Monday, November 10, 2008

News That Matters - November 10, 2008

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

PlanPutnam's Annual Fund Drive: Day 4

Good Monday Morning!

There was a beautiful sunrise this morning. Air quality is supposed to be almost excellent, the sun will shine and this mid-fall day will be quite nice. If you can get outside at any time today, do so.

Those of you who missed the Bob Hauver/Mike Latini ACT III show at the Arts Center on Saturday night are, well, let's just say you missed another great show.

Last week I received several reports of problems with new voting machines New York will introduce next year and they were all remarkably similar;

One reader who was working at the Southeast Town Hall reported that the machine wouldn't accept the paper ballot for scanning. A repairman was called and he declared it repaired a few minutes later. Another reader at the Rec Center in Patterson reports that the new machine experienced three failures and two successes. Again, the problem seems to have been a paper jam. At Sacred Heart Church in Patterson, the manual machine broke and voters were moved to paper ballots while it was being repaired. The electronic machine there also had paper jamming problems.

In the meantime, over in Camarda, er, Carmel, we get this:

"S___ and I went to vote in the evening.  We signed it and proceeded to wait on a line.  We were informed that if we wanted to vote for Obama on Democratic line, it was broken. S__ immediately took out her cell - but forgot the number to txt cnn..... the folk at the booths  immediately told us that "no, if you want to vote for Obama, you can do it on the Working Families line"..... while S____ was in the booth voting, some guy came and said he was there to fix it.  As I didn't quite trust any of this, I had S__ come into the booth with me (in case there was anything odd to hear) while I voted. (He had done something  no clue what in between our votes)."

If you had a similar experience anywhere in the county, please let us know.

WCBS is reporting that a highly contagious stomach flu is circulating through New York City. From their report:
The Health Department has issued a statement reporting that visits to the city's hospital emergency rooms have increased by 19 percent over the past two weeks, to about 400 a day, of people suffering from vomiting and diarrhea.

The stomach flu is caused by a norovirus infection that is prevalent in late fall and winter. Health officials say the good news is that norovirus infections are usually not serious and most people recover within a few days.

A medical epidemiologist at the Health Department, Dr. Sharon Balter, advises thorough hand-washing with soap and warm water, before eating food and after using the bathroom, to avoid being infected with the stomach flu.
If you work in the City, don't. Call in "Healthy" and work from home for the week.

Property taxes are going down in Southeast by 1.4%. In order to make it happen, silliness was increased by 4.6%.

I received Riverkeeper's electronic newsletter on Friday evening and noticed a pitch they're running now to "bottle your own" water, a salute to the high quality of our regional drinking water supplies. 

To facilitate this they've got a stainless steel portable carry-bottle that looks pretty neat and the price is right - $20. That fits right in with our $20 - Nothing From China holiday shopping program. But then I followed a link to the manufacturer of the bottles and guess what... they're made in China.It's not just the China thing, it's the amount of fossil fuels used in shipping these things half-way around the globe. Surely, not an environmentally sound choice. There must be a US manufacturer who could have made these bottles and saved the fossil fuels necessary to ship them half-way around the world. Oh well, maybe next year.

The 2008 Hunting season is just around the corner or has already started here in NY (bow hunters are already out there) with the bulk coming from November 15th until December 7th, and reports have started to come in of accidents around the country. Seems that this year hunters are shooting themselves - and others - accidentally, of course in large numbers. If you live in a wooded area or near where hunters are frequently found, be on the lookout! Make sure those *NO HUNTING* signs are posted along the back border of your property. Stay out of DEP, DEC and County lands for the time and stick to the State Parks where it's safe(r).

