Friday, May 29, 2009

News That Matters - May 29, 2009 - Things To Do Edition

News That Matters
Brought to you (Almost Daily) by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Friday Morning,

The sun may come out today. Remember the sun? It's that big, bright yellow thing in the sky? Hopefully by the time you're reading this you'll know what I'm talking about. But with all the cloudiness and rain we've been having our gardens are finding themselves well watered and your lawns are going to need mowing by Sunday.
And, when you do mow your lawn, please don't blow the cuttings into the streets as that increases the stormwater problems that are affecting our creeks, streams, rivers and lakes. All those extra nutrients end up causing algal blooms and lower the clarity of water bodies. Instead, use a mulching mower and mow high, 3-4 inches high. Your lawn will need less watering as the taller grass shades the earth below and the higher grass will also slow the flow of water across your property during the next rain storm. It may not seem like a lot, but if everyone did just this one thing we'd be on our way to resolving some of the water quality problems we face.
Putnam County Democrats met last night at their annual convention to nominate candidates for November's election. There were two issues of concern; One was over the candidate for Sheriff which in secret ballot was awarded to Philipstown's Kevin McConnville (sp?) over Kent's Gordon Moccio. The other was the party's backing of Conservative party member Paul Roncallo for Kent's Highway Supervisor over Democrat Tony Carravetta. Look for some spirited primaries in September - in both parties, especially for the Sheriff's race.
In other news, some guy named Jeff Green was nominated to run for the Kent Town Board with Ed Durkee, bringing the pool to 5 candidates (two Republicans, one Conservative and two Democrats) for the two board seats that are up this year. Green and Durkee were nominated unanimously as were most of the slates chosen.
Take A Hike!
The Lockwood Unit (DEP) Dixon Road Carmel/Kent town line. The 450 acre Lockwood Unit encompasses both sides of the old Lockwood Lane running from Dixon Road to the still used portion of Lockwood Lane on the west and includes a multitude of stone "chambers" as well as the beautiful Lockwood Pond. If you follow the road to its end and back you'll walk about 3 easy miles.

Just after you enter the Unit, a road coming in on your right will take you up a pretty woods to the private Barret Pond community at the town line. Unfortunately, there's often a lot of garbage left by neighbors at the beginning of this road but pass it by for a nice walk.

The number of stone "chambers" along the main road is interesting as is their construction and several are in rather fair shape. We've forgotten what a couple of men, a pry bar and a strong horse can accomplish! Some believe these chambers pre-date white settlement in the area but no one takes those folk too seriously. Some even believe they were constructed by space aliens or Druids or as solstice markers. One woman from Connecticut (whose name escapes me at the moment) believed they were built to store arms and black powder for the Army Depot at Fishkill so that if it was captured by the British, colonial troops would still have supplies in the area. Philip Imbrogno and Marianne Horrigan wrote a book in 2000 called, "Celtic Mysteries in New England" which focuses on the stone chambers in Putnam County. Chapter 6 of that book supposes Mt. Ninham [sic] is a special place with wandering spirits and that its stone chamber is the center of regional UFO activity.

Regardless of their origin, Putnam County hosts scores of these curiosities, but root cellars and ice houses were most likely their primary use. Whatever, they're still fun to poke around in. And who knows? A free trip to Scotland or Andromeda could be in the offing!

Images and maps are available at PlanPutnam's Outdoor Recreation Page which has seen more than 21,000 visitors.
Lastly, save the date Saturday, July 11 for the Second Annual Garden Party here at the Asylum. It's an all day pot-luck affair with games for the kids culminating in an after-party bonfire that last year ran until 6AM the next morning.

What's going on?
  1. Saturday:
    1. Dover Knolls Public Hearing
    2. Save the Depot Theater - Garrison
    3. Picnic in the Park - Denning's Point, Beacon
    4. Maypole Party for Children of All Ages - Ryder Farm, Brewster.
  2. Into the Future:
    1. Monday, June 1st
      1. MS4 Stormwater Control Program - Mahopac Library
      2. Bird Banding - Westchester
      3. Water Conference - Thayer Hotel, West Point


Dover Knolls Public Hearing

9 AM - Dover Middle School - All right. This is big. Dover Knolls is the planned project for the old Harlem Valley Psychiatric hospital on Route 22 in Wingdale. It's the largest development proposal for the Harlem Valley - ever. And remember, Patterson and Southeast are in the Harlem Valley and whatever happens up in Wingdale will affect those towns quite directly. The plan is to construct hundreds of housing units in a mixed-use development that former Dover Supervisor Jill Way attempted to turn into something approaching sanity based on the new urbanist model. The developer then launched an expensive political campaign against her. Sweet, eh? More information is here.

This is the largest development planned for Dutchess County, on the site of the former Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center which straddles Rt 22 at the Harlem Valley Wingdale MetroNorth Station. The site is in the heart of the Great Swamp, New York State's second largest freshwater wetlands.
The Coalition for the Responsible Growth of Dover supports redevelopment of the site.  At a minimum, we would like to see development concentrated as much possible around the train station and on the existing building site, thereby reducing traffic and vehicle miles traveled as any true transit-oriented development would, and leaving more open space at the further reaches of the property in keeping with our Master Plan; we would like to see greater boundary protection for the wetlands; we would like the Town Board to restrict all construction to slopes no greater than 15%, as is the generally accepted practice in Dutchess County and for good reason, on the stormwater management/erosion front; we would like to see as few roads as possible up the steep slopes and preferably just one, to reach the proposed low-density development around the reservoir.
We perceive serious water constraints and negative fiscal implications to the project as proposed, which we will address. Like many of us, most of you have only had 2 weeks to review the DEIS on line, and may not have access to the DVD, but please do the best you can with what the Town Board and the Developer have provided.
The Town Board needs to hear your views, whether you are a taxpayer or a resident of the nearby towns in the Harlem Valley or the Housatonic Watershed, whether you are someone who enjoys kayaking or birding, fishing or hunting on these or neighboring lands and rivers. Your Voice Counts.
Thank you for your support,
Stancy DuHamel
Coalition for the Responsible Growth of Dover

Save the Depot

Noon - 8:30 PM - At the Depot Theater in Garrison (at the Train Station).

12:00 Timothy Wenk, World's Best Magician Tickets $20

3:00 Depot Docs: Gimme Shelter with Al Maysles $50

There are few true legens in the documentary world, but one of them is Al Maysles, who, in the 1960's, pioneered an entire new approach to filmmaking known as direct cinema, and whose classic films have defined the genre fo almost 50 years. Depot Docs is delighted to announce that Al will be at the Depot on May 29th to show Gimme Shelter - his extraordinary chronicle of the Rolling Stones' 1969 tour that culminated in the iconic free concert at Altamont Speedway in San Francisco.

6:30 Theatre performance including one act play, Pools, by Richard Knipe,Jr.
and scenes from Private Lives with Don Kimmel, Jenn Levy and Maia Guest followed by
songs from your favorite musicals

8:30 Music performance with Music Tracks headliners $50
Food and receptions between each performance

Picnic in the Park

11 AM to 3 PM at Denning's Point, Beacon, NY. Bring your picnic and a blanket for a day of music and fun! Tour Denning's Point with historian Jim Heron. Learn about CEIE's "Green Building" features with architect Oliver Schaper. Fish printing activities for kids age 6 and older. Time capsule ceremony. Live music with HV musicians: Kathleen Pemble; Jenn Clapp; Wicker Pinch with Patti Pelican; Terry Platz; Andy Revkin & Al Hemberger. Please RSVP online at  so we can plan for your attendance. The event is free and open to the public; however, your donation in any amount is greatly appreciated! Rain or shine; No alcohol permitted; No pets, please

Maypole Party for Children of All Ages

Maypole Party for Children of All Ages

1PM - 3PM ~ Rain or Shine ~ Free Admission!

