Tuesday, February 3, 2009

News That Matters - February 3, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Tuesday Morning,

My computer is sick again so there may be a lack of me in your inbox over the next few days. You'll be fine. Just relax, take deeeeep breaths.... exhale slowly. There you go!

Since early yesterday morning there were over two-hundred visits to the pages about the Tilly Foster lease agreement at the NtM blog site. That's pretty impressive and it means you care. Now it's up to the Legislature to listen and amend the agreement. It's not like your concerns are all over the place, they just focus in on a few items not addressed in this latest proposal. Does anyone want to bet on what the Legislature will do on Thursday when they vote on this? Take the poll!

That Assemblyman from the 99th District claims he may, or may not, put an exploratory committee together to decide on a run for Congress against John Hall in 2010. This amounts to an announcement that he will run, just as was predicted in these pages years ago. Progressive Democrats don't believe he's a threat to Mr. Hall and have routinely ignored his bellicose ways even though were warned about this a long time ago. I can't see how he can be an Assemblyman and run for Congress at the same time but then being an Assemblyman was never really his thing.

Scientific American published a report yesterday that says profiling is no more accurate than selecting people at random when searching for terrorist behavior. We knew that. You knew that. But when the government tells you that profiling *is* better you believe them. Seems like you've been profiled!

Website Watch:

Got an itch for some of that classic rock and roll from the 60's? Did you miss out on some of those legendary concerts by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Neil Young at his greatest and the Allman Brothers? Were you too stoned to drive to Milwaukee for that Dead show in 1970? Well, pine no longer! Wolfgang's Vault brings you these shows and hundreds more all for the price of a mouse click. The recording quality of most shows is near excellent and most have never before appeared on vinyl (remember vinyl?) or tape so this is a great opportunity to hear the music you miss the most.

And now, the News:

  1. County leaders clash on cost of lawyers
  2. Putnam sheriff's new inspector general already at work
  3. The Largest Energy Savings Project In History
  4. Hudson Valley Havens
  5. Biofuels Ignite Food Crisis Debate
  6. US infrastructure 'not improved'
  7. Senate Sergeant at Arms Joins Facebook To Apologize To Inaugural Ticket Holders
  8. Following Limbaugh is not the path for Republicans

County leaders clash on cost of lawyers

Susan Elan
The Journal News

Putnam's Law Department is doing more of the county's legal work in-house than in previous years, but proposals to pay a member of the department a stipend for additional duties and to give outside business to former County Attorney Carl Lodes are stirring controversy.

Lodes, who now has a private practice in Carmel, won a county contract to handle tax certiorari cases for the county. Tax certiorari is the legal process by which property owners challenge their assessments.

Putnam Legislator Tony Hay, R-Southeast, wants to know why Lodes wasn't doing that work himself during his 16-year tenure with Putnam. For years, Hay complained that the county Law Department under Lodes' leadership spent too much taxpayer money on outside lawyers, a figure that climbed to $2.3 million from 2003 to 2007.

Read More

Putnam sheriff's new inspector general already at work

Michael Risinit
The Journal News

CARMEL - Terry Intrary, the new watchdog for the Putnam County Sheriff's Office, said there was no honeymoon in his new job.

"I got sworn in and I already had a mission assigned," Intrary said yesterday, his first day as Putnam County Sheriff Donald B. Smith's inspector general. "My function is to be (Smith's) eyes and ears and work within the framework of the department."

Intrary, a former county legislator and a retired police officer, replaced Patrick Perry, the inspector general since 2002. Smith said the position isn't tied to specific duties, like the undersheriff, but monitors the entire department.

Smith is a retired brigadier general and a former Army inspector general. He pointed to Army regulations describing the inspector-general position as an extension of the commander as well as a sufficiently independent one so those seeking assistance feel free to do so.

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The Largest Energy Savings Project In History

When the Department of Energy revises energy efficiency standards for lamps, it has a chance to dramatically reduce electricity demand. Here's how.

DOE recently released the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for general service fluorescent (GSFL) and incandescent reflector lamps (IRL). See the actual document or an advocacy press release.

GSFLs are the tube shaped fluorescent lights hanging in every office, while IRLs are the recessed "can" lights that are so popular in homes right now. Lamps = bulbs in geek speak. If you consider how often you see these types of lights, maybe the potential energy savings will be a little less shocking.

