Friday, July 31, 2009

News That Matters - July 31, 2009 - Things To Do Edition

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Now into our 10th Year!

Good Friday Morning,

Why didn't someone warn me that running for office was like Kafka on LSD?

Sum Bad Puns:
  1. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference.
    He acquired his size from too much pi.
  2. She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.
  3. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.
  4. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.
  5. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for
  6. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
  7. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to
    the other, "You stay here; I'll go on a-head."
  8. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.
  9. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his
    grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse said, "No change
  10. A backward poet writes in-verse.



The American Revolution in the Hudson Highlands

5 PM - with Dr. Colonel Jim Johnson, U.S. Army, retired. Join lecture hosts Dar Williams and Michael Robinson for an entertaining and educational look at how the Revolutionary War played out in our area. Dr. Johnson, an avid Revolutionary War re-enactor, will lecture in period attire, and discuss the encampments at West Point and Constitution Island; the North and South Redoubts in Garrison; and the Fishkill Supply Depot and Encampment, located under the mostly-abandoned Dutchess Mall on Route 9, just north of Cold Spring.
A retired US Army Colonel and former PCHS trustee, Dr. Johnson is perhaps best-known as the Military Historian for the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and Executive Director of the Hudson River Valley Institute at Marist College. Admission is $5 for the general public.

Peekskill Downtown Entertainment Series

6-10PM - North Division Street between Park and Main. Jonathan Batiste Quartet, Jeff Allen Quartet. Admission is free. Children's activities before, from 4-6PM.

Premier Film: Birth of a Generation

8PM - Lake Carmel Cultural Center - In mid-August of 1969 the festival that named a nation was held at Bethel New York. A week before the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, Filmmaker Michael Richards with members of the original festival crew will present the first showing of his documentary film.  For those who worked on Woodstock, having an accurate account, one that acknowledges more fully their participation, has been an ongoing desire. That interest is no doubt partially ego, partially legacy, perhaps partially an interest in discovering more of what happened out of their sight and hearing.  There may not be many years left to gather those inside, first hand stories.
In 1995 Michael Richards, an award-winning film maker, started interviewing the professionals involved in making the festival happen, and on August 1, 2009, in celebration of that event, he will show the film and talk about his experiences in meeting the cast of characters and editing this historical movie.

Admission $6 ($5 for AtoL Members). Tickets may be purchased via a secure server at  Reservations may be made at: or by calling Arts on the Lake at (845) 228-2685.


Art After 75

1-4PM - Building "8" at Tilly Foster Farm, Southeast. The Putnam Arts Council welcomes the public to view our 18th Annual Art After 75 Exhibit Celebrating the creative original Fine Art by working artists 75 and over. Free Parking. Free Admission. More info:

Midsummer Madness: Acting Workshop

3PM - Lake Carmel Cultural Center - Join Lora Lee Ecobelli's acting class for their second public workshop. This time around producing plays by Christopher Durang, Judith Fein and others including a World Premier of the play "Chat" by Gabrielle Fox. Admission is free.

Dar Williams

5:30PM - Cold Spring Waterfront Park at the foot of Main Street (Route 301). Personally inspired by the spindly live feel of late '70s/early '80s albums by the Police, Elvis Costello, and the Pretenders, Williams' elegant, worldly songs sound visceral and urgent, while preserving the integrity and emotion that have been hallmarks of her sound (along with a beautifully intimate, bell-clear voice). Admission is free. Concenssions will be sold. Blankets and beach chairs recommended.

Into the Future:

Thursday, August 6

Outdoor Summer Concert Series

6PM - 8PM
Outdoors on the North Lawn at the Lake Carmel Cultural Center, the Old Firehouse ~ 640 Route 52, Lake Carmel. (Inside if it rains) Picnic on the lawn with family and friends (or buy food available on site) but what a nice way to end your work day! Here's the Schedule:

Thursday, August 6th - Tim Ouimette Big Band Swing Music.
Thursday, August 13th - Roxy Perry Blues Band – Queen of the Blues
Thursday, August 20th - Swamp Gumbo Mardi Gras Cajun Rock
Thursday, August 27th - Vaneese Thomas Women of Soul R & B

Tickets for the Summer Concerts are $10 ($9 for AotL members).  There is also a family price (2 adults with children) of $25. Tickets may be purchased in advance and will be held for pickup at the site.

Friday, August 7

I Got Sick, Then I Got Better

8PM - Lake Carmel Cultural Center - I Got Sick Then I Got Better is a hilarious and wrenching riff on one woman's adventures after falling down the medical rabbit hole. Performing at Arts on the Lake, 640 Route 52 Kent NY on Friday August 7th at 8pm and Saturday August 8th at 8pm, Comic and writer Jenny Allen (The New Yorker, The New York Times), treated for ovarian cancer in 2005, has been shaping and performing her monologue under the guidance of directors James Lapine and Darren Katz for the past two years. The show, produced by New York Theatre Workshop, has been seen at the Vineyard Playhouse, Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, Hudson Opera House, Barrington Stage Company, and Long Wharf Theatre. Admission is $12 per person, $10 for AotL members. Tickets may be purchased via a secure server at  Reservations may be made at: or by calling Arts on the Lake at (845) 228-2685.

Saturday August 8

Lake Carmel Summer Festival

9AM - 3PM Beach 3. Rain Date - Sunday, August 9th. Open to residents of the Lake Carmel Park District only. (Guests must be accompanied by Resident - Parking Stickers required) Swimming races for all ages. Registration 9:00AM - 11:00AM - races begin at noon. Prizes for all. Face painting and crafts. Presentation by Kent Police Department.

Sunday, August 9

Family hike to California Hill

The Kent CAC is sponsoring an easy family hike to California Hill on August 9, starting at 10:30 AM. Meet at DEC MUA at the end of Gordon Road. From Peekskill Hollow Road take Gordon Road approximately 1/4 mile, and look for the wooden DEC sign reading 'CALIFORNIA HILL MULTIPLE USE AREA (MUA)' on the left side of the road. Follow the driveway to the bridge, stay left and drive into the DEC parking area.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

News That Matters - July 29, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you (Almost Daily) by PlanPutnam.Org
House Painting by someone you know!

"He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it - namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to obtain." - Mark Twain

Good Wednesday Morning,

The Kent Manor Saga continues on August 13th, so says Judge O'Rourke. Not citing any reasons and warning everyone not to talk about it, the case has been reschedule until then. Shhhhh! Someone might just answer the question; how come for all those years the county didn't foreclose on that property? I know, I know, I keep asking the same thing over and again. Yet still, no one has an answer. If you want to know what's really going on with Kent Manor, answer that question.

Last week I wrote about a volunteer at the 4H Fair who said he wouldn't ride his bicycle in Mahopac because it was too dangerous.
A day later a bicyclist was hit by a car in that fair burg nearly 5 years to the day after he was first struck by a car near Buckshollow Road and Route 6. Yesterday, the news reported that an Asheville, NC firefighter shot a man for riding his bicycle on a busy road. Luckily, the rider's helmet saved his life.
What's going on out there? With the price of gasoline certain to climb as the US drags its feet moving to alternative energies and as we dismantle and defund our mass transit systems under the guise of saving taxes, more and more people are riding bicycles and scooters and mopeds for their daily transportation needs. I also wrote last week that perhaps the County sheriff's might defer some of their night-time DWI efforts to making the streets safer for bicycles and this morning, barring some other effort on their part, I'll reiterate that call.

