Saturday, January 31, 2009

(Final) Tilly Foster Lease Agreement

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Here’s the county’s latest effort on the Tilly Foster Lease agreement. I think you’ll find that all the fighting, all the letters, phone calls and emails were worth it. While it’s still not as good as it could be, it’s a damn sight better than it was. The county Law Department is finally acting like a Law Department.

Tilly Foster Lease Proposal

Post your Comments to the blog. We'll recap them here.


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Friday, January 30, 2009

News That Matters - January 30, 2009 - Things To Do Edition

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Friday Morning:

Sorry we're late! I woke late this morning after having another night of nightmares and disquieting dreams. No, it's not the new Obama administration and it's not Andy DeStefano's announcement that he's joined the masses running for Sheriff. I have no idea what it is but here we are anyway.

I don't have much listed for this weekend (you're not sending me stuff!) but there are a few interesting events worth checking out.

My usual recommendation is to turn off the idiot box and get out of your house for a hike. Thanks to NY State Parks, DEP and DEC and other agencies, Putnam County is home to more than 20,000 acres of permanently preserved open space lands with hundreds of miles of trails and they're here for you to use, explore and wander in. There's a partial list here at PlanPutnam's outdoor recreation page which has seen 20860 visitors so there must be something of interest there! Check it out.

We'll be back on Monday.


The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State
7:00 p.m. Cary Institute Auditorium - Join us for a lively discussion about how New York State's bird populations have changed over the past 20 years. This event will feature Kimberley Corwin, one of the co-editors of the recently published Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State. Co-sponsored with Merritt Bookstore; books will be available for purchase.

Arts on the Lake Member Event

7:30 p.m. Short Performance, Short Meeting, Great Desserts.
Broadway veterans Marcus Lovett and Eleanor Reissa in a reading of They Say the Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living – a new take on Adam and Eve – by Bob Rogers. Flutist Jeff Waldo playing Michael Gittel’s Aspens in January. Reports on building plans, fund-raising and new programs. Great desserts and a chance to socialize with others interested in supporting and strengthening a regional Art Center. Current members who plan to attend should write to Others may use PayPal, or join or renew via check at the event. (A membership donation to AotL is good for member events and discounts to all events for one year from date of contribution.)


8PM (For those of you not allowed to stay up late). Join Mike Latini, Jim Nowak and Larry Eidelman at Daniel J's in Patterson (at the foot of Thunder Ridge) for a "night of music, and whatever". Mike seems to schedule these things on the same night as AotL has events - so choose wisely!


Putnam Valley Grange Indoor Flea Market

10AM - 4 PM At the Grange Hall at Adams' Corners on Mill Street and Peekskill Hollow Road. Given the over abundance of STUFF most of us have collected these days, the worst place for it to end up would be in a  land fill. The Putnam Valley Grange has decided to sponsor a once a month Flea Market.  This will give many of us an opportunity to not only clean out our closets, but make better wonderful things available to those who might be struggling economically at a better than reasonable price. From food, to books, to old VHS tapes or DVDs, jewelry etc. and STUFF, there will be more than enough to delight the senses, while creating a wonderful, warm and friendly environment for all to come and enjoy. Continues the last Saturday of every month.

Snowshoe Challenge, Fishkill Ridge, Fishkill.

10:00am - 1:00pm  Strenuous five-mile trek offers a worthwhile payoff spectacular panoramic vistas of a snow-covered Hudson Valley. Along the way, we'll search for animal tracks and see how nature adapts to survive winter's icy blasts. Participants must be proficient at snowshoeing and bring their own gear, water and lunch. Wear appropriate cold-weather clothing. Contact: Anthony Coneski 845 473 4440 ex 273

Brewster Theater Company Auditions

2-4PM Auditions for "Play On" by Rick Abbot will be held today and Tuesday (7:30-9:30PM) at the Brewster Public Library. Write Ryan Dietzen for more information.


Hike to Pine Island

Putnam County Land Trust & Friends of the Great Swamp
1 pm - Hike to Pine Island with Judy Kelley Moberg; naturalist and historian.  Meet at the Paterson Recreation Center for a two–hour hike to Pine Island in the midst of the frozen waters of the Great Swamp.  Weather permitting we will be looking for the tracks made by otter, coyote, and bobcat and identifying other natural life signs of winter. Registration is required at 878-7740.  There is no fee for this program.  If weather does not cooperate, another route will substitute.

Into the Future:

Tuesday, February 3
4 Chaplain Program - American Legion Argonne Post No. 71 Post Commander issued the following statement. " The post has received confirmation from the following members of the clergy with reference to the 4 Chaplain Program to be held on Feb 3rd 2009 at the post headquarters on Ice Pond Road. Brewster NY. The program will be called to order at 8:00 PM.
Rev. Thomas C. Marsden
Deacon Mark Shkrtell
Rabbi Daniel Zucker
Rev. Kwang-il Kim

Wednesday, February 11

17 – 18 - 19 CHANGE - A meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 11 at 7 pm in the Fellowship Room of Memorial Methodist Church, 250 Bryant Avenue, White Plains, NY to discuss how citizens in New York's 17th, 18th and 19th Congressional Districts can organize to run a joint slate of candidates, beginning in April this year, to replace in 2010 the current members of Congress from these districts with three people who are unreservedly committed to ending US military adventurism overseas and establishing equal justice and a fair economy at home. Contact Nick Mottern for more information.

