Monday, October 12, 2009

News That Matters - Monday, October 12, 2009

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

Good Monday Morning,

It is Columbus Day.

Frost on the pumpkin and all that this morning, a little sooner in the year than I'd like. Did I mention frost on the pumpkin yesterday morning too? Good sleeping weather -- though being constricted by a 65 lb dog on one side and the cat seeking warmth on the other makes Jeff a little sore come morning. Yeah, we pet owners know the score. It's cute when they're puppies, eh? Now fully grown it's a straight-jacket of canine/feline construct. And when I dog-sit for Bill his 65 lb'r joins the crowd and it's just too much! But how can you say no?

In case you're paying attention to the campaigns, the Concerned Citizens of Carmel/Mahopac are hosting a forum tomorrow night (Tuesday) at the Mahopac library starting at 7PM. If you go be sure to ask any sitting rep to explain how they allowed Lori Kemp's life to be screwed over and what protections they have in place to ensure that your home isn't blasted off its foundations.

With Halloween just around the corner and the Sheriff finally dealing with his overzealous protector of all things four-legged, it's safe once again to dress up your Airedale for the holidays. The website, has detailed instructions for a lot of things but this caught my eye. Click on the image and see for yourself. Grapes?

So, you still believe Reaganomics made the middle classes wealthier? The Economist Magazine has this to say:
"America is the wealthiest country in the world and its rich keep earning more. In 2007, the latest year for which data are available, the top 1% increased their share of the country's income to 23.5%, according to analysis of tax returns by a pair of economists, Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty. The concentration of income earned by this top percentile now stands at its highest since 1928. Two-thirds of the country's total gains in the five years to 2007 accrued to the top 1%, whereas the bottom 90th percentile saw only 12% of the extra income."

Depending on where you live in Putnam County come election day you may find more than one ballot initiative on your voting sheet. I've taken the liberty of listing them out here since I can almost guarantee no one else will. And what's the point of PlanPutnam and News That Matters but to inform?
Don't blame me for the ALL CAPS DOWN BELOW as I'm just cutting and pasting from the County BOE website. How you vote is entierly up to you but voting down a library budget is like voting against your soul. There's nothing more important that community education.
Amendment to section 1 of article 14 of the Constitution, in relation to the use of certain forest preserve lands by National Grid to construct a 46 kV power line along State Route 56 in St. Lawrence County. The proposed amendment would authorize the Legislature to convey up to six acres of forest preserve land along State Route 56 in St. Lawrence County to National Grid for construction of a power line. In exchange, National Grid would convey to the State at least 10 acres of forest land in St. Lawrence County, to be incorporated into the forest preserve. The land to be conveyed by National Grid to the State must be at least equal in value to the land conveyed to National Grid by the State. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

Amendment to article 3 of the Constitution, in relation to authorizing the Legislature to allow prisoners to voluntarily perform work for nonprofit organizations. The proposed amendment would authorize the Legislature to pass legislation to permit inmates in state and local correctional facilities to perform work for nonprofit organizations. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

The County Executive has the power to initiate reductions in appropriations when budgeted revenues are insufficient. Should the Legislature be given the same power?



Even John McCain is warning President Obama to get the heck out of Afghanistan. 3000 years of history shouldn't be messed with - regardless what American generals think. If we stay we're going to get our asses kicked and we've already lost almost 800 soldiers there. Isn't that enough? (Note to Persians, Brits and Russians: stop snickering.)

Bank fees got you down?

And now, The News:

  1. Brewster voters OK middle school modernization and turf-field bond proposals
  2. View SEQRA ‘streamlining' with caution
  3. Green and Greener in Suburban Towns
  4. New Study Shows More Walkable Homes Are Worth More
  5. New Jersey Outshines Most Others in Solar Energy
  6. Health Insurers Threaten Rate Hikes
  7. The Economic Revolution Is Already Happening - It's Just Not on Wall St.

Brewster voters OK middle school modernization and turf-field bond proposals

Hoa Nguyen and Marcela Rojas

BREWSTER - Voters gave the green light to two controversial proposals to modernize the middle school and add a turf field to the high school, earning a sigh of relief from school officials Friday night.

"You can never count your chickens before they hatch," Brewster Board of Education Chairman Stephen Jambor said.

The $25.6 million project to make additions and renovations to Henry H. Wells Middle School passed, 1,321 votes to 1,084. The $3.47 million proposal for a multipurpose turf field at Brewster High School passed, 1,256 votes to 1,118.

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View SEQRA ‘streamlining' with caution

The State Environmental Quality Review Act, adopted in 1976, was reviewed in 1996. No doubt, it's time for an overhaul but not along the lines suggested in your recent Opinion page article, "DEC reviewing environmental review process."

The article by Debra West of the Editorial Board discusses claims made by Pete Grannis, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, that speeding up the SEQRA process will result in economic benefits. Another motivation expressed in the article is that DEC's work force is being cut by 25 percent - on top of previous severe cuts - and it simply cannot handle the workload involved in the careful scrutiny of often extremely complex development plans under SEQRA.

The difficult economic situation that New York, like many other states, is confronting, has convinced our leaders that the road to recovery lies, in large part at least, with more development. And development will face fewer roadblocks and proceed faster if we streamline SEQRA.

