Thursday, November 6, 2008

News That Matters - November 6, 2008

News That Matters
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PlanPutnam's Annual Fund Raiser: Day Two.

Good Thursday Morning,

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 bad behavior will be edited to that big bit-bucket in the aether.

As I drove back from Patterson yesterday evening I noticed the absence of political signs. Yay! Thanks to the candidates who cleared theirs up, all but Mr. Lalor whose signs have been up since, oh, it seems like, since 1932.

As I predicted here the other day, the Patterson Town Board voted 3-2 last evening to move the budget hearing from the Town Hall to the Rec Center, next Wednesday, November 12 at 7:30 PM. Councilman Kassay almost blew his top when his well laid plans were dashed. You had to see it!

I had a report the other day about some problems with the new electronic voting machines in Patterson. If you can verify problems in other parts of the county, please write.

Need a dose of Christmas music? Go to a Wal*Mart. Wal*Mart started playing all your holiday favorites on November 1 and will until the lead in Santa's toys have been eaten by bad little girls and boys.

But you all won't be shopping Wal*Mart this holiday season since you're all on the pledge: Nothing over $20, Nothing from China. Right? Of course right!

Just when you thought it was safe to swim in the NY State Senate's pool someone had to pee in the water. In this case it was the "Gang of Four", Democrats from New York City: Ruben Diaz Sr. and Pedro Espada Jr., both of the Bronx; Carl Kruger of Brooklyn; and Hiram Monserrate of Queens.

So, what's the deal? They've been meeting with GOP leaders who have promised them new cars, naked (wo)men and month-long vacations in the Caribbean if they would switch their party affiliations to (R) so that Republicans could maintain their control of that august body. (I made up the promises, we have no idea what they've been promised. But I guarantee you'll be paying for it... whatever it is.)

News reports say that Governor Paterson took a swan dive into the pool and surfaced with a deal with two of the four which would allow them to "vote their conscience" for at least a year without censure - if they remain Democrats. Imagine that! Elected representatives allowed to vote their conscience! Sheldon Silver should take a page from that playbook.

And, while we're talking about that venerable Assemblyman from NYC, maybe it's time for term limits for state Assembly and Senate leaders? What say you Ms Galef?

On Monday I noted in this column that Assembly candidate John Degnan had been struck by a car driven by a worker for the Ball campaign. Assemblyman Ball denied that the driver, Chris Arnold, worked for him. Yet, according to a report in the Putnam Courier, that paper received an email from Mr. Arnold on October 30th signing it, "Christopher Arnold, Communications Director, New Yorkers on the Ball." We've got two more years of that crap.

There's a benefit show tonight 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.

From the So, You Don't Think Your Vote Counts? department: As of 11:15 PM last evening (CST) the two contenders in the Minnesota Senate Race (Norm Coleman's and Al Franken) sit a mere 477 votes apart - out of 2,900,000 cast.

The Putnam County Legislature has designated the month of November as the time period when landowners may file a request for inclusion of land in the Putnam County Agricultural District. To be eligible for inclusion, the property must be a viable agricultural entity or business.

Mark Your Calendars:
Saturday, November 15 from 11AM - 5PM  and Sunday November 16, from 11AM - 3PM:  Interfaith Fair Trade Bazaar. Fairly-traded craft items from around the world, plus merchandise from local artisans and non-profit organizations.  Co-sponsored by Dutchess County Interfaith Council.  Ely Hall, Vassar College.  Contact Pat Lamanna, 845-452-4013, This event will help towards your goal of your $20 - Nothing From China holiday shopping!

Tomorrow is the weekly "Things to Do" edition of News That Matters so if your organization has an event schedule for tomorrow night or during this weekend, be sure to get it in by this afternoon for inclusion. If you'd like to post it to the blog, point your browser here, sign up and post.

And now, the News:

  1. Editorial: Hudson River cleanup can't take more delays
  2. New York City's Iconic Skyline Goes Dimmer to Save Energy
  3. Sprawl to meet its limit in Atlanta
  4. President Tricks Environment, Treats Factory Farms
  5. Roadblocks to the Altar
  6. Banks begin rush for US bailout funds
  7. Clean Energy Options

Editorial: Hudson River cleanup can't take more delays

With only six months to go before the startup of the long-awaited and environmentally critical Hudson River dredging, it's imperative that an apparent breakdown in communication is resolved between key players and some small communities about 25 miles downriver from the project.

As important is that federal environmental officials satisfy concerns and questions these communities have about the massive project and its effect on their drinking water, concerns that at this point appear to be leading to legal action and another potential delay. This is outrageous.

There have been decades of legal battles over the cleanup of polychlorinated biphenyls, which General Electric discharged into the Hudson for decades until the 1970s, when PCBs were finally banned. Back in 2002, General Electric and the EPA announced an agreement to dredge "hot spots" of contamination in the Hudson. The project was supposed to start in 2005, but there have been a series of delays.

Read More

New York City's Iconic Skyline Goes Dimmer to Save Energy

CFLs, LEDs, Sensors, Timers and More Help Buildings Save Money

In recent memory, New York City's iconic skyline blazed all night long, lit from the lights of thousands of unoccupied offices, cafeterias, stores and other businesses, not to mention apartments of those burning the midnight oil and unshielded streetlights.