Lemonade and cookies ~ Tractor Hay Rides ~ Tour the gardens

Dancing at 1:30

Our Farm Stand will be Open
with a variety of potted vegetables,
herbs and flowers.

Ryder Farm Cottage Industries
400 Starr Ridge Rd, Brewster

Into the Future:

Monday, June 1st

MS4 Stormwater Control Program

7PM - Mahopac Library - The Eastern Putnam County League of Women Voters is hosting their annual public forum on stormwater with a host of speakers and town supervisors.

Bird Banding

Bylane Farm Between June 1 and August 9, the public will have the opportunity to observe birds being captured in mist nets, banded and released as part of a nationwide scientific study to assess species  populations. Banding will be held every ten days at the Hunt Parker Preserve. Please call Jim Nordgren or Tait Johansson for details 914-232-1999.

Water Conference

June 1, 2, and 3 - Hotel Thayer, West Point, NY. NY Water Environment Association's Spring Technical Conference and Exhibition:  Sustainable and Green Infrastructure. The New York Water Environment Association will focus it's spring technical conference on sustainability and green infrastructure. This conference will feature sustainability programs and efforts in the Hudson Valley, along with other innovative efforts in the state on topics including green house gases, energy conservation and sustainability.  Tours are scheduled at the Environmental Science Tour of the Western Ramapo Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority Co-composting Facility.  There are other networking and entertainment events, as well.  For more information on the full agenda, registration, and applicable fees, see:

Consider the environment before printing.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

News That Matters - May 27, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you (Almost Daily) by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Wednesday Morning,

There's a lot here this morning so refill the coffee cup and make yourselves comfortable:

Several young friends of mine are either currently serving in the Marines or have recently left the service, including one who stayed here at my place for awhile getting his head straightened out a few years back. I'm especially proud of him and the progress he's made with his life. It was in their direction my thoughts were sent on Memorial Day this year.
On A Personal Note: Someone, a woman, called my house yesterday and left a message about setting something up and that she'd be there a little late. I have a new phone and when I called in to get my messages on the cell the reception was bad and then I hit the DELETE button rather than the REPLAY button and well, I have no idea who called or what the full message was about. If you called, please call again. If you didn't call, please disregard this message. If you called and you're not on this list, whatever it is I was supposed to do is not going to get done and I apologize, publicly.
For those of us who have been fighting to preserve the historical aspects of Peekskill Hollow Road (and we've been doing this for much longer than is necessary!) there's an online petition sponsored by the Putnam Valley Resident's Coalition here. I encourage Kent and PV residents who live near and especially along the road to sign on but also anyone else who is interested in a desire to keep a little of the old here in Putnam County should sign, too.

While we're in historic preservation mode, I attended a pageant in Poughkeepsie yesterday afternoon celebrating that city's contribution to the revolutionary war. The pageant, which included dozens of performers, bands and ships in the river, was produced by Roger Hendricks Simon and starred Lora Lee Ecobelli, both of whom have appeared on the stage at the Cultural Center on Lake Carmel. The pageant ended with a really sweet reception at the Grandview. There are two sets of images of the event that are worth checking out. One is from Philipstown's Kenn Sapeta and the other is mine. See the story below.

The Septic Replacement Program, which grew out of the battle to stop the $150 million sewage diversion boondoggle project several years ago, has run into a problem. When the original funding ran out recently the County Legislature authorized additional funds from the remaining Good Neighbor money the NYCDEP gave Putnam County when it signed onto the Watershed agreement known as the MOA. (Memorandum of Agreement). County Executive Bondi blocked that additional funding and the Leg overruled his veto.
So, everything is all right now? Not so fast...

The Town of Patterson raised objections to this project and so their objection goes to the regional watershed group that oversees the MOA money for their comments. They can overrule Patterson's objection or decide it's legitimate.

Patterson is also the town which raised an objection to a couple hundred thousand of those dollars being spent to preserve the Ryder Farm in Brewster, the last remaining undeveloped open space on Peach Lake. What's with Patterson? Are there any environmental programs they like or are they just in slash-and-burn mode until Patterson Crossing rises on their western border?

Now Patterson is seeking the creation of an Empire Zone on 175 acres in order to bring in some commercial business. But the Empire Zone program is deeply flawed and rarely ever lives up to its expected revenue and job creation goals and in most cases has been a drain on taxpayer coffers.

On the one hand, preserving the Ryder Farm would have saved the last remaining open space on Peach Lake and a 200 year old farm in a crowded suburban area. On the other hand, the Septic Replacement program keeps surface and drinking water cleaner for everyone. On the other, other hand, the Empire Zone program is mostly a failure.

I don't get Patterson. I just don't.
The Putnam Valley Farmer's Market is back for another season. The Market is located in the Grange Hall at Adam's Corners on Wednesdays from 2PM until 6 PM.

There's an ongoing battle raging within the ranks of the national Republican party which will most certainly make its way down to the local level in one way or another as people are asked to take sides. On the one hand you have right-wing fanatics, Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh while on the other, the staid, moderate Colin Powell. Mr. Powell has apologized for his role in lying to the world over that little WMD speech at the UN but remains faithful to the party and the nation and seeks to broaden the appeal of his party by being a bit more inclusive. Misters Rove and Limbaugh only seem interested in venomous attacks on those not following their particular brand of politics and only faithful to what they can lie, scam and undermine in order to gain power and influence. With the party badly split after 8 years of the Bush White House (we're seeing the results of that in our economy now) I'm not placing bets on either side in that fight but I'll bet it's going to get a whole lot nastier before it sorts itself out.

Last Thursday night while I was at the KFC  community forum on property taxes and open government, several who might have been there were instead downstate giving the Nuclear Regulatory Commission a piece of their minds. One such was Putnam Valley's Judy Allen, pictured here outside the meeting. Inside, as "Myth Indian Point" she sang the following to the board:
No Danger to the Public

We've had a small release of radioactivity
A small escape of contaminated steam
But it's a common occurrence, no need for concern, because there's
No danger to the public.

We found a tiny leak in a radioactive water pipe
And gallons of water are spilling on the ground
But we will have it repaired within the next week (year) or two and there is
No danger to the public.

We've got everything under control,
There's absolutely nothing to fear.
It's just another small, inconsequential event,
We went through a thousand of 'em just last year!

Just last year...

We found a hairline crack in the new containment tower
And inspection shows it's getting bigger every day
But after close observation, we now have determined that there's
No danger to the public.
No danger to the public.
No danger to the...
No danger to...
No danger...

Copyright 1980 © Judy Allen
While we're paying more and more for gasoline these days (it's now over $2.50 a gallon) Greenopia has created a list of the oil companies with the smallest carbon footprint. Can you imagine that? That list, and others similar, is here.

One last note: Don't forget to check out PlanPutnam's blog site as many more stories are there than make it here.

And now, the News:
  1. County to save on copy paper purchases
  2. Play depicts city's role in Revolution
  3. Pedestrian-friendly zoning: Proposal to curb Shelby County sprawl
  4. Is Living in a High-End Suburb Worth It?
  5. Housing talk set for this evening
  6. Road recycling benefits environment and taxpayers
  7. Connecticut Rethinks Stormwater Permit, Water Quality Standards
  8. The Green Bank: Financing the Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy 

County to save on copy paper purchases

NEW CITY – Rockland County is joining the Hudson Valley Municipal Purchasing Group to save $104,000 on copy paper purchases.

