I attended a meeting of the Efficiency in Government Committee. Mostly they talked about how to structure an advisory committee, which will have, at best, an (you guessed it) advisory role to the main committee. The consultant said the committee would provide a much-needed forum for presentation of ideas about restructuring. It seems they are trying to constitute a sort of “estates general.” If they do, I want to be in the first or second estate. I would have offered, had the laypersons been invited to speak at the meeting, that the local newspaper is an already existing forum that presents just such opportunities. But then, maybe they don’t subscribe to the local paper.
I was lucky enough to score a copy of the agenda as prepared by the consultants and it is a very well-made printout of a power point presentation. I hope next time they’ll provide a few more copies so all of the ten laypersons in attendance can have their own copy. I also hope that when they meet next in Village Hall, there will be microphones and a loudspeaker system available so we, the public, can hear what is being said at the table. (And, it would also be helpful if the ladies with the computers and the conversations would take their work elsewhere so we, the public, can hear what’s going on at the table.)
There was a brief discussion of wanting to avoid appointing people to the committee who might have an “emotional” attachment to some particular idea or institution. If one interprets emotion as passion, as in passion for the institution of a village government, I guess I’m guilty. But I still hope they’ll allow me to become an advisor -- a prejudiced, emotional, passionate advisor.
I noted in the agenda a statement of our “restructuring options.” It seems there are four, and four only. This seems to me to display a poverty of imagination and to unduly limit the creativity of our citizenry. One glaring omission to the options is a choice of some possible ways to grow the village, eliminating a number of inefficient special districts and offering an efficient village government to a lot more people and businesses.
Lest anyone think I take a negative view of our restructuring committee, please believe that I fully support the committee and look forward to a successful result of their labors.
One bit of advice, I offer free of charge to the committee, is that while Americans demand, but rarely get, efficiency in delivery of services, we also treasure the way we have structured every level of government to be as inefficient (that is, slow, argumentative and obstructive) as possible in development of policy.
New York State Citizens – 1, Gas Industry Lobbyists -- 0
Gas industry lobbyists have spent a lot of time in Albany lobbying our State Senators and Assembly members to not pass a moratorium that calls for more study before moving ahead with hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in New York State. Meanwhile, very committed and concerned citizens have also been lobbying these elected representatives to pass a moratorium on fracking, the controversial method to extract natural gas from shale formations by forcing millions of gallons of water, sand and undisclosed chemicals at very high pressure to crack open the shale to release the gas. New York State sits on very large natural gas deposits under the Utica Shale and the Marcellus Shale.
On Aug. 3, 2010, the New York State Senate voted 48 to 9 for a moratorium until May 2011 to study the effects of fracking on water and air quality, environmental safety and public health (bill S.08129B). It is expected an equivalent bill, A.11443B, will be voted on in September when the New York State Assembly meets to conclude business for 2010.
The nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization Common Cause conducted a study called Deep Drilling, Deep Pockets to determine the impact of the natural gas industry lobbyists on our elected representatives and appointed officials as they draft and evaluate potential legislation weighing the economic benefits to our state (revenues) against potential environmental catastrophes (risks). Both the individual companies (such as Chesapeake Energy who spent $658,273 in the first four months of 2010) and the trade associations paid out record amounts to influence the Legislature and the Governor. In spite of this flood of lobbying money the New York State Senate chose to approve at least a nine-month delay in issuing permits so they could review and analyze the effects of this form of gas drilling, thereby acting in the best interest of all the people of New York.
Senate Majority Leader John L. Sampson said that we do not need to look any further than the devastation in the Gulf of Mexico to realize that there is no financial benefit worth risking the safety of New York’s water supply. On the other hand, the moratorium was blasted by an industry group, the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, which said the Senate had “caved” to alarmists who have exaggerated the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, cheating the state out of desperately-needed revenue. This is the industry argument and our Senators are not buying it.
The natural gas industry wants this moratorium defeated by the New York State Assembly. Call Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (212-312-1420) and tell him to bring the moratorium vote to the floor of the Assembly this September. Call your Assembly member (for most Kevin Cahill at 845-338-9610) to ask him to get this bill on the floor and convince others it is the right thing to do. Please ask everyone you know to make these calls. Let’s be sure the Assembly follows in the footsteps of the Senate to protect our natural resources.
