Monday, December 29, 2008

News That Matters - December 29, 2008

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

"We will have peace when Arabs love their children more then they hate us." - Golda Meir

Good Monday Morning,

Breaking News This Morning: According to sources, Jeff Green has called for the closing of the Community Action Program's Food Bank, he eats rare, endangered farm animals, dislikes  George Whipple personally, and supports Greg Ball.

Yessiree! That's the news from over the weekend. I have no idea where one of those stories came from but that's the back-chatter across the county as related to me during various conversations spread from Christmas day through this weekend.

We need to find out who this Jeff Green fella is! Any leads will be much appreciated.

There is vindication of sorts as the Journal News editorial reposted below shows. Even their editorial board is questioning the contract and lease agreement for Tilly Foster Farm. As well, judging by comments left on that blog and others, and from conversations I've had over the past several weeks, public opinion is overwhelmingly against the contract in its current form. Everyone agrees The Farm should succeed but they also agree that government accountability it pretty important. It's funny though, the most vocal proponents for the current contract are the very same people who take government to task for the even smallest slight. Go figure.

Barack the Magic Negro: Old news makes the rounds on a holiday weekend when there's nothing going on other than a Santa shooting or two. This satirical parody by Paul Shanklin and first played on Rush Limbaugh's radio show shortly before the election, takes a look at the ascendancy of Mr. Obama through the eyes of a jealous Al Sharpton. Like it or not, it's an entirely plausible scenario. The audio track has transmuted into dozens of video versions which were posted to video sites throughout the world which have - suddenly - disappeared in a wave of political correctness. It took a while, but I found one version here.

(A much abbreviated lecture on the dangers to the vibrancy of democracy from being politically correct follows...)

To You-Tube and Google Video and the other public gatherers of information: I really hate political correctness. It smacks of elitism and rewrites history to such a point that we cannot learn from our mistakes because, well, we've erased them and make believe they never happened. Worse, it pushes the most egregious thoughts and values underground where they boil and bubble only to escape from that pressure cooker in periodic explosions rather than simmering under a loose cover where they can be dealt with effectively, learned from and discussed. But then, we don't really believe in a vibrant democracy anyway. Instead, we prefer the neat, tidy package where no one's feelings are ever hurt, where no one has to think, where perspective has no place and where historical accuracies are set aside for political expediency and then we call that a Democracy.

This past Saturday night saw the fourth in an informal series of rock concerts featuring local bands at the Cultural Center on Lake Carmel hosted by Arts on the Lake. The show featured 5 bands for 6 bucks and was produced by Andrew Vlad. The Center held a capacity crowd - including many adults - and proved to be the largest event of its type so far. I ran sound and lights on Saturday as I usually do for events at the Center and I'm looking forward to more of these shows. There are not too many places where our youth can congregate on a Saturday night in a safe, drug and alcohol free environment and listen to their own music in a quality setting. Kudos to Arts on the Lake, to Andy, the bands and their fans.

Before you go off feeding the poor Poitou steaks here's the News:

  1. Videos by Kent explain storm-water threats
  2. Protecting taxpayers
  3. Putnam Valley Planning Board & Wordsmiths
  4. 'Incredible year' for public-access laws in N.Y.
  5. Supporters trying to raise money for drilling bids
  6. Efficient Organic LEDs A Step Toward Better Lights
  7. Open Space in the Poconos Protected
  8. Senate committee endorses Badlands Wilderness bill
  9. TVA ash pond breach: Resident says area has 'changed forever'

Videos by Kent explain storm-water threats

By Michael Risinit
The Journal News • December 29, 2008

KENT - The town's official Web site touts Kent's "many beautiful lakes, ponds, reservoirs." There's no mention of those water bodies making the town an Eden, but they do, according to the town's recent effort to curtail pollution.

"This place is paradise ... and clean water is key," explains the talking head in the first of four, public-service announcements that try to enlist Kent residents' help with cleaning up storm-water pollution.

The series of announcements, each about two minutes long, will soon appear on Kent's Web site and on local cable television. Commissioned by the Town of Kent Stormwater Committee and produced by committee member Jeff Green, the spots explain what storm water is and why residents should be concerned about it. The committee unveiled the short videos at a recent community meeting.

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Protecting taxpayers

There is no question that philanthropist George Whipple's plan to create a museum and education center with heirloom farm animals at Tilly Foster Farm in Southeast is an inspired idea. It is the first clear, and potentially achievable, vision set forth for the nearly 200-acre property that Putnam County bought six years ago, using $3.9 million in watershed-protection funds provided by New York City.

There are, however, plenty of legitimate and necessary questions about the 40-year lease for Tilly Foster Farm that the county is considering giving to Preserve Putnam, Whipple's not-for-profit organization. Now is the time for lawmakers and the public to speak up and ask those questions to be sure that the taxpayers' interests are protected in the venture.

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Putnam Valley Planning Board & Wordsmiths

December 27th, 2008 Posted in News

Putnam Valley Planning Board
Year End Meeting, December 22, 2008
And Wordsmiths

It’s a Chanukah/Christmas miracle. The Oregon Corners clock no longer says noon/midnight. I was beginning to think that we needed the Putnam County Savings Bank clock tower.