Thirty-five local government agencies and non-profit groups from the region participated in the cooperative copy paper contract valued at over $1 million annually.

The cooperative venture currently allows local governments and non-profit agencies that provide services on behalf of local governments the ability to leverage their purchasing power by participating in cooperative contracts.

Read More

Play depicts city's role in Revolution

By Rasheed Oluwa
Poughkeepsie Journal

A couple hundred people gathered at the DeLaval site, along the shore of the Hudson River in the City of Poughkeepsie, for a glimpse of the city's past and future Tuesday.

The city's Hudson Fulton Champlain Committee hosted a play produced and written by the Simon Studio in the City of Poughkeepsie called "The Poughkeepsie Shipyards and the Revolutionary War: A Military Pageant."

The play, which was sponsored by Marshall and Sterling Insurance, Saint Francis Hospital, The Grandview and the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel, tells the story of the shipyard after it was commissioned by the Continental Congress in 1775 to build two ships for use against British forces.

Read More

Pedestrian-friendly zoning: Proposal to curb Shelby County sprawl

By Tom Charlier

They brought forth the geometric patchwork of subdivisions blanketing Cordova and Hickory Hill while clearing the way for the big-box retailers lining Germantown Parkway and Winchester.

But the basic zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations that have guided growth in Shelby County for a generation now are likely to be replaced with a code emphasizing entirely different patterns of development.

The proposed Unified Development Code, which goes before the Land Use Control Board this week, embraces so-called smart-growth policies and focuses more on reclaiming existing neighborhoods in the urban core than developing new ones in suburbia.

"The population is not growing. The main thing we have to do is reclaim existing neighborhoods and build them back up," said Mary L. Baker, deputy director of the city-county Office of Planning and Development.

Read More

Is Living in a High-End Suburb Worth It?

Even residents of upscale suburbs are asking if they wouldn't be better off living somewhere with lower taxes and cost-of-living expenses

By Prashant Gopal

The economic downturn, after ravaging poor and middle-class neighborhoods, is now hammering affluent enclaves. Even in the nation's priciest neighborhoods, homeowners are facing economic uncertainties, and some are beginning to wonder whether they're paying too much for prestige.

The cost of living in Atherton, Calif., Highland Park, Tex., or Scarsdale, N.Y., goes well beyond what it costs to purchase a home there. Mansions in high-end communities have oversize tax, maintenance, utility, and mortgage bills. And then there's the cost of keeping up with the Joneses: shopping at boutiques and gourmet stores, country club memberships, private school tuition, soccer for the kids, the gardener, the landscaper, and the nanny.

Many residents of these suburbs have "essentially taken a step back," says Kevin J. Meehan, president of Summit Wealth Advisors in Itasca, Ill. "And they are either looking at downsizing within those communities or moving to a totally different venue because of the stress they're experiencing with the cost of living in their suburbs." Empty nesters, in particular, may question why they are still living in communities with high school taxes when their children are long gone.

Read More

Housing talk set for this evening

Hudson River Housing is set to host a panel discussion today on housing resources for the Hudson Valley.

The discussion should include how the stimulus bill is expected to affect local housing conditions.

The featured panelist is U.S. Rep. John Hall, D-Dover. He will be joined by the district representative for U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy, D-Glens Falls, Pamela Anderson of Chase and representatives from Hudson River Housing.

Read More

Road recycling benefits environment and taxpayers

Laura Incalcaterra

Many items can be recycled, and as it turns out, roads are among them.

For the past eight local road work seasons - more or less April to November - Rockland County has pursued a method that allows an existing roadway surface to be recycled.

The process saves the county about $1 million annually on road repaving work, restores the condition of the road, and just as importantly, reduces energy use and greenhouse gases because new material is not needed, experts said.

The process, known as hot-in-place recycling, involves heating a road surface, lifting the top 2 inches into a machine where a rejuvenating agent is added, then replacing the material on the road.

Read More

Connecticut Rethinks Stormwater Permit, Water Quality Standards

HARTFORD, Connecticut, May 25, 2009 (ENS) - In view of concerns raised by the construction industry and environmentalists over proposed modifications to the state's General Permit for Discharges of Stormwater Associated with Industrial Activities, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has begun a new process of determination and public hearing.

The current general permit originally expired on September 30, 2007. It has been reissued without modification three times, most recently on April 14, and this latest version is set to expire September 30, 2010. The most recent renewal requires permittees to reregister their facilities.

On July 30, 2008, DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy published a Notice of Tentative Determination to renew the general permit with modifications. Based on that notice, stakeholders filed petitions for a public hearing and requests to intervene. As a result, the DEP suspended the proceedings and worked with stakeholders to address the issues and concerns that were raised and to further revise the proposed general permit.

Read More

The Green Bank: Financing the Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy 

The debate over energy legislation begins in earnest in Congress this week and the stakes couldn’t be higher. The United States is falling behind in the space race of our generation—building long-term economic prosperity powered by low-carbon energy. China’s stimulus package invests $12.6 million every hour in greening its economy, for a total of $220 billion, twice as much as similar U.S. investments. Meanwhile, during the most recent economic expansion the average American family paid more than $1,100 a year in rising energy bills for U.S. policies that favor fossil fuels.

The choice is clear: continue with more of the same energy policies or transition to a clean-energy economy that creates millions of good jobs here in the United States and moves us off our dependence on foreign oil.

Read More

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Friday, May 22, 2009

News That Matters - May 24, 2009 - Things To Do Edition

News That Matters
Brought to you (Almost Daily) by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Friday Morning,

It's Memorial Day Weekend, traditionally the first weekend of the summer vacation season, and man, are the gasoline prices showing that! I saw $2.49 last night at the cheap stations and $2.80 at the more expensive ones. Sixty percent of those responding to the poll about gasoline prices thought gas would top out at $4.00 a gallon by July 4th and if the present course continues $4.00 may seem cheap. It's no wonder fewer Americans than ever are traveling and regions in the nation which depend upon tourism dollars are already hurting.
But people still want to get away and so they're looking for places closer to home, places that are unique and different but that can be reached on half a tank of gasoline. Putnam County is one such place, especially the towns of Kent and Philipstown who boast more preserved open spaces than any other in the region. Kent alone has almost 10,000 such acres.

More than 20 million people live within two hours drive of here and we're doing very little to capitalize on that. You've been hearing me say this for years and if I ever make it to the town board I'm going to do something about it. There's money to be made here and sales taxes to collect. And, if visitor traffic to the Outdoor Recreation guide at PlanPutnam is any indication, (more than 21,000 page visits) people are coming. There's no reason Kent/Philipstown cannot be an eco-travel destination for those folks - and it should be. Just give me the tools...
Last evening, Kent Fiscal Watch held a public forum with Assemblywoman Sandy Galef at the Lake Carmel Community Center. For almost two hours the audience peppered Ms. Galef with questions about property taxes and open government and for two hours she provided answers as best she could. Albany is a strange place, you know. There were a few notable absences, such as anyone currently sitting on the Kent Town Board or any of the announced candidates for the same, and that's a shame.

Did you know that polling places that are not accessible to the handicapped don't have to be? Yeah, you read that right. If the location can't afford to provide facilities it can be granted a waiver and remain handicapped free. Well, not any more. Ulster County Assemblyman Kevin Cahill has had success with a bill in Albany that will change all that and move polling places if necessary. No more waivers, no more second class status for the handicapped. Hats off to Kevin for that one.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in Tarrytown last night that Indian Point was safe and should continue to operate on another 20 year license, but others were not so sure. Croton resident Gary Shaw remarked that what constitutes safety for the plant is a standard that keeps sliding lower and lower, apparently to accommodate Entergy, IP's owners. For example, “They’ve reduced the margin from an hour, that the insulation had to protect the safety equipment, down to 24 minutes.  We think that’s absurd.” Mr. Shaw said during the meeting last night.

