Wednesday, February 24, 2010

News That Matters - February 24, 2010

News That Matters

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

Good Wednesday Morning,

The results from our recent poll on the open spaces we use
are posted to the PlanPutnam website. Follow this link.
In short, here are the winners in each category:
Other Lands: Tie: Putnam County Land Trust Preserves
Town/Municipal Parks
DEP Properties: White Pond
DEC Properties: Mt. Nimham
County Properties: Putnam County Trailway
State Parks: Fahnestock State Park
The overall winners, based on percentages in each category were, in order:
Other: Tie - Putnam County Land Trust Preserves, Town/Municipal Parks
State Parks: Fahnestock State Park,
Municipal: Putnam County Trailway,
DEC: Mt. Nimham,
DEP: White Pond.

The highest percentage for any facility was for Fahnestock State Park.
I will admit that in the results people may have been confused at the difference between the White Pond MUA and DEP's White Pond Unit and may have selected one and/or the other in the poll. The same holds true for the Mt. Nimham State Forest and DEP's Mt Nimham Unit. Another reader said he used Lake Waywayanda but that's part of the California Hill State Forest which used to be the Pudding Street MUA. But heck we're here for the fun of it and that's what we're doing. Still, the results do tell a story that land use managers should heed. Oh, and Tilly Foster had just one write-in vote.

Snowy Morning

Kent Cliffs, NY February 24, 2010
Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy has proposed that corporations be allowed to sponsor state parks in order to keep them open in the coming year(s). How does "Camarda's Wonder Lake State Park" sound? Or, does "Brewster Dodge Great Swamp Wildlife Management Area" roll off the tongue nicely? A local favorite could be the "Putnam Septic State Forest".

Those in Patterson fighting against a commercial development project on Route 22 near Route 164, have posted a website to effect their charge. But we don't know who posted the site as it's being hosted through Canada and ownership is hidden behind a privacy wall. Supervisor Mike Griffin, who has taken a positive position on a commercial project on the other side of his town, appears to be against the one at Route 22 and we have to wonder if proximity to his home is a factor.

Westchester county Legislator Gordon Burrows was charged with cocaine possession in upstate NY a while back and a NYJN editorial called for him to resign his seat. Hogwash.
Politicians are people too. And they have foibles just like you and me because they *are* people. Their feet smell and they fart and they put their pants on just like we do and they roll through stop signs and they put mustard on their hotdogs and some drink and others smoke and each has a need to be hugged once in a while.

And because we have decided that those we elect must be capable of walking on water, leaping tall buildings in a single bound and sit at the right hand of god, we end up with a government not full of you's and me's but a government filled with those best able to hide the fact they are naught but humans through devious methods and means. We reward these people and chastise those cut from the same cloth as us. It is our collective desire to make believe we are better than we are and it's destroying us.

Citibank, America's third largest bank, sent a message to its customers the other day saying that beginning on April 1, 2010 it may require a seven day notice before you can withdraw money from your account. Not that they're doing that now, they say, but they reserve the right to do that in the future. I sure hope they don't know something we don't know about.

Wall Streets bonuses are up 17% to over $20 billion this year.

In poll after poll across the nation the public resoundingly supports a Public Option as part of health care reform yet the President, citing Republican reluctance, did not include such as part of his latest proposal. Congressman John Hall who once claimed he wouldn't vote for a bill that didn't have a "robust public option" has now apparently backed away from that position for fear of losing the election this coming November. It's enough to give you a headache. Dems are most likely going to lose control of the Congress this November anyway so Mr. Hall and the President ought to - at the very least - go out on a progressive note.

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the man who offered Rudy Giuliani a check for $10 million as a donation to the city for the 9/11 event and then went on to blame US support of Israel as the cause, and who in 2002 donated $27 million to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers ("new-speaked" by Dick Cheney as "homicide bombers" which was repeated ad nauseam by FOXNews) is now the 4th largest investor in the FOXNews network. At the time, FOX's 'reporters' decried the attempted gift as blood money. But now that he's their boss I'm willing to bet all be quiet on the FOXNews front.

Below is a list of the top ten Congressmen who really brought home the bacon in the current Federal Budget:

Young, Bill (R-FL-10th) $128,573,000
Pomeroy (D-ND-At Large) $121,740,350
Hirono (D-HI-2nd) $116,633,900
Moran, James (D-VA-8th) $107,440,000
Rehberg (R-MT-At Large) $103,514,200
Abercrombie (D-HI-1st) $102,660,400
Harper (R-MS-3rd) $101,267,000
Lewis, Jerry (R-CA-41st) $97,583,200
Bishop, Rob (R-UT-1st) $93,980,000
Rogers, Harold (R-KY-5th) $93,408,000
For the record, John Hall brought in a measly $10,926,200.

Six Republicans and Four Democrats. Hmmm... The Democrats may be tax and spend (except for most of them) but the Republicans sure seem to have a talent for bringing the money back home. If they want smaller government they'd best start with themselves.
Defense received a little more than $9.5 billion in earmakrs, an increase of nearly $2 billion over FY2007. Now, keep in mind, those dollars aren't part of the actual defense budget - this is bonus money. Like Wall Street! Like Susan B's from heaven!

Another Tea Bag Moment:

Orly Taitz, the woman who has made it her life's passion to prove that Barack Obama is not an American,
has asked the United Nations for protection against, what she calls, "persecution" in the United States for her efforts. That this most arch of conservatives has begged assistance from the one organization most arch-conservatives fear the most, drips with sweet, sweet irony.

And the Kicker?

Teddy!Glenn Beck
brought the house down at the CPAC convention Saturday night with his sweeping condemnation of what he calls "progressivism". He called it a 'cancer that must be cut out' of our system.
Well, I hope he can look Teddy Roosevelt straight in the eye and say the same thing as TR is himself the 'birther' of progressivism and the progressive movement in the United States.

It all happened way back in 1912 when a split within the Republican party between Mr. Roosevelt's and William Howard Taft's factions caused the old rough rider to set his own course, one that would endear him and the progressive movement with a permanent, stone-faced impression on the hills of South Dakota along with Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln.

What did Teddy say that launched the progressive movement Mr. Beck believes is a cancer?
"To destroy this invisible Government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day."

Author Samuel Haber, writing about the movement at the time said, "Progressives shared a common belief in the ability of science, technology and disinterested expertise to identify problems and come up with the best solution."

Maybe Beck and the CPAC folks who you seem to want to run this nation have no sense of our collective American experience or maybe they're simply re-writing history to fit their own belief system and the truth be damned. That they would do this is not unexpected. That the American people would fall for it is a sad testimony to our nation. We do get the government we deserve ... and it's coming.

