Monday, August 3, 2009

News That Matters - August 3, 2009

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

Good Monday Morning,

Kent Manor was settled out of court last week and the results of that will be known today. I'm guessing it was an amicable settlement. Judge O'Rourke warned the parties, once again, not to talk about anything to anyone about anything until details of the settlement are released this morning. According to news reports the Town board issued a statement that said in part,
"The board collectively felt it was in the town's best interests to put an end to a case which has dragged on for 20 years and has spanned over five town administrations. The board took proactive action, exercised due diligence and negotiated a resolution which ends the case and limits any financial exposure to the town's citizens,"

Regardless, the deeper issues about Kent Manor remain hidden: how could they go all those years without paying property taxes and how is it that the DEP/DEC would ever grant approvals for a development that is a clear insult to the watershed. DEP's response to questions on the FEIS were akin to saying, "Yeah, Water. Whatever."

At the very least this settlement may remove Kent Manor from being an issue during the campaign this year negating the largest single issue renegade Republicans had against Councilman Tartaro and Supervisor Doherty who are both up for re-election. But politics is a strange thing and the renegades are hungry as they set the stage for 2011.
Sales Tax Revenues declined some 14% in Putnam County during the second quarter of this year, amounting to $3.6 million less for the county budget. The solution? If the past holds any truth for the future, we'll hear County Executive Bondi making the case to build more malls.

A friend hiking in the Catskills on Saturday found a lost dog on the trail. After spending some time yesterday morning helping her contact pretty much everyone in the towns of Denning and Neversink the dog is now happily reunited with its owners. A 13 year old shepherd mix named Cookie.

According to a memo posted by a right-wing group their strategy on the health care and energy debates is as follows:
Attend meetings held by Democratic party members of Congress and disrupt them. Hang the members in effigy. Attempt to 'rattle' them so that they go off book and address the disruption rather than the point they're trying to make. Disrupt the speeches from beginning to end. Sit in the front half of the room and spread yourselves out so that it gives the appearance of widespread support.
Another group, Patients United, a front group for Americans for Prosperity, is running a 13 state bus tour to bring volunteers into Democratic congressional districts to do the same thing. Hey, at least here in Putnam County we let our elected and connected politicians disrupt the process rather than the mob.

What's most interesting is that the memo came from the organization who sponsors those "tea parties", FreedomWorks. Note that FreedomWorks offers no viable alternatives other than to keep things the way they are. Assuredly, this is to stop the spread of preventative health care which would lower profits for the health 'care' industry. Okay, I get that, but how do these protesters benefit from a sicker society, one that cannot afford to get itself well? And, what happens to those guys when their employers can no longer afford to offer them insurance? Will they be lining up for the government programs they're actively involved in killing?

But I have to wonder if these organizations and their "birther" adherents are more of a hinderance to the vast majority of Republican party members than an asset since they tend to attract the most extreme, often racist elements, spurring them into action. The parallels between their actions and those of another struggling political  party in the early 1930's in a European country which used the exact same methods are seemingly not unintentional.

Lac Aux Americans, Gaspé, Quebec.
(Just a random old vacation photo)

And now, The News:
  1. Kent settles Kent Manor case; details awaited
  2. Neighbor's failed septic a noxious problem
  3. Water Problems From Drilling Are More Frequent Than PA Officials Said
  4. New York's Ash Trees Threatened By Newly Found Beetle
  5. An Underwater Fight Is Waged for the Health of San Francisco Bay
  6. Acres of Sculpture, Nestled Into the Hudson Landscape

Kent settles Kent Manor case; details awaited

Michael Risinit

KENT - The Town Board this week approved settling the Kent Manor case, ending years of litigation over whether a developer can build hundreds of townhomes and how much the town should pay for delaying the project's construction.

Details, including how much money Kent will give the developers, won't be made public until state Supreme Court Justice Andrew O'Rourke signs off on the settlement, the town's lawyers said yesterday. On Monday, O'Rourke warned both sides he would find them in contempt of court should they discuss the matter outside his courtroom.

The damages stemmed from Kent not allowing the townhome project to proceed, even after several court decisions over the years said otherwise. Lawyers for the developers had vowed to seek millions because of expenses incurred during that time, including the elimination of some units because of new wetlands laws, the reopening of the environmental review process and missing out on the real estate boom.