I also call for Town, County and State highway departments to better manage the roads under their care for the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists. This should include regularly cleaning shoulders and repairing broken and cracked pavement that prevents bicyclists from being able to ride safely in them. And better marking of commonly shared roads should be essential, something which many communities have been doing for decades... but not Putnam County, at least not yet. Unless explicitly signed, bicycles and cars share the same roads and follow the same rules and regulations. Our highway and public safety departments must begin to allow for this slower mode of transportation and drivers need to educate themselves and be aware.

Remember when we were kids we'd ride our bikes to school, to the store, to our friends' houses?

It's time for our own children and grandchildren to be able to do that too. When they ride to soccer practice or ballet, other activities and their friends' homes, children learn about responsibility and freedom. For the health of our society we need to return to those times. Look, those kids are our future and with the ability to think on their own, to be responsible, to enjoy the same sense of freedom we had, I cannot see how they can grow into responsible, mature and well rounded adults. Besides, with the price of gasoline taking a larger and larger chunk from your earnings, bicycles make good sense.

And so FOXNews, the quasi-parent organization that owns, in some sort
of far-out and remote fashion, Putnam County's bookend
newspapers, saw the middle east on July 27th.
It does solve the Iraqi problem... we just make it disappear!

Reports say that nearly 1 in 100 Americans (2.3 million) are behind bars for some sort of crime, from the victim less to the horrific. In fact, there's no country on the planet that imprisons more of its citizens than we do giving us the largest prisoner population in the world. Seven percent of those prisoners are held in private facilities and in Colorado, since privatization, six times more people are in prison than before privatization  began. Across the nation county prisons are in the business of housing other counties prisoners in a massive redirection of taxpayer funds from one municipality to another. Is there a connection between this money-making business and the number of prisoners? I'll leave that up to you.
But the next time you want to hold a tea party over taxes, consider what we're doing with so many people behind bars at costs that run as high as $35,000 for each prisoner per year. (~$80,000,000,000) Then add to that the costs involved leading up to incarceration. And not just the actual legal costs, but the costs incurred by families and businesses from an increase in welfare as a breadwinner is now locked up, to the loss of productivity and retraining that smaller companies are forced to spend to replace employees incarcerated for minor crimes. In a word, it's staggering - and it's breaking us.

If you feel we're a kinder, gentler and safer nation because of it, fine. But I'm not so sure the money spent is worth it and that other methods might be more effective both with recidivism and cost. What do you think?

And now, The News:
  1. Kent Manor damages case adjourned until August
  2. Walking the Land Where the Drilling Rigs Will Go
  3. Monthly Charge Would Apply To Solar Users Even If They Use No Electricity
  4. To win the 21st Century’s version of the Space Race, we need to start learning (and stop underfunding) science.
  5. Walkway project artists are named
  6. Wachovia, BofA, Citibank Sued Over 'Bad-Faith' Overdraft Fees
  7. Pentagon Furious at Fox News Analyst for Calling For Execution of Captured Soldier

Kent Manor damages case adjourned until August

Michael Risinit

KENT - Lawyers are due back in front of state Supreme Court Justice Andrew O'Rourke in Carmel next month as part of the discussions over how much money Kent will have to pay to developers for delaying the construction of hundreds of townhomes known as Kent Manor.

O'Rourke spent yesterday morning speaking with lawyers for the town and those representing RFB LLC, Kent Acres Development Ltd. and Lexington Development Corp. About 1:30 p.m. yesterday, he agreed to the town's request to adjourn the matter until Aug. 13.

O'Rourke also warned both sides that he would find them in contempt of court should they discuss the matter outside his courtroom.

Read More

Walking the Land Where the Drilling Rigs Will Go


I spent a weekend near Hancock, N.Y., along the East Branch of the Delaware River. This is an old fishing haunt of mine and in some ways, not a lot has changed. The woods were bright with leaves, and there was still a sharp boundary between well-kept farms and the wildness beyond.

There is plenty of change in the Catskills, much of it driven by energy development. The great scar of the Millennium Pipeline, which will someday bring natural gas from Ontario to New York City, comes straight over the mountains and down to the river. Yet that is nothing when measured against the huge changes that will come if New York State gives the go-ahead to gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

The Marcellus Shale is an enormous, subterranean layer of rock that runs from the Lower Adirondacks down through the Catskills and to western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. Geologists believe there are colossal amounts of clean-burning natural gas trapped there. And for many months now, representatives from energy companies, whose job is to persuade property owners to sign development leases, have been fanning out across New York’s Southern Tier with contracts in hand. While prices have fluctuated, some landowners have gotten as much as $3,500 per acre, plus 20 percent royalty, far more than people who signed early leases received.

The question of whether you have signed or not has created a new social fault line in local society. Some owners argue that they have not only a right, but an obligation to exploit the resources on their property. Others insist their duty is to protect the land. Before the drilling starts, New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation must decide where wells can safely be drilled and devise rules to prevent pollution. The rules, which the department expects to release in the fall, should be tightly drawn. At a bare minimum, they should protect municipal water supplies. Drilling should be forbidden altogether in Ulster, Greene and Delaware Counties, where there is lots of shale and New York City’s water originates.

Read More

Monthly Charge Would Apply To Solar Users Even If They Use No Electricity

Christin Ayers, 7NEWS Reporter

DENVER -- Solar energy customers are worried a new fee proposed by Xcel Energy would punish new customers for getting solar panels.

The monthly fee, which would pay for distribution and transmission of energy, would go into effect in April 2010 and would have to be paid to Xcel, regardless of whether the solar customer used any electricity that month. Customers who got solar panels before April 2010 would not have to pay the fee.

Tom Henley, an Xcel Energy spokesman, initially told 7NEWS that implementing the fee would level the playing field for electricity users who are currently subsidizing connectivity fees for solar users, who sometimes use no electricity in a given month and therefore, pay no electrical fees.

“We just don't think it's fair that customers that don't have solar panels on their homes should subsidize these solar panel customers any further,” said Henley.

But when pressed, Henley admitted that currently, no Xcel electric customers pay extra to fund solar connectivity fees. In reality, Xcel absorbs those fees. The money from the proposed fee would not go into the pockets of electric customers, but would go back to Xcel.

Read More

To win the 21st Century’s version of the Space Race, we need to start learning (and stop underfunding) science.

As our nation celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing last week, one sad truth went barely mentioned: America has lost its scientific lead. Indeed, if we were running the Space Race on today’s scientific landscape, the United States would be stuck on the launch pad. Over the past quarter century, federal funding in the physical sciences has dropped by nearly half as a portion of our gross domestic product. Our students trail their peers in most developed countries—and some developing countries—in math and science. Given our chronic national scientific illiteracy, and without the educational resources to make us global leaders again, our prospects in the great Clean Energy Race of the next few decades aren’t all that good.

“We know that our country is better than this,” President Obama told the National Academy of Sciences Annual Meeting a couple months back. He continued:

A half century ago, this nation made a commitment to lead the world in scientific and technological innovation; to invest in education, in research, in engineering; to set a goal of reaching space and engaging every citizen in that historic mission. That was the high water mark of America’s investment in research and development. And since then our investments have steadily declined as a share of our national income. As a result, other countries are now beginning to pull ahead in the pursuit of this generation’s great discoveries.
  I believe it is not in our character, the American character, to follow. It’s our character to lead. And it is time for us to lead once again.

Read More

Walkway project artists are named

Poughkeepsie Journal staff

The Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Commission and Walkway Over the Hudson have selected scores of local artists who will lead delegations from every village, town and city in the two-county area in a grand procession across the Walkway Oct. 3.

The parade representing Dutchess and Ulster counties will be the centerpiece of the Walkway's opening.

"The procession will flow in two directions, like the great Hudson itself, crossing at the mid-point of the span.  The procession invites the participation of every locality in the valley as the bridge - known as 'The Great Connector' - once again brings together folks from both sides of the river in one festive event," said Jeanne Fleming, Coordinator of the celebration.