Thursday, February 12

6:30PM "Top Secret Briefing" - Join (unannounced) 19th District Congressional candidate Greg Ball for an intimate dinner with your closest reactionary friends at the Traveler's Rest in Ossining for "Inside the CIA", a talk by Gary Bernstein. $250 for the talk and dinner or come at 7:30, and drop $100 for dinner alone. Well, you won't be alone, all your friends will be there! Okay, so maybe you will be alone but there's an Open Bar!

Or, for $20 I'll do the talking, burn copies of the PATRIOT Act, reinstate due process, not target dark-skinned immigrants, grant civil rights to same-sex couples, promise not to run for Congress and offer chips and dips. Maybe a cheese spread and crackers, too. BYOB.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

News That Matters - January 29, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

"A healthy male adult bore consumes each year one and a half times his own weight in other people's patience."  - John Updike

Good Thursday Morning,

What's in the News?

  1. John Updike, a Lyrical Writer of the Middle-Class Man, Dies at 76
  2. Hinchey Helps Create New Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition
  3. Elevating Science, Elevating Democracy
  4. Putnam, deputies agree on long-delayed contract plan
  5. Cantor distorts CBO data on stimulus package
  6. 93-Year-Old Freezes To Death Inside His Home
  7. Farewell to All That: An Oral History of the Bush White House

Tomorrow is our weekly Things To Do Edition. If you or your organization has something going on you'd like announced, please make sure it's in by this afternoon or, post it all by yourself at the blog site.

It snowed. It rained. It iced. You've got to love this winter or you'll go crazy. But spring is just around the corner and if you're up early enough you'll hear the birds taking a few tentative practice-notes of their spring songs. Since the ground has been snow and ice covered for quite some time make sure your feeders are filled with high energy snacks for those guys.

Over at the blog, the Tilly Foster contract and Putnam Valley issues still take the lead in reads and yesterday 132 visitors stopped in to have a look. If you weren't one of those 132, you should be.

The Tilly Foster lease agreement is still in negotiations and thanks to your input the county has made some changes though they're not nearly enough to satisfy standard governmental protections and the AG's office will, I think, find it of interest if it passes through in anything close to its present form. At the last physical services committee meeting, Legislator Tony Hay mentioned that the public had deluged the county with comments and suggestions yet few, if any, made it into the latest version of that lease. If you wrote before you'll need to write again. If you haven't, it's time to do so. You can send your letters to You can get more information on that contract here, here, here and here.

I've got the horse right here: County Finance Commissioner William Carlin reports that OTB revenues are down once again. From a high of $1.9 million taken in 2001 the county took in just about $518,000 in 2008 which was $139,000 less than in 2007.

New York State has lost a billion dollars in revenue due to the collapse of Wall Street firms and we're still not one inch closer to prosecuting those who ran their businesses into the ground, caused massive social and financial upheaval and engineered the largest transfer of wealth from the working classes to the rich in history and still took home $18.4 billion in bonuses. Admittedly, those bonuses were lower than in previous years as in 2007 bonuses amounted to $33 billion. The income disparity between rich and poor is greater than it has been since the 1920s and you know what financial conditions followed that. It's not a pretty picture no matter how you spin it unless you're a corporate recipient of taxpayer largess. Capitalism, American Style.

Vanity Fair has done it again. This time there's a deeply detailed oral history of the Bush administration which kept me occupied for the better part of an hour during yesterday's snow and ice storm. Get yourself a mug of tea and be prepared to be shocked, tickled and awed by what we just went through as a nation. There's a link to the article below the fold.

And now, the News:

  1. John Updike, a Lyrical Writer of the Middle-Class Man, Dies at 76
  2. Hinchey Helps Create New Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition
  3. Elevating Science, Elevating Democracy
  4. Putnam, deputies agree on long-delayed contract plan
  5. Cantor distorts CBO data on stimulus package
  6. 93-Year-Old Freezes To Death Inside His Home
  7. Farewell to All That: An Oral History of the Bush White House

John Updike, a Lyrical Writer of the Middle-Class Man, Dies at 76

John Updike, the kaleidoscopically gifted writer whose quartet of Rabbit novels highlighted a body of fiction, verse, essays and criticism so vast, protean and lyrical as to place him in the first rank of American authors, died on Tuesday in Danvers, Mass. He was 76 and lived in Beverly Farms, Mass.

The cause was lung cancer, according to a statement by Knopf, his publisher. A spokesman said Mr. Updike had died at the Hospice of the North Shore in Danvers.

Of Mr. Updike’s dozens of books, perhaps none captured the imagination of the book-reading public like those about ordinary citizens in small-town and urban settings. His best-known protagonist, Harry Rabbit Angstrom, first appears as a former high-school basketball star trapped in a loveless marriage and a sales job he hates. Through the four novels whose titles bear his nickname — “Rabbit, Run,” “Rabbit Redux,” “Rabbit Is Rich” and “Rabbit at Rest” — the author traces the funny, restless and questing life of this middle-American against the background of the last half-century’s major events.

Read More

Hinchey Helps Create New Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition

Washington, DC - Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) today announced that he has helped establish the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC) -- a new focused, action-based caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives committed to advancing a legislative agenda that will bring about dramatic progressive change in energy and environmental policy while helping to grow the economy.  The group, which was founded by Congressman Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY) recently met with Assistant to the President Carol Browner to discuss energy and climate policy.  Additionally, the SEEC has been working to strengthen green technology provisions in the economic recovery bill currently being debated in Congress.

The stated purpose of the SEEC is “to advance policies that promote clean energy technology innovation and domestic manufacturing, develop renewable energy resources, create green collar jobs throughout the product supply-chain, help arrest global warming and protect our nation’s clean air, water and natural environment.” 

