Monday, February 9, 2009

News That Matters - February 9, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Monday Morning,

"For your love of the Hudson"

I dragged Richie to the Desmond Fish Library in Garrison yesterday to hear Fran Dunwell talk about her new book, "The Hudson. America's River."

Ms. Dunwell, who has been active for the river most of her adult life and is probably best known to you all as the director of the Hudson River Estuaries Program, talked about the history of the river to an overflowing crowd packed into the activities room at the Library. Using a slide show, Ms. Dunwell gave us a north to south historical tour of its 315 miles. The book, she explains, is less about the river than it is about how the river has affected our lives and our culture and how people have gained inspiration from it. All profits from the sale of the over sized 4-color paperback will be donated to a charitable organization that works for the river. (A hard cover edition is also available.)

The event was sponsored by the Institute of History, Archeology, and Education (IHARE), based in Purchase, NY. The Institute had copies of their Fall 2008 newsletter on hand with the lead story being about Kent's own Sybil Ludington written by Catherine Davie, a Pearl River High School student. To make things even better, they brought along a couple dozen t-shirts featuring Ms. Ludington from a recent Putnam County History Day which were distributed free of charge to the audience.

One member of the IHARE board is Vin Dacquino, a Carmel resident, who has recently written a book entitled, "Sybil Ludington. A Call To Arms".

While we're talking about the Hudson River, a hearty Mazel Tov goes to Pete Seeger for winning a Grammy. (See the article below)

The Putnam Arts Council is not out of hot water just yet. After being essentially removed from a long term housing agreement at Tilly Foster Farm, a neighbor has filed an Article 78 action against the town to stop the reconstruction of their home in Mahopac. The JN has an article you can read here.

About 50 people gathered Saturday morning to hear state Assembly representative Sandy Galef's take on things. It was a lively affair! The most pressing concern was property taxes and education funding and ideas abounded but things just aren't moving in Albany and they probably never will.

Politicians are pretty good at finger-pointing and while sometimes they're right, sometimes they're not. At the town level we're pretty much on our own and we can only really point at ourselves. But, when things go bad the county points to the state and the state points to Washington and when there's no one for Washington to point to (which is usually when they've gotten caught with their pants down), they make something up. Albany is currently pointing to Washington, crying for Federal dollars... like those dollars don't come out of our pockets, or something.

The solution is really quite simple: move state funding for education away from property taxes to the income tax and re-institute the 1972 tax structure in New York State. Unfortunately, that's the one thing Albany absolutely, positively refuses to do.

Instead, they confuse and befuddle. The infamous circuit breaker bill cannot be funded without tax increases which means you're still paying your property tax *and* increased income taxes and the more infamous tax cap is a guaranteed 4% annual school tax increase.

So, while your town cuts and cuts and cuts and the county reduces and slices, Albany sits around with the governor covering his eyes, the Senate covering their ears and the Assembly covering their mouths.

Yes, there is a world outside the Highlands:

Q: What's the difference between a pigeon and a stockbroker?
A: A pigeon can still make a deposit on a Lexus.

We might as well start out your week by getting you all pissed off. I mean, why should we let your boss do it when I can? So, here's a list of banks that received your tax dollars as part of the bailout plan and the amount each is spending on naming sports arenas after themselves:

Wachovia/Wells Fargo, $40 million, Philadelphia 76ers and Flyers
PNC, $40 million, Pittsburgh Pirates
Bank of New York Mellon Corp., $18 million, Pittsburgh Penguins, not renewed
Comerica, $66 million, Detroit Tigers
M&T Bank, $75 million, Baltimore Ravens
Citibank, $400 million, New York Mets
Bank of America Corp., $140 million, Carolina Panthers
JPMorgan Chase & Co, $66 million, Arizona Diamondbacks

The following companies have applied for bailout money but
have not yet received it. But you know they will:

BankAtlantic Bancorp. Inc., $27 million, Florida Panthers
Raymond James Financial Inc., $45 million, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The full Bloomberg article is here.

The lesson we got from Wall Street last week was that for every job lost in the United States the stock market went up a bit. There's a direct correlation between employment costs and profits and the rich always go for the profits. And If you go on the dole they don't fret for their effective income tax rate is so much lower than yours they won't even notice.

