Olive Democrats are currently deciding on a date for their biennial
caucus. August 18 seems the likely date, although a final decision
won’t be made on that or a place for another week.
A date had been set for last Thursday, July 14, which was eventually
scuttled when it was discovered that no proper advertisements
or announcements had been placed about the event.
But no one’s really worried about the delay.
According to both party chairman John Parete and supervisor
Berndt Leifeld, there won’t be any changes come November’s
ballot. Expect a slate of all incumbents, most of whom have
been in their roles for a dozen years or more… and well
over 20 on the part of town clerk Sylvia Rozelle.
The ballot, for now, consists of Leifeld for supervisor, Bruce
LaMonda and Helen Chase for town council, Rozelle for clerk,
Jimmie Fugel for highway superintendent and Vince Barringer
for town justice.
Barringer is currently facing some sort of possible state action,
brought on, according to sources, by his advocacy on behalf
of citizens angry over the recent closure of the town’s
“lemon squeeze” short cut over the reservoir, as
well as city DEP tickets he wouldn’t hear when such things
were still a state issue.
Repeated calls to local GOP officials were not returned as of
press time. To date, they have announced Chris Johansen, formerly
the town’s leading Conservative, as a candidate for county
legislature against Democrat incumbents Peter Kraft and Robert
and Richard Parete. Word also has it someone might be facing
Fugel for highway superintendent.
“We have a lot of stability in Olive,” said Parete,
also concentrating on countywide legislative elections as Ulster’s
county Democratic chairman. “The board has some strong
accomplishments, too,” he added, noting the senior housing
complex in Olivebridge and the pool revitalization accomplished
via funding from the City watershed deal’s “good
neighbor” funding several years ago.
“Bert is a very frugal guy,” Parete added to his
list. “We handled the Large Parcel issue well. We’ve
got good candidates and feel good about this election.”
Eagles seem to be making a slow comeback in the Catskills, with
a breeding pair now frequenting the Ashokan Reservoir for several
years, and despite the failure of last year’s nest, this
year two juveniles have hatched and are on the wing.
Steve Joule, a wildlife biologist and endangered species specialist
with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
(DEC), has been monitoring the eagles and said that this year’s
nest was built several hundred feet from the last one. “That
pair does well when they’re not disturbed, but they’ve
had a lot of disturbance from the closing of the road along
the reservoir, and that’s probably why they moved the
Little eagles stenciled onto the pavement near the Lemon Squeeze
mark a buffer zone around the nesting site. A poster urges passersby
not to stop in the buffer zone to view the eagles or make loud
noises and warns that they may be arrested for trespassing into
“With proper etiquette, they aren’t disturbed by
people passing by,” said Joule, “and this is an
experienced pair. They’ve dealt with humans in the past.
But last year there were incidents such as kite-flying that
chased the eagles off the nest. If the adults aren’t able
to incubate the eggs consistently, the embryo dies.” While
we think of birds keeping their eggs warm, the eagles also protect
their eggs from overheating through exposure to the sun.
In the past, pollution was a major cause of egg mortality, with
pesticides leached into the water entering the eagles’
systems through consumption of fish, resulting in eggs that
were not viable. “They’re at the top of the food
chain, so there can be a concentration of toxins in the eggs,”
observed Phoenicia resident and wildlife enthusiast Julie Marcus,
who has also been watching the eagles since they laid their
eggs in March.
Looking through binoculars from a respectful distance outside
the buffer zone, she checks the nest every few days. “One
eaglet always develops a little ahead of the other,” she
said. “I would see one standing in the nest more, and
it would hop over to a branch when the other one was still in
the nest. These past couple of weeks, they’ve started
to fledge,” that is, leave the nest and become independent.
The parents are now spending little time at the nest, but they
return to teach the young ones to fly and hunt.
The poster on the Lemon Squeeze explains, “Since the 1800’s,
New York Bald Eagle populations declined from over 70 nesting
pairs and hundreds of migratory eagles to one infertile nesting
pair and only dozens of migratory eagles in the 1960’s.
Following the listing of the eagle as a federally endangered
species in 1967 and the banning of DDT in 1972, conservation
efforts have returned populations in New York to more than 50
active nesting sites statewide.”