Read More

Elevating Science, Elevating Democracy


All right, I was weeping too.

To be honest, the restoration of science was the least of it, but when Barack Obama proclaimed during his Inaugural Address that he would “restore science to its rightful place,” you could feel a dark cloud lifting like a sigh from the shoulders of the scientific community in this country.

When the new president went on vowing to harness the sun, the wind and the soil, and to “wield technology’s wonders,” I felt the glow of a spring sunrise washing my cheeks, and I could almost imagine I heard the music of swords being hammered into plowshares.

Wow. My first reaction was to worry that scientists were now in the awkward position of being expected to save the world. As they say, be careful what you wish for.

My second reaction was to wonder what the “rightful place” of science in our society really is.

The answer, I would argue, is On a Pedestal — but not for the reasons you might think.

Read More

Putnam, deputies agree on long-delayed contract plan

Susan Elan
The Journal News

After years of stalled negotiations and bitter rhetoric, Putnam sheriff's deputies and County Executive Robert Bondi's administration have reached an agreement that would carry them through 2011.

"There have been many years of frustrating negotiations, but the positive fact is we are getting reasonable increases in our standard of living," Deputy William Meyer said yesterday. Meyer is president of the 75-member Putnam County Sheriff's Department Police Benevolent Association.

The proposed contract would cover Jan. 1, 2005, through Dec. 31, 2011, and would result in a total 25.9 percent wage increase. The union's last contract ended Dec. 31, 2002. Contract years 2003 and 2004 were settled through arbitration.

"It's long overdue," county personnel director Paul Eldridge said Tuesday. "Intransigent positions on both sides led to the logjam. But now there was a desire to get this done."

Read More

Cantor distorts CBO data on stimulus package

In the debate over how best to provide economic stimulus, put U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, the Republican Whip, in the camp that thinks more tax cuts and less government spending is the way to go.

Fair enough. But in a Jan. 21, 2009, interview on Fox News, Cantor cited a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office to back up his argument.

"We have a list of ideas very focused on small businesses, the self-employed, entrepreneurs and families, because we believe very much you provide tax relief to those individuals that we will see an economy that bounces back," Cantor said.

"Unfortunately, here on the Hill, what we're seeing now is the congressional Democrats proposed massive amounts of spending; that in fact today the Congressional Budget Office came out with a report -- said that it's just not stimulus. It won't help the economy grow."

That seemed odd, given that the CBO is supposed to be an objective, nonpartisan fiscal research arm for Congress. So we decided to check it out.

Read More

93-Year-Old Freezes To Death Inside His Home

Last Update: 1/27 10:38 am 

The 93-year-old man froze to death inside his home in Bay City, Michigan. (Associated Press) BAY CITY, Mich. – A 93-year-old man froze to death inside his home just days after the municipal power company restricted his use of electricity because of unpaid bills, officials said.

Marvin E. Schur died "a slow, painful death," said Kanu Virani, Oakland County's deputy chief medical examiner, who performed the autopsy.

Neighbors discovered Schur's body on Jan. 17. They said the indoor temperature was below 32 degrees at the time, The Bay City Times reported Monday.

"Hypothermia shuts the whole system down, slowly," Virani said. "It's not easy to die from hypothermia without first realizing your fingers and toes feel like they're burning."

Read More

Farewell to All That: An Oral History of the Bush White House

The threat of 9/11 ignored. The threat of Iraq hyped and manipulated. Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. Hurricane Katrina. The shredding of civil liberties. The rise of Iran. Global warming. Economic disaster. How did one two-term presidency go so wrong? A sweeping draft of history—distilled from scores of interviews—offers fresh insight into the roles of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and other key players.

By Cullen Murphy and Todd S. Purdum February 2009
With assistance from Philippe Sands.

January 20, 2001 After a disputed election and bitter recount battle in Florida whose outcome is effectively decided by the Supreme Court, George W. Bush is sworn in as the 43rd president of the United States. In foreign affairs he promises an approach that will depart from the perceived adventurism of his predecessor, Bill Clinton, in places such as Kosovo and Somalia. (“I think the United States must be humble,” Bush said in a debate with his opponent, Al Gore.) In domestic affairs Bush pledges to cut taxes and improve education. He promises to govern as a “compassionate conservative” and to be “a uniter, not a divider.” He comes into office with a $237 billion budget surplus.

Read More

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

News That Matters - January 28, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

"The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye. The more light you shine on it, the more it will contract."  - Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Good Wednesday Morning,

I was going to head over to the Cultural Center on Lake Carmel this morning to put up a fresh coat of paint in the theater space but looking outside and seeing that the snow is supposed to turn to ice and freezing rain, I think I'll pass on going out today, something you should consider as well. Stay home. Stay warm. And if the power goes out under the weight of the ice this afternoon, standard PlanPutnam neighborly advice becomes the rule: check on your neighbors, even if you don't think they need checking on.

IBM has started laying off employees, with four or five hundred slated for the Hudson Valley. Lee Conrad, a union leader at IBM, points to three factors: low productivity, a general slimming down and the movement of jobs offshore. Read that last one again and remember it next time IBM comes hat-in-hand for more tax breaks. I think their new slogan should be, "Whats Good For IBM is Good For India" or how about instead of Big Blue, we call them Big Curry?

The Open Space Institute announces it's 2009 McHenry Awards for young leaders in environmental stewardship and projects. There's more information here.

