Monday, May 3, 2010

News That Matters - May 3, 2010

News That Matters

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

“I can understand Obama being touchy on the subject of producing your papers. Maybe he’s afraid somebody’s going to ask him for his.” - Rush Limbaugh

Good Monday Morning,

I'm looking for a washing machine. Second hand is fine. Surplus is even better.

It looks like the weather has finally settled into "seasonal" but the real kicker is that the hillsides and mountains around us are now covered in their soft, green, summer mantle and the lilacs are in early bloom and this rainy morning? Beautiful.
The hummingbird feeders are out and I got some necessary gardening done putting acorn squash, cantaloupes, broccoli and watermelons in and just hoping that we don't have a repeat of last year's May 20th(!) frost. Now I just have to find a way to stop the cat from pooping in all that nice, soft dirt.
There's a new poll at the News That Matters/PlanPutnam website. This one is about your choice for the 40th Senate District. Check it out! It's over there on the left. And I'd like to thank the hackers who delivered 100 illegal votes to Senator Leibell in our last poll for keeping the site busy enough to move me up in the Google rankings. You are blessed!

A note to Mayor Bloomberg:
Early yesterday morning you said, "Terrorists who want to take our freedoms away from us focus on the symbol of those freedoms, and that's New York City." Mr. Mayor, the only terrorists who can take away our freedoms are ourselves. Osama bin Laden didn't shred the US Constitution or write the USA PATRIOT Act, we did that all on our own. In the future, please cut the hyperbole and stay focused.

This evening the Putnam County Energy Commission meets at the county Office Building at 7PM in room 316.

If you're a member of the Right To Life Party there's a convention of sorts this evening at the Winery at St. George in Mohegan Lake at 7PM to discuss endorsements for candidates in the 99th Assembly district race. Anyone wanna place bet on who gets it?

Tuesday [tomorrow] night Dianne Olsen of Cornell Cooperative Extension Services will talk a bit about lake management issues at 7PM at the Kent Town Center on Route 52 in that fair, but overtaxed and politically unstable burg. Politically unstable? Oh yeah... this year promises one hell of a Supervisor's race and the council races should be a major blowout. The forces of evil are gathered and preparing to unleash the Orcs of Mordor. If they win (and my loss last year gave them one seat on the board) we're back to the good old days when the byword was "infighting". Brutal infighting.

County Legislator Tony "the plague" Hay is considering a run for Southeast Supervisor.

Brewster village police handed out over 1000 tickets during the first three months of this year. That's one heck of a way to make the place inviting for visitors... assure that they'll spend money - one way or another.

Does anyone know if the county is still paying the electricity bill at Tilly Foster Farm?

The Fishkill Creek Watershed Association (some of that is in Putnam County, mind you) is meeting this evening at the East Fishkill Public Library at 7PM. The work they've done over the past several years with no budget and by volunteer hands has been stellar.

In an article from the FOX Courier regarding the ground breaking ceremony for Patterson's new courthouse, Supervisor Mike Griffin said,
"The new courthouse will double the size of the current courtroom as well as add additional storage space for records management. Griffin predicted the new courthouse would “solve our judicial space needs from now until eternity. One of the major attributes my administration has accomplished over the past 16 years is to upgrade our town facilities. We will never need another town hall or justice center. Except for an upgrade or two at the highway department, Patterson is pretty well set for the next 50 years.
Unless the Supervisor has information regarding the implosion of the known universe within 50 years, there's something rather confusing between the terms, "from now until eternity" and "for the next 50 years" and "never."  If you're a Patterson resident I'd say it's pretty important to get a definitive clarification.

In the same article, Patterson Town Judge John King says the town has brought in $140,000 in traffic fines last year which tells me that towns use their courts not as a system of justice but as a revenue generating machine. If the courts were there for the former reason I would have expected to hear Justice King say something about making the town safer, the income not being important, but a by-product.

