Monday, April 12, 2010

News That Matters - April 12, 2010

News That Matters

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

"The only reason for doing this is to create an incentive for local governments to encourage development within their communities"
- Bob Bondi

"This sales tax revenue sharing plan is designed to encourage commercial growth. There is much potential in this county,"
- Tony Hay

Good Monday Morning,

82. Tom Lehrer is 82, not 72.

A few weeks back we celebrated Kent resident Kathy Freston's 80th birthday and in lieu of gifts folk were asked to donate to a fund to create a scholarship so that people in need could attend acting classes taught by Lora Lee Ecobelli at the Cultural Center on Lake Carmel. All together more than $1600 was raised!

Did you know you could rate individual posts at the News That Matters blogsite? Well, you can! There's a "Thumb's Up/Thumb's Down rating system available for each post or comment. Visit and use it.

Kent has a pandhandle. Yes it does. It's a section of land running west from the Taconic State Parkway that, aside from Hortontown Road, mainly contains Fahnestock State Park and joins Putnam Valley along Route 301. The panhandle was separated off from Philipstown in 1877 but does anyone know why? I don't, but I'm hoping someone out there does.

The NY Journal News reported this weekend that Putnam County Executive Bob Bondi and county legislator Tony Hay have agreed upon a method of sharing some of the sales taxes generated with the towns. But what the Journal News did not report is that legislator Anthony Fusco has a competing plan that could benefit the towns more than the Bondi/Hay plan. It's a well known fact that Mr. Fusco, (his tea bagger credentials aside), has been a constant thorn in the side of the county legislature, and so you have to ask if this was the reason his ideas weren't included in the article. You know, stand outside the status quo and be intentionally ignored?
In any case, don't get all excited since the Bondi/Hay plan doesn't kick in until the county gets all it wants first and then whatever dribs and drabs might be left may find their way back to your town. Nelsonville getting as little as $2500 and Carmel getting somewhere around $200,000, assuming the economy rebounds.
The countdown to Thursday's Tea Bagger rally in Carmel is well underway as part time Assemblyman and full time demagogue, Greg "Lock and Load" Ball, and his hired gang of outside agitators, bring their obsolete and un-thought out ideas to the steps of the County courthouse. I have a list of scheduled speakers here somewhere but it's the same old, same old group of "we've heard it all before's", nothing new to say, no actual solutions, hot air blowing politicians and politician wannabees. And no, they won't let Jeff Green speak. What's with that?

Peekskill's right-wing blogger Anthony Bazzo, who is having a long-standing love affair with Ball, Leibell and Co., reprinted an article from the North County News about low-level drug busts down his way and then concluded;
"With the federal Governemnt, [sic] state governemt, [sic] county governemnt [sic] and Peekskill government all controled [sic] by Democrat, [sic] one could conclude that democratic economic policies are forcing senior citizens to sell drugs to make ends meet."
It's guys like that that make it so hard for me to be a Republican.

As of yesterday morning there have been confirmed reports of 5 letters from readers sent to Putnam County District Attorney Adam Levy's office about the Lori Kemp case. This is good, but we need more. To get you some background on what's been going on in Putnam's most populist and some would say corrupt town, point your browser to the following links:
Some comments:
ER: "I called the DA and will write the letter too....thanks Jeff for the reminders."

MR: "Will definitely write the letter in support of Lori, and call the DA. Injustice is injustice...Thanks for posting Jeff."

MG: "I sent a letter to Levy today with a close letting him know that he alone has the power to make a profound difference in this case and that he is being watched by countless residents in the area."
And a letter from LE closes by saying,
"Little did I know that Lori Kemp’s family home next door would suffer the horrific impacts of unregulated blasting. This entire project and the case against Ms. Kemp have been a complete travesty of sound development and waste of taxpayer money. Please see that all charges against Ms. Kemp are dropped as soon as possible."
Are you getting the idea? Good. Now, write!

When you take a trip to another region of the nation you cross bridges bearing signs that proclaim the name of every river, creek, stream and brook. When you cross the Swanee or the Mississippi or the Missouri rivers you know you are someplace else. Then you have to wonder why the Hudson River crossing on I84 had no marker saying you were crossing one of the nation's most important rivers, the Hudson. Well, it does now.
Thanks to the efforts of Orange County resident Kate Ahmadi who labored to see signs placed on the Newburgh-Beacon bridge, travelers now know they are in an important place. Thanks Kate, for putting us on the map.

