News Briefs 3/26/2009
The Onteora Central School District announces that petitions
are available to nominate candidates for the Board of Education.
Petition forms may be picked up at the Onteora Administrative
Offices, 4166 Route 28, Boiceville, New York, from the District
Clerk between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. each business
day. Petitions will require at least 81 qualified voter signatures
and must be returned to the Clerk by 5:00 P.M., Monday, April
20, 2009. There are three (3) vacancies for Board Seats:
Voting at Large is for three vacancies to be filled, including
two Three Year Seats to run July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2012
and the unexpired term of Ralph Legnini, commencing on May
19, 2009, and expiring on June 30, 2011.
Candidates must have one year residence in the school district
at the time of the election. The Annual Meeting and Election
will be held on Tuesday, May 19, 2009, in the four elementary
The Central Catskills Collaborative, set to meet again in
the coming week, is moving ahead with plans to submit an application
for designation of the Route 28 corridor as a Scenic Byways
thoroughfare, raising its potential funding profile in these
difficult times, with the promise of $50,000 in new funding
from the Catskill Watershed Corporation.
“The CWC wants to fund the Corridor project,”
CWC Executive Director Alan Rosa has said of his regional
entity’s funding, referring to the scenic byway nomination.
Peter Manning, the Regional Planner for the Catskill Center
for Conservation and Development, said the CWC funds would
be used to prepare a corridor management plan.
The plan, a requirement for Scenic Byway nomination, will
be the Collaborative’s vision of the roadway, offering
ideas as to how best to show the connections that all the
communities have with one another.
“Route 28 has a story to tell,” he said.
Margaret Bryant, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture
at SUNY ESF, spoke at a recent CCC meeting about how her College’s
design studio in Delhi is putting the finishing touches on
some design ideas expected to be included in the corridor
Bryant said the design team, which has visited the region
to collect data, has focused on three categories: tourism,
recreation and access to water.
“The strength of this project is that it is an idea
generator,” said Bryant.
The Central Catskills Collaborative is a group of designated
representatives from seven municipalities along over 50 miles
of the Route 28 Corridor: The Towns of Andes, Hurley, Middletown,
Olive, and Shandaken, and the Villages of Fleischmanns and
Margaretville. These communities are working together to protect
and promote the resources along the Route 28 Corridor. The
communities are in unique partnership involving the landscape
architecture program of SUNY College of Environmental Science
and Forestry and the regional non-profit, The Catskill Center
for Conservation and Development, Inc. Together they will
conduct community visioning exercises and produce both corridor-wide
and site-specific designs for communities along the Esopus
Creek and the East Branch of the Delaware River.
The Collaborative will host Sherret Chase and Jim Infante
of the Friends of the Catskill Interpretive Center at its
next meeting the evening of March 26, when the guest speakers
will provide an overview and update on the long-envisioned
Catskill Interpretive Center proposed near Mount Tremper.
The mission of the Friends is to encourage the State of New
York, in conjunction with local governments and the private
sector, to build the Catskill Interpretive Center. The center
will serve as a public gateway to the Catskill Region and
become an important focus point of environmental, cultural,
educational, and economic activities in the Catskills.
The public is invited to attend the meeting, which will be
held at the Andes Town Hall on Thursday, March 26 at 6PM.
For more information, contact Peter Manning, Catskill Center
Regional Planner, at 586-2611or visit www.catskillcenter.org.
For more information about the CCC please visit www.margaretville.org/ccc.
The Ulster County Planning Department is asking municipalities
to reduce the number of referrals to the county agency from
their own planning boards as part of a new streamlining effort.
UCPD head Dennis Doyle said that the decision was based on
the county’s new charter, and not his own department’s
“We had a change in the county Planning Department’s
function relative to the charter where we’re now going
to be reviewing subdivisions and we also have jurisdiction
outside a 500-foot rule (for projects near municipal borders)
under (state) General Municipal Law,” he said. “We
are meeting with communities to discuss these changes.”
Among changes in county Planning Board policy is adding a
week to the deadline for municipalities to submit material.
Doyle said a waiver would be available for requests involving
Doyle encouraged local officials to contact the county Planning
Department when state agencies are involved in applications.