For the life of me I can't find a single Democrat or Independent who wants to run for County Executive here in Putnam. Over the weekend I polled a "whose who" of Southeast luminaries and each one said, "What, are you kidding?" So, my offer from a few weeks back stands: raise $100,000 for the race and find me a benefactor to pay my living expenses for the next seven months and when I win I'll keep John Tully on as official County Bulldog.
I'll take only half the salary, replace the CE's black, gas sucking tank with a hybrid and move all county vehicles towards that mark, plant 40 acres of rapeseed for biodiesel for the county trucking fleet at Tilly Foster, extend our Domestic Partnership registry and broaden the septic repair program and that's just for starters.
According to Bazzo's blogsite, an internal poll taken for Greg Ball shows that 75% of registered Republicans believe the part-time Assemblyman and full-time demagogue can walk on water, 92% believe that he can feed the multitudes with a single Snicker's bar, and 61% firmly believe that he can jump tall buildings in a single bound. In the meantime, while taking some time off from curing cancer and solving the Israel/Palestine problem he's begging the state GOP to toss some money his way but I'm willing to bet Senator Leibell's hand-picked successor, Mary Beth Murphy, will end up with the cash instead.

Most counties now have a GIS map online showing real property information within their jurisdiction and Putnam does as well, called e-Parcel. But the damned thing never really works. For one, if you're not using Internet Explorer (and those of us who don't want viruses creeping into our computers generally do not,) it won't work at all. Moreover, once you do find the property you're looking for and you call up the GIS map the icon spins and spins and spins and spins and .... Contrast that to Dutchess County's excellent system or Washington County, NY or... and the list is as endless as the spinning icon that never brings up the map in our e-Parcel system. For a county with a budget of more than $130,000,000 and chock full of high tech workers you'd think we'd have something that works.

Forty years ago tomorrow, US National Guard troops using live ammunition, opened fire on an unarmed crowd demonstrating against the US invasion of Cambodia, killing four innocent students in a brrage of 67 bullets fired in 13 seconds. The Kent State Massacre, as it came to be known, was not the first time US troops opened fire on American citizens and I'm afraid it will not be the last. More tomorrow in a special edition.

And now, The News:

National Guard to build vehicle maintenance facility on surplus Green Haven land

STORMVILLE – The New York Army National Guard is acquiring the former Green Haven Correctional Facility farmland for construction of a $33 million vehicle maintenance facility to supplement the facilities at Camp Smith in the Town of Cortlandt near Peekskill.

Prisons spokesman Erik Kriss said the 100,000 square foot facility will be built with federal funds.

“The farmland at Green Haven that we no longer have a use for, is close to interstate highway and turned out to be a good spot from DMNA’s (Division of Military and Naval Affairs’) for the construction of a vehicle maintenance where they will have a maintenance facility for wheeled Army and New York army National Guard vehicles,” he said.

The operation will join similar ones at Fort Drum, Rochester and Staten Island. No ammunition will be stored at Green Haven.

Some 150 to 200 construction jobs are anticipated along with 75 to 100 permanent jobs.

Read More

DEP Plans to Open 12,000 More Watershed Acres for Recreation

Turkey Hunting Season on City-Owned Lands [Opened] on Saturday

Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway today announced that DEP plans to open 12,000 more acres for recreation throughout the rest of the year on a rolling basis. The announcement comes just ahead of the opening of turkey season on Saturday, May 1. The planned expansion will bring the total number of acres of New York City-owned water supply land open for recreation to 71,000, more than double the amount available in 2003. The 71,000 acres includes approximately 30,000 acres of property designated Public Access Areas which were opened in the last three years, where public hiking, fishing, hunting and trapping is allowed without DEP permits. The remaining acres require a DEP permit for access.

"The planned opening of 12,000 acres of watershed lands for recreation is another example of our efforts to expand the opportunities for families and visitors to enjoy themselves on watershed lands," said Commissioner Holloway.  "Being a landowner carries with it the responsibility to work with our upstate partners to help the economy through recreation and tourism. We can do this while vigilantly protecting the water supply system for half of New York State, roughly nine million people."

Read More

Legislators want drilling rules fairly crafted

Steve Israel
Times Herald-Record

Even as new state standards make gas drilling in the New York City watershed nearly impossible, federal and state lawmakers are calling for tougher scrutiny of the horizontal drilling process called "fracking." Sullivan County sits on the gas-rich Marcellus shale, but only a sliver of it is in the watershed, which will now have separate rules for drilling.