All right, here we go: There are a scant few event entries for the weekend but most of what's listed for Saturday is also ongoing into Sunday.


If you don't tell me about your event, no one else will know! So, seeing there's nothing in here and also seeing that the weather is supposed to be really sweet this evening, get out and do something fun. That's right, turn off the computer and television and get outside. Me? I have nothing on the calendar for this evening either and the search for meaningful social interaction is ongoing. Or, I might just take the dog for a long late evening hike and watch the day turn into night.


Kent Library Book Sale

9 AM - The Friends of the Kent Library will be holding their annual Giant Book Sale on Saturday May 23rd from 9:00 AM to 5PM  (there is an early bird preview Saturday 8:30 to 9:00 AM $10 or Friends Membership!) and Sunday, May 24th 11:00AM to 4:00 PM. There will be thousands of books, collectibles, hardcovers, paperback, children's books, videos, DVD's, comics and more!

Location:  Kent Town Center (off of Route 52) in the Kent Town Hall, 25 Sybil's Crossing 845-225-8585 www.kent library

Beacon Sloop Club Mural Celebration

11 AM
- Beacon will get a big splash of color on Main Street on Saturday May 23rd – all courtesy of the Beacon Sloop Club and various other suppporters.  At 11am that morning our large and colorful River Beacons mural will be lifted into place and unveiled. It’s an exciting moment and I hope to see many club members and city residents and supporters on hand to to celebrate.  A year in the making, the mural celebrates the Woody Guthrie’s 30th anniversary in 2008 (she rides the foreground of the mural), Beacon’s river town heritage and lifestyle, and the statewide 2009 Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial. Rick Price while putting the finishing touches to the murla has alos been working wiht firends to construct an lighweight, welded portable frame  to support the mural. Alsl will be set for May 23. See you there!

Civil War Days

10 AM - 5PM Repeats Sunday from 10AM - 2PM. Experience the sights and sounds of the Civil War era in an historic 19th century setting. $10 Adults, $6 ages 5-12, under 5 free. Ashokan Center, Olive Bridge, NY. Broom making, blacksmithing, visit unions and confederate encampments and take a hike with John Burroughs. Concert and Dance at 7PM ($15) with Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, the 77th Regiment Baladeers and others. Get more info here. the Ashokan Center will commemorate the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln with a special Saturday evening concert program titled "Abraham Lincoln in Song: His Truth Is Marching On". This activity is being funded in part by the Dutchess County Arts Council. The concert program will be followed by a candlelit tour of the Union and Confederate camps. The overall theme of the event is to understand our shared heritage and its enduring relevance for the future--a living history event for the entire family.

Visual Arts Show

1-5PM: The Visual Artists Committee of Arts on the Lake. Memorial Day Weekend Saturday-Monday, 1-5 p.m.  Sixty artists are represented in a display of paintings, sculpture, photography, stained glass and mixed media. 


Private parties and Memorial Day Weekend activities. Call up a friend, invite them over, have a BBQ in the yard, take a hike(!) or just veg out - and do so without guilt.

Into the Future:

Monday, May 25 - Memorial Day

Parades Galore!

The Cold Spring parade begins at 9 AM and runs down Main Street.
The Mahopac parade begins at 10 AM and runs along Route 6

Ride to Eat/ Eat to Ride

Nearly Forty New Paltz restaurants are offering substantial discounts and other incentives to customers who arrive by bicycle, to encourage this form of sustainable transportation. Continues through the week.

Tuesday, May 26

The Poughkeepsie Shipyards and The Revolutionary War

3:15 PM - The Simon Studio, in association with the City of Poughkeepsie, will present the world premier of The Poughkeepsie Shipyards and The Revolutionary War in the parking lot at Shadow's restaurant on Rinaldi Boulevard, near Poughkeepsie's waterfront. Sponsored by Marshall and Sterling, St. Francis Hospital, the Grandview and Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel, this special Quadricentennial event will be presented one time only on TUESDAY, MAY 26 at 3:15 pm as an historical military pageant on Poughkeepsie's Hudson River waterfront at Ship Yard Point.  Admission is free and open to the public. 

As an added note of interest, it will be performed outdoors in the parking lot of Shadows Restaurant - just north of the ship yard's original historical site where the play's 18th century story actually unfolded. 

Written by Nicholas Conti of Beacon, it is directed and produced by Roger Hendricks Simon, artistic director of THE SIMON STUDIO in NYC and Poughkeepsie.  Mr. Simon has been associated with the NY Shakespeare Festival, Yale Rep and London's Royal Court Theatre.

For further information on this Revolutionary Pageant call THE SIMON STUDIO at 845-485-9829 or 212-841-0204 or

In particular Congressman Maurice Hinchey, Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyak and Colonel James Johnson among others will participate in the pageant's Grand Finale - the dedication ceremony of a plaque commemorating the historical ship yards. 

Cast members include Tyler Barden, Steve Wing, Peter Leonard, Ralph Cashen, Lora Lee Ecobelli, Peter Bedrosian, Doug Nobiletti, Brett Owen, Rob Rondon, Ron and Gloria Robbins, Peter Walker and members of the Walker Family Band.  Associate Director is Blair Wing and Stage Manager is Teresa Gasparini. 

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

News That Matters - May 20, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you (Almost Daily) by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Wednesday Morning,

I was driving back from the farm the other day and my chosen route was I84 from Southeast, up and over the Highlands and then down their spine to the Taconic Parkway southwards to my road on the other side. It's a bit longer than taking the streets but it's a beautiful drive and by-passes the clogging, choked traffic on routes 6 and 52 in Carmel.

More than 300 people attended the Scoping Session
for Patterson Crossing back in January of 2005

Heading westbound on I84, just after you crest the ridge where Route 312 crosses over, the viewshed becomes stunning, offering undisturbed hillsides stretching off into the distance with one ridge falling behind another as the highway winds through the Highlands. It's this view that visitors or passers-through see as they drive from points east and west along the I84 corridor connecting New England with our nation's mid-section. It is, without question, one of the nicer vistas along the entirety of the way.
But the viewshed I've just described and which many of you have seen for yourselves is threatened by the construction of Patterson Crossing. It's bad enough "The Highlands" lopped off the top of a mountain as if the developer were strip mining for coal. But it's even worse: destroying yet another mountain and another view, wantonly stripping off 60 acres of trees and threatening a community's way of life - and without official censure or condemnation or penalty of any kind.

While the Hamlet of Patterson remains a dead zone and the Route 52 corridor in Kent is littered with empty, decaying buildings, (which, thanks to Arne Nordstrom will be connected with a million dollar sidewalk) how can anyone in their right mind consider such a project? It's not unlike the DEC who wanted to run an industrial operation on the pristine slopes of Mt. Nimham but who would not repair the damage created in the 1970's when they planted invasives that have destroyed the eastern side of that wild forest and left it, in many cases, a thorny monoculture of japanese barberry.

And just as thorny is the question of what to do about Patterson Crossing and how to stop it once and for all. The responsibility now turns to the Kent Town Board to preserve the integrity of the town and the Lake Carmel community. The question of what they will do with it remains to be answered. I will admit their hands are largely tied but a little activism could go a long way... if it's not already too late.
State Supreme Court judge Andrew O'Rourke dismissed arguments from a neighbor who objected to the rebuilding of the Belle Levine Arts Center in Mahopac. Considering he'd been a neighbor since 1987 and had never objected to the Arts Center's existence before, he didn't have much of a case. And, being a lawyer himself he should have known that. His actions cost people a great deal of money and placed a goodly amount of stress on more. I hope he's disbarred.