But now, after the age of Cheap Oil has apparently passed, building managers have gotten wise to the fact that they can save literally millions of dollars a year by not paying for lighting that no one uses.

As the New York Times points out, attitudes are changing, and it's no longer seen as so fashionable to illuminate the entire breadth of a skyscraper just for the sake of showing off. Today, more buildings are opting to simply illuminate the crowns, lending a muted, yet tasteful and "greener," glow to Manhattan. Companies are saving valuable energy dollars by installing motion sensors, timers and dimmers. In today's economy, it's likely every dollar saved counts.

According to the Times, the New York State Assembly passed legislation in June requiring that new outdoor lighting have shields that reduce glare and waste. The bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), hopes the State Senate will take up the case, especially if Democrats win a majority in the next election.

Read More

Sprawl to meet its limit in Atlanta

By Christopher B. Leinberger

From News Services
Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I have been coming to Atlanta for 35 years, consulting for the likes of Trammel Crow Residential, Cousins Properties and Carter and Associates, and I have witnessed one of the most remarkable metropolitan transformations in the country. Those changes led me to remark in a speech in the 1990s that metropolitan Atlanta was the fastest-growing human settlement in history regarding land consumption.

This phenomenal growth has been in all four cardinal directions but particularly to the north, up I-75, Ga. 400 and I-85. This northern thrust is in the heart of the “favored quarter,” that 90-degree arc coming out from downtown that has been the focus of the vast majority of growth in Atlanta, just as it is in every metropolitan area in the country.

However, this development pattern is changing.

The underlying population and employment growth will continue —- well above national rates. However, where that growth will locate is evolving.

Read More

President Tricks Environment, Treats Factory Farms

Polluting Factory Farms Will Have Fewer Restrictions Thanks to New Bush Rule. There Goes the Water Supply...

President Bush might not be providing much assurance on the state of the economy these days. But as he prepares to leave office, he is ensuring that the environment takes a hit.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) issued a press release explaining that a new Bush administration rule signed on Halloween--trick or treat?--made thousands of factory farms exempt from needing permits that limit water pollution. In addition, the EPA did not choose to improve controls for bacteria and other pathogens that pose risks to human health and wildlife.

Confined Animal Feeding Lots or CAFOs, as factory farms operations are known, are huge polluters. They create large amounts of waste that doesn't become fertilizer for farms but often runs off into waterways, contaminating drinking supplies and harming aquatic life. The release says that the EPA estimates that these facilities generate three times more waste than people do nationwide.

Read More

Roadblocks to the Altar

Being the first state to recognize both civil unions and same-sex marriage puts Connecticut—and its JPs—in a tricky position
Comments (0)
Thursday, November 06, 2008
By Dave Bonan

Between the time the plaintiffs in Kerrigan v. Connecticut Department of Public Health and their supporters cheered on the steps of the Connecticut Supreme Court and the time same-sex couples actually marry in the state, there are a host of legal matters to sort out. The landmark decision, delivered on Oct. 10, comes not at the end but somewhere in the middle of a series of legal hurdles to full gay rights.

The Kerrigan suit was brought about in 2004 after eight same-sex couples were denied marriage licenses and sued. They were represented by attorneys from Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the Boston group that won same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.

The Connecticut ruling is unique in that it's the only instance in which same-sex marriage was imposed on a state that already recognized civil unions; the first time a court said that civil unions aren't enough. Connecticut was the first state to pass laws to affirm civil unions in 2005; Vermont, the first state to recognize them, did so under the order of its supreme court.

The General Assembly is expected to pass a gay marriage bill next session, codifying the Supreme Court ruling, according to State Sen. Michael Lawlor (D-East Haven), chair of the Judiciary Committee.

Read More

Banks begin rush for US bailout funds

Early reluctance is giving way as hundreds prepare to apply before the deadline.

By Peter Grier | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the November 5, 2008 edition

Washington - Badge of shame – or sign of solvency?

That's the question for thousands of banks across the US as they decide whether to apply for government investments from the Treasury's $700 billion rescue fund.

When Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson first announced that Washington would inject capital into private banks directly via equity purchases, some analysts thought that participation might mark regional institutions as somehow impaired.

But dozens of banks have already signed up, and hundreds more now are expected to follow by the mid-November deadline. That rush – plus the fact that the money represents reasonably priced capital – appears to have changed the equity program's image.

"There's some feeling this is a club you have to be a member of," says Robert Brusca, chief economist at Fact and Opinion Economics.

The Treasury's rescue effort already has changed and grown into something more complicated than officials envisioned when the bill authorizing it was signed into law by President Bush on Oct. 3.

Read More

Clean Energy Options

12 clean technologies that will help save our planet from self-destruction
by Paul McGinniss | posted November 2008

With so many conflicting reports, it might be hard to gauge the real truth about global warming, no matter one’s political or economic persuasion. On one side of the climate-change debate, there are those who still say there is no global warming at all, whatsoever, and even go so far as to say we are possibly heading toward a potential ice age. Articles such as “Climate change: Menace or myth?,” which appeared on the Website in 2005, were fairly common up until recently.

Then there are the people who say that, yes, there might be some global warming, but we don’t know how bad it is, and it is not proven to be caused completely by human behavior.

Vice Presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin denies that global warming is caused by human behavior. “A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I’m not one, though, who would attribute it to being man-made,” Palin said in an August 2008 interview.

Read More

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