News Briefs 4/9/2009
The Budget &
So the state budget finally passed, with few of the key provisions
that had our readers enthralled making it to the end as state
property tax freezes and other matters moved to the backseat
to make room for a new “tax the rich” fix geared
towards New York’s downstate pockets of wealth.
Millions of dollars in union-paid ads, an influential left
wing of the Democratic Party and the loss of Republican control
of the state Senate contributed to an overhaul of Reagan-era
income tax brackets under the 2009-10 spending plan totaling
$131.8 billion that was adopted, leading some to believe that
much was put forth as a smokescreen to pull upstate legislators
onboard in the final rounds.
The final figure is $10.5 billion more than the current budget,
or about 8.7 percent at a time with minimal inflation. Most
of that, however, is use of $7.2 billion in federal economic
General fund spending, which excludes federal money, is projected
to increase no more than 1 percent, to about $54 billion.
The Legislature used federal stimulus money to restore about
half of the more than $1 billion in cuts Gov. David Paterson
proposed in his December budget. Schools would get only slight
increases in aid, although Paterson’s proposed cut of
3.3 percent - or about $700 million - was fully restored.
Gone will be the STAR rebate checks taxpayers have been receiving.
But $170 million in spending for legislators’ pet projects,
key for re-election years like 2010 (and always a strong source
of funding for regions such as ours) will be untouched.
The final budget deal overhauls the state’s income tax
rates to get $4 billion from wealthier residents who have
been paying about the same rate as a family making $40,000
a year. The agreement will increase the current top rate of
6.85 percent. Residents making more than $300,000 but less
than $500,000 would face an income tax rate of 7.85 percent.
Those making more than $500,000 would see a rate of 8.97 percent.
Of interest to the increasingly photogenic Catskills and Hudson
Valley, the state’s television and film industry will
get $350 million in tax credits to help trim the cost of production
in the state and give breaks to investors.
Also key on a local basis was the grassroots political effort
that helped prevent the Hudson River Valley Greenway Communities
Council and Conservancy from being merged with other state
agencies in budget-cutting moves.
The Greenway is a state agency created to facilitate development
of a voluntary regional strategy for preserving scenic, natural,
historic, cultural and recreational resources while encouraging
compatible economic development and maintaining the tradition
of home rule for land-use decision-making. Through voluntary
participation in the Greenway, communities in 13 counties
- including Ulster, Dutchess, Columbia and Greene (and a growing
number of towns here in the Route 28 corridor) - can receive
technical assistance and funding for local land-use planning
projects that support the goals of the Greenway program.
Republican Senator John Bonacic, meanwhile, spoke for his
party, shut out from final talks for the first time in decades,
called the spending plan “the big ugly,” saying
it will chase business out of the state with higher taxes
“This budget is like bad fish; it’s going to smell
worse and worse every day,” he said. “”As
a result of the budget, New Yorkers will pay more for things
we use each day - cell phones, electricity, health insurance,
hospital services, and auto insurance, to name just a few.”
Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, meanwhile, spoke for the Democratic
majority when he trumpeted, following the budget’s passage,
the manner in which the budget closed a $17 billion deficit
and “enacted a spending plan that maintains funding
for education while reflecting the State’s fiscal challenges.
With Federal assistance, the budget includes an additional
$1.2 billion for schools statewide and restores many of the
proposed cuts in the Executive Budget.”
“Despite an unprecedented deficit, the Assembly put
forth a plan in which the needs of our families take precedence
above all else,” said Cahill. “Not only is it
unacceptable to jeopardize the future of our children, but
any reduction in state-aid would further burden property tax
payers, which is the last thing we should to do in this economic
Under the budget, aid to Onteora School District, said Cahill,
will rise by $439,194 over recent projections tied to Paterson’s
proposed cuts. And cuts to the Environmental Protection Fund,
utilized to aid in the protection of Catskills lands, will
end up not being as severe as originally announced.
The Assemblyman also praised reforms, within the budget bill,
to the state’s staunch “Rockefeller Drug Laws,”
as well as expansion of the state’s “bottle bill”
Yet to be decided will be the exact roll-out of stimulus dollars
for local “bricks and mortar,” or “road
and bridges” projects, prioritized by the county last
month but still under the control of the governor.
In March, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, also Chairman
of the county’s Transportation Council, announced that
cumulatively, governments within Ulster County would be receiving
an estimated $20.7 million in federal stimulus funds for transportation
initiatives. The announcement followed the adoption of a prioritization
list by the UCTC of the infrastructure projects submitted
under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
Approximately $17.6 million will be allocated to 10 first-round
highway, bridge and pedestrian projects located throughout
the county; and another $3.1 million to 8 transit projects.
