Wednesday, January 21, 2009

News That Matters - January 21, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Wednesday Morning,

It's 1.8º here at PlanPutnam Central this morning when the weather reports promised a warm 8º. Luckily the pipes haven't frozen and I've gotta say, I think this has been the coldest month ever. Don't we usually have a thaw, two or three days in a row where the temps hit 50 each January? I'm really in the mood for that now!

Reports in from Inaugural celebrations last evening were all quite good. In an email sent late last night I.B. wrote to say that the Carmel party was wonderful. I stopped in at Kent's celebration which filled the back room at McCarthy's on Route 52 and then headed over to Putnam Valley's party at Camp Combe on Peekskill Hollow Road. More than 200 people packed into the assembly hall there. John Cohen organized live music while he, David Amram, Drew Howland, David Santos and others performed for the crowd. State Assemblywoman Sandy Galef was there but beat a hasty retreat after I came in. There's this thing about real property tax reform you see...

Now that the celebrations are over, we need to refocus on New York state's budget. Governor Paterson has proposed a budget that raises taxes on a sundry list of items like iTunes purchases and sugar-filled sodas while we're not really seeing any movement on the way we pay for state services. While there is some movement in Albany to reassess the income tax structure, more needs to be done to ask wealthy New Yorkers to pay more of an affordable share via their income taxes. That's the kind of talk folk like Assemblywoman Galef do not want to hear about: she has to protect the voters in Haverstraw while of most of us pick up their tab. Keep an eye on this issue as it's going to make the difference in the State budget process.

And now, the news:

  1. Villa Barone ballroom seeks link to Carmel sewer district
  2. Video Shows Green Practices to Manage Stormwater Runoff
  3. DEC Announces Draft Open Space Plan
  4. In Babylon, an Incentive for Energy Efficiency
  5. Eminent Domain Fight Pits Fairview Against Cliffside Park
  6. In Albany, an Expectation of Higher Taxes for the Rich
  7. America can’t afford marijuana prohibition – it’s a matter of dollars and sense.
  8. Why banks still teeter, after $232 billion in aid
  9. Anarchism For Beginners

Villa Barone ballroom seeks link to Carmel sewer district

Barbara Livingston Nackman
The Journal News

MAHOPAC - Villa Barone restaurant and ballroom, whose elaborate expansions and brisk business have delighted many partygoers and raised the ire of some neighbors, has asked the town of Carmel to allow it to connect to a sewer district.

Though there haven't been any major septic problems yet, owners say connection to Sewer District No 1. would let them get rid of an aging wastewater system and avoid issues that could arise.

"I would like to do this because I have concerns for the future," said Gianni Crecco, who co-owns Villa Barone Hilltop Manor with his brother, Nick.

"It is peace of mind," Crecco said.

He estimates that the roughly 2,200-foot connection to the town sewer would cost $250,000, which also includes a pump under the Villa Barone parking lot.

Read More

Video Shows Green Practices to Manage Stormwater Runoff

Contact: Enesta Jones, (202) 564-4355/7873/

(Washington, D.C. – Jan. 15, 2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Botanic Garden produced an on-line video, “Reduce Runoff: Slow It Down, Spread It Out, Soak It In,” that highlights green techniques such as rain gardens, green roofs and rain barrels to help manage stormwater runoff.

The film showcases green techniques that are being used in urban areas to reduce the effects of stormwater runoff on the quality of downstream receiving waters. The goal is to mimic the natural way water moves through an area before development by using design techniques that infiltrate, evaporate, and reuse runoff close to its source.

The techniques are innovative stormwater management practices that manage urban stormwater runoff at its source, and are very effective at reducing the volume of stormwater runoff and capturing harmful pollutants. Using vegetated areas that capture runoff also improves air quality, mitigates the effects of urban heat islands and reduces a community’s overall carbon footprint.

The video highlights green techniques on display in 2008 at the U.S. Botanic Garden’s “One Planet – Ours!” Exhibit" and at the U.S. EPA in Washington, D.C., including recently completed cisterns.

To watch the video: More information on stormwater management:

DEC Announces Draft Open Space Plan

"The DRAFT 2009 Open Space Conservation Plan is now available for public comment. We encourage you to review this draft Plan and provide comments, so that the final Plan submitted to Governor Paterson later this year represents the best strategy for how our State, our partners and we, as citizens, should move forward to conserve our common
outdoor heritage.

New Plan Identifies Conservation Priorities

"The newly revised document demonstrates our state's renewed commitment to plan, prioritize, and enable citizen and government actions to conserve vital and threatened open spaces. The plan provides attainable priorities to coordinate and focus our many efforts.

"We urge you to read the plan and discover how open space conservation can be used to respond to climate change, foster green, healthy communities, connect people to nature and recreation, and safeguard & enhance our state's unique natural & cultural heritage."

Region 3 - Lower Hudson Valley  January 22      Overlook Lodge, Bear
Mountain State Park, Bear Mountain, NY
1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Workshop
2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Public Hearing
7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Public Hearing

You may email comments to:

The pdf files for the plan and more information are at

In Babylon, an Incentive for Energy Efficiency



UNTIL it was repaired, a faulty spring on a pull-down attic staircase allowed heat to seep through a two-inch gap at the ceiling of Michael and Peggy Chambers’s split-level home here, resulting in higher heating bills. “We were heating the attic,” Mr. Chambers said.

