Monday, July 6, 2009

News That Matters - July 6, 2009

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

Fourth of July photos from Lake Carmel
Graciously provided by Skip Pearlman

"If Franz Kafka had started a business, he would have started Verizon."

Good Monday Morning,

If you were around on Saturday, you'd have noticed that pretty much every shop and business was open and so the question is: who gets a holiday? The answer is white collar workers. The service industry (the vast majority of Americans) largely works on national holidays.
When I'm President, national holidays will be just that, National Holidays, and aside from emergency services, everyone will be off from work, malls will be closed, gas stations and convenience stores tidily shut... everything. It's easy to plan a day ahead so quit complaining about not being able to get that last minute beer or ice. Oh, and election day will be a national holiday as well as it is in many other countries. I know, I know... we're in a global economy but just try to reach someone in France or Germany during August. If they can shut down for a month and still be more productive than we are, surely we can honor our own for one day.
Is There No Balm in Gilead?
What would you do if you woke up one morning to discover that the explosion and shaking and scattering of rock falling from the sky wasn't the Rapture but a well connected developer blasting away on three sides of your house?

This is not some make-believe scenario, but a real situation that has been plaguing Carmel resident Lori Kemp and will into the future.

Surrounded on three sides by Pulte Homes' "The Retreat" her life has been turned into a living nightmare for the past couple of years and will continue on for quite some time.

Bulldozing, blasting, rock 'scraping', grading and all of it often as close as 50' to her 1890 home that sits next to the Gilead cemetery which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Now the cemetery and the home are separated by a blasted out gulf of stagnant water and invasive reeds where an old farm lane used to be. And the hill that use to rise to her south is slowly being removed. Rock by rock. Ledge by ledge. Piece by piece. Slowly. Day in and day out. Week after week and month after agonizing month.

Can you imagine what it must be like living surrounded by all that? Have you ever heard a rock drill run for hours or the sound a bulldozer makes as it tries to scrape chunks of ledge away? Now imagine that every day - all day.

What do you do when your town building inspector doesn't seem to care? When the DEC throws up roadblocks and hurdles too high for the average person to leap over? What happens when you are forced to defend yourself in a court that gives you conflicting information - and you're not an attorney? What happens when your house physically moves with each blast of the bedrock that underlays it and pieces of that tortured and blasted rock rain down on your property covering everything with lung clogging dust? When a property line dispute turns into a protracted Kafkaesque journey?
These are not rhetorical questions for Ms. Kemp. They are the life she lives each and every day.

I've written about this many times before and the NYJN used to (until Pulte Homes started advertising in that paper perhaps?) cover on a regular basis but the story is now relegated to obscurity. But the hell she lives continues on and not only does government not seem to care, they are, to put it mildly, completely unconcerned about the welfare and safety of a resident while bending over backwards to accommodate an out-of-county developer.
I'm not talking corruption or conspiracy or malfeasance for those are words best used in a court of law, assuming one could find one in this county clear of the influence of the criminal acts being perpetrated against a fellow citizen. But I am talking about a situation that everyone knows exists and feels powerless to alter, change or influence and that may only be corrected if the unthinkable happens at the Kemp home.

What's going on down in Carmel is not unique and if the economy doesn't finally kill Patterson Crossing this is a situation that will occur at the Lake Carmel community when another verdant Putnam County hillside is reduced to shit for political gain and profit, leaving the rest of us to pay for its way.

So be aware. Look around. Who serves on your town boards and how are they connected to the people who force these things upon us? Do they actively and progressively defend you or do they sit passively claiming their hands are tied?

Watch closely who funds and otherwise backs their election campaigns this season and what out-of-county entities get themselves involved, even remotely, even distantly, even with just a whispered word to the 'right' officials...

It's your county. Let's take it back from the forces that work against us.
The Choking Game
Yeah, it's something kids play and have been playing for a long time and even my friends knew about it back in the day. You choke yourself in any number of ways, and just before you pass out you let the air back in and experience a bit of a rush. Sadly, too many kids don't let go at the right moment and since we've been keeping stats on this specifically, several hundred kids have died. So far this year 19 American children have died - but we only count the ones directly tied to the game itself. In the past, and still today, many parents and police automatically assert suicide as the motivating action but we're learning that's it the quest for something else, for some fun, for a rush.
This is not one of those issues that requires school meetings and fear-filled parents screaming at the wind, nor is it a 'wave sweeping across the land!' as some would insist but it is something for parents to be aware of, coolly, calmly and with careful thought. Check with your kids and let them know, gently, that choking yourself for fun, isn't fun. The moment you become hysterical, to your children, it becomes an even more enticing challenge. So stay cool.
Space Station Marathon
If you've never seen a spaceship with your own eyes, now is your chance. The International Space Station (ISS) is about to make a remarkable series of flybys over the United States. Beginning this past weekend, the station will appear once, twice, and sometimes three times a day for many days in a row. No matter where you live, you should have at least a few opportunities to see the biggest spaceship ever built. Check NASA's ISS Tracker for flyby times.

Lastly, while the American Empire crumbles around us and people are taking to the streets to protest, Long Island Congressman Peter King, a suggested hopeful to run against Kirsten Gillibrand next time around, took time out of his busy weekend solving our national problems to decry Michael Jackson as a "pervert". Whatever Peter.
And now, the News:
  1. Putnam avoids commuter lot fines, but faces residents' suit
  2. Counties’ votes to secede from MTA will play out locally, says Metro-North chief
  3. Aqueduct leaks may pose big dangers
  4. New Jersey court says towns cannot force developers to provide open space
  5. Go Green This Summer: Save Water, Save Money, and Prevent Pollution
  6. New York inches closer to offshore wind farm
  7. Fighting light pollution

Putnam avoids commuter lot fines, but faces residents' suit

Barbara Livingston Nackman

MAHOPAC - Putnam officials have resolved a state permit issue that could have cost the county a $37,500-a-day fine on a commuter parking lot project off Route 6.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation cited the county for failing to provide information about the construction work before bringing in backhoes and work crews.