In the tradition of the Hudson River School of Painters, each artist has been commissioned to represent their town's history by creating an "emblem" that will lead their contingent in the parade.

Each emblem will be 3 feet in diameter and will depict some aspects of the history of the valley.

In addition, the artist will conduct workshops - for kids, other artists, citizens, officials, senior citizens - to make at least 25 flags depicting important symbols and scenes from their town. These flags will later be sewn into a commemorative quilt that will be displayed in the Walkway Visitor Center.

Read More

Wachovia, BofA, Citibank Sued Over 'Bad-Faith' Overdraft Fees

John Pacenti
Daily Business Review
July 27, 2009

Georgetown University student Melanie Garcia became alarmed last summer when her Wachovia branch in Miami Springs charged her two overdraft fees for covering debit card transactions with insufficient funds in her account.

Garcia then discovered something peculiar about her purchases. At least four transactions were held for three days, and a check with the highest amount was processed first, depleting her account when smaller and earlier transactions could have been processed without a fee.

She ended up being charged $88 for $57.39 in overdraft protection. Outraged by this incident and at least one other, the graduate student decided to sue last September.

"Wachovia routinely enforces a policy whereby charges incurred are posted to consumers' accounts in nonchronological order designed to maximize the number of overdraft fees," the lawsuit claims.

Read More

Pentagon Furious at Fox News Analyst for Calling For Execution of Captured Soldier

By David Edwards and Stephen Webster, Raw Story
Posted on July 24, 2009, Printed on July 28, 2009

According to NBC's top Pentagon correspondent, the Department of Defense is furious with Fox News analyst Ralph Peters, who said on July 19 that the Taliban should murder 23-year-old Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl, captured after he strayed from his post, to save the Army "legal hassles and legal bills."

Peters, a well-known Neoconservative and frequent Fox News guest, attempted to clarify his shocking statement on Tuesday night's O'Reilly Factor, telling right-wing host Bill O'Reilly he believes that Bergdahl had "deserted" his unit and deserved no sympathy. He did not apologize. O'Reilly added that Bergdahl must be "crazy."

However, Wednesday night MSNBC's Rachel Maddow fired back, interviewing Jim Miklaszewski, NBC's top Pentagon correspondent, who said the Department of Defense is furious with Peters and Fox News, adding there is no evidence that Bergdahl is a deserter.

Read More

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Monday, July 27, 2009

News That Matters - July 27, 2009

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

Alana Amram and the Rough Gems with special guests Adira and David and Lora Lee Ecobelli
at Arts on the Lake, Saturday July 24.

Good Monday Morning,

There was recycling at the 4H Fair! Yes indeed, a little activism on our part last year created an environment where this advance could take place. Kudos to the county's solid waste management director for properly saying that recycling was a public health issue and a hearty "You Are Welcome!" to those from CCE who thanked me in person over the weekend for leading that effort last year. Next year, composting for the hundreds of ears of corn that get sold...
As has become usual, I worked the Town's Stormwater tent and over the three days of the Fair and we spoke to about 200 people all in all. This is a bit shy of last year but then attendance seemed down overall. Behind our tent was the music stage and immediately next to us was UMAC, the martial arts center in Carmel, which gives rapid-fire and *very loud* presentations once every hour. We use that time to sit down and take a break since you can't to talk to anyone while the presentation is in progress. Well, you can, but you'd have to YELL REALLY LOUD and no one wants to talk stormwater when there's a 10 year old girl smashing boards to hard rock music.

While I'm sitting there watching the 2:30 demo yesterday I glance up and notice one of 'those people' I wrote about at the top of Friday's column standing away from the crowd snapping cell phone pictures - of me! I hope the lighting was good and he got my best side!

We need to thank Kent's supervisor, Kathy Doherty for her support in getting the word out about stormwater issues and Councilman Tartaro and Library Director Frank Rees for the loan of a laptop so we could play our PSA's for those who stopped by.
A volunteer who helped me out at the 4H Fair on Friday afternoon mentioned that he didn't ride a bicycle for local transportation as the roads in Mahopac were too dangerous. On Saturday an article appeared in the paper saying that a man had been hit on Route 6 in that town almost 5 years to the day after he was first struck by another car near the same location. When our children can't safely ride their bicycles, maybe the efforts of the Sheriff's and local PD's on drunk driving might be redirected a bit towards making our roads safer - during the day. Bicycles have equal rights on our roads and streets and drivers need to understand that.
Last week I also wrote to say that I thought my propane company was ripping me off and many of you wrote back to say in essence, if you think you're using too much propane there's a problem somewhere. Well, there's a problem. My apparent use of that precious commodity seems to be well beyond what others are using but I don't know how to prove it. I had a bit of a problem with the lines last spring and had the company come in and run a check for leaks. They found none. And, after replacing the valves and whatnots installed a generation ago and turning off the gas at every available spot, I'm still using the exact same amount. Something is wrong but I don't know how to find out what. If it's fraud, someone owes me a LOT of money. If it's something wrong with the system here, the danger, so I've been told, is extreme. Either way, it's not comfortable. I have no idea what the next step is but there's no way on the face of this earth I'm using a gallon a day and at $3.999 a gallon, which is what Burnwell is charging, I'm soon going to have to rob a bank to pay them.

According to an article in the NYJN, the Putnam County Legislature is seeking a change in the County Charter to allow them to make mid-year budget and/or service cuts, a power now held solely by the County Executive. Stating a significant loss in sales tax revenues, County legislator Dan Birmingham is leading the charge for the change. The county executive has challenged the Legislature to offer specific cuts but the Leg has responded that it's not their job to do so under the current charter. To me, if the Leg wants that authority they should offer those specifics and not wait for a change in the Charter to do so.

Lastly (and finally!) this Monday morning, the Eastern Putnam County Chapter of the League of Women Voters held a membership event yesterday at Sycamore Park in Mahopac. For those of you who missed it, the baked beans were great and the potato salad was, as they say, to die for. And the people were nice too!

And now, The News:
  1. Hundreds swim the Hudson from Newburgh to Beacon
  2. State, local factions struggle to control Putnam's Independence Party
  3. Thousands flock to Dutchess Rail Trail
  4. Stricter Phosphorus Standards Needed
  5. A plan to encourage bicycling beyond 'trophy trails'
  6. Delaware Aqueduct Leak
  7. Water Negotiator Aaron Wolf Spreads Liquid Hope

Hundreds swim the Hudson from Newburgh to Beacon

NEWBURGH-BEACON – Some 250 dove into the Hudson River Saturday to swim the one mile to raise money for the River Pool at Beacon, a swimming pool in the Hudson.

A fleet of kayakers escorted them across.

The floating pool was the brainchild of folk music legend Pete Seeger of Beacon, who led the swimmers on a song-filled rally in Newburgh prior to their swim.

Melissa Everett, executive director of Sustainable Hudson Valley, participated in the swim for the first time. “We’re understanding more as we study the historic economy and the emergency economy just how much work there is to do in preserving the river, building clean and green along with it,” she said.

Read More

State, local factions struggle to control Putnam's Independence Party

Susan Elan

An executive committee member of the state Independence Party has accused state Sen. Vincent Leibell, R-Patterson, of trying to seize control of Putnam's Independence Party, the county's third-largest political party, to sway local elections in favor of Republican candidates.

"Senator Leibell is hijacking our party for his own personal agenda," said Dhyalma Vazquez, chairwoman of the Yonkers Independence Party and secretary of Westchester County's Independence Party. "He's packing the party in Putnam County in his favor to chew up the opponents and spit them out."