Bald eagles are protected by the Endangered Species Act, which
establishes primary and secondary zones of protection around
a known nesting site, said Joule. In these zones, it is forbidden
to change the habitat by removal of trees, a major disturbance
to birds that hunt by sight. Whether the land is public or private,
no commercial or residential development is allowed, as well
as no establishment of power lines, no mining, and no use of
Primaries will be few and far between this political season
around Ulster County. To date, the only announced races prior
to next November’s election, which will decide the fate
of the county legislature, as well as numerous town boards,
are a three-way race for the Democratic line for legislature
in Highland and a two-way race for the Independence Party line
for Family Court judge. Only two incumbent legislators, Teresa
Hyatt, D-Ellenville, and Joan Feldmann, D-Saugerties, are not
seeking re-election. In the race for Family Court judge, Democratic
nominee Anthony McGinty of Rosendale and GOP incumbent Steven
Nussbaum of New Paltz are both seeking the Independence Party
line when primaries occur in September..
After a decade of controversy, the Ulster County Resource Recovery
Agency’s Board of Directors decided recently to halt its
private collection and hauling activities, finally heeding complaints
that it was competing unfairly with the public sector. The action
came as part of budget deliberations that have been set to conclude
on August 17, by which time an estimate of the new change, which
effects the trash agency’s revenue stream, should be available.
Memorandums available at the recent meeting suggested the change
in policy could eliminate up to $160,000 in income, although
board members expressed skepticism of the figures provided by
longtime RRA head Charlie Shaw.
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection is
again drilling in search of an aquifer beneath the Hudson River
near the Orange/Ulster counties border to supplement the city’s
reservoir system instead of the current river pumping station
it now uses during heavy droughts. The department had sought
to have test wells installed by now, but have so far come up
with nothing on the eastern banks of the river. The drilling
is to test the feasibility of a technique called “induced
infiltration,” in which water is pumped from the aquifer
to create a vacuum. This forces river water to flow down through
layers of silt, sand, fossilized oyster beds and other material,
which agency officials say acts as a natural filter and yields
water that requires less treatment than water pumped directly
from the river. Drilling is now expected to be completed by
Borings of up to 200 feet deep will be drilled from two barges
and a platform similar to an oil rig. The $1.58 million study
shut down from June 2004 to January 2005 to avoid interfering
The Gov’s Plans
Gov. George E. Pataki went to Iowa recently for what associates
described as an exploration of whether he should run for president
in 2008, reflecting what they called an increased likelihood
that he would forgo a bid for a fourth term next year and turn
to the national stage. If he ran, Pataki, who supports abortion
rights and gun control, would most likely be the most moderate
candidate in the Republican field, and would face significant
hurdles with a Republican primary electorate that has become
increasingly conservative, particularly in states like Iowa.
Pataki said in an interview that it was far too early to decide
on a presidential race, and that he would make a final decision
on seeking re-election around the end of September. His trip
coincided with the annual conference of the National Association
of Governors. At this point, at least seven governors from both
parties are considering runs for the presidency in 2008, reflecting
the widespread view in both parties that governors - with their
records as chief executives, and without the inconvenience of
a detailed legislative voting record - make stronger candidates
in presidential races than senators, as demonstrated by Senator
John Kerry’s defeat last year.
The Appellate Division of state Supreme Court appeals court
recently overturned a ruling handed down in July 2004 by state
Supreme Court Justice Vincent Bradley and has ruled that town
of Ulster assessor and Ulster County legislator James Maloney
can hold his two positions without conflict of interest.The
unanimous ruling by the four-judge Appellate Division stated
that Ulster County Democratic Chairman John Parete, the complainant
in the case, did not have the legal standing to bring action
against Maloney. Furthermore, the judges said, Parete failed
to show Maloney’s situation was different enough from
that in a 1978 ruling that found the two positions were not
incompatible. Maloney, a Republican, said he’s pleased
with the ruling and the fact that it was unanimous. Parete said
he may appeal the ruling to the state’s highest court,
the Court of Appeals. He has pointed out that since towns with
elected assessors, such as Shandaken, are not allowed to allow
such officials to hold two posts, the law is unfair as currently
exists, and does not acknowledge the move away from elected
assessors in recent years. Bradley had ruled that Maloney’s
two positions were in conflict because there were at least two
instances in which the best interest of the county and the town
could be in opposition - one involving the large-parcel tax
law, the other involving the property assessment of Hudson Valley
The American Civil Liberties Union has charged that the Bush
administration “has sought to impose growing restrictions
on the free flow of scientific information, unreasonable barriers
on the use of scientific materials and increased monitoring
of and restrictions on foreign university students.” The
ACLU said the administration with trying to suppress information
on such topics as global warming, mercury emissions and emergency
contraception. The White House has replied that times are difficult
and terrorists can not be given advantageous information. The
Senate, meanwhile, has taken steps to ensure that Congress clearly
explains future efforts to restrict the public’s access
to government documents, passing a new bill that requires that
future legislation containing new exemptions to what records
are open for public scrutiny under Freedom of Information Act
be “stated explicitly within the text of the bill.”