“We will act as essentially a gateway agency for all
of the agencies that are under review at the county level,”
Doyle said. “The would be the Health Department and
the Public Works Department and we’ll reach out to the
New York state Department of Transportation where we have
some leverage to ask them to attend, and set up meetings so
that an applicant can come up and meet with all of us at a
The Planning Department also recently sponsored a Land Use
Leadership Roundtable at the SUNY Ulster Campus in Stone Ridge
where County Administrator Mike Hein suggested further streamling
of local review processes to ensure projects under review
take no longer than five years to get through such processes…
Four counties and five ski areas of the Catskill Mountain
Region have finally announced a new marketing initiative to
promote spring skiing in the Catskills… harking back
to the time, two decades ago, when the region had its own
fledgling (and ultimately undone) Ski The Catskills program.
Representatives from Belleayre, Holiday, Hunter, Plattekill
and Windham Mountains, along with leaders from Delaware, Greene,
Sullivan and Ulster Counties, hosted a press conference earlier
this month at the Ulster County Office Building announcing
details of the plan.
The effort is the result of meetings this past winter between
the five ski area businesses, four county tourism directors,
and the leaders of Greene and Ulster’s economic development
agencies. As an immediate outgrowth, the ski centers have
launched billboards on strategic highways with a carefully
crafted message letting passersby know that they could have
played more and traveled less if they had chosen to ski the
The signs direct travelers to the Catskill Association of
Tourism (CATS) website, VisitTheCatskills.com, where a 25%
discount to anyone presenting a lift ticket from anywhere
outside of New York is prominently featured. Furthermore,
to maximize exposure and improve the chance for success, operators
of each mountain have posted the promotion to their homepages
and CATS has sent out an e-mail blast to thousands of subscribers.
“This partnership greatly enhances our overall marketing
efforts,” said Belleayre Director of Operations, Tony
Lanza, whose state-owned mountains backers had earlier called
for boycotts of competitors, and neighboring counties’
recreation efforts. “The additional revenue generated
will benefit all of the businesses and local governments in
the area. I appreciate the leadership of Ulster and Greene
counties for bringing everyone together.”
“Hunter Mountain is thrilled by this joint campaign
between the winter sports areas of the Catskills,” said
Brian Czarnecki, Director of Marketing for Hunter Mountain.
“The five winter resorts and the surrounding towns hold
so much natural splendor for skiers and riders traveling from
New York City, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Jersey,”
“I cannot overstate the significance skiing has on our
regional economy,” Ulster County Executive Mike Hein
said. “This collaboration between multiple county governments
and the private sector is an innovative approach to ensure
that the regional ski industry remains strong and vital and
that it continues to generate jobs. This is a
great first step toward future collaboration.”
The campaign was paid for through a combination of county
and private funds with CATS utilizing I Love New York regional
matching funds for part of the cost and the ski areas funding
part of the cost.
Concurrent with the announcement, the state changed its mind
on an earlier-announced end-of-March closing date for its
Belleayre property, allowing Lanza to keep it open as long
as possible this season.
A Kingston-based wine and liquor distributor relocating to
Greene County will take state Empire Zone tax benefits with
it, thanks to a decision by the city’s Common Council
earlier this month. The decision to aid Empire Merchants North,
which is moving its operations and dozens of employees from
Kingston to an industrial park in Coxsackie, was made in light
of worsening economic conditions and the city and county’s
need to do all it can to make sure residents are employed,
even if that involves travel.
Officials with Empire Merchants North have said they will
do everything they can to make sure the 150 employees who
live in Kingston and the surrounding area stay employed.
The Empire Zone benefits involve a limited number of opportunities
in each area where they are located. In recent years, Kingston
has been requested to extend their benefits to Shandaken for
possible use by the proposed Belleayre Resort project still
in its environmental review stage. Discussion of the matter
was tabled pending completion of that process.
Ulster County’s legislative leaders have issued a call
for a new era of bipartisan cooperation via Majority Leader
Brian Cahill and Minority Leader Glenn Noonan’s recently
delivered 2009 platform addresses, saying the county could
no longer sustain old-style bickering.
