Monday, June 29, 2009

News That Matters - June 29, 2009

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

Good Monday Morning,

Yesterday afternoon as I was returning from an event in Mahopac I came across an accident on Route 301 where a motorcyclist and a Kent PD car had crashed into each other. Though the highway was blocked off for some time reports say injuries to both drivers were minor.

Michael Jackson died a few days ago at age 50. What I find most remarkable is that the media which vilified him for the majority of his later years and allowed him no personal space or peace, is now falling over themselves to say what a great and wonderful guy he was.

The Iranian government is paying itinerant farmers around $200 each to come to Tehran and join their effort in beating anti-government protesters so hard they "cannot get up". It would have been much easier and cheaper to hire Katherine Harris to certify election results.

For those of you who didn't pack in to the Cultural Center at Lake Carmel this weekend you missed a truly wonderful event. On Friday night the first full retrospective of Kent resident, actor, poet and artist, Leo Burmester, who died two years ago yesterday, opened to friends, family and the community. Leo has more than 100 film and Broadway credits to his name, (Among those, he created the role of the innkeeper Thénardier, in the 1987 Broadway cast of Lés Miserable, the 1989 film, The Abyss and just before his death from leukemia, took the stage in The Fantastiks!) a book of poetry, a music CD with his second wife Lora Lee Ecobelli and art colleges crafted from found objects.
Arts on the Lake's Visual Arts Committee chair Roy Volpe redesigned the space for the show using drapes and cloth in pastel hues which allowed Leo's vibrant and intricately complex collages to stand out in stunning detail. Some of the works displayed were featured in an award winning short documentary, The Literature of Junk, which ran in the theater space during the show.
On Saturday evening Leo's son Daniel acted in a role Leo created in the one-man play, Rattlesnake in A Cooler. Rattlesnake.... was originally written by Frank South and directed by Robert Altman in 1982 for television and earned Leo a Best Actor nomination for his work. The question was, could a young, 29 year old actor pull this off? The answer was, yes he can, and for the most part he did.
With GUTWorks Theater company's director Jonathan Maloney and stage manager Kali Quinn at the helm, the Bluehorse Repertory production of  Rattlesnake.... portrays the journey of a man raised in Kentucky but who finds the experience of the road a more appealing - but ultimately more dangerous place. While on the way to a rodeo in Colorado an accidental murder takes place and now, awaiting his death by hanging, we hear his story.

For an hour and fifteen minutes Daniel Burmester commanded the space as a polished professional of longer years. From the effective costuming to his strong command of the emotional state of the prisoner we were brought into his world and held there... when we weren't laughing - or crying. It was, without question, one of the best performances at the Cultural Center since its inception two years ago.

The art exhibit (with video presentations) will continue tonight, Tuesday, and Wednesday, June 29-July 1, from 7-9 p.m. at the Cultural Center so there's no excuse not to drop in.

And now The News:
  1. Foreclosure Fiasco
  2. Board weighs 4-year terms for town officials
  3. Sales-tax revenues put county on solid footing
  4. Newburgh begins legal actions to protect its watershed
  5. Many Floors In U.S. Homes Have 'Measurable' Levels Of Pesticides
  6. Internet posting can lead to privacy claim, court finds
  7. Greens, libertarians team up

Foreclosure Fiasco

By Robert Scheer

It's not working. The Bush-Obama strategy of throwing trillions at the banks to solve the mortgage crisis is a huge bust. The financial moguls, while tickled pink to have $1.25 trillion in toxic assets covered by the feds, along with hundreds of billions in direct handouts, are not using that money to turn around the free fall in housing foreclosures.

As the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, "The Mortgage Bankers Association cut its forecast of home-mortgage lending this year by 27% amid deflating hopes for a boom in refinancing." The same association said that the total refinancing under the administration's much ballyhooed Home Affordable Refinance Program is "very low."

Aside from a tight mortgage market, the problem in preventing foreclosures has to do with homeowners losing their jobs. Here again the administration, continuing the Bush strategy, is working the wrong end of the problem. Although President Obama was wise enough to at least launch a job stimulus program, a far greater amount of federal funding benefits Wall Street as opposed to Main Street.

State and local governments have been forced into draconian budget cuts, firing workers who are among the most reliable in making their mortgage payments--when they have jobs. Yet the Obama administration won't spend even a small fraction of what it has wasted on the banks to cover state shortfalls.

California couldn't get the White House to guarantee $5.5 billion in short-term notes to avert severe cuts in state and local payrolls, from prison guards to schoolteachers. Compare that with the $50 billion already given to Citigroup, plus an astounding $300 billion to guarantee that institution's toxic assets. Citigroup benefits from being a bank "too big to fail," although through its irresponsible actions to get that large it did as much as any company to cause this mess.

