Monday, April 4, 2011

News That Matters - Monday, April 4, 2011

News That Matters

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

Good Monday Morning,

Sunday, April 3, 2011 - Sunken Mine Road, Fahnestock State Park.

April Fools?

Last Friday I ran a story: Ball Resigns Senate Seat to Run For Congress and hundreds of people read it at the website and hundreds more on social networking sites and various news feeds. It was tagged as an April Fool's joke in the same vein as my article a few years back about then Senator Leibell moving a bill to ban divorce in NY State.
Though the Senator Who Shall Not Be Named has not resigned his Senate seat to run for Congress it's pretty clear to anyone paying attention that the race is on. It might behoove (I love that word!) Nan Hayworth to move a little to the center otherwise that extreme right-hand corner is going to get awfully crowded.

A Nightmare on Croton Falls Road

And of course, Norman Marino and Paul Jonke are involved. It's like it never ends in that most corrupt of Putnam County towns. Read the Journal News article here.

Why are rents still so high?

According to the latest Census information, Putnam County has 3,183 vacant homes/apartments, a 36% increase since 2000 and around 8% of the total homes in the county. With those kinds of numbers you'd think rents in this county would have come down a bit but for reasons that aren't exactly clear to me and for which real estate agents have no explanation, not only have they remained high, but have increased over the years. Does anyone have an explanation?

Spreading the Word

If you've not been spreading the word about News That Matters you need to start! Send your friends this link: [] and their newsreader will automatically pull in each published  issue.

Eating Healthy. Eating Locally.

It's that time of year again where local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are beginning to take orders for the summer. If you work at or are a member of a CSA farm in the area, send along their information so we can keep our listings up to date and spread the good food.

Snap Quiz!

Q: What do Maryellen O'dell, Joe Capasso and Vinnie Tamagna all have in common?

A: Greg Ball.
Where's Nan?

Last Friday morning in what has been assumed was a grand April Fool's joke, radio host Brian Lehrer hosted Congresswoman Nan Hayworth on his 10AM show on WNYC, 93.9FM. I'll point you to the comments section of WNYC's website where you will see that, similar to her performance in Patterson a couple of weeks ago, she's a vacuous hole of non-information, gross assumptions and party talking-points.

So, Who asked you?
"I'm concerned about the total lack of accuracy in the reporting on this site. Ive [sic] been to meetings which were later described on this site, and there was no connection to reality in the reporting. They would say "so and so was not there", but that person would be standing right next to the 'reporter' at the meeting. Then they quote someone in the article, but that person did not say what was reported. So it seems this site gives the fictional account of the news."
- March 28, 2011 Billy Noel
"Phony nonprofit intended to mislead viewers, but still uses ".org" designation even though it's not a non-profit org. Website owner badgers viewers for cash contributions. Provides filtered and edited news feeds, mostly promoting the opinion and business interests of the site owner. Don't waste your time."
- March 11, 2011 Bob Bennett

PlanPutnam has been listed on Alexa for years and now two comments coming just days apart? Are local political operatives *that* afraid I may run for office again this year? My campaign account is still active...

Mr. N. is a little peeved that I may have failed to report on his words of wisdom at a meeting when others had more important things to say. Or I didn't feel it necessary to feed his nascent political career. Or something. But if I became upset about being edited out of public meetings my head would have exploded ten years ago reading the Putnam Times, the FOX Courier and the Journal News.

[Ed note: the Times is slowly coming around. I fear however, the only way I'll show up in the FOX Courier or the Journal News is after my arrest for running a prostitution ring at a convention of Mormon Shriners in Fescus, Missouri.]

Mr. B., who I must assume is not the same Mr. B serving as the county election commissioner, is now forbidden to read the newsletter unless he contributes to the effort. Does his time have no value? But I would like him to walk into the local Hessmart and help himself to the newspapers on the rack without paying for them. As for his "filtered and edited news feeds" I certainly encourage him to violate copyright laws and deluge his readers with the full content of anything and everything that crosses his mind. Like when the attorneys come knocking.

But now that Bob has mentioned it... Easter and Passover are getting awfully close and the family is coming... You know what to do. (No, don't call Mr. B.)

Call your favorite house painter at 845 554-5119 or visit Taconicarts.

Who is to blame for high gasoline prices?

Kyle at the Sunoco in Ludingtonville. It's his fault. He admits it, he says so and he doesn't mind you knowing. If you stop in and he's working tell him you know, too.

Fly fishing season began this weekend.