Five second-round projects, totaling approximately $15.7 million,
were also approved in the event that one or more first-round
projects could not proceed, or the state found other means
of funding them
Among the approved Round 1 Highway, Bridge and Pedestrian
Projects put forth by Hein was $2 million for Route 28 Paving
from Route 375 to the Delaware County Line, along with another
$2.2 million for general paving work on state highways throughout
the county… most of which seemed likely to go to projects
in the county’s southern half. Round two projects also
included another $11.2 million for Route 28 repaving.
Let’s see what happens on the state level, next.
The Catskill Watershed Corporation will hold its 12th Annual
Meeting of member towns Tuesday, April 28 at 6 p.m. at CWC
offices, 905 Main Street, Margaretville. Results of the election
of representatives from Schoharie and Ulster Counties to the
CWC Board of Directors will be announced.
In Ulster County, Olive Town Supervisor Bert Leifeld is seeking
re-election. Leifeld, who currently serves as the CWC’s
Vice President, was not challenged in the election process
said CWC Attorney Tim Cox, and was therefore nominated by
all of the Ulster County watershed towns. Beginning on the
28th, Leifeld will begin his second, four year term.
Ulster County’s other delegate is Mike Shultis, the
former supervisor of the Town of Hurley who lost a reelection
bid two years ago, who will serve two more years on the CWC
The CWC board consists of 15 members, 12 of them elected officials
of West-of-Hudson watershed municipalities. Delegates are
elected to the board by supervisors of the 39 townships in
the watershed. The board includes six members from Delaware
County, two from Ulster County, two from Greene County, and
one each from Sullivan and Schoharie Counties. In addition,
the board includes a representative of the city, appointed
by the Mayor of New York; a representative of the state, appointed
by the Governor; and a representative of the environmental
community, also appointed by the Governor.
New York City Department of Environmental Protection officials
have agreed to keep open three stream gauges, including two
that provide flood information, for an additional six months,
but have not changed plans to discontinue use of 53 gauges
as a budget-cutting requirement.
U.S. Geological Survey officials said one Ulster County gauge
on the Rondout Creek above Red Brook at Peekamoose will be
maintained even though it is not required by the National
Weather Service for real-time water levels.
In a report on the significance, federal officials wrote the
Ulster gauge represents a good starting monitor for early
runoff levels because of the 1,740-foot elevation.
Two of the gauges to remain in service for the additional
time are in Delaware County – and tied into the Delaware
River watershed basin — and are used for National Weather
Service flood forecasts.
In a revised U.S.. Geological Survey list, 25 gauges of the
total 53 planned to be discontinued are currently used to
provide flood modeling or forecast data to the National Weather
Service. In all there are 11 gauges to be discontinued on
June 30; 31 on Sept. 30; 3 on March 31, 2010; and 8 on Sept.
U.S.. Sen. Charles Schumer in a press release said the decision
to keep three gauges operational for an additional six months
is not enough to protect residents and property downstream
along the Rondout and Esopus creeks.
“This is a step in the right direction, but only one-tenth
the way to what is needed,” he said, preparing to visit
Boiceville this week for a brief speaking event at the Five
Arches Bridge. “The bottom line is that the DEP has
a responsibility to Catskill and Hudson Valley watershed communities
to fund these gauges to guard against flooding, measure water
levels and provide crucial data to the USGS and local authorities.
We will continue to work with communities and local governments
to prevent cuts.”
Back To Earth!
There’s a host of fun outdoors events happening over
the coming two weeks, tied to the concurrence this year of
Easter and Passover and all their pastoral themes, Earth Day,
and the final advent of flower shoots, foliage, and warmer
Among the fun…
The Ashokan Center in Olivebridge is hosting an “Honoring
the Earth” celebration on Saturday, April 18, lending
focus to Earth Day on the 22nd, Arbor Day on the 24th, National
Environmental Education Week from April 12-18th and April’s
No Child Left Inside Days. It will all go down from 10 am
to 5 pm at the Ashokan Center’s campus with a special
early morning bird walk at 6:30 am being offered by pre-registration.
At 10 am the official opening ceremony will be led by Barbara
Threecrow followed by a discussion about “Where We Are
in the World Today.” Throughout the day there will be
naturalist led walks and hikes, forest and watershed ecology
programs, Native Earth Skills, fiber arts and traditional
crafts, Earthball games, and music from Ashokan co-founders
Jay Ungar and Molly Mason. For more information and to sign
up for the bird walk visit Ashokan Center’s website
at www.AshokanCenter.org, or call (845) 657-8333 x14.
For Easter, there will be egg hunts on Saturday, April 11
at 10:00 AM in Olive (organizers stressing this is for the
town’s children, only) at David Park in West Shokan,
11:00 AM for anyone at the Parish Field in Phoenicia (put
on by the M.F. Whitney Fire Company), and at 12 Noon for all
ages at the Forsyth Nature Center in Kingston. On that day
there will also be a special Earth Day Street Fair at the
United Methodist Church on Clinton Avenue in Kingston.