After years of complaining that environmentalists were stopping Putnam county from reaping sales tax benefits by their refusal to allow the county to become a regional shopping mecca, County Executive Bondi said, “The high cost of gasoline drove people to reconsider their shopping destinations. While the trend was very helpful, we can all see that this is something we cannot rely on for the future.” He was referring to reports that sales tax revenues in the county declined substantially over the past year. See the article below for more on this one.

Website Watch:

Everyone has a wiki these days. A wiki is a collaborative encyclopedia meaning that articles are written and edited by people like you, contributing their expertise on a particular subject. The latest wiki is WikiTrash, a repository of information about, well, trash! According to their site:

We started on September 17, 2008, and we already have 189 articles on trash. You can find precise descriptions of how to get rid of your trash in a sustainable and ecological manner, how to sensibly recuperate trash, and more. All red links on this wiki indicate articles yet to be created. You can start such a new article first by clicking on the red link, and then filling in the information that is known to you. It doesn't have to make too much sense (yet) - someone else will edit/correct your entry later on anyway. Check the recent changes to see what's been going in the past couple of days. And note that this is a continuous work in progress that's just been started - please add more information wherever you think it's needed.

The Dynamic Earth [Macromedia Flash Player]

The history of the Earth from the perspective of the physical sciences is a fascinating one, and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History brings it alive in a unique fashion with this site. After a dramatic introduction, visitors can explore the Earth's history in four sections: "Gems and Minerals", "Rocks and Mining", "Plate Tectonics and Volcanoes", and "The Solar System". Each section uses interactive graphics, demonstrations, photographs, and other rich visual materials to take the geologically curious into the world of the inner Earth, plate tectonics, meteorites, and a host of related topics.

And now, the News:

  1. Putnam collects $51 million in sales tax in 2008
  2. Road to Ruin: Twenty-Five People at the Heart of the Meltdown
  3. OSI Protects Forestland in the Catskill Delaware Watershed
  4. New Day For Smart Growth
  5. Judge rejects GE's 'Superfund' challenge
  6. EPA and General Electric Update Hudson Dredging Agreement
  7. Crisis on the Schaghticoke
  8. Emperor penguins face extinction
  9. Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency

Putnam collects $51 million in sales tax in 2008

Carmel — Putnam County collected more in sales tax last year than ever before yet county lawmakers are worried.

Commissioner of Finance William Carlin told members of the legislature’s Audit Committee Tuesday $51 million was collected in sales tax receipts for 2008 which was $5.1 million more than in 2007 and $2.2 million greater than budgeted for last year.

Despite the rosy picture, Carlin expressed concern since sales tax numbers declined dramatically during the fourth quarter with October, November and December figures down by nearly $700,000.

The total revenue was a dramatic decrease from the $5.7 million in sales tax revenue collected in September—an amazing $601,000 more than the same period in 2007.

Read More

Road to Ruin: Twenty-Five People at the Heart of the Meltdown

Monday 26 January 2009
by: Julia Finch, Andrew Clark and David Teather, The Guardian UK

The worst economic turmoil since the Great Depression is not a natural phenomenon but a man-made disaster in which we all played a part. In the second part of a week-long series looking behind the slump, Guardian City editor Julia Finch picks out the individuals who have led us into the current crisis.

Alan Greenspan, chairman of the US Federal Reserve 1987-2006

Only a couple of years ago, the long-serving chairman of the Fed, a committed free marketeer who had steered the US economy through crises ranging from the 1987 stockmarket collapse through to the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, was lauded with star status, named the "oracle" and "the maestro." Now he is viewed as one of those most culpable for the crisis. He is blamed for allowing the housing bubble to develop as a result of his low interest rates and lack of regulation in mortgage lending. He backed sub-prime lending and urged homebuyers to swap fixed-rate mortgages for variable rate deals, which left borrowers unable to pay when interest rates rose.

For many years, Greenspan also defended the booming derivatives business, which barely existed when he took over the Fed, but which mushroomed from $100 trillion in 2002 to more than $500 trillion five years later.

Read More

OSI Protects Forestland in the Catskill Delaware Watershed

Ongoing water protection efforts continue with purchase of parcel once owned by musician Richie Havens

NEW YORK, NY — January 15, 2008 — The Open Space Institute announced today the protection of 189 acres of forestland in the Delaware County town of Kortright as part of its ongoing conservation efforts in the Catskill/Delaware watershed.

Conservation of the land helps prevent incompatible development within the watershed, protecting the source of clean drinking water for more than 9 million people in New York City and several surrounding counties—nearly half of the state’s population.

OSI’s land acquisition affiliate, the Open Space Conservancy, acquired the property with funds from the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Endowment, a permanent fund that was transferred to the Open Space Conservancy in 2001.

Read More

New Day For Smart Growth

LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE • New laws would encourage regional cooperation, saving money and land

    January 27, 2009

Progress, the late poet Ogden Nash observed, might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long. That might describe the state's postwar rush to suburbia.

Stoked by VA mortgages and cheap cars and gas, development marched outward. Cities lost population as former villages boomed. But what boomed was mostly sprawl — ill-planned, low-density, auto-dependent, single-family residential or strip mall construction on what had been forest or farmland.

Only belatedly did the citizenry realize that progress has a cost, in addition to infrastructure and services expenses, air and water pollution, energy use and social isolation. It diminishes the open lands that support agriculture, water supplies, wildlife habitat and the traditional visual character of the Connecticut countryside.

