At the July 6 meeting of the Olive Planning Board, only one
person came for the Public Hearing which had been advertised
to hear pros or cons about the proposed Ashokan Center Project.
And that person was actually there in support of the Center.
After approximately 45 minutes of combined presentation, Public
Hearing and the resulting discussion with Planning Board Members,
the Center heard the words that they had been working so diligently
to achieve - your project is APPROVED.
For many months, with some bumps in the road to re-think some
of the original design ideas based on a shifted economic picture,
the project made its way through town scrutiny and on to the
County Planning Board for review and recommendations. Per
county requirements, one last piece of business the town Planning
Board had to do was report back to the county that the project
is in compliance with all recommendations the county outlined,
except for one.
The County had suggested some kind of warning device or horn
be installed to announce rising water due to the Ashokan Reservoir's
release of water through the lower areas near the Ashokan
Center. Town Planning Board members agreed that any obligation
to install an audible device should be the obligation of New
York City, who currently gives 24 hour notice to the Ashokan
Center before releasing any water now.
These lands were part of the original properties used by the
Center, and were negotiated to become New York City controlled
lands to allow for a draw-down of the reservoir prior to flooding
events that might otherwise overwhelm the Lower Esopus waterway.
Many who live below the reservoir have felt that New York
City could have alleviated some recent flooding issues experienced
by drawing down the level of the reservoir prior to the impact
of rain and/or snow melt.
Many of the lands now owned by New York City were trails and
buildings that were an integral part of the Ashokan Center
for their programs. As a result of New York City taking over
this "flood way", the Ashokan Center needed to re-create
the same space on a higher plateau but make it as unobtrusive
Big smiles, lots of congratulations and hand shaking were
the final order of business with ground breaking scheduled
for September. In the meantime, events and classes will continue
through the summer while preparations are made to begin the
construction phase under the guidance of Matthew Bialecki
Architects of New Paltz.
What ever happened with the New York State budget for the
coming year, due April 1? When last seen, state Assemblymen
left the Capital in Albany early on July 4 while Governor
David Paterson was working through 6900 vetoes he had promised
to make, with several unfinished items leaving everything
up in the air... including whether there'd be any attempts
to override the governor in the coming months.
In other words, it's all sort of still in limbo. It's unclear
when the legislature will be returning to session, even though
Democrats who control the state Senate introduced two bills
designed to be "negotiating points" as they work
toward passing the last piece of the state budget earlier
Senators left the Capitol two weeks ago without passing the
final revenue bill - which would reinstate the tax on clothing
under $110 and reduce charitable deductions for high-income
earners - that passed the Assembly. Several senators in the
Democrats' 32-30 majority have refused to publicly commit
to voting for the revenue plan until a deal is worked out
authorizing greater flexibility for SUNY and CUNY campuses
to raise tuition and enter into public-private partnerships.
Another bill would create a contingency plan in case $1.06
billion in Medicaid assistance expected from the federal government
does not materialize.
A spokesman for the Senate Democrats, said the bills will
allow senators to continue to negotiate and amounts to "working
to resolve the outstanding issues" with members of the
Assembly and Gov. David Paterson.
The bills were introduced late Sunday night, which means they
could be voted on by senators this week... or not. No one
seemed to know, as of July 13..
The university bill would allow individual campuses to raise
their tuitions as much as 4 percent each year without the
Legislature's approval. It would also increase awards from
the Tuition Assistance Program for low-income students.
Members of the Assembly's Democratic conference have resisted
similar proposals - made earlier this year by Paterson - on
grounds that they reduce access to higher education.
Meanwhile, the last official budget word from Paterson, at
the very end of June, was that he would veto 6,900 budget
additions approved by the state legislature.
"I never take any joy in vetoing education money, health
care, services for the poor ... it breaks my heart to do this."
Paterson told reporters. "The only reason I'm doing it
is because I think that otherwise we are proverbially kicking
the can down the road and creating a greater problem."
Paterson signed the first line item veto at the news conference,
vetoing $419 million of additional spending for school aid.
According to a news release on the New York State Assembly's
website, the legislation that half of the legislature passed
late last month will allow the government to continue running
and restore $600 million in education cuts, $49 million for
tuition assistance, $56 million to community colleges and
$92 million to adult homeless shelters.