In addition, the 4-H Feathered Friends Poultry Club of Ulster
County invites families to attend their sixth annual Spring
Fun Festival on Saturday, April 11 from 10:00am to 4:00pm
at the High Falls Fire House just off Route 213, rain or shine.
All proceeds will go to support 4-H Feathered Friends Poultry
Club community service projects. Activities for the day will
include a treasure hunt, children’s crafts, face painting,
Easter egg coloring plus informative sessions for parents
and children alike that will include how to raise poultry
in your backyard. Bunny Basics workshops for those interested
in raising rabbits will take place at 11:00am and 2:00pm.
Visitors can also learn more about Ulster County 4-H youth
clubs, including this summer’s 4-H Career Explorations
three-day conference for youth entering grades 8-12, taking
place June 30 – July 2, as well as how to participate
in the 2009 Ulster County Fair. This event is supported by
the Cornell Cooperative Extension Ulster County 4-H Youth
Finally, on Saturday, April 25, Cornell Cooperative Extension
of Ulster County’s Master Gardeners program will be
offering up its own day-long Garden Day 2009 in Vanderlyn
Hall at SUNY Ulster in Stone Ridge from 8:30am to 4:00pm.
This year’s theme, “The Frugal Gardener,”
features an array of experts speaking about a variety of the
hottest trends in gardening via 16 hands-on and how-to classes.
Keynote speaker Margaret Roach will open the program with
her presentation entitled, “Making a Garden for 365
Days a Year”. Seating is not guaranteed for all classes
on day of event so reservations are requested. For a complete
listing of classes and details and registration form contact
Master Gardener Coordinator, Dona Crawford at 845-340-3990.
Get on out and celebrate! No excuses…
The Watershed Agricultural Council (WAC) is soliciting proposals
from farmers, business owners, local agencies, individual
consultants and community organizers who coordinate and host
events that raise awareness and appreciation for local agriculture.
The WAC, through its Pure Catskills Buy Local campaign, will
be providing sponsorship awards of up to $3,000 per event,
with a total of $50,000 available for the region. The New
York City Department of Environmental Protection provides
funding for this sponsorship program, now in its third year.
Pure Catskills event sponsorships are intended to support
community-based efforts to connect communities with local
farms by eating local food.
Eligible events will incorporate the addition of local food
elements to traditional community events such as meals, fairs
and festivals or educate the public on the preparation, availability
and work of local farmers in producing of foods locally. Eligible
events must take place between May 1 and December 31, 2009.
Communities eligible include those in Delaware, Greene, Otsego,
Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster counties.
A minimum of three Pure Catskills Buy Local Campaign members
must participate in each event. Members include local farm
and food-based businesses and organizations that produce local
food or support the development of a vibrant local food system
in the Catskills region. Members can be found at www.purecatskills.com
and include hundreds of farms, farmers markets, restaurants,
retailers and community organizations. Those enrolling by
April 15 will receive a listing in the Farm Fresh Guide, a
print publication distributed regionally and due out in May.
Application materials are available online at purecatskills.com
and applicants are strongly encouraged to access these materials
through the website. All applications must be postmarked by
April 27. Faxed and emailed applications will not be accepted.
For more information on this opportunity, contact Challey
Comer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (607) 865-7090, ext. 217.
The WAC is funded by The New York City Department of Environmental
Protection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Forest
Service, and other federal and foundation sources.
For more information, visit www.nycwatershed.org.
Plastic Bag Law
Ulster County lawmakers were set to decide this week, as we
went to press, on the setting of a public hearing on establishing
a 10-cent per bag charge for each plastic shopping bag used
at cash registers when packing items for customers. The proposed
6 p.m. May 6 public hearing was endorsed by the county Ways
and Means committee last week but some lawmakers contend residents
who can least afford the additional fee will be the most affected.
Lawmakers on the county Environmental Committee contend the
law will combat plastic bags “along streets and roads,
and they often find their way into waterways including the
Hudson River via drains, streams, and sewage pipes.”
Committee members added that “plastic bags biodegrade
very slowly, and in fact, over time break down into smaller,
more toxic petro-polymers which eventually contaminate soils
and waterways. As a consequence their microscopic particles
can enter the food chain.”
Under the proposed law, fees would be charged by “each
sales outlet, store, shop or other place of business ... which
operates primarily to sell or convey food or merchandise directly
to the ultimate consumer.”
The law would include carryout food businesses that have either
5,000 square feet of retail space or are part of a chain that
has five or more stores. Penalties would be a civil fine of
$250 for the first violation and $500 for subsequent violations.
During a Democratic caucus several lawmakers said the law
would create problems for small stores that pay more for paper
bags and there would be additional storage and shipping costs
because of additional weight. Supporters said the law could
help develop cost-effective home budgeting practices.