Vazquez's accusation comes amid a power struggle between the state and Putnam committees over who can nominate and authorize candidates for public office in Putnam and who controls any money raised.

On May 17, state Independence Party Chairman Frank MacKay signed a notarized resolution stating that only the state executive committee can exercise power in Putnam County in 2009 and 2010.

Read More

Thousands flock to Dutchess Rail Trail

POUGHKEEPSIE – Saturday’s beautiful weather brought people in droves to the new Phase II of the Dutchess Rail Trail, which opened two weeks ago.

Thousands of residents and visitors come to enjoy walking, running, rollerblading, biking and more.

Comments from users have been overwhelmingly positive, although many users have found they are out on the trail far longer than they originally anticipated because they meet up with friends or get chatting with other trail users.

Clarence Browne, a Town of Poughkeepsie resident who lives near Marist College, has already been out on trail several times since the official opening on July 9 and even recently purchased a new bike so he could ride the trail.

Read More

Stricter Phosphorus Standards Needed

Riverkeeper supports the NY State Assembly Bill 8914 which calls for reducing the use of products that contain phosphorus in New York State. Phosphorus, which is currently found in some lawn fertilizers and household cleaning products, is a hazardous chemical when it makes its way into our waterways through lawn run-off and dumping into our sewers.

Read letter to NYS Assemblyman Sweeney in support of a statewide Phosphorus bill.

Read More

A plan to encourage bicycling beyond 'trophy trails'

Alexander Roberts

They are baby steps, but the Lower Hudson Valley is cycling toward a greener future.

In June, New Rochelle held a public hearing on a new ordinance requiring, "Off-street bicycle parking facilities shall be provided for any structure or use requiring site plan approval." It would mandate the accommodation of one bicycle parking space for each 10 required car parking spaces, and would apply to all multi-family dwellings of 10 units or more and mixed use buildings that require at least 10 parking spaces. Where any bicycle parking spaces are required, the owner would have to supply a bicycle rack with at least two spaces. The cost for this revolution: a few hundred dollars for a bike rack.

The hearing attracted about a dozen people, who were generally enthusiastic, thanks to a newly invigorated Westchester Cycle Club and Westchester Biking and Walking Alliance that is promoting bicycling as a legitimate means of transportation. (Cycling enthusiasts have been just as active in Rockland County, which has long been a magnet for cyclists escaping the traffic-clogged streets of New York City and New Jersey. - Editor.)

An even more ambitious proposal in Bedford would require widening the existing shoulders to a consistent 4 feet for 3.5 miles on Bedford Center Road between Route 117 in Bedford Hills and the Bedford Cross at Route 22 to make it safer for bike riders.

Read More

Delaware Aqueduct Leak

Constructed between 1937 and 1945, the Delaware Aqueduct draws from four reservoirs – the Cannonsville, Pepacton, Neversink and Rondout – to provide between 50 and 80 percent of the City’s daily water demand. The 84-mile aqueduct consists of three distinct pressure tunnels connecting the Rondout Reservoir in Ulster County to the Hillview Reservoir in Yonkers, and crosses the Hudson River at a depth of 600 feet below the river’s surface. With the bulk of New York City’s drinking water supplied by the Delaware Aqueduct, restoration of its deteriorating condition is critical.

Two leaks in the Rondout-West Branch Tunnel, located at Wawarsing and Roseton, threaten the aqueduct with significant water loss or catastrophic collapse. Leak data indicates that the 33 to 37 million gallons per day escaping from the two leaks does not account for all of the water missing from the aqueduct. A leak below the Hudson River is an even more worrisome prospect.

Read More

Water Negotiator Aaron Wolf Spreads Liquid Hope

by Tom Jacobs, from Miller-McCune

In the early ’90s, as Aaron Wolf was finishing his doctoral dissertation, the Madrid Middle East peace process was just getting under way. The two sides decided to tackle five sets of regional issues, including the equitable division of water resources. As a budding expert on the subject—his research focused on the Jordan River and its dual role as “a flashpoint and a vehicle for dialogue”—Wolf agreed to advise the U.S. team designing the talks.

Fifteen years later, one remnant of that failed attempt at Palestinian-Israeli peacemaking remains: the water negotiations. “They still go on,” Wolf says. “The two sides have cooperative projects. In the second intifada, when they realized how much violence there was going to be, they took out a joint advertisement asking both sides to try to protect the water infrastructure.”

The lessons of that enduring success have stayed with Wolf as he has pursued a remarkable dual career as an Oregon State University (OSU) scholar studying water-resource issues and a hands-on mediator of water disputes around the world. Water, he has come to understand, is so central to the human experience that it can help even bitter enemies find common purpose.

“That’s what’s so heartening about this,” the gentle geoscientist says. “Water can be used as a means for people of different ideological backgrounds to talk about a shared vision of the future.”

Read More

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Friday, July 24, 2009

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

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Good Friday Morning,

The Town of Kent goes back to court this coming Monday morning after Judge O'Rourke decided last week to hold the town liable for Swine flu, bad breath and Celine Dion.

As many of you know I've engaged in a political quest of late and so far my impressions are this: It's a silly, anti-democratic system designed to humiliate, intimidate and befuddle the voters so that a select few can get a boner over power and control of your lives.
If they were actually interested in good governance it would be one thing. If they were involved in graft and corruption it would be fine, too, as at least it would have a point. (Not a good point, but a point nonetheless.) Yet we allow these folk to control and sway our opinions because they're practiced at the skill of political demagoguery. They don't work for candidates as much as they work against them and they do so with remarkable success. You all know who these folk are in your town, every town has them, and I'll bet you can even name them.

My advice? Well, shooting them would be illegal but it would free us from them and be remarkably liberating at the same time. The next best thing to do would be to ignore them but you know as well I that once the negative mailers, rumors and general obnoxiousness begins you'll become titillated and excited and allow them to occupy too much of your brains and in the end, repeat the vicious circle of electing their candidates, getting all pissed off at how bad they are and then electing them again. Why do you do it?
TIX Tickets sells tickets to shows and concerts via an online website. But what they don't tell you is that the price of the tickets isn't the price of the tickets. In one case, a ticket sold at $168 for a concert turned out to be worth $80. The company says that they just resell tickets and that price a customer pays is the 'going rate' for tickets held by a third party and sold via TIX Tickets, that they don't set the price, the sellers do. And, though the company has on its website a statement that says, "Ticket prices include a substantial service charge above the face value which reflects our cost in acquiring premium tickets," you have to wonder if an $80 markup in addition to a $15 shipping charge and an additional $50.40 for "other expenses", qualifies as their cost or a scam. I'm leaning towards scam and you should too. Stay away!

Under the rubric of fighting terrorism, England (yes, it's our second, "what is going on in England?" story this week,) has pretty much banned taking photographs. A couple of grandparents on vacation from Spain were evicted from a shopping mall for taking pictures of their grandchildren. After the incident, the mall's management admitted the couple were probably not terrorists but that taking pictures presents a security risk... of terrorism. There are no reports just yet of Basque separatists masquerading as small children.
Meanwhile, a couple from Vienna also visiting London, had their vacation pictures forcibly erased from their digital camera by London police after being told that taking pictures of anything to do with transport was "strictly forbidden". The couple had taken pictures of the Vauxhall bus station, a stunning modern architectural icon. In the meantime, an amateur photographer, learning to shoot crowd scenes had his camera and film  confiscated after London police claim the had taken pictures of a "sensitive nature". Unfortunately for England, a Google search of "Vauxhall bus station" produced some 152,000 image hits.

