Wednesday, March 9, 2011

News That Matters - Wednesday, March 9, 2011

News That Matters

News That Matters
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Telling it like it is for 10 years and counting...

Question of the Day: Are County Taxpayers still footing the electric bill at Tilly Foster?

Good Wednesday Morning,

The storm that knocked power all day on Monday dropped 2.56" of rain here in the Free State and more is expected over the next couple of days.

Come Thursday night, the weather service says that another 1 - 4 inches of rain will be produced by a series of fronts moving through our area. The Boyd's reservoir which was empty last week had water flowing over its dam yesterday afternoon. With the warm daytime temperatures and the coming rain it could be impressive come Friday afternoon.

If you've not seen flood waters coming over the Boyd's Dam I do encourage a trip up Route 301 to see it. Coming up from Carmel, cut over on East Boyd's Road where there's a great view of the dam about 1/2 mile in. If you can see the image here, that's it.

I want to thank the Town of Kent Highway Department for patching the worst of the potholes from this winter. We know they're only going to hold for a few days but it has to be cheaper than paying lawsuits for drivers who think every road ought to be the autobahn and then cry to their lawyers when they bust an axle.

Back on February 11th, Sandy, a 12 year old brown, 50lb mutt who lived on Deer Run Road in the Lake Nimham community, ran off and has not been home since. As of yesterday, when I called Sandy's owner Peggy, the last sighting was two weeks back from some folk on Gipsy Trail Road. If you happen to see this girl running around somewhere looking thin and lonely, give Peggy a call at 845 225-six one six nine.
By the way, while speaking to Peggy she mentioned that an article about this very thing appears in this week's Putnam Press. Both the Press and News That Matters must share some responsibility in not covering this story sooner.

According to the latest census bureau estimates, Putnam County's population increased by 3% between 2000 and 2010, growing to 99,365 people. In the region, Sullivan (75,310), Columbia (61,621) and Greene (48,562) are smaller while giants Westchester (961,449), Fairfield (901,000), Orange (383,084) and Dutchess (292,460) hem us in on all  sides.

In the 2007 budget year, the Putnam County Department of Consumer Affairs generated $540,530 on licenses and fees from general contractors, plumbers and electricians and spent $0 supporting those professions. That's half a million dollars pulled from the economy (around $46,000 in what could have been generated sales taxes) through forced taxation (they call it a "Fee") with no recourse for those living here who wish to work here. How many professions have to pay the county a "fee" just for the right to work?
I should mention here that in the same budget year the Department paid out $407,357 in salaries and another $163,599 in benefits.

It's clear the county Legislature is forcing your neighbor, the blue collar tradesmen, to pay the salaries of what amounts to unnecessary county employees. How many other Departments in the county work the same way and is it really necessary? The answer is, of course, no.

But the county is on a tax-and-spend-preferred jobs spree and I don't see a way to wean them off it other than starting from scratch and throwing them out of office. Their insistence on maintaining the highest sales tax rate in the region and their forced blackmailing of tradesmen is all the evidence you need.

Three county legislators are up for election this year. Let's keep a careful eye on their positions on these issues: if they've voted for and support the sales tax increase rather than cutting the county budget it's time to vote them out. If they believe their friends should be employed through indirect taxation, then vote them out.
And one more thing... we're talking about smaller government and lower taxes here. How come I'm (still) beating the drum on this? Where are those tea baggers who were so adamantly vocal about all this at the national level? Why have their voices been silent on this and other local taxation and corporate welfare issues? Does this signify what some have been saying all along, that they were just luckless saps, simple tools of the Republican machine in order to win control of Congress? You know where this is going... It doesn't take a crack gee-whiz lawyer to see the obvious.

In fact, the last post from the "Tea Party Patriots of Northern Westchester" was a call for a meeting on December 2, 2010 and the last post of news on their website? Oh yeah... this is sweet: Just a couple of days after the election.