Richie was sure that 2010 would be a good year but so far it's not exactly turned out that way. A carpenter I work with occasionally said last week that his workload was way down, that he spent more time trying to find work than actually working and that keeping his business insurance may have to go the way of feeding his family and paying the mortgage which would mean that he can no longer work in Putnam County. I know how he feels. With the county mandated $250 license "fee" looming for me in April, I just don't see how it's going to be made. When I complained about the fee one county legislator said that if I couldn't afford it I shouldn't be in business.
I'm selling the name for $250, if you're interested.
Unemployment in the trades now stands at 24.7%
So far this year has been dismal. It's not just a lack of work, but customers putting work off until next week, then putting it off until the following week. And then again until next month. But the banks don't wait and the landlord/mortgage company wants to be paid and Verizon doesn't care and neither does NYSEG. And you still have to eat. Beans and rice and a ten pound bag of flour only go so far.
Another friend I know, a white collar professional, has found his hours cut to the point where he's no longer covered by his company's health insurance and with a young family he now has to make a choice between the mortgage and keeping his insurance - there isn't enough money to do both. And still another friend, a long-time businessman who makes his money selling services in what anyone would assume is a safe business, is facing foreclosure on his modest home in Mahopac where he's been for 18 years.

Those self-employed in the trades are usually not eligible for unemployment insurance and have zero income for weeks or months at a time.
These stories are being repeated across our county and the mid-Hudson valley. The foreclosure notices in the papers far outweigh government notices in column inches and the President's recovery attempts, though well meant, just aren't reaching down to the level that makes a difference for those of us this economy has hurt most.

Rental unit occupancy rates are down as are rents as fewer are able to afford the high cost of local residency. Brewster has so many apartments for rent they don't know what to do and the homeless population is rising across the nation as people are forced out of their homes and apartments for their inability to cover their monthly payments. The national suicide rate has also steadily increased as people find themselves buried under a growing mountain of debt - not from credit cards mind you, but from the day-to-day bills that can no longer being met and who see no light at the end of the tunnel.

When the bill collectors call every day, 6 days a week, morning and night, there's only so much a person can take. If we were millionaires we'd have recourse, for the politicians we'd own would bail us out. But living in the middle classes apparently doesn't cut it and there's no help for us.
There will not be a News That Matters on Friday. Take care and enjoy.

And now, The News:
  1. New City women preserve land 'forever'
  2. Finding a solution to fund state's parks
  3. Gas Drillers Plead Guilty to Felony Dumping Violations
  4. Millions of Unemployed Face Years Without Jobs
  5. Where Do The Children Play?
  6. 6-year-old handcuffed at PSL school, sent to mental facility after temper tantrums
  7. The Pope Does Not Bless Airport Body Scanners
  8. What Changes Should You Expect From The CARD Act?
  9. Patriot Games | Mother Jones

New City women preserve land 'forever'

NEW CITY — Two women have decided they prefer to protect open space rather than allow their properties to be further developed.

By doing so, Joanna Galdone and Katrina Maxtone-Graham continue a practice that stretches back to the founding days of the American conservation movement.

Galdone and Maxtone-Graham have both opted to sign onto conservation easements that allow them to maintain ownership of their properties, but prohibit additional construction or the subdividing of their lots.

The easements essentially turn over development rights to the West Branch Conservation Association. Both women are members of the organization.

"My motive was to preserve the land," Galdone said.

Read More

Finding a solution to fund state's parks

"Something has to be done that's dramatic," said Bob Hansen of the Save the Redwoods League, former director of the Yosemite Fund. "We're writing a new vision and plan for state parks to get them beyond funding, to get them back to when they were the best state parks system in country."

Hansen noted that Arizona, which faces a budget crunch similar to California's, closed 18 of its 30 parks last month. Last year in California, the governor's office proposed closing 220 state parks, then last fall reduced that number to about 100 before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger played the shell game with the budget to keep them open.

Although operating plans have been written and filed before, this effort is different because of scope, power and past success of the people who are involved, like Hansen. They want results, not meetings.

The approach centers on three areas:

-- Money: Create consistent funding that puts the rug back under the feet of state parks.

-- What works: Identify programs elsewhere that work and use the same strategies.

-- Outreach: State park employees' attitudes and examples can transform the public's experience, especially for urban users who might feel disconnected from the parks and the outdoors.

Read More

Gas Drillers Plead Guilty to Felony Dumping Violations

Since a gas drilling boom in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale began in 2008, companies have been fined regularly for environmental accidents — $23,500 here for spilling 5,000 gallons of waste, $15,557 there for spilling 295 gallons of hydrochloric acid. The fines often amount to slaps on the wrist for companies that stand to make hefty profits from their wells.

But the penalties just got a lot more serious for an owner of Kansas-based Swamp Angel Energy and for the company’s site supervisor, who pleaded guilty last week to felony violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

As part of a plea agreement with the U.S. attorney for western Pennsylvania, part-owner Michael Evans, 66, of La Quinta, Calif., and John Morgan, 54, of Sheffield, Penn., admitted dumping 200,000 gallons of brine – salty wastewater that’s created in the drilling process – down an abandoned oil well. The maximum penalty for both Evans and Morgan is three years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Sentencing will be June 24. Attorneys for both men declined to comment.

Read More

Millions of Unemployed Face Years Without Jobs

Long term unemployedBy PETER S. GOODMAN

BUENA PARK, Calif. — Even as the American economy shows tentative signs of a rebound, the human toll of the recession continues to mount, with millions of Americans remaining out of work, out of savings and nearing the end of their unemployment benefits.

Economists fear that the nascent recovery will leave more people behind than in past recessions, failing to create jobs in sufficient numbers to absorb the record-setting ranks of the long-term unemployed.

Call them the new poor: people long accustomed to the comforts of middle-class life who are now relying on public assistance for the first time in their lives — potentially for years to come.

Yet the social safety net is already showing severe strains. Roughly 2.7 million jobless people will lose their unemployment check before the end of April unless Congress approves the Obama administration’s proposal to extend the payments, according to the Labor Department.

Read More

Where Do The Children Play?

A Documentary for Michigan Public Television

Where Do the Children Play? is a one-hour documentary for public television that examines how restrictive patterns of sprawl, congestion, and endless suburban development across America are impacting children's mental and physical health and development.

Using the adage that children represent 20 percent of the world's population but 100 percent of its future, the film opens by examining differences between growing up today, with all its inherent obstacles and temptations, and childhood as it was lived 50 years ago.

To understand today’s children more acutely, the film team first visited Beaver Island where there are no McDonald’s, Burger Kings, Targets or Walmarts. There, children congregate by bike in the downtown area to play. All 85 students in grades one to twelve attend the only school on the island. Most use the computer as a tool for homework, but not for communication. And while they miss a lot of what their counterparts have on the mainland, Beaver Island children are keenly aware of nature and its importance to their lives and their well-being.

Read More

6-year-old handcuffed at PSL school, sent to mental facility after temper tantrums

PORT ST. LUCIE - Kathy Franklin sits with her 6-year-old daughter Haley at a bench inside the Whispering Pines Park playground area, while talking about how she is upset with what happened to her daughter while being disciplined at Parkway Elementary School last week. According to a St. Lucie County Sheriff's report, her daughter Haley was handcuffed to bring her under control while being disruptive in her first-grade class and a few days later, after another disruption in class, was taken to a mental facility for an evaluation. "Now they have my daughter scared to go back to school" Franklin said.

PORT ST. LUCIE — Kathy Franklin says she wants to get her daughters back in school. But after her 6-year-old was handcuffed and then sent to a mental health facility, she no longer feels her children are safe at Parkway Elementary.

“These people are going to the extreme,” Franklin said. “She is so tiny. They didn’t have to use force on her.”

