Monday, October 6, 2008

News That Matters - October 6, 2008

News That Matters
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"I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
- Robert McCloskey (US State Department)

Good Monday Morning,

The National Weather Service has posted a frost warning for tonight into tomorrow morning. It's about time, too, since we've had three frosts already this fall and they've missed out on those. Still, if you've sensitive plants outside it's time to bring them in. Any stragglers in the tomato patch? Harvest or get them covered.

It's time again to welcome new readers to News That Matters. I hope you'll enjoy what's here as many hundreds of people do each and every day. You can find News That Matters here, here, here and here or subscribe via email by signing up over there --->

It really is fall out there. The red maples are well on their way to their winter bareness and the hills and valleys are coloring up - and it's getting better each day. If you were in the woods this weekend you noticed that definitive smell that tells you that winter is soon approaching. If you look at the night sky you've noticed the winter constellations, Orion, Taurus, Canis Major and Minor and the rest are working their way up higher and higher each evening.

Following the night sky there's Taurus the Bull charging the brave hunter Orion whose shield is up and sword is in hand to defend himself from the coming onslaught of trillions of tons of that red eyed (Antares) beast and at his feet are his two faithful hunting dogs. Yet right behind him is Scorpio the scorpion with his stinging tail ready for the strike... It's a dramatic scene played out each winter for those of us looking up.

Arts on the Lake's latest event, their Fall Art Show, opened yesterday at the Cultural Center on Lake Carmel. When I got there at around 2:30PM the parking lot was full, all the parking spaces in front of the building were taken and people had parked at the beach lot and walked over.

The show is open Saturday, October 11 – 1-5 pm. Sunday, October 12 – 1-5 pm. Monday, October 13 – 1-5 pm. Wednesday, October 15, 7-9 pm. And closes on Saturday, October 18 when the gallery will be open from 1-5 pm. You can see some images of the show, courtesy of Chris Casaburi, here.

This, from the Clearwater:

Enjoy the Fall Foliage from the decks of Clearwater this Columbus Day!

Join us on Monday, October 13th for our only public transit sail of the season. Sail with us for a full day from Beacon as we take in the tranquil beauty of the Hudson Highlands, enjoy a delicious seasonal lunch and return to Poughkeepsie at dusk. Relax on deck while listening to the music of Matt Turk and observing (and participating in) the running of a traditional sailing vessel.

The cost of this special sail is $85 for adults ($75 for members) and $30 for children aged 12 and under. This price includes morning and afternoon snacks and a full lunch. Contact Catherine Stankowski for more information and to make reservations: 845-454-7673 ext 107, or

Thanks to MannaJo Greene, here's some events coming up this week that should be of interest:

Tues., Oct. 7, 6:00-8:00PM: FREE HOME ENERGY SEMINARS - HV Federal Credit Union, Central Hudson and Mid-Hudson Energy $mart Communities provide information on saving energy, advice on appliances, learn financing options.  Second in a series of four: Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel, Terrace Room, 40 Civic Center Plaza, Poughkeepsie.  Call (845)331-2238,

Tues., Oct. 7, from 6:30-8:30 pm.   Three NYSERDA Empower Workshops: Save Energy, Save Dollars" provide low-cost and no-cost ways to save energy and reduce energy bills and link consumers with energy-efficiency improvements, subsidies, low-interest loans, or free services to qualifying households.  Participants receive free energy kit with outlet/light switch gaskets, outlet caps, rope caulk, tube of caulk, shrink fit window insulation kit and a refrigerator thermometer. At the Beekman Library, 11 Town Center Boulevard, Hopewell Junction. Also, at The Family Partnership Center, 29 No. Hamilton Street, Poughkeepsie on Thurs., Oct. 9 from 6:30-8:30 pm and at Family Partnership on Fri., Oct. 10 from 10:00 am - 12 Noon.  Please call 845-677-8223, ext.133 to register.

It is election season as roadsides throughout the region are once again home to a visual pollution only dreamed of by Madison Avenue advertising executives. Luckily my town (Kent) has pretty specific rules about the blight and regulates it to 30 days before and 7 days after the election. Other towns should do the same.

I have noticed that Bill Gouldman, a candidate for State Assembly who is running against Sandy Galef, has taken to polluting the section of Route 301 that passes through Fahnestock State Park with his campaign signs. Bill, take them down! Leave something, especially something as sacrosanct as that beautiful drive, free of the blight. Let me know when they're gone and we'll say something nice about you in this space.

Congress did exactly what I said they would do last week: they passed the bailout bill.

Nineteenth district Congressional candidate Kieran Lalor went on the attack just after the vote saying that John Hall "foisted" this on the American people and named three other Democrats in the Hudson Valley who also voted YES on the bill. What he forgot to mention was that every Republican in the NY delegation also voted in favor.

Yet, back on September 24th in a NYJN article there's this:

"Hall's Republican opponent, Kieran Michael Lalor, said the bailout was "a necessary evil," though such help shouldn't be guaranteed in the future. Lalor also said it was important to "enhance regulatory clarity."