Christmas, Putnam Valley style. There was a Monday night Planning Board meeting. A lot went on. It is worth watching.

There almost wasn’t an illegal meeting. By nine minutes of 6PM, there were only two planning board members, the engineer, and the planner. It was congenial and informal. But in the end, they did have their illegal meeting, and discussed 2 PHR, Adorno and Kisslinger, all litigations.

First up was a long executive session. It would have been nice if they had waited until later in the meeting. Applicants and engineers and attorneys were waiting.

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'Incredible year' for public-access laws in N.Y.

Cara Matthews
Albany Bureau

ALBANY - By all accounts, 2008 was a banner year for advocates of expanding access to public records and meetings.

Amendments to state law require that agencies provide records in the medium requested, such as compact disc, and mandatory awards of attorney's fees for violations of the Open Meetings Law.

"We had an incredible year. We've seen positive amendments to FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) or the Open Meetings Law (in) the last three sessions," said Robert Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government.

"We've seen amendments that are now law that I never dreamed would pass," he said.

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Supporters trying to raise money for drilling bids

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Supporters of an environmental activist who infiltrated a government auction for oil and gas parcels in Utah are trying to raise money to help cover his bids.

Tim DeChristopher snapped up 22,500 acres of parcels between Arches and Canyonlands national parks - with no plans to develop or even pay for the properties.

Friends say DeChristopher has six days to raise $45,000 to cover the first payment on the properties that cost $1.7 million overall. He opposed the government's sale of land near some of Utah's most scenic areas.

DeCristopher's unofficial spokeswoman, Julianne Fitzgerald, says supporters are trying to raise the money to help keep him out of legal trouble.

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Efficient Organic LEDs A Step Toward Better Lights

ScienceDaily (Dec. 25, 2008) — For those who love “green” compact fluorescent bulbs but hate their cold light, here’s some good news: Researchers are closer to flipping the switch on cheaper, richer LED-type room lighting.

University of Florida materials science and engineers have achieved a new record in efficiency of blue organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs. Because blue is essential to white light, the advance helps overcome a hurdle to lighting that is much more efficient than compact fluorescents — but can produce high-quality light similar to standard incandescent bulbs.

“The quality of the light is really the advantage,” said Franky So, a UF associate professor of materials science and engineering and the lead investigator on the project.

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Open Space in the Poconos Protected

Posted: Dec 23, 2008 05:54 PM EST
By Trish Hartman

It's official a huge open space in the Poconos is now part of a national wildlife refuge.

The project involving local environmentalists and wildlife experts in Monroe County has been ongoing for several years.

Some 20,000 acres in southern Monroe County known as the Cherry Valley is also known as a place to enjoy nature's beauty.

With Tuesday's announcement, many people who live there hope it will stay that way for years to come.

Debra Schuler and her family live in the Cherry  alley near Stroudsburg.

"We have a wonderful, wonderful view of the Kittatinny Ridge and there's so much wildlife.  I love where I live," Schuler said. She's also the president of a group called Friends of Cherry Valley, a group dedicated to preserving the open space around the Cherry Creek and the Kittatinny Ridge.

Schuler said Tuesday's announcement is like an early Christmas present.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated 20,000 acres of the Cherry Valley, most of it in Monroe County, as a national wildlife refuge.

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Senate committee endorses Badlands Wilderness bill

by Charles Pope, The Oregonian
Thursday September 11, 2008, 2:20 PM

WASHINGTON -- A bill to permanently protect 30,000 acres of Oregon's Badlands moved easily through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and is now headed to the Senate floor.

The Oregon Badlands Wilderness Act of 2008 was one of 53 lands bill approved by the committee on Thursday by voice vote.

Sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the bill would extend the highest level of protection to land east of Bend that is both austere and unique.

"The Senate Energy Committee has shown it can work on a bipartisan basis to pass worthy legislation like this bill protecting the Badlands," Wyden said.

But he also noted that the hardest work lies ahead. Dozens of wilderness bills have moved from the Energy Committee over the last few years only to stall on the Senate floor.

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TVA ash pond breach: Resident says area has 'changed forever'

By Chloe White
Originally published 11:52 a.m., December 23, 2008
Updated 11:52 a.m., December 23, 2008

Correction: TVA's initial estimate for Monday's pond spill has been changed to 3.1 million cubic feet of fly ash and water. The earlier figure given was 2.6 million cubic yards.

HARRIMAN - Chris Copeland awakened in the dark Monday morning to the sounds of popping and crashing on Swan Pond Circle Road.

When he looked outside, he said he saw a surge of water.

"It looked like ocean waves coming through," Copeland said today.

He said his first thought was that Melton Hill Dam had failed. Then he saw piles of ash, and it dawned on him that TVA's Kingston steam plant ash pond had failed.

At least 3.1 million cubic feet of fly ash were dumped across hundreds of acres in Roane County after the retention pond breached just before 1 a.m.

Officials say up to 400 acres of land adjacent to the plant are under 4 to 6 feet of material.

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