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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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'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.

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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.

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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.

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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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