Monday, September 14, 2009

News That Matters - September 15, 2009

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

"Between 2007 and 2008, the number of people covered by private health insurance decreased from 202.0 million to 201.0 million, while the number covered by government health insurance climbed from 83.0 million to 87.4 million. The number covered by employment-based health insurance declined from 177.4 million to 176.3 million." - US Census Bureau

Good Monday Morning,

Kent held its annual Community Day yesterday and thousands came out on a perfect late summer afternoon. Ryan's Field was packed all day, lines for the giant slides and other activities were as equally long as those for food and I'm willing to bet a number of sunburns were dealt with later in the afternoon.
Kudos go out to Recreation Director Bill Heustis his crew and their volunteers for setting everything up, keeping the flow of traffic and people moving along nicely and for the months of work required to pull it all off.
As is usual for such an event placed close to the primary elections, virtually every candidate on the planet was there. I had a nice long chat with Sheriff Don Smith and shorter chats with Senator Leibell and Assemblywoman Galef. The Senator says the Senate is back at work and passing legislation. The Assemblywoman explained that the state is trying to broaden the reach of health programs and finding ways to keep property taxes under control. And, you'll be surprised to hear I did not bring up the Cahill bill. At least not yesterday.
Working the Town's Stormwater table from 11 AM until 3PM, I didn't get a chance to wander but from my perspective in the community activities area, here are a few pictures from the event:

If any of you care about maintaining the rural character of Peekskill Hollow Road you now have a chance to speak up about it. Again. The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC) announced a public comment period for proposed changes to its 2008-2012 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The comment period will begin on September 15, 2009 and end on September 28, 2009.  Details on the changes will be posted by the start of the comment period on the NYMTC website here. Download the section for Putnam County (lots of rail-trail work listed).
When you write, talk first about what you agree with in the proposed project (i.e., turning lane at the High School, etc.,) before you launch into your objections. But even then, be nice. Send your comments to:
Lower Hudson Valley Area Mid-Hudson South TCC
Attn: Jean Shanahan
4 Burnett Blvd
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
Ph: (845) 431-7921

County Executive Bob Bondi has proposed cutting 22 jobs in order to better manage the county budget. While spending needs to be controlled at the county level, the County Executive might start cutting at the top and not from the working classes at the bottom of the payroll. You cut one Executive Secretary and you can keep two workers. Cut two, and save four. Un-protect a few upper-level positions and save many more of those who perform actual services for the community.

On Saturday evening just past I attended a fund raiser for Congressman John Hall at the home of Michelle Berdy and Drew Howland out on Peekskill Hollow Road in Boyd's Corners.
It was a truly wonderful evening. Candle lit, the most excellent baked goods and a wonderful, friendly crowd.

Live performances from Michelle LeBlanc, fresh from her concert at Arts on the Lake, John Cohen, an original member of the New Lost City Ramblers and John Hall himself performed a couple of numbers with the resident house band. (Video to be posted soon.) Local candidates were also in attendance including Carmel's Marc Pekowksy and his wife Ivy Blum, fresh from their own fundraiser in Mahopac earlier that evening.

The party ran late into the night and kudos go out to Michelle and Drew for their hospitality, Michelle for her Nobel Prize quality baking skills, to the musicians for their artistry and skill and to everyone who came out. It was one of the nicest evenings I've had in a very long time.

Peter Collins and Maureen Fleming have a few things in common. For one, they're both qualified attorneys with long standing practices. For another, they're both running for Town Justice in the Town of Kent in primaries for the Democratic, Independence and Working Families party lines. While a few misanthropic Republican candidates have gone negative even before the primary, others (we do not know their party affiliations) are going negative on Collins and Fleming. In the former case it's a letter to the Courier about mythical and magical situations which never transpired and passed on as facts and a widely mailed attack piece on Judge Collins. In the latter case, it's missing and damaged campaign signs. Some cut in half. Others destroyed. Some missing entirely.
While I have to admit there's an over abundance of signs up this year, especially in Kent, it really is a rather childish display of opposition to destroy or steal campaign signs. I mean really now... If the culprits are reading this, go get some help. If they're not reading this and you know who they might be, tell them to read this. Either way, they need to grow up. And if they're candidates for office or working at their direction well, that changes everything especially if they're trying to be judges.

Two million? One million? How about 70,000? That's how many people marched on Washington this weekend in the "Tea Bag Express" rally. Initial reports, repeated frequently on talk radio, stated two million people marched in the Capitol. WorldNet daily reports one million. However, after examination of the sources and physical possibilities, most news organizations now claim no more than 70,000 attended. Obama's Inauguration saw two million people flood the Capitol and due to that number the entire city was in virtual shut-down. This weekend, a block away from Pennsylvania Avenue, business went on as usual. Still, 70,000, the number of people that can fit into a football stadium, is a lot of people. With more than eighty million Americans now on some sort of government sponsored health care program I'm wondering how many of those 70,000 are getting their insurance that way and don't even realize it. It seems the job the President has now is one of education, something national Democrats have traditionally failed miserably at. They have one shot and if they want to maintain control of the Congress they'd best make it a good one.

And now, The News:
  1. Republicans and Democrats in Putnam Valley Town Board primary
  2. Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Human Suffering
  3. A Party for Local Farming and Locally Grown Food (Cold Spring)
  4. Health insurers must cover children’s flu shots
  5. Medical Bills Leading Cause of Bankruptcy, Harvard Study Finds
  6. Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008
  7. Town of Gardiner and Mohonk Preserve improve scenic overlook for visitors

Republicans and Democrats in Putnam Valley Town Board primary

Barbara Livingston Nackman

PUTNAM VALLEY - Both the Democrats and the Republicans - six candidates in all - will be waging primary fights Tuesday for two seats on the Town Board.

