According to the nonprofit World Water Council, the 20th century saw a tripling of the world's population while freshwater use grew by a factor of six. With world population expected to increase as much as 50 percent over the next half century, analysts are indeed worried that increasing demand for water, coupled with industrialization and urbanization, will have serious consequences both for human health and the environment. Access to freshwater is also likely to cause conflicts between governments as well as within national borders around the world.
Read More

Wal-Mart Has Perfected the Art of Union-Busting, Researcher Says

by: Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota

Minneapolis - Want to understand why so many American workers find it so hard to organize unions in their workplaces? Look no further than Wal-Mart, a researcher for Human Rights Watch says.

Wal-Mart is a case study "of the abysmal workers' rights regime we have here in the United States," said Carol Pier, senior researcher on labor rights and trade for Human Rights Watch, an independent, nongovernmental organization that investigates human rights violations around the world.

Read More

Solar Thermal Power May Make Sun-Powered Grid a Reality

It's solar's new dawn. For five decades solar technologies have delivered more promises than power. Now, new Breakthrough Award–winning innovations are exiting the lab and plugging into the grid—turning sunlight into serious energy.

By Alex Hutchinson
Published in the November 2008 issue.

Planted in the New Mexico desert near Albuquerque, the six solar dish engines of the Solar Thermal Test Facility at Sandia National Laboratories look a bit like giant, highly reflective satellite dishes. Each one is a mosaic of 82 mirrors that fit together to form a 38-ft-wide parabola. The mirrors’ precise curvature focuses light onto a 7-in. area. At its most intense spot, the heat is equivalent to a blistering 13,000 suns, producing a flux 13 times greater than the space shuttle experiences during re-entry. “That’ll melt almost anything known to man,” says Sandia engineer Chuck Andraka. “It’s incredibly hot.”

The heat is used to run a Stirling engine, an elegant 192-year-old technology that creates mechanical energy from an external heat source, as opposed to the internal fuel combustion that powers most auto­mobile engines. Hydrogen gas in a Stirling engine’s four 95 cc cylinders expands and contracts as it is heated and cooled, driving pistons to turn a small electric generator. The configuration of the dish and engine represent the fruit of more than a decade of steady improvements, developed in collaboration with Arizona-based Stirling Energy Systems.

Read More

Green Party Bids For The White House       

Weekend Edition Saturday (NPR), October 25, 2008

Presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney says the Green Party is often "put into a box." The Green Party is not just committed to a healthy environment, she says, but bases its policy on four pillars: ecological wisdom, peace, social justice and grass roots democracy.

To that end, the former U.S. representative from Georgia says, the Green Party has not supported the war and consistently supports anti-war candidates. McKinney also points to the 2004 elections, where the Green and Libertarian parties actively investigated voter complaints in Ohio.

To address the current economic crisis, McKinney offers a 14-point plan regarding the bailout. Among other things, the plan appoints former Comptroller General David Walker as auditor, overseeing the use of bailout funds.
Read More

Bailout Bill a Sweet Deal for Rum Maker

by Marcus Stern, ProPublica - October 27, 2008 10:04 am EDT
Tags: Virgin Islands, Wall Street Bailout
This story was printed in Politico on Oct. 26, 2008

As Congress debated the historic financial rescue package on Oct. 3, the world economy was hanging in the balance. The House already had rejected Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s emergency $700 billion banking bailout plan. The Senate, hoping to get the House to relent, added $110 billion in “sweeteners” and sent the bill back.

One of those sweeteners jumped out at Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio). It would permit Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to pocket $192 million in federal excise taxes collected from rum-makers in those territories.

“Madam speaker, the Senate's response to the House rejection of the Paulson plan was to add more spending. So we got tax breaks for rum,” Kaptur said from the well of the House. “You've got it right. R-U-M.”

Read More

Contact Us
Shop Putnam!
Highlands Open Space Guide
House Painting!
Rss Feed