Read More

Neighbor's failed septic a noxious problem

Barbara Livingston Nackman

PUTNAM VALLEY - Belynda Rella has a really smelly problem and she can't seem to get it fixed.

She lives at 17 Oriole St., and her neighbor's septic at 19 Oriole drains into her yard, which is a health hazard and downright unpleasant. Each Lake Peekskill house is less than 700 square feet on roughly one-third acre.

Rella and her pre-teen daughter won't go into their yard or jump on a new trampoline without wearing heavy-duty paper face masks. Inside, a kitchen cabinet is stocked with an array of air fresheners, and candles are burning.

"It seems like I am going around and around without getting anything to change," said Rella, 32, who bought her two-bedroom home in 2002. Since April, she has been contacting various officials. The bubbling sludge site in her yard is covered with a blue cloth.

Read More

Water Problems From Drilling Are More Frequent Than PA Officials Said

by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica

When methane began bubbling out of kitchen taps near a gas drilling site in Pennsylvania last winter, a state regulator described the problem as "an anomaly." But at the time he made that statement to ProPublica, that same official was investigating a similar case affecting more than a dozen homes near gas wells halfway across the state.

In fact, methane related to the natural gas industry has contaminated water wells in at least seven Pennsylvania counties since 2004 and is common enough that the state hired a full-time inspector dedicated to the issue in 2006. In one case, methane was detected in water sampled over 15 square miles. In another, a methane leak led to an explosion that killed a couple and their 17-month-old grandson [1].

Read More

New York's Ash Trees Threatened By Newly Found Beetle

ScienceDaily (Aug. 3, 2009) — For the first time, Cornell researchers have reported the sighting of the emerald ash borer – an ash-destroying beetle – in New York state.

“The threat is extreme,” said E. Richard Hoebeke, a senior extension associate in entomology at Cornell. “There is the potential for ash as we know it to be extirpated from the landscape.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Washington, D.C., announced on June 18 they had officially identified the Emerald Ash Borer in New York after receiving and examining specimens sent by Cornell researchers earlier this week.

The flying Asian beetle was discovered in ash trees near Randolph in Cattaraugus County in southwestern New York. New York has some 900 million ash trees, representing about 7 percent of all trees in the state, and all are at risk should this invasive, exotic pest become established.

Read More

An Underwater Fight Is Waged for the Health of San Francisco Bay


SAN FRANCISCO — Chela Zabin will not soon forget when she first glimpsed the golden brown tentacle of the latest alien to settle in the fertile waters of San Francisco Bay.

“I had that moment of ‘Oh God, this is it, it’s here,’ ” said Dr. Zabin, a biologist with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. “I was really hoping I was wrong.”

The tentacle in question was that of an Asian kelp, Undaria pinnatifida, a flavorful and healthful ingredient in miso soup and an aggressive, costly intruder in waters from New Zealand to Monterey Bay.

The kelp, known as wakame (pronounced wa-KA-me), is on a list of “100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species,” compiled by the Invasive Species Specialist Group. Since her discovery in May, Dr. Zabin and colleagues have pulled up nearly 140 pounds of kelp attached to pilings and boats in the San Francisco Marina alone.

Read More

Acres of Sculpture, Nestled Into the Hudson Landscape

MAYA LIN’S earth-and-grass landscape sculpture “Storm King Wavefield” (2007-08) may sweep you away, but it is not the only the only reason to visit the Storm King Art Center, a 500-acre expanse of woods, ponds, lawns and rolling hills just west of the Hudson River. Spectacular sculptures — about 125 of them — are everywhere.

In the south field, where “Wavefield” is installed, are Richard Serra’s “Schunnemunk Fork” (1990-91) and Andy Goldsworthy’s “Storm King Wall” (1997-98). You can easily walk from one to the other, exploring the ways in which they interact with one another and the surrounding landscape.

Like all the artists whose work is on display at this vast art center in the Orange County hamlet of Mountainville, these three understood very clearly where to install their work in order to complement, rather than compete with, the environment.

Ms. Lin, for instance, started with a blueprint, but gave the fields at Storm King the final say. Although her original studio models and drawings called for 11-foot-high waves, she realized that they were not high enough when she began construction, so she pushed a few of them to around 15 feet. This required a great deal more material and a broadening of the overall work in order to achieve a natural balance.

Read More

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


Copyright © 2009 News That Matters