Paterson acknowledged that even if he vetoes all 6,900 of
the budget additions, it would not bring the budget back into
"If we lose the resources for Medicaid, if we lose any
of the Medicaid money, our budget is not balanced," he
The governor said he was not casting his vetoes with the expectation
of them being overturned, but rather that he was doing it
because he believed it was the right thing for New York state
and because he believed it would eventually bring the budget
back into balance.
Following a two hour manhunt which involved dogs and a State
Police helicopter, two men are being held in connection with
a domestic dispute involving a 20-year-old woman who police
say was sexually assaulted and dragged into the woods.
John Oakley, 45, of 648 State Route 214, Phoenicia, was charged
with unlawful imprisonment and sexual abuse, both felonies.
Desmond McCobb, 27, who police said is homeless, was charged
with kidnapping, assault, aggravated sexual abuse and criminal
contempt, all felonies.
The incident unfolded at about 9:00 AM at the Silver Hollow
Cabins on Route 214 in Chichester, police said, where the
victim, who knew McCobb, was reportedly assaulted and forcefully
dragged off into the woods. Police added that the victim had
an order of protection against McCobb.
A search was conducted with police dog units and a state police
helicopter. After a two-hour search, police found the victim
and McCobb in a wooded area about a half mile from the scene.
The Shandaken Ambulance Squad took the victim to Kingston
Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach released a report
last week on county revenue trends that will serve as a financial
decision making tool for both the county executive and legislature
as they begin the budget process for 2011.
"As our economy continues to crawl out of recession government
needs to pay as much attention to income as it pays to expenses,"
said Auerbach, "and the better we focus on and plan for
our revenue stream, the better able we are to control property
Auerbach commissioned The Center for Research, Regional Education
and Outreach (CRREO) to prepare "Ulster County Revenue
Trends 2002 to 2009," which examines trends in the County's
primary revenue from sales and property taxes and also considers
their impact on the unassigned fund balance. According to
the analysis in the report, Ulster County has had a greater
likelihood of underestimating revenues over the past decade.
During the study period the county underestimated sales tax
revenue five times and overestimated three times. Also uncovered
were shortfalls in collection of the property tax, attributed
to current economic conditions and suggesting a need for caution
and a reserve for uncollected taxes at the level required
by the County charter; a sales tax revenue drop-off in Ulster
County of 7.5%, the 14th worst in New York State, in the past
two years; a widening shortfall of actual money received against
that expected in revised budgets; and a greater reliance on
the property tax with the County seeking to raise 151% more
in 2010 than it did in 2002 from such means.
The report makes five recommendations including multi-year
revenue planning, establishment of a policy on fund balance,
and budgeting a reserve for uncollected taxes in accordance
with Charter mandate.
"We need a new approach to budgeting," said Auerbach.
"We need our planning to better anticipate the future."
He further recommended that Ulster County undertake long-term
financial planning and multi-year budgeting.
The full report can be found at www.ulstercountyny.gov/resources/comptroller.
Domestic workers in New York have won historic changes to
the state's labor law to include protections for their jobs,
guaranteeing domestic workers time-and-half pay for more than
40 hours and a day off each week, along with protection under
worker compensation and anti-discrimination law and access
to unemployment insurance. The compromise bill won't include
original demands for paid sick and vacation days and advance
notice of termination. But three paid days off were granted
after a year of service.
The law also calls on the state's Department of Labor to study
the feasibility of collective bargaining for domestic workers
and issue a report by November.
The legislative victory in New York is a blow at domestic
workers' exclusion from federal labor protections. The legislation
would be the first in the country to provide protections to
domestic workers since the National Labor Relations Act of
1935 first excluded them.
Domestic workers and their allies in California and Colorado
are now drafting their own bills of rights to introduce in
their state legislatures.
At the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit last month, the national
alliance and a host of organizations planned a multi-year
campaign to change federal labor law to cover all domestic
and farm workers.
The Ulster County Legislature has started expressing their
wishes for more say in the county budgeting process... at
least via its new Republican majority, who are pushing to
adopt a resolution to have department heads give legislators
the same information they give the county executive.
Following adoption of the County Charter, two years ago, giving
more control of the budget to the county executive, there
were complaints from some legislators that their power and
fiscal oversight duties had been usurped.
