Monday, September 21, 2009

News That Matters - September 21, 2009

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

Good Monday Morning,

Happy 5770!
Correction: In Friday's NtM we posted the "Plant One On Me" event taking place at Cornerstone Park tomorrow evening. The correct time is 7 PM - 8:30 PM.

Saturday was "Talk Like A Pirate Day" and the first day of Rosh Hashana. "Oy Vey! Me hearties!"

Also on Saturday, the Kent Fire Department held their first Friendship Night in which the departments they extend mutual aid services to were invited to the station on Route 301 for a party. It was very well attended and a good time was had by all.

Our thoughts go out to the family of Michele Capone who died in a one-car accident over the weekend. Michele graduated Carmel HS in 2007 and had just recently moved to Holmes.

My friend Patty Villanova who is running in the Republican primary for town council in Putnam Valley, wanted to know why I didn't mention her race in Friday's column. It's now been mentioned.

Former Congressman Rick Lazio has announced his plan to run for Governor.

The Actor Within
is a class given by Lora Lee Ecobelli and hosted by Arts on the Lake. In order to drum up students there will be a free workshop class tomorrow evening (9/22) at 7:30 PM at the Cultural Center on Lake Carmel which is in the old firehouse on Route 52 just south of the Route 311 Causeway. If you're chicken (don't be) or need more information you can write to Lora Lee here.

Are you a musician? Do you have a small country-like acoustic group?
Putnam County is looking for you! The county needs a band to play at the County Farm Tour on October 4th. The event this year will be held at Mike Beal's Willow Ridge Farm on Canopus Hollow Road in Putnam Valley. You won't get paid but you can sell your wares and you'll be the only band so you'll have no competition. Give George Michaud a call (845) 225-3641 x49310 and tell him Jeff sent you.

Net Neutrality is about to win a big Victory when the FCC announces new rules that will prevent internet providers from setting up a class system based on what you use the internet for. Verizon, ATT&T and others have long wanted to create a tiered system where - for the right money - traffic would flow to your website unimpeded. If you didn't pay then traffic to your website could take a little longer, be delayed or not get there at all.

Conventional theory about the behavior of light or electromagnetic fields cannot explain Superman's X ray vision. Obviously these theories need to be modified.

Public Policy released a poll the other day saying that 16% of New Jersey Republicans believe President Obama is the Antichrist. In the meantime, 83% of all voters believe the Federal Government should NOT be abolished and 89% believe we should keep public education. 32% of Conservative voters do not believe President Obama was born in the United States and 9% were surprised to find out Hawaii was a state.

While we're waiting for October to come around to get our Swine Flu shots, scientists and government health officials are warning of a new mosquito borne virus that's decidedly worse than West Nile. Chikungunya virus has spread beyond Africa since 2005, causing outbreaks and scores of fatalities in India and the French island of Reunion. It also has been detected in Italy and France where it has begun to spread locally.

When a Florida man suffered a heart attack, he needed to leave his job. Between everyday expenses and medical bills, he fell behind on his mortgage and other bills, and debt collectors began calling. And calling. And calling. Eventually, a lawsuit alleges, the stress from the harassing and abusive phone calls led to the man's death. Frivolous lawsuit? Maybe not.

And now, The News:
  1. State planning to reform major environmental act
  2. Homes Pollute: Linked To 50 Percent More Water Pollution Than Previously Believed
  3. Student Loans 101; Hall explains changes to high schoolers
  4. You called 911? Without asking first?
  5. In hundreds of cities, parking spaces become parks
  6. Can a Farm State Feed Itself?
  7. Bailout Banks Will Keep Using Your Money For Private Jets
  8. Judge slams Kansas town for censoring citizen

State planning to reform major environmental act

By Alexa James
Times Herald-Record
Posted: September 20, 2009 - 2:00 AM

NEW PALTZ — To get anything built in New York, you've got to survive the State Environmental Quality Review Act, or SEQRA, also known as the most acrimonious acronym in the Hudson Valley.

Enacted in 1976, the law requires governmental bodies — from villages to counties — to identify and mitigate significant environmental impacts of any new development or growth.

Before a shovel hits the dirt or a permit is approved, the SEQRA must be satisfied. In the Hudson Valley, where real estate and natural resources collide like football linemen, moving through that process can take years.

But state officials are now pledging to revisit the system, looking for ways to streamline the law without compromising its purpose. The head of the state Department of Environmental Conservation debuted a plan Thursday that would take shape in the Hudson Valley.

The idea: Form a regional workgroup made up of DEC staff, real estate developers, conservationists and members of local planning and zoning boards.

Use the group to gather ideas for quick fixes and long-term reforms. "I'm looking for recommendations by the end of the year," said DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis.

Read More

Homes Pollute: Linked To 50 Percent More Water Pollution Than Previously Believed

They say there's no place like home. But scientists are reporting some unsettling news about homes in the residential areas of California. The typical house there — and probably elsewhere in the country — is an alarming and probably underestimated source of water pollution, according to a new study reported recently at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

In the study, Lorence Oki, Darren Haver and colleagues explain that runoff results from rainfall and watering of lawns and gardens, which winds up in municipal storm drains. The runoff washes fertilizers, pesticides and other contaminants into storm drains, and they eventually appear in rivers, lakes and other bodies of water.

Read More

Student Loans 101; Hall explains changes to high schoolers

GOSHEN - Congressman John Hall announced the passing of H.R. 3221, or The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), to an auditorium full of High School seniors at Goshen Central High School Friday morning and explained to them what impact this piece of legislation would have on their graduating class and all others to follow.