Read More

The Pope Does Not Bless Airport Body Scanners

First there was a fatwa from Muslim clerics about them. Now the Pope for Catholics. Any other religion’s leaders want to object? Atheists will have to object individually. All of which means no one uses the machines, everyone gets a pat down, slowing the checkpoints to a crawl.

BTW, I flew home out of Green Bay, WI on Saturday where I got the explosives hand swab. For some reason, the machine was across the room so he had to carry the pad there to test it and I had to wait. Even if the machine is right next to them, it still takes 10 seconds to report. Green Bay is small airport, so short lines, but if this was Vegas with hundreds in line at a time?

Can anyone seriously debate that on one level at least, the terrorists have won? And those who would use terrorism as an excuse to tighten control on us?

Read More

What Changes Should You Expect From The CARD Act?

After several months of waiting (during which, banks have had plenty of time to jack up your interest rates and cut your credit limits), the Credit CARD Act of 2009 has finally kicked in. If you haven't been following the news, here's a quick run-down of what's changed and what hasn't.
  • No more retroactive rate hikes. Credit card companies can no longer apply the higher interest rate to previously held balances.
  • No more universal default; one credit card can't raise your rate simply because you've missed a payment on a different card.
  • Your credit card statements must be mailed to you 21 days before payment due date and payment due dates can't suddenly change. Be warned that there may be an increase in banks mailing out statements in unfamiliar or unmarked envelopes so as to confuse account holders.
Read More

Patriot Games | Mother Jones

IN THE FALL of 1964, not long after Barry Goldwater had clinched the Republican nomination for president, historian Richard Hofstadter penned an essay for Harper's called "The Paranoid Style in American Politics." It was an instant classic—not because it was so elegantly written, but because in just a few pages it described with deadly accuracy one of the major strains of our national dialogue.

"The paranoid spokesman," Hofstadter wrote, "is always manning the barricades of civilization...Like religious millennialists he expresses the anxiety of those who are living through the last days and he is sometimes disposed to set a date for the apocalypse...He does not see social conflict as something to be mediated and compromised...Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, what is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish."

Oath Keepers, the group featured in our cover story, would seem the classic case in point. Its members are cops, sheriffs, and military men and women determined to resist the tyrannical orders they believe are imminent from the Obama administration. The fantasies they spin—a "globalist" leadership intent on declaring martial law, putting God-fearing Americans in detention camps, and asking UN blue helmets to keep order while it imposes health care reform and who knows what else—replicate almost exactly the fears far-right cranks have peddled for generations. Replace "socialism" with "communism" and you are pretty much back to 1964 (or 1934 or 1884, for that matter).

Read More

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Monday, February 22, 2010

News That Matters - February 22, 2010

News That Matters

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

Good Monday Morning,

Remember George Washington? It's his birthday today.

We pause here to wish a speedy recovery to a Kent neighbor from Farmer's Mills Road who surprised two burglars in his home last week and and was found badly beaten and semi-conscious several hours later by coworkers wondering why he'd not come back from lunch. He's currently in hospital but late reports say that the police have been able to interview him. Let's hope the guys get caught soon.

Yet another Quick Poll!
There's a lot of talk lately about closing some state parks and reducing services in others due to budget constraints (see below). We'd like to know which open spaces you use in Putnam County. The poll is broken down into several parts. Please answer each section in turn pressing the VOTE button after each. Then pass the URL onto others you know who live here. The poll will close on Tuesday evening and we'll release the results on Wednesday. Keep in mind that this is an unscientific poll with a margin of error of +/- 134%.

Sure signs of spring:
Ladybugs have taken over my windows again. As soon as the sun is up in the morning they're everywhere including the cat's bowl which sits against a bay window. And I can assure you, he does not like it one bit. Now I know where the word "caterwauling" comes from!
Tomatoes in Pots
Now is the time to start thinking about your gardens.
Some of you have already been through the catalogs and ordered your seeds for this growing season. Others buy plants from the Home Depot later on (though I do suggest finding a decent organic provider instead.)
It's not too early to go outside and look at the garden area even if it's still under the snow. You can plan in your mind or better, on paper, where this will go or how that area over there no longer gets the sun it used to and if you need to call in a tree guy like Joe Greico to get the trees trimmed back to increase the amount of sun reaching your garden beds. With the price of produce in the market having a productive garden is a good investment.

How did things go last year? With the blight and the fact that it never got warm, tomatoes and potatoes probably didn't do all that well but let's see what comes around this growing season. Onions and garlic need virtually no care at all and their tops can be harvested all season long making an excellent addition to your kitchen.
So get to planning for planting! And if it turns out you only have a small porch or deck, cherry tomatoes and herbs like basil and mint grown in pots can do amazingly well with only a little care. And don't forget to get some nasturtiums in the ground or in pots this year. These tasty plants which grow best in poor soil bring you not only flowers that are beautiful but the flowers and the leaves are edible, adding a peppery tang to salads.

By the way, only Communists don't have gardens. Okay?
The website that sends the third most visitors to News That Matters is

Floating IslandsLooking for something useful to do this Thursday evening? The Lake Carmel Community is hosting a presentation on "Floating Islands". The press release reads:
"A very interesting “technology” has been developed by the company, Floating Islands International. Using constructed 'floating islands' that support naturally occurring fauna, there is a great deal of evidence that these “bio havens” greatly increase the removal of pollutants while reducing unwanted nutrients - a major problem in our lake."

The program begins at 7PM at the Community Center and will be followed by a companion talk on stormwater management for the lake given by yours truly. Call 845-306-5602 for more information.

Arden Point
View northward from Arden Point State Park - February 20, 2010
West Point is on the left and Mt. Taurus is in the middle distance.
Contrary to emails being posted by every environmental group on the planet, Fahnestock State Park is *not* slated to be closed by the governor. Only the Taconic Outdoor Education center has been targeted for reduced services.
With that said, the only two state parks in the region marked for closure by the Governor are Wonder Lake and Arden Point.

Arden Point sits on a peninsula just south of the Garrison train station and is accessible via a trail network that terminates at a bridge over the Metro North train tracks. If the bridge is closed by some barrier the park could be "closed". There are no maintained facilities at the park. No running water, no physical structures. In order to effect an actual "closure" State Park police would have to patrol the area which is something they do not do now and would represent an increase in police services which, considering the park costs nothing to "operate", would not be fiscally prudent.

Wonder Lake State Park has a single parking lot along Ludingtonville Road in Kent. Wonder Lake, like Arden Point, has no maintained facilities. Assuming the parking lot was "closed" there are other access points for the preserve which are easy enough for anyone to use. State Park police or other park employees would have to go into the park to seek those using it to ticket or arrest them and charge them with whatever hikers and dog walkers are charged with under these circumstances. This is also not a fiscally prudent move as State Park police aren't in there now and, like Arden Point, would represent an increase in their patrols thus necessitating an increase in their budgets. The point is, when it comes to a state park with no built facilities, just what does "closed" mean?

The story is far from over. Parks & Trails New York, one of the leading advocates for state parks in New York is pushing the state legislature to use $5 million from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) for operational purposes within the state park system to avoid closure of some and reduced services at others. However, EPF monies are there for the purchase of open space lands and the state has already dipped their hands into this fund for other budget purposes.