On the other hand, there's barely a street corner in that nation that does not have a digital video camera monitoring every action taken by British citizens which is then fed into a national database. The computerized system also tracks automobile license plates, store purchases and subway metro card users and combines them into individual personal profiles.

As far as I can tell, the terrorists have indeed won.
Forgot those poppy seed bagels for awhile. US forces in Afghanistan dropped several tons of explosives on several tons of poppy seeds gathered for packaging and export to win the "hearts and minds" of that country's civilian population. NATO Commanders have targeted Taliban run creamed cheese factories next.

Roger Griffiths, a New Zealand artist with a current show in NYC, multiple land holdings and $180,000 in the bank, withdrew the entire account in $20 bills because the bank wouldn't give him an $80,000 mortgage. It took them a while to gather the bills and provided a black and red sports bag for easier transport. In the meantime, the bank, Westpac, has one of the lowest rates of customer foreclosures but has been rocked by huge losses made to NZ corporations which also includes a $400,000 internal financial scam.

The Putnam County 4H Fair begins this afternoon and runs through Sunday evening. It's free, so come on out and stop in at the Town of Kent's Stormwater tent to say hello. Last year there were no provisions for recycling at the fair meaning all their garbage, including cans, bottles and the remains of tons of food product (mostly David Amram's famous grilled corn) were all dumped unceremoniously into trash bins. I made stink about it, and rightfully so and we'll find out in a few hours if that's been rectified. Imagine, an agricultural fair in this day and age without recycling? Personally, I'm hoping for the best!


Putnam County 4H Fair

This afternoon, Noon-6 PM. Saturday, 10AM - 7PM, Sunday 10AM - 5PM. At the County Park on Gipsy Trail in Kent just north of Nichols street. Admission is free. Funny looking rabbits, priceless.

Mike and the Mutations

7 PM - Jim Nowak and Mike Latini are at Daniel J's in Patterson (base of Thunder Ridge) tonight, with their good buddy Gary Cusano, warming up for their Mohegan Sun acoustic set. An early night will start at around 7PM and finish at an unspecified hour. Come if you can/want to/dare. They need all the help we can get.


Dazzling Dragonflies

10 AM - Dazzling Dragonflies! at the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum's Outdoor Discovery Center, entrance on Muser Drive, across from 174 Angola Road. Learn about these fascinating creatures and take a walk to the fields in search of them. $5, Members: $3. 845-534-5506, ext. 204  for more info.

Fishkill Watershed Day with the Beacon Institute

11am-5pm - Presentation at 1pm. Location: Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries Gallery and Beacon Headquarters, 199 Main Street, Beacon, NY. Visit the Beacon Institute’s Main Street Office and enjoy a presentation by Jim Heron, the Beacon Institute’s Project Historian, at 1pm. Also view the art exhibit Up River: Man-Made Sites of Interest on the Hudson from the Battery to Troy which is on display until October 2009. A portrait of the Hudson’s shores, Up River focuses on man-made sites rarely seen by those who travel along the river’s banks. The Up River exhibit is courtesy of The Center for Land Use Interpretation.

Fishkill Creek Festival

Noon - 6PM Beacon Riverfront Park. (at the Beacon train station) A free public celebration of our streams, creeks and rivers. Sponsored by Fishkill Watershed Committee, Beacon Sloop Club, Cornell Cooperative Center, and others. Special Guests: Congressman John Hall and Pete Seeger. Food, Environmental Exhibits, A magic performance by a renown magician, Children’ activities (Face painting, balloon artistry, Jumping Jakes, Art activities, and Games), Free Sailing on the Sloop Woody Guthrie, Kayak the Mouth of Fishkill Creek, Bring your family and have a nice day.

Alana Amram & the Rough Gems

8 PM - The Cultural Center on Lake Carmel. Blue Horse Repertory presents the daughter of composer and poet David Amram, an American icon of the beatnik generation, Alana Amram is not just following in her father’s footsteps but forging her own path as a singer/songwriter. There is a bittersweet sincerity in her voice, somewhat reminiscent of Janis Joplin in her calm moments. Alana’s lyrics portray tales of a simple life complicated by emotions, exemplified in the touching imagery of “Broke My Own Heart.“ The Rough Gems, a seven-piece band including Alana herself, adds multiple dimensions to her songs. The music is primarily a mix of country and folk with an occasional turn towards pop rock from an unidentifiable decade - a melting pot of good old American styles. It’s a vintage sound with a modern perspective. And while songs like “Take a Drink” are infectiously upbeat, The Rough Gems cover the other side of the spectrum as well. The sluggish tempo and endearing yet slightly dark lyrics of “The Blackest Crow” is the stuff secret goth crushes are made of. With The Rough Gems, Alana Amram has found a diverse yet tightly knit group of musicians that will help her honky tonk her way into the hearts of hillbillies, hippies, and maybe even headbangers. Alana Amram is definitely one of the brightest stars on the NYC&W scene $12 ($10 Arts on the Lake members)

The 3rd Annual Woodstock Celebration of Woody Guthrie

8PM - 11PM Featuring: Keynote Speaker Anna Canoni, Woody's granddaughter and Outreach Coordinator with the Woody Guthrie Archive. >From the organizer: "Come and celebrate the music, activism and life of the prototypical protest singer, the granddaddy of the folk revival, Woody Guthrie. Woody composed an endless array of ballads of labor, social justice, struggle and life in general and was a member of the seminal urban folk group the Alamanc Singers. His songs continue to influence musicians of conscience around the world." Cost: $10. Location: The Colony Cafe, 22 Rock City Road, Woodstock, NY 12498. Contact: John Pietaro at, or the Colony Cafe at 845 679-5342. Sponsored by: host and organizer: John Pietaro, of The Flames of Discontent.


Adirondack Mountain Club Hike at Thompson Pond

10:00am - Location: Thompson Pond, Pine Plains, NY. A national natural landmark, this 44-acre glacial kettle pond was created 15,000 years ago by melting glaciers. The hike will take participants through Nature Conservancy property where we will see birds, wildflowers, a dairy farm and the start of the Wappinger Creek. Meet at the Thompson Pond parking lot on Lake Road in Pine Plains at 10 am. Contact Lalita Malik, at 845-592-0204 or, to confirm.

League of Women Voters Picnic

3 p.m. - Sycamore Park Crane Road Mahopac. Come Network with your neighbors, meet your elected officials, and support your local chapter of the League Of Women Voters. Featuring The Desperado’s Band (Robert Cinque, Dan Ricci, Tom Purcell, Tom Huges) Playground For Children. Food & Refreshments. B.Y.O.B. optional $10.00 Suggested Donation. Call 845-520-6261 for More Info

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

News That Matters - July 22, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you (Almost Daily) by PlanPutnam.Org
House Painting by someone you know!

Good Wednesday Morning,

A bevy of politicians gathered in Pleasant Valley yesterday to laud a new bill that assists communities in restructuring towards the goal of consolidating services. Andrew Cuomo, who pushed the bill, was on hand. The title of the new law is the, "New NY government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act". Quite a mouthful! Let's hope the bill puts some muscle behind its grandiose title. Putnam County has a paltry 109 local governments and taxing agencies. Steuben County has 153, Dutchess has 189, Rockland has 102 and Orange has 302. Erie county has 1044 all to itself! All in all, the Empire State has 10,521 local governments. The Office of the Attorney General has a website that is sure to give you a migraine.

I think my propane company is ripping me off. If you use propane just for hot water and cooking, how much are you using each month?  (how many live in your home?) And, what are you paying per gallon? Write here and let me know.