Senator Kevin S. Parker, Chair of the Senate Energy Committee,
and Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, Chair of the Assembly Energy
Committee, recently announced legislation to re-establish
in statute a state energy board charged with crafting a comprehensive
state energy plan for New York. The new State Energy Plan
will provide for the oversight and guidance to ensure the
success of the new initiatives sparked by the American Recovery
and Reinvestment Act. The legislation charges the board to
develop and regularly update a comprehensive plan to identify
and meet the State’s future energy needs. An earlier
State energy planning statute expired in 2003. Currently the
State is engaged in an energy planning process pursuant to
an Executive Order of the Governor.
Senators Parker and Cahill said funds from President Obama’s
Federal stimulus package give New York a “unique opportunity”
for economic growth and the creation of new “green jobs.”
They also said that the new legislation enables New York “to
better ensure affordable service, oversight and accountability
of providers, and focus on New York’s long-term energy
The new law will require comprehensive studies of the state’s
energy needs. The plan will include assessments of the following:
regional and statewide analyses of power generation, transmission
and distribution; reliability and affordability; short and
long term fuel forecasts; renewable energy technologies and
distributed generation; environmental justice and public health;
efficiency and conservation; transportation; residential,
commercial and industrial construction; emergency management;
and economic development.
The bill will empower the Board to hold hearings, adopt rules
and regulations and issue subpoenas. It would require all
major utilities to file information necessary to the development
of an Energy Plan. It would direct the Power Authority of
the State of New York and the Long Island Power Authority
to participate in the planning process and to submit strategic,
operating and capital plans. The bill would also require state
agencies to report on the progress made to implement identified
energy plan policies and priorities and progress made to attain
energy plan goals. The first plan will be due on January 1,
Let’s see if they can help with the frozen high cost
of home heating oil, and even worse problems in the liquid
propane markets this past year…
SUNY Ulster will host a presentation on Mohonk Lake Climate
Change by Benjamin I. Cook, Ph.D., NOAA Postdoctoral Scholar
of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, from 4:30 to 5:30
P.M. on April 16 at Burroughs Hall 120 on the Stone Ridge
campus. It is the final lecture in the four-part campus “2020
Vision for the Catskills” sponsored by the Catskill
Institute for the Environment. The event is free and open
to the public.
Dr. Cook of the LDEO, a leading research institution at Columbia
University, will present a case study on a Catskills environment
based on species sightings and weather records.
The 2020 Vision for the Catskills Lecture Series held this
spring continues the dialog on environmental issues and human
interactions confronting the Catskills in the coming decade.
The lecture series follows up on issues presented in the fall
of 2008 when NYS DEC and CIE hosted the first “Catskills
Environment and Economy Day.” Prior lectures presented
at local colleges explored invasive species management, technological
information and research tools.
For more information, contact David Lemmon at (845) 687-5239
or by email at email@example.com or visit www.catskillinstitute.org.
Recent climate change news has brought forth new evidence
that a nearly ice-free Arctic Ocean in the summer may happen
three times sooner than scientists have estimated, with the
Arctic now estimated to be possibly losing its ice cover in
summer in as few as 30 years instead of at the end of the
century. So much more open water could be a boon for shipping
and for extracting minerals and oil from the seabed, but it
raises the question of ecosystem upheaval.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funded
Empire Resorts, owner of Monticello Gaming and Raceway, recently
announced that it has signed a new 40 year deal with Concord
Associates to keep open its current harness racetrack and
video lottery machine operation in Monticello while it also
develops twin facilities at the planned-to-be built Concord
Hotel and Resort, saying they expect the state to approve
an additional license for the new racing and gaming venue
when the Concord project is completed.
Empire will receive a $2 million annual fee that increases
by five percent every five years over the 40 year term; an
annual percentage fee over the 40 years equal to the greater
of $2 million or two percent of gross gaming revenues, including
from future legalization of Indian gaming projects; a payment
of $25 million upon any sale or transfer of the Concord gaming
facilities. Concord will provide Empire with a least $4 million
a year in additional net cash flow.
Concord will also fund, after opening of its harness track,
100 percent of the amounts payable to Empire each year to
the Monticello Raceway horsemen and breeders with respect
to their share of VGM revenues.
Hanlon said Empire Resorts’ existing business at the
raceway “may now be further enhanced by pending legislative
approval in the near term of electronic table games, including
electronic versions of blackjack, roulette, and craps.”
He said in the event there is a legalization of commercial
gaming, either on the state or federal level, Empire “would
be well positioned to take advantage of any (or both) of these
Quite a distance, we must say, from the imminent casinos of
a few years back…
The Nevele Hotel in Ellenville has been charged with failing
to secure workers compensation coverage for its workers, a
crime that carries fines of up to $50,000, Ulster County District
Attorney Holley Carnright announced in recent weeks. The hotel
was sentenced by Judge Bruhn to pay restitution, costs, penalties
and charges in the amount of $35,277 to the Workman’s
Compensation Board and to pay an additional fine of $5,000.