Ed Goodell, Executive Director of the NY/NJ Trails Conference wrote this in an email Saturday:
We need to make sure that we are not advocating the cannibalizing of the EPF, even for Parks.

The language of the OPRHP doc posted on PTNY's site (attached) may inadvertently lead people to think that continuing to support this off-load (previously for capital projects, now for seasonal staff) is the only way to keep these parks open.

The Trail Conference message is that both the EPF and Parks have been disproportionately and unwisely cut in this budget. ( Restoring the Parks budget is relatively easy, restoring the EPF, especially the land acquisition that is so important to our work, is a much heavier lift.

We all know the fight for open space and funds for the acquisition of additional lands always comes after a hard and determined battle. I encourage PTNY and their followers to find another course of action.

Two Peas in a Pod?
"There are people that are out there so frustrated that say 'Hey it's time to lock and load.'" 
- Bob Schulz, founder of the anti-government We the People Foundation.

"The end game is [in Carmel] April 15th. So lock and load and bring the pitchforks."
- Greg Ball quoted by the Journal News.
Libertarian talk show host Alex Jones claims, and this is a bit complex, that the neocons remaining in government (publicly fronted by Glen Beck, Limbaugh, et. al,) will stage a fake assassination attempt on the President and blame it on the Left so that Homeland Security and other Federal agencies will then have an excuse to eradicate them. Why? According to Jones, the 9/11 Truth Movement is gaining ground and the last thing the neoconservatives want is for the real truth surrounding 9/11 to be known as that would put an end to them once and for all.

Urban Elephants writes: "The top candidate for the GOP nomination for the 19th Congressional District, Nan Hayworth, has been so unimpressive that sources tell me the National Republican Congressional Committee [NRCC] has all but given up on the race."

The Conservative Political Action Conference held a Presidential Straw Poll on Sunday. Texas Libertarian congressman Ron Paul was the winner with 31% of the vote. Second place went to CPAC's (un)official favorite Mitt Romney with 22%. Trig's mom, Sarah, barely registered in the tally.

And now, The News:

NY State Data Security Breach  

The stream of security breaches beginning in February 2005 has left more than 88 million Americans at risk for identity theft, according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit organization that monitors security breaches. For example,, an online recruitment site, discovered that hackers had broken into its password-protected resume database. As a result of this breach, the names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of 1.3 million job seekers were stolen, leaving these individuals vulnerable to identity theft. In another security breach, the State University of New York at Stony Brook experienced a security breach, resulting in the Social Security numbers and University ID numbers of 90,000 faculty, staff, students, alumni and other community members being visible via Google’s search engine for a period of two weeks. In August of 2007, the financial information belonging to 280,000 New York City retirees was exposed when a laptop belonging to a New York City financial information services Agency consultant was stolen from a restaurant.

Data security is a key issue for the CPB. Thus, great emphasis has been placed on identity theft, Internet security, information privacy and security breaches. The CPB has dedicated resources about these and additional issues on this website for consumers and businesses. Consumers are urged to visit this page to access important information and check for regular updates and security and data breach alerts. 

Read More

Kennedy cites obstacles to green U.S.

MILLBROOK — In Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s ideal world, every house would be a green power plant and every homeowner would be an energy entrepreneur.

Before that can happen, three obstacles need to be addressed, the environmental activist and Hudson Riverkeeper lawyer told a crowd of scientists during a Friday night talk at Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook.

He said government subsidies given to energy industries such as coal, oil and nuclear power need to be stopped to level the market playing field; rules that restrict access to the current national grid need to be eliminated; and the grid that carries power needs to be upgraded for long-haul transmission.

"The thing I've always loved about this institute and the scientists who work here … they recognize that we aren't protecting the environment for the sake of the fish and the birds, we're protecting it for our own good," Kennedy said.

William Schlesinger, president of the Cary Institute, said Kennedy is a "provocative speaker."

Read More

Plan to truck hydrofracking wastewater to Finger Lakes shelved, for now

Stephen D. Cannerelli / The Post-Standard Sharon Daggat and her husband have a 52 acre farm in the Steuben County town of Pulteney. They are concerned about Chesapeake Energy wanting to store hydrofracking wastewater in an empty natural gas well next to their property. Daggat looks out her kitchen window at her vineyard on Feb. 10.

A drama that linked Pennsylvania, a tiny Finger Lakes town and 663 million gallons of chemical-laden water is foreshadowing a problem New York will face if it allows high-volume natural gas drilling.

Oil and gas companies drilling for natural gas in Pennsylvania are running out of ways to dispose of the millions of gallons of wastewater produced by “hydrofracking” the Marcellus Shale.

One gas company proposed a solution: Bring the dirty water to New York’s Finger Lakes.

Read More

The Truth About Energy Independence

by Jim DiPeso

People who grew up during the 1930s and '40s can remember a day when the United States produced more oil than the rest of the world combined.

Those days are gone. U.S. oil production peaked in the early 1970s. The current U.S. share of global oil production is less than 10 percent. As demand rocketed upward over the decades and domestic production fell, we became more dependent on imported crude oil and petroleum products. Today, imports supply nearly 60 percent of total U.S. petroleum demand.

Transportation's dependence on petroleum is almost total. What are the chances of restoring self-sufficiency in transportation energy? America's Energy Future, a report sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences, sheds some light on this question.  The best near-term option is greater fuel efficiency. By the 2030s, we could take a bite out of imports, given generous assumptions about developing alternative fuels, some quite carbon-heavy. Beyond the 2030s, the best hope is widespread vehicle electrification using battery-electric drives and/or fuel cells.

Let's look at some numbers. Total U.S. petroleum demand is 19.5 million barrels per day.  Total daily crude oil production from U.S. oilfields is a shade below 5 million barrels per day. Once you net out other factors - production of usable natural gas liquids, imports of gasoline and other refined products, and exports - yes, U.S. producers on the hunt for market advantages export some 1.8 million barrels daily in crude oil and refined products - net imports of liquid fuels total 11.1 million barrels per day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Read More

Curtis Mitchell Dies After 10 Calls to 911 Over Two Days

(Feb. 18) -- It took 10 calls to 911 and almost 30 hours for paramedics to reach Curtis Mitchell. But by the time they made it to his Hazelwood, Pa., home, he was dead.

"I sat up here with him, watching him die," Mitchell's longtime girlfriend, Sharon Edge, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "They didn't do their jobs like they were supposed to."

Pittsburgh officials, including Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, apologized to Mitchell's family and have enacted a new policy for responding to emergency calls.

"We should have gotten there," Public Safety Director Michael Huss told members of the local media. "It's that simple."

So why didn't they?

The Pittsburgh area was buried in 2 feet of snow when Mitchell, 50, began calling emergency dispatchers around 2 a.m. on Feb. 6. In his first 911 call, he complained that his "entire stomach was in pain," according to a report by Dr. Ron Roth, medical director for Pittsburgh's Public Safety Department. His symptoms were judged to be non-life-threatening.

After two hours passed without paramedics showing up, Mitchell placed a second call, learning an ambulance was stuck in the snow near a local bridge. He was asked if he could walk four blocks to meet the ambulance, but he said his pain was too severe. The call was canceled.