Mr. Lalor needs to make up his mind. Was he for, or against the bailout?

When I vote, I vote for...
The candidate I think can win
The candidate of my party
The candidate who best supports my views
The candidate who best supports my views even if they may not win
I don't vote free polls

"Some people will ask of this Congress, what were we thinking? Why did we give $700 billion bailout to Wall Street without fixing what caused the problem in the first place? Why did we rig the free markets for security fraudsters? Why didn't we explore alternatives to let Wall Street solve its own problems? Why didn't we have the money to save millions of homeowners, create millions of jobs, and a green economy? Why didn't we stop the speculators? Why wasn't there accountability? Why didn't we take time to make an intelligent decision? " - Congressman Denis Kucinich

The Senate, that august, elite body of hard thinking men and women, resorted to a little horse trading to get the votes they needed for passage. Not satisfied just to tell you they care, they dredged up old bills (read: pork) to sweeten the deal including one (I am not making this up) that modifies the excise tax on certain wooden arrows designed for use by children. These bills added another $100,000,000,000 to the deal.

  • $8 billion in tax breaks for victims of natural disasters;
  • $5 billion for college tuition deductions;
  • $400 million to help teachers buy their own school supplies;
  • $3 billion in deductions for residents who pay state and local taxes in states that don't have an income tax.
On the other hand, they've stuck in these goodies:
  • Homeowners can now claim a 30% tax credit for putting solar panels on their roofs without any limit; (assuming you have the up-front cost on hand.)
  • The same 30% credit applies to wind turbines and geothermal heat pumps;
  • A one-year extension of breaks for energy efficient home improvements;
  • Plus, the first 250,000 buyers of plug-in electric vehicles are eligible for a $7,500 tax credit.

So, dig into your pockets for each of you, every man, woman and child in the US, has just given $18,000 to a bond trader from Darien, CT and a kid in Wisconsin. You can thank Congress for your generosity.

To you Democrats out there who were mortally crushed by the tidal wave of euphoric support Sarah Palin received when she was announced as the Republican VP candidate, you can relax now. It seems that every time she opens her mouth a few more voters float into the Obama camp and as of this morning the O's are at 49.3% vs McCain's 43.4% - a complete reversal from just three weeks ago.

"This is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country," - Sarah Palin on Barack Obama.

You can rejoice if you want to but Mr. O still hasn't uttered a single word about providing health care to the 50 million Americans who don't have it nor are his economic plans substantially different from those of Mr. McCain's and I certainly don't see any significant "change" coming up. He voted for the bailout, after all...

Me, I'm still waiting for a national Democrat to utter a single progressive thought in public, which is a requirement for my vote, and as of now it's still going to Green party candidate Cynthia McKinney and I encourage you to cast your vote her way as well... at least for now.

I know, I know... thou of weaker constitutions are grating at the suggestion and feel that voting for Ms. McKinney, a candidate whose views I largely support, is not a vote *FOR* Ms. McKinney but a vote FOR John McCain.
You are supposed to vote for the candidate who best supports your views and that's what I do. I know too many people who will vote for Mr. O even though they're totally dissatisfied with his platform and positions. Why would you do that?

Today's poll asks that very question: "When I vote, I vote for..." Take the poll in this email or at whatever website you're reading News That Matters. After you vote there's a place for your comments so if you're one of those apologists there's the place you can leave your reasoning.

Lastly for this morning, if you have not yet registered to vote or know someone who is not registered, get them to the Board of Elections before Friday this week! That's the deadline for this election cycle. Remember, if you don't vote, you can't bitch.

And now, The News:

  1. Carmel officials say cell phone bills are private; FOI experts disagree
  2. Anti-Ball groups file only July financial report
  3. Carmel man seeks $6 million over arrest
  4. The Golden Parachute Survives (What, you thought differently?)
  5. Volunteers drag trash, treasures from river
  6. UK Outlines Aggressive Plan to Cut Water Use 20% by 2030
  7. Original Carvel Ice Cream Store Closes

Carmel officials say cell phone bills are private; FOI experts disagree

Barbara Livingston Nackman
The Journal News

CARMEL - Officials are refusing to disclose details of taxpayer-funded cell phone bills for elected officials, saying that would invade people's privacy and put town operations at risk.

The town pays for nearly a dozen cell phones for officials at a total cost that has ranged from $600 to $2,470 a month - raising concerns about the costs and how the phones are being used.

The Journal News received summary sheets of the charges for the phones. The town would not provide itemized records that might have explained variations in monthly costs and usage or confirmed officials' contention that the phones are used only for town business.

"The information sought," Supervisor Kenneth Schmitt wrote in a five-page Sept. 23 letter, "would result in the unwarranted invasion of privacy of many of the individuals who were called by, or made calls to, the Board Members and Supervisor."

Read More

Anti-Ball groups file only July financial report

Michael Risinit
The Journal News

Two political committees aimed at getting rid of state Assemblyman Greg Ball, and initially funded by real estate heir Adam Rose, have filed only a July expenditure report with the state.