And now, the News:

  1. Clean water advocates could hit mother lode with mine ruling
  2. Bottled water contains disinfection byproducts, fertilizer residue, and pain medication
  3. Editorial: Pursue study on Ten Mile floods
  4. Top Pesticide Foods to Avoid
  5. Local open space funding measures passed in the Highlands
  6. Upper Saucon OKs open space question by 6 votes
  7. Florence voters OK open-space tax
  8. MN Voters Approve $5.5 Billion to Protect Land and Water
  9. Map clue leads to concealed house

Clean water advocates could hit mother lode with mine ruling

Ninth Circuit Court denies permit for copper mine on Arizona stream because there was no cleanup schedule for the impaired waterway

By Karl Blankenship
It would seem that there is little to link the Chesapeake Bay and Pinto Creek, two waterbodies that are separated by almost an entire continent. One is the nation's largest estuary, the other an intermittent desert stream in Arizona's copper mining region.

The regions around the Bay hold some of the fastest growing counties of the nation; Pinto Creek's watershed includes aging mining towns with names like Globe and Miami, which have been losing population for years.

Yet the fate of Pinto Creek and the Chesapeake Bay could be intertwined.

That's because the outcome of a decade-long battle over a proposed new mining discharge into Pinto Creek could strengthen efforts to clean up the Bay and other "impaired" waterbodies.

Last fall, a federal court ruled that the EPA could not issue a permit for a new discharge into Pinto Creek because it would "cause or contribute" to a violation of water quality standards. No permit could be issued, the court said, unless there was a plan showing how and when that waterbody would be cleaned up.

Simply put: no cleanup schedule, no permits.

Read More

Bottled water contains disinfection byproducts, fertilizer residue, and pain medication

October 2008

Authors: Olga Naidenko, PhD, Senior Scientist; Nneka Leiba, MPH, Researcher; Renee Sharp, MS, Senior Scientist; Jane Houlihan, MSCE, Vice President for Research

The bottled water industry promotes an image of purity, but comprehensive testing by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reveals a surprising array of chemical contaminants in every bottled water brand analyzed, including toxic byproducts of chlorination in Walmart’s Sam’s Choice and Giant Supermarket's Acadia brands, at levels no different than routinely found in tap water. Several Sam's Choice samples purchased in California exceeded legal limits for bottled water contaminants in that state. Cancer-causing contaminants in bottled water purchased in 5 states (North Carolina, California, Virginia, Delaware and Maryland) and the District of Columbia substantially exceeded the voluntary standards established by the bottled water industry.

Unlike tap water, where consumers are provided with test results every year, the bottled water industry does not disclose the results of any contaminant testing that it conducts. Instead, the industry hides behind the claim that bottled water is held to the same safety standards as tap water. But with promotional campaigns saturated with images of mountain springs, and prices 1,900 times the price of tap water, consumers are clearly led to believe that they are buying a product that has been purified to a level beyond the water that comes out of the garden hose.

Read More

Editorial: Pursue study on Ten Mile floods

A proposed study of the Ten Mile River watershed, estimated to cost $2.5 million, is a necessary preventive measure to future flooding disasters in the eastern part of Dutchess County and part of Litchfield County, Conn. This is a good example of how smart spending up front could fend off bigger headaches and costs later on.

After two major floods in 2005 and 2007, the Army Corps of Engineers recently issued a $100,000 reconnaissance report that says alternatives for flood damage risk reduction and ecosystem restoration can be identified in such a study. Essentially, the corps will address how the river has changed over the years and what steps can be taken to keep the river from flooding.

Considering that the Town of Dover alone suffered $4 million in damage during the storms, this is the next logical step.

The initial report looked at whether there was ecological and environmental justification for federal involvement. Since that is the case, Congress will be asked by U.S. Rep John Hall, D-Dover, for funding in January when the appropriations process begins again with the new administration.

Read More

Top Pesticide Foods to Avoid

Concerned about pesticides? Thinking about going organic? If you are not ready for a 100% organic diet, then at least consider avoiding the most pesticide-laden foods from your diet. The Environmental Working Group has published a ‘dirty dozen’ list of the fruits and vegetables that you may want to consider avoiding.

We have included a partial list of some of our favourite fruits and vegetables below that taste much better without the toxic chemicals. And no, washing fruits and vegetables will not eliminate pesticides. The Food News reports that washing and peeling will cut down on pesticide exposures but it will not totally remove them. Best to simply avoid eating the top offenders.