I am writing a follow-up letter about my experience of having my car booted recently at the parking lot next to Water Street Market, but which is actually owned by the business across the street. After my letter appeared, the owner of that business contacted me and informed me that they do not receive any money from the towing company based on cars being booted/towed from the lot. To the extent I suggested otherwise in my letter, I apologize for the error. However, I still believe that there needs to be better notice to people that the lot is not connected with Water Street or the adjacent rail trail, especially given the number of visitors we have who likely make the same presumption that I did. Also, in my case, the two warning signs at the entrance were covered over by paper. I am considering making a claim in small claims court against the tow company based on lack of sufficient notice. If I do and win, I will donate the $110 to a charity in Carl Weldon’s name, as he was the kind gentleman who actually paid my fine to the tow company so that my car could be unbooted.
It IS cool to be green
Local children just can’t wait for the Ulster County Fair to arrive. We all get so excited for all the fried dough, cool rides, fun games and all that awesome stuff. When I went this year, of course I ran straight to the rides; but when I got off, I went to an out-of-the-way area -- the booth tent and visited the Climate Action Coalition booth. I mean it’s not half as exciting as a ride or as yummy as fried dough, but it was very interesting and it is super important that we all make an effort to heal the earth and save the environment!
To be honest, one of the main reasons I wanted to visit the booth was to see all the cool fans I helped make from reused materials from the Hudson Valley Materials Exchange that they were giving out. We also donated some items that were being used to decorate the booth, so I wanted to see it all put together. But I really had no idea just how cool my experience there would be!
At the Climate Action booth I saw the light meter from Central Hudson showing how much less electricity you use if you switch to florescent bulbs -- the meter moved much slower with the squiggly shaped bulbs. The clothes line that was hung showed very small children how much fun it is to hang clothes and Dan Guenther said the clothes dryer is the biggest user of electricity in your home! We have a long line at our house and Blayzen and I hang clothes often. There is a lot of laundry in our home. We also water the plants in our roof garden -- Mom and Brian say growing a garden helps the climate too and our tomatoes and green beans are sweet as candy.
When my friend Emily Alexander visited the booth, she was very surprised at how much water is wasted when you leave the tap on when you brush your teeth. She visited the booth with her Dad, took the Green Survey and my Mom gave them hints on how to remember your green shopping bags -- have enough for two sets and hang the ones you just used on the door knob of your front door so you don’t forget them. We have found the best practice is keep them in your car at all times and please remember to use them when shopping at department stores and farm stands too!
I also visited the Ulster County Democrats and the Safer New Paltz booth. The Democrats booth was really interesting because I like to read about all the people running for office and what they are promising to do for our community. I know if I was old enough to vote, I would choose the greenest candidates.
Indigo Moon Carroll
Village of New Paltz
The importance of medicinal marijuana
In a recent article relating to an incident involving recreational marijuana use, medicinal marijuana was referred to as “medical weed.” While it is often referred to as “weed” on the street, for patients with AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig disease or a slew of other serious medical conditions, it is medicine. Real medicine, just like Morphine, Dilaudid, Zofran, Compazine, SoluMedrol and Megace.
When medicinal marijuana is referred to as medical “weed,” it invalidates the many positive uses of this natural herb. It has been found to decrease eye pressure, stimulate appetite, decrease pain, decrease muscle spasms and elevate mood. According to a recent article from NORML, preclinical studies assessing the anticancer properties of cannabinoids have shown that they inhibit the proliferation of a wide range of cancers, including brain cancer, prostate cancer, oral cancers, lung cancer, skin cancer, pancreatic cancer, biliary tract cancers and lymphoma.
There are currently 14 states with medical marijuana legislation on the books. There are seven other states with legislation on their ballots for November. The Empire State Poll for 2010, released by the Cornell University Survey Research Institute, found that two-thirds of New Yorkers favor legalizing marijuana for medical use. New York state came close in mid-June to passing legislation, but due to some strong political opposition it has yet to be put to a vote. New Yorkers should not have to wait any longer.
Medical marijuana has its place in the pharmacopoeia of medicine today. Please do not perpetuate the stigma that this is just “weed” when it can provide relief to many who are suffering.
