Wednesday, June 10, 2009

News That Matters - June 10, 2009

News That Matters
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"Only single-payer national health insurance can make universal, comprehensive coverage affordable by saving the hundreds of billions we now waste on insurance overhead and bureaucracy." 

Good Wednesday Morning,

News That Matters welcomes County Legislator Dini LoBou as one of our newest readers.

The second most read story at the blogsite is the one about the Town of Kent's move to allow its supervisors to serve for four years rather than two. That story, which you can find here, surpassed the debate on the Tilly Foster Contract and almost anything about Peekskill Hollow Road and Putnam Valley.
The term issue is not dead and will be discussed at a public hearing later this summer (August 17) but I'm curious to what your views are about that. Point your browsers here and weigh in.
Starting on June 19th and running for about ten days, specialized training exercises at West Point will, as it does yearly, generate booming and shaking in the Hudson Valley. So those explosions you hear? No, it's not Canadians finally getting back at us for invading them in 1812, it's just our next generation of citizen soldiers in training.

If it's raining it must be muddy:
Each time it rains, NtM reader Brian Alberghini takes photos of a pond near his abode off Welfare Road in Southeast and it's not a pretty sight. Each heavy rain brings silt to the pond from development within its watershed and the problem just keeps getting worse. By this time I'm surprised it's not a swamp rather than a pond as this has been going on - and documented - for years.

Would someone please call the Town of Southeast and ask then why they've not taken issue with this, repaired the problem or even looked at it seriously? If this is happening at this one pond it's almost guaranteed it's happening at others - and it's a crime.
This past Monday evening I attended, as the representative from Kent, the initial meeting of a newly formed County Commission on Alternative Energy. The commission, working under the auspices of the Physical Services Committee and Legislators Vinnie Tamagna and Dini LoBue, will investigate ways and methods of bringing cleaner, renewable energy sources to Putnam County. Those might include better awareness of NYSERDA's program for putting solar panels on your roof, home weatherizing projects, the possible location of wind and solar farms and sample zoning and planning codes to get towns moving.
There was talk of a possible public demonstration project at the county park in Kent or expanding the project at Tilly Foster and seeking code from the county health department to allow for the construction of composting toilets in recreational areas precluding the need for energy intensive construction and maintenance.  Here's a link to a primer on these at the blogsite. In fact, there were so many good ideas floated we're not exactly sure where to start.
One way we thought of initially exploring these issues was to conduct an energy audit on the County Office Building and the Donald B. Smith office complex in Carmel. These older buildings (and your taxpaying pocket) could be well served by an upgrade to better energy efficiency. The only issue stopping that project is the missing audit. Write/Call/ Send Smoke Signals to County Executive Bondi and ask him to get the ball rolling on that one. (845) 225-3641, ext. 200

The Commission may take their meetings to different towns during the year to better engage the public in its work. Counties in the area are ahead of where Putnam is now but we're started and we're moving and you can be sure I'll keep you all informed. A good source of information on all of this is The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives ( and their website is worth a look.
Right-wing radio host Al Turner, who had me, Jeff Green, listed on his website as "Jew", has been arrested for encouraging his listeners to shoot two Connecticut lawmakers. One of those two was my city rep and now a state senator, when I lived in Stamford, CT more than a decade ago. Needless to say, his website is now down and his radio show on hiatus. Here's two clips (1, 2) from his radio show. From the article:

"It is our intent to foment direct action against these individuals personally," Turner wrote. "These beastly government officials should be made an example of as a warning to others in government: Obey the Constitution or die."

In the next paragraph, Turner added: "If any state attorney, police department or court thinks they're going to get uppity with us about this, I suspect we have enough bullets to put them down, too."

Friday brings us Putnam County's 197th birthday and a celebration and awards ceremony will be held at the County courthouse at 10AM. Rumor has it there's a cake.

Friday is also bulk pickup day in Nelsonville and items should be on the street by 6AM.

Friday also brings us the weekly "Things To Do" edition of News That Matters and the standard disclaimer provides that if you don't let us know about an event you're holding it's not going to magically show up in the column.

And now the News:
  1. Teen indicted in Garrison driver's slaying
  2. Hudson River advocates gather to fine-tune vision of waterway's future
  3. Sullivan County to seek state, federal funding for clean energy initiatives
  4. The Death and Life of Model “Eco-cities”
  5. Medical bills underlie 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies: study
  6. Stimulus bill won't change status of Sunday school
  7. CSX Grants Walkway Easement

Teen indicted in Garrison driver's slaying

Terence Corcoran

CARMEL - A Lake Peekskill teen is accused of fatally shooting Garrison tow-truck driver John Marcinak in December while breaking into his Garrison Garage on Route 9, Sheriff Donald B. Smith said yesterday.

Smith announced the indictment of Anthony Grigoroff, 18, of 52 Morrissey Drive at a news conference attended by Marcinak's widow, three children and more than a dozen of their family and friends.

Smith indicated there may be other suspects and said the investigation was continuing.