The legislature is expected to vote on that resolution when
it meets later this month.
Plans to revitalize Pine Hill, both as a community-specific
and regionally-inspiring project geared to taking advantage
of ongoing storm-water drainage and other streetscape refurbishings
scheduled for the coming years, get another major push forward
via another welcome-to-all event at the Pine Hill Community
Center scheduled for Sunday July 25.
On that day, Holley Giles of Lucky Dog Organics will help
host the first of what seems destined to become a series of
"dinners on and about our Main Street." Giles will
talk about her experience starting up and running Lucky Dog
Farm Store in Hamden (www.luckydogorganic.com), which has
everything the Pine Hill community has identified for a possible
store along their own under-utilized Main Street, including
coolers with fresh milk, bread and local produce; a collection
of vintage items for sale and an informal cafÈ in the
back, all open Tuesday through Saturday nights.
Richard and Holley Giles also own Lucky Dog Farm in Hamden,
have a CSA, sell at local farm festivals and farm stands,
as well as at NYC's green markets. The dinner will be Sunday,
July 25th at the Pine Hill Community Center at 6:30pm. Bring
a dish to share and questions for the Giles.
Also, sign up on the Main Street site at http://ulstermainstreets.ning.com
for further information and feedback. The Pine Hill Community
Center is located at 287 Main Street, phone 254-5469, online
You know something good is happening when everyone in the
Catskills starts talking about art and culture as a key to
the watershed's future, as happened this past Wednesday, July
14, when the first-ever meeting of the Catskill Center for
Conservation and Development's Catskills Cornucopia was dominated
by this coming weekend's Third Annual Shandaken Artists Studio
Tour, now grown to one of the greater Hudson Valley's major
"Shandaken tour artists are practicing the message of
'A Beautiful Mind.' Cooperation and mutual support helps all
and hurts no one," said the Tour's Dave Channon, who
will be opening his studio AND showing sculpture at a new
outdoor gallery set up at Belleayre Mountain Ski Center July
17 and 18. "The star system of commercial galleries insures
that 9 out of 10 artists will be frustrated and one will have
some success... We show that there is another way. Our most
successful artists stand together with our least recognized
in a joyful circle."
The effort, which follows the success of similar undertakings
in Saugerties and Kingston, Rhinebeck and the New Paltz area,
Catskill and Woodstock in recent years, has grown different
from other towns' by the breadth and increasing depth of its
offerings, from over 30 artists and a dozen different galleries
and other venues, to the width (and scenic beauty) of its
Following the Saturday's 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM studio tour itself
(repeated on Sunday), there will be opening receptions at
The Arts Upstairs, Cabane Studios and Wendy Drolma Masks in
Phoenicia. Expect a scene spilling out on to the street...
"Last July, members of our tour sold over $14,000 worth
of art," noted Channon of the Tour's success. "We
are changing awareness of art from a curious Sunday niche
into an industry, a tremendous renewable resource that doesn't
destroy the environment. And local businesses are supporting
us enthusiastically. Despite dire economic times, the Dutchess
County Arts Council and NYSCA awarded us over $1700 in grants
because of our excellent work."
Call 688-2977 for information or visit www.ShandakenArt.com
for a free guide map and preview gallery of what's what.
Members of the Rondout Valley Business Association have agreed
to support efforts to connect eight separate rail trails as
part of an economic revitalization plan in the heart of Ulster
County. The plan is for 35 miles of unbroken hiking trails
in the towns of Marbletown, Rochester, Wawarsing and Rosendale.
"Our rail trails are important resources that are good
for both the economy and the environment," said a spokesman
for the new effort. "An interconnected rail trail network
will link towns and villages in the heart of Ulster County
and help drive clean and green tourism in the area."
Those supporting the effort said some of the connections will
directly assist business districts, but the broader intent
is for the trail system to become a recreational attraction.
The rail trails to be connected, at present, include a connector
through Rosendale that passes through High Falls, through
the hamlet of Accord, through the hamlet of Kerhonkson, and
goes right into the village of Ellenville. The longest connection
would be 5 miles between two trails in the town of Rochester.
