Monday, July 13, 2009

News That Matters - July 13, 2009

News That Matters
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Good Monday Morning,

There are so many people who need be thanked for making the 2nd Annual Picnic and Garden Party a success I'm not sure where to start:
But certainly, to B & L for being the first to arrive, to Larry R for handling the steaks and HK's sausage with incredible skill (and if you ever break up with your gal, there is a special place in my kitchen for you), to RF for coming back into my life as a friend, to Ray C Jr. for actually showing up, to VT for the summer squash and his dogged determination to get everyone to sign the PHR petition and to everyone who bummed an entire pack of cigarettes from me.

To DM for getting the fire going - and keeping it going - during the occasional light rain, to Paul R for the excellent bottle of JD which found its way around the bonfire several times, to JL for the Vinobingo, which really is the Hudson Valley's finest wine, to the CT contingent for making the trip and to Lake Carmel's Dave V whose visit was a pleseant and welcome surprise.

To Tom for his great sense of post-emo humor, to JS for the amazing oatmeal bread, to everyone who brought their dogs (5 in total running like crazy around, aside and between 4-score sets of human legs) and to Chris C for the honey pretzels. To Patrick I for not harming any adults during the water balloon fight and to TR for coming up from Louisiana for the event. It was realy great to see you again.

To DM, TR and GT for coming out of the woodwork, to D&CB for stopping by on their way to a gig in New Paltz, to C&GB for the dining canopy, And to DK and MF for all their work yesterday afternoon - you two rock!

I just want to know, who broke the bottle in the bathroom. Come on, fess up! And, to the two volleyballs now lost forever, where did you go? Oh, there's more... trust me. Next year it's July 10 so put that on your calendars. One more thing: I have your bowls, serving utensils and whatnots. Let me know what you left behind and we'll work on reuniting you with them.

And the cleanup? That will start as soon as this newsletter hits the 'net.
It seems like Putnam County from the County Executive to the Legislature, has decided to screw the town of Kent once again, this time by walking away from the Kent Manor deal and laying the entirety of the blame on the town for delays in construction of the project that should never be. Funny though, it was the county and the NYCDEP who originally stopped the thing. And you know, DEP decided recently that construction of so many town houses on a feeder stream was not going to have an impact on our drinking water nor on Palmer Lake (Hill & Dale) after all. Read the article (below and click through) carefully and note what reporter Susan Elan has left out of the story to see what's really going on: a calculated political move by the county to punish the people of Kent. Nice, eh?

The NY State Senate is back in session. Get out your hip boots and shovels.

While the number of Americans without health insurance climbs, Congress sits around pocketing money from Big Pharma and the insurance industry and allows television talking heads to dictate national policy on the issue. Nate Silver writes at,
"The big news on the health care front this weekend is that House Democrats are prepared to call for a tax increase on the highest-earning Americans in order to pay for expanded health insurance. Although accounts of the exact details differ slightly, it appears that the tax hike would take the form of a "surcharge" of 1 percent on incomes from $280,000 to $400,000, 1.5 percent on incomes of $400,000 to $800,000 and 3 percent on incomes of $800,000 and above. This means that someone making $500,000 would pay about an extra $2,700 in taxes each year, and someone making $1,000,000 would pay an extra $13,200. The burden, in other words, would fall disproportionately on those who earn not just in the six figures, but rather in the seven figures, for whom much more of their income would become subject to the 3 percent rate."

This chart shows the results of a recent poll of Americans on how they would prefer to pay for a national health care system:

You can read the full article here.
Reuters is reporting that the World Health Organization is considering mandatory Swine Flu vaccinations. An announcement could be made as early as today.
Okay, it's not Swine Flu. Pig farmers have such political clout that the same people who came up with "Freedom Fries" and other politically correct nomenclature have decided we'll call it the lyrical, H1N1 instead so as to save the lowly non-kosher porker from a lifetime of derision.

However, (and here's something that should scare the bejeezus out of you,) recent reports from the Philippines are showing that a human transmissible version of the Ebola virus is finding a pathway from those same porkers to humans and back again. If you remember, Ebola is the virus that causes extensive internal bleeding - and usually death to anyone it infects. Maybe the bible had it right.

And now, The News:
  1. Putnam County agrees to settle with developer of controversial townhouse project
  2. Three Cheers!
  3. Is tap water safer than bottled?
  4. Growing own produce gains popularity
  5. One Maryland: Smart, Green and Growing Legislative Package Enacted
  6. Controversial Florida Hometown Democracy Initiative Clears Hurdle For November 2010 Ballot
  7. In One Day, Saddening Reminders of a River’s Murky History

Putnam County agrees to settle with developer of controversial townhouse project

Susan Elan

Putnam County has agreed to settle with the developer of the controversial Kent Manor townhouse project, leaving Kent to fend for itself in a case that could cost the town up to $16 million.

State Supreme Court Justice Andrew O'Rourke has set a trial date of July 20 to figure out the town's liability over delays in construction of hundreds of homes - a legal saga that stretches back two decades.

The county had appealed an order from O'Rourke concerning its role in the Kent Manor legal wrangling.

But with the trial about to begin, County Executive Robert Bondi and the nine-member county Legislature opted to extricate themselves from the case where Putnam faced charges as a co-defendant for "conspiracy to deprive the property owner of constitutionally protected property rights."

The settlement "leaves the town holding the bag," Kent Town Attorney Timothy Curtiss said Friday.

Read More

Three Cheers!

To the Dutchess Watershed Coalition of Dutchess County and its many partners and sponsors for naming July as Dutchess Watershed Awareness Month.