Everyone's school budget passed save Mahopac.

A portion of the Historic Albany Post Road in Continental Village will be paved.
The long standing battle to keep the road in its original condition, which predates our nation's founding, was lost to the lawyers.

Website Watch:
WWOOF.ORG: It's summer, you've just gotten out of school and you've not much to occupy your time. However, you do like the thought of growing your own organic foods and being part of the whole movement towards better health and sustainability. You also might like to see some other part of the USA or the greater world around us and it would be even better if you could combine all this into one plan. Well (you knew this was coming), you can.
WWOOF stands for "World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms" and their website WWOOF.ORG will connect you with farms around the globe that can offer you what you're looking for. Give it a go.
See you in Niagara: So, you're getting married but money is tight and though it's always been your dream to do the honeymoon at Niagara Falls thing, you just can't find the do-re-mi nor the time. Well, just set in front of your computer and load this page. Live, streaming video! And yes, you can watch the colors change at night. If that's not enough, visit EarthCam.Com for live cams around the world.
Tomorrow (Thursday) night at 7:30 PM, Kent Fiscal Watch will be hosting an open forum featuring Assemblywoman Sandy Galef at the Lake Carmel Community Center, 10 Huguenot Road, Lake Carmel NY. The main topics of discussion will be: How to make the Open Meeting and Freedom of Information Act more effective in opening up government documents, Consolidation of Administrative and other Services in schools and other agencies, School Taxes: The Circuit Breaker Bill, The Cahill Bill, all different approaches to the same problem. How to take part in your town's budget development, and my favorite topic, the importance of citizen activism.

And now, The News:
  1. The next big thing in wind: Slow wind, huge turbines
  2. Largest Solar Project In State History 
  3. New Law in Virginia Authorizes Incentives for Green Roofs
  4. Environmentally-friendly Cooling With Magnetic Refrigerators Coming Soon
  5. It's always Earth Day at Connecticut trash museum
  6. Suffolk home rule message eyes seceding from state
  7. Splitting Water Into Hydrogen And Oxygen
  8. Hard Times Give New Life to Prague’s Golem
  9. Dad Calls 911 After Son Refuses To Clean Room

The next big thing in wind: Slow wind, huge turbines

With politicians pushing adoption of renewable energy in the United States and Europe, the last few years have seen a surge in plans for wind farms--both on land and sea. But wind power isn't viable everywhere--and prime coastal spots are often already developed.

So some wind-turbine makers are shifting their focus toward building bigger wind turbines that can harvest the lower-speed winds that are more readily available. This next generation of wind turbines is no small matter: their rotors have a diameter the size of a football field.

In general, wind turbines get more powerful and efficient with taller turbine towers and larger areas swept by the blades, according to the American Wind Energy Association. A turbine's swept area is a key indicator in how much power output potential the turbine has.

"Lower wind-speed turbines certainly open up more land for development," said Rich Reno, platform leader for General Electric's new 2.5-megawatt wind turbine. "Larger turbines open up the opportunity to get more megawatts out of a given piece of land."

Read More

Largest Solar Project In State History 

Albany - Governor David A. Paterson today announced the largest solar photovoltaic project in New York, which will help the State meet its energy needs, foster the development of solar technologies and stimulate the economy with new clean energy jobs. This initiative follows on the heels of the Governor’s recently announced 50 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) project, lead by the Long Island Power Authority. Together, these projects totaling 150 MW would position New York as the State with the second highest installed PV capacity.

“Today’s announcement is a critical step forward in achieving New York’s goals under its Renewable Portfolio Standard and in boosting the State’s energy independence,” said Governor Paterson. “The installation of 100 megawatts of solar power at our schools, municipal and commercial buildings, and other State sites will enhance New York State’s status as a leader in the new clean energy economy and will create clean energy jobs right here in New York State.”

Read More

New Law in Virginia Authorizes Incentives for Green Roofs

A new law enacted earlier this year in the Commonwealth of Virginia authorizes counties, cities, and towns to grant incentives or provide regulatory flexibility to encourage the use of green roofs in the construction, repair, or remodeling of residential and commercial buildings. The incentives or regulatory flexibility could include (i) a reduction in permit fees when green roofs are used, (ii) a streamlined process for the approval of building permits when green roofs are used, or (iii) a reduction in any gross receipts tax on green roof contractors as defined by the local ordinance.   A green roof is defined as either a solar roof or a vegetative roof. A solar roof is defined as a solar roofing system that generates reusable energy, which reusable energy accounts for at least 2.5 percent of the total electric energy used by the building to which the solar roofing system is attached. “Vegetative roof” is defined as a roofing system designed in accordance with the Virginia Stormwater Management Program’s standards and specifications for green roofs, as set forth in the Virginia Stormwater BMP Clearinghouse, in which at least 50 percent of the total roofing area is vegetative.

Read More

Environmentally-friendly Cooling With Magnetic Refrigerators Coming Soon

ScienceDaily (May 17, 2009) — Scientists are a step closer to making environmentally-friendly 'magnetic' refrigerators and air conditioning systems a reality, thanks to new research published May 15 in Advanced Materials.

Magnetic refrigeration technology could provide a 'green' alternative to traditional energy-guzzling gas-compression fridges and air conditioners. They would require 20-30% less energy to run than the best systems currently available, and would not rely on ozone-depleting chemicals or greenhouse gases. Refrigeration and air conditioning units make a major contribution to the planet's energy consumption - in the USA in the summer months they account for approximately 50% of the country's energy use.

A magnetic refrigeration system works by applying a magnetic field to a magnetic material - some of the most promising being metallic alloys - causing it to heat up. This excess heat is removed from the system by water, cooling the material back down to its original temperature. When the magnetic field is removed the material cools down even further, and it is this cooling property that researchers hope to harness for a wide variety of cooling applications.

Read More

It's always Earth Day at Connecticut trash museum

STRATFORD, Conn. (AP) — In a waterfront industrial area near the Bridgeport line, the trucks keep dumping trash and the school buses keep dumping children.

Eight-year-old Matt Carlucci is in awe as soon as he walks through the front door of The Garbage Museum, confronted immediately by a colorful, 12-foot-tall dinosaur made out of junk. "Trash-o-saurus" resembles something out of the animated movie "Robots."

Pennsylvania sculptor Leo Sewell, who grew up near a dump, fashioned the 24-foot-long piece out of old "no parking" signs, cell phones, shoes, license plates, sunglasses, plastic toys and anything else he could get his hands on. Visitors are given a list of things to find on the dinosaur, and it's no easy feat.

"It's pretty cool," Matt said during a trip with his third-grade class from Sherman, Conn., on a recent Friday. "All the garbage on it, how big it is and how much it weighs."

The sculpture is 2,000 pounds, representing the average amount of garbage and recyclables each person in Connecticut discards each year. Like all the exhibits, "Trash-o-saurus" was designed with the goal of teaching how important recycling is. (AP Photo: Bob Child)

Read More

Suffolk home rule message eyes seceding from state


10:43 PM EDT, May 12, 2009

Suffolk legislators approved a home rule message Tuesday calling for a study and referendum on the merits of Long Island seceding from a "tyrannical" New York State government, though they are unlikely to be taking up muskets for an armed revolt.

The dormant Long Island secession movement awakened by presiding officer William Lindsay (D-Holbrook), who, angered by the regional payroll tax imposed by state lawmakers to fund the Metropolitan Transportation Authority bailout, called for a vote on the matter to register his anger about the new tax.