So over the past few weeks I've been asking, "Where's Nan?" Hayworth on issues (and you don't really want to know) but this morning I have to ask - again - where is the Tea Party on county and town spending? They're missing in action, that's where.

(But I'll bet they'll come around again once Maryellen Odell's unopposed race for County Executive heats up.)

Next Tuesday, March 15th, voters in Cold Spring and Nelsonville will go to the polls.
In Cold Spring, Mayor Seth Gallagher is facing Anthony Phillips once again in a repeat of their race two years back, and Catherine Square, Ralph Falloon and Bruce Campbell are running for Trustee. In Nelsonville, Mayor Tom Corless is running unopposed while Village Trustee Anthony Merante is facing a challenge from Steven Dubroff.
Next Wednesday, March 16th, the Town of Carmel will take up a blasting ordinance, a little late as that town's most prominent elevation has already been blasted to smithereens with Mt. Gilead losing significant elevation for a failing senior housing project. Correspondent Lori Kemp, a woman knows more about blasting than any citizen ought to know writes,
Blasting is defined in law an “ultra-hazardous activity” because it "necessarily involves a risk of serious harm to the person, land or property of others, which cannot be eliminated by the exercise of utmost care."  

The possibility of nearby blasting to affect the structural integrity of your home, cause damage to your wells and septic, alter hydrology by bringing water towards your property or away from your wells, contaminate well water and air in your home is very real.   Also very real is the risk of being struck by flyrock debris and inhaling silica dust from drilling, and the noxious gas sometimes released when rock breaks.  

The  Town’s proposed ordinance, as it now reads, does nothing to protect people and property from the “ultra-hazardous activity” of blasting or the contamination of air and water that might be a result of said blasting...

As I'm clearing my place out I've got some stuff for sale here:
If you've ever wanted to do some airbrush work, I've got a Paasche Airbrush kit for $30, a small air compressor for $60, a hard to find DeVilbill Finishline airbrush gun for $80 and a 7 1/4", 1 1/2 hp  circular saw for $25. See them here.

More will be posted later including the original first edition volumes 1-9 of the Firefox books in great condition, $125 for the set. There will also be a futon in good shape, a spare HP computer, various power tools and other furniture. Stay tuned. If it doesn't get sold it gets burned.

The Hudson River Estuary Program has announced citizen volunteer opportunities for this year. Included are: Amphibian monitoring and road crossing projects, River herring monitoring, American eel research and their famous "Trees for Tribs" project that makes saplings available for replanting along stream beds to lower water temperatures and stop soil erosion. More information can be found at the DEC website here.

On Tuesday, March 22 at 7:30PM, residents will meet at the Jewish Center at 2966 Crompound Road in Yorktown Heights to kickoff a Friends Group for FDR State Park. Former Commissioner of New York State Parks and Historic Sites, now advisor to the Alliance for NY State Parks, Carol Ash will be the keynote speaker. More information can be had by contacting Kristen Davidson,  Public Relations Coordinator NYSOPRHP - Taconic Region P.O. Box 308 9 Old Post Road Staatsburg, NY 12580 B: 845.889.3880 F: 845.889.8321 or by email to:

It's Like McCarthy All Over Again:

Would you buy a used car from this man?

New York 3rd District Congressman Peter King had a dream one night. In it, he was sitting on a dais in an overly ornate hearing room in Washington DC with several other members of Congress. Before him in the audience, hundreds of cameras were taking pictures, flash bulbs going off like a 4th of July finale, and the crowd in an uproar with the focus of their attention being a man sitting at a table calmly denying the right of Congress to hold the hearing at all.

Upon waking, the Congressman realized that certain fame would come to him if such an event would actually take place. How could he do this? Easy! Hold hearings on Muslims in the United States, duplicating one of America's darkest moments: the McCarthy era. Back then it was, you know, the Jews, who are known socialists and 'America Haters' and had no political power so they were easy victims. Now he had to find another class to victimize.