Other legislation aimed at reducing bureaucratic delays in meeting
FOIA requests and addressing the issue of government secrecy
are also being written.
At the same time, it has been revealed that FBI agents monitored
Web sites calling for protests against the 2004 political conventions
in New York and Boston on behalf of the bureau’s counterterrorism
unit, according to FBI documents released under the Freedom
of Information Act, and has pegged the ACLU and several environmental
organizations in massive new FBI investigations. The American
Civil Liberties Union pointed to the documents as evidence that
the Bush administration has reacted to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist
attacks on the United States by blurring the distinction between
terrorism and political protest. FBI officials defended the
involvement of counterterrorism agents in providing security
for the Republican and Democratic conventions as an administrative
convenience, and have denied targeting the groups because of
their political views.
The government has approved a new therapy for the severely depressed
who have run out of treatment options: a pacemaker-like implant
that sends tiny electric shocks to the brain. The Food and Drug
Administration’s clearance opens Cyberonics Inc.’s
vagus nerve stimulator, or VNS, as a potential treatment for
an estimated 4 million Americans with hard-to-treat depression
- despite controversy over whether it’s really been proven
to work.The pacemaker-like implant has been sold since 1997
to control intractable epilepsy, a much smaller market, and
consists of a generator the size of a pocket watch implanted
into the chest. Wires snake up the neck to the vagus nerve,
delivering tiny electric shocks through that nerve and into
a region of the brain thought to play a role in mood. The chief
risk, according to manufacturers: More than half of patients
in the depression study experienced at least temporary voice
alterations - a hoarseness or raspiness, or voice ‘’breaks’’
- that seem to persist in a significant number. Other complications
include difficulty breathing or swallowing.
Governors meeting in Iowa recently voiced concern about repeated
National Guard deployments overseas and called for a national
dialogue on the role and mission of the National Guard, expressing
frustration with the heavy reliance on Guard units in Iraq and
Afghanistan and repeated overseas deployments of state units.
Those deployments have separated families and caused a hardship
for local communities, over half of the 33 governors in attendance
said, while raising questions about the size of the military
and the future of the National Guard. National Guard soldiers
serve under the control of governors, usually for roles like
disaster relief in their home states. But they can be summoned
to active-duty Army service in times of national need.
Meanwhile, it is looking like major reductions in U.S. troop
levels in Iraq are likely next year, although Pentagon officials
have said it is too early to predict the specific size and timing.
The Pentagon has said that it is eager to pull some of its 135,000
troops out of Iraq in 2006, partly because the counterinsurgency
is stretching the Army and Marine Corps perilously thin as casualties
mount and partly because officials believe the presence of a
large U.S. force is generating tacit support for anti-American
U.S. commanders expect the insurgency to remain at or near its
current strength at least until after a scheduled October referendum
on a new Iraqi constitution, followed by December elections
for a new government.
Senior Pentagon officials, however, have declined to comment
directly on a leaked British military assessment that raises
the possibility of drastically cutting British troop strength
in Iraq by the end of next year as well as sharply cutting the
overall number of U.S. and allied troops by the middle of next
year to 66,000.
Researchers have good news for walkers: Strolling can help obese
adults burn more calories per mile than brisk walking and might
even lower the risk of arthritis and injuries to the joints
than picking up the pace. Colorado doctoral student Ray Browning
and his colleagues studied 20 men and women of normal weight
and 20 considered obese as they walked set distances at different
speeds. They found the obese people burned more calories walking
at a slower pace for a longer time than walking at a faster
speed. Now, the medical community believes this new info might
be just the incentive needed for people turned off by the traditional
advice to take at least five brisk walks, 30 minutes at a time,
per week. About 60 million Americans age 20 or older are considered
obese, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Their health care costs amount to about $100 billion a year,
according to the American Obesity Association.