Councilwoman Wendy Whetsel, a one-term incumbent who did not get the Democratic committee endorsement, is challenging Chris Lieberman, who has party backing. Sam Davis, a former town supervisor, joined the race after the committee met.

Longtime resident and town government critic Patti Villanova is challenging Republican committee choices Jacqueline Annabi and Esther McHenry.

The major issues are modernizing Peekskill Hollow Road and controlling taxes.

Read More

Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Human Suffering


Jennifer Hall-Massey knows not to drink the tap water in her home near Charleston, W.Va.

In fact, her entire family tries to avoid any contact with the water. Her youngest son has scabs on his arms, legs and chest where the bathwater — polluted with lead, nickel and other heavy metals — caused painful rashes. Many of his brother’s teeth were capped to replace enamel that was eaten away.

Neighbors apply special lotions after showering because their skin burns. Tests show that their tap water contains arsenic, barium, lead, manganese and other chemicals at concentrations federal regulators say could contribute to cancer and damage the kidneys and nervous system.

“How can we get digital cable and Internet in our homes, but not clean water?” said Mrs. Hall-Massey, a senior accountant at one of the state’s largest banks.

She and her husband, Charles, do not live in some remote corner of Appalachia. Charleston, the state capital, is less than 17 miles from her home.

“How is this still happening today?” she asked.

Read More

A Party for Local Farming and Locally Grown Food


Jennifer Small and Michael Yezzi, the husband-and-wife proprietors of Flying Pigs Farm, which raises rare breeds of pigs that roam around 150 acres in Shushan, N.Y., near Saratoga, made an extra stop Saturday night on their way back from their weekly deliveries to the eight restaurants they regularly serve and the farmers’ markets in Union Square in Manhattan and Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn.

They drove down a two-mile dirt road, walked up a path marked by dozens of candles in prim white bags and made their way to a brightly lighted barn to celebrate a place, an idea and a moment.

The place was the Glynwood Center, a working farm, advocacy group and agricultural research organization devoted to the modest goal of “helping communities in the Northeast save farming.” The idea — or maybe it’s ideas — is that sustainable local agriculture is an old way of life whose time has come again. And the moment was the series of events that have made the gathering of 200 people on a September night something other than a quixotic fringe assemblage.

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Health insurers must cover children’s flu shots

ALBANY - Governor David Paterson announced that insurers must cover seasonal flu and novel H1N1 vaccinations for children who are aged 19 and younger and enrolled in comprehensive health plans. The policy is consistent with New York’s preventive and primary care provisions known as the Child Wellness Law, which require insurance coverage for vaccinations recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This year, ACIP has advised that children should receive both the seasonal flu and novel H1N1 vaccines. Therefore, under State law, they must be covered and not subject to co-payment, co-insurance or annual deductible.

“As we prepare for the upcoming flu season and the expected resurgence of the novel H1N1 virus, we are working to ensure that New York’s families have access to the resources they need to keep their children healthy,” Paterson said.

Read More

Medical Bills Leading Cause of Bankruptcy, Harvard Study Finds

Illness and medical bills caused half of the 1,458,000 personal bankruptcies in 2001, according to a study published by the journal Health Affairs.

The study estimates that medical bankruptcies affect about 2 million Americans annually -- counting debtors and their dependents, including about 700,000 children.

Surprisingly, most of those bankrupted by illness had health insurance. More than three-quarters were insured at the start of the bankrupting illness. However, 38 percent had lost coverage at least temporarily by the time they filed for bankruptcy.

Read More

Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States:2008

     The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that real median household income in the United States fell 3.6 percent between 2007 and 2008, from $52,163 to $50,303. This breaks a string of three years of annual income increases and coincides with the recession that started in December 2007.

     The nation’s official poverty rate in 2008 was 13.2 percent, up from 12.5 percent in 2007. There were 39.8 million people in poverty in 2008, up from 37.3 million in 2007.

     Meanwhile, the number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 45.7 million in 2007 to 46.3 million in 2008, while the percentage remained unchanged at 15.4 percent.

     These findings are contained in the report Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008. The following results for the nation were compiled from information collected in the 2009 Current Population Survey (CPS) Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC):

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Town of Gardiner and Mohonk Preserve improve scenic overlook for visitors

GARDINER - In order to provide visitors to the Shawangunk Mountains with more opportunities to enjoy the beauty of the region, the Town of Gardiner and the Mohonk Preserve have been taking action to improve the Wallkill Valley Scenic Overlook area on U.S. Route 44/State Route 55, just west of the Preserve’s Visitor Center below the Trapps Cliffs.

Despite a longstanding 30-minute parking limit, for several years the area was used for longer-term parking for easy access to the Preserve’s climbing areas and carriage roads. As a result, the scenic overlook was often filled with cars all day and entry and exit could be hazardous.

Starting in mid-May, additional parking limit signs were placed at the pull-off and the Town of Gardiner started issuing warnings to violators. Mohonk Preserve rangers authorized to act on behalf of the Town began to issue parking tickets. The effort has been successful. With the Overlook now clear much of the time, many visitors have begun to take the opportunity to stop, look around, and orient themselves to the region.

Read More

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