Thursday, February 26, 2009

NtM - February 26, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Thursday Morning,

Politicians arrested and Lawsuits filed! That's quite a Thursday morning.

America's Infrastructure

The American Society of Civil Engineers says it will take $1.6 trillion to restore the nation's infrastructure. How bad is it?

• 35 percent of New York roads are in poor or mediocre condition. Driving on them costs $3.2 billion a year in vehicle repairs and other costs ($285 per motorist).

• 38 percent of state bridges need work, including 61 major spans in Ulster, Sullivan and Orange counties.

• Commuters nationwide spend an average of 46 hours per year in traffic. New York City congestion costs $893 per commuter per year in fuel and time.

• New York's drinking water systems need $13 billion of work. Its wastewater systems need $20 billion.

More data available at

Website Watch:
A new website out of Putnam Valley this morning as the Friends of Peekskill Hollow Road aim to save the rural character of that part of town. From the site:

"...The newly designed road would be straightened, widened, and flattened, and  would alleviate the traffic from Rt.6 going through Carmel and Mahopac. Because the county justified such changes by stating that in its present state Peekskill Hollow Road was a serious safety hazard, we looked into its accident history and found that safety was not an issue-- and never was-- according to the sheriff’s department, which keeps track of accidents. The redesign would result in residents living along PHR facing a highway, similar to Route 6, with their property values diminished, along with their own safety and comfort."

Lastly this morning,tomorrow brings our weekly Things to Do edition and to tell you the truth, I don't have much in there! Send your events!

And now, The News:

  1. America's Infrastructure crisis
  2. Groups sue over Patterson Crossing shopping center
  3. FBI arrests North Salem supervisor
  4. Sinkhole in Newburgh Worries Officials
  5. Towers in Manhattan Gather Heat for Power
  6. $740 Million Goes to States for Fish and Wildlife Projects    
  7. Beware The Left-digit Effect: Price Gimmicks May Affect Choice
  8. Medicare offers model for single-payer plan
  9. Wal Mart vs. Civil War

Groups sue over Patterson Crossing shopping center

Michael Risinit
The Journal News

PATTERSON - Two local environmental groups have sued the Patterson zoning board and the developer of a controversial shopping center, arguing that the board last month ignored the project's negative effects on traffic when it granted a permit.

The zoning board, according to the lawsuit filed earlier this month in state Supreme Court in White Plains, violated both state and town law by approving the special-use permit for the proposed Patterson Crossing shopping center. Attorney Jim Bacon, who is representing the Croton Watershed Clean Water Coalition, the Putnam County Coalition to Preserve Open Space and two Patterson residents living near the shopping center's site, said the zoning board didn't adequately review the project's environmental effects. Bacon said the board didn't consider traffic data supplied by his consultant - a contention dismissed by the Patterson town planner.

"We really felt that, under the Zoning Board of Appeal's requirements and the analysis that's been done by our traffic guy, there's still a lot of impacts," he said. "It's going to double or triple the traffic on Route 311."

Read More

FBI arrests North Salem supervisor

Jerry Gleeson and Tim O'Connor
The Journal News

FBI agents yesterday arrested North Salem Supervisor Paul R. Greenwood and a partner in his investment management business on fraud charges. Federal regulators accused the two of misappropriating a staggering $553 million of their clients' money over 13 years.

Greenwood and his partner spent more than $160 million on personal expenses, including horses, collectible teddy bears, and a residence for the partner's ex-wife, according to a civil complaint by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. The rest of the mishandled money covered trading losses by their business, the CFTC said.

"Defendants treated investor money, some of which came from a public pension fund, as their own piggy bank to lavish themselves with expensive gifts," Stephen J. Obie, acting director of enforcement for the commission, said in a statement.

Yesterday's news is the latest in a string of investment scandals that have rocked the nation and touched the Lower Hudson Valley.

Read More

Sinkhole in Newburgh Worries Officials

By Alexa James
Posted: February 25, 2009 - 2:00 AM

TOWN OF NEWBURGH — A small sinkhole on River Road has whipped up a flurry of activity among emergency crews and state and local officials.

It's not so much the size of the sagging stretch of road — roughly 20 feet long and 7 feet wide — that's turning heads; it's the suspected cause of the crater. The problem spot is situated near the Rondout-West Branch Tunnel, a massive underground water pipe that's been leaking millions of gallons for decades. People in the area have long suspected that the leaky aqueduct, which ferries a billion gallons of drinking water daily to New York City, was causing problems along its route.

Officials with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, which owns and operates the tunnel, would not comment as to whether the leaks had anything to do with the buckled pavement in Newburgh's hamlet of Roseton. The problem could be related to winter wear and tear.