Ball maintains the groups - Recall Ball and Truth About Ball - spent more than $100,000 on mailers and on newspaper, radio and television advertisements in the weeks before the Republican primary. As such, he said, they should have filed three additional reports and by not doing so are violating state election law.

The state Board of Elections last week supported Ball's claim but said it was limited in monitoring the 9,000 registered committees. A board spokesman said only candidate committees were policed during election season because the presence of a candidate generates warnings when reports aren't filed.

Read More

Carmel man seeks $6 million over arrest

Susan Elan
The Journal News

Carmel contractor Frank Ciano has filed a multimillion-dollar federal lawsuit against Putnam County, its Republican elections commissioner, Anthony Scannapieco, the Carmel police and others over a June 2007 incident in which he claims he was falsely arrested in the theft of a cell phone from Scannapieco's daughter and for slapping her.

Ciano, 37, claims in his $6 million suit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in White Plains that his arrest was orchestrated by a vengeful Scannapieco who did not like the older man's relationship with his 21-year old daughter, Noelle Scannapieco.

Ciano said police went along with the arrest and his imprisonment because of Scannapieco's political influence. In addition to his $43,686-a-year part-time job with the Board of Elections, Scannapieco is head of both the county and Carmel Republican committees. Ciano blames county officials for not reining in Scannapieco earlier, even though they knew of his "propensity for violence."

Read More

The Golden Parachute Survives

Friday 03 October 2008
by: Mike Lillis, The Washington Independent

The creators of the financial mess may go unpunished.

    For supporters of the Bush administration's $700-billion Wall Street bailout, it stands as a key selling point: a provision that limits pay packages for the heads of companies helped by the taxpayer-funded rescue program.

    There's just one problem: It would do little to cap executive pay or rein in the enormous retirement packages - the golden parachutes - that have come to symbolize corporate excess.

    Not only is the compensation provision vague, it is punched full of loopholes and leaves many issues of executive pay for the White House to decide later. Legal and political experts say the bill will do almost nothing to limit CEO compensation - even for companies that benefit handsomely from the taxpayers' generosity.

    It wasn't supposed to be this way.

Read More

Volunteers drag trash, treasures from river

By SLOAN BREWSTER , Herald Press staff

SIMSBURY - A message in a bottle, a recliner and a bowling ball were among the estimated hundreds of truck loads full of trash pulled from the Farmington River Saturday.

In Simsbury volunteers from the Farmington River Watershed's 21st Clean-up celebrated a successful morning of hard labor over pizza at the watershed's headquarters on Hop Meadow Road.

The cleanup included the towns of Bristol, Burlington, Avon, Simsbury, Granby and Collinsville with about 206 volunteers taking part.

The find for the day in the waterway was a message in a bottle. The old Coca-Cola bottle with the note in it was in a mound of trash volunteers named Mount Trashmore.

"Amongst the bottles and cans there was just this sealed bottled with a message in it," said Scott Staszak, of Collinsville.

The short note was written in blue ink on a sheet of white paper.

"I am hoping that a lot of messages get in here and it goes for a long way," wrote Katie, who said she had spent the day at the Riverton Fair.

With that information volunteers surmised the girl had tossed the message into the water last year. But while the group was amused by the message they had serious thoughts on it as well.

"Our official stance on messages in bottles is thumbs down," said Matthew Reichin, Vice President of the board of Directors of the Farmington Watershed.

Read More

UK Outlines Aggressive Plan to Cut Water Use 20% by 2030

Written by Timothy B. Hurst
Published on October 6th, 2008Posted in Europe, Great Britain

Metering, tariffs, efficiency, and technology at center of new plan
Environment Minsters in the United Kingdom want households to cut their water consumption 20 percent by 2030. The announcement comes as the UK Environment Agency prepares to release its study on water resource management, which looks at how the industry should coordinate resources in the face of climate change, rising energy prices, and growing demand.

Hilary Benn, the environment secretary, aims to cut use by 30 liters (8 gal.) a day per person by 2030, according to a report in The Times. Benn says the current daily consumption of 150 liters (40 gal.) is unsustainable and needs to be slashed. As a point of comparison, the USGS estimates that average daily water consumption in the U.S. is somewhere between 80-100 gallons per capita.

Read More

Original Carvel Ice Cream Store Closes

NEW YORK (AP)  -- The original Carvel shop served its last cones Sunday, more than seven decades after becoming the suburban New York birthplace of an ice cream empire.

Customers flocked to the 1950s-style store in Hartsdale, about 25 miles north of Manhattan, snapping photos and lamenting the shutdown, owner Abdol Faghihi said. Even as the doors were closing around 10:30 p.m., a last-minute customer rushed in for two cones, he said.

The shop, which the owner said had struggled with rising taxes and other expenses, was shuttered to make way for a new restaurant.

``I'm sad that it ends, but at the same time I'm happy that it was a good thing I did in life,'' said Faghihi, a high school government and economics teacher who bought the franchise more than 20 years ago. ``For everyone who comes in, it was special.''

Read More

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