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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