Wednesday, November 5, 2008

News That Matters - November 5, 2008

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

"The new sheriff's a what?" - Mel Brooks, Blazing Saddles

PlanPutnam's Annual Fund Raiser: Day One.

Good Wednesday Morning,

Voters Celebrate Greg Ball's Re-Election

We've woken to a new age in these here United States. More than 240,000 people gathered at Grant Park in Chicago last night to witness American history as Barack Obama was elected as the 44th President. A friend in Denver said loud celebrations lasted late into the night and thousands more gathered before the White House chanting, "Obama!" The global press is enchanted by the election, seeing this nation finally rising above its racist past.

But now, the parties are over, the balloons have dropped, backs slapped and tears wiped dry.

Congratulations to all who ran and to those who won. Democrats now control pretty much everything in Washington, D.C. and both state houses here in New York, the first time since the 1930's. You better do something good with it!

This is a crazy nation. While several states passed important environmental, open space and mass transit bills, and while several others passed interesting changes to voting rules (see CT) medical marijuana and right-to-die questions all passed, California seems to have passed its Proposition 8 which would ban same-sex marriage via that state's Constitution. The Senate race in Minnesota between Al Franken and Norm Coleman is definitely going to a recount. As the race stands as of this writing there are a mere 792 votes separating them out of 2.4 million votes cast. Don't tell me your vote doesn't count! Here in New England the entire congressional delegation, from the Hudson Valley to tater country in Maine, are now all Democrats.

This is a crazy county. While the nation largely voted for "change" Putnam County managed to keep the status quo on a steady course. Incumbents were re-elected and Republicans sent on to Town Boards and the County Legislature. And dead people know they'll be in good hands with wins in the county coroner race. Putnam didn't help Barack Obama. Our county, the only county in the Hudson Valley to do so, backed John McCain, 54-45%. Yet with the same percentage, the county voted for Democrat John Hall over Kieran Lalor.

So, how'd I do with my projections? Here's the vote totals guessed at yesterday:

Obama   51%
McCain   46%
John Hall   56%
Kieran Lalor   44%
Sandy Galef   58%
Bill Gouldman   42%
Greg Ball   60%
John Degnan   40%

And here's the numbers as they came out:

Obama   52%
McCain   46%
John Hall   58%
Kieran Lalor   42%
Sandy Galef   67%
Bill Gouldman   31%
Greg Ball   62%
John Degnan   37%

Off on only one race(!), either under-estimating Sandy's popularity or over-estimating Bill Gouldman's. Okay Sandy, now that Dems have control of both houses in Albany, let's get moving on real property tax reform and pass the Cahill bill.

Patterson: Oy Vey is Mir!

The beginning of a letter from Ted Kozlowski is below. It should shine a little light on the situation in Patterson and underscore the importance of attending the Town Board meeting there this evening at 7:30 at the Town Hall. Odds are that more people will try to attend than the room can hold. My guess is that Supervisor Griffin will adjourn the meeting for a week and hold it in a larger venue instead.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Patterson Town Board will be eliminating the Position of Town Planner (Rich Williams) and my position, Environmental Conservation Inspector (ECI), effective, January 1, 2009. In addition, they will release long time Town Engineer, Ron Gainer, and hire a new Town Engineer. The reasons that I am given, though none of the Town Board members has ever discussed this with me, is that we are perceived as a hindrance to development. This action is driven by a majority of three Town Board members; Joe Capasso, Ernie Kasay, and Ginny Nasarino. They are guided by Mike Semo.

As a long time resident (24 years), Patterson Little League coach (9 years) and Town Environmental Conservation Inspector (17 years), I feel the need to clarify some of the misinformation that has been relayed throughout the Town as I personally know many of you and I wish to make sure the truth is told.

Read more of Ted's Letter here.