“Each of us, Democrats and Republicans alike, are in
this together.We owe it to the residents of Ulster County
to end our tolerance for petty bickering and obstruction,”
said Cahill, of the Town of Ulster, referring to the county’s
new administrator position. “No longer saddled with
day-to-day oversight responsibilities, we should dedicate
our time to delving deeper into the substantive background
of the issues before us. We should be creative, innovative
and now, to a new degree, objective.”
He then called on making the county more business-friendly,
tackling local domestic violence issues; reducing childhood
obesity, and instituting an “Arts Mean Business”
campaign, among other imperatives.
Noonan, R-Gardiner, called on legislators to lay out a less
aggressive agenda for the upcoming year and was highly critical
of Democratic legislators and Democratic County Executive
Michael Hein, while also calling for bipartisanship.
Municipal assessors in Ulster County would like the state
to place all assessors on an equal footing by requiring re-assessments
at the same time.
Right now, they vary from municipality to municipality and
in Ulster County, they have asked lawmakers to adopt memorializing
legislation asking Albany to do that. The issue came before
the Administrative Services Committee of the County Legislature
“Assessments in all the towns and the city (of Kingston)
will all be done on a regular basis so that you don’t
have one town every five years, one town every 10, one town
every seven,” noted Committee Chairwoman Jeanette Provenzano..
“This way, you get them on the same cycle and they are
all done at the same time.”
The full County Legislature must now vote on the measure before
it is sent to Albany.
Emily Fisher and Dean Gitter, owners of Emerson Resort &
Spa, recently announced the appointment of Naomi Umhey as
chief operating officer and Tracy Lynch as general manager.
Between them, the two long-time executive team members share
nearly 27 years experience working for the property.
“It is no surprise that these difficult economic times
have required us to re-examine our business plan and approach,”
said Fisher. “Naomi and Tracy’s experience, creativity
and insight have been instrumental in streamlining and developing
new efficiencies which we believe will ensure our future success.
Previous CEOs and general managers at the resort, which includes
two hotels, a spa and a shopping area, have included Gitter’s
son, former Woodstock radio personality Ron Van Warmer, and
Ted Wright, whose term included a tragic fire that took the
old Emerson Inn’s former home and is currently the focus
of an ongoing lawsuit involving charges of sexual harassment
against local female employees of the resort set for completion
this coming autumn.
Umhey’s career with the Emerson includes management
positions in almost every aspect of the resort’s operations,
including service as General Manager of the Country Store,
General Manager of Maintenance, IT and Property Services,
and consulting work for the Company’s real estate and
land holdings operations.
Starting in 1998 in retail for the Country Store, Lynch was
quickly promoted to the accounting department where she gained
extensive knowledge of the property and its operations. After
serving as financial controller, she worked as the Emerson’s
In their new roles, the Emerson’s owners have stated,
both Umhey and Lynch will be responsible for financial planning,
goal setting and overall daily operations.
While there still is some work to be done at the Ulster County
Law Enforcement Center, county officials say the $1.73 million
settlement reached in recent weeks with project management
firm Bovis Lend Lease and architectural firm Crandell Associates
closes the books on the county’s dealings with the nearly
20 contractors who had a hand in the most troubled construction
project in the county’s history.
A final accounting of the bungled project’s expense
is still at least months away, but rough estimates put the
total cost of the jail construction at more than $91 million.
As a result of earlier settlements reached with some vendors,
the county assumed responsibility for completing some of the
work for which vendors otherwise would have been on the hook…
because it would prove ultimately cheaper for Ulster residents
There still is several thousand dollars worth of outstanding
work to be completed, including upgrades to Albert Street
and the city of Kingston transfer station property that was
used as a staging area during construction of the Law Enforcement
Originally estimated to cost $53 million, the construction
project ballooned to $72 million once all the construction
bids came in to more than $95 million as the work fell nearly
three years behind schedule.
To date, the county has paid out $92,717,537, but it will
get $1.73 million back through the March 11 settlement with
Bovis and Crandell.
The construction delays — which pushed the project’s
completion from April 2004 to February 2007 — also forced
the county to spend a combined $6 million to send overflow
prisoners to other counties and rent space for the Sheriff’s
County officials said the settlement with Bovis and Crandell
— the companies that county officials blame for the
cost overruns and construction delays — was the best
the county could hope for. Legislature Chairman David Donaldson
said that to go to trial would have delayed closing the books
on the project even longer and would not have resulted in
a significant payoff.