While Lindsay said the vote was as a publicity stunt, some of his colleagues were less subdued.

Legis. Daniel Losquadro (R-Shoreham), the body's GOP leader, called for a revolt on Long Island against the state.

Read More

Splitting Water Into Hydrogen And Oxygen

We often want to imitate nature for near perfect results. But sometimes it just remains a desire. In its quest for green and clean energy mankind is searching for that magical method that can split water into hydrogen and oxygen.Nature performs this task wonderfully through the process of photosynthesis. Man is still facing challenges in duplicating that process in the laboratory. If we are able to split water into oxygen and hydrogen in the presence of sunlight we will be able to harness the potential of hydrogen as a clean and green fuel. Till date man-made systems are quite inefficient, time consuming, money consuming and often require additional use of chemical agents.

Researchers at the Weizmann Institute Organic Chemistry Department under the leadership of Prof. David Milstein have developed a novel way of splitting water molecules that can separate oxygen from water and bind the atoms in a different molecule. This technique leaves the hydrogen free to combine in other compounds as well. They were inspired by photosynthesis, a process carried out by plants. Photosynthesis is the life giving force on the earth because it is the source of all oxygen on the earth.

Read More

Hard Times Give New Life to Prague’s Golem


PRAGUE — They say the Golem, a Jewish giant with glowing eyes and supernatural powers, is lurking once again in the attic of the Old-New Synagogue here.

The Golem, according to Czech legend, was fashioned from clay and brought to life by a rabbi to protect Prague’s 16th-century ghetto from persecution, and is said to be called forth in times of crisis. True to form, he is once again experiencing a revival and, in this commercial age, has spawned a one-monster industry.

There are Golem hotels; Golem door-making companies; Golem clay figurines (made in China); a recent musical starring a dancing Golem; and a Czech strongman called the Golem who bends iron bars with his teeth. The Golem has also infiltrated Czech cuisine: the menu at the non-kosher restaurant called the Golem features a “rabbi’s pocket of beef tenderloin” and a $7 “crisis special” of roast pork and potatoes that would surely have rattled the venerable Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the Golem’s supposed maker.

Even the first lady, Michelle Obama, paid her respects, when she visited Rabbi Loew’s grave last month and, following Jewish tradition, placed a prayer on a piece of paper and put it near his tombstone.

Read More

Dad Calls 911 After Son Refuses To Clean Room

BEDFORD, Ohio -- A father called 911 after his son wouldn't clean up his room, police said.

Officers responded to the home of Bedford Board of Education member Andrew Mizsak after hearing and argument and getting a hang up call to 911 on Thursday.

Police said a verbal argument had taken place between Andrew Mizsak Sr. and Andrew Mizsak Jr.

The 63-year-old father said his 29-year-old son became upset when he was told to clean his room.

The son stated that he didn't have time and became enraged. Police said he threw a plate of food across the kitchen table and balled up his fist at his father.

Read More

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Monday, May 18, 2009

News That Matters - May 18, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you (Almost Daily) by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Monday Morning,

The National Weather Service has announced a FREEZE Warning for tonight. High pressure building in from the northwest combined with light winds and clear skies will allow interior portions of the Hudson Valley to experience temperatures below 32º for several hours overnight. (3AM - 8AM)
If you cannot bring in sensitive plants, cover them with a blanket or tarp before evening to conserve warmer earth temps around those plants. It was a similar event on this very day several years ago that severely damaged the apple crop here in the Hudson Valley so preparatory caution is advised.

The Kent Town Board meets tonight in regular session at 7PM. Here's a draft agenda. While we're talking about Kent, an online petition to fire the Town's building inspector was started a few weeks back and has so far garnered a grand total of seven signatures.

Tomorrow is the school board budget and elections. Vote wisely and remember that voting a budget down really only hurts your kids. If you need to make a statement do so in other ways: Picket a school board meeting, make a phone call, send a letter, demonstrate.

Oregon Corners: Putnam Valley Democrats have posted a page on their website about a recent hearing regarding the redevelopment plans for Oregon Corners. It's worth a look.

Am I the only one to notice the steep climb in gasoline prices over the past two weeks?
We were paying $2.10 or so and then it was $2.15 and then $2.33 and now $2.47? The largest price jump, around 14¢, happened just last week. Analysts say it's due to the summer driving season where oil companies generally rape the public and then safely blame the victims. They also say gasoline prices will not reach the levels they were a couple years back during the worst of the price gouging by ExxonMobil and their friends. We'll see.
Poll: What do you think gasoline will cost come the July 4th weekend?
Kent resident Ed Sorel has been an illustrator for, well, forever. He is a regular contributor to The Atlantic and The New Yorker. Besides his 41 covers for the latter, his art has appeared on the covers of The Atlantic, Harpers, Fortune, Forbes, The Nation, Esquire, American Heritage and The New York Times Magazine. He has illustrated many children's books, three of which he also wrote. Unauthorized Portraits (Knopf 1997) is the most recent of several collections of his work.This month Vanity Fair magazine highlights some of his work and you can find that here.

There's alcohol served at Putnam National and golfers are enthralled. But I have a question: under our contract with RDC, the company managing the golf course, the county pays them $17,000 a month to run the place and they have to give us $248,000 at the end of the year. My math says that leaves the county with a $44,000 profit and I'm wondering if that's enough.

Website Watch:
You Are What You Eat: You Are What You Eat is a series of portraits made by examining the interiors of refrigerators in homes across the Untied States. "For three years I traveled around the country exploring the issue of hunger. The more time I spent speaking and listening to individual stories, the more I began to think about the foods we consume and the effects they have on us as individuals and communities. An intense curiosity and questions about stewardship led me to begin to make these unconventional portraits. These are portraits of the rich and the poor. Vegetarians, Republicans, members of the NRA, those left out, the under appreciated, former soldiers in Hitler’s SS, dreamers, and so much more. We never know the full story of one's life."

And now, the News:
  1. Putnam lawmakers pledge to limit Peekskill Hollow Road work
  2. Can Buying Local Mean Clean Water Too?
  3. Green Bin waste sent to landfill
  4. More land saved than developed, study finds
  5. 'Natural patterns' of farming touted in documentary
  6. Judge blocks 'robo-calls' selling car warranties
  7. Senate Rejects Limit on Credit-Card Interest Rates
  8. Freedom in the 50 States

Putnam lawmakers pledge to limit Peekskill Hollow Road work

Barbara Livingston Nackman

PUTNAM VALLEY - Opponents of a county-inspired road project to reshape and repave Peekskill Hollow Road have made some gains - after a decade of protests and a recent meeting that brought out more than a hundred people.

The Putnam County Legislature is set to adopt a resolution firmly stating that the $8 million project will only deal with a less than 3-mile stretch of Peekskill Hollow Road from Oregon to Adams corners and nothing further.

"This is not the Peekskill Hollow urban arterial project," County Legislator Vincent Tamagna, R-Philipstown, said, referring to the winding 11-mile east-west roadway that goes from the Cortlandt/Putnam Valley border at Oregon Corners to Route 301 in Kent.

Read More

Can Buying Local Mean Clean Water Too?

Buying locally from nearby farmers who care for the land can provide consumers with more than fresh food. Residents of the New York City metropolitan region who buy Pure Catskills branded products are also supporting the farmers who keep their drinking water clean. During the past decade, Catskill farmers have worked in cooperation with the Watershed Agricultural Council on a unique land protection and environmental stewardship program that keeps the watershed’s streams and reservoirs pristine—the same watershed that supplies drinking water to millions of New York City residents. Now, through a local food map and other resources, the new Pure Catskills initiative is helping consumers locate products from the farms that grow wholesome local food and clean water.