Support Wall Street, Quit Your Job!

And now, The News:

  1. Pete Seeger wins Grammy
  2. DEC Announces Issuance of Final Scope for Marcellus Shale Study
  3. Understanding Phosphorus In Soils Is Vital To Proper Management
  4. Job fair with new twist
  5. America’s wind corridor
  6. Watchdog: No, Hank, You Didn’t Get a Good Deal for the Taxpayer
  7. Chase Wants You To Pay Your Taxes By Credit Card. Don't.
  8. Reporters Behaving Badly
  9. Marriage end 'posted on Facebook'

Pete Seeger wins Grammy

Fishkill resident and folk singing icon Pete Seeger has won the Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album, for "At 89."

Seeger did not accept his award in person, though an unidentified man read a statement from the famous Hudson Valley performer.

In that statement, Seeger thanked David Bernz, who co-produced "At 89" with Seeger. The statement from Seeger also said, "Keep singing songs of hope and social justic. Music can change the world and non-violence can change the world."

"I suspect," Seeger said after being contacted at home by phone, moments after winning, "the reward for longevity."

Asked further about winning, Seeger said, "I feel like apologizing to three very good friends — my younger sister Peggy; Tom Paxton, I knew him as a college student when he first started making up songs, and Rosalie Sorrels."

Read More

DEC Announces Issuance of Final Scope for Marcellus Shale Study

ALBANY, NY (02/06/2009; 1716)(readMedia)-- The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has completed its Final Scope for the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program (SGEIS). The "Scope" will serve as a roadmap for the environmental study that DEC will be conducting to analyze the environmental impacts associated with high volume hydraulic fracturing for the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale and other low permeability gas reservoirs across the Southern Tier and into the Catskills. The Final Scope is now posted on the DEC website, at

"We have heard the views of literally thousands of people from across the state and these views have helped shape the study we will be doing, assuring that all aspects of Marcellus Shale gas extraction are scrutinized and addressed," said DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis. "Where environmental impacts are anticipated, we will be looking to eliminate or mitigate those impacts and to protect the environment and communities involved."

Read More

Understanding Phosphorus In Soils Is Vital To Proper Management

ScienceDaily (Feb. 6, 2009) — Phosphorus is one of the key nutrients that can cause algal blooms and related water quality problems in lakes, rivers, and estuaries worldwide.  Phosphorus entering waters originates from a variety of sources.

Agricultural land receiving long term applications of organic by-products such as animal manure is one of the major contributors.  Such soils often become enriched with P, leading to elevated P loss through erosion and runoff.  Information on the chemical characteristics of P in these soils is essential to improving our understanding of how P behaves in soils and how it is transported in runoff to devise better management practices that protect water quality.

A group of scientists in the USA and Australia have identified the chemical forms of P, using 31P nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, in soils receiving organic by-products for at least eight years (treated) as compared with soils not receiving P application (untreated).

Read More

Job fair with new twist

Hundreds attend fair at SUNY New Paltz

NEW PALTZ -- It is a sign of the times: A job fair and long lines.

Hundreds waited in line Friday, many in suits, with resumes in hand, during a renewable energy job fair at SUNY New Paltz.

The job far was sponsored by The Solar Energy Consortium and brought together more than a dozen companies, including Earthkind Energy, Mercury Solar Systems, Solar Thin Films and FALA Technologies.

Representatives from these companies and workforce development personnel from Ulster, Dutchess and Sullivan counties spoke to job seekers hoping to brighten their futures through green technologies.

“I’m very excited about the Solar Energy Consortium and the ability to locate, grow and sustain green jobs,” said Michael DiTullo, managing director of business development for the Solar Energy Consortium.

DiTullo said the region has the personnel here, experienced in manufacturing and design, to help ensure there’s success with emerging, renewable technology.

“Year after year, the Hudson River Valley has lost about 10,000 jobs,” he said.
And with so much experience, DiTullo said the region can become a hub for the Northeast for the sale and manufacture of renewable energy systems.

Read More

America’s wind corridor

From Minnesota to Texas, wind power sweeps new jobs into old-tech towns.