At the same time, a separate study has found that when people
over 60 walked on smooth, rounded cobblestones for just a half-hour
a day over four months, they significantly lowered their blood
pressure and improved their balance. Behavioral researchers
from the Oregon Research Institute investigated the health effects
of cobblestones after observing people exercising and walking
back and forth over traditional stone paths in China, where
traditional medicine teaches that the uneven surface of the
stones stimulate “acupoints” on the soles of the
feet. The theory is much like acupuncture, suggesting that distant
and unrelated areas of the body are linked together at certain
points and can be stimulated to improve physical and mental
Although cobblestone-walking is rooted in centuries of Chinese
tradition, no controlled scientific studies had been done to
evaluate its potential benefits and effectiveness until recently.
A push for universal health coverage is being rekindled in some
states by soaring health care costs and a lack of political
support in Washington for federal changes.
Advocates of a single-payer insurance system - where the government
would collect taxes and cover everyone - are counting on frustration
with the current system to turn the tide in at least one state
by the end of the decade.
Advocates of a single-payer system - where the government would
collect taxes and cover everyone, similar to programs in Canada
and across Europe - have introduced bills in at least 18 legislatures.
Some are symbolic gestures, but heated debate is taking place
in California and Vermont. In Ohio, a group of doctors, union
officials and religious leaders are gathering signatures to
get a single-payer health system placed on a ballot next year.
Not since Oregon in 2002 has a state voted on a single-payer
health system. Voters there soundly rejected it, as did Californians
in 1994. Both times, the proposals came under fierce assault
from the medical, insurance and pharmaceutical industries, which
launched a battery of television commercials to oppose the movements.
Nationally, the number of uninsured Americans is 45 million
and rising, and 16 million lack enough insurance to cover all
their medical bills. Meanwhile, health care costs keep rising…
an average of 11.2 percent in 2004, the fourth consecutive year
of double-digit growth.
A single-payer system would be financed through a mix of payroll
tax increases and new taxes on personal income. The new taxes
would take the place of insurance premiums that many people
currently pay for health coverage, and there would be no out-of-pocket
expenses. States would use their leverage to negotiate lower
prices for prescription drugs and other health services. Hospitals
and doctors’ offices would be relieved of the hassles
and expense of dealing with multiple health insurers.
Married men earn more than bachelors so long as their wives
stay at home doing the housework, according to a report Wednesday
from Britain’s Institute for Social and Economic Research
(ISER) which found that a married man whose wife does not go
out to work but is primarily responsible for the cooking and
cleaning earns about 3 percent more than comparably employed
single men. Surprisingly, that wage premium disappears if wives
go out to work themselves or don’t do most of the housework.
Analysis suggests there could be two explanations for the results:
A marriage might allow a husband and wife to focus their activities
on tasks to which they are most suited. Traditionally, this
would result in the man concentrating on paid work enabling
him to increase productivity and in consequence his wages. Another
explanation could be that marriage may increase the amount of
time a man has to hone work-related skills which could trigger
According to the latest theories, the world is no longer about
towns, cities, counties, metropolitan areas or even states.
Those traditional boundaries may become even more parochial
as our nation of 295 million braces for another 125 million
people by 2050.
If current development patterns continue, millions more will
settle around metropolitan areas, along interstate highways
and near major airports. They’ll form giant urban areas
linked by common culture, economy, geography and ecology: Already,
ten megapolitan areas have more than 10 million residents or
will have that many by 2040, extending into 35 states and including
parts of every state east of the Mississippi River except Vermont.
They incorporate less than a fifth of the land area in the continental
USA but house more than two-thirds of the population. Four states
are considered completely megapolitan: Connecticut, Delaware,
New Jersey and Rhode Island.
“This is how America’s really organized, and nobody’s
got a statistic to measure it,” reads one report on it
all. “The average American intuitively knows this. They’ve
taken a lot of business trips in this space. They’ve taken
a lot of family trips in this space. They know that’s
where their families are moving or where they have friends and
“We’re looking at places the way Asians and Europeans
do, cutting across borders,” says Robert Yaro, president
of the Regional Plan Association, a New York non-profit research
and advocacy group that works on quality-of-life issues in 31
adjacent counties in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Yaro
and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, Mass.,
are researching ways of formally delineating and measuring these
regions. The goal: to promote collaboration on transportation
and environmental protection between metropolitan areas and
across political boundaries.