Once it was Communists, as if it were a crime in the United States to support a different economic system. Then it was drugs, as if the youth of America were all intent on frying their brains like in that misleading commercial everyone rightly makes fun of. When that was played out it was kidnapping children and devil worship. When that proved untenable because it wasn't happening, it was child molesters and when that crusade began to convict teens for having sex with each other the government had to find something else... something more sinister, something so foreign to the American mindset that it would send horror down their spines at every mention and so Peter King discovered: Islam.

You've got take your hat off to Congressman King. When Americans are focusing on rebuilding the nation he understands that they will start asking tough questions of their government and what better way to shield Congress from unwanted attention? Sure! Find a diversion!

If you ever had any questions about why our Empire has rotted out from within, now you know.

And now, The News:

Putnam sheriff sues over 2009 campaign comments

By Michael Risinit for the Journal News

CARMEL — Putnam County Sheriff Donald B. Smith is suing a well-known GOP commentator and Cablevision's News 12, claiming comments made on a program during the 2009 Republican primary for sheriff damaged his reputation.

Smith is also faulting Cablevision and News 12 for not identifying the commentator, Michael R. Edelman, as a paid consultant to his primary opponent, James Borkowski. Representatives of both Edelman and Cablevision last week described Smith's suit as baseless.

"We believe the lawsuit is without merit and we cannot comment further at this time," News 12 spokeswoman Deborah Koller-Feeney said.

At the center of Smith's claims are remarks made on air by Edelman on Sept. 12, 2009, three days before that year's GOP primary.

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Styrofoam Never Beats Reusable Cups

by Brian Merchant

The GOP's politically-motivated move to disband the Democrat's biodegradable packaging and composting program in the House of Representatives -- and replace said packaging with disposable Styrofoam -- drew quite a bit of attention last week. The petroleum-based, non-biodegradable relic of a material is such an easy target to hate on that the story found its way into mainstream news cycles. But today, a story in Slate raised an interesting proposition -- could Styrofoam actually be greener than reusable mugs?

I think not. Slate's Jacob Leibenluft makes a hell of a case in favor of the disposable stuff, but I've got to respectfully disagree. The meat of Leibenluft's argument hinges on two factors -- that relying on reusable cups wastes more water than using Styrofoam, and that Styrofoam cups require less energy to make (and to use) than ceramic or stainless steel cups. Liebenluft does correctly point out that there's no comparison when it comes to landfill waste, though he neglects to mention the fate of the many Styrofoam cups that never make it that far, and end up in our oceans, lakes, roadsides, and, eventually, the groundwater. To me, that fact alone is enough to disqualify Styrofoam.

His other points are good ones, and very much worth taking into consideration. First, washing the mug. Leibenluft points out that when cleaning your coffee mug in a dishwasher, "each wash will require substantially more water than it takes to make a polystyrene or paper cup." But it seems to me that you can combat this water waste by eschewing the dishwasher cycle and just doing a quick rinse with just a splash, or less. Since you're drinking coffee made with boiling water, after all, you don't really have to be too concerned about lingering bacteria.

Read More

A Growing Debate: How To Define 'Organic' Food

by Dan Charles

Just over a month ago, the Department of Agriculture announced that it will allow American farmers to plant genetically engineered alfalfa, which is widely used as feed for dairy cows and horses.

Organic food producers opposed the USDA's decision — some more fiercely than others. That split has provoked angry debates within the organics community, with some activists accusing organic businesses of "surrendering" to the biotech company Monsanto. And it has reopened some old arguments about what's most important in the label "organic."

The cause of this dispute is not easily visible, at first, in the rolling pastures of an organic dairy operated by Horizon Organic near Kennedyville, in eastern Maryland. During the summer, the farm's cows graze on hundreds of acres of pasture.