A further connection with the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail would
allow the association to work with other commercial areas,
such as the one in New Paltz, where there has been recognition
of how businesses can benefit by nearby hiking areas. Similar
efforts involving rail trail connections between New Paltz,
Wallkill, and Highland to the Walkway over the Hudson and
Dutchess County Trails are also underway, at present.
There is also talk of connecting local trails via the Long
Path, which stretches from the George Washington Bridge to
Albany, into the Delaware County rail trail network and beyond.
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, as trustee
of the $132.6 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund,
announced recently that he has hired the law firm of Cohen
Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC to represent the Fund in
a class action against BP Plc. DiNapoli said the Fund will
seek lead plaintiff status in the action that stems from BP's
disastrous Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the
Gulf of Mexico in April.
"It's my duty to protect the interests of the Fund and
the retirees and employees who rely on it," DiNapoli
said. "BP misled investors about its safety procedures
and its ability to respond to events like the ongoing oil
spill and we're going to hold it accountable."
DiNapoli said he is seeking to lead the class action against
BP to give the Fund and other investors their best chance
at recovering damages sustained from the decline in shareholder
value subsequent to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil
spill. DiNapoli said the Fund held more than 19 million shares
at the time of the event.
The Fund provides benefits to more than one million active
and retired state and local government employees, police officers,
and firefighters. In addition to investment earnings, the
Fund is funded by contributions by state and local government
employers and employees.
Is the federal government preparing to impose strict new standards
on the food industry and how it markets junk food to kids?
An interagency document between the Federal Trade Commission,
Food & Drug Administration, Center for Disease Control
and US Department of Agriculture is proposing new nutritional
standards for food marketed to children ages 2-17. Sugary
fruit juices and fatty foods would be off limits, and could
not be aimed at children. According to the new guidelines,
foods marketed to kids must actually include food.
While the USDA did help to write the guidelines, they're the
only agency who hasn't signed off on the proposal.
So what's the status of these standards? Nobody knows. They
were presented at a meeting in December 2009 and were supposed
to be finalized by February or March. Both the FTC and the
FDA have reportedly signed off on them, but the USDA has not,
leading some watchdog groups to speculate that the food industry
has unleashed a lobbying effort aimed at its friends in the
Agriculture Department. No one from the food industry was
present at the meeting in December.
Much of the current talks stem from a case involving Kelloggs'
Cereals claiming that Rice Crispies can boost kids' immunity
The big benefit concert in Woodstock last month in honor of
a lesbian teen from Mississippi who, along with the American
Civil Liberties Union, sued her high school after being told
she could not attend the prom with her girlfriend, has raised
more than $30,000. Proceeds from "All Love, All Woodstock"
will be divided among Constance McMillen's college education
fund, the ACLU's Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and AIDS
Project, and Onteora High School's Gay-Straight Alliance,
according to a press release.
The benefit, held June 25 at the Bearsville Theater, featured
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Ronnie Spector. Besides
musical performances, the event featured an auction that included
celebrity swag and autographed memorabilia from actors and
musicians, as well as a $1,000 package from the Woodstock
Writers Festival that included dinner with author Julie Powell.
The suit filed by the ACLU on McMillen's behalf is pending.
Metro-North Railroad has scheduled an open house on Tuesday,
July 20, in the town of Newburgh to present the latest information
on the West of Hudson Regional Transit Alternatives Analysis
Environmental Impact Statement Study. The purpose of the study
has been to evaluate options to improve public transit services
between central Orange County and major regional activity
centers to the south; and enhance regional transit access
to Stewart International Airport in New Windsor.
One of the key points of discussion has been research into
developing passenger rail service between Stewart and New
The study screening process has identified a short list of
the most viable alternatives and they will be presented at
the session at the Hilton Garden Inn at 15 Crossroads Court
off state Route 17K in Newburgh. The open house will run from
4 to 8 p.m.
Metro-North and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
are funding the study, in part with federal funding secured
by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer. Talk about possibly increasing
affordable commuting possibilities, in both the near and long-term
future, to the Catskills.
The financial crisis of recent years is fast becoming a blessing
in disguise for community wind power, at least in some parts
of the country where the smaller the effort, the better the
results... unlike attempts to install large corporate wind
farms in parts of the northern Catskills over recent years.
In eastern Oregon, farmers now have upwards of 20 windmills
on their farms, bringing in $6,000 to $8,000 in rent yearly...
and allowing the farmers to buy at least some of the wind
generators on their lands outright over the coming years.
