Wednesday, November 19, 2008

News That Matters - November 19, 2008

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

"All the President is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway."
- Harry S Truman

PlanPutnam's Annual Fund Drive: Day 11  <- Click Here

Good Wednesday Morning,

At the top of this morning's column there's (drumroll, please....) Patterson!

Oy vey is mir! Oy gevalt, Patterson! What a mess is over there.

If you thought the SOS pranksters in Southeast or the renaming of Carmel to Camarda or the closed door/open door executive/non-executive meetings in Putnam Valley or the FOX takeover of the Putnam County News and Recorder were something, what's going on in Patterson simply takes the cake.

What with budget cuts and new union contracts and some financial hanky-panky among elected officials who give themselves $6000 a year if they don't take the town's health insurance (even if they have one elsewhere!), if it were a book it would be a real page-turner.

But it's not a book, it's municipal government, and those responsible for this charade - and you three know who you are - should me mightily ashamed.

The final budget meeting is tonight at the Rec Center at 7:30 PM. Last week more than 300 people came out and you should expect about the same turnout tonight. Those 300 people work out to represent about 20% of the people who voted for Town Council last time around so keep the pressure on.

After last week's meeting, Patterson's watershed inspector Ted Kozlowski, sent a letter of thanks around. It reads, in part; "In all my 28 years of public service I have never been so honored as I was last night. I am proud to be here and I will always do my best to protect our Town’s natural resources. I thank you all for coming out and supporting Rich Williams and myself. We are very grateful to know that we earned your trust." If you're on Ted's side, he's going to need you again tonight.

Over in Kent, a town whose governmental affairs have become boringly mundane, the CAC and Stormwater committees meet at 7:30 this evening. There are no scandals, no yelling and screaming, no backroom deals. Both meetings are open to the public and promise to be calm, collected and decidedly non-controversial.

PlanPutnam's Annual Fund Drive: Day 11  <- Click Here

Just this past week Rush Limbaugh blamed America's economic woes directly on Barack Obama, he called it "Obama's Recession". Am I the only one who thinks NY should reinstate the death penalty but only for the crime of Extreme Stupidity in the First Degree? How about permanent exile to Utah instead?

It looks like Alaska voters have done what the polls said they would do: they've ousted Senator Ted Stevens and are sending Democrat Mark Begich to Washington, D.C. in January. We're still waiting for the recount of votes in Minnesota where the divide between Norm Coleman and Al Franken rests this morning at a mere 215 votes - out of 2,900.000 cast. Never tell me your vote does not count!

Coming this Saturday at Arts on the Lake is a Blue Horse Repertory reading of a new play, The Foot Shooters, by Paul Coleman.

In The Foot Shooters, a group of bright misfits band together to try to help one another finally become successful and happy. But a series of mishaps, miscues, and misapprehensions turns their aspirations into riotous desperation. The Foot Shooters is a poignant comedy and a calamitous love story involving a manic Broadway producer, two bakers, and oddball court reporter, a lovable but befuddled composer and...a ghost? Written by Paul Coleman, this play will warm you and tickle you, and reveals that what matters most in life can't be measured by anything other than love.

The show begins at 8 and there's a $10 donation, $9 for AotL members.

And now, the News:

  1. Haldane voters approve school repairs bond
  2. 420 acres protected in Rockland
  3. Application for 999,999 gallons of water; DEC talks tougher regulations
  4. Group asks for long-term open space funds
  5. WFP wants a millionaire’s tax
  6. Musical Numbers: Bonds
  7. The sad, sad state of college English
  8. Gulf War Syndrome is real, science panel concludes
  9. Hiroshima: The Lost Photographs

Haldane voters approve school repairs bond

Barbara Livingston Nackman
The Journal News

COLD SPRING - Voters in the Haldane school district yesterday overwhelmingly approved a referendum to authorize spending up to $2.3 million to replace the main building's roof and make related repairs, officials said.

The vote was 482 to 230.

Spending for the project comes at a time of national economic woes, which was one reason officials said they were concerned jittery voters might reject the referendum and seek to postpone the repairs. But the measure passed on a 2-to-1 margin.

"The public has spoken," Superintendent Mark Villanti said. "It's better off for the health and safety of the children to do this now."

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420 acres protected in Rockland

Friday, November 14, 2008
Last updated: Friday November 14, 2008, EST 6:52 AM

The town of Ramapo is finalizing the purchase of 420 acres of woodlands for $5.25 million as part of a push to protect the Ramapo River watershed, a key source of drinking water for North Jersey and Rockland County, N.Y.

The New York town has spent more than $35 million in the past few years to purchase open space, including 262 acres on High Mountain near the New Jersey border.

At the same time, the town is spending $125 million to replace up to 4,000 faulty residential septic systems in Hillburn and Sloatsburg with a sewer system and a $45 million wastewater treatment facility that will produce effluent clean enough to meet drinking water standards.

The 420 acres, which abut the southern edge of Harriman State Park and provide habitat for timber rattlesnakes, had in recent years been the location for a proposed power plant and stone quarry. To prevent such use, Ramapo rezoned the land in 2004 from industrial to residential use.