“The biggest culpability the county had was the way
it hired the people it hired,” Donaldson said. He said
the Republicans who controlled the county Legislature at the
time the jail project was started gave Crandell an “inside
track” for the architectural work despite the fact that
“he didn’t know what the hell he was doing.”
He added that Bovis, also hired by the then-Republicans majority,
failed to properly manage the project and that county leaders
failed to keep tabs on the project.
Democrats won control of the Legislature in November 2005,
having made the GOP-led jail construction a central theme
of their campaign.
A growing number of families living in rural northeastern
Pennsylvania, the forefront of the new gas drilling boom under
the Marcellus Shale that could move into the Catskills and
local watershed region if allowed by the state, have been
reporting major health difficulties tied to contamination
of their drinking water wells by the controversial new process.
In Dimock township, about 150 miles north of Philadelphia,
Cabot Oil & Gas has drilled about 30 wells since 2006,
20 of them just last year. Industry spokesmen have maintained
that groundwater is protected by meticulous safeguards and
that any chemicals used are heavily diluted and pose no health
threat, while state officials say their tests have shown no
reason for concern. But people who live there are convinced
otherwise, according to nearly a dozen interviews recently
conducted by a variety of news agencies.
Some geologists believe Marcellus has the potential to meet
total U.S. natural gas needs for a decade or more. But the
gas is trapped deep within layers of rock, requiring a mix
of highly toxic chemicals for drilling that. Even with companies
paying royalties to landowners for drilling rights and for
gas recovered from their properties, many are now saying has
the potential to harm entire quifers and communal sources
of the region’s drinking water.
According to Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, a Pennsylvania
group that opposes drilling, there have been leaks of toxic
chemicals into groundwater at hundreds of natural gas drilling
sites in Colorado and New Mexico. And both Cabot and state
officials agree that the drilling in Dimock has released methane
into the water supply, which a number of homeowners have said
has made it possible for them to ignite their well water.
In one case, a gas buildup blew the cap off a well.
Companies won’t disclose exactly what chemicals they
use in their new methods, saying the information is proprietary,
and residents complain they can’t run meaningful tests
because they don’t know what to look for. The Endocrine
Disruption Exchange, a Colorado research group, has identified
201 chemicals and found almost 90 percent had the potential
to harm skin, eyes, and sensory organs; 50 percent could damage
the brain and nervous system, and 29 percent may cause cancer.
New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation
has meanwhile called a moratorium on use of the new processes
while it researches their potential impacts.
Ready To Speak
Margaret Lindeman, a tenth-grader at Kingston High School,
is participating in the New York Annual Conference Youth Mission
Ambassadors trip to Siquirres, Costa Rica from March 19 to
March 29. While there, she will be helping to rebuild a playground
and doing an afterschool program there to work with kids on
English, math, and arts and crafts. She would love to speak
to local groups about her experiences during the next few
months, and can be reached at the Reservoir United Methodist
Church in Shokan(657-2326).
There are 239 less people calling Delaware County home according
to estimates released last week by the Census Bureau, which
say that in July 2007 there were 46,324 residents, while one
year later that number dropped to 46,085.
Nearby Sullivan County suffered near as great a loss. In the
same timeframe Sullivan’s population went from 76,418
to 76,189. That’s 229 less residents.
Greene County lost 61 residents, down from 49,503 to 48,992.
In contrast, Ulster County’s population grew by 77 residents
from 181,593 to 181,670.
All of these estimates represent a change of less than one
percent. The data released did not include a breakdown to
the Town and Village level.
New York State’s population grew by 0.3 percent to 19.5
million, according to the estimates. The state’s modest
growth continues to be fueled by New York City, which has
grown as its immigrant communities thrive. The larger New
York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island metropolitan area grew
0.4 percent to 19 million.
The numbers reflect the related trends of declining manufacturing
jobs in the area and people seeking opportunities in the South
and the West.
A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Coalition
of Watershed Towns, seeking to void the federal government's
granting of a 10-year filtration waiver for NYC's water supply.
