Wednesday, May 25, 2011

News That Matters - Wednesday, May 25, 2011

News That Matters

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

Telling it like it is for 10 years and counting...

Good Wednesday Morning,

Folks, suck up all the news you can this issue because News That Matters is coming to an end, at least in its present format. After more than a decade of pounding out these columns it's long past time to give it a break.

News That Matters has always gone beyond the "he said, she said" tradition and has spent the last decade telling the story of "why" and that's made you, the near-1000 readers of this little rag, better educated.
  • We covered - and stopped - County Executive Bondi's Sewage Diversion plan, his $150 million public works boondoggle specifically designed, we think, to build more than 1000 homes in the Croton basin under the guise of cleaning up the watershed.
  • We saved central Putnam County's highest mountain from being logged off.
  • We exposed what was really going on in developer's minds. 
  • We reported on example after example of unnecessary local corporate welfare.
  • We stripped bare inept politicians at every level of town and county government and covered some of the worst excesses of our local governments. (Did everyone forget the Tilly Foster contract?)
  • We covered the negative local business position of the County Legislature and their use of the Department of Consumer Affairs as a secret (well, maybe "secret" is a harsh word... it's in the budget if you care to look,) cash generation machine and a back door directly into your pocket every time you improve your home. Every contractor in the county collects a little county tax from each job they do for you, from the gal who mows your lawn to the guy who hangs your curtains, and hands it to the county.
Which other local news outlet did that? Righto. None. But News That Matters was there.

YOU were there, as readers, contributors and donors.

There are enough local news sources now: What with the two Faux News papers book-ending the county, taking a brave stand over there in Ailesland, the Examiner pushing up from the south, the Republican Press/Times making inroads in the center under Marty Collins, the new Pennysaver from Chase Media and the AOL/Patch news down there in Southeast, the county is pretty well covered. Oh, and we can't forget the NY Journal News from which I've been banned for years.

That these other media outlets rarely ever examine why someone has taken a particular position is a terrible loss to the betterment of our communities. It furthers the decline of journalism both in broadcast and in print. Simply reporting what he said - and what she said - may be politically correct but it sustains two possible lies as fact on which you are then forced to rely to make decisions about issues. That's no way to run a modern society but it has become the American Way(tm) and you seem to like it.

Grab the local newspaper of your choice and get their phone numbers and email addresses. Then make those papers take the up the responsibility of being journalists, not just mindless 'he said - she said' reporters. There's real news out there if they, like we have done, chose to cover it.

And that's just the half of it.

What we see at the local level is a tiny fragment of what's going on across this land. That the American media is controlled by corporations is stunningly obvious and that they play to the lowest common denominator is expected. Neither the corporations nor the political parties they control have any need for an intelligentsia and for people who ask, "why?" And they sideline, debase and ridicule anyone who dares to question the status quo - like we've been doing for years.

Joe Sixpack is told to believe that it's okay for Exxon to earn $10.7 billion every 90 days. He's told that it's perfectly alright for a man to earn millions while his company victimizes the middle classes. He's told that those who cannot afford to see a doctor somehow deserve their position. He's told that raping our nation of its natural resources for immediate profit is a good thing. He's told that one day he will find the American Dream come true but only if he follows the rules and obeys his corporate and political masters leaders.

The truth is, Joe doesn't believe a word of it; but there is the chance it's true and he's not going to miss out. And if in the end he doesn't find that dream, as most will surely not, then it's not the corporations' and politicians' or even his fault, it's the immigrants or the welfare queens or teachers or the unions or the pedophile down the street. And he makes himself believe it because the truth is too awful to consider: There is a vast, forced transfer of wealth from the lower classes to the rich that is unparalleled in human history and the American media is directly complicit and an active participant.

You see, it's not alright for Exxon (and the others, mind you) to hold the national economy hostage. And it's not acceptable for a man to earn millions while his company forecloses thousands of properties putting his neighbors out on the street. And if you cannot afford health care it's because no one really can anymore. And it's not alright to leave our grandchildren  a  planet stripped of its natural resources. So why does the American media ignore all this? Well, for one... who owns them? And while we're there, who owns Congress. Don't you see the connection?

Anyway... With the end of this vehicle someone else is going to have to wear the mantle of the only independent media outlet in the region and I wish them well. It is a thankless job.

News That Matters will still be around as the transition is made so stay tuned, there is more coming, we're just winding down.