By Mark Clayton| Staff writer for The Christian Science Monitor/ February 5, 2009 edition

Reporter Mark Clayton describes why Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville, Iowa, may be the epicenter of American wind-turbine training.

Cedar Rapids and Estherville, Iowa

Hundreds of workers lost their jobs after the Rockwell-Goss printing press factory closed here in Cedar Rapids in 2001. The hulking empty shell sat idle on the outskirts of the city for four years.

But that was before wind power blew into town, bringing thousands of clean-tech manufacturing jobs to Iowa and the Midwest.

In many cases, the new industry is setting up shop in defunct heavy manufacturing plants, bringing new economic life and vitality to old settings.

Read More

Watchdog: No, Hank, You Didn’t Get a Good Deal for the Taxpayer

by Paul Kiel, ProPublica - February 6, 2009 12:00 am EST

Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (Lauren Victoria Burke/ Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson said last October [2] that the taxpayers shouldn't fret about putting $250 billion in the nation's banks: "This is an investment, not an expenditure, and there is no reason to expect this program will cost taxpayers anything."

But a draft report from the Congressional Oversight Panel for the TARP says Paulson should have known better. According to the panel's analysis, the preferred stock and warrants Treasury received are worth far less than the investments themselves, amounting to at least a $43 billion subsidy to the banks. That shortfall, they found, was inevitable from the structure of the investments. That's because the analysis “demonstrates that the value received – including the market’s estimate of its future worth – was considerably less at the time of the transaction than the amount paid by Treasury.”

Read More

Chase Wants You To Pay Your Taxes By Credit Card. Don't.

By Chris Walters, 11:44 AM on Thu Feb 5 2009, 7,635 views

Chase has emailed its customers a friendly reminder that if you can't pay your taxes this year, you can charge them on your Chase credit card! Even the IRS site suggests you consider using a credit card if you can't pay your debt. However, before you do something as debt crazy as charge up a high credit card balance, consider the following points and make sure you're doing the most financially responsible thing.

The IRS suggests that paying with a credit card may be cheaper than setting up an installment plan with them, or paying your tax debt late.
What the IRS suggestion doesn't take into account is that, as we have seen repeatedly over the past several months, credit card interest rates can be raised dramatically without warning. Credit card limits can also be cut, reducing your available balance and damaging your credit score. Basically, once you've charged your tax debt onto credit card, you've put control of that debt in the hands of the credit card company. Have you ever trusted a credit card company that much?

Read More

Reporters Behaving Badly

A look back at the most cringe-worthy media moments of the 2008 campaign.

Greg Mitchell
February 05, 2009

The presidential campaign of 2008 seems pretty far off these days. An economic collapse will do that. But given the profound challenges facing the nation and the president these days, it's worth reviewing the media coverage of the race to see if journalists last year effectively probed the candidates vying to lead the country through a difficult period. Sadly, there were far more media lowlights than highlights during the campaign, as too many reporters and pundits focused on flag pins, bowling, and fairly trivial faux pas.

One could do a full article just on William Kristol's errors and flubs at the New York Times (my favorite coming when Kristol touted Clarence Thomas for vice president long before he fell in love with Sarah Palin). Moreover, it often seemed that America was trapped in an alternative universe shaped by the media, with John McCain running against some scary, inexperienced, part-Muslim who was palling around with Weathermen radicals and terrorists. Then the votes were counted, and the boogeyman was gone. Today, even half the people who voted for McCain say they are optimistic about Barack Obama's presidency. So much of the media's performance ended up not mattering—or being trumped by other factors.

Read More

Marriage end 'posted on Facebook'

A woman found out her six-year marriage was over when her husband posted it on the internet, a court heard.

Emma Brady, 35, said she learnt of the divorce when her spouse changed his Facebook status to read: "Neil Brady has ended his marriage to Emma Brady."

Details of the break-up came as Brady was sentenced by Blackburn magistrates for assaulting his wife at their home in Accrington, Lancashire.

Brady pleaded guilty and was fined £580 with £75 costs and £100 compensation.

Mrs Brady said a friend in Denmark saw the online posting and called to ask her how she was.

Read More

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