Thursday, July 18, 2013

News That Matters - July 18, 2013 - The "I Hope You're Wearing Boots" Edition

News That Matters

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

Happy Thursday Night, y'all.

County Legislative Chair Richie Othmer is leaving his post at the end of the year to run (unopposed) for Kent Highway Supervisor. The Legislature gets to select his replacement - you don't.

Rumor has it that current Kent councilman Lou Tartaro will be elevated to the Legislature once Richie officially resigns in January. The Town Council gets to select his replacement - you don't.

What bothers me - and should you - is that if true and Lou is being elevated, he should not run for re-election to his town board seat this year but resign and the let the voters decide who will replace him. Whatever happened to, you know, voting? Representation? Are the residents of our county held in such low view by the Party that we're entitled to select our own representatives? Why does this have the feel of

The Rail Trail Saga That Will Not Die
(And not for lack for trying.)

Putnam County Highway Supervisor Pena, the guy who refuses a through truck weight limit for Peekskill Hollow Road (see below), has presented the County Legislature with a breakdown of man-hours spent maintaining the Rail Trail and I have to say it's quite an eye opener! In essence, to cover 12 miles of trail the county allocated nearly 3000 man-hours or roughly 248 man hours per mile during 2012.

What I'd like you to do for comparison is get out and walk one mile - 5280 feet, 1760 yards, and tell me how long it took you to walk that mile I'll wait.....

About 15 minutes. Right? 20 if you stopped to smell the roses. Forty-five if you brought your trimmer along.

The report also shows that three mowers spent 596 hours mowing the trail or 41 hours per mile.

The total cost in man and machine hours he has down as $135,000 but he includes $29,000 in benefits for three "temporary" workers who don't receive benefits nor do I believe that the county pays $32,000 in benefits on $57,449 worth of salary. If they do then I'm clearly in the wrong business or we are being royally ripped off.

Last time I checked the old Put Line was not paved with Italian marble nor landscaped by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe so I have no idea what the combined 3000 man hours and 2300 truck/machine hours has brought us so I'm calling bullshit here. The report from Commissioner Pena is either grossly inflated, an out and out lie or our highway crew is as slow as molasses in a Greenland winter and needs some actual work to do.

(For the record, I once worked on a town highway crew in a one-party town and yeah, we needed real work to do.)

If it costs this much to maintain an 11' wide swath of blacktop used only by pedestrians, bicycles and the occassional police golf cart(!) what does it cost to maintain our county roads hammered by cars and trucks? Does the county spend that kind of time on Farmers Mills Road? I wish they did!

(As as aside, the Rail Trail was funded 80% by the Federal Transit Administration, 10% by New York State and 10% by the county. It was hardly an amount that would break our backs.)

In the meantime, David Eppinger, who sits on the Executive Board of the Putnam Boy Scouts has taken my idea of self-funding mile markers on the trail and making it a scout project. This is not the first time it has been suggested but Mr. Eppinger has written the county directly with specifics on the proposal. Mr. E. mentions that there are already markers at 2/10's intervals along the trail but encourages the county to complete that.

Wait! There already mile markers on the trail? Then what's all this hullabaloo from the county about public safety? What are we missing here?

County Legislator Carl Albano has personally invited Bikepath Country to the Physical Services committee meeting this coming Monday at 6:30PM in Room 318 of the county office building to seek "input in [their] discussion,". If you'd care to make your input known as well, be there and be vocal and if the Sheriff has to carry you out because the ears of the Legislature are closed - all the better.

What really galls me though is that after the public spoke at the July 2nd Legislative meeting and each person in turn agreed that public safety was an issue and several offered viable alternatives, Legislator Ginny Nacerino and others ignored every single word and went on with their biblical belief that only Bikepath Country can provide these things, that the county highway department cannot and that community groups cannot be trusted - only a for-profit friend of the County Executive.