There, farmers are coming together in groups of two to five
and joining with outside investor groups, including tractor-maker
John Deere and a statewide wind power consortium, to build
wind farms on their land. The windmills have been supplying
electricity to Pacific Power, a regional utility, since last
All of the partners benefited from a new federal program,
a treasury cash grant for renewable energy provided under
the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009. The grant
paid 30 percent of their construction costs, or about $49
In this way, researchers say, the U.S. financial crisis has
proved to be a blessing in disguise for community wind, an
underserved corner of the burgeoning wind industry in this
country. Of about 80 wind farms that had received cash grants
from the stimulus fund as of June 30, roughly 17 were community
In a report this year for the U.S. Department of Energy, it
was noted that federal tax credits for wind power, which the
government has offered off and on over several decades, have
been a barrier for many local investors: They simply don't
have enough tax liability to take advantage of them. Cash
grants, on the other hand, have "fundamentally reshaped
the federal policy landscape for wind power in general, and
for community wind projects in particular," he said.
The downside is that in order to qualify for a grant, a wind
farm must begin construction this year, at the latest, and
must be up and running by the end of 2012. A bill introduced
by Congressman Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, would
extend grant eligibility to any project under construction
by the end of 2012.
Community wind is one of the earliest development models for
modern wind power, dating back to the early 1980s, when they
were first widely used by farmers in Northern Europe. Today,
community wind may include local farmers, businesses, investors,
schools, universities and Native American tribes that have
a direct financial stake in a project, as distinct from a
land lease. The projects tend to be smaller than commercial
wind farms that are built and run by "absentee"
owners. By one definition, they may include municipal utilities
and rural electric cooperatives.
A 2009 study by the National Renewable Energy Lab, shows that
community wind projects support more local jobs than commercial
projects - three times as many during construction and nearly
twice as many long term. Also, the research shows, they funnel
more money into local communities and create public goodwill
toward wind power.
But for all their advantages - local construction and contracting
jobs, dividends for local shareholders, loans from local banks,
reinvestment of profits in local communities - these projects
account for only 2 percent of the wind power capacity in the
United States, or 4 percent, if projects owned by public utilities
are included. (Wind power of all varieties contributes 2 percent
of all the electricity used in the U.S.)
Community wind may sound quaint, but as of 2000, it made up
roughly 80 percent of all wind power capacity in Germany,
Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom combined. Community
wind in Europe is driven by feed-in tariffs, which require
utilities to purchase wind power at premium prices for extended
terms. These subsidies are generally not available in the
Minnesota is the No. 1 state for community wind, largely because
the state began promoting it in the mid-1990s with cash subsidies.
Minnesota utilities today are required to consider offering
long-term contracts with favorable terms to community wind
Senate backers of legislation promoting greenhouse gas caps
got some fresh help recently when the Congressional Budget
Office reported that one high-profile proposal would help
curb the federal deficit by about $19 billion over the next
decade. The CBO analysis of the American Power Act, championed
by Sens. John Kerry and Joe found that government revenues
would grow by about $751 billion from 2011 to 2020 if the
bill became law. By contrast, the legislation would create
direct spending of $732 billion over the same 10-year period.
Authors of the proposal are still searching for a formulation
that will draw 60 votes.
"There is no more room for excuses; this must be our
year to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation
and begin to send a price signal on carbon," Kerry and
Lieberman said in a joint statement. "Many of our colleagues
have said they flatly oppose anything that adds a penny to
the deficit, so we hope they look anew at this initiative,
which reduces it."
The Senate is currently putting together "different options"
on energy and climate during the current congressional recess,
with the goal being to find a bill that President Barack Obama
can help move through the Senate. Democratic staffers say
they are now looking at three ideas: a popular overhaul of
offshore drilling, an "energy-only" bill that would
mandate an increase in renewable electricity and, as a long-shot
add-on, a cap on carbon emissions from power plants only.
Meanwhile, an independent report into the leak of hundreds
of e-mails from one of the world's leading climate research
centers largely vindicated the scientists involved, saying
they acted honestly and that their research was reliable.
The panel of inquiry did chide scientists at the University
of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, however, for failing
to share their data with critics.