And now, The News:
  1. The Millionaire Migration Myth: Don't Fall for This Anti-Tax Scare Tactic
  2. Volunteers Needed Researching Juvenile Eels in Hudson River Streams
  3. Clash of Rural Character and Taxpayer Costs
  4. Many Low-Wage Jobs Seen as Failing to Meet Basic Needs
  5. Green Roofs
  6. Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes
  7. Bay Area has couple of small nuclear reactors

The Millionaire Migration Myth: Don't Fall for This Anti-Tax Scare Tactic

April 1, 2011

By Carl Davis

Virtually every state in the country has a tax system that heavily favors1 the rich. Despite this fact, only a handful of states responded to the revenue slump brought on by the Great Recession with any sort of tax increase on this favored group. What gives? With so many states looking for ways to balance their budgets, why isn't there more interest in finally making the rich pay their fair share?

The answer lies partially in one of the most effective, yet most absurd anti-tax scare tactics to be used in recent memory: the so-called "millionaire migration" epidemic. State lawmakers across the country have heard again and again that wealthy taxpayers will pull up stakes and move in response to just about any progressive state tax increase. In most cases, however, even a cursory look at the facts shows that these fears are unjustified. With tax day nearly upon us once again, let's take just a moment to make those facts known.

In New York, it was a business-backed group called the Partnership for New York City that first began spreading misinformation about the state's income tax surcharge on the rich. In a February report2, the Partnership claimed that

    "New York's high taxes risk pushing jobs, tax revenue, and talent to neighboring states. ...Since the imposition of New York's surcharge in 2009, there has been a 9.4% decrease in the state's taxpayers who are worth $1 million or more, decreasing from 381,786 in 2007 to 345,892 in 2009."

That sounds pretty scary, but the same data3 used by the Partnership shows that every state in the country saw its millionaire population decline between 2007 and 2009, and that a whopping forty-three states experienced declines exceeding New York's 9.4 percent drop. Apologies for stating the obvious, but these declines were a predictable result of the recent recession.

Making matters worse, the original press release4 accompanying this data made very clear that the U.S. as a whole saw its millionaire population decline by nearly 14 percent between 2007 and 2009. It's therefore a little strange, to say the least, that the Partnership would interpret New York's 9.4 percent drop as providing any evidence whatsoever that could be useful in its crusade against taxing high-income earners.

Read More

Volunteers Needed Researching Juvenile Eels in Hudson River Streams

Glass eels are American eels in the fingerling stage of development. The fingerlings are born more than 1,000 miles south of the New York Harbor in an area of the Atlantic Ocean called the Sargasso Sea. From their saltwater birthplace, the tiny eels make an epic migration north to reach estuaries like the Hudson River, where they will mature in freshwater for up to 30 years. This breeding cycle, called catadromous, is the reverse of the more familiar cycle followed by fish like salmon, herring and striped bass that are born in freshwater and mature at sea, called anadromous. American eels are a crucial migratory fish whose populations have declined in recent decades.

During the eel's springtime migration, groups of scientists, students, and community volunteers check nets for juvenile eels that are entering the Hudson River. Each day, eels are caught, weighed, and released upstream unharmed. Environmental conditions at the time of capture, such as temperature and tides, are also taken. Volunteers also sample migrating populations of herring at many of the eel sampling sites.

Read More

Clash of Rural Character and Taxpayer Costs

By Kevin Foley

Aside from the damage they did to Philipstown’s system of dirt roads, the heavy early March rains threatened to puncture the town’s budget while still only in the first quarter of the fiscal year.  The rains also resurrected the contentious question of whether maintaining the dirt roads with expensive materials that erode quickly instead of paving them with asphalt is the best course for the future. 

Most dirt roads in Garrison are repaired and open with two exceptions.  Indian Brook Road East, just beyond the last Philipstown residence, will remain closed for the foreseeable future because about 1,000 feet of it completely washed away.  Opening the infrequently used thoroughfare, which leads through woodlands to Dennytown Road in Putnam Valley, is not a priority, according to Town Supervisor Richard Shea.  None of the Town Council members attending a March 16 workshop meeting appeared to disagree.  All nodded grimly as Town Highway Superintendent Roger Chirico informed them that material costs alone to reopen Indian Brook Road East are estimated at $77,500 without including labor and possible extra machinery.  Chirico said his budget did not anticipate this expense and Shea responded that the town would have to float a bond if and when it decided to reopen the road.

Read More

Many Low-Wage Jobs Seen as Failing to Meet Basic Needs

By Motoko Rich for the NY Times

Hard as it can be to land a job these days, getting one may not be nearly enough for basic economic security.

