Monday, May 11, 2009

News That Matters - May 11, 2009

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

Good Monday Morning,

A Lake in Southeast
Photo by Jeff Green
If this morning the state, county and/or town you live in isn't finding new ways to avoid responsible governance and your school district isn't coming up with yet another budget-busting assault on your property taxes, the Federal government is hard at work devising new sources of income. No, they're not rifling through your pockets for another trillion dollars to hand deliver to criminals on Wall Street in exchange for a ready flow of campaign contributions, at least not this Monday morning. Rather, they've taken a much smaller, quieter step... it will now cost 44 cents to mail a letter.

Kent Senior Center: There seems to be some debate on this thing. Apparently the multi-million project will be paid from private, county, state and Federal coffers and not affect the town's resources but there is some opposition to the facility. The facility would act as a day-use center for the county's large and growing senior population but also act as a new home for the county's Office of the Aging now located at the Donald Smith campus in Carmel, freeing up that space for other uses. What's your take on this?

If you were out last evening right about 10PM, the bright, slow moving object you saw cross the sky from the southwest to the northeast was the International Space Station. If you missed it you're going to get another chance tomorrow (Tuesday) at about 9:14PM. Look towards the west-south-west and it should be directly overhead by about 9:16PM. If you miss that one, then Thursday evening at 8:30PM will be your last shot for a little while.

Correction: In a report last week about the Peekskill Hollow Road meeting at the County Legislature I wrote,
"But the main issue here wasn’t one of the project directly, but of a lack of mistrust between the community and its government. "
That should have been, ".... a lack of trust between..." How silly of me. But wouldn't it be nice if there was a lack of mistrust between the governed and those who govern?

And now, The News:
  1. Putnam county exec delays septic program
  2. Cul De Sac Sprawl Leads Nowhere
  3. Built to Last
  4. The End of Car Culture
  5. Organic Products Market Grows to $24.6 Billion
  6. Prescription Drugs Kill 300 Percent More Americans Than Illegal Drugs
  7. Boston: Operator texting at time of trolley crash

Putnam county exec delays septic program

Susan Elan

The Putnam County Legislature has unanimously overridden a veto by County Executive Robert Bondi that would end a popular septic repair program for homeowners in the watershed.

But Bondi, who must sign off before an additional $2 million in New York City watershed funds can be allocated to the program, said Friday he was awaiting an opinion from the county law department before deciding how to proceed.

Without waiting for Bondi's approval, the nine-member Legislature took a required step toward expanding the county septic repair program by notifying the participants in the watershed agreement of its intention.

Notification gives the parties time to object if they have a problem with the plan, said Legislature Chairman Tony Hay, R-Southeast.

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Cul De Sac Sprawl Leads Nowhere

Fri May 8, 2009 7:05pm EDT

Suburban sprawl is about as anti-sustainable as you can get. Residents who must drive anywhere to do anything, whether it's grabbing a cup of coffee or picking up a prescription, have an over-sized carbon footprint that also reduces real estate value.

That's the theme of a new report and video from the Congress for the New Urbanism. Reducing the average vehicle miles traveled per person by just one mile per day would save $29 billion annually, according to a report. "That not a one time stimulus, that's a stimulus every year," said Carol Coletta, the CEO of CEOs for Cities.

Housing prices remain more stable throughout the metro area if they have an urban core, said Coletta, citing data from "Driven to the Brink" a joint CEOs for Cities/CNU study. The study gave an example of the suburb of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, where residents pay up to 28 percent of their income on transportation alone.

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Built to Last

Three-minute film makes the humorous-but-convincing case that "cul-de-sacs" threaten life on Earth

The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), the leading international organization promoting walkable, neighborhood-based development as an alternative to sprawl, announces the winner of its 2009 video contest. The team of First + Main Media from Julian, CA and Paget Films from Buffalo, NY, award-winning documentary film producers, won for their short film entitled Built to Last. Members of the team include John Paget, Dr. Chris Elisara, and Drew Ward.

The outstanding 3-minute video asks the question “What’s the greatest threat to our planet?” and shows how reimagining our cities and suburbs to be sustainable and walkable will cut carbon emissions, commutes and calories. "When it comes to saving the planet, what we build is the greatest threat…or the greatest hope," say the filmmakers in Built to Last.

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The End of Car Culture

By Nate Silver for Esquire

This is surely one of the signs of the apocalypse: Americans aren't driving as much as they used to.

In January, according to statistics compiled by the Federal Highway Administration, Americans drove a collective 222 billion miles. That's a lot of time spent behind the wheel — enough to make roughly eight hundred round-trips to Mars. It translates to about 727 miles traveled for every man, woman, and child in the country. But that figure was down about 4 percent from January 2008, when Americans averaged 757 miles of car travel per person. And this was no aberration: January 2009 was the fifteenth consecutive month in which the average American's drove less than he had a year earlier.

This is, historically speaking, highly unusual behavior. If there have been two seemingly immutable trends for the American consumer, they're that he's eaten more every year and driven more every year. The late 1960s are sometimes assumed to be the height of car culture. But in January 1970, the average American drove only about 393 miles in his vehicle, or about half of what he drove every month until recently.

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Organic Products Market Grows to $24.6 Billion

By Dan Shapley
Report: Despite recession, sales were up 17.1% in 2008.

Sales of organic products were up 17% in 2008, reaching $25.6 billion despite the recession that began in the last quarter of the year, the Organic Trade Association's annual Industry Survey reveals.

The data covers not only organic food, but organic fibers, personal care products and pet foods.

Organic food sales were up 15.8% to $22.9 billion; organic food now accounts for 3.5% of all food sold in the U.S. Non-food categories grew 39.4% to $1.6 billion.

The association attributes the growth in the organic food sector, despite the recession, to two things: One, people who are committed to buying organic produce don't let money pressure stop them, because they are committed to environmental protection and health; and two, the proliferation of organic foods available at traditional grocery stores has increased retail competition and driven down prices.

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Prescription Drugs Kill 300 Percent More Americans Than Illegal Drugs

by: David Gutierrez

A report by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission has concluded that prescription drugs have outstripped illegal drugs as a cause of death.

An analysis of 168,900 autopsies conducted in Florida in 2007 found that three times as many people were killed by legal drugs as by cocaine, heroin and all methamphetamines put together. According to state law enforcement officials, this is a sign of a burgeoning prescription drug abuse problem.

"The abuse has reached epidemic proportions," said Lisa McElhaney, a sergeant in the pharmaceutical drug diversion unit of the Broward County Sheriff's Office. "It's just explosive."

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Boston: Operator texting at time of trolley crash

By O’Ryan Johnson
Saturday, May 9, 2009

The operator of a Green Line trolley that slammed into a train stopped at Government Center was apparently text messaging his girlfriend when the crash happened, said MBTA General Manager Dan Grabauskus.

“Two detectives have interviewed the operator of the train in the hospital and in the course of that interview he admitted to texting at the time of the crash,” Grabauskus said. The crash happened in a tunnel between Government Center and Park Street stations, sending more than 40 people to area hospitals with cuts, head wounds, and neck and back injuries. None of the injuries was life threatening.

The most seriously injured person was the texting operator of the bullet trolley. He was able to walk out and was taken to a hospital in stable condition. The cars were damaged at the point of impact, but bounced off one another and were still upright when emergency crews went aboard.

Read More

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