Read More

Judge rejects GE's 'Superfund' challenge

By RICHARD RICHTMYER | The Associated Press
    January 27, 2009

ALBANY, N.Y. - The federal law that can force companies to spend millions cleaning up contaminated sites has again been upheld by a judge, who ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency can force General Electric to dredge PCBs from New York's Hudson River.

GE sued in 2000, just before the EPA ordered the company to pay for dredging contaminated sediments along a 40-mile stretch of river north of Albany. Its plants released about 1.3 million pounds of PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, into the river between 1946 and 1977, the year the federal government banned the substance.

A 197-mile section of the river has since been declared a Superfund site.

In its lawsuit, the company challenged the EPA's unilateral authority to order cleanup projects under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, also known as Superfund.

Read More

EPA and General Electric Update Hudson Dredging Agreement

Release date: 01/26/2009

Contact Information: Kristen Skopeck (518) 747-4389,

(New York, NY) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that the federal government has reached an agreement with the General Electric Company (GE) to modify a November 2, 2006 consent decree requiring the company to dredge portions of the Hudson River. The modification of the 2006 consent decree requires GE to pay a portion of the costs of protecting the Waterford, Halfmoon, and Stillwater, New York water supplies during dredging, and to improve its program for monitoring water quality and further protect the Waterford and Halfmoon water supplies. Notice of the modification was published in the Federal Register today, beginning a 30-day comment period, which concludes on February 25. Dredging is scheduled to begin in the Hudson River this spring.

EPA is also updating the community health and safety plan, which protects communities along the river during the Hudson River cleanup work. The plan, which will be available soon for review, is being updated to include contact information to assist community members who have questions or concerns about dredging operations. In addition, it will detail the criteria that will be used to decide when Halfmoon and Waterford should use their alternative water supply. EPA will take comments on the revised plan for 30 days following its release to the public.

Read More

Crisis on the Schaghticoke

By Gale Courey Toensing
HARTFORD, Conn. – In the mid-1970s, at the height of the American Indian Movement, Russell Means came to Connecticut to support the late Golden Hill Paugussett Chief Aurelius Piper Sr. in his fight to protect the tribe’s half-acre reservation in Trumbull, which was being encroached upon by a non-Indian neighbor.

Now some 40 years later, Means, who is perhaps the most famous Indian activist in the world, will travel to Connecticut to support Schaghticoke Tribal Nation Chief Richard Velky in his struggle to protect the tribe’s 400-acre reservation in Kent, which is being bulldozed and desecrating by a non-Indian intruder.

Read More

Emperor penguins face extinction

Emperor penguins, whose long treks across Antarctic ice to mate have been immortalised by Hollywood, are heading towards extinction, scientists say.

Based on predictions of sea ice extent from climate change models, the penguins are likely to see their numbers plummet by 95% by 2100.

That corresponds to a decline to just 600 breeding pairs in the world.

The research is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Emperor penguins, the largest species, are unique in that they are the only penguins that breed during the harsh Antarctic winters.

Colonies gather far inland after long treks across sea ice, where the females lay just one egg that is tended by the male. That means that the ice plays a major role in their overall breeding success.

Read More

Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency

On October 3, 2008, President Bush signed into law the “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.” This bill extended tax credits for energy efficient home improvements (windows, doors, roofs, insulation, HVAC, and non-solar water heaters). Tax credits for these residential products, which had expired at the end of 2007, will now be available for improvements made during 2009. However, improvements made during 2008 are not eligible for a tax credit.

The bill also extended tax credits for solar energy systems and fuel cells to 2016. New tax credits were established for small wind energy systems and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Tax credits for builders of new energy efficient homes and tax deductions for owners and designers of energy efficient commercial buildings were also extended.

Read More

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

News That Matters - January 27, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Tuesday Morning,

There was a recent post to the Brewster list suggesting that yours truly run the Farm at Tilly Foster. While I appreciate the sentiment, there's no question that Geo. Whipple is more than qualified to continue doing so. However, if he should create a paid position where I might fit in I'd be happy to be considered for it.

Up in Albany all the chatter is about Joe Bruno being indicted. In the rest of the state all the chatter is wondering how come it took so long and when will they get around to Sheldon Silver? (See "This Would Explain A Lot" below)

There are new posts over at the blogsite.

Check them out!

And now, the News:

  1. This would explain a lot
  2. The War Against Water Bottles
  3. How Words Could End a War
  4. Growing Food on the White House Lawn
  5. Global Warming: Tree Deaths Have Doubled Across The Western U.S.
  6. New York Times Launches New Environmental News Team
  7. Flood of Foreclosures: It's Worse Than You Think
  8. In boost for workers, high court affirms shield from employer retaliation

This would explain a lot

For years New Yorkers have been scratching their heads wondering how they ended up with such an expensive, ineffectual and wholly unresponsive state government. Now federal prosecutors have put forth an anger-inspiring answer still to be vetted by a judge and jury: for more than a decade, we've had a full-fledged crook helping to run things. If the prosecutors are right, the damage to New Yorkers' financial well-being could be incalculable.

Former Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno used to be one of the "three men in a room" who ran state government, along with the governor and state Assembly leader. He stepped down last summer amid a federal inquiry into his tangled business and legislative affairs. On Friday, an eight-count federal indictment served up a harsh critique of the Bruno era, which, if proved in court, would help explain why New Yorkers' wallets are in such tatters.

Read More

The War Against Water Bottles

Sunday 25 January 2009
by: Don Peat, Toronto Sun

It's a battle against the bottle.

And Maude Barlow's month-long, province-wide speaking tour is just another operation in a war she says is to win the hearts, minds and parched thirst of consumers.