Read More

Tracy (CA) Council chooses paramedic fee collector

by Cassie Tomlin/ TP staff

"Tucker said one person joked if her husband has a heart attack, she’ll be tempted to light the kitchen table on fire to dodge the fees."
The City Council on Tuesday voted to approve a contract with a company that will later this year bill residents when the fire department responds to medical emergencies and car accidents.

In June, the council decided to charge people when the Tracy Fire Department responds to non-fire incidents within the city limits. Since ambulances aren’t always the first to arrive at the scene of a medical emergency, the city’s fire department goes out on emergency calls, too.

The new fees are a way for the city to make extra money while it suffers a $9 million budget deficit this fiscal year.

On Tuesday, the council approved via a 4-1 vote (with Councilman Steve Abercrombie dissenting) a contract with ADPI-Intermedix, based in Oakland, to send the bills. The city expects to have a billing system ready next month, but doesn’t yet know when it will actually start charging.

Residents will pay $300 for every fire department response to a medical emergency. Non-residents can expect to pay $400. There is no set cost for a fire department visit to a car accident.

Read More

Companies to build high-speed rail cars in the US

It's been decades since iconic American companies such as Budd and Pullman built passenger-train cars that let Americans sleep or dine in comfort as they rolled across country by rail.

But President Obama's $8 billion plan to kick-start high-speed rail construction in 13 areas around the country has US and foreign companies announcing plans to expand or build new factories to produce equipment for these passenger trains.

On Thursday, American Railcar Industries, a St. Charles, Mo.-based freight car manufacturer owned by investor Carl Icahn, announced a joint venture with Columbus, Ohio-based US Railcar to again manufacture passenger cars in the United States, at least initially at facilities in Arkansas.

"One of US Railcar Co.'s goals is to reestablish American-owned passenger train production in the United States," said Barry Fromm, one of the directors of the joint venture, in a statement.

The same day, the US rail division of German conglomerate Siemens AG announced that it had completed purchase of 20 acres of land adjacent to its existing 34-acre light-rail manufacturing plant in Sacramento, Calif. That new land would be the site for manufacturing high-speed-rail passenger trains traveling at up to 220 miles per hour.

Read More

James O'Keefe and the myth of the ACORN pimp

Last September, when the ACORN scandal that his website helped launch was breaking in the press, Andrew Breitbart wrote a column for The Washington Times detailing the rollout of the undercover, right-wing gotcha. He recalled a 2009 meeting with "filmmaker and provocateur James O'Keefe" that took place in Breitbart's office in June. It was there that O'Keefe played the columnist the surreptitiously recorded videos he'd made with his sidekick, Hannah Giles, and which captured the two famously getting advice from ACORN workers on how prostitutes could skirt tax laws.

In his Times column, Breitbart was quite clear about what he saw that day in his office: He watched videos of O'Keefe "dressed as a pimp" sitting inside ACORN offices "asking for -- and getting -- help" from the misguided employees.

But today we know that's almost certainly not true. Breitbart didn't huddle in his office and watch clips of O'Keefe "dressed as a pimp" chatting with ACORN employees, because based on all the available evidence, O'Keefe wasn't dressed as a pimp while taping inside the ACORN offices.

Make no mistake: Last fall, both Breitbart and O'Keefe, with the help of Fox News, did their best to confuse people about that fact. It's true the duo seemed to purposefully push that falsehood and mislead the public and the press about the ACORN story. And more importantly, they did it to make the ACORN workers captured on video look like complete jackasses for not being able to spot O'Keefe's pimp ruse a mile away.

But the story was not true.

Read More

World's Top Firms Cause $2.2 Trillion of Environmental Damage, Report Estimates

The cost of pollution and other damage to the natural environment caused by the world's biggest companies would wipe out more than one-third of their profits if they were held financially accountable, a major unpublished study for the United Nations has found.

Black clouds over the central business district, Jakarta. The report into the activities of the world's 3,000 biggest public companies has estimated the cost of use, loss and damage of the environment. Photograph: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

The report comes amid growing concern that no one is made to pay for most of the use, loss and damage of the environment, which is reaching crisis proportions in the form of pollution and the rapid loss of freshwater, fisheries and fertile soils.

Later this year, another huge UN study - dubbed the "Stern for nature" after the influential report on the economics of climate change by Sir Nicholas Stern - will attempt to put a price on such global environmental damage, and suggest ways to prevent it. The report, led by economist Pavan Sukhdev, is likely to argue for abolition of billions of dollars of subsidies to harmful industries like agriculture, energy and transport, tougher regulations and more taxes on companies that cause the damage.

Read More

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Friday, February 19, 2010

News That Matters - February 19, 2010 - Things To Do Edition

News That Matters

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

Good Friday Morning,

Quick Poll Results:
In this unscientific poll with a margin of error exceeding 130%, we asked who your preference would be for County Executive. The names that appeared were either those who have been talked about or came in via your nominations and each voter saw them in a random order. Here are the results:
Jeff Green
Other (see below)
Vincent Leibell
Chris Leiberman
Dan Birmingham
Robert Bondi
Vincent Tamagna
Denis Sant
Tony Hay
Sheriff Donald Smith

Under "Other", each of the following received one vote: Sarah Casey (I think her mom voted for her), Pedro (who we know is Peter Hansen), Ken Harper, John Degnan and Sam Oliverio.

If the election were held today and only News That Matters readers voted, I'd be the dude on the top floor of the County Office Building for the next few years. I can see Messers. Camarda, Santucci and Lepler having a hard time swallowing that but it wouldn't be so bad! A populist libertarian like myself is just what this county needs. More of the same old crap is what we don't need. Does anyone want to take bets on what we get come November? Maybe I'd best not close out that campaign account just yet...

Yesterday the NYJN reported that Putnam is the healthiest county in New York State. I encourage you to not only read the article but then to dig deeper into the numbers to see how they're collected and what information was - and was not included in the rankings.
For example, the county rates higher than the state average for uninsured adults (16%) and warns that the numbers come from 2005 saying that the rate for today will be higher. The county ranks 44th out of 62 in the state for access to clinical care with half as many doctors as the state on average. 24% of Putnam residents are obese. 19% report to binge drinking (12% for the state overall). We also have twice as many liquor stores per 100,000 than others in the state so maybe we're just too pickled to get sick? But, like the report in the news, if you focus on overall demographics and income we rank number one.

As a note of caution, the report does not take into account the affordability of access to medical care and while the Feds reported a walk-in clinic in the County as of 2007, a recent search has turned up none. The US Department of Health and Human Services allocated $657,950,000 in grants to NY State during 2009 but shows $0 directly for Putnam County. We know that some of the $200 million sent to Albany found its way to Putnam County but without the county budget online it's hard to see where it went and how it was spent. The nearest healthcare clinics however, resides outside the county in Danbury, Peekskill and Beacon.

Thanks to the efforts of Kent resident Vic Tiship and assisted by those who organized around the protection of Peekskill Hollow Road, Putnam County now has a new historic road preservation law! Passed at the end of 2009 the bill, Res #480, sets up parameters to allow residents of a road, or section of a road, to apply for historic status which comes with certain protections. A draft copy of the law can be found here. (PDF) A hearty Mazel Tov is required here for a job well done.