It was one more obstacle in Putnam's efforts to build or upgrade five commuter lots with $3.4 million in federal funds. The new lot for 60 cars at Mount Hope Road in Mahopac will replace leased space at Temple Beth Shalom at Croton Falls Road, county officials said. The other lots have not generated controversy.

The Mahopac project has sparked much community opposition, and 43 residents are suing the county to stop the work.

Read More

Counties’ votes to secede from MTA will play out locally, says Metro-North chief

GOSHEN – Votes by the county legislatures in Rockland and Orange counties to explore pulling out of the MTA region are decisions that are up to those local governments, according to the head of the Metro-North Railroad.

The counties are furious about increased and new taxes imposed on the public and business.

Metro-North President Howard Permut said those moves are up to the counties. “I think those are political decisions that the counties will be exploring and that the pullout would actually be from the MTA,” he said.

Read More

Aqueduct leaks may pose big dangers

Greg Clary

NEWBURGH - James Simpson looked down at a running stream of water behind the Danskammer power plant and wondered aloud how he could see through it so clearly.

"If this were stormwater runoff, it would be cloudy," said Simpson, a lawyer with the environmental group Riverkeeper. "It has rained almost every day for a month. Every other stream looks like coffee. And this is cold. Clear and cold sounds like drinking water to me."

Simpson and concerned residents along the 85-mile Delaware Aqueduct believe the water that has flooded basements and backyards comes from two leaks of as much as 36 million gallons a day of drinking water from the huge underground pipeline.

The water represents a small percentage of the daily flow to the faucets of New York City and the Lower Hudson Valley, but is thought to be the cause of a basketball-court-sized sinkhole that collapsed 10 feet deep less than a quarter-mile from the power plant.

Read More

New Jersey court says towns cannot force developers to provide open space

The state Supreme Court agreed Thursday that municipalities cannot require housing developers to set aside land for open space and recreation, or charge fees in lieu of those improvements to get construction approval.

The Supreme Court upheld a June 2008 ruling by the state Appellate Court that said while open space is laudable, New Jersey land-use law limits municipalities' authority to require water, sewer, drainage and street improvements and set aside land within planned developments for open space and recreation areas. The ruling did not elaborate on whether builders could sue to get their land or fees back.

While the decision was made about lawsuits filed by the Builders League of South Jersey against Egg Harbor Township and the New Jersey Shore Builders League against Jackson Township in Ocean County, it will affect municipalities and building companies throughout the state.

Read More

Go Green This Summer: Save Water, Save Money, and Prevent Pollution

Save over 30% off the purchase of a rain barrel
Kathryn Swartz, American Rivers, 419-936-3759
Joan Freele, New England Rain Barrel, 781-910-9036   

Toledo, OH -- Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan residents have a great opportunity to save money and water by purchasing discounted rain barrels, thanks to a partnership between American Rivers, the Toledo Stormwater Program, the Rain Garden Initiative of Toledo – Lucas County, and The New England Rain Barrel Company. Rain barrels help residents use water more wisely and reduce pollution in local streams by capturing stormwater runoff.

The rain barrel sale is just one part of the comprehensive approach American Rivers is taking in the Great Lakes region to reduce stormwater runoff and protect clean water. From its office in Toledo, and a soon-to-be-opened office in Milwaukee, American Rivers is working with decision-makers to promote natural stormwater management practices like permeable pavement, rain gardens, and green roofs. These approaches help save money and energy, reduce flooding, and improve water quality.

“We all need clean water, and it’s important that we use water wisely. Rain barrels are an easy way to catch and store rain for watering gardens, shrubs and trees. They also help prevent stormwater from overwhelming our aging sewer systems or flowing over dirty streets and parking lots and polluting local streams,” said Kathryn Swartz, conservation associate for American Rivers. “By catching the rain and reusing it, residents can help the environment and save money at the same time.”

Did you know?
• 40% of the average homeowner’s water use is outdoors.
• 700 gallons of water runs off a 1,200 square foot roof after only one inch of rainfall. Using a rain barrel is an excellent way to conserve some of this water.
• A quarter inch of runoff from an average roof will easily fill a rain barrel. If you have five storms a season, that equals 275 gallons of free water.
• Rain barrel use reduces the stress on municipal water systems during the summer months and improves stormwater management.

Read More

New York inches closer to offshore wind farm

Project has the potential to be the largest of its kind in the U.S.
By Timothy Gardner, Reuters

NEW YORK - Government agencies and power companies said on Wednesday they are gauging interest from developers and manufacturers about building a wind farm about 13 miles off the New York city coast that could end up being the largest such project in the United States.
The Long Island Power Authority, the New York Power Authority, other agencies and Consolidated Edison Inc hope to build the 350-megawatt wind farm off the Rockaway Peninsula in the Atlantic. Potentially, the project could be expanded to 700 MW, giving it a shot of being the biggest U.S. offshore wind farm.
One megawatt powers about 1,000 homes in New York, but wind does not blow all of the time.
Taking stock of the interest of developers is a precursor to issuing a request for proposal for the project which is anticipated for release by the end of the year, the collaboration said.

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Fighting light pollution

The International Dark Sky Association works with cities to curb light pollution.

The International Dark Sky Association (, a group of astronomy enthusiasts, nature lovers and anyone else who’s interested in light management, works with cities and towns to curb this excess glow. Their  strategy not only provides more stargazing opportunities, but also improves safety by reducing  blinding glare and  tamping down excess energy use.  Sounds like a wish come true.
Read More

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