Tuesday, February 17, 2009

News That Matters - February 17, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

"Remember - everyone seems normal until you get to know them."

Good Tuesday Morning,

Minnesota is still down one US Senator. The race between incumbent Norm Coleman and Al Franken (Mr. Franken still leads by 225 votes) has been in the courts time and again and they keep telling Mr. Coleman the same thing: "Give it up, dude. It's over." But he's not paying attention.

Blackwater Worldwide, the security organization many on the political Left were afraid would take over the world via fiat during the Bush Administration has changed it's name to Xe (pronounced "zee"). The organization, faulted for mistreatment, abuse and several murders, aims to clear its name and rebirth itself as "those really nice guys in black".

Utah's Republican Governor Jon Huntsman has endorsed civil unions and that has created quite a stir in the Beehive state. “I believe in traditional marriage. I always have. But I also believe there's more we can do in terms of enhancing those individual rights for others," said the Governor during a television interview this past weekend. Mormons in Utah have sworn to marry only one wife until the Governor is run out of state.

Website Watch:

The Stimulus Plan: A Detailed List of Spending: The House approved the economic stimulus plan [last] Friday afternoon with a vote of 246 to 183, followed by the Senate with a vote of 60 to 38. Want to know what's in it? You could read the 1,071-page gorilla that passed today. Or you could let us do the work for you. We’ve dissected the beast in two charts – one for spending, and one for taxes.

Green Depot: Founded in November 2005, Green Depot is a leading supplier of environmentally friendly and sustainable building products, services and solutions. Its primary goal is to facilitate green living and building in communities so that it is accessible, affordable and gratifying. Green Depot has showrooms in Brooklyn, Newark, Philadelphia, Boston, Greenport, Chicago, Albany (2009) and Newark, DE (2009), a new flagship retail location in Manhattan, and 10 additional distribution centers spanning the Northeast.

And now, The News:

  1. Borkowski announces candidacy for Putnam Sheriff
  2. Cost of New (NY) Taxes: $3300 Annually, Says State GOP Leaders
  3. Longtime Cold Spring mayor faces a re-election challenge
  4. EPA Grants Bring Green Education to New York Teachers and Students
  5. Will Obama Jumpstart Home Gardening and Local Farming?
  6. EPA Settlement Nets Over $12 Million for Cleanup of Newburgh Superfund Site
  7. Tale of the House Mouse
  8. Net threat to minors less than feared

Borkowski announces candidacy for Putnam Sheriff

Terence Corcoran
The Journal News

MAHOPAC - Former Southeast Town Justice James Borkowski joined a growing list of candidates for the office of Putnam County Sheriff today when he announced his candidacy at a news conference at the Mahopac Public Library.

Borkowski became the fifth candidate to announce his intention to seek the seat that current Sheriff Donald B. Smith has held since 2002.

The field already includes Smith, a two-term incumbent and 61-year-old retired Army brigadier general; Andrew DeStefano, a retired New York City police captain from Patterson; Kevin McConville, a retired MTA Police chief from Cold Spring; and Gordon Moccio, a Lewisboro police officer from Kent.

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Cost of New (NY) Taxes: $3300 Annually, Says State GOP Leaders

The 137 tax and fee increases proposed by Gov. David Paterson to close a budget hole would cost a middle-class family of four $3,300 a year, according to computations by Senate Republicans.

Such a hit would “not only exhaust any monthly savings for emergencies, but (also) force families to reduce spending to pay for additional taxes and fees,’’ Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, said today.

Skelos wants the governor, who proposed the increases to help close a $13 billion state budget deficit for the fiscal year that starts April 1, to hold off on any tax-hike ideas until the state knows how much it is getting from the federal government’s stimulus package, which is being debated this week in Congress.

There was no immediate response to the GOP calculations from Paterson’s Budget Division.

Read More

Longtime Cold Spring mayor faces a re-election challenge

Barbara Livingston Nackman
The Journal News

COLD SPRING - Anthony Phillips, Cold Spring's mayor since 1993, is facing a challenge in his re-election bid from Trustee Seth Gallagher, a musical instrument maker.

Gallagher, 44, is midway into his second board term. His criticism of Phillips for filling his own car at the village pump without keeping records forced more formalized procedures for use of the municipality's pump. He also zeroed in on the village's financial woes, bringing about a change in its internal accounting systems.

Phillips, 68, is a retired carpenter who has led and overseen many village projects - sewer plant upgrades, building public restrooms and a visitor center on Main Street, and road improvements.

"There are too many issues that remain unsettled, and with the economic times, I still feel confident that my leadership and expertise on different issues is good, and has been for the last 16 years," Phillips said.