An additional condition of the plea is that if the hotel violates
this law again, they could be resentenced, in which case the
fine could be up to $100,000.
The New York State Worker’s Compensation Board had already
sanctioned the Nevele Hotel three times before for not having
workman’s compensation coverage. The most recent violation
involved an employee who was injured at work while the company
did not have workman’s compensation coverage. The case
was investigated by the New York State Worker’s Compensation
Board Office of the Fraud Inspector General and Compliance
Unit, the New York State Insurance Department’s Fraud
Bureau, and the New York State Insurance Fund. The case was
then prosecuted through the joint efforts of the Ulster County
District Attorney’s Office and the New York State Insurance
Department’s Fraud Bureau via the insurance department’s
fraud prosecution program.
“It is important that employees in Ulster County be
protected and that businesses here comply with this law,”
said Carnright. “The businesses and taxpayers of Ulster
County should not have to pick up the hotel’s cost for
its injured workers.”
New York Regional Interconnect announced last week that it
is suspending its efforts to site a power line in New York.
It was seeking the okay to run the line from Oneida County
to Orange County, but met with much opposition on the local
government and community level.
A statement from the company said that while it “remains
committed to transmission development in New York State, it
is suspending its current participation in the New York State
Public Service Commission Article VII process” for its
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently
overruled the interpretation by the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission (FERC) of federal regulations that would have potentially
allowed the agency to overrule state objections and permit
the construction of power lines, such as the one proposed
by New York Regional Interconnect (NYRI).
NYRI’s proposal to construct massive new electric transmission
lines through Chenango, Broome, Delaware, Sullivan and Orange
counties met with stiff opposition from grass roots organizations
and politicians ranging from Republican State Senator John
Bonacic to Democratic Congressman Maurice Hinchey, who argued
that the project was not needed to meet New York’s electricity
needs and would adversely impact local communities and the
environment along the proposed routes while taking private
property through eminent domain for a private corporation.
In its ruling released February 18, the Fourth Circuit struck
down the FERC’s December 2006 interpretation of Section
216 of the Federal Power Act — a provision put in place
by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, finding that FERC’s
interpretation of the agency’s authority under Section
216 was “expansive” and “contrary to the
plain meaning of the statute.” In a strong rebuke to
FERC’s decision, the Circuit ruled that, “The
statute (Section 216) does not give FERC permitting authority
when a state has affirmatively denied a permit application
within the one-year deadline.”
An upstate judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the widow
of a state trooper from Greene County who was killed in a
2007 shootout in nearby Margaretville, ruling that a county
probation department’s delay in issuing an arrest warrant
did not contribute to the trooper’s death.
The family of Trooper David Brinkerhoff claimed St. Lawrence
County officials were negligent when they allowed fugitive
Travis Trim to remain free despite multiple probation violations.
Brinkerhoff, 29, was killed by friendly fire during a gunfight
in a farmhouse on April 25, 2007. He was in a group of troopers
that stormed the Margaretville home where Trim, 23, was hiding
the day after shooting, but not seriously injuring, another
trooper. Trim was killed in the shootout.
State Supreme Court Justice David Demarest dismissed Barbara
Brinkerhoff’s lawsuit, concluding the delay in issuing
an arrest warrant for Trim “was not a factor which indirectly
produced this tragic result.”
Mrs. Brinkerhoff and her infant daughter, Isabella, filed
a lawsuit last August seeking unspecified damages against
the St. Lawrence County Probation Department. In a notice
of claim filed in February 2008, the family indicated it was
seeking $100 million. The lawsuit contended that if St. Lawrence
County officials had properly handled the warrant, Trim could
have been arrested months before Trooper Brinkerhoff was killed.
Demarest said in his ruling that while the delay of the warrant
may have allowed Trim to remain at large, it was Trim’s
shooting of another trooper that prompted state police to
confront him in the Margaretville house.
Scientists are creating tests to show when it’s time
for people with early Alzheimer’s disease to stop driving.
Typically, specialists say, patients gradually scale back
their driving, avoiding busy freeways or night trips or left-turn
Working on ways to help similar patients, a team in Iowa has
developed an intricate behind-the-wheel exam: A 35-mile drive
through rural, residential and urban streets in a tricked-out
Ford Taurus able to record just about every action the driver
takes, much like an airplane “black box” does.
Lipstick-size video cameras were positioned to show oncoming
traffic, too. Researchers recruited 40 people with early-stage
Alzheimer’s who still had their driver’s licenses
to take the road test, and compared how 115 older drivers
without dementia handled the same trip.