Coming up this weekend, aside from the annual 4H Fair at the county park, is a reunion of sorts at the Cultural Center on Lake Carmel. Carmel High School alumnus Alana Amram is bringing her country and western band, "The Rough Gems", up from downstate for a show on Saturday evening at 8. Knocks From The Underground, a music review website says;
The daughter of composer and poet David Amram, an American icon of the beatnik generation, Alana Amram is not just following in her father’s footsteps but forging her own path as a singer/songwriter. There is a bittersweet sincerity in her voice, somewhat reminiscent of Janis Joplin in her calm moments. Alana’s lyrics portray tales of a simple life complicated by emotions, exemplified in the touching imagery of “Broke My Own Heart.“ The Rough Gems, a seven-piece band including Alana herself, adds multiple dimensions to her songs. The music is primarily a mix of country and folk with an occasional turn towards pop rock from an unidentifiable decade - a melting pot of good old American styles. It’s a vintage sound with a modern perspective. And while songs like “Take a Drink” are infectiously upbeat, The Rough Gems cover the other side of the spectrum as well. The sluggish tempo and endearing yet slightly dark lyrics of “The Blackest Crow” is the stuff secret goth crushes are made of. With The Rough Gems, Alana Amram has found a diverse yet tightly knit group of musicians that will help her honky tonk her way into the hearts of hillbillies, hippies, and maybe even headbangers.
You can hear a preview of The Rough Gems here.

Also coming this weekend, the League of Women Voters is holding a membership drive/picnic at Sycamore Park in Mahopac on Sunday afternoon at 3PM. Live music and whatnot. Admission is $10 and goes to the League.

Senator John McCain and the national Republican Party have settled, out of court, a lawsuit brought against them by singer/songwriter Jackson Browne for use of his song, "Running on Empty" as part of a political advertisement. The Ad, made by the Ohio Republican committee, was critical of Obama's energy policy (whatever that is, actually,).
It's funny though, the recording industry (RIAA) will come down like a rampaging herd of rabid elephants on a housewife who shares songs from her computer but they let politicians slide. Huh.
I'd like to thank everyone who sent their wishes and congratulations on entering our tenth year. Not only do I love you all, but our communities are all the better for it. And, though the blogs occasionally take potshots in our general direction, they're just jealous.

And now, The News:
  1. More than Hot Air
  2. Concerns heard on LaGrange town center
  3. Town Residents Who Were Not Adjacent Property Owners Lacked Standing to Challenge Public Boat Launching Site
  4. Some shrinking U.S. cities find splendor in green
  5. How Banks Are Using Bailout Money
  6. New Geothermal Heat Extraction Process To Deliver Clean Power Generation
  7. Young Men Living At Home With Parents Are More Violent, Study Suggests

More than Hot Air

Solar thermal energy, or “solar hot water,” may not get much hype, but don’t count it out of the renewable energy equation.

By Rachael Rettner, posted July 20th, 2009.

In October 2007, John Delano was looking for ways to reduce his carbon footprint. Although his home in Troy, NY, was already greener than most — it has a solar photovoltaic system that converts the sun’s energy into electricity — he noticed it was costing him quite a bit of power to heat his water. So Delano, a professor at the University at Albany, decided to invest in a solar thermal system — panels that soak up the sun’s rays and use the energy to heat up water. “And it worked like a charm,” he says. Now, with both systems in place, there are about five months in the year when he only pays 10 dollars for electricity from a conventional power plant (although his bill is a little higher during the late fall and winter months). What surprised Delano was that the solar water heating turned out to be more cost-effective than the photovoltaic cells.

“They both generate or displace comparable amounts of electricity, but the solar thermal system costs a quarter of what [a photovoltaic] system cost; so it’s about four times more cost-effective,” he says. “I think if I had to do it over again, I would start with a thermal system.”

Read More

Concerns heard on LaGrange town center

Fire district worried about ability to provide timely response

By John Davis
Poughkeepsie Journal

FREEDOM PLAINS - A plan to develop the LaGrange town center is drawing support and raising concerns about traffic jams, emergency response and loss of the area's rural character.

Developers Rieger Homes Inc. and Ginsburg Development Companies are seeking town planning board approval to build 608 housing units, a hotel and numerous new stores, eateries and offices on the south side of Route 55 between the Taconic State Parkway and Lauer Road.

The developers also plan to promote a more pedestrian-friendly town center by building sidewalks, parking areas, a common green and several pocket parks on the 193-acre site.

The New York state Department of Transportation plans to improve the flow of traffic through the more developed town center by replacing the traffic lights on Route 55 at Freedom and Stringham roads with a traffic roundabout.

Read More

Town Residents Who Were Not Adjacent Property Owners Lacked Standing to Challenge Public Boat Launching Site

Following a request by the Board of Selectmen to improve the Westport Island’s only public boat-launching site, the planning board approved the project.  The proposal included improvements to the boat ramp and access road as well as expansion of the parking area, and it was expected to increase daily trips to and from the site by 36 vehicles during peak season. Four residents, who lived on the Island but who were neither abutting property owners nor owners of property in close proximity to the site, attended the planning board hearings and expressed their opposition to the project.  The opponents asked the planning board to grant them party status because the frequently travel on the road where the boat launch is located and they were concerned about safety issues with increased traffic. Two of the residents appealed the planning board’s approval of the project to the zoning board of appeals, but the Board dismissed the appeals on the grounds that the residents lacked standing because they were not “aggrieved parties.” Although the residents alleged they were aggrieved because their personal property was threatened due to the increased risk of traffic accidents at the frequently traveled intersection, the board rejected this argument finding that they failed to prove any “potential injury different from that suffered by the general public traveling over [the] Route.”

Read More

Some shrinking U.S. cities find splendor in green

By Andy Sullivan and Kevin Krolicki

WASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) - For some U.S. Rust Belt cities, the future will be smaller and greener.

As communities from Buffalo to Milwaukee struggle with shuttered factories and vacant neighborhoods, some have turned abandoned properties into parks, gardens and other open space, even going so far as to plow under entire neighborhoods.

A recognition that the glory days of factory-powered prosperity will not return any time soon, this "shrinking cities" strategy aims to consolidate what remains into denser neighborhoods and more vibrant downtowns.

In Flint, Michigan, the birthplace of General Motors, a pioneering program that allows local government to capture profits from tax foreclosures has generated funds to demolish over 1,000 abandoned homes in the past five years.

"There's a gravitational pull that we're a part of and it's toward a smaller city," said Dan Kildee, treasurer of Genesee County surrounding Flint. "This is not a plan to shrink Flint, it's an acknowledgment that we've lost half our population."

Read More

How Banks Are Using Bailout Money

By Karen Weise, ProPublica - July 20, 2009 10:56 am EDT

TARP funds were supposed to help banks increase lending, but many bailed-out banks used federal funds for other purposes says the special inspector general for overseeing TARP in a report released today.

According to the inspector general, of the 360 banks surveyed, 156 said they’d used some of the funds to boost their capital cushion, 110 invested some of the money, 52 repaid debts, and 15 bought other banks with the funds. (A total of 611 banks have received bailout funds.)

Three hundred banks, or 83 percent of those surveyed, reported that some of the money had gone to support lending, but fewer than a third said their lending levels would have been lower without the federal money.

Read More

New Geothermal Heat Extraction Process To Deliver Clean Power Generation

ScienceDaily (July 20, 2009) — A new method for capturing significantly more heat from low-temperature geothermal resources holds promise for generating virtually pollution-free electrical energy. Scientists at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will determine if their innovative approach can safely and economically extract and convert heat from vast untapped geothermal resources.

The goal is to enable power generation from low-temperature geothermal resources at an economical cost. In addition to being a clean energy source without any greenhouse gas emissions, geothermal is also a steady and dependable source of power.