Read More

Green Bin waste sent to landfill - GTA - Green Bin waste sent to landfill
April 11, 2009
Gail Swainson

More than 6,000 tonnes of York Region's organic waste was shipped to a landfill site in 2008 because it was bagged in plastic that prevented composting, says a report from the region.

Last year, York collected 86,000 tonnes of organic waste in its Green Bins. Of this, 12,750 tonnes contained plastic, with about half, or some 6,000 tonnes, going to landfill and the remainder to an energy-from-waste plant in the United States that can accommodate plastic in the trash.

Laura McDowell, the region's director of environmental promotion and protection, said many considerations, including shipping costs and contractual obligations, prevented all plastic-contaminated organics from being converted to energy.

"We have some existing contracts that dictate where the waste needs to go," McDowell said.

York Region has launched a pilot project encouraging residents to switch from plastic bin liners to compostable bags in the hopes of reducing the amount of non-compostable waste.

Read More

More land saved than developed, study finds

Mass Audubon still urges new curbs

By Beth Daley, Globe Staff  |  May 18, 2009

Massachusetts, reversing a decades-long trend, is protecting land at twice the rate it is being lost to development, a Mass Audubon study to be released today shows.

Through the 1990s and the early part of this decade, forests and fields were being developed - mostly into new home sites - at the rate of about 40 acres a day. In recent years, the study shows, that number was cut nearly in half, to about 22 acres a day.

At the same time, conservation efforts have stepped up, so that each day 43 acres of land are protected as open space, usually through legal agreements with private owners or purchases by conservation groups or the state.

"The good news is we are no longer gobbling up open spaces," said Jack Clarke, director of public policy and government relations for the Massachusetts Audubon Society.

The slowed pace of development probably has more to do with flat population growth - and more recently the recession - than dramatic changes in zoning and other laws limiting home construction, officials say.

Read More

'Natural patterns' of farming touted in documentary

By Joshua Hatch, USA TODAY

SWOOPE, Va. — The white metal sign over the desk at Polyface Farm reads, "Joel Salatin: Lunatic Farmer."

Salatin is proud of that label. "I'm a third-generation lunatic," he boasts while standing in his lush, green central Virginia fields. Brown chickens strut and peck around his feet. "I don't do anything like average farmers do," he says.

What the 52-year-old farmer does is let his cows feed on grass instead of corn or grain. He moves his cows to new fields daily. Flocks of chickens scratch around open fields, spreading cow droppings, eating flies and larvae, and laying eggs in the Salatin-built eggmobile. Hogs forage in the woods or in a pasture house where they root through cow manure, wood chips and corn. The resulting compost gets spread back over the fields, fertilizing the grass for the cattle. That completes the cycle.

"It's completely counter to current agricultural wisdom," he says. Current agricultural practices often encourage using technology — petroleum-based fertilizers, hormones and antibiotics — to spur growth and reduce costs as much as possible.

Read More

Judge blocks 'robo-calls' selling car warranties

By MIKE ROBINSON – 1 day ago

CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge has issued two temporary restraining orders designed to stop what officials describe as a wave of deceptive "robo-calls" warning people their auto warranties are expiring and offering to sell them new service plans.

"Today the FTC has disconnected the people responsible for so many of these annoying calls," Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz said Friday.

"We expect to see a dramatic decrease in the number of deceptive auto warranty calls, but we are still on high alert," Leibowitz said in a statement posted on the agency's Web site.

The FTC filed suit against two companies and their executives on Thursday, asking a federal court in Chicago to halt a wave of as many as 1 billion automated, random, prerecorded calls and freeze the assets of the companies.

Read More

Senate Rejects Limit on Credit-Card Interest Rates

By Carl Hulse

Despite complaints that banks and credit card companies are gouging customers by charging outrageous interest rates, the Senate on Wednesday easily turned back an effort to cap interest rates at 15 percent.

The effort by Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, drew only 33 votes and needed 60, with a bipartisan group of 60 senators opposing it as the Senate pushed its credit card overhaul toward the finish line. Some Democrats and consumer groups have said that an interest cap is needed to put real teeth into an otherwise solid bill.

Other backers of the measure calculated that an interest rate ceiling would doom the popular legislation. The banking industry, which had some heavy-weight representatives monitoring the vote off of the Senate floor, warned that an interest rate limit could cause a sour reaction in the financial markets.

Read More

Freedom in the 50 States

...We find that the freest states in the country are New Hampshire, Colorado, and South Dakota, which together achieve a virtual tie for first place. All three states feature low taxes and government spending and middling levels of regulation and paternalism. New York is the least free by a considerable margin, followed by New Jersey, Rhode Island, California and Maryland. On personal freedom alone, Alaska is the clear winner, while Maryland brings up the rear. As for freedom in the different regions of the country, the Mountain and West North Central regions are the freest overall while the Middle Atlantic lags far behind on both economic and personal freedom. Regression analysis demonstrates that states enjoying more economic and personal freedom tend to attract substantially higher rates of internal net migration.

Read the study here

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Friday, May 15, 2009

News That Matters - May 15, 2009 - Things to Do Edition

News That Matters
Brought to you (Almost Daily) by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Friday Morning,

Rumor has it that today is going to be our first real summer day and I can't wait. Once the skies clear in a couple of hours, the temps should top out at about 75º with low humidity. Tomorrow, not as nice and Sunday cool and cloudy. So take the day off or quit early and enjoy the weather.

I attended a star-studded event last evening in Beacon honoring Fishkill's Historical Focus and long-tine activist Connie Hogarth. Many Putnam County residents were in attendance and it was nice to meet them in this setting. Historical Focus has been leading the fight to preserve what's not been paved over of the Fishkill Army Depot, the largest such facility used by revolutionaries fighting the British from 1776 to 1783. Most of that land is now covered by a failed shopping mall and as far back as the 1970's historical groups have been trying to save it but profits and development have trumped history. Even to this day, with the recent discovery of 100 colonial graves on the property, the Town of Fishkill is forging ahead with development plans that would pave over the remainder of that land. Connie Hogarth has been a social activist for most of her 80 years and runs a program at Manhattenville College to teach students how to effectively mount social justice campaigns.

Reporters Needed: If you give a damn about what's happening in your town

Remember the PCB's in the upper Hudson River and how General Electric has been avoiding responsibility in cleaning up their mess? According to the Albany Times-Union, after millions of dollars were spent on lawyers and specialists, the first phase of the cleanup begins today and will remove some 265,000 yards of river bottom. At that point the EPA will study the process to see how things are going before embarking on a second, much larger, project. But GE hasn't agreed to the second phase so expect the lawyers to continue raking in the bucks.

While the global economy is faltering and the US economy shrinks, Norway is doing quite well. Their mix of socialism and capitalism is a broad success as their personal GDP has reached $52,000 and the nation of 4.6 million people carries no debt and a government surplus. For the record, Norway is what right-wingers in the US would call a welfare state. If you're homeless it's because you want to be. If you're sick there's government clinics to take care of you. If you need to travel from here to there, there's mass transit to take you. And while the income tax rate is near 50% no one seems to be complaining. Here, the average American pays about 35% in Federal income taxes but add state income taxes, property, sales and use taxes to the bill and we're well above Norway and yet have few services to call our own. Go figure. There's more of those "tea parties" schedule for the July 4th weekend. Someone ought to let those folk know they're barking up the wrong tree.