Mr. Chambers, 58, senior associate executive director of psychiatry at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center in Brooklyn, and Mrs. Chambers, 52, an aide at Harding Avenue Elementary School in Lindenhurst, said that they knew other energy-saving repair work was needed on their modest four-level residence, but that they could not afford the thousands of dollars to pay for it.

But when the couple received a pamphlet last summer from the Town of Babylon about the Long Island Green Homes initiative, a program that would cover energy-efficient home improvements at little or no upfront cost to homeowners, they decided to participate.

A few weeks ago the Chamberses became the first residents in Babylon to have energy-efficient improvements completed.

Any of Babylon’s 65,000 homeowners who qualify can receive up to $12,000 worth of energy-efficient work done by employees that the town contracts with.

Read More

Eminent Domain Fight Pits Fairview Against Cliffside Park

FAIRVIEW, NJ (AP)  -- Bridget Tapkas is by no means the only New Jersey property owner to fight government efforts to acquire land under the state's eminent domain laws.

Her story has a twist, however: It's a neighboring town that wants her property.

The dispute has renewed debate over the contentious issue of eminent domain - which allows a government to take land needed for a public purpose or redevelopment after paying a fair price for it - and pitted the small towns of Fairview and Cliffside Park against each other.

Cliffside Park notified Tapkas last October that it would use eminent domain to obtain a 22,000-square-foot former lace factory building in Fairview that it has rented from Tapkas' family since 2007 for storage and maintenance of its public works vehicles.

Fairview's borough council had already given Cliffside Park authority to use eminent domain to acquire a separate property near the Tapkas property that the two towns plan to use for a joint public works facility. That project has been stalled due to flood control issues, according to Fairview Mayor Vincent Bellucci.

Read More

In Albany, an Expectation of Higher Taxes for the Rich

ALBANY — Warning to rich New Yorkers: The tax man might be digging deeper into your pockets in the years ahead.

There is a growing sense in the capital that legislators are likely to turn to an income tax increase on the wealthiest New Yorkers to help close the state’s $15 billion deficit, now that Democrats control the Senate, the Assembly and the governor’s office.

The Assembly, where Democrats have an overwhelming majority, has long supported increasing taxes on the wealthy, and Sheldon Silver, the Assembly speaker, reiterated this month that there continued to be strong backing for the measure among his colleagues.

Gov. David A. Paterson, a Democrat, did not propose any income tax increases in his budget proposal, but acknowledged in last month that “taxing the wealthy is probably going to be part of the solution if the deficit gets any worse, and all indications are that it probably will.”

That could leave the matter in the hands of the Senate, where Democrats won a narrow majority in November. Senator Eric T. Schneiderman, a Manhattan Democrat, said that he planned to introduce a bill in the coming weeks that would increase taxes on the rich, and that he expected his colleagues to have an active debate about the issue.

Read More

America can’t afford marijuana prohibition – it’s a matter of dollars and sense.

By Anita Bartholomew,  January 14, 2009

With our economy going to pot, President-elect Obama has promised a “top-to-bottom audit to eliminate spending for programs that don’t work.” So, here’s a sane, simple proposal to save the country billions of dollars a year: end the war on marijuana users.

This failed and counter-productive program is an assault on people who pose virtually no threat to themselves or anyone else, certainly no more than that all-American "Joe Sixpack" revered in our recent presidential election.

Yet, getting caught with a few seeds or trace marijuana residue on a pipe is enough in some jurisdictions to trigger an arrest. Most who favor continuing the war assume that law enforcement focuses on sweeping up kingpins and members of cartels. But, here’s a sobering statistic. Of the 872,000 arrests in 2007 for marijuana-related offenses, almost 90 percent were for simple possession of the dried vegetation in question. The typical arrestee is younger than 30. Think college-age kid caught lighting up a joint. Now, multiply that by 775,000 — that’s where a significant chunk of your drug war dollars are going.

Read More

Why banks still teeter, after $232 billion in aid

Losses on mortgage debt, followed by recession woes such as corporate bankruptcies and rising defaults on credit cards, delivered a one-two punch.

By Ron Scherer | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the January 20, 2009 edition

New York - The troubled banking system continues to need help from Uncle Sam, even after a recent infusion of $232 billion, compliments of the US Treasury.

The main reason banks will likely get another taxpayer assist of, say, $200 billion: Their own balance sheets remain fragile, and almost no one else will give them new capital.

Banks sought billions in taxpayer assistance last year because of their losses in the mortgage and housing markets. Now, they are getting pinched by the recession as consumers miss payments on credit-card bills, developers default on loans for new office towers, and a rising number of companies go bankrupt.

"We are estimating they will need another $100 billion to $200 billion to offset their write-offs and keep their capital ratios in line," says Brian Bethune, chief US financial economist at IHS/Global Insight in Lexington, Mass., an economic forecasting and analysis firm. "After the problem in housing two years ago, we are getting these compounding effects from the recession."

Read More

Anarchism For Beginners

Posted by Ed Cutlip on Saturday, January 17, 2009 at 2:34 PM

Anarchism is a political ideology that has been largely forgotten among the political mainstream and has been largely forgotten by the institutionalized left. While a number of socialist and communist newspapers continue to be published across the United States, anarchism has considerable less public visibility. However, as Marcos Mayer shows in Anarchism For Beginners, despite its lack of visibility since the Second World War, anarchism remains a popular political philosophy. Unlike many mainstream histories of the topic that treat anarchism as a distinctly 19th and 20th century phenomenon, Mayer argues that anarchism continues to have influence on society, particularly after the Soviet experience discredited the socialist and communist left.

Read More

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