How big a mess? According to the Federal Reserve's most recent report, seven straight quarters of declining household wealth have left Americans $14 trillion poorer. Many who thought they were middle class have now joined the ranks of the poor. Food banks are strapped and welfare rolls are dramatically on the rise, as the WSJ reports, with a 27 percent year-to-year increase in Oregon, 23 percent in South Carolina and 10 percent in California. And you have to be very poor to get on welfare, thanks to President Clinton's so-called welfare reform, which he signed into law before he ramped up the radical deregulation of the financial services industry, enabling our economic downturn.

Read More

Board weighs 4-year terms for town officials

Ben Rubin

ORANGEBURG - The Orangetown Town Board will weigh the merits of stability and accountability as it reopens a debate on doubling term lengths for three elected positions.

The board scheduled public hearings on July 20 to discuss extending the terms for the town supervisor, town clerk and highway superintendent from two to four years.

The board plans to vote at that meeting on whether put the idea to a November referendum and let voters decide if they want the change.

"The continuity would be a good thing for all projects, all long-term projects," Town Clerk Charlotte Madigan said about her position. "I think it would enhance the office."

Read More

Sales-tax revenues put county on solid footing

Susan Elan

After several years of tax hikes, Putnam has stabilized its financial position and is poised to keep the property tax levy flat in 2010, according to County Executive Robert Bondi.

"We have heard the cry of the people and we are responding, just as we always have, with responsible management, conservative fiscal policies and the courage to make the tough decisions," Bondi told residents during his 2009 State of the County address.

A hiring freeze and consolidation and reorganization of departments, including Highways and Facilities, have brought savings. Bondi said he also intends to pursue consolidation of assessment services at the county level to save more money.

Read More

Newburgh begins legal actions to protect its watershed

NEWBURGH - The City of Newburgh commenced a citizen suit under the Clean Water Act to protect its water supply which provides potable water to the City of Newburgh and the Town of New Windsor. The complaint filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District alleges that the defendants, the developer of a subdivision in the Town of New Windsor, violated the Clean Water Act by discharging pollutants in excess of New York State Water Quality Standards and by failing to follow its stormwater pollution prevention plan.

The suit names Sarna Enterprises, Inc., Mt. Airy Estates and New Windsor Development Company among the defendants.

Read More

Many Floors In U.S. Homes Have 'Measurable' Levels Of Pesticides

(June 23, 2009) — Insecticides used in and around homes — including products voluntarily removed from the market years ago — were measured on the floors of U.S. residences, according to the first study large enough to generate national data on pesticide residues in homes.

Scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) collected samples with surface wipes from U.S. kitchen floors. Additionally, occupants were surveyed regarding pesticide use and housing factors.

The most frequently detected pesticides, after permethrin (89 percent), were chlorpyrifos (78 percent); chlordane (74 percent); piperonyl butoxide (52 percent); cypermethrin (46 percent); and fipronil (40 percent). While in most cases, the pesticide concentrations measured were low, the insecticides may serve as a potential source of exposure to occupants.

Read More

Internet posting can lead to privacy claim, court finds

Posting private information about someone on the Internet is enough to allow an invasion-of-privacy claim no matter how many people actually see it, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held this week.

In the published opinion, the court created a broad rule "that the publicity element of an invasion-of-privacy claim is satisfied when private information is posted on a publicly accessible Internet website."

The case centers on a MySpace profile set up in 2006 mocking the plaintiff. The profile, under the name "Rotten Candy," included a picture of the plaintiff. It said she had a sexually transmitted disease, was cheating on her husband and was addicted to plastic surgery.

Read More

Greens, libertarians team up

By: Lisa Lerer
June 24, 2009 05:07 AM EST
An unlikely coalition of environmental and libertarian taxpayer groups are joining forces to fight legislation that would create a national disaster insurance pool to protect home­owners in hurricane-prone areas.

The group — — is getting behind legislation sponsored by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) that would provide $100 million annually over four years to states to strengthen homes, apartment buildings and small businesses against heavy-hitting storms.

Thompson’s package of three bills, expected to be introduced Wednesday, would provide grants for mitigation activities such as building new water barriers to prevent flooding, securing roofs and garage doors, and putting storm shutters on windows. It would also authorize an additional $100 million over five years to bolster emergency response during storms by upgrading communications, creating mobile nurse units and improving evacuation of the elderly from their residences.

Read More

Sign up to have
News That Matters
Delivered to your email inbox!


Copyright © 2009 News That Matters