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Towers in Manhattan Gather Heat for Power


Later this year, a double-rigged crane will hoist a giant power turbine part way up One Penn Plaza, a black monolithic skyscraper next to Madison Square Garden. When the natural gas-powered generator on the 12th floor starts, it will not only produce some 6.2 megawatts of electricity — enough to power up to half the 57-floor building on a busy day — but it will also siphon off excess steam and use it to help heat and cool the 37-year-old skyscraper.

With tenants defaulting and lenders withholding credit, this might not seem the opportune time for landlords to be getting into energy recycling. But Vornado Realty Trust, which owns One Penn Plaza and 27 other office buildings in New York City, is among the small but growing number of commercial landlords in the area that are installing the energy-efficient power stations known as cogeneration plants, or cogens for short.

Unlike conventional power stations, which let excess heat dissipate into the air as exhaust, cogens reuse that cast-off energy for heating and cooling. Given the improved efficiency, combined with government incentives and rising electricity costs, some landlords are now finding it cost-effective to install cogens and generate their own power.

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$740 Million Goes to States for Fish and Wildlife Projects    

Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced today more than $740.9 million will be distributed to the fish and wildlife agencies of the 50 states, commonwealths, the District of Columbia, and territories to fund fish and wildlife conservation, boater access to public waters, and hunter and aquatic education. These Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program funds come from excise taxes and import duties on sporting firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, sportfishing equipment, electric outboard motors, and fuel taxes attributable to motorboats and small engines. 

"The funds raised under the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs have helped conserve our fish and wildlife resources and provide opportunities for outdoor recreation for more than half a century. These investments, which help create jobs while protecting our nation's natural treasures, are particularly important in these tough economic times," Salazar said. "All those who pay into this program -- the hunting and fishing industries, boaters, hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters -- should take pride in helping to conserve our land and its fish and wildlife and provide benefits to all Americans who cherish the natural world and outdoor recreation."

Read More

Beware The Left-digit Effect: Price Gimmicks May Affect Choice

ScienceDaily (Feb. 24, 2009) — When shopping, we often find ourselves choosing between lower- and higher-cost items. But most people make a choice based on the first digit they see, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"Shoppers pay a disproportionate amount of attention to the leftmost digits in prices and these leftmost digits impact whether a product's price is perceived to be relatively affordable or expensive," write authors Kenneth C. Manning (Colorado State University) and David E. Sprott (Washington State University).

In one experiment, Manning and Sprott asked participants to consider two pens, one priced at $2.00 and the other at $4.00. A penny decrease in the price of either pen lowered the price's leftmost digit. The researcher manipulated the prices and found that when the pens were priced at $2.00 and $3.99, 44 percent of the participants selected the higher-priced pen. But when the pens were priced at $1.99 and $4.00, only 18 percent of the participants chose the higher-priced pen.

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Medicare offers model for single-payer plan

A NYJN Letter to the Editor

I am in substantial agreement with the Feb. 19 Community View by Madeline Zevon, "Single payer would improve health care for everyone." The medical care delivery system in this country is significantly broken and headed for further disaster. Like her, I believe that a single-party-payer system is the best possible solution. Where I differ is that while I think the current Medicare system, which is almost totally funded by the federal government, should continue as is for seniors and the disabled, I think that a single-payer system for everyone else should be regulated, but not substantially funded by the government.

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Wal Mart vs. Civil War

Ben Holmes
Issue date: 2/24/09 Section: Opinions

The Overland Campaign, a major thrust by General Ulysses Grant to defeat the Confederate forces during May and June 1864, was one of the most horrific confrontations of the Civil War. One event in particular, the Battle of the Wilderness, was a panorama of immense bloodshed, leaving 26,000 soldiers dead or wounded in two days. Now, Wal-Mart wants to erect a SuperCenter next door to the battlefield.

Situated in Orange County, Virginia, the proposed SuperCenter would pave over 55 acres of green land. The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) is leading the primary campaign against this sprawl, but several other organizations are involved. Even the Vermont Legislature is officially on board! As a disclosure, I am a member of the CWPT; several of my direct ancestors fought in the war, and I try to honor their memory by supporting programs that conserve and restore America's battlefields. Whether or not you can trace your heritage back to this volatile era, all who call themselves Americans should hold these places in high esteem. Valley Forge and Gettysburg, Yorktown and Appomattox Courthouse: these are the crucibles from which the modern United States was forged. The final sacrifice of 600,000 American soldiers lead to the abolition of slavery and the preservation of the Union. Their resting places should be given absolute respect.

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