While the Obama administration caves on a national health care proposal, the latest industrialized nation to go that route is Taiwan. And, what did Taiwan base their model on? Canada? No. France? No. Medicare. Taiwan found that based on the American Medicare model they can bring affordable preventative health care to every resident of that island nation of 23 million people. Medicare covers 43 million Americans and runs at a 3% overhead while private insurance companies run at 25-35% overhead, and in some cases, more. This is one of myriad of cases where "privatization" simply does not work. If you have (or had) medical insurance through your employer and you've lost your job, head to Norway or Taiwan where caring for their citizens is more important than profits.

Featured Hike this Weekend:
The Harlem Valley Rail Trail has now opened two sections totaling 15 paved miles through stunning rural Dutchess County landscapes. Since the mid-1980's, the Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association has dreamed of a 46-mile rail trail in the Harlem Valley and Taconic Hills of eastern New York. The first segment of the trail opened in 1996. Since then, the trail has grown in 1997, 2000 and 2005. Another eight miles of abandoned rail bed are in the development stages, and most of another 23 miles have been acquired in Columbia County that will lead the trail north into the Village of Chatham. Get more information here.

So, what's up this weekend? Here's the run-down. By the way, if your organization's event is not here it's because you didn't tell us about it.
  1. Tonight:
    1. The Hudson: America's River
  2. Saturday:
    1. Canoe the Great Swamp
    2. Art Show Opening
    3. Turtle Pond Trail Grand Opening
    4. Philipstown 4 Democracy
    5. Plant a Tree
  3. Sunday:
    1. Harvey Wasserman
    2. "Renewal"
  4. Into The Future:
    1. Wednesday, May 20
      1. Kent CAC Meeting
      2. Dover Meeting on 1000, Megawatt Power Plant
    2. Thursday, May 21
      1. Kent Fiscal Watch


The Hudson: America's River

7PM - Author and conservationist Fran Dunwell has spent over 30 years working to protect the Hudson River and its historic heritage. She will discuss her new book, The Hudson: America's River, which explores the river's role in inspiring artists, entrepreneurs, presidents, environmental movements, and the rise of Manhattan. This event is part of the Millbrook Book Festival. Event is free and open to the public. Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, 2801 Sharon Turnpike (Rt. 44) in Millbrook.   or call (845) 677-5343


Canoe the Great Swamp

FrOGS Naturalists will guide you through this beautiful section of the Great Swamp, one of the largest wetlands in New York State, with the assistance of Green Chimney's licensed lifeguards. Join us at Green Chimney's beach off Doanesburg Road (formerly Putnam Lake Road). All level paddlers are welcome (rated moderately strenuous). We will provide, canoes, paddles, life jackets (bring your own if you wish). We canoe rain or shine. Reservations are a must and space is limited, so, make your reservation early and join FrOGS as we visit and view this unique and complex eco-system which is also home to many species that visit or live there; you will likely get to meet some of them. $20 adult members, $11 child (6-14 years), $24 adult non-members, $15 child (6-14 years). Children must be 6 years or older. Call Evelyn at 845-877-6498 for reservations and details.

Art Show Opening

1-5PM: The Visual Artists Committee of Arts on the Lake opens the Spring Art Exhibit, 1-5 p.m.  The exhibit continues Sunday, 1-5 p.m., Wednesday evening, 7-9 p.m., Memorial Weekend Saturday-Monday, 1-5 p.m.  Sixty artists are represented in a display of  paintings, sculpture, photography, stained glass and mixed media. 

Turtle Pond Trail Grand Opening

1PM - The Putnam County Land Trust will officially open its latest trail at the Laurel Ledges Natural Area on Saturday, May 16th at 1 pm. The trail skirts the northern edge of Turtle Pond (formerly Mendel Pond).   Acquired through a NAWCA grant from Bill and Sheila Hamilton, the pond serves vital wildlife needs for resting, nesting and food sources. Stephen Maddock of Mahopac Scout Troop 1 earned his Eagle Scout Badge through the planning, fund raising and construction of this trail.  The Turtle Pond Trail as it will be called features over 1500 feet of trail including a 30 foot floating boardwalk. The Opening Program will feature brief remarks and a walk on the trail led by PCLT board member and eminent naturalist, Beth Herr.  The public is invited to attend.  There is no fee.  The ceremony be held at the Trail Head located on Cornwall Hill Road between Rte 164 and Couch Road and the walk will leave from there as well. 

Philipstown 4 Democracy

2PM - Building Peace Through Dialogue. Speaker: Mike Daly, Program Director, Interfaith Peacebuilders. Reports from Interfaith Peacebuilder Trips To Israel / Palestine Interfaith Peace-Builders fosters a network of informed and active individuals who seek to understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the United States’ political, military, and economic role in it. Desmond Fish Library, Garrison. 917-273-0808

Plant a Tree

2-5PM - At Hudson Highlands Gateway Park Cortlandt, Westchester County - Protect the Hudson River watershed. Help us plant 300 native trees and shrubs provided through the DEC Hudson River Estuary Program's Trees for Tribs initiative, which works to restore lands along tributaries, reducing erosion and improving water quality. Bring gloves, shovels and drinking water. Contact: Anthony Coneski 845 473 4440, ext. 273,


Harvey Wasserman

3PM - Beacon Institute for Rivers & Estuaries- 199 Main Street, Beacon, NY. Author, activist, journalist who coined “No Nukes”. "Stopping Nuclear Power" and "Winning Solartopia". Music :  Dar Williams & David Bernz. Sponsors: Mid Hudson Progressive Alliance, Philipstown for Democracy, Beacon Sloop Club, Hudson River Clearwater, Riverpool at Beacon - IPSEC (Indian Pt Safe Energy Coalition) This program is free. Contact | 845-228-8894


4PM - "Renewal" 2008, dirs Marty Ostrow and Terry Kay Rockefeller, 90 min. At the Garrison Institute, Rute 9D in Garrison. A presentation of eight different stories about America's growing religious-environmental movement. Each story is set in a different religious tradition, and each story addresses a different environmental concern. Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, and different Christian denominations pursue projects to raise consciousness about the environmental crisis. "The religious-environmental movement is potentially key to dealing with the greatest problem humans have ever faced, and it has never been captured with more breadth and force than in 'Renewal.' I hope this movie moves many more people off the fence and into action." --Bill McKibben, environmentalist and author of "The End of Nature" Contact: 845 424-4800. Sponsored by: the Garrison Institute, a non-sectarian, non-profit organization "...exploring the intersection of contemplation and engaged action in the world."

Into The Future:

Wednesday, May 20

Kent CAC Meeting

The Kent CAC will meet at the Town Hall on Route 52 at 7PM. On the agenda will be a Chairman's report, planning for the next CAC sponsored hike, cleaning up trash (mostly on Mt. Nimham at the firetower) and other nice green things. (Photo from George Baum)

Dover Meeting on 1000, Megawatt Power Plant

The Dover Town Board is having a public meeting on Advanced Power's proposal to build a 1,000 Megawatt Natural Gas Power Plant in Dover Plains, NY.  This  meeting will be held at the Dover High School auditorium, 2368 Rt 22 - Dover Plains, NY 12522 on May 20, 2009, 6:30 PM - 7:30 PM.

Thursday, May 21

Kent Fiscal Watch

7:30 PM - Kent Fiscal Watch is hosting an open forum featuring special guest Sandy Galef, State Assemblywoman for the 90th district, on Thursday, May 21st, 7:30PM at the Lake Carmel Community Center, 10 Hugenot Road, Lake Carmel NY. The main topics of discussion will be: How to make the Open Meeting and Freedom of Information Act more effective in opening up government documents, Consolidation of Administrative and other Services in schools and other agencies, School Taxes: The Circuit Breaker Bill, The Cahill Bill...different approaches to the same problem, How to take part in your town budget development, Other Tax Reform Topics, The importance of citizen activism.

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