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Green and Greener in Suburban Towns


FOR two years, Valerie Williams had been considering making the five-bedroom home she grew up in more energy efficient — hoping to shrink her $350 monthly utility bill — but more pressing expenses always came first.

Then the town of Babylon came up with an offer she couldn’t refuse: if she and her husband, Carlos, paid $250 for an energy audit, the town would finance the recommended upgrades. The couple would repay the town at a monthly rate below the savings on their utility bill. The audit, done this month, found that by insulating walls, basement and attic, at a cost of $6,879, the Williamses could save about $1,300 a year.

“It’s an excellent deal,” said Mrs. Williams, 42, a New York City correction officer. “With the bills and the mortgage, sometimes it’s hard to do this at one time.” New York City and other major urban centers have ambitious, high-profile environmental programs. But it turns out that throughout the suburbs, towns like Babylon, on Long Island, are exploring and adopting a wide variety of innovative ways to save energy, protect their residents’ health and reduce pollution.

Some of these towns are offering energy retrofits; others furnish free parking to fuel-efficient hybrid cars. Yet others are limiting or banning the use of fertilizers to avoid chemicals leaching into the groundwater, or imposing strict energy efficiency requirements for new homes.

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New Study Shows More Walkable Homes Are Worth More

By CostBenefit on Oct 11, 2009


Though housing values are still slow to rebound from the collapse of the real estate market, a new analysis from CEOs for Cities reveals that homes in more walkable neighborhoods are worth more than similar homes in less-walkable neighborhoods, pointing to a bright spot in the residential real estate market.

The report, “Walking the Walk: How Walkability Raises Housing Values in U.S. Cities” by Joseph Cortright, analyzed data from 94,000 real estate transactions in 15 major markets provided by ZipRealty and found that in 13 of the 15 markets, higher levels of walkability, as measured by Walk Score, were directly linked to higher home values.

“Even in a turbulent economy, we know that walkability adds value to residential property just as additional square footage, bedrooms, bathrooms and other amenities do,” said Cortright. “It’s clear that consumers assign a tangible value to the convenience factor of living in more walkable places with access to a variety of destinations.”

Walkability is defined by the Walk Score algorithm (, which works by calculating the closest amenities – restaurants, coffee shops, schools, parks, stores, libraries, etc. – to any U.S. address. The algorithm then assigns a “Walk Score” from 0-100, with 100 being the most walkable and 0 being totally car-dependent. Walk Scores of 70+ indicate neighborhoods where it’s possible to get by without a car.

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New Jersey Outshines Most Others in Solar Energy

Published: Monday, 12 Oct 2009 | 4:16 AM ET
By: Joseph Pisani
News Associate

No one would mistake it for the Sunshine State.

PSEG is installing 200,000 grid-connected solar panels on utility and light poles in New Jersey.
But New Jersey—known more for its turnpike, shopping malls and industrial sprawl—has become a solar energy powerhouse, outshining sunnier states like Hawaii and Nevada. And it's largely because of incentives that make it cheaper for residents and businesses to buy and install solar power systems.

As of last year, the Garden State had 70 megawatts of grid-connected solar capacity, second only to California with 528 megawatts, according to a report by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council. Rounding out the top five were Colorado, Nevada and Arizona.

Governor Jon Corzine (D) recently announced that the state had installed its 4,000th solar system in the past summer—making it No. 1 in solar installed per square mile.

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Health Insurers Threaten Rate Hikes

Friday 09 October 2009

by: Robert Parry  |  Consortium News

    Though looking forward to millions of new customers who would be compelled by the U.S. government to buy health insurance, the insurance industry is threatening to raise premiums across the board if more of its demands are not met.

    Industry representatives put Congress and the Obama administration on notice that if health-reform legislation doesn’t send even more new customers the industry’s way or if a windfall profits tax is included, the industry would hit businesses, individuals and the government with higher premiums, effectively defeating one of the initiative’s top goals, reining in ever-rising costs.

    The industry’s chief complaint, which was raised in connection with an already-industry-friendly bill cobbled together by Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, is that the legislation would push 29 million more Americans into the insurance market, but that they might be the sickest and thus costliest people.

    The industry wants more of the estimated 25 million still uninsured – especially healthy, young people – to be compelled to buy policies, too. Without more healthy customers added to the mix, the industry says it will have no choice but to raise rates.

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The Economic Revolution Is Already Happening - It's Just Not on Wall St.

Wednesday 07 October 2009
by: Maria Armoudian  |  AlterNet

    America is in the midst of a new revolution. But this revolution is quiet, incremental, nonviolent and traveling beneath the mainstream media's radar.

    The new American revolution challenges the current notions of dog-eat-dog capitalism - through the building of a parallel economic system that shares, co-operates, empowers and benefits fellow workers and community members.

    Over the past few decades, thousands of alternatives to the standard, top-down corporate model have sprouted up - worker-owned companies and co-operatives, neighborhood corporations and trusts, community-owned technology centers and municipally owned enterprises.

    In fact, today, involvement in these alternative models of business outnumber union membership as the means by which private-sector workers and community members are taking their economics into their own hands. The story is revealed in the 4-year-old book, America Beyond Capitalism, written by University of Maryland political science professor Gar Alperovitz.

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