Down in Peach Lake, a bucolic community straddling the Brewster/North Salem border, the jack hammers are jack-hammering, roads are being dug up and crews are out trying to save large, old trees, as work continues on their much anticipated waste water treatment plant.

The Putnam Arts Council has received its Certificate of Occupancy and can now safely move its operations back to Mahopac. Congratulations! It's unfortunate that they could not stay at Tilly Foster as their presence was a sure draw to those who would never have gone there in the first place. But you know how it is... money takes precedence. It's just too bad none of that money will find its way into the county budget or to the council for its fine work while it was in residence there.

According to an article in the NYJN this morning, Patterson's highway chief, Charlie Williams, has really stepped in the manure this time. "[Chief Assistant District Attorney] York also said Williams told someone that he knew where Putnam County District Attorney Adam Levy works out and that it would be "worth the time in jail" to shoot Levy "just to see the blood splatter." He's now visiting the Putnam County jail.

According to the NY Times, the Big Scandal it's been hinting about for weeks turns out to be that an aide to Governor Paterson was arrested a couple times as a kid. That this is even news casts a cloud on the Grey Lady and her integrity.

Quoted in the Journal News recently, Assemblyman Greg Ball said, "The end game is [in Carmel] April 15th. So lock and load and bring the pitchforks." Man, I do hope the Secret Service is paying close attention to that guy.

Joseph Stack took his life yesterday by crashing a private airplane into a building housing an IRS office. In his words,
"Well Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let's try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well."
You can read his full letter here.
Homeowner Terry Hoskins of Moscow, Ohio had fallen behind on his mortgage payments and the bank was ready to foreclose. He owed $160,000 on the home which was valued at $350,000 and made an offer to the bank when someone offered him $170,000 for the house - but the bank, River Hills Bank, refused. They insisted they could get more for it through foreclosure. Seeing no other way out and all his efforts having failed to persuade the bank otherwise and with the foreclosure looming... he bulldozed it.

Douglas McComb was an active member of the NY State Green Party and the Dutchess Peace Coalition which are two of the places I worked with him over the years. On January 19th he was found dead in the kitchen of his home near Poughkeepsie, his 52 years having ended at some point well before that. A memorial service will be held for him this afternoon. He was a good friend.

And now, some happy news!

American Songbirds Evolve With Forests
BlackbirdsDiscovery News: Eastern North American songbirds are a pretty adaptable bunch, says a scientist who discovered some remarkable changes in their wings over the last 100 years.

A close look at museum collections of 851 songbird specimens belonging to 21 species shows that most of the birds evolved pointier wings after their forests were fragmented by clear-cutting. Others in re-foresting areas evolved less-pointy wings. The reason for the wing changes: nothing less than the drive to procreate.

Pointier wings can help birds who are long-distance commuters fly more efficiently. More rounded wings, however, are better over short distances. Read More
Bees Can Say 'Stop'
Discovery News: Honeybees don't only waggle dance to tell hive-mates the whereabouts of good eats, they also bump and beep to warn others when big trouble awaits at some of those floral diners.

The discovery of the "stop" signal is the first negative or "inhibitory" message ever found in bees.

Previously the only recognized messages were all "excitatory" and about how good and where the nectar was at various locations relative to hive.

"Originally people called it a begging signal," said bee researcher James Nieh of the University of California at San Diego, regarding what was for 20 years considered a mysterious behavior. "It's usually produced by butting the head and giving a short beep" to another bee that is in the middle of providing information to the hive about a specific feeding site. Read More
Mortgage defaults higher in neighborhoods dependent on driving, research shows
Can living near a train station save your house?

Researchers looked at mortgage defaults in three cities and found something curious -- the chance of foreclosure is higher in neighborhoods more dependent on cars, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which included data from Chicago's Center for Neighborhood Technology. The report examined 40,000 mortgages in Chicago, Jacksonville and San Francisco.

The link became more obvious in looking at foreclosures after July 2008, when gas spiked over $4 a gallon, said CNT President Scott Bernstein, who studied foreclosures in the Chicago area. Bernstein found that gas price spikes provide an "early warning" of a rise in foreclosures in car-dependent communities.

"Nobody should be surprised this is happening," said Bernstein, noting that the cost of a gallon of gas doubled between 2000 and 2008. "In the suburbs, two or three cars and all that driving can cost more than the mortgage," Bernstein said. "If gas prices go up, some percentage of people will find those pressures to be too much." Read More
Suburban sprawl, meet suburban tall
New high-rises offer chance for compact, walkable communities, but suburbs can't decide whether they want to be like the big city or distinct from it

levittown!Evanston Skyscraper! The word conjures up soaring towers of steel-and-glass--along with congested streets and blotted-out patches of sky. For years, Chicago has been defined by its skyscrapers, its suburbs by their single-family houses. Yet this age-old dichotomy has little to do with the way we live and work today.

In an arc extending from Evanston (left) to Schaumburg to Oak Brook, a new crop of tall buildings has invaded the placid, wide-open spaces of Chicago’s suburbs. And now, despite the recession, another skyscraper may be coming to some very sacred suburban turf: right down the street from a cluster of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes in Oak Park, including the architect’s very own Home and Studio. Read More
States Revisit Home-Businesses Rules
The recession is causing a growing number of people to venture into home businesses, a boost for the economy but a nuisance for neighbors.

As jobless people trade their desks for kitchen tables, or as businesses reduce costs by giving up commercial storefronts, cities and states are grappling with problems caused by a rise in home businesses such as traffic and noise. Officials say they want to encourage people make a living at home but also keep these serenity busters at bay.

Officials in Nashville, Tenn., are discussing ways to loosen restrictions governing the operation of home businesses as high unemployment prods a growing number of entrepreneurs into offering everything from hair perms to piano lessons out of their living rooms. Read More
Turning Golf Courses into Parks
NATIONAL CITY — National City hopes to create its own Central Park — a vast green refuge for residents in the middle of a dense urban community.

A conceptual plan in its very early stages envisions the transformation of a nine-hole, 44-acre public golf course mostly used by out-of-towners into a nearly mile-long recreational oasis with a dog park, community farm, soccer field, public citrus grove, shops and cafes, restored creek, and pedestrian and bicycle paths.

“Cities are made up of streets and concrete and buildings, but without parks and places for people to gather, a city has no soul,” said City Manager Chris Zapata. “There needs to be a balance. Currently, we do not have that balance.” Read More
To all salamander lovers and citizen scientists:
SalamanderRed Hook (Dutchess County) will be the site of the big "salamander counting", aka Vernal Pool Survey, this spring led by Michael Klemens, (IES) and Neil Curri, (GIS manager at Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess
County). If you’d like to participate in this volunteer effort, please contact Neil Curri at or Dr. Michael Klemens at

Some things you need to know:
1. The volunteer base required for a sufficient survey of pools should be at least 20 to 30 people. They would likely be organized in teams of 2 to 5 individuals, each team surveying 5 to 10 pools for 1 to 3 visits. Each visit takes up to a half-hour. That's around 10 to 20 hours commitment for each volunteer, not including the two trainings: one evening/indoor training (2-3 hours) and one day-long/outdoor training (4-6 hours).