But the grass doesn't grow in wintertime, so on this February day, the cows are eating inside. Farm manager Dudley McHenry explains that the animals eat a mixture of corn silage, clover, alfalfa, corn, soybeans and a grass called triticale. And there's a tiny bit of something in that feed — mainly in the corn — that's provoking the current disagreements among people who all describe themselves as defenders of organic farming.

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AOL's acquisition of HuffPo: Tips for Patch?

Sound the trumpets and release the doves: AOL has completed its $315 million acquisition of The Huffington Post as of Monday.  Let the layoffs begin!

The announcement of the merger was made last month1 at the Super Bowl, and the world is still reeling--especially disgruntled Huffington Post readers, who turned out en masse to eulogize their favorite progressive news source in the comments section. The terms of the deal included $300 million up front, in cash, and another $15 million in AOL stock.

Bringing its own 25 million unique monthly users to the table, the Huffington Post is expected to bring AOL's total unique monthly user base to 117 million in the U.S. and 270 million worldwide.

As AOL aims to reinvent itself as a content company to offset its ever-shrinking dial-up business, Arianna Huffington is stepping in as a welcome overlord to the company's mountain of recently acquired news sources, including Engadget, TechCrunch, and Patch. When Hugginton and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong sat down together at the Super Bowl to announce the deal, they described the merger not so much in business terms as language describing a match made on eHarmony.  Huffington told Kara Swisher of AllThingsD that she was stunned at how closely Armstrong’s vision for AOL paralleled her own vision for the Huffington Post.  Likewise, Tim Armstrong told Swisher that at a certain point, he and Huffington started finishing each other’s sentences (aw!).

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King: Hearings on Muslims in America will be fair

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Republican congressman who has organized controversial hearings into radical Islam called Muslims "part of the mosaic" of America Wednesday and said they shouldn't feel threatened or intimidated by his inquiry.

"If there is going to be animosity, I would blame it on my opponents," Rep. Peter King said in a nationally broadcast interview.

King, who heads the House Homeland Security Committee, has come under withering criticism for the hearings scheduled to begin Thursday. Protests have already started, and comparisons to McCarthyism and the era of communist witch hunts are being heard.

In one appearance on morning television, King was asked if he was singling out the Muslim community rather than focusing on a more generalized terror threat against America.

"It might be politically correct, but it makes no sense to talk about other types of extremism, when the main threat to the United States today is talking about al Qaida," King said. He noted that Attorney General Eric Holder has said there have been some 50 homegrown terrorists arrested in this country and that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the threat has never been higher.

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The Koch Brothers' Right-Wing Conspiracy to Undermine the PATRIOT Act

Radley Balko

    ...the Kochs will happily put their money behind candidates and intellectuals who agree with their economic agenda but disagree with their social agenda. They will never put their money behind candidates or intellectuals of whom the reverse is true.

In the same post, Chait runs off a series of sums the Kochs have spent over the years on various right-wing causes. Curiously missing, however, is the $20 million donation the Kochs made to the ACLU to fight the Bush administration over the PATRIOT Act. Browsing various accounts of the Kochs political spending over the years, that $20 million appears to be substantially more than the Kochs have contributed to all political candidates combined for at least the last 15 years. (Their gifts to the arts and other non-political charities exceeds what they've spent on politics many times over.)

Now maybe we shouldn't fault Chait for overlooking the ACLU donation. The Kochs don't appear to have gone out of their way to publicize it. (Though, curiously, when they don't publicize their contributions to free market causes, it tends to be interpreted as stealthy or manipulative.) It's also not nearly as prominently reported on the web as the gifts they've made to free market organizations. There's another mention on the Faces of Philanthropy site, which appears to be down right now. But here's a cached version. I suspect the mere possibility that the Kochs could make such a gift didn't enter the minds of most people who have written about all of this. It wasn't mentioned in Jane Mayer's much-hyped New Yorker expose, either. I should note that both the linked sources above are secondhand, and I'm waiting to hear back from the ACLU for confirmation.

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