Monday, February 16, 2009

News That Matters - February 16, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

"I'd always imagined that growing grains requires acres and acres of prairie just to make it worth your while," says McLeod. "But Logsdon shows that just 1/40th of an acre -- the amount of space taken up by a single-car garage, is enough space to grow the wheat you need to enjoy a loaf of bread every week for a year." (see article below)

Good Monday Morning,

Today is President's Day, another one of those national holidays that isn't.

It was all over Kent this weekend - at the Library, at a musical performance, people were talking and they were all saying the same thing: "Did you see that meeting the other night?"

The meeting they were referring to was a planning board session last Thursday  where the FEIS for Patterson Crossing was panned, mangled and justifiably maligned - and all for a good cause, of course: keeping the darned thing out of here.

Also in Kent this past weekend, local singer/songwriter Kati Mac brought three of her friends together; Carmel's Mike Coffey and Steve Kirkman and Peter Calo drove up from Westchester to perform in, "My Furry Valentine", a fund raiser for the Putnam Humane Society. The house was full and from my vantage point behind the tech table, everyone was having a really great time.

Greenburgh town supervisor Joel Feiner, in an effort to lower some property taxes has posited that the four lower-Hudson counties of Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Putnam merge into a super county to alleviate duplication of services. While merging smaller governments into larger ones would save money (think School Districts!) I'm not sure that Putnam fits in, philosophically, with those others.

According to a report in the NYJN this morning, Putnam County is moving forward with its sex-offender residency laws in the face of a court challenge to the same in Rockland. The law would prohibit level two or level three sex offenders from living within 1000 feet of most places young children congregate. However, under some laws, urinating in public can land you a sex offense as well as being 19 and having consensual relations with a 17 year old. There are some bad people out there and we need to keep an eye on them, but there are also many who have been swept up in the hysteria and studies are showing that tougher laws actually have a negative effect. There's a balance and a benefit to the community when cooler, logical heads prevail and we should urge the county to pursue that path.

“Beer and Fun at Every Hole”
No, that's not an advert for a gay singles party, it's a published announcement for a fund raiser from the Assemblyman in the 99th AD.

The Assemblyman who shall not be named isn't forming any kind of exploratory committee for a run for Congress, if you read his blogs he's waist deep in the Big Muddy already. The puff pieces, the semantic gymnastics... all of it.

Here's a take from one recent post on of his many blogs:
"Just a year ago at this time, we had a President who spent every hour of the day protecting the Homeland, a year ago, we had a President who was feared and respected by terrorists, Akmadinajad and the rest of our enemies, our GDP was growing at a red hot rate of 1.4%, unemployment was at 4.7%, our national debt was a mere $8.5 Trillion, we had a Treasury and a Health and Human Services Secretary who paid their income taxes, we had a CIA Director who came to the job with experience in Intelligence and Security, and we had a Justice Department committed to protecting the lives and rights of Americans instead of the lives and rights of terrorists jailed at Gittmo; THOSE WERE THE GOOD OLE DAYS!!"
The writer has an interesting problem with history and reality but we can only deal with one of those two in this short space.

The writer convieniently forgets that Wall Street failed and that the largest forced transfer of wealth - ever - from the working classes to the rich happened during the "GOOD OLE DAYS!!" That the end of workers rights, the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, and a significant decline in the value of your homes all took place during those same GOOD OLE DAYS. That the Constitution was shredded and our nation proudly and openly tortured people and suspended habeas corpus during the GOOLD OLE DAYS. I suppose that's what the Assemblyman and his supporters refer to and I'm guessing would like to see more of in the future.

But get ready for more - you're going to be deluged by a continued twisted sense of reality for the next two years. It makes you wonder... how does he have time to *be* an Assemblyman?

While peace talks go on in Cairo, Gazans lobbed two more rockets into a kibbutz in Israel this morning at a time when school children were making their way to schools. This follows a pattern set during the past several weeks. On the other hand, the Israeli government gave approvals for the use of 1700 dunams (about 425 acres) of land in the West Bank for the expansion of illegal settlements. One has to wonder what it will take to knock some sense into these people?