"We find that their rigor and honesty as scientists are
not in doubt," the report said. "But we do find
that there has been a consistent pattern of failing to display
the proper degree of openness."
The inquiry was the third major investigation into the theft
and dissemination of more than 1,000 e-mails taken from a
back-up server at the university, which caused a sensation
when they were published online in November. The ensuing scandal
energized skeptics and destabilized the U.N. climate change
conference at Copenhagen and helped sway U.S. opinion against
doing anything to avert climate change, for now.
Also surfacing recently, of note, were documents from the
Nixon Presidential Library that show members of President
Richard Nixon's inner circle discussing the possibilities
of global warming more than 30 years ago.
Adviser Daniel Patrick Moynihan, notable as a Democrat in
the administration, urged Nixon and his cabinet to initiate
a worldwide system of monitoring carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,
decades before the issue of global warming came to the public's
Hundreds of peace activists from around the country and the
world will converge on the Crowne Plaza hotel in downtown
Albany, NY for a national peace conference set to run next
week from July 23 to 25. This conference is being organized
by a coalition of 25 national peace groups and will bring
together the entire leadership of the anti-war movement.
Keynoting the conference will be Noam Chomsky, internationally
renowned political activist, author, and critic of U.S. foreign
and domestic policies, MIT Professor Emeritus of Linguistics;
and Donna DeWitt, President of the South Carolina AFL-CIO
and Steering Committee member, U.S. Labor Against the War.
Additional speakers will include Joel Kovel (of Willow), Dahlia
Wasfi, Leila Zand, Cheri Honkala, Medea Benjamin, Kathy Kelly,
Michael Ferner, Kevin Martin, Michael McPhearson, Nada Khader,
Larry Holmes, David Swanson, Glen Ford, Blanca MissÈ,
Pam Africa, Cindy Sheehan, Fahima Vorgetts, Ann Wright and
Additionally, one feature of the conference will be a focus
on the cases of unjustly prosecuted Muslims such as Yassim
Aref and Mohammed Hossain from Albany. Family members and
supporters from similar cases around the country will also
The conference will develop an action propose to guide the
national anti-war movement in the coming months.
Co-sponsors of the conference include After Downing Street,
Arab American Union Members Council, Bail Out the People Movement,
Black Agenda Report, Campaign for Peace and Democracy, Campus
Antiwar Network, Code Pink, Grandmothers Against the War,
Granny Peace Brigade, International Action Center, Iraq Veterans
Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, National Assembly
to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations, National
Lawyers Guild, Peace Action, Peace of the Action, Progressive
Democrats of America, U.S. Labor Against the War, The Fellowship
of Reconciliation, Veterans for Peace, Voices for Creative
Nonviolence, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom,
World Can't Wait.
The July 23 - 25 conference will be held at the Crowne Plaza
Hotel in downtown Albany, NY. For more information on the
conference, phone 518-227-6947 or visit UNAC's web site at
Tarp Turns Profit?
According to new reports issued yesterday, the Capital Purchase
Program, a major part of TARP, the federal government's major
2008 bank bailout program, has generated a 10.3 percent return
on investment from the 61 banks that have fully repaid the
government. Six banks generated ROI's of 20 percent or more,
including Goldman Sachs, which generated exactly 20 percent.
Morgan Stanley returned 16 percent. Of the $205 billion Treasury
invested through CPP, $65 billion remains outstanding, according
to KBW. The report also found that banks that have fully repaid
CPP money have gained 5.5 percent relative to the S&P
500 Financials Index. The CPP program does not include the
$70 billion guaranteed to AIG, which remains outstanding.
Bank stocks have dropped nearly 20 percent since April, however,
meaning returns are likely to be lower, though still positive,
in the coming year. There is also the question of how the
positive returns will impact the selling of the administration's
proposed $90 billion bank tax. Part of the argument for the
tax has been that it is intended to make sure the government
recoups all the money it spent on bailouts.
Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund has raised its
2010 world growth forecast to 4.5 percent from 4.1 percent,
and its U.S. growth forecast from 2.7 percent to 3.3 percent.
However, it did also warn that 'risks have risen sharply'
due to Europe's financial turbulence. It said European leaders
need to act quickly to resolve debt problems and restore confidence
in their banks.