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Application for 999,999 gallons of water; DEC talks tougher regulations


NARROWSBURG, NY — Officials from two agencies with gas drilling regulatory authority shared news and agency perspectives with members of the Upper Delaware Council at their monthly meeting on November 6.

“We now have our first application and it’s from Chesapeake and it’s for water withdrawal,” said Carol Collier, executive director of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). “They are looking at the East Branch [of the Delaware River] and looking at a maximum of 999,999 gallons of water a day. We’ll be working with New York State on that,” said Collier.

Water issues related to natural gas extraction continued to be discussed by William Janeway, Region 3 regional director for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), who cited four “commitments” that the agency has made in relation to drilling.

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Group asks for long-term open space funds

Reps of the Keep it Green coalition yesterday called on Gov. Corzine to permanently fund open space preservation, saying it was their No. 1 goal this fall.

They asked the governor to add a water use surcharge or some other tax to pay for open space acquisitions for good. (Gas tax, anyone?)

The group says investing in open space would grow the economy by generating jobs, stabilizing real estate markets and creating opportunities for recreation and tourism.

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WFP wants a millionaire’s tax

November 12, 2008 at 12:27 pm by Irene Jay Liu

The Working Families Party, which helped deliver the Senate to the Democrats last week, is calling on Gov. David Paterson to raise taxes on the wealthy as part of the “real shared sacrifice” that goes along with cuts.

“With New York facing a $2 billion deficit this year and another $12 billion next year, everyone - including New York’s wealthiest - will have to do their part to get our state through this crisis,” said WFP Executive Director Dan Cantor:

“The Governor’s plan asks school children, local property tax payers, students at SUNY and CUNY, the elderly and New Yorkers with disabilities to sacrifice.  The only people exempt from the pain are wealthy New Yorkers and the Wall Street barons who got us into this in the first place. That’s wrong,” he said.

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Musical Numbers: Bonds

Posted at Slate Tuesday, November 18, 2008 - 12:42pm

If this year’s credit crisis taught us anything, it’s that we all need to brush up on our economic vocabulary. But we’re not here to try to explain how terms like credit-default swaps, collateralized debt obligations, and mortgage-backed securities made it into the news for the thousandth time. Instead, we’re starting with the basics; and we’re doing it with the help of a little music. The Big Money presents a Schoolhouse Rock-style video on bonds and what, exactly, they do. Click “Play” below to see them all grow to maturity.


The sad, sad state of college English

By Michael Olesker
Examiner Columnist | 11/14/08 9:59 PM Some people collect sports memorabilia, or rare coins, or sea shells from the beach at Ocean City. Wilson Watson collects sentences.

He taught local community college students for 35 years and has now slipped gently into retirement. But his students’ sentences trail behind him like ship’s anchors, evidence of the sinking of American writing skills.

Or, as one of Watson’s scholars wrote so succinctly: “Some people use bad language and is not even aware of the fact.”

Or, another: “It’s good I’m doing something with my self; Therefore, I can do better in the foochure.”

Or, “People who murder a lot of people are called masked murderers.”

Some of this feels like masked murder of the English language — such as the student who explained in a note, “I was absent on Monday because I was stopped on the Beltway for erotic driving.”

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Gulf War Syndrome is real, science panel concludes

By Mary Engel and Thomas H. Maugh II
Los Angeles Times
Article Launched: 11/17/2008 09:28:34 PM PST

A congressionally mandated scientific panel has concluded that Gulf War syndrome is real and afflicts nearly one-quarter of the 700,000 U.S. troops who served in the 1991 conflict, according to a report released Monday.

The report broke with most earlier studies by concluding that two chemical exposures were direct causes of the disorder: the drug pyridostigmine bromide, given to troops to protect against nerve gas, and pesticides that were used — and often overused — to protect against sand flies and other pests.

"The extensive body of scientific research now available consistently indicates that Gulf War illness is real, that it is a result of neurotoxic exposures during Gulf War deployment, and that few veterans have recovered or substantially improved with time," according to the 450-page report presented to U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake.

The report bolstered the hopes of thousands of U.S. and allied veterans who have struggled to have their varied neurological symptoms, including memory loss, concentration problems, rashes and widespread pain, recognized by the government.

"I've had vets go to "... (Veterans Affairs) and be turned away and told that this is something that doesn't exist," said John Schwertfager, vice president of the National Gulf War Resource Center, a veterans advocacy group.

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Hiroshima: The Lost Photographs

One rainy night eight years ago, in Watertown, Massachusetts, a man was taking his dog for a walk. On the curb, in front of a neighbor’s house, he spotted a pile of trash: old mattresses, cardboard boxes, a few broken lamps. Amidst the garbage he caught sight of a battered suitcase. He bent down, turned the case on its side and popped the clasps. 

He was surprised to discover that the suitcase was full of black-and-white photographs. He was even more astonished by their subject matter: devastated buildings, twisted girders, broken bridges — snapshots from an annihilated city. He quickly closed the case and made his way back home.

At the kitchen table, he looked through the photographs again and confirmed what he had suspected. He was looking at something he had never seen before: the effects of the first use of the Atomic bomb. The man was looking at Hiroshima.

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