Inequality Index
· Percentage of U.S. total income in 1976 that went to the top 1% of American households: 8.9.
· Percentage in 2007: 23.5.
· Only other year since 1913 that the top 1 percent’s share was that high: 1928.
· Combined net worth of the Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans in 2007: $1.5 trillion.
· Combined net worth of the poorest 50% of American households: $1.6 trillion.
· U.S. minimum wage, per hour: $7.25.
· Average hourly wage in 1972, adjusted for inflation: $20.06.
· In 2008: $18.52.
Read More Here

A recent FOX News Dynamic Opinion Poll taken recently had some rather interesting things to show. Here's one of the questions:

Please tell me whether you have a generally favorable or unfavorable opinion of each one. If you've never heard of someone, please just say so. (RANDOMIZE) SCALE: 1. Favorable 2. Unfavorable 3. (Can't say) 4. Never heard of Favorable
Barack Obama
The Internal Revenue Service
The Democratic Party
The Republican Party
The Tea Party Movement
Nancy Pelosi
Harry Reid
John Boehner

Tea Baggers rate lower than any political movement and the IRS ranks higher than either major political party. Huh. Well, coming from FOX I'm sure there's something wrong with the numbers but since FOX fans believe in the Gospel of FOX I'm wondering what Glenn Beck is going to have to say and how Rush Limbaugh will spin all this.

And now, The News:
  1. Beacon Institute will present two environmental programs
  2. Making my neighborhood more walkable, sociable, sustainable, and safe
  3. The Towns That Chocolate Built
  4. Up, Up and Away in a Cable Car
  5. Secure a healthier future, close Indian Point
  6. Poughkeepsie Town flea market must get DEC's green light
  7. Town police train to deal with emotionally-disturbed people
  8. U.S. must progress past status quo
  9. Name-calling, threats hinder public debate

Beacon Institute will present two environmental programs

BEACON — In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries will present two events. Hudson River environmentalist John Cronin will speak at a Thursday program, and on Sunday, folk singer and activist Pete Seeger will discuss his book, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone."

Both programs will take place at the Center for Environmental Innovation and Education at Denning's Point in Beacon.

Cronin, touted by Time Magazine as a "hero for the planet," has had a 35-year career as an environmental leader. Cronin, working as a commercial fisherman, advocate, professor, author and filmmaker, was the Hudson Riverkeeper from 1983 to 2000.

He is director and CEO of the Beacon Institute and a senior fellow for environmental studies at Pace University.

Cronin's call to action about the emerging water crisis is titled "Brains vs. Brawn: the Future of the World's Water."

Read More

Making my neighborhood more walkable, sociable, sustainable, and safe

This weekend, I wrote a somewhat abstract post about how America's built spaces prevent many Americans from connecting with the supportive social networks essential to health and happiness. Let's zoom from the lofty down to the concrete. Let's talk about my neighborhood.

I live in the Bitter Lake area of Seattle. (In the early 20th century, an adjacent sawmill dumped so much tannic acid into the lake that horses wouldn't drink the water -- thus the name.) It's zoned as an "urban village," but at least for now that designation is, er, aspirational. Most of it isn't mixed use, but it's not quite suburban. I guess it's one of those "inner-ring suburbs" you hear about. It was developed in the 1950s-'70s. Here's my bit (with current public space in green):

Read More

The Towns That Chocolate Built

When iconic American chocolate-makers Hershey announced an (ultimately unsuccessful) bid to take over the equally iconic British confectionery company, Cadbury, most discussion revolved around one of two things: business reporters focused on the stock price implications of any deal, while the food media conducted taste tests, and were joined by patriotic British journalists in their anxiety that Hershey might meddle with Cadbury’s infinitely superior formula.

Until I received my copy of the second issue of a new British food quarterly, Fire and Knives, however, I had not considered the urban planning implications of a potential Hershey/Cadbury merger. In a short article, food writer Douglas Blyde pays a visit to Bournville, the purpose-built model town built and owned by Cadbury to house its factory and employees:

    In 1879, aged 40, George [Cadbury] opened the “factory in a garden”—the exotically-named Bournville, with a factory and twenty-four cottages built by the Bourn brook on Birmingham’s greenfield outskirts. His stated goal was of “alleviating the evils which arise from the insanitary and insufficient housing accommodation supplied to large numbers of the working classes, and of securing to workers in factories some of the advantages of outdoor village life, with opportunities for the natural and healthful occupation of cultivating the soil.