According to Congressman Hall, “H.R. 3221 increases the amount of money available for Pell Grants and other student loans by $40 billion over the next ten years.”The process of making this $40 billion available also, “saves the Federal Government $87 billion.”

The way,  “to make $40 billion available that is not currently available and still save $87 billion over ten years,” Hall explained, “is by cutting out the middle man.”

“The Federal Treasury gives the money to the banks, provides them with an incentive to lend it, and then guarantees it, so we … it’s not just the student’s parents who cosign the loan; the Federal Government guarantees it 100% so the bank has absolutely no risk.”

Read More

You called 911? Without asking first?

Self-employed and uninsured, she's on the 'never-get-sick' plan. Calling the paramedics might not be doing her a favor.

I can't afford to get sick. Like 46.3 million other Americans, I don't have health insurance.

The government should issue identification tags for people like me. Call it a DND (Do Not Dial) order for the medically uninsured. That way, if strangers see us on the street -- injured, ill or otherwise ailing -- they won't be tempted to call 911. They'll spot the DND tag and keep on walking. They'll tell other passersby, "Don't bother, she doesn't have insurance."

When my mother saw me suffer a seizure four years back, like any worried parent, she ran for the phone. Later at the hospital, instead of thanking her for calling the paramedics, I asked, "You couldn't have waited until I stopped shaking?"

"Jill, you were foaming at the mouth," she said, "and moaning, with your eyes rolled back in your head."

"Still, you couldn't have waited?" Or called my insurance company (I had coverage at the time) to find out what kind of treatment my plan would pay for after a grand mal seizure?

Read More

In hundreds of cities, parking spaces become parks

Associated Press Writer

Activists across the nation parked themselves curbside Friday, taking up spaces reserved for cars and transforming them into mini parks with sod, potted plants, lawn chairs and even barbecues to raise awareness about how the auto has won the battle over public space in big cities.

On a busy street in Los Angeles, a neighborhood association took up seven parking spots and set up a hangout with a grill, a kiddie pool and a gardening workshop to teach people how to grow drought-tolerant plants. In Chicago, an architecture firm turned two parking spaces into a pit stop where bicyclists can chill out on a grassy knoll and refuel on drinks and snacks. In New York City, theater students from Fordham University staged a "Shakespeare in the Parking Spot" festival.

Construction workers on their lunch break sat on cardboard chairs and watched the students read "Romeo and Juliet," "Richard III" and other plays from a portable stage.

"I was impressed," said adjunct professor Sandra McKee. "They did some interesting interpretations and they projected their voice well. Of course, they had to compete with the cars."

Read More

Can a Farm State Feed Itself?

by: Brooke Jarvis  |  YES! Magazine

According to the local multiplier effect, if a state increases it's local food sales it will boost it's economy.

Illinois, home to 76,000 farms and more than 950 food manufacturing companies, is a solidly agricultural state in the heart of America’s bread basket. Fully 80 percent of it is farmland. But, of all the food eaten in Illinois, only four percent is actually grown there.

Vast quantities of food are exported to other states and nations, while similarly vast quantities are brought in to feed Illinois’ citizens. It’s a costly arrangement that leaves too many people without enough access to healthy fruits and vegetables.

A new bill, recently signed by Governor Patrick Quinn, will make it easier for farmers to sell their harvests within Illinois instead of shipping them out of state. But first, the state had to figure out what had been making it so hard.

Read More

Bailout Banks Will Keep Using Your Money For Private Jets

By Marc Perton, 4:12 PM on Tue Sep 15 2009

Under government pressure — and by "pressure" we mean asking meekly in a very soft voice — companies that have received funding from the taxpayer-funded TARP program have outlined the controls they plan to put in place to limit "luxury expenditures." And — surprise! — the definition of "luxury" is very different for the corporate titans spending your money. While most big banks have put at least some limits on personal use of corporate jets, many seem to echo Bank of America's policies on official use, which state that that execs can use private planes for "safety and efficiency reasons," no advance approval required.

Most of the bailed out banks, as well as auto manufacturers Chrysler and GM, will still allow top execs to use private planes for at least some business trips, and some, like Bank of America, seem to encourage it, with policies that authorize "reasonable usage of the aircraft and other upgraded transportation services for conducting the business of Bank of America." Private use of company planes is now mostly off limits, and Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit, who had an exemption from that company's no-private-use policy, has said he'll honor it regardless.

Read More

Judge slams Kansas town for censoring citizen

Rules ban on comments on gambling's 'social ills' violated First Amendment

@2009 Worldnet Daily

A federal judge has ruled that town officials holding a public meeting to talk about a massive casino project proposed for their area cannot ban statements about the "social ills" of gambling if they allow discussion of the industry's benefits.

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Monte Belot in Wichita, Kan., concluded that officials in the city of Mulvane violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when the mayor ordered police to escort a known gambling critic out of a public meeting.

Mayor Jim Ford had announced before the meeting that no discussion of "social ills" would be allowed, but then he allowed discussion of social benefits.

"Mulvane's restriction would have passed Constitutional muster (i.e. would have been both viewpoint and content neutral) if it had simply precluded the 'social benefits' as well as the 'social ills' of gambling and/or if Mayor Ford had enforced the restriction as announced. In other words, at least in theory, a restriction could have been imposed and enforced which could have passed strict scrutiny, i.e. narrowly-enough tailored to serve the compelling government interest of good order at the meeting," the judge ruled. "Or Mayor Ford could have told Farnsworth to save her comments for the public session.

Read More

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