Eileen Konieczny, RN, OCN
Warm enough? It’s unreasonable to blame single weather events, even summer-long ones, on climate change, but the very warm summer we are still experiencing is consistent with fairly long-term weather patterns. Worldwide, since 1990, we have had 18 of the warmest years since temperature records started in 1870; 1992-93 were cooler due to solar shading by stratospheric particles from the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines. In the northeast, the warmth was mainly higher winter temperatures with summers fairly normal until this year. 2010, so far, has been the warmest year on record, winter and summer.
Nearly all climate scientists, worldwide, attribute the temperature increase to carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by our burning fossil fuels. Pre-industrial revolution level of this greenhouse gas was 280 parts per million (ppm), but it is now 385 ppm and rising at a predicted rate to be above 450 ppm before 2050. Climate science predicts that this will result in a 2-4oF increase in mean annual global temperature. Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for several hundred years continuously exerting its greenhouse effect. The 450 ppm level is thought to be a “tipping point,” resulting in an inevitable increase in mean annual global temperature of 8-12oF; melting of all global glaciers; rise in sea level of 2-40ft; increased precipitation near coasts but decertification inland; and other negative effects.
If the “tipping point” is exceeded, food supplies will be greatly reduced; land area will be significantly reduced; much of the earth will become uninhabitable without energy for air cooling. Predictably, a major part of the probable 2050 world population of 9 billion people will perish! There will be social chaos!
We are faced with two alternatives: continue the status quo increasing our use of fossil fuels with the consequences outlined; or as rapidly as possible ceasing to use these fuels for anything but chemical feedstocks (no carbon dioxide). The latter will be expensive and the longer we wait to make the necessary changes, the more expensive it will be.
Current alternative energy forms are sufficient for our current energy needs. Energy conservation will reduce our per capita energy needs. The status quo argues that the alternate forms are more expensive than that status quo. True, but by moving to these alternates, now, we can avoid those consequences of sticking to the status quo. How will we pay for the change? Deficit spending is a definite possibility. So is a carbon tax -- an increase in taxes which we all will pay. A more progressive tax approach would be to return to the tax schedules preceding the Reagan tax reforms of the 1980s. One or a combination of these three approaches will be necessary to insure a future for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren. However, we will have to vote to change the dysfunction in the federal and state governments.
Make our voices heard
What’s happening to this place
that I once called home
To the trees I used to climb
and the fields I used to roam.
I used to play with the waves
that jumped over my head
Now these waves, if I swallowed
would surely make me dead.
So many gorgeous species
are now going away
Are they on another planet?
will they see another day?
I know much less now than I did
before the billionaires grew
Since their profits only increased
by more people getting screwed
Information coming to me through
the media that they own
Now that Google’s one of them
I’ll soon forget what I’d once known.
I don’t have any answers
only hopes that I’m not alone.
If we make our voices heard
perhaps we still can save our home.
Farm fair and art auction at Phillies Bridge Farm
In a few weeks, Phillies Bridge Farm Project is holding its annual Farm Fair & Art Auction -- it’s a great family event and fundraiser, but also an opportunity to shop locally. In addition to a live auction featuring local artists, silent auction items will showcase treasures from the New Paltz area. Over 80 local residents and businesses have donated items so far and we expect to have at least 100 at the event. There will literally be something for everyone, including some of the best pickles you ever had, a garnet necklace, dinner at Mohonk Mountain House (and many other great restaurants), massages and acupuncture, fine beer and wine and a round of golf.
The event is free and family-friendly and will take place on Saturday, Sept. 25 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (live auction will start at 1:30 p.m.). In addition to the auctions, there will be children’s activities all day, farm tours, beekeeping demonstrations, dip contest, pizza made in our outdoor oven and much more. All the proceeds from the event support the Phillies Bridge Farm Project’s efforts to educate people of all ages and backgrounds about sustainable agriculture and healthy eating. Every year, more than 1,000 children come to the farm through our school field trips, summer camp and other programs. It is a place where kindergartners learn to love cabbage and kids and adults get to explore the magical world of food and farming in a hands-on setting. Come enjoy a day on the farm, shop locally and help support our work.
Jill Rubin, Executive Director
Phillies Bridge Farm Project