Barlow, the national chairman of the Council of Canadians, will stop in Toronto this week as part of her 20 city speaking tour against bottled water with CUPE president Sid Ryan.

The council estimates at least 21 municipalities across Canada, the majority in Ontario, have either already passed a bottle ban or have one coming down the legislative pipe.

To Barlow, a senior adviser on water to the president of the UN general assembly, the fight against private water makes economic and environmental sense.

"We're not banning it; if people want to drink bottled water they can still drink bottled water; I hope they'll choose not to," she told the Sun from Midland earlier this week.

Read More

How Words Could End a War

AS diplomats stitch together a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, the most depressing feature of the conflict is the sense that future fighting is inevitable. Rational calculation suggests that neither side can win these wars. The thousands of lives and billions of dollars sacrificed in fighting demonstrate the advantages of peace and coexistence; yet still both sides opt to fight.

This small territory is the world’s great symbolic knot. “Palestine is the mother of all problems” is a common refrain among people we have interviewed across the Muslim world: from Middle Eastern leaders to fighters in the remote island jungles of Indonesia; from Islamist senators in Pakistan to volunteers for martyrdom on the move from Morocco to Iraq.

Some analysts see this as a testament to the essentially religious nature of the conflict. But research we recently undertook suggests a way to go beyond that. For there is a moral logic to seemingly intractable religious and cultural disputes. These conflicts cannot be reduced to secular calculations of interest but must be dealt with on their own terms, a logic very different from the marketplace or realpolitik.

Across the world, people believe that devotion to sacred or core values that incorporate moral beliefs — like the welfare of family and country, or commitment to religion and honor — are, or ought to be, absolute and inviolable. Our studies, carried out with the support of the National Science Foundation and the Defense Department, suggest that people will reject material compensation for dropping their commitment to sacred values and will defend those values regardless of the costs.

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Growing Food on the White House Lawn

The nonprofit group Kitchen Gardeners International wants to inspire people to grow their own food in home gardens. More recently, its “Eat the View!” campaign has targeted the ultimate home garden — the White House lawn.

To boost its efforts, the group has launched a new video: “The Garden of Eatin’: A Short History of America’s Garden.” The video details the fascinating and sometimes tumultuous history of White House food gardening. (A previous video by founder Roger Doiron of Scarborough, Me., called “This Lawn Is Your Lawn,” was the subject of a blog post by my colleague Andrew Revkin last year over at DotEarth.)

The latest video shows that the concept of a White House garden is hardly a new idea. Presidents throughout history have tried to grow their own food, and there was even a White House greenhouse that was torn down to make room for the West Wing. Here are some of the highlights from the history of the White House lawn:

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Global Warming: Tree Deaths Have Doubled Across The Western U.S.

The study, published in the Jan. 23 issue of Science, documented tree deaths in all tree sizes in the West located at varying elevations, including tree types such as pine, fir and hemlock. Significant die-offs also were documented in the interior West -- including Colorado and Arizona -- as well as Northwest regions like northern California, Oregon, Washington and southern British Columbia.

The researchers speculated higher tree deaths could lead to substantial ecological changes in the West, including cascading effects affecting wildlife populations. The tree deaths also could lead to possible increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels contributing to warming, which could stem from lower CO2 uptake and storage by smaller trees and increased CO2 emissions from more dead trees on the forest floors.

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New York Times Launches New Environmental News Team

With energy, business and politics so clearly colliding with environmental concerns, and public attention to global warming waning ... this effort is overdue. But will it work?

January 26, 2009 at 8:35AM by Jim DiPeso
A new Pew Research Center poll reveals that the public is not as concerned about climate change as it was a year ago.

Quite understandable. When the value of your house is sliding downhill, when your retirement fund – if you have one at all – is turning into a puddle, and when your job suddenly feels like a trap door to Palookaville, polar bears inevitably will slip toward the bottom of your things-to-worry-about list.

Still, the poll also revealed an opening for political leaders, starting with our new man in the White House, to exercise leadership on climate in a context that's in phase with worries about jobs, money, and security.

That opening is energy, which is still a source of worry for people who must buy fuel to get around and must pay monthly bills for heating, cooling, lighting, and keeping the milk cold and the showers hot.

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Flood of Foreclosures: It's Worse Than You Think

Friday 23 January 2009

by: Les Christie,

Banks are moving slowly to list repossessed homes for sale, which could mean that housing inventory is even more bloated than current statistics indicate.

New York - Housing might be in worse shape than we think.

There is probably even more excess housing inventory gumming up the market than current statistics indicate, thanks to a wave of foreclosures that has yet to hit the market.

The problem: Many foreclosed homes and other distressed properties that are now owned by banks have yet to be listed for sale. The volume of this so-called "ghost inventory" could be substantial enough to depress already steeply falling prices when it does go on the market.

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In boost for workers, high court affirms shield from employer retaliation

The justices rule that civil rights law protects a woman who was fired after answering questions in a harassment probe.

By Warren Richey | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the January 27, 2009 edition

Employees who provide evidence during an informal investigation of discrimination in the workplace are legally protected against retaliation from the boss or other senior managers.

In an important workers' rights decision announced Monday, the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 shields employees from retaliatory acts even when the employee hasn't filed a formal complaint.

In an eight-page decision written by Justice David Souter, the high court cast a broad blanket of protection over American workers struggling in a hostile work environment. Those employees who help identify and root out allegedly discriminatory actions by senior managers and supervisors – even though they may not have filed a formal complaint – are nonetheless protected from retaliation, the court said.