On average, the Alzheimer’s drivers committed 42 safety
mistakes, compared with 33 for the other drivers. Lane violations,
such as swerving or hugging the center line as another car
approaches, were the biggest problem for the Alzheimer’s
drivers. They performed 50 percent worse. And overall errors
rose with increasing age whether or not the driver had Alzheimer’s,
an extra 2 1/2 mistakes for every five years of age.
But some Alzheimer’s patients drove just as well as
their healthier counterparts. Here’s the key: Researchers
also checked whether any of a battery of neuropsychological
tests given beforehand accurately predicted who would drive
worse - and some did.
Flunking simple memory tests didn’t make a difference.
Standard neurologic tests of multitasking abilities did, ones
that assess if people’s cognitive, visual and motor
skills work together in a way to make quick decisions. Examples
include showing patients geometric figures for a few seconds
and having them draw the shape from memory, or drawing paths
between a sequence of numbers and letters. Alzheimer’s
patients who scored average or better on those types of written
tests were likewise no worse behind the wheel than other older
drivers - but those who scored worse than average tended to
commit about 50 percent more errors on the road.
More research is needed but the ultimate goal is an easy doctor’s-office
exam to help guide when patients should give up the keys.
K To Register
Kindergarten Pre-registration and screening for the 2009-2010
school year will be held in the Onteora Central School District
during the month of April. This event will be held for all
three elementary schools. Registration will be held on the
following dates and places:
Monday, April 20 and Tuesday, April 21 (backup date –
Monday, May 4) at Phoenicia Elementary School.
Wednesday, April 22 and Monday, April 27 (backup date –
Wednesday, April 29) at Bennett Elementary School.
Thursday, April 23, and Tuesday, April 28 (backup date –
Thursday, April 30) at Woodstock Elementary School.
Parents of children whose names appear on the district kindergarten
census lists will be contacted before or during the week of
April 13th to set up a Preregistration/screening appointment.
Parents who are not contacted by this week and believe their
child is eligible for kindergarten in September should contact
the Registrar at 657-6383.
To be eligible for kindergarten, a child must be 5 years old
by December 1, 2009. For Pre-registration, parents must bring
identification, the child’s original birth certificate
as evidence of birth date, immunization and health records,
and proof of residence. A physician’s certificate proving
that the child is properly immunized must be presented at
registration or at some time prior to the first day of school
in September of 2009.
In order to assist parents, the Ulster County Health Department
periodically operates immunization clinics. Information about
the scheduling of these clinics may be obtained by contacting
the Health Department. Students entering Kindergarten in September,
2009, must have a physical within one year prior to the first
day of school attendance in 2009. Parents may opt to have
the physical done by the School Physician in school.
Banks nationwide hold $41 billion in loans to directors, top
executives and other insiders, a portfolio that experts say
should be stripped of secrecy. Insider lending to directors
is particularly troublesome because it could cloud the judgment
of people charged with protecting shareholders and overseeing
bank management, the experts say.
At Charlotte-based Bank of America, those loans more than
doubled last year, to $624.2 million - the biggest dollar
jump in the country. The largest of them likely went to three
directors or their companies. The surge came during the third
quarter as credit markets froze, the government prepared to
infuse banks with billions in tax dollars and the board approved
the purchase of troubled Merrill Lynch.
Bank of America ranked fourth on the list of biggest insider
lenders. At the top was JPMorgan of New York, which held $1.48
billion in insider loans, mostly by directors or their companies.
At No. 2, Charlotte-based Wachovia, which was sold to Wells
Fargo of San Francisco at the end of 2008, finished the year
with $747 million in insider loans. All of the loans were
held by the bank’s directors or their companies, with
just five holding the largest.
Insider loans, ranging from home mortgages to multimillion-dollar
lines of credit for big companies, are legal but are largely
shrouded from public scrutiny. Banks don’t have to explain
increased insider lending. They don’t have to disclose
individual loan amounts or terms for any insiders, including
executives. Directors and their businesses, often the largest
insider borrowers, are completely shielded. Directors must
approve insider loans greater than $500,000, so they sometimes
vote on loans for each other or the executives they oversee.
Insider favoritism is against the law. Bankers and regulators
say the loans are subject to greater scrutiny to ensure insiders
aren’t getting better terms and are creditworthy. But
top corporate governance experts contend that insider lending
carries serious potential for conflict of interest among bank
officials and must be stripped of secrecy. They argue that
lending to directors, the watchdogs of management, must be
revealed so shareholders can gauge their independence.
Seven of the 10 banks with the largest insider loans received
a total of more than $50 billion in the banking bailout late
last year, banks’ federal filings show.
The majority of the nation’s 8,000-plus banks make insider
loans, some very small. At the end of last year, banks had
$41 billion of insider loans, up 5.7 percent from a year earlier,
according to the filings.