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston, chairman of the Assembly's Energy Committee, and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, D-Ithaca, are preparing legislation that will require the same drilling regulations for all state watersheds, including the Delaware, which is in Sullivan. Critics of the proposed standards for the city say the Department of Environmental Conservation sold the rest of the state short by essentially saying drilling is too risky for city water, but OK for everyone else.

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, D-Forestburgh, recently co-sponsored a bill calling for a moratorium on drilling at least until a federal study on the impact of "fracking" on drinking water is complete — in about two years.

Read More

Wayne's World: Bats need all the help we can give them

Die-off from fungus grows

By Wayne Hall
Times Herald-Record

The fungus attacking hibernating bats has gone from grim to catastrophic in Rosendale caves. And the rest of the state's bat die-off report isn't expected to be a whole lot better when it comes in soon, though there are a couple of faint glimmers.

It's sort of a horror story that keeps on getting worse — like the 1958 movie, "The Blob," about a mobile, vast jelly-like creature that devours a Pennsylvania town.

"In one Rosendale cave which hosted 11,000 little brown bats — there's now about 20," said state Department of Environmental Conservation bat expert Alan Hicks. Endangered Indiana bats in the cave took a big hit, too.

Losing little brown bats — the common small bats fluttering at dusk, snagging mosquitoes — would be similar to there being "no more robins, squirrels, or chipmunks in New York state," according to Hicks.

Incredible fliers, bats use echolocation to form an aural map of their airspace — and they fly on 55-million-year-old airfoils made of the thinnest leather.

There is some good news.

Read More

Who Knew Bankruptcy Paid So Well?

Bankruptcy Fees Add Up in Cases Like Lehman’s

The lawyers, accountants and restructuring experts overseeing the remains of Lehman Brothers have already racked up more than $730 million in fees and expenses, with no end in sight. Anyone wondering why total fees doled out in the Lehman bankruptcy alone could easily touch the $1 billion mark merely has to look at the bills buried among the blizzard of court documents filed in the case.

They’re a Baedeker to the continuing bankruptcy bonanza, a world where the meter is always running — sometimes literally: in the months after Lehman’s collapse in September 2008, the New York law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges paid one car-service company alone more than $500 a day as limo drivers cooled their heels waiting for meetings to break (and this in a city overflowing with taxis).

While most of corporate America may be just emerging from the Great Recession, bankruptcy specialists have spent the last two years enjoying an unprecedented boom. Ten of the 20 largest corporate bankruptcies in recent decades have occurred over the last three years, according to, with Lehman snaring honors as the biggest corporate belly-flop in American history.

These megacases — Lehman, General Motors, Chrysler and Washington Mutual, to name a few — are orders of magnitude larger than most bankruptcies in the past, and their size and complexity have created a feeding frenzy of sorts for those asked to sort them out. To date, Weil, the lead law firm representing Lehman, has billed the Lehman estate for more than $164 million.

Analysts, lawyers and others involved in the larger bankruptcy boom say that some fees are legitimate — and that others are, at a minimum, highly questionable.

Read More

Bank Of America Alerts Customer To ATM Fraud, Then Decides She Did It Herself

Consumerist reader Frank recently wrote to Bank of America -- copying us -- on behalf of his girlfriend. Seems that BofA was conscientious enough to not only notify her of suspicious activity on her debit card, but also to credit her account for the fraudulent ATM withdrawals... Only to take it all back a week later.

A couple weeks back, Frank's girlfriend got a call from Bank of America to let her know they believed her debit card had been compromised following two suspicious withdrawals totaling $960.00 from BofA ATMs outside her immediate vicinity.

After verifying to the bank that she had not made the withdrawals and signing a document to that effect, she was told that everything was going to be okay and BofA credited her the $960.00.

Here's Frank's version of what happened next:

Read More

What If the Tea Party Were Black?

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters descended on DC armed with AK-47s. Would they be defended as patriotic Americans?

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure - the ones who are driving the action - we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.

So let’s begin.

Read More

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