The month features a series of educational and watershed awareness activities and events across Dutchess, including creek and watershed cleanups, guided nature walks, canoe and kayak trips, lectures and festivals. Although we're midway through the month, there are still many events yet to come in Union Vale, Rhinebeck, LaGrangeville, Wappingers Falls, Millbrook, Pine Plains and Beacon.

To find what events are taking place in your community, visit All the events are free, family-friendly activities related to watersheds and are aimed at increasing public awareness of watershed issues.

Read More

Is tap water safer than bottled?

core one for the green movement. For years as sales of bottled water climbed, environmental groups said it was likely less safe than tap water even without taking into consideration the impact on the enviroment. This week the government agreed. A study released by the General Accounting Office said that bottled water undergoes less scrutiny than tap water, which must meet a tougher safety standard. The GAO study found that the regulation of bottled water (under the Food and Drug Administration's Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act) is less strict than the Environmental Protection Agency's regulation of tap water (under the Safe Drinking Water Act).

This news came during a House subcommittee hearing in which John Stephenson of the GAO told the House panel that when it comes to water, the FDA lacks the regulatory authority of the EPA.

In fact, bottled water makers are not required to disclose even as much information as your local municipality. If you live in a city of 10,000 residents or more, you probably receive a copy of a water report each year. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires that public water systems test tap water for various contaminants using certified laboratories and issue a water-quality report, called the consumer-confidence report (CCR), once a year.  (For particularly toxic contaminants, the SDWA requires results to be reported within 24 hours.)  The CCR summarizes local drinking water quality, information about the water source, levels of detected contaminants, whether any of the detected contaminants exceed federal levels, as well as information on the potential health effects of certain contaminants. (If you live in a smaller town, consult the EPA's Web site.)

Read More

Growing own produce gains popularity

Former first lady encouraged similar trend in 1940s

By Leslie Coons
Poughkeepsie Journal

Even people who a year ago didn't know a raised bed from a hole in the ground are getting into the idea of growing their own food, echoing a movement popularized in 1943 by then-first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Whether it is for financial reasons, environmental or food safety concerns or simply because they like fresh, tasty food, residents are turning their lawns into a 2009 version of the Victory Garden. Many of them also plan to share the produce with the less fortunate.

"There has been a record number of new gardeners this year from all age groups," said Greg Draiss, general manager of the Adams Fairacre Farms Garden Center in Poughkeepsie. "Vegetable, herb, fruit and berry plants have seen (sales) increases. The biggest trend I have seen is that many gardeners, old and new, are starting their own plants from seed."

Read More

One Maryland: Smart, Green and Growing Legislative Package Enacted

The Smart and Sustainable Growth Act of 2009 which took effect on July 1, 2009, was designed to strengthen the connection between land use actions and the comprehensive plan as a result of the 2008 Supreme Court ruling in Trail v. Terrapin Run, LLC, 403 Md. 523 (2008), specifically stating its intention to overturn that decision.  The new law provides, among other things, that actions that are “consistent with” or have “consistency with” a comprehensive plan are actions that further, and are not contrary to, the following items in the plan: policies; timing of implementation of the plan; timing of development; timing of rezoning; development patterns; land uses; and densities or intensities. The law also requires members of planning commissions and boards of appeal to complete an education course before July 1, 2010 and the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) is required to develop an online planning education course for local jurisdictions and make it available by that date (although local jurisdictions are authorized to develop their own educational course).

The Smart Growth Goals, Measures and Indicators law took effect on June 1, 2009, and it requires local planning commissions or boards to submit annual reports to local legislative bodies beginning July 1, 2011 that include specified smart growth measures and indicators and information on a local land use goal as part of the report. Charter counties are now required to submit an annual report beginning July 1, 2009. New for the reports, they must state which ordinances or regulations were adopted or changed to implement the State’s planning visions. The measure and indicators that must be reported on are the: amount and share of growth that is being located inside and outside the Priority Funding Area (PFA); net density of growth that is being located inside and outside the PFA; creation of new lots and the issuance of residential and commercial building permits inside and outside the PFA;  development capacity analysis, updated once every 3 years or when there is a significant zoning or land use change; and number of acres preserved using local agricultural land preservation funding.

Read More

Controversial Florida Hometown Democracy Initiative Clears Hurdle For November 2010 Ballot

Now known as “Amendment 4,” the Florida Hometown Democracy initiative cleared major hurdles on the way to the fall ballot.   In June 2006, the Florida Supreme Court held that the initiative does not violate the rule that all proposed amendments must stick to a “single subject;” and the court found that the ballot language is clear and not misleading.  This week, in and advisory opinion to the Florida Attorney General, the Supreme Court found that the revised financial impact statement as to how much a proposed growth management amendment could cost voters, now complies with State law.

The proposal, if passed, will allow Florida voters to decide on changes to comprehensive land use plans, instead of local elected leaders. Specifically, the petition language provides:

Read More

In One Day, Saddening Reminders of a River’s Murky History



If you were trying to guess at random the local waterway where two bodies turned up in one day a week ago, the Passaic River would not be a bad bet.

A toxic cocktail of dioxin, sewage, heavy metals and industrial chemicals left behind by the factories, tanneries, smelters and refineries that are now mostly hulking brick ruins, the Passaic is a pretty decisive argument against human perfectibility.

The Passaic begins in the clear trout streams of rural Morris County, provides drinking water to 3.5 million New Jersey residents, reaches a peak at the Great Falls of Paterson and then devolves at the end of 80 increasingly foul and dispiriting miles into a dark, malodorous industrial sink.

Its pop culture moment was “The Sopranos”: It’s part of the opening credits and the scene of many episodes of baleful mayhem, like Christopher being beaten and Dick Barone’s son having his knees broken, both scenes at the same dock in Kearny.

Read More

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