The Coalition had argued that aspects of the waiver should
have been subject to SEQRA and to local review. According
to its attorney Jeff Baker, the court "basically said
we have no standing in the case. We don't think the decision
makes sense." The Coalition will be appealing to the
US Supreme Court.
The Onteora High School Guidance Department is hosting a College
Admissions Information Session on Thursday, April 2nd at 6:30pm
in the High School Chorus Room (#121A). Important information
about post-secondary education and the college admissions
process will be presented. This workshop is essential for
college-bound Juniors and their parents. However, all Onteora
High School students and their parents are welcome to attend.
For further information, please contact the Guidance Department
A total of 21 live cats and one dead one were removed from
a residence in Woodstock and the resident, Andrea Kopp of
Woodstock, was arrested earlier this month.
Kopp, 54, is charged with 22 counts of failure to provide
proper food and drink to impounded animals, a misdemeanor
under state Agriculture and Markets Law. She was released
on an appearance ticket returnable to Woodstock Town Court.
The Ulster County SPCA investigated allegations of animal
neglect at 287 Wittenburg Road in Woodstock, obtained a search
warrant and found the residence in complete disarray, with
garbage, cat urine, and feces all over, said SPCA Executive
Director Brian Shapiro. No evidence of food or water for the
cats was found.
The cats were taken to the SPCA facility in Kingston where
they are receiving medical attention.
On Thursday, April 2, the Phoenicia Food Bank will be holding
a penny social at the Phoenicia Elementary School, from 6:00
PM on, as a benefit for its increasingly necessary activities
in the community.
The Food Bank, run by Helping Hands of NY, is open at MF Whitney
Phoenicia firehouse every 2nd and 4th Monday of the month.
Working, aiming towards eventually being up and running every
Monday of each week. Hours are from 3 to 7 PM.
The effort, up and running since last November, is currently
working with upwards of 300 people each time they’re
open and has to date given away over 10,000 pounds of food,
including regular contributions from the Hudson Valley Food
Bank and the Northeastern Regional Food Bank of New York..
Donation of gifts are being taken for the April 2 event and
may be dropped off on food distribution days at the firehouse,
at the Sharp Committee building in Phoenicia, or by calling
688-9825 for other locations and times.
A 50-year-old Phoenicia man was recently sentenced in U.S.
Northern District Court in Albany by Judge Gary L. Sharpe
to 6-1/2 years in prison and 10 years post-release supervision
on charges he possessed child pornography. James Elsis was
also prohibited from having unsupervised contact with minors
and was ordered to participate in a sex offender program and
to register with the state Sex Offender Registry.
Elsis, who pleaded guilty Sept. 11 to two counts of felony
possession of child pornography, admitted that on or about
June 16, 2006, he used a computer and his credit card to subscribe
to a Web site that offered access to thousands of still and
video files containing child pornography, according to the
U.S. Department of Justice. On July 12, 2007, Elsis consented
to the seizure of his laptop computer by federal agents, who
found more than 1,000 images depicting minors engaged in sexually
explicit conduct. On Dec. 27, 2007, a federal search warrant
was executed at Elsis’ residence and another computer
he used was recovered. About 100 pornographic images depicting
minors were found on that computer, authorities said. Elsis
was arrested Dec. 12, 2007 by agents with the U.S. Immigration
and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security,
which conducted the investigation.
President Barack Obama has finally ordered a review of George
W. Bush’s guidelines for implementing legislation passed
by Congress, at the same time saying that he would employ
his own version of how he wants the government to follow the
In a memo to senior government officials, Obama said they
must check with Attorney General Eric Holder before relying
on any of Bush’s signing statements for guidance. Bush
often issued a statement when signing a bill into law, and
critics said the statements at times showed government officials
how to circumvent the law if Bush disagreed with it on constitutional
“There is no doubt that the practice of issuing such
statements can be abused,” Obama wrote. “Constitutional
signing statements should not be used to suggest that the
president will disregard statutory requirements on the basis
of policy disagreements.”
Obama ordered his administration to work with Congress to
let lawmakers know about concerns over legality before legislation
gets to the White House for the president’s signature.
He also pledged that he would use caution and restraint in
writing his own signing statements, a reference to the fact
that his predecessor utilized the mechanism double the amount
of any of his predecessors.