The Putnam Valley Fall Farmers Market is in full swing every Wednesday at the Grange Hall at Adams Corners (Mill Street and Peekskill Hollow Rd). Starting today the new hours will be 2 P.M. to 6 P.M. each Wednesday until further notice. Richie will be back with Arthur Avenue specialties: Cheese, sausages and breads. Also: Homestead Farm:  Produce and honey, Bill: farm fresh eggs, Irene: cookies, jams and sweets, Toni:  baked goods (Get the whole wheat bread!), Mary Mercedes:  Cascade Winery, a variety of Hudson Valley wines and other products and Eric:  Products from Provence, tapanade, stuffed olives and poppers,spices, yogurts, drinks and more. If you know of a vendor who might like to join our group, please email

Marcellus Shale: The NYS DEC is seeking comments on the draft scoping document for the Supplemental GEIS released for public review on October 6, 2008. The Department is accepting written comments through December 15, 2008. Review topics in the draft scope include the potential impacts of (1) water withdrawals from surface waterbodies and groundwater sources for hydraulic fracturing, (2) transportation of water to the well site, (3) the use of additives in the hydraulic fracturing fluid, (4) space and facilities required at the well site to ensure proper handling of water and additives, and (5) removal of spent fracturing fluid from the well site and its ultimate disposition. Noise, visual and air quality considerations, along with the potential for cumulative and community impacts, will also be reviewed.

There's a benefit show tomorrow tonight (Thursday) at the Town Crier in Pawling to help raise funds for the Kubie family of Patterson who were burned out of their home just a few months ago. More information on this event (it's only $20!) is here. The show will feature Sol Y Canto whose joyful, original Latin roots music is passionate, poetic, playful and honest. The heart and soul of their music is this sextet's trademark vocal harmonies, serving up a delicious and constantly changing musical feast, from beautiful, tender ballads to driving dance tunes with churning Latin rhythms.

The Kent Conservation Advisory Committee (CAC) is accepting applications for appointment to the committee.  The CAC is a volunteer organization that provides recommendations on environmental issues and promotes the enjoyment & protection of local natural areas.  Visit the CAC page on  Interested persons should send a resume to Kent CAC, Kent Town Hall, 25 Sybil’s Crossing, Kent Lakes, NY 10512

Don't forget we've got an active blog running now. Click here to register then comment, pontificate or elucidate. But remember, be nice. It's not a free-for-all...

And now, the News:

  1. Cutbacks Close Winter Campsites
  2. Cleaning Heavily Polluted Water At A Fraction Of The Cost
  3. A Splash of Green for the Rust Belt
  4. World's Most Innovative Nations
  5. F.C.C. to Open Radio Spectrum
  6. Meteor Shower Could Spur Bright Fireballs

Cutbacks Close Winter Campsites

ALBANY, NEW YORK (AP)  -- While visitors will find more state park gates shut this winter as a means to save money, they'll still be able to walk, snowshoe or ski in to most of those 325,000 acres scattered from Long Island to Niagara Falls and up to the Thousand Islands.

In designated parks, they'll still be able to snowmobile, and some tracts will still allow hunters with special permits. Mostly what will be missing are staff, special services and campgrounds. All but two parks will be closed to visitors at night. The cabins and cottages at Allegany and Letchworth state parks in western New York are scheduled to stay open all winter.

``Unless you're told otherwise, parks are available for day use,'' said Eileen Larrabee, parks spokeswoman. ``They're public grounds. But at the same time we have a concern for the safety of patrons, and we also are always concerned about vandalism.''

Officials recently proposed a ``zero-growth'' budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year of $228.8 million for operations, $13.7 million for aid to localities and $52 million for capital projects, agency spokesman Dan Keefe said.

Read More

Cleaning Heavily Polluted Water At A Fraction Of The Cost

ScienceDaily (Nov. 2, 2008) — A European research project has succeeded in developing a water treatment system for industrial oil polluted water at a tenth of the cost of other commercially available tertiary treatments, leaving water so clean it can be pumped safely back out to sea without endangering flora or fauna.

Wastewater from ships, oil refineries and other petrochemical industries is heavily contaminated with toxic compounds. Stringent EU regulations apply to its treatment and discharge since, if left untreated, these compounds are hazardous to our health, our coastlines and deadly to all forms of aquatic life when released into our waterways.