And lastly this President's Day, the company who made peanut butter a life or death adventure has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

And now, the News:

  1. Rebuild and expand
  2. Sheriff faces challengers from all corners
  3. Oregon Corners meeting 
  4. Grow Your Own Bread!
  5. Mobile Clinic Treats 'Mountain Dew Mouth'
  6. How Much is a Trillion?
  7. Cut the Military Budget

Rebuild and expand

A NYJN Editorial

The future of the Putnam Arts Council is uncertain, and that's a shame. Putnam residents of all ages benefit from the nonprofit arts council's programs, gallery exhibitions, studio classes and summer camps. Thousands more benefit from the council's work as an umbrella organization for nearly all the arts organizations in the county. At least 40 diverse groups, from the Brewster Theater Company to the Garrison Art Center to the Putnam Chorale, receive guidance or support from the council. Local artists know it is the place to go for funding to bring art projects to life in Putnam. Indeed, as the only arts council in the county, it alone is charged with disseminating state arts grants to local artists.

Two years ago this month, a fire destroyed part of the arts council's home, the Belle Levine Art Center, in Mahopac. The council had been officially operating at that Kennicut Hill Road site since 1963, and Executive Director Joyce Picone was eager to return. Though the council was ready to rebuild soon after the fire, officials were delayed when the Town of Carmel discovered that there was no record of a variance allowing the center to operate in a neighborhood that is otherwise residential. That sent the council back to square one. No matter. They applied to the zoning board for a use variance as if the center were a newcomer - rather than an organization with a decades-old history at the location - and patiently awaited the ruling. While the approvals process proceeded, the council found temporary quarters at Tilly Foster Farm in Southeast. (More on that later.)

Read More

Sheriff faces challengers from all corners

Terence Corcoran
The Journal News

CARMEL - Putnam County Sheriff Donald B. Smith is facing challenges from nearly every corner of the county as he seeks a third term this November.

Smith, 61, a retired Army brigadier general who served as Putnam's deputy county executive, ran unopposed in 2005. But four other candidates have announced their intention to challenge him this year, giving Smith his first opposition since 2001, when he handily defeated Robert Thoubboron, a powerful four-term incumbent.

The challengers are Kevin McConville, 52, a former New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority police chief from Cold Spring; Andrew DeStefano, 44, a retired New York City police captain from Patterson; former Southeast Justice James Borkowski, 46; and Gordon Moccio, a 49-year-old Kent resident who is a Lewisboro police officer.

Read More

Oregon Corners meeting 

By Dawn Powell
Oregon Corners meeting, and you missed it. – February 11, 2009

February – short month, but lots of meetings. I’ll get caught up, but I’ll start with the Oregon Corners meeting, since it dovetails nicely with the North County News article about Peekskill Hollow Road.

I’ll bet you didn’t know there was an Oregon Corners meeting. Hardly anyone did. I looked at the website calendar yesterday, and saw a 5:30 meeting listed – pres/RBA – Oregon Corners. Now I could guess what this meant, but if in the somewhat unlikely event that anyone else did happen to see it, it is somewhat less likely that they would understand it.
In case you don’t read the lohud – Putnam Valley blog (the late breaking news was there first), I won’t keep you in suspense. There was a presentation from a New Jersey planner hired by Putnam County to create a plan for Oregon Corners. Very simple. No pesky public to deal with, no irate business owners, no feedback at all. They consulted the Putnam County Savings Bank, a corner property owner with an application pending before the Planning and Zoning boards, and the Putnam County Highway Department, who has their own plan for Oregon Corners, which they do not care to hear your comments on.

I know people who care about Oregon Corners. I know people who would like their voices to be heard, who deserve that their voices be heard. And if they had known about this meeting, they would have been there.

Read More

Grow Your Own Bread!

Raise wheat in your yard, turn it into two loafs a week. Locavore, or just loco?
By James Glave
Published: February 11, 2009

Making homemade bread has taken on a whole new meaning.