Bush used his statements to circumvent Congress’ ban
on torture and prohibitions against using federal tax dollars
to build a permanent military base in Iraq.
The Justice Department said the memo would help officials
make better decisions.
New At CCCD
The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development has hired
Lisa Jemison as its new Education Coordinator.
Jemison will be administering Green Connections, a program
designed to establish a partnership between classrooms in
the West-of-Hudson NYC Watershed and in New York City. The
program is a yearlong extension of the Watershed Forestry
Institute for Teachers (WFIT), held annually for twenty K-12
teachers in July. She will also be assisting with the implementation
of the Catskill Stream and Watershed Education Program in
thirty 4th-12th grade classrooms annually, among other Center
Most recently, Jemison worked at the Natural History Museum
of the Adirondacks (the Wild Center) as Project Manager for
Public Programs and the Naturalist Cabinet. Additionally,
as a Certified Interpretive Guide Course Instructor for the
National Association for Interpretation, she has taught numerous
weeklong courses for staff and volunteers of various organizations.
Previously, Jemison also worked as an education intern at
the Teton Science School in Wyoming, the Goodwin Nature Center
and the Beardsley Zoo in Connecticut, and the Connecticut
Department of Environmental Protection.
Jemison possesses a B.S. in Natural Resources Management &
Engineering, and a M.S. in Natural Resources: Land, Water,
and Air, with a Concentration in Education. She has conducted
ecological research in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile,
and nesting behavior and critical habitats of the wood turtle
in Connecticut, among other research.
For more information, visit: www.catskillcenter.org.
“2020 Vision for the Catskills,” a series of environmentally-themed
lectures being presented around the region, will continue
next Tuesday, March 31 at Sullivan County Community College
with an illustrated talk on how advancing technological tools
are helping to visualize the region in a new way.
“Geospatial Tools – A New View of New York (and
your own backyard),” will be presented by Susan Hoskins
of Cornell University’s Institute for Resource Information
Sciences (IRIS). The 4:30 p.m. program in Seelig Theater (Building
E) on the Loch Sheldrake campus, is free and open to the public.
Hundred-year-old maps, large scale airphotos and sub-meter
resolution satellite images remain important tools for exploring
landscapes, inventorying resources and analyzing change in
the environment. Over the past five years, though, geospatial
tools of remote sensing, geographic information systems, and
the global positioning system have experienced a fast-forward
evolution as well.
Geospatial products and resources are continually collected,
processed and distributed by public agencies and commercial
firms. This survey of resources in New York highlights the
vast array of images and data that are available for the Catskill
region. With these tools, casual users and resource professionals,
youth and adults, can visualize the landscape from a new perspective.
Coordinated by the Catskill Institute for the Environment
(CIE), the 2020 lecture series is a continuation of a dialog
on environmental issues and human interactions confronting
the Catskills in the coming decade.
Remaining lectures in the series will be held Wednesday, April
8 when Christy Caridi, affiliate assistant professor of economics
at Marist College, discusses “Changing Demographics
in the Catskills: Implications for Environmental Policy”
at Bard College; and Thursday, Apr. 16 at SUNY Ulster, Stone
Ridge, where Benjamin I. Cook, a NOAA Postdoctoral Scholar
at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory addresses the topic “Climate
Change at Mohonk Lake.” All the talks start at 4:30
p.m. and are free.
The CIE, established in 1998, is a consortium of representatives
of colleges, institutions and individuals that encourages,
through symposia and research, environmental awareness, education
and cooperation in the Catskill region.
For more information, contact Dr. Morton (Sam) Adams, chairman,
A U.N. panel will next week recommend that the world ditch
the dollar as its reserve currency in favor of a shared basket
of currencies, a member of the panel said on Wednesday, adding
to pressure on the dollar. Currency specialist Avinash Persaud,
a member of the panel of experts, told a Reuters Funds Summit
in Luxembourg that the proposal was to create something like
the old Ecu, or European currency unit, that was a hard-traded,
Persaud, chairman of consultants Intelligence Capital and
a former currency chief at JPMorgan, said the recommendation
would be one of a number delivered to the United Nations on
March 25 by the U.N. Commission of Experts on International
“It is a good moment to move to a shared reserve currency,”
Central banks hold their reserves in a variety of currencies
and gold, but the dollar has dominated as the most convincing
store of value — though its rate has wavered in recent
years as the United States ran up huge twin budget and external
Persaud said that the United States was concerned that holding
the reserve currency made it impossible to run policy, while
the rest of world was also unhappy with the generally declining
“There is a moment that can be grasped for change,”
he said. “Today the Americans complain that when the
world wants to save, it means a deficit. A shared (reserve)
would reduce the possibility of global imbalances.”