The decision puts managers and supervisors on notice that they face legal consequences if they use their power in the organization to try to cover up their own discriminatory actions by retaliating against complaining employees. In addition, the decision puts employees on notice that, when they come forward to help expose discrimination in the workplace, they clearly enjoy the protections of the law.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

News That Matters - January 26, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

"In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress."  - John Adams

Good Monday Morning,

It was supposed to be cold yesterday morning but not -3.8º! A week ago on Saturday morning the temp was -3.6º That's two weekends in a row the temperatures dropped below 0º and this morning it was 1.8º. This has been a very cold January and there's no relief in sight. And as of this morning we're looking at the potential of 8-12 inches of snow from tomorrow night into Wednesday. Or rain. Or a 1-3 inches of snow followed by freezing rain. The NWS can't be sure. I hope the crocuses have packed their parkas.

For the past two weekends I've been engaged in a most wonderful experience with the Pied Piper Children's Theater, an educational theater group that has taken over the White Pond Center and is run by John Ryerson and Bonnie Halligan of Lake Carmel.

The Pied Piper Children's Theater offers an intensive after-school program for kids aged from 3-16 in performance, acting and even a Friday night Karaoke in their "Kids Lounge". I ran tech at the just completed run of Grease! which used two casts over two weekends with the Theater selling out for each of its 6 performances. Learn more about this community program here at their website. Coming up this weekend is Peter Pan using their youngest members and students. Beginning in February they'll be casting for their next major performance and when you contact them tell them I sent ya.

Photo courtesy of JDSAVAGE productions.

Here's another take on the story about Southeast and their past wetlands Inspector, Don Cuomo. It's been in the news of late and there's been lots of chatter to go along with it.

When we use the words "crimes against wetlands" and "Southeast" in the same sentence, no one even bats an eye, blinks or 'harummphs' for they know the two go together. Oh, it's not for lack of trying! The Town first has to overcome a negative declaration from their own wetlands inspector in order to reach that lofty goal and they do so with casual ease.

But why go through the hassle of disappointing the experts when you can just get rid of them? That's exactly what Southeast has done: fire their wetlands inspector, Don Cuomo and hire a quisling in his place. The other night the board voted 3-2 to do just that: cancel their contract with Mr. Cuomo and hire Stephen Coleman instead. Mr. Coleman is an environmental coordinator for the Town of New Castle.

Here is a rough sketch of what appeared to have happened prior:

The vote to not to renew Mr. Cuomo's contract was 3-2 with Councilmen Rights and Yee voting to keep him on and Honeck, Johnson and Gross voting to appoint Mr. Coleman.

As some might understand it, Mr. Rights and Mr. Yee were actually going to vote against the re-appointment in exchange for Mr. Gross' vote to replace the Town's planner. When Messers. Johnson and Honeck became aware of this deal, they cut a new deal with Mr. Gross to keep the planner - if they would vote Mr. Cuomo out.

See, in April of 2004, a single lot residence in the Salmons Daily Brook subdivision, owned by Ross Alan and quite near the home of Councilman Gross, was presented to the Conservation Commission (CC). The project had not filed for a wetlands permit and came to the CC because the County Board of Health, seeing water on site, asked for a wetlands review. In visiting the site Mr. Cuomo, then a volunteer on the town's CC, found the same wetlands the county had found. The applicant was asked by the CC to apply for a wetland permit and delineate the controlled areas. Upon this notification the applicant stopped pursuing the project.

In March of 2005, it became apparent that Mr. Alan - or someone - had filled in the onsite wetlands. The violation was brought to the attention of the serving wetlands inspector who asked Mr. Alan to cut the crap. No fines were levied, no remediation mandated and no removal of fill materials were required. In February 2006, a neighboring property owner informed the Conservation Commission that his basement had started to flood since the fill was placed.

The town then ordered the fill removed. (Just kidding. They did nothing.)

Enter Don Cuomo, the Town's new Wetlands Inspector.

The project came back to the Planning Board in October of 2007, while Mr. Cuomo was the Wetlands Inspector. Site visits revealed that the now filled in wetlands were re-emerging as wetlands. The applicant's wetlands professionals confirmed this fact. Mr. Cuomo requested they re-visit the site the following spring (2008) to re-evaluate the extent of the "new" wetlands and the project has not been heard from since.

Now that Mr. Cuomo is out of the picture the project is back before the planning board. And now also, with Mr. Cuomo's departure, how easy do you think it will be for Harold Lepler's massive Route 22 project to move forward and across the wetlands it needs to cross? Is there a connection here?

And now, the News:

  1. A Good Tool To Stop Sprawl
  2. Earthship Trooper
  3. Officials from Putnam, Southeast weigh joint landfill cleanup plan
  4. Making trains and buses more energy efficient
  5. Salazar to Consider 'Liberty' Crown Reopening
  6. Homeless man gets 15 years for stealing $100

A Good Tool To Stop Sprawl

'Granny Flats' • Apartments add vitality, density

January 26, 2009

To counter the wasteful patterns of development that threaten Connecticut's air, energy and scenery, we need to encourage people to use less land and do less driving. One of the easiest and least expensive ways to achieve that goal is to allow owners of single-family homes to add accessory apartments, also known as granny flats or mother-in-law apartments.

These small upstairs or backyard units, with space for one or two people, were common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but were banned by many 20th-century zoning codes. Efforts to legalize them have sometimes drawn opposition from neighbors worried about undesirable renters or parking problems.