The most complete method of treating petrochemically polluted waste water is through a series of three stages involving physicochemical and biological processes. It is the third and final stage of the treatment that renders the water clean enough to be discharged into the sea. The process is complex, requiring a combination of bioreactor, chemical coagulation, granulated activated carbon or sorption technologies.

Read More

A Splash of Green for the Rust Belt


LIKE his uncle, his grandfather and many of their neighbors, Arie Versendaal spent decades working at the Maytag factory here, turning coils of steel into washing machines.

When the plant closed last year, taking 1,800 jobs out of this town of 16,000 people, it seemed a familiar story of American industrial decline: another company town brought to its knees by the vagaries of global trade.

Except that Mr. Versendaal has a new factory job, at a plant here that makes blades for turbines that turn wind into electricity. Across the road, in the old Maytag factory, another company is building concrete towers to support the massive turbines. Together, the two plants are expected to employ nearly 700 people by early next year.

“Life’s not over,” Mr. Versendaal says. “For 35 years, I pounded my body to the ground. Now, I feel like I’m doing something beneficial for mankind and the United States. We’ve got to get used to depending on ourselves instead of something else, and wind is free. The wind is blowing out there for anybody to use.”

Read More

World's Most Innovative Nations:

Where New Technologies And Products Take-off

ScienceDaily (Oct. 31, 2008) — A new study reveals the world's most innovative countries, with Japan and the Nordic countries earning top spots and the United States finishing in sixth.

The study, which evaluates 31 countries based on the time it takes for new products to takeoff, is among the most comprehensive research of its kind. Wherever applicable, researchers analyzed 16 different product categories over a time span of 50 years.

The report was co-authored by Deepa Chandrasekaran, assistant professor of marketing at Lehigh University, and Gerard J. Tellis, director of the Center for Global Innovation and professor of marketing at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business.

"The changing dynamics of the global marketplace are redefining the concept of innovativeness," says Chandrasekaran. "More products are being introduced at a quick rate, and the ability of a nation to embrace those changes is a true indicator of how innovative it has become."

New products takeoff faster in Japan (5.4 years) than any other nation, closely followed by Norway and its north European neighbors of Sweden, Netherlands and Denmark. The United States (6.2 years), Switzerland and Austria ranked high, as well.

Read More

F.C.C. to Open Radio Spectrum


Over the objections of television broadcasters and other groups, federal regulators set aside a disputed slice of radio spectrum for public use on Tuesday, hoping it would lead to low-cost, high-speed Internet access and new wireless devices.

The Federal Communications Commission voted 5 to 0 to approve the new use for the unlicensed frequencies, known as white spaces.

A coalition of powerful groups, including broadcasters, Broadway theater producers and sports franchises, hoped to derail or delay the decision. They have argued that their own transmissions — whether from television signals or from wireless microphones used in live music performances — could face interference from new devices that use the white spaces.

But F.C.C. commissioners said in a public meeting on Tuesday that they were confident that enough testing had been done to assure them that interference was not a major risk.

“It’s fair to say few other engineering analyses at the F.C.C. have been as lengthy and open,” said Michael J. Copps, a commissioner.

Echoing the views of other commissioners, he added that the measure could lead to development of a new generation of devices that use the spectrum to provide Internet access.

Read More

Meteor Shower Could Spur Bright Fireballs

By Joe Rao Skywatching Columnist

The Taurid meteors, sometimes called the "Halloween fireballs," show up between mid-October and mid-November, but Nov. 5 to 12 will likely be the best time to look for them this year, taking into account both their peak of activity and the effect of increasingly bright moonlight on viewing conditions.

After the Moon sets – around 11 p.m. local time on Nov. 5, later on subsequent nights – some 10 to 15 meteors may appear per hour. They are often yellowish-orange and, as meteors go, appear to move rather slowly. Their name comes from the way they seem to radiate from the constellation Taurus, the Bull, which sits low in the east a couple of hours after sundown and is almost directly overhead by around 1:30 a.m.

Read More

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