Persaud said the panel had been looking at using something
like an expanded Special Drawing Right, originally created
by the International Monetary Fund in 1969 but now used mainly
as an accounting unit within similar organizations.
The SDR and the old Ecu are essentially combinations of currencies,
weighted to a constituent’s economic clout, which can
be valued against other currencies and indeed against those
inside the basket.
Persaud has long argued that the dollar would give way to
the Chinese yuan as a global reserve currency within decades.
A shared reserve currency might negate this move, he said,
but he believed that China would still like to take on the
Meanwhile, the World Bank has warned that the world is falling
into the first global recession since World War II as the
crisis that started in the United States engulfs once-booming
developing nations, confronting them with massive financial
shortfalls that could turn back the clock on poverty reduction
by years. They cautioned that the cost of helping poorer nations
in crisis would exceed the current financial resources of
multilateral lenders. Such aid could prove critical to political
stability as concerns mount over unrest in poorer nations,
particularly in Eastern Europe, generated by their sharp reversal
of fortunes as private investment evaporates and global trade
collapses. They called on developed nations struggling with
their own economic routs to dedicate 0.7 percent of the money
they spend on stimulus programs toward a new Vulnerability
Fund to help developing countries.
Despite the United States’ position as the epicenter
of the crisis, investors are flocking to U.S. Treasury bills
and the dollar, squeezing developing nations out of global
credit markets. Additionally, only one quarter of vulnerable
developing countries, the World Bank said, have the ability
to launch their own stimulus programs or to independently
finance measures such as job-creation or safety-net programs.
The World Bank remains well financed and is positioned to
almost triple spending to $35 billion this year. But it warned
the scope of the need in the developing world will exceed
the combined ability of major multilateral lenders, and it
called on governments in major nations and the private sector
to pitch in more.
Local author Martha Frankel - whose recent memoir on gambling,
“Hats & Eyeglasses,” was recently released
in paperback – will be helping beautician Janea Padilha
finish up her own new lifestyle book called Brazilian Sexy—with
advice “on love, life, and being sexy”—as
part of “a five-figure deal.”
Padilha is one of the J Sisters, the Brazilian doyennes of
waxing who run the 57th Street salon where celebrities like
Gwyneth Paltrow, Lindsay Lohan, Cameron Diaz, Sarah Jessica
Parker and Uma Thurman have gone to get neat and trimmed.
“In the book, I talk about what happens in the room
where I work,” Ms. Padilha thas said. “My clients
are always telling me I should write a book—I give all
my clients very good advice about beauty, about men, about
Ms. Padilha will relay her wisdom to author Frankel, who will
do the actual writing of the book.
The book will be published in 2010.
With help from local schoolchildren, Michelle Obama broke
ground this month on the first White House vegetable garden
since World War II. The First Lady, known for her devotion
to healthy eating habits and workouts, will grow 55 kinds
of vegetables in the 1,100-square-foot garden, including spinach,
broccoli, carrots, rhubarb, fennel, shell peas and more. One
notable exception? Beets, which the president hates. The fruits
and vegetables grown in the garden will be harvested by White
House chefs and used for both casual family dinners and more
formal affairs. Start-up costs totaled just $200.
Shortly after Obama was elected last November, chef and locally-grown
food cheerleader Alice Waters volunteered herself as an advisor
on food policy, a member of the president’s “kitchen
“I cannot forget the vision I have had since 1993 of
a beautiful vegetable garden on the White House lawn,”
she wrote in a letter to the Obamas. “It would demonstrate
to the nation and to the world our priority of stewardship
of the land—a true victory garden!”
Now, let’s all get growing…