Read More

Local open space funding measures passed in the Highlands

November 6th, 2008 Posted in New Jersey, Pennsylvania

The 11/4 election saw the passage of several open space funding measures in the Highlands of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A summary is below. Throughout the country, 88 measures passed, for a total of $8,410,616,140 in conservation funding! For more information, go to TPL’s LandVote database at:

1) Adams County approved a $10,000,000 Bond for the preservation of farmland, open space, habitat, and watersheds. It passed by 75% approval.
2) Upper Saucon Township approved a $24,000,000, 0.25 percent earned income tax increase for open space and recreational lands. It passed by 50% approval.

1) Hunterdon County approved a $152,000,000, 3 cents per $100 property tax extension for the preservation of open space, parks, and farmland. It passed by 76% approval.
2) Oakland Borough approved a $1,270,000 property tax, 5-year, extension of 1 cent per $100 open space tax. It passed by 70% approval.

Read More

Upper Saucon OKs open space question by 6 votes

6,886 ballots were cast; official results are due Friday.
By Kevin Duffy | Of The Morning Call
November 6, 2008

Upper Saucon Township voters on Tuesday supported a tax increase to preserve open space -- by the narrowest of margins.

According to unofficial numbers posted Wednesday by the Lehigh County Elections Office on its Web site, the referendum to boost the earned income tax rate by 0.25 percent to make land purchases and curtail development passed by just six votes. That was out of 6,886 ballots cast.

Results won't be finalized until Friday, Supervisor of Elections Stacy Sterner said.

''It's still unofficial, but I feel really joyous right now,'' said Upper Saucon Supervisor Chairman Miro Gutzmirtl.

Read More

Florence voters OK open-space tax

Burlington County Times

FLORENCE — Township voters approved a public question in Tuesday's election asking whether they favored establishing a property tax to preserve open space and farmland.

The issue passed by a vote of 2,252 to 1,774.

As a result, property owners will be taxed at a rate of 1 cent per $100 of assessed property value annually for the next 20 years. The owner of a home assessed at the township average of $117,248 will pay $11.72 a year.

Florence becomes the 18th municipality in Burlington County to have an open-space tax. Burlington County also has an open-space tax.

Township Administrator Richard Brook said the tax will generate an estimated $60,000 a year that will be put in a dedicated trust fund.

Read More

MN Voters Approve $5.5 Billion to Protect Land and Water

Contacts: Susan Schmidt, 651-999-5317, Cordelia Pierson, cell 651-815-1268,

Saint Paul, MN, 11/5/2008: Yesterday, Minnesota voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, the largest conservation ballot measure in history, according to The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization. At more than $5.5 billon dollars for land and water conservation, the winning measure nearly doubles the previous largest conservation ballot measure, New Jersey's Constitutional Amendment in 1998, which dedicated $2.94 billion in sales tax to the Garden State Preservation Trust.

The historic success of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment will increase investment in clean water, natural areas, cultural legacy, and parks and trails by about $290 million a year for 25 years. An estimated $220 million a year will protect and restore natural areas, parks, and lands vital for water quality.

"Minnesota voters are willing to pay to protect our waters and natural lands for our children and grandchildren," said Susan Schmidt, director of The Trust for Public Land's Minnesota Office. "They know that these lakes and natural lands play an important role in preserving our quality of life. With our natural lands diminishing, we could not afford to wait to protect the water quality of our rivers, lakes, and streams, or to conserve natural areas, parks, and habitat for fish and wildlife."

Read More

Map clue leads to concealed house

Planning officers were sent an anonymous tip-off

An illegally-built house which was hidden inside a barn to avoid planning rules has been demolished.

Officials found an occupied two-storey stone house with a lounge, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom behind a facade of corrugated iron and wood.

They were tipped off when they were anonymously sent a map which showed the area near Whatstandwell in Derbyshire arrowed and marked "House in Barn!"

The owner had been served with a notice to remove the building by Monday.

Read More
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