Brock McLeod and Heather Walker will teach you how to start your own wheat field. Even if you live in the heart of the city.

"We want to see a reintroduction of people growing grains for themselves in their backyards," says McLeod who, together with Walker, has created Island Grains, a new participatory farming project on Vancouver Island.

"If we can start growing wheat locally, if there is enough demand for it, well, that could really help revise the food system."

Read More

Mobile Clinic Treats 'Mountain Dew Mouth'

After ABC News Report, PepsiCo Offers Support to Dentist Working in Appalachia

Feb. 13, 2009

PepsiCo, the makers of Mountain Dew soda, says it has reached out to a dentist working to save children's teeth in eastern Kentucky, after ABC News reports on the problem of tooth decay, or "Mountain Dew mouth," in the region.

Dr. Edwin Smith, a dentist in Barbourville, Ky., invested $150,000 of his own money to build a mobile dental clinic, Kids First Dental Care, inside an 18-wheel truck.

In a statement, PepsiCo said that its vice president of global health policy had reached out to Smith to learn more about his clinic after Smith's appearance on "Good Morning America" today.

Read More

How Much is a Trillion?

“It’d be a trillion-dollar war if it stopped today.” - Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Oct 14, 2007, “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”

So how much is a Trillion? Well, starting out smaller, 1,000 Thousands equals 1 Million (1,000,000); 1,000 Millions equals 1 Billion (1,000,000,000); and 1,000 Billions equals 1 Trillion (1,000,000,000,000). A Trillion can also be thought of as a Million Millions, but let’s not go terribly crazy. So how can you relate to such a mind-numbing number like one Trillion?
Let’s start with money. Let’s imagine that you have a fantastic job that pays you one dollar for every second you work. (As you will see, there are people who get paid more than that.) There are 60 seconds in a minute and 60 minutes in an hour. If you were only getting paid for as 40-hour work week for all 52 weeks of the year, you would still be getting paid $7,488,000 in a year. And if you were getting your $1/sec rate for every second of the year, you would take in $31,536,000 for the entire year. At that rate, to earn a trillion dollars, you would have to work more than 31,709 years! And even if they magnanimously paid you $1,000/sec, it would still take you more than 31 years to earn that first $1 Trillion. They say the war in Iraq is costing taxpayers about $2 Billion dollars per week. There are 3,600 seconds in an hour, 24 hours in a day, and 7 days in a week for a total of 604,800 seconds per week. At $2 Billion per week, the Iraq War costs us over $3,000 every second! Can I borrow a couple of bucks for the rent this month?

Read More

Cut the Military Budget

By Barney Frank

This article appeared in the March 2, 2009 edition of The Nation.

I am a great believer in freedom of expression and am proud of those times when I have been one of a few members of Congress to oppose censorship. I still hold close to an absolutist position, but I have been tempted recently to make an exception, not by banning speech but by requiring it. I would be very happy if there was some way to make it a misdemeanor for people to talk about reducing the budget deficit without including a recommendation that we substantially cut military spending.

Sadly, self-described centrist and even liberal organizations often talk about the need to curtail deficits by cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs that have a benign social purpose, but they fail to talk about one area where substantial budget reductions would have the doubly beneficial effect of cutting the deficit and diminishing expenditures that often do more harm than good. Obviously people should be concerned about the $700 billion Congress voted for this past fall to deal with the credit crisis. But even if none of that money were to be paid back--and most of it will be--it would involve a smaller drain on taxpayer dollars than the Iraq War will have cost us by the time it is concluded, and it is roughly equivalent to the $651 billion we will spend on all defense in this fiscal year.

When I am challenged by people--not all of them conservative--who tell me that they agree, for example, that we should enact comprehensive universal healthcare but wonder how to pay for it, my answer is that I do not know immediately where to get the funding but I know whom I should ask. I was in Congress on September 10, 2001, and I know there was no money in the budget at that time for a war in Iraq. So my answer is that I will go to the people who found the money for that war and ask them if they could find some for healthcare.

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