Newington is considering a zoning regulation that would allow single rental apartments in neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes. It's a good idea. Properly regulated for such things as size, exterior appearance, parking and owner occupancy, there is little downside.

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Earthship Trooper

By: Michael Haederle

The speed limit posted on the rutted dirt road that winds through the Greater World subdivision is 20 mph, but Michael Reynolds is easily doing twice that as he rides his knobby-tired Yamaha TT500 bike to the job site, his white mane flowing in the slipstream. He pulls up next to a strange-looking structure with curving walls and a row of big, south-facing windows and leads me in the door. The rooms are set side by side, with glass-covered front walls opening onto a corridor running the length of the building. The result is a double greenhouse that captures sunlight pouring in through the windows. Although the June sun is already glaring over the vast mesa outside Taos, N.M., the smooth, mud-plastered walls inside the half-finished building are cool to the touch. "It makes the space that you hang out in 65 to 75 degrees year-round, with no fuel," Reynolds says. That's how it's supposed to be in an Earthship, the self-sustaining dwelling Reynolds has been refining over the past 35 years.

"This is our latest model," Reynolds says. "It'll probably work better than anything we've done." Earthships have earned the 63-year-old renegade architect some attention over the years, much of it from cable television shows marveling at their novel construction. Reynolds builds exterior and interior walls from discarded tires, "steel-belted, rubber-encased bricks" packed tightly with soil. This creates mass that absorbs heat from the sun in the winter but keeps a cool, steady temperature in the summer. Multi-hued glass bottles used as building blocks in bathroom walls admit a jewellike pattern of light, while a honeycomb of aluminum cans and plastic bottles bulks up exterior walls that are later covered with stucco.

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Officials from Putnam, Southeast weigh joint landfill cleanup plan

Susan Elan and Marcela Rojas
The Journal News

Putnam County and Southeast officials are weighing a joint cleanup plan that could resolve environmental headaches each face.

During the summer, the state Department of Environmental Conservation ordered "proper closure" of Putnam's long-unused, 4-acre landfill off Old Route 6.

Southeast has been under a state order for years to cap its 13-acre landfill on Lower Mine Road. To do so, the town needs to add about 50,000 cubic yards of material before a membrane, or impervious covering, can be placed over the landfill, Southeast Councilman Paul Johnson said.

The Southeast Town Board discussed a combined county-town approach to the landfill closures at its Thursday meeting.

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Henry Hudson’s View of New York: When Trees Tipped the Sky


What F. Scott Fitzgerald called the “fresh, green breast of the New World” that greeted Henry Hudson 400 years ago has been reimagined by a senior ecologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Drawing on 18th-century British military maps, the ecologist, Eric W. Sanderson, has painstakingly recreated Manhattan’s rolling landscape — Mannahatta in an American Indian dialect meant “island of many hills,” many of which were all but leveled when the street grid was imposed in the 19th century — that Hudson encountered.

In his coming book, “Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City,” Mr. Sanderson evocatively describes “the old-growth forests, stately wetlands, glittering streams, teeming waters, rolling hills, abundant wildlife and mysterious people.” All in all, a scene hard to reconcile with the contemporary landscape dominated by glass, concrete and asphalt.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is to join Mayor Job Cohen of Amsterdam and other Dutch officials this week in heralding the quadricentennial of Hudson’s voyage of discovery up his eponymous river.

It was 400 years ago this month that Hudson and Dutch merchants negotiated a contract that, it could be argued, would change the face of New York and point America toward the ethnic and racial diversity now personified by President Obama.

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Making trains and buses more energy efficient

I'm looking at a report that says the New York City area's subways and trains could be run partly on wind power in the future, and I'm resisting the temptation to doodle a train with a big sail on top.

What it really means, of course, is that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority might get some of its energy from windmills floating far off shore in the coming years. It's part of the MTA's sustainability report, which proposes that the transit giant find ways to pull 80 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050.

That's a tall order for the vast network of subway lines, commuter trains and buses plus nine bridges and tunnels. But MTA leaders say it can be done. One idea is to join with other entities, like the New York Power Authority, in looking for an off-shore wind farm capable of producing 1,500 megawatts of energy. With its substantial need for power, the MTA would serve as a catalyst for such a project, said Ernest Tollerson, director of policy and media relations.

"We'd be a reliable source of supply, which would also help the entity building the wind farm line up the financing," Tollerson said.

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Salazar to Consider 'Liberty' Crown Reopening

NEW YORK (AP)  -- Newly confirmed Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar chose the Statue of Liberty to make his first official public appearance outside Washington, and local lawmakers hope the symbolic act will lead to the reopening of part of the iconic monument.

Steve Sandberg Reports

More than seven years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Statue of Liberty's crown and the circular stairway leading up to it remain closed to the public due to safety concerns.
After a climb up those 168 stairs to the crown on Friday that he described as a ``thrilling, emotional experience,'' Salazar sounded an optimistic, if measured, tone.

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Homeless man gets 15 years for stealing $100

Roy Brown, 54, robbed the Capital One bank in Shreveport, Louisiana in December 2007. He approached the teller with one of his hands under his jacket and told her that it was a robbery.

The teller handed Brown three stacks of bill but he only took a single $100 bill and returned the remaining money back to her. He said that he was homeless and hungry and left the bank.

The next day he surrendered to the police voluntarily and told them that his mother didn’t raise him that way.

Brown told the police he needed the money to stay at the detox center and had no other place to stay and was hungry.

In Caddo District Court, he pleaded guilty. The judge sentenced him to 15 years in prison for first degree robbery.

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