The Ulster County Women's Network's monthly program will celebrate
artist Helen Schofield's 80th birthday with a retrospective
of her work at her studio and gallery on Tuesday, July 20.
The exhibition will include a Hawaiian series of floral and
abstract oils and watercolors; a series of untraditional portraits
of people, pets and ghosts; and original fashion sketches
of the 1950s.
Schofield, a native of Switzerland, originally trained as
a fashion designer before studying fine art. She came to NYC
in 1983, where her work was on display at the Ward Nasse Gallery
in Soho. Shortly afterward, she moved to the Hudson Valley,
where she studied at the Woodstock School of Art. Her work
has been shown in various galleries in Kingston and beyond.
She curated the "Rhine-Hudson Exchange" exhibit
at the Arts Society of Kingston, which she then brought to
UCWN's gathering begins at 5:30 for socializing and networking,
followed by a potluck dinner, a brief business meeting and
the featured presentation. Women are invited to bring a sketch
pad and paint and brushes or sketch pencils, pens or chalk
- or a camera, for photography. Guests are always welcome
at UCWN programs.
For more information and to R.S.V.P., please contact Melody
Newcombe at 688-5472 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Despite their support of checks and balances and desire for
minimal changes in the Constitution, the American public favors
a series of populist changes in our system of government,
according to the results of a poll on the US Constitution
prepared by Penn Schoen Berland for the Aspen Institute and
released recently at the Aspen Ideas Festival. Initiatives
receiving public support include direct election of Supreme
Court justices, elimination of the Electoral College, and
the addition of amendments by national referenda.
The poll suggests that, while the public may be dissatisfied
with recent administrations and the partisan political environment,
they remain reasonably satisfied with the governmental framework
set out in the Constitution. By 64 to 19 they endorse the
system of checks and balances as necessary to prevent one
branch from dominating the Government.
Freedom of speech was seen as far and away the single most
important right guaranteed by the Constitution, and, as a
corollary, only 28 percent believe the press has too much
freedom. The poll covered well over 100 questions on the details
of the constitutional system of government and was conducted
with over 1000 Americans.
By a margin of 6 to 1 (61 to 10 percent) Americans believe
that the Constitution should safeguard even more rights, and
name gender equality as the right most deserving of constitutional
protection. Majorities support guarantees of equality, of
the right to privacy, of the right to own property and even
the right to an education. 55 percent support the right to
equality regardless of sexual orientation while 47 percent
thinks the right to healthcare should be constitutionally
protected as well.
Two areas in which Americans are split are how best to interpret
the Constitution and whether it protects some Americans more
than others. While Republicans support a literal interpretation
of the text and Democrats a more living interpretation consistent
with the times, Independents are split down the middle, making
this the single most contentious constitutional issue polled.
Additionally, upper-income Americans see the Constitution
as protecting all Americans equally while lower-income Americans
are less certain it provides equal treatment for all.
In another contentious area, respondents rank protecting national
security as slightly more important than protecting civil
liberties by a margin of 44 to 39. And while 31 percent disagree,
56 percent of Americans can see circumstances in which the
police should be allowed to violate civil liberties for national
When it comes to the Supreme Court, the public disagrees with
the underpinnings of their recent ruling that extends free
speech rights to corporations. By a narrow 41 to 51 percent
the public also rejects giving corporations the same rights
When it comes to fixing to the system, voters zero in on the
judiciary branch as most ripe for extensive changes. 69 percent
call for a mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court justices
and 66 percent favor term limits. Most significantly, by a
margin of 51 to 34 the public favors popular election of Supreme
Court justices, which follows the recent trend in some states
that have chosen to elect their top justices. It is the most
dramatic change to the system that the poll respondents favor.
74 percent agree it is time to abolish the Electoral College
and have direct popular vote for the president. The public
also favors by 49 to 41 holding national referenda for constitutional
GE To Clean Up
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
ruled the EPA does have the authority to unilaterally order
cleanups. The decision clears the way for the continued cleanup
of polychlorinated biphenyl polluted sediment from the Hudson
Many have said the court decision will have widespread implications
beyond the Hudson River cleanup.
General Electric had been ordered to clean up years of chemical
pollution dumped into the upper Hudson River and had fought
the federal rulings against them for over a decade. This final
appeal puts the issue to rest... at least for this fight.