The Labor Department will release its monthly snapshot of the job market on Friday, and economists expect it to show that the nation’s employers added about 190,000 jobs in March. With an unemployment rate that has been stubbornly stuck near 9 percent, those workers could be considered lucky.

But many of the jobs being added in retail, hospitality and home health care, to name a few categories, are unlikely to pay enough for workers to cover the cost of fundamentals like housing, utilities, food, health care, transportation and, in the case of working parents, child care.

A separate report being released Friday tries to go beyond traditional measurements like the poverty line and minimum wage to show what people need to earn to achieve a basic standard of living.

The study, commissioned by Wider Opportunities for Women, a nonprofit group, builds on an analysis the group and some state and local partners have been conducting since 1995 on how much income it takes to meet basic needs without relying on public subsidies. The new study aims to set thresholds for economic stability rather than mere survival, and takes into account saving for retirement and emergencies.

“We wanted to recognize that there was a cumulative impact that would affect one’s lifelong economic security,” said Joan A. Kuriansky, executive director of Wider Opportunities, whose report is called “The Basic Economic Security Tables for the United States.” “And we’ve all seen how often we have emergencies that we are unprepared for,” she said, especially during the recession. Layoffs or other health crises “can definitely begin to draw us into poverty.”

According to the report, a single worker needs an income of $30,012 a year — or just above $14 an hour — to cover basic expenses and save for retirement and emergencies. That is close to three times the 2010 national poverty level of $10,830 for a single person, and nearly twice the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Read More

April 2, 2011

One of the best ways to make a building greener is to literally make it greener.  CAP has the story.

Green roofs, or living roofs, offer a number of important benefits not only to the environment but also to property owners. And while many might think of green roofs as exclusively in the purview of commercial property, home installation can be both practical and economical.

Green roofs are created by using rooftop space to plant a layer of grasses, shrubs, flowers, and other forms of flora and greenery. Typically, green roofs begin with an insulation layer, followed by a waterproof barrier, then by the organic material used to grow the plants. Construction and maintenance of green roofs is inexpensive and they can also last far longer than traditional roofs if the appropriate plants are used.

Although green roofs have been catching on as a part of the growing trend to make our cities and buildings more sustainable, they are in fact nothing new. People around the world built their houses with roofs made of sod or grass for hundreds of years. Though those houses are now seen as relics of antiquity, their construction serves as useful inspiration to guide the design of the sustainable houses of tomorrow.

Read More

Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes

By Richard Goldstone, Friday, April , 8:42 PM

We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.

The final report by the U.N. committee of independent experts — chaired by former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis — that followed up on the recommendations of the Goldstone Report has found that “Israel has dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza” while “the de facto authorities (i.e., Hamas) have not conducted any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.”

Our report found evidence of potential war crimes and “possibly crimes against humanity” by both Israel and Hamas. That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying — its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets.

The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion. While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.

For example, the most serious attack the Goldstone Report focused on was the killing of some 29 members of the al-Simouni family in their home. The shelling of the home was apparently the consequence of an Israeli commander’s erroneous interpretation of a drone image, and an Israeli officer is under investigation for having ordered the attack. While the length of this investigation is frustrating, it appears that an appropriate process is underway, and I am confident that if the officer is found to have been negligent, Israel will respond accordingly. The purpose of these investigations, as I have always said, is to ensure accountability for improper actions, not to second-guess, with the benefit of hindsight, commanders making difficult battlefield decisions.

Read More

Bay Area has couple of small nuclear reactors

by David R. Baker, Chronicle Staff Writer

Not far from Pleasanton, in a grassy valley grazed by cows, lies a nuclear reactor that the Bay Area keeps forgetting.

Another sits 17 miles away in San Ramon.

By the standards of the nuclear industry, both reactors are tiny. The small amounts of energy they generate don't flow onto California's power grid. Instead, operators use the neutrons from each reactor to peer inside solid objects, in a process similar to X-ray imaging.

Thirty-six "research and test" reactors are scattered throughout the United States, often on college campuses. Four are in California. They rarely draw attention except from the researchers, companies and government agencies that rely on them.

That may change, at least briefly, due to Japan's nuclear crisis, in which partial meltdowns and radiation releases at a quake-stricken nuclear plant have forced authorities to evacuate the surrounding area. Small test reactors, after all, operate on similar principles to their much larger cousins, using uranium fuel rods held close to one another to generate fission.

But they are also different in key aspects of their design, differences that operators say make meltdown virtually impossible.

Read More

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