Read More

Hudson River advocates gather to fine-tune vision of waterway's future

Laura Incalcaterra

WEST POINT - Environmental advocates gathered yesterday to review the state of the Hudson River, including ways to enhance its cultural, economic, scenic, recreational and environmental integrity.

The 2009 Hudson River Summit was sponsored by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the DEC's Hudson River Estuary Program and Historic Hudson River Towns.

It drew more than 250 people to the Thayer Hotel, located on the grounds of the U.S. Military Academy and towering above the river, where the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's historic voyage was celebrated over the weekend.

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Sullivan County to seek state, federal funding for clean energy initiatives

MONTICELLO – Sullivan County Legislature Chairman Jonathan Rouis Monday said the county will seek funding for its clean energy initiatives, especially in light of Governor Paterson’s announced economy matching grants.

The Governor Monday said that new program would provide a 10 percent match for every stimulus dollar the federal government awards through competitive grants to research facilities in New York State. New York will allocate $100 million over several years for this program which is expected to leverage one billion dollars in federal research funding.

Rouis said, meanwhile, that would fit in perfectly with the county’s plans to expand broadband service and develop clean energy initiatives including a solar or wind farm.

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The Death and Life of Model “Eco-cities”

by: Ben Jervey

From Florida to China, showcase “green” communities are popping up all over the globe. But some have already failed. Here are four model cities that might actually make it.

Dongtan, China was supposed to be “the world’s first eco-city.” And if you were to believe the press releases, government officials, and a deluge of articles lauding the project a few years back, construction of this planned low-carbon, car free community near Shanghai—should be well underway.

It is not.

Rather, the site on Chongming Island where planners had promised to showcase “a methodology for sustainable communities across China and beyond”—where superefficient buildings would be clustered in dense, walkable neighborhoods, where 90 percent of all waste would be recycled, where energy would be produced locally by wind, solar, and bio-fuels, where high tech organic farms would produce nearly all the food, where public transport would run on hydrogen fuel cells, and where half a million people would call home within 30 years, at least 25,000 of them settled in in time for the Shanghai World Expo in 2010—remains an untouched greenfield. Permits to develop the land have expired. Pretty much everyone involved—from Chinese officials to the prominent British design and engineering firm Arup—have distanced themselves from the project. A local farmer with fields inside the development site told the Telegraph earlier this year that he’d “never heard of it.”

Dead is Dongtan, the project that Worldchanging publisher Alex Steffen once described as “absolutely the best current model for bright green Chinese city planning” and that a similarly glowing Wired article summed up as such: “If Dongtan lives up to expectations, it will serve as a model for cities across China and the rest of the developing world—cities that, given new tools, might leapfrog the environmental and public health costs that have always come with economic progress.”

Read More

Medical bills underlie 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies: study

Thu Jun 4, 2009 8:48pm EDT

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Medical bills are behind more than 60 percent of U.S. personal bankruptcies, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday in a report they said demonstrates that healthcare reform is on the wrong track.

More than 75 percent of these bankrupt families had health insurance but still were overwhelmed by their medical debts, the team at Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School and Ohio University reported in the American Journal of Medicine.

"Unless you're Warren Buffett, your family is just one serious illness away from bankruptcy," Harvard's Dr. David Himmelstein, an advocate for a single-payer health insurance program for the United States, said in a statement.

"For middle-class Americans, health insurance offers little protection," he added.

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Stimulus bill won't change status of Sunday school

In a fundraising e-mail, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich says that President Barack Obama is anti-Christian.

"In fact, buried inside Obama's trillion-dollar stimulus package is anti-Christian legislation that will stop churches from using public schools for meeting on Sundays, as well as Boy Scouts and student Bible study groups," Gingrich wrote.

The e-mail is part of Gingrich's fundraising efforts for an organization called Renewing American Leadership, which will "bring moral leadership back to our nation."

We've looked before at a similar claim that the stimulus had an anti-religion clause. It's based on the part of the bill that provides $3.5 billion for public and private colleges and universities to modernize, renovate or repair facilities. The bill says money may not be used for buildings that are "used for sectarian instruction or religious worship or a school or department of divinity; or in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission."

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CSX Grants Walkway Easement

As New York State’s Quadricentennial celebrations unfold, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced CSX will grant an easement for land on the east side of the Walkway so that necessary construction can start while final negotiations over the land purchase are completed.   Without the easement, construction would have been stalled and pedestrian access uncertain as October event deadline fast approached. The announcement comes two days after Schumer personally called CSX CEO Michael Ward urging him to designate a temporary easement of 1200 feet of land on the eastern side of the Walkway over the Hudson Bridge. The land is required to establish public trails to the bridge for pedestrian access for the marquee event of the celebration that will commemorate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s journey. 
“I would like to thank CSX and their CEO Michael Ward for responding so quickly to the community’s concerns.  Granting an easement takes will allow construction of the public access-way to the bridge to begin immediately - so that we can be sure that we’re ready by the time the Quadracentennial arrives,” said Schumer. 

Read More

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