2. The purpose of the survey is to equip local decision-makers with a scientifically based ranking of existing vernal pools, to help distinguish between high quality habitats and those of lesser and degraded condition. This information is critical to determining areas that need protection as open space and identifying sites that are compatible with future development.


League of Women Voter's Annual Dinner

7PM - Marco's Restaurant, 612 Route 6 & 6N in Mahopac. Tickets are $30. Guest speaker, Putnam County Executive Robert Bondi. RSVP to (845) 6261 or email Annual Membership meeting will be before dinner at 6PM.


Congressman On Your Corner

Noon - Putnam Valley Town Hall. Meet with Congressman Hall during one of his regular stops around the district. It's probably best to leave your Obama-as-The-Joker posters at home.

Hike Wonder Lake with FrOGS

1PM - The NY-NJ Trail Conference recently built trails in this new State park. The narrow trail to Wonder Lake runs along a steep side slope over stone walls and down into a deep and rocky stream gully before it climbs the final wooded ridge and drops down through a stand of towering evergreens to the lake. We have tracked bobcat, fox, coyote and fisher in the park in the winter and found the claw marks of black bear on the trees. Although the hike is only 3-4 miles long the walking isn't easy especially in snowy or icy conditions. We will meet at the trail-head at the Wonder Lake parking lot on Ludingtonville Road at 1 PM and will return around 3 PM. This hike is best for able adults and children over 12. Hiking poles are suggested as well as good hiking boots. Reservations are necessary due to weather issues and the need to limit the number of hikers. Hike leaders are Dr. Jim Utter and Judy Kelley-Moberg. Call Judy at (845)-878-7740.

"The End of Suburbia"

"The End of Suburbia" will be screened at 7 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Westchester, 236 South Bedford Road. The film examines the "American way of life," and its future as demand exceeds supply for fossil fuels. Part of the Transition Westchester Winter Film Series. Information,,

Turkey Tracks

Music for Humanity Free Performance Night

7:30 PM - features 3 outstanding local/regional performers. Each has a 30 minute set. Noble Coffee Roasters is at 3020 Rt 207, Campbell Hall NY Seating is limited so come early. No Charge. or call Barry 845-469-0900 or email

Richard Shindell & Lucy Kaplanski

8PM - A special double-bill featuring two powerhouse singer/songwriters: their third appearance together at the Paramount in Peekskill.

Richard Shindell is a meticulous craftsman of song who is revered by critics and fans alike, with innovative, original and occasionally spiritual songs. Lucy Kaplansky's gorgeous vocals and rising popularity have led to appearances on the CBS Morning Show, NPR's Weekend and Morning Editions, Mountain Stage, West Coast Live, Acoustic Cafe, and Vin Scelsa's Idiot's Delight. $35. Call the Paramount Center for the Arts at 914.739.2333 for more information.


Winter Ecology Walk

Noon - Discover animal tracks, plant adaptations, cold-weather insects, ice formations, and the wonders of winter survival. A winter craft will be offered. Please RSVP to or 677-7600 x121. This family-friendly event will begin at the Cary Institute auditorium, located at 2801 Sharon Tpk., Millbrook. FREE. In the event of severe weather, the program will be moved to February 28th.

Why not?Report Back From Copenhagen

2:30 PM - World Views on Climate Change: What was accomplished? What did we learn? What can we do know? With Professor Richard Ottinger and the Reverend Paul Mayer. Musical guest, David Bernz. Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, 199 Main Street, Beacon, NY
Professor Richard Ottinger is Dean Emeritus of Pace University School of Law, former U.S. Congressman for Westchester; Co-director of the Pace Center for Environmental Legal Studies and founder and faculty supervisor of the Pace Energy and Climate Center. In Congress, he chaired the House Energy and Conservation subcommittee ... and was a delegate to Copenhagen for the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Reverend Paul Mayer has over a half a century of service to the earth including 18 years as a Benedictine monk, involvement in the civil rights movements with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and with those in Central America. He applies the tenets of liberation theology to parish and community work. He co-founded and serves on the board of the Climate Crisis Coalition, working to broaden the constituency and bring urgency to this overarching issue beyond traditional environmental organizations and thought.

Into the Future:

Wednesday, February 24

Watershed Planning Across Political Boundaries: A Workshop on Intermunicipal Collaboration

Time: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm - This full-day free workshop is an opportunity for you to learn about successful intermunicipal partnerships, as well as incentives and regulatory reasons for your watershed municipalities to collaborate.

Topics to be covered:
  • Status of tributaries and watershed planning in the Hudson Basin.
  • Watershed based planning and zoning. Considering local challenges within the watershed framework.
  • SEQRA, cumulative impacts & watershed planning.
  • Intermunicipal Agreements & Structures.
  • Sustainable funding mechanisms and strategies.
  • Presentations from existing Intermunicipal Watershed Councils
Who Should Attend?
Local watershed groups, county/local elected and appointed municipal officials, conservation advisory councils, regional leaders, environmental organizations, and interested citizens.
Location: SUNY New Paltz, Student Union Building, 4th floor

Space is limited. Please RSVP by February 17th to Katy Dunlap, Director of Hudson River Watershed Alliance at Directions and more information will be emailed to you, upon your reservation.
Organized and sponsored by the Hudson River Watershed Alliance, Hudson River Estuary Program of the NYS DEC, and the Center for Research Regional Education and Outreach at SUNY New Paltz. This project has been funded by the New York State Environmental Protection Fund through the Hudson River Estuary Program of the NYS DEC.

Hudson Valley Science Cafe

Science Cafe7PM - Traffic and Health - Topic: “Traffic-related exposure and health effects.” Presenter: Richard Peltier, Ph.D. Associate Research Scientist, The Nelson Institute of Environmental Medicine, NYU Langone School of Medicine, Tuxedo, NY.

A Science Cafe is a monthly gathering in a Cafe, Pub or Restaurant, open to the public, with a short presentation of a topic followed by discussion. The essence of a Science Cafe is informality, with groups seated around tables with food and drink to encourage conversation.  Hudson Valley Science Café usually meets on the 4th Wednesday of the month, except where noted.  Website: Meeting site: Diana’s, 1015 Little Britain Road (Route 207), New Windsor (just east of Stewart Newburgh Airport, on the opposite side of the road from the airport entrance). See for menus and map. $3.00 admission fee includes coffee or tea. If you arrive at 6 PM, you can order from the Early Bird menu. No orders are taken during the Presentation (7:00-7:30).

Saturday, February 27

Forum on Sustainable Energy Projects Being Co-Sponsored by Clearwater

ClearwaterBEACON, NY – Hudson River Sloop Clearwater is co-sponsoring a special forum, “Keeping Pace with Energy Options,” about exciting new sustainable energy initiatives and funding strategies on Saturday, February 27 in New Paltz, New York. The event will take place at the SUNY New Paltz Lecture Center Room 100 from 9 AM to 1 PM. A snow date for the event has been set for Saturday, March 13.

     “Keeping Pace with Energy Options” will offer municipal officials, planners, engineers, concerned citizens and environmental/energy activists with helpful information regarding a number of new energy efficiency and alternative energy projects and programs now extant or starting, all of which will create new jobs and business opportunities in the Hudson Valley.