Read More

EPA Grants Bring Green Education to New York Teachers and Students

Contact Information: Teresa Ippolito (212) 637-3671, ippolito.teresa@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y.) Green education is flourishing in New York and will grow with support from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency environmental education grants. Youngsters will learn how to protect themselves from asthma triggers while enjoying a lively interactive life. Teachers will explore energy, ecology, and conservation activities that will engage their students. High school students will green their school building, while other students and teachers study forestry in urban parks. These environmental stewardship projects were all made possible through EPA grants totaling more than $106,000.

“It is so important for young people to experience and understand how our air, water and land can be improved by people of all ages who know about and care for them,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator George Pavlou. “These programs will give educators and students the knowledge and skills they need to become the present and future caretakers of their environment.”

Read More

Will Obama Jumpstart Home Gardening and Local Farming?

So far, President Obama hasn't responded to calls from the likes of Eat the View to plant an organic garden on the White House lawn, but Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack took a modest step toward encouraging more home gardening this week.

Commemorating President Lincoln's 200th birthday (Lincoln founded the Department of Agriculture in 1862) Vilsack held a ceremonial shovel above a 1,250-square foot patch of pavement and pledged to rip it up in favor of a garden that would demonstrate how Americans can incorporate beautiful gardens that conserve water, include native plants and feed wildlife and pollinators like bees and butterflies.

In doing so, he called attention to the problems of a paved landscape -- polluted runoff flows quickly off pavement and roofs, eroding streams to the point that they are inhospitable to fish, and leaving the groundwater that feeds residential wells starved for water. The unglamorous terms for this: "impervious surfaces" creating "non-point source pollution" -- that is, the kind of pollution that doesn't spit out of a smokestack or a discharge pipe. This pollution is the most serious, ongoing and difficult-to-manage sources of pollution to the nation's water. In the case of Vilsack's new garden, it will make a humble contribution to water quality in the vast and degraded Chesapeake watershed.

Read More

EPA Settlement Nets Over $12 Million for Cleanup of Newburgh Superfund Site

Release date: 02/09/2009

Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez (212) 637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y.) Last week, parties considered potentially responsible for the contamination at Consolidated Iron and Metal Superfund site in Newburgh, New York agreed to pay EPA just over $12 million toward cleaning up the site. An agreement with the cities of Newburgh and Poughkeepsie, Connell Limited Partnership, International Business Machines Corporation, and Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, Inc., as well as 13 other settling parties, was entered with the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on February 3, 2009. EPA will use the funds to clean up the contamination at the site.

“EPA has already done a great deal at the Consolidated Iron and Metal site,” said George Pavlou, Acting Regional Administrator. “We are extremely satisfied with the agreement and look forward to completing the cleanup of this site so that the community can one day put the property back to productive use.”

Read More

Tale of the House Mouse

The stimulus has "$30 million in there to protect mice in San Francisco." 
Ruling: False

There is a provision in the economic stimulus plan that means that "students cannot meet together in their dorms, if that dorm has been repaired with this federal money, and have a prayer group or a Bible study."
Ruling: False

From: Politifact
By Angie Drobnic Holan

Many Republicans definitely don't like the stimulus bill. They've called it wasteful and pork-laden.

But they've also said it had money to protect San Francisco mice, and that it could prevent college students from holding Bible studies in their dorms.

We found both claims to be False.

• Several Republicans claimed this week that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi put $30 million in a bill to protect the salt marsh harvest mouse.  We looked into the issue, though, and found that was not the case. There's no money for mice in the bill. There might -- or might not -- be money for a major coastal restoration project in California that could help out the mice. And a state agency submitted the project, not Pelosi. We rate the claim, made most plainly by Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, as False.

• Sen. Jim DeMint said a clause in the stimulus bill "would make sure that students could never talk openly and honestly about their faith." We looked into this and found the bill contained standard language that says money can go to colleges for buildings, but not buildings for "sectarian instruction or religious worship; or in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission." We rated DeMint's statement False as well.

Read More

Net threat to minors less than feared

by Larry Magid
WASHINGTON -- A long awaited report from the Internet Safety Technical Task Force concludes that children and teens are less vulnerable to sexual predation than many have feared. The report also questions the efficacy and necessity of some commonly prescribed remedies designed to protect young people.

What the task force did find is that "bullying and harassment, most often by peers, are the most salient threats that minors face, both online and offline."

The task force was formed as a result of a joint agreement between MySpace and 49 state attorneys general.

Over the past couple of years, several state AGs have been looking into potential dangers to youth, and some have called for social-network sites to use age verification technology to confirm the ages of users in an attempt to prevent adults from or interacting online with minors. The task force includes representatives of Internet and social-networking companies, security and identity authentication vendors, and nonprofit advocacy organizations. It's chaired by John Palfrey of Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Read More

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