U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne rejected
the proposals of two American Indian tribes to operate
casinos in Sullivan County earlier this month, effectively
killing the idea of gambling in the Catskills and drawing
complaints from various pro-casino factions in the region
and state, including the Governor. For the casinos to
move forward, Kempthorne said he would need to authorize
the placement of off-Indian reservation land in trust
at the two sites. He refused to do that.
The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe wants to create a casino at
Monticello Raceway, and the Stockbridge Munsee Tribe has
been developing plans for a gaming hall in Bridgeville.
In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the
state Legislature and then-Gov. George Pataki approved
the creation of a total of three Indian-run casinos in
Ulster and Sullivan counties as a way to boost state revenue.
But final approval of the gaming halls rests with the
interior secretary. There currently is no plan on the
table for a casino in Ulster County, though towns is the
southern part of the county have expressed interest in
becoming home to one. And former County Ligislative Chairman
Ward Todd went to contract for one during his tenure in
office… although the matter was later allowed to
Both Congressman Maurice Hinchey and State Sen. John Bonacic
said the presence of casinos could breathe new life into
the Catskills and Hudson Valley.
and criticized Kempthorne’s ruling.
Officials at Empire Resorts, which owns Monticello Gaming
and Raceway, held out hope following the decision, stating
that they would continue to look at “every opportunity
to realize the promise of jobs and economic development
for the people of Sullivan County.”
The Natural Resources Defense Council, which has opposed
development of Native American casinos in Sullivan County,
Monday, said the decision by US Secretary of the Interior
Dirk Kempthorne not to approve them was “a major
victory” for the people of the Catskills and New
York State and noted that it is unlikely that there would
be a reversal of that decision any time soon.
The Natural Resources Defense Council is concerned about
the impact the casinos would have on Route 17 traffic,
air quality and new development impacting the quality
of life in the Catskills.
“This is a tremendous victory for Catskills residents
who have fought to preserve the quality of life in our
region,” read a statement from Catskill Mountainkeeper,
a new regional organization brought together to fight
the issue. “This is a great opportunity for us to
leave behind the divisive battle over casinos that has
divided communities for so long and look to economic development
we can all get behind.”
Meanwhile, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe has announced that
it has filed a suit against Kempthorne seeking to overturn
his decision, alleging the secretary’s decision
is arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, has
no basis in the law, and constitutes an abuse of his position
The Morton Library in the Pine Hill section of the town
of Shandaken is owned by the town and will be insured
by the town. That's the official word from Town Board
members, who conducted research to determine the building's
ownership after former town Supervisor Robert Cross Jr.,
who left office at year's end, shocked the community in
late December by announcing the town did not own the building
and therefore could not insure it.
"The town owns the building," said Supervisor
Peter DiSclafani, who took office at the beginning for
At a Dec. 26 meeting, Cross said the library building
and its contents had been under the umbrella of the town's
insurance until the carrier concluded the town didn't
own the building. Cross said that meant the library itself
would have to pick up the $9,000 insurance bill. The library
said it couldn't afford that amount.
The Town Board and members of the small audience at the
Dec. 26 meeting tried to come up with a solution to the
problem but agreed instead to research the building's
At the time, Cross said he thought the insurance company
would continue to cover the library, at least for a short
time, until other arrangements could be made.
David Smith, who retired from the library's Board of Directors
last April, said it always was believed the town owned
the building, having taken ownership of it from the village
of Pine Hill when the Village dissolved in the 1980s.
Smith said he was startled when told that, according to
Cross, the property is now, and always has been, owned
by a Chicago-based foundation.
To support that claim, Cross said he had not found any
written agreements about the town's relationship with
the property, but he did locate a handwritten deed from
the 1800s that indicated the foundation owned the building.
DiSclafani said the matter ultimately was resolved after
town Councilman Robert Stanley did a little research.
"It only took a few minutes," Stanley said on
Stanley said there was a deed in the town clerk's office,
dating to the early 1920s, that show ownership of the
library had been transferred to the village of Pine Hill
DiSclafani said even though the matter was tabled at the
Dec. 26 meeting, Cross canceled the library's insurance
before leaving office.
Library officials said that seemed like payback by Cross
because Pine Hill residents didn't support his 2005 re-election
DiSclafani said he contacted the insurance company and
had the library's coverage reinstated.
David Donaldson was the unanimous choice to continue as
chairman of the Ulster County Legislature at its recent
reorganization meeting, with Republican Wayne Harris seconding
his nomination, saying Democrat Donaldson had worked well
on a bipartisan level.
In his following state-of-the-county message, Donaldson
then said the legislature had been “quite productive
by any standard” on numerous fronts. “We created
long-needed reforms with an eye toward efficiency, accountability,
while remaining transparent.”
Donaldson touted economic development, tourism promotion
and preservation of open space. And said the county’s
biggest remaining challenge is in balancing taxpayer concerns
with essential services. Taxes are up under four percent
in the 2008 budget, but Donaldson warned that may not
Republican Ulster County legislators later expressed confidence
in the Chairman’s ability to lead the county toward
a new form of government in 2009. As also stated in his
annual address, Donaldson will more or less guide the
county’s changeover to a voter-approved charter
form of government, to be led by an elected county executive,
starting in January 2009.
“(The transition) is going to take all 33 legislators,
but Dave certainly has the leadership qualities to make
it a smooth transition,” said Robert Aiello, R-Saugerties,
who singularly praised the concept of having a research
center to draw in large companies.
“This is a great idea and (the county) is on the
right track with universities acting as a partnership
to the private sector,” said Aiello. “Companies
will migrate towards a center like that. ... We desperately
need to do something because we’re losing all our
college kids and basically turning this into a senior
Efforts are under way to reinstate a senior citizen nutrition
program at the Phoenicia Methodist Church after the program
was halted without warning Friday by the Ulster County
Office of the Aging. In the meantime, volunteers are providing
donated meals at the church.
Similar to an old-fashioned soup kitchen, but nowadays
referred to as "congregate meals," the county
program provided a high