This is largest potential energy savings of any appliance standard in history.

The standard as proposed is projected to save by 2042:

9.6 quadrillion BTUs of energy
$39.7 billion of consumer dollars spent on energy
3850 MW of generating capacity
509 million metric tons of CO2
804 kilotons of NOx
8.6 tons of mercury

That is a lot. 9.6 quads of energy would power 101 of the 111 million homes in the country.

Read More

Hudson Valley Havens

by Anne Roderique-Jones, January 29, 2009

The Hudson Valley has long been known as a travel destination for those looking for a break from their hectic lives. It’s not a typical tourist area dotted with motel chains—instead, people come to seek out local business and in return are presented with lodging that suits all personalities. Here, Chronogram profiles lodging choices that are far beyond a room with a view.

A great number of restaurants in the region have created a concept that make local and organic de rigueur, and anything less is becoming unacceptable. Many of the resorts below have adopted the same concept. One hotel that was chosen has an accomplished restaurant that has won a slew of best-of awards.

Some resorts have sprawling properties that take an entire visit to roam—one even has a maze. Most of these featured also have plush spas, even some that are eco-friendly. Buttermilk Falls, one of the more well regarded properties that manager Dan Reyburn says “is neither b&b, hotel, inn, spa. It’s really just not definable,” has a menagerie of animals that roam the property.

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Biofuels Ignite Food Crisis Debate

ScienceDaily (Jan. 29, 2009) — Study highlights problems linked to converting crops into biofuels. Taking up valuable land and growing edible crops for biofuels poses a dilemma: Is it ethical to produce inefficient renewable energies at the expense of an already malnourished population?

David Pimentel and his colleagues from Cornell University in New York State highlight the problems linked to converting a variety of crops into biofuels. Not only are these renewable energies inefficient, they are also economically and environmentally costly and nowhere near as productive as projected. Their findings are published online in Springer’s journal Human Ecology.

In the context of global shortages of fossil energy – oil and natural gas in particular – governments worldwide are focusing on biofuels as renewable energy alternatives. In parallel, almost 60 percent of the world’s population is malnourished increasing the need for grains and other basic foods. Growing crops, including corn, sugarcane and soybean, for fuel uses water and energy resources vital for the production of food for human consumption.

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US infrastructure 'not improved'

The state of America's infrastructure has not improved in the past four years, according to a report from the country's top civil engineers.

The "Report Card" from the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the US a D grade for its roads, public transport and other basic services.

It comes as President Barack Obama proposes to increase infrastructure spending to stimulate the economy.

An estimated $2.2trn (£1.5trn) is needed for repairs, the report says.

"In 2009, all signs point to an infrastructure that is poorly maintained, unable to meet current and future demands, and in some cases, unsafe," the report says.

"Since the last Report Card in 2005, the grades have not improved."

Read More

Senate Sergeant at Arms Joins Facebook To Apologize To Inaugural Ticket Holders

By Carey, 1:10 PM on Sun Feb 1 2009, 12,927 views

The Senate's Sergeant at Arms, Terry Gainer, joined Facebook to deliver a picture perfect apology to the survivors of the so-called Purple Tunnel of Doom, a group of several thousand people who were kept out of President Obama's inauguration even though they had tickets. It takes a superior apology to address a colossal failure, and Gainer certainly delivered. The sincerity and completeness of the apology easily make it one of the best mea culpas we've ever seen.

All good apologies should sport a combination of three components, according to the money printers over at the Harvard Business School:

Acknowledging that you failed.
Admitting that you feel bad for failing.
Taking responsibility for being a failure.
Let's see what Gainer wrote. His full apology reads:

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Following Limbaugh is not the path for Republicans

Gallup has released a rather stunning poll showing that voters identify with Republicans more than Democrats in only five sparsely populated states.

Those would be Alaska, Idaho, Nebraska, Utah, and Wyoming, but Nebraska is on the wobbly end of the GOP spectrum.

Even ruby-red Texas, which last voted for a Democratic presidential candidate sometime during the Pleistocene, is classified as competitive in the poll results, with only 2 percentage points separating Democrats and Republicans in voter identification.

The Gallup results and the accompanying color-coded map ought to be a sobering cup of black coffee for Republicans casting about for a way to regain the political initiative.

Read More

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