And let's face it: the numbers simply do not work. The 50/50 split between BpC and the County comes after BpC's expenses. What's an expense?
  • The manufacture of the signs.
  • The installation of the signs.
  • Maintenance of the signs.
  • Picking them up after a hurricane blows them down, remaking the broken ones and their support poles.
  • Cleaning them of possible graffiti.
  • Maintenance of their proposed exercise stations (yeah, that's a new one)
  • Add in here whatever I've forgotten.
Once all that's done what would be left over? Here, I'll give the county the $40 and we can be done with it.

From the June 24th Edition of News That Matters:

On the other hand, if their numbers are monthly (they’ve changed their bottom number from $200 to $50 (I wonder why?)) and they sell 44 adverts each month at $200 then we’re talking some real money here, to the tune of $105,600.

But no one in their right mind will pay $200 for a *once inch banner* on a 7 inch wide sign so let’s go back to that $50. and we get $26,400.

That’s better… on the face of it. But now their maintenance costs have changed because many, if not most of those signs will need to be brought in to have the old advert removed and a new one placed which could easily double the labor and materials cost. So, let’s be conservative and double the dude’s employment costs to $11,000 which we’ll take from the $26,400 which leaves us with $15,400 and the county’s take would be $7700. A year.

I’m willing to bet MEO has already spent that much on damage control over this debacle.

Basically what that all says it that we should probably hire BpC to manage the trail as they're infinitely less expensive than Pena's Highway crews.

So we need to find out what's really going on here. It's obvious, of course, but we need someone with street cred to admit it. It's not about public safety. It's not about raising money for maintenance (and any monies raised can only be used for the trail and for no other purpose - by law.) So just what is really happening here?

We should let Consumer Affairs force each user of the trail to buy a $250 permit.

Call MaryEllen Odell’s office and say, “NO!” to this foolish enterprise and let’s keep for ourselves a place to escape commercialism and that the people she was elected to represent are more important than her close political allies. That the voices of the 99,000 *other* residents of this county are more important than the 1000 she and the Legislature cater to.

You can reach her at (845) 808-1001 or by email to

Then call the county Legislature at (845) 808-1020 or email them at

And then head on over and sign on to the petition at

SHARE this post. Do something! Get Active! Let’s make these people remember this come election time this year. At the very least let’s make them know that we will not forget.

You drive ten tons and what do you get?

The good people over on Peekskill Hollow Road have been agitating for a weight limit on trucks traveling the length of Peekskill Hollow Road for obvious reasons. What they're seeking is a limit of 10 tons except for local delivery. But Highway Commissioner Pena has steadfastly refused to entertain the idea.

First he claims he doesn't have the authority. Then he claims it would be a violation of the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution. In his latest incarnation he claims he needs to study the traffic pattern on the road and make safety improvements. Safety improvements? So those 20 ton behemoths can travel faster?

This is another situation where there's more than meets the eye and where someone else is pulling the strings using the Commissioner as a marionette. We saw this happening when Maryellen Odell pulled the Emergency Services Commissioner out of his public service doldrums and paraded him before the public with dire warnings of death and destruction if mile markers weren't placed on the rail trail - mile markers that are already there.

That's a lot of shit...

Kent's Supervisor Katherine Doherty has petitioned the county to allocate an additional $400,000 to help fund Kent's Route 52 sewer district. DEP is tossing in $3 million while the county has already allocated $2,500,000 from water quality improvement funds (DEP again!).

The plan is to collect sewage along Route 52 in the Lake Carmel basin and pump it uphill to Hill and Dale and dump it in their lake after treatment at the new plant to be built at Kent Manor.

Wait a second... the town is taking sewage from Lake Carmel and pumping it into another basin, one with many less voters? And I'll bet there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony in October, just in time for the election.

Is this how Putnam County runs?  Apparently it is.

And no matter how often we strip our government naked and parade their greed and corruption through the streets of our fair county they still insist they're wearing the finest of suits and Dior evening gowns.

The heat wave breaks on Sunday. Hang in there until then!


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