     Some of the projects ongoing that will be discussed at the forum:

    * NYSERDA’s incentive programs for local governments, homes, businesses and schools;
    * PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) programs, which enable property owners to upgrade buildings using affordable financing options;
    * The new Green Jobs – Green NY program, offering an array of funding opportunities for energy retrofits;
    * Power Purchase Agreements, using third-party financing to pat for energy projects; and
    * The Ten Percent Challenge, a framework to hasten the implementation of energy efficiency and renewables while drawing attention to the Hudson Valley as a clean energy corridor.

     Other co-sponsors of “Keeping Pace with Energy Options” include Sustainable Hudson Valley, SUNY New Paltz Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach (CRREO), Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp., Hudson River Estuary Training Program, Hudson Valley Regional Council, Hudson Valley Smart Growth Alliance, League of Women Voters of Mid-Hudson Region and Mid-Hudson Energy $mart Communities/NYSERDA. Over a dozen other endorsing organizations have signed on to support this event.

     The forum will also feature a vendor show, which will showcase green products and services with a sustainable lifestyle theme.

     Several speakers scheduled to appear at “Keeping Pace with Energy Options” include: NY Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Energy; Karen E. Villeneuve, director of NYSERDA’s Residential Efficiency and Affordability Program; Jackson Morris, senior policy advisor, Pace Energy and Climate Center (PECC), representing PECC and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in advancing clean energy policies in the State Capitol; David Gabrielson, Town of Bedford councilman involved with Bedford's case study of a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) initiative; Patrice Courtney Strong, outreach and educational services provider for New York State Energy Research & Development Authority and coordinator of Mid-Hudson Energy $mart Communities; and Michael O'Hara, director of operations, Sustainable Hudson Valley, organizing the Ten Percent Challenge.

     Pre-registration is strongly encouraged to facilitate check in for the forum. While the event is free and open to the public, tax deductible donations are welcome and checks can be made payable to “League of Women Voters Education Fund.”

     For additional information visit online or please contact Dare Thompson, program chair of the Mid-Ulster Region League of Women Voters, at 845-236-3074 or
Tom Staudter
Communications Director
Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
845-265-8080 x7112

Seasons and Light: Photographs of the Hudson Highlands by Richard Saunders

Museum Logo6PM - 8 PM Opening Reception. This stunning display will feature 42 panoramas depicting 180-degree views of the Hudson River and the surrounding landscape. Join us to celebrate the opening of our new exhibition, Seasons and Light: Photographs of the Hudson Highlands by Richard Saunders. This stunning display will feature over 50 extremely wide-angle photographs of this awe-inspiring stretch of the Hudson River. Light refreshments will be served. At the Putnam County Historical Society, Foundry Museum in Cold Spring.

Sunday, February 28

Purim Party

1PM - The Chabad Lubavitch will host a Purim Party which will include a magic show, megilla reading, noisemakers, hamentashen (yum!) raffles and prizes at the Rosenthal JCC, 3565 Crompound Road in Yorktown. Admission is free. Call 914-239-4481 or write for more information.


Wednesday, March 3 & Wednesday, March 10

Parks and Trails Advocacy Days

Parks and Trails New YorkParks and Trails, New York - Parks and trails are taking a big hit in this year's state budget.  Dozens of State Park closings are imminent.  Funds for park and trail grants have been cut almost in half. We must oppose these cuts. Join with a team of park and trail advocates from around the state for a day of meetings with key legislators at the Capitol in Albany.  It's a great opportunity to join with other supporters and let our lawmakers know how their budget decisions will affect the state parks and trails you care about.  Your support is critically important to ensure that our parks and trails receive the funding they must have to survive. Register for Park and Trail Advocacy Days today!!! There is no cost to participate, but advance registration is required as we need to schedule and plan our visits with lawmakers. It is quick and easy- click here to get started. (PDF)

Saturday, March 6

The American Revolution in New York

9:00AM - 4:30PM - Manhattanville College, 2900 Purchase Street, Purchase, NY. Contact Hours: 7.5 for teachers. Cost: free to the general public; $25 for teachers (includes lunch).

New York and the Hudson River Valley in particular played a critical role in the American Revolution that is often overlooked.  The Yankee-Red Sox rivalry has precedents in the telling of the story of the American Revolution. For too long Massachusetts writers have made Massachusetts the cosmic center of the confrontation.  Now it is time for New Yorkers to have their say.  Hear and met the scholars who are telling the New York story.  See the displays of the historic organizations that preserve and tell the New York story. Share ideas on how to bring this knowledge back to the classroom. Institute of History, Archaeology and Education.

Do Ghosts Exist?

7PM - Join Vin Dacquino on Saturday March 6th as he explores the question, Do ghosts exist? Author of the Hauntings of the Hudson River Valley, Vin Dacquino will share his insight, research and experiences in a captivating presentation on the existence of ghosts. Portions of the lecture will be used in the feature film, Erie Hall. Erie Hall is a paranormal thriller based upon a haunting that occurred in 1985 ( Vin will also be available for a book signing after the presentation. The event will be held on Saturday March 6th at 7:00 at the Bethlehem Presbyterian Church, Rte 94 & Jackson Ave, New Windsor, NY.

Putnam Arts Council Announces Inaugural Exhibit on Return to Mahopac

The Putnam Arts Council is delighted to announce our first exhibit in our re-built, state of the art gallery space at 521 Kennicut Hill Rd. in Mahopac. We will re-open with our annual Members show, an exhibit of fine art by current PAC members. This is a benefit of membership offered once each year; 2010 marks the 47th such annual exhibit.

Our new bright gallery space boasts a wide open room with 3 skylights, exceptional lighting, and a shadow line where the walls meet the new multi functional floor. Although not all of our hundreds of members are active artists, many are, and all our members support the arts here in Putnam, making this a very popular part of our annual exhibit calendar.

Staff and members of PAC’s Visual Arts Committee will accept work Tuesday 3/2 – Friday 3/5 and on Sunday 3/7 from noon to 3pm at our Mahopac site. Artists may join when delivering work. Complete details can be found in the show prospectus at our website along with information about other 2010 activities.

Members are encouraged to attend the Council’s Annual meeting Saturday 3/13 from 3-4pm to re-visit highlights of 2009 as well as preview 2010 plans, immediately followed by an opening reception. The 47th Annual Members Exhibit will be on view to the public through March 28th, during gallery hours, Tuesday – Friday, 10-3 and Sunday 1-4.

PAC staff will welcome visitors during our Open House week, Tuesday 3/16 – Friday 3/19 from 10-3. For directions or more information about this and all our classes, programs, services and other activities, visit where weekly updates are posted, or call 845.216.0636 during office hours: Tues- Fri, 10-4.

Wednesday, March 10

Wood Turtle Presentation

7PM - Join Michael Musnick in the Patterson Library Community room to learn about Wood Turtles, a species native to the Great Swamp. The presentation is a result of Michael's on-going study that involves radio tracking the turtles to determine their habits as well as identifying conditions that threaten their survival. This has led to some unusual solutions for protecting the species. To register call the library at (845)-878-6121 x10.  

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