In the meantime, look for "No Country For Sane Men: One Man's Journey Into the Mind of America", coming to a computer screen near you soon. It will be no less irreverent, maddening, infuriating and educational. Just different.

Subscription links are here:

Action Alert

Help Secure Marriage Equality in New York State

Human Rights Campaign is asking us to make phone calls to our State Senator’s office to encourage his support for Marriage Equality.

If you’d like to call, the number is 845-279-3773.

Tell the staffer your name and town and that you expect The Senator to vote for Marriage Equality when the bill comes up later this month.

I’m a fan of letters as they give the Senator’s Staff something tangible to work with.

It doesn’t have to be long or involved, you don’t have to pour out your heart unless you feel so inclined. Just state your case, the case for equal rights and the case for New York.

Here’s the address:

Senator Greg Ball
1441 Route 22
Suite 205
Brewster, NY 10509

New York bar groups endorse same-sex marriage bill

NEW YORK, May 17 (Reuters) - Representatives of more than 20 bar associations made a legal case for passing same-sex marriage legislation in New York on Tuesday, arguing that anything less than full marriage equality relegates same-sex couples to second-class status.

The announcement comes as a growing number of political figures, business leaders and celebrities are stumping for a same-sex marriage bill in Albany before the end of the current legislative session on June 20.

As part of that push, the bar groups -- ranging from the New York State Bar Association, which represents 77,000 attorneys, to the Metropolitan Black Bar Association -- endorsed a bill introduced recently by Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell that would grant civil marriage rights to same-sex couples.

"We think the time is right in Albany for consideration of this in the legislature," said Samuel Seymour, president of the New York City Bar Association and a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell. "We can't predict the outcome, but we're here to do what we can to make it happen."


The groups share their goal with Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has made passage of a same-sex marriage bill one of his top priorities in the current session, despite uncertain support in the Republican-controlled Senate. A bill similar to Assemblyman O'Donnell's passed the Assembly in 2009, but fell short in the Senate.

Adding to the uncertainty, the bar groups contend, is a pair of New York Court of Appeals decisions that has left same-sex couples in legal limbo. In a 2006 decision, Hernandez v. Robles, the court found no statutory right to same-sex marriage. But in 2008, it ruled in Martinez v. City of Munroe that same-sex couples legally married in foreign jurisdictions were entitled to have their unions recognized in New York.

The result, according to State Bar Association president Stephen Younger, a partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, is that "you can be married in New York, you just can't get married in New York."

Without a legislative change, the groups said Tuesday, there is a risk of increased litigation, as well as regulatory and legislative confusion as courts, employers and others attempt to navigate the legal patchwork of state and federal marriage and civil-union laws.

Currently in New York, unmarried same-sex couples are denied at least 1,324 legal rights and duties afforded to heterosexual couples, including spousal privilege, inheritance rights and child custody, according to a report from the city bar association.

Legalizing only civil unions would not solve the problem, they argued, pointing to states such as Vermont and New Jersey, where they say legalized civil unions are poorly understood and erratically recognized. And if the federal Defense of Marriage Act is ultimately overturned, couples in civil unions would miss out on the legal rights marriage confers, they added.


Currently, five states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage, as do ten countries, including Canada.

Although the state bar association has been hesitant in the past to speak out on such a politically charged issue, Younger said the tide has turned among the state bar's diverse membership, mirroring steadily increasing public support for marriage equality. A poll released this month by the Pew Research Center found 45 percent of Americans now support gay marriage, up from 35 percent in April 2009.

"It's time to galvanize that support," Younger said.

In addition to state and city bar associations, a number of bar groups representing minority groups were on hand to offer their endorsements, including the Hispanic National Bar Association, the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York and the Puerto Rican Bar Association.

Adeel Mangi, director of the Muslim Bar Association of New York and a partner at Patterson Belknap, said that his group decided to support same-sex marriage to promote access for all to "fundamental civil rights" like marriage.

"As lawyers, we believe strongly that this is a civil rights issue," Mangi said.

Under the O'Donnell bill, religious officials would not be required to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony if they objected on moral grounds.

Maggie Gallagher, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, or NOM, which opposes same-sex marriage, said it was her group's position that it is up to state legislatures to define marriage. NOM is not opposed to legalizing civil unions, she added, although many same-sex opponents have rejected the idea.

"It's not my position that it's okay to discriminate, but marriage isn't discrimination," Gallagher said. "It's okay to treat different relationships differently."

(Reporting by Jessica Dye)
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