Most publicly traded companies were banned from making insider
loans in 2002, part of the regulatory rush following the collapse
of Enron and other accounting scandals. But banks were excluded
from the ban, partly because they’re in the business
of lending and also because the loans have been subject to
extensive regulation for more than 25 years.
The loans were blamed for bank problems during the nation’s
S&L crisis in the 1980s.
Keep an eye on this…
Be Kind To All
The recession may lead to more than just financial problems,
it could lead to an increase in domestic violence, according
to federal, state and now even county officials.
An increase in reported cases of domestic violence is of concern
to officials in Ulster County and how to educate and inspire
a more progressive attitude toward the violence was the topic
of a recent forum in Kingston where Investigator James McCoy
of the New York State Police Ulster County Family Violence
Unit spoke of a large increase in the number of domestic incident
reports from 2007 to 2008. According to McCoy, based on the
amount of reports so far this year, the increase in those
reports from 2008 to 2009 will far surpass that of previous
“We have a domestic violence problem here in the United
States which is of epidemic proportions,” said Ulster
County District Attorney Holley Carnright before he emphasized
the need for action with some startling statistics.
“We estimate that approximately 6.2 million Americans
every year are victims of domestic violence,” he said.
“There are more women who are victims of domestic violence
than women who are injured in car accidents, muggings, and
rapes combined. Approximately four women a day are killed
as a result of domestic violence across the United States.”
Carnright said about half of all men who commit domestic violence
against female partners also abuse their children and one
out of every 20 individuals 60 years or older is the victim
of elder abuse.
Go To Jail!
One in every 31 U.S. adults is in the corrections system,
which includes jail, prison, probation and supervision, more
than double the rate of a quarter century ago, according to
a report released by the Pew Center on the States. The study,
which said the current rate compares to one in 77 in 1982,
concluded that with declining resources, more emphasis should
be put on community supervision, not jail or prison.
The United States has the highest incarceration rate and the
biggest prison population of any country in the world, according
to figures from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Most of those in the U.S.. corrections system - one in 45
- are already on probation or parole, with one in 100 in prison
or jail, the Pew study found.Those numbers are higher in certain
areas of the country, and Georgia tops all states with one
in 13 adults in the justice system. The other leading states
are Idaho, where one in 18 are in corrections and Texas, where
the rate is one in 22. In the nation’s capital, Washington,
D.C., nearly 5 percent of adults are in the city’s penal
This was the first criminal justice study that took into account
those on probation and parole as well as federal convicts,
The numbers are also concentrated among groups, with a little
more than 9 percent of black adults in prisons or jails or
on probation or parole, as opposed to some 4 percent of Hispanics
and 2 percent of whites.
Pew compiled the report as states consider cutting corrections
spending during the recession. The research group said that
by changing sentencing laws and probation programs states
can lower incarceration rates and save money.
Penitentiary systems have been the fastest-growing spending
area for states after Medicaid, the healthcare program for
those with low income. Over the last 20 years their spending
on criminal justice has increased more than 300 percent, the
During the last 25 years prison and jail populations have
grown 274 percent to 2.3 million in 2008, according to the
Pew research, while those under supervision grew 226 percent
over the same span to 5.1 million. It estimated states spent
a record $51.7 billion on corrections in fiscal year 2008
and incarcerating one inmate cost them, on average, $29,000
a year. But the average annual cost of managing an offender
through probation was $1,250 and through parole $2,750.
Seven Ulster County restaurants have agreed to host special
Red Cross Hero luncheons as part of the year-long celebration
of the 100th anniversary of the American Red Cross Ulster
County Chapter. Luncheon parties at Mariner’s Harbor,
Kingston; The Peekamoose, Shandaken; New World Home Cooking,
Saugerties; White Wolf, Ellenville; The Plaza Diner, New Paltz;,
Holiday Inn, Kingston and Mariner’s on the Hudson, Highland,
will showcase the wide variety of great dining opportunities
in the county and support the work of the Ulster County Red
Cross. Luncheons will all be priced at an affordable $25 with
all non-food costs being donated to the organization’s
year-long Century of Service celebration.
Each participating restaurant has agreed to prepare a special
single entrée luncheon in April. Leaders from local
businesses, politics and social organizations will become
Red Cross Heroes by replacing the restaurant’s wait
staff for the event. The Heroes will donate their “tips”
to the Chapter. In addition to the non-food cost of the luncheon
tickets will be donated to the Chapter.
Mary Beth Mills, whose Peekamoose Restaurant in Shandaken
is known as much for its community support as for its great
food, was the first to sign on.
“This is a really great idea,” she said. “A
great way to give back and lots of fun for everyone involved.”
Dates for the luncheons are April 10 the Plaza Diner in New
Paltz; April 16 at White Wolf in Ellenville; April 17 at the
Holiday Inn in Kingston; April 23 at Mariner’s Harbor
in Kingston; April 24 at Mariner’s on Hudson in Highland;
April 25 at Peekamoose in Shandaken and April 30 at New World
Home Cooking in Saugerties/Woodstock. The luncheons begin
at noon and end no later than 2:00 p.m.
For more information or to register for the luncheons, please
visit www.ulsterredcross.org or call the Red Cross office
Bad Trout News
This past winter, Gary Shaver’s Beaverkill Trout Hatchery
in the Sullivan County community of Lew Beach was barred from
delivering trout for stocking, at least this year, after his
fish had tested positive for three pathogens—Infectious
Pancreatic Necrosis Virus, Aeromonas salmonicida, and Yersinia
ruckeri (Enteric Red Mouth). Shaver’s fish have long
been used to stock a number of local creeks and streams, including
that which runs through Woodland Valley just outside Phoenicia.
Then, on March 13th, Shaver suffered a massive heart attack
and died before he could be admitted to the hospital.
“The poet might weave limpid lines about the sublime
beauty of nature—its gentle rains, the verdant mountains,
the fiery sunsets. But try to wrench a living from the tempestuous,
unpredictable vagaries of nature and you will soon discover
that it is a hard road to travel in the best of circumstances,”
wrote the organizer of the WV trout stocking each Memorial
Day weekend, Mike O’Neill, in announcing the news this
past week. “It takes a special person to carry it off,
and Gary was just such a person—one with heart and solid
resolution, and a droll sense of understated country humor
that saw him through when others might falter. But this terrible
year, this annus horribilis, was too much, even for him. To
his wife Betty, mother Gloria, his children Sherry, Fred,
Kevin, and Lisa, their spouses and their children, we send
our profound commiserations, and love.”
Save a catch for Gary…
The Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC) will once again support
groups and individuals who clean litter and other debris from
stream banks in their neighborhoods. Youth and school groups,
church organizations, civic and business associations, neighborhood
groups and teams of friends are encouraged to scour stream
and riversides for trash and to dispose of it properly. The
CWC will provide trash bags, gloves and tokens of appreciation
for those who choose to serve their communities in this way.
Call Mary Jane Oppenheimer at 845-586-1400 to arrange to get
Volunteers might wish to do a cleanup in observance of Earth
Day April 22, or to coordinate their efforts with National
Stream Clean-up Day sponsored by Trout Unlimited on June 13.
For information on this event, part of TU’s 50th anniversary
observance, go to www.tu.org.
American Rivers is also calling for groups to participate
in a National River Cleanup effort this spring. To register
your cleanup activity and to get more information, go to www.americanrivers.org
State Of News?
“Imagine someone about to begin physical therapy following
a stroke, suddenly contracting a debilitating secondary illness.”
This is how the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism describes
the “State of the Media” in its 2009 report.
The one sunny area in the news business, according to the
report, is the fact that cable “shined” in 2008.
Its audience grew by 38 percent. CNN, Fox News and MSNBC gained
viewers and expected to see record profits. But… if
cable news is more profitable than before, that’s because,
increasingly, it features less and less news, the report found.
According to the report, obsessive, often irrelevant horserace
coverage of the election eclipsed all other news. It accounted
for 59 percent of the cable newshole in 2008, while coverage
of the economy accounted for only 10 percent. (That number
is opposed to 36 percent and 15 percent, respectively, in
the media overall..) Meanwhile, coverage of Iraq War fell
everywhere, but it positively crashed on cable, where it fell
nearly 90 percent, and ended up accounting for just 2 percent
of overall coverage.
However, while CNN, MSNBC, and FOX’s audiences may be
hungry for news, they may not be satisfied with the product
they’re getting. According to PEJ’s report, a
mere 44 percent of the public believed that news organizations
(over all) “protected democracy” in 2007, down
from 60 percent in 2001, directly following the September
Meanwhile, a bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate recently
that would let newspapers become tax-exempt non-profit organizations
as long as they don’t endorse political candidates.
A subsequent Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey showed
37 percent of Americans favoring federal government subsidies
to keep newspapers in business, with 43 percent saying it’s
better to let the papers go out of business, and 20% not sure
what to do.
Nearly two-thirds of Democrats (65%) and 50% of unaffiliated
Americans think the failure of the U.S. newspaper industry
is a national tragedy. Forty-one percent (41%) of Republicans
feel the same way, but 45% don’t agree.
Half (51%) of Democrats support subsidies for newspapers,
but 66% of Republicans think it’s better for the papers
to fail. Adults not affiliated with either party are fairly
Adults ages 30 to 64 are far more inclined to let newspapers
go out of business than are those older and younger than they
Good thing you’re reading this newspaper, eh?