Read More

Up, Up and Away in a Cable Car

Cable cars, also known as ropeways or aerial tramways, don’t get much respect. These types of transportation systems, in which a cabin or other conveyance is suspended from a fixed cable and pulled by another cable, are often thought of as tourist-movers. But cable cars can have some practical applications in urban settings. They are especially useful where inclines are too steep for conventional mass transit and where they can serve as feeders to bus and metro systems. They have been successfully applied in growing cities of the developing world, where slums are often clustered on precipitous hills surrounding urban centers.

Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group, a ropeway engineering company, published a brochure, “Aerial Ropeways as an Innovation Solution for Urban Transport,” that outlines many of the benefits of cable car systems, including the following:

Read More

Secure a healthier future, close Indian Point

A NYJN Editorial

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has taken a major and historic step toward ending the rape of the Hudson River by Indian Point. For the past 30 years, Indian Point's reactors have decimated the ecosystem by using enormous amounts of Hudson River water as a free resource to cool the reactors, and as a dump for waste heat and radioactive materials.

Based on a thorough review, the DEC concluded that Entergy cannot demonstrate compliance with the Clean Water Act and denied a water quality permit, which is a federal license requirement.

This could mean Indian Point's days are numbered since Entergy is required to have this permit to be relicensed for 20 more years. The current licenses expire in 2013 for unit 2 and 2015 for unit 3. Entergy must decide whether the cost of installing the required cooling system and repairing the leaking, broken and aged plant is viable.

Read More

Poughkeepsie Town flea market must get DEC's green light

Plans for an indoor flea market have been approved by Town of Poughkeepsie officials, but environmental concerns must be addressed before it can open at the former Fargo Manufacturing site off Salt Point Turnpike.

Officials said the Planning Board on Thursday granted site- plan approval for the project. Town Director of Municipal Development Neil Wilson said the approval was contingent upon the site gaining a clean bill of health from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Fargo, a maker of parts for the electric utility industry, was in business for more than eight decades before it closed in 2000.

According to the DEC Web site, an underground storage tank at Fargo leaked and left soil and groundwater contaminated by waste oil and solvents. That could lead to harmful vapors entering the building.

Read More

Town police train to deal with emotionally-disturbed people

Town of Poughkeepsie police officers are receiving training on how to handle encounters with emotionally disturbed people.

Police Chief Thomas Mauro said two officers recently received 35 hours of instructor-level training on the subject, which is recommended and provided by the state Office of Mental Health and the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.

The two officers will train the rest of the 87-member department.

"The department's overall objectives are to provide a more in-depth examination of frequently encountered mental illnesses," Mauro said. "In addition, the training program is designed to increase officers' understanding of the behavioral symptoms of emotional disturbance."

Dealing with emotionally disturbed people and those suffering from mental illnesses can be challenging for officers responding to such calls.

Mauro said the training should help protect officers and the public.

Read More

U.S. must progress past status quo

The year-long health-care reform debate has once again highlighted the Republicans' longstanding tendency to favor corporate interests over consumer interests. But the debate has exposed more than that. When not one congressional Republican votes for a bill that they've negotiated for a year and that contains more than 200 Republican amendments, it shows them up as not bargaining in good faith, but rather acting as a group to keep the status quo, which the voters rejected in 2008.

Read More

Name-calling, threats hinder public debate

"I haven't seen this sort of mean spirit in a very, very long time. People are downright mean to each other. We cannot engage in a civil dialogue or civil discussion." That's a pretty strong indictment of the current political climate, considering that the man who made it, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., experienced such ugliness as a hero of the 1960s clashes over civil rights.

Lewis' remarks came Thursday at a Nyack NAACP fundraising and recruitment dinner. In the heat of the battle over health-care reform in March, Lewis heard the "n-word" as he walked by protesters near Capitol Hill; Rep. Barney Frank, who is openly gay, was called a derogatory name. Another congressman, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., reported being spit on.

The heated rhetoric has spilled over into incidents that are no longer just about decorum. The FBI is handling a threefold increase in threats against members of Congress, the Washington Post reported Friday. Three arrests have been made, including that of a man accused of leaving a threatening phone message, "I want to kill you," for Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

Read More

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