"By the end of the calendar year, we plan to have a functioning bench-top prototype generating electricity," predicts PNNL Laboratory Fellow Pete McGrail. "If successful, enhanced geothermal systems like this could become an important energy source." A technical and economic analysis conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimates that enhanced geothermal systems could provide 10 percent of the nation's overall electrical generating capacity by 2050.

Read More

Young Men Living At Home With Parents Are More Violent, Study Suggests

ScienceDaily (July 20, 2009) — Young men who stay at home with their parents are more violent than those who live independently, according to new research at Queen Mary, University of London.

The new study indicates that men still living at home in their early twenties have fewer responsibilities and more disposable income to spend on alcohol.

This group makes up only four percent of the UK's male population but they are responsible for 16 per cent of all violent injuries in the last five years.

Delaying social independence and remaining in the parental home have become more common over the past 40 years in both the UK and the USA.

Professor Jeremy Coid and Dr Ming Yang surveyed over 8000 men and women. Participants answered questions about violent behaviour over the past 5 years and mental health problems.

Read More

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Monday, July 20, 2009

News That Matters - July 20, 2009 - 9th Anniversary Edition

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

PlanPutnam: Now in our tenth year!

"I think society puts young people in a box -- people 15, 16, 17 -- and does not expect them to do much but go to high school and play football and stuff like that. This just shows they can do a lot more with some strong ambition and desire. My [advice] is to get out there and do your thing with all you got."
- 17 year old Zack Sunderland, the youngest to ever to sail around the globe - solo.

Good Monday Morning,

This issue of News That Matters begins the 10th year of PlanPutnam!
As of this morning we have near 500 readers who receive NtM directly by email and another several hundred who read it online each day. As the column is posted on several blog sites and is picked up by Google and other web crawlers, I have no idea how many others are reading. And, while this column is certainly not the most read media source in the county it has become the most influential and for that you should all be proud. You don't know how many times I'll be talking to someone about some local issue and they'll say, "Oh yeah, I read about that on PlanPutnam". It makes a parent proud.

The Town of Kent is in court today (or tomorrow according to the Journal News) to find out what type of settlement will appease the developers at Kent Manor,
the mega-development mistakenly approved nearly a generation ago. 
With Judge O'Rourke presiding I do hope he asks one important question: How is it that the county never foreclosed on that property even when it was nearly $3 MILLION in arrears on its property taxes? Some say that's because the issue has been in litigation and maybe they're right. But I'm pretty sure, not being a lawyer and all, that's not really the answer.

Supervisor Doherty is taking the heat with armchair quarterbacks claiming this or that or something else which points in her direction and in an election year people say all kinds of things whether they're based in fact or not. But the truth of the matter is this issue has been around for almost 20 years and it's difficult to raise old Supervisors from the grave and point your finger at them. And then, even if we could, then what? The law says we're responsible for their actions since we elected them... the crimes of the fathers... and all that biblical jazz.

I'm pretty sure we'll never know the true, full story and when all is said and done, that's the real crime here. Who do we sue for that? Supervisor Doherty? Bob Bondi? One party government? Kent Acres? NY State? Who?

A recent article in the NYJN talks of how the much valued Avalon Archive has found a home at Tilly Foster Farm
. Congratulations go to Kent's Ned Moran for this coup. Open on weekend afternoons only, this collection of photographs and posters and other popular music memorabilia stands as one of the best collections of kind in the world and Putnam County should be proud that it's here. If bovine aren't your thing and if the high arts don't do it for ya, now you've a reason to head over to Tilly Foster. Tell Ned we sent you.
And though all this work was done to rehab buildings at the Farm for this use, the agreement is not permanent and when the Farm needs the space for a commercial purpose, the Archive will be homeless once again. We need to find the Archive a location from which it will not be evicted at the whim of the landlord and the funding to make it so. If you've ever listened to even one Bob Dylan song, you've got to see the Archive and will then realize its importance. If properly housed and marketed the Avalon Archive could put Putnam County solidly on the tourist trail and reap millions in economic income.

Authorities in Sowton, Devon, England, used a helicopter, riot police and aerial megaphones to disrupt a party advertised on Facebook as an all-night event. With 17 confirmed guests, a small dining canopy, a BBQ and fresh batteries in a boom box in his backyard, police swooped in wearing riot gear to stop the 15 who showed from celebrating Andrew Poole's 30th birthday party. The police apparently monitor Facebook events seeking criminal behavior, such as parties and music festivals.
Says Mr. Poole, a bus driver, "I had created an event, and 17 people were confirmed as guests. I did put the time on it as overnight in case people wanted to sleep over."

Authorities responded, "On this occasion, we were extremely concerned how the event had been advertised on the internet as an all-night party and it was therefore necessary to take the appropriate steps. Had it gone ahead, it is likely that far more of our resources would have been used to police the event and there would have been considerable disruption to neighbouring properties."

For 15 people. Huh.

The 2nd Annual Garden Party and Picnic held here at the Asylum last weekend had 34 confirmed Facebook guests and somewhere around 80 people attended. We had no BBQ (I had no gas for the grill... next year, I promise!) two dining canopies(!), a boom box and it too was advertised as an overnight event and yes, a few did stay (to amusing effect, by the way).

Either there's something wrong with England or I'm just not rowdy enough.

In recent polls, 76% of Americans desire an affordable single-payer national health care system
. This "public option" thing Obama and the Democrats are pushing is designed to fail before it even gets out of the gate. But who is standing in the way? These folks:
      Sen. Max Baucus     $3,973,485
      Sen. Evan Bayh     $1,565,088
      Sen. Kent Conrad     $2,154,200
      Sen. Dianne Feinstein     $1,749,887
      Sen. John Kerry     $8,994,077
      Sen. Mary Landrieu     $1,653,943
      Sen. Joe Lieberman     $3,308,621
      Sen. Ben Nelson     $2,214,715

The numbers next to their names indicate the amount of campaign contributions each has received from the health insurance industry. So, now you know. It's not about public health. It's about the money.

Protect Your Kids From Nature Deficit Disorder

outsideEach parent has a responsibility to engage their kids in outdoor activites that inspire respect, wonderment, and enjoyment of the natural world. The new book “Let’s Go Outside!  Outdoor Activities and Projects to Get You and Your Kids Closer to Nature” can help in this endeavor. Win a FREE copy by sending an email to Put “outside” in the subject and list your name & email address. A winner will be drawn randomly on Monday, July 20th. I will email main the winner for their full mailing address. Data submitted will be kept confidential and will be used only for this drawing. Enter today.

"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."

- J.R.R. Tolkien

And now, The News:
  1. Phosphates plan would help Lake Oscawana, study says
  2. Tilly Foster Farm unveils music museum
  3. States awash in stimulus money to weatherize homes 
  4. Birdwatchers No Featherweights in Contributions to Economy
  5. Small Australian Town Stands Up for the Tap
  6. GE's House of the Future
  7. Fastest-Moving Flu Pandemic May Strike U.S. Early
  8. Winter in the time of swine flu
  9. Tracking trash

Phosphates plan would help Lake Oscawana, study says

Barbara Livingston Nackman

PUTNAM VALLEY - Residents who hope to remove and keep phosphate out of Lake Oscawana are a bit closer to improving the water quality of the town's largest lake.

The phosphate comes from stormwater runoff and septic systems, and the problem is complicated by rainy weather and lack of oxygen at the lake's bottom.

This creates a mucky tangle of vegetation for swimmers and boaters.

"We need to reverse the cycle of this nutrient pollution," said Stephen Axinn, the Lake Oscawana Civic Association president, who led a detailed study of the water body's condition. "We need to take steps to remove the phosphate and enact laws and regulations to prevent further sediment."

Read More

Tilly Foster Farm unveils music museum

Marcela Rojas

SOUTHEAST - Past the cows and horses, in a discrete corner of Tilly Foster Farm, sits an impressive collection of rare and one-of-a-kind items that highlight the jazz, blues and rock 'n' roll giants of all time.

Kent Cliffs resident Ned Moran has brought his Avalon Archives to Tilly Foster, turning a former farmhouse into a showcase of musical Americana packed with posters, photographs, paintings, instruments and other memorabilia he has collected since the 1950s.

The Avalon Archives Museum of Roots and Rock and Roll has some 1,000 pieces on display. Featured among them are the photos of John Lennon's last recording session six weeks before his death, vintage shots of Bob Dylan at a Putnam Valley farm, and a handbill of Pete Seeger together with Duke Ellington and the Grateful Dead from 1968.

Dozens of original concert posters from the legendary Fillmore West and Avalon Ballroom venues in San Francisco, including those of Santana, the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin, along with an Elvis Presley shrine of plates, eight-tracks, figurines and unique photos, also help bring this otherwise rustic home to musical life.

Read More

States awash in stimulus money to weatherize homes 

Associated Press Writer
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Ready or not, states are getting a tenfold boost in federal money to weatherize drafty homes, an increase so huge it has raised fears of waste and fraud and set off a scramble to find workers and houses for them to repair.
An obscure program that installs insulation in homes and makes them more energy-efficient is distributing $4.7 billion in stimulus funds—dwarfing the $447 million originally planned by Congress this year and the $227 million spent in 2008.

That is enough to weatherize 1 million homes, instead of the 140,000 normally done each year.

President Barack Obama said pouring money into the program would lower utility bills for cash-strapped families, provide jobs for construction workers idled by the housing slump, and make the nation more energy-efficient.

"You're getting a three-fer," Obama said. "That's exactly the kind of program we should be funding."

Read more

Birdwatchers No Featherweights in Contributions to Economy

A new report released today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows one of every five Americans watches birds, and in doing so, birdwatchers contributed $36 billion to the U.S. economy in 2006, the most recent year for which economic data are available. The report – Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis –shows that total participation in birdwatching is strong at 48 million, and remaining at a steady 20 percent of the U.S. population since 1996.

Participation rates vary, but are generally greater in the northern half of the country. The five top states with the greatest birding participation rates include Montana (40 percent), Maine (39 percent), Vermont (38 percent), Minnesota (33 percent) and Iowa (33 percent).

The report identifies who birders are, where they live, how avid they are, and what kinds of birds they watch. In addition to demographic information, this report also provides an estimate of how much birders spend on their hobby and the economic impact of these expenditures.
Read More

Small Australian Town Stands Up for the Tap


BUNDANOON, Australia — When the residents here voted this month to stop selling bottled water in town, they never expected to be thrust into the global spotlight.

With a nearly unanimous show of hands at a community meeting, the people in this small tourist town touched off a worldwide debate about the social and environmental effects of bottled water that has put the beverage industry on the defensive.

State and local officials across the United States have been phasing out the use of bottled water at government workplaces in recent years, citing a variety of concerns, including the energy used to make and transport the bottles and an erosion of public trust in municipal water supplies. But as far as campaigners are aware, Bundanoon is the first town in the world to stop all sales of bottled water.

Set in the cool highlands southwest of Sydney, Bundanoon is a sleepy town of tidy gardens and quaint cottages surrounded by the weekend estates of wealthy urbanites. It is the sort of place where strangers strike up conversations on park benches along the picturesque main street and townsfolk leave fresh flowers on the local war memorial.

According to Huw Kingston, the owner of Ye Olde Bicycle Shoppe and a leader of the “Bundy on Tap” campaign, the ban did not begin as an environmental crusade. It started when a bottling company sought permission to extract millions of liters of water from the local aquifer.

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GE's House of the Future

General Electric (GE) is working on line up of household appliances that will radically alter energy consumption.

By 2015, if a home owner went all in with GE products from solar panels, to baby wind turbines, with smart appliances and meters, the home could be a net zero energy provider.

The whole system is going to connected via a home energy manager device which will be like a "cybernetic brain" GE's VP Steve Fludder says. The energy manager will work with all the products to manage energy use at peak times, so the system doesn't run out of juice. That will cost $200-$250. The new smart appliances that interact with the energy manager are only supposed to cost $10 or so more than current appliances.

The biggest hold up for the project, according to Greentech Media, is getting utilities on board, who are not known for being the fastest moving bunch.

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Fastest-Moving Flu Pandemic May Strike U.S. Early

By Tom Randall

July 17 (Bloomberg) -- Swine flu has taken root across the globe faster than any previous influenza pandemic, and its full force may strike the U.S. earlier than the typical flu season, health officials said.

Vaccine production is on schedule to combat the pandemic in October, and the difficulty some drug companies are facing with manufacturing is accounted for in the timetable, Anne Schuchat, director of the Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said today in a conference call.

The World Health Organization said yesterday that the H1N1 influenza was moving with “unprecedented speed.” The flu has spread farther globally in less than six weeks than previous pandemics have in more than six months, the Geneva-based agency said on its Web site. The virus has moved unpredictably, in a “popcorn pattern,” and communication among scientists has enabled a swift response to the disease, Schuchat said.

“We’re taking this virus very seriously, and I think it’s very important for the public to be thinking ahead,” Schuchat said today. “We do expect there to be an increase this fall. Influenza is unpredictable, and we don’t know the extent of the challenges that we’re going to face in the weeks and months ahead.”

The WHO scrapped its method of reporting numbers of confirmed cases and deaths, saying yesterday the system was too much of a burden on health-care workers and didn’t accurately represent infections because most people don’t get tested.

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Winter in the time of swine flu

For a small country, Chile has a large number of swine flu cases. The reason? Easy diagnoses, winter and smog.

By Pascale Bonnefoy - GlobalPost

SANTIAGO — Almost a third of healthcare workers around the country are on sick leave, traditional religious celebrations are being cancelled and everyone has a friend, relative, co-worker or neighbor on Tamiflu. And naturally, the pig jokes abound.
Yes, it’s the unrelenting spread of the H1N1 pandemic in Chile, fourth on the World Health Organization’s list of confirmed cases of the virus, with 7,376 infected, after the United States (33,902), Mexico (10,262) and Canada (7,983). New figures from Chile's own health ministry show that 40 have died and 10,926 have been infected in this country.
Why does this country of only 16 million inhabitants have such a disproportionally high number of people infected with the virus?
“The question is: are we diagnosing correctly in Chile, or are other countries not doing it adequately?” asked Jaime Honores, director of a public health clinic in Quilicura, a low-income district in northern Santiago.
It is probably the latter, said Enrique Paris, director of the Center for Toxicological Information and member of a government-appointed experts committee on the H1N1 virus.
“Compared to many other countries, the public and private health systems and university clinics in Chile have very advanced laboratories, so confirming the diagnosis is relatively easy. Other countries have to send their samples to Atlanta and wait for the results even for weeks, or don’t have the money to pay for them,” he said.

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Tracking trash

Project aims to raise awareness of how garbage impacts the environment

What if we knew exactly where our trash was going and how much energy it took to make it disappear? Would it make us think twice about buying bottled water or "disposable" razors?

A team of MIT researchers today announced a major project called Trash Track, which aims to get people thinking about what they throw away. Trash Track relies on the development of special electronic tags that will track different types of waste on their journey through the disposal systems of New York and Seattle. The project will monitor the patterns and costs of urban disposal and create awareness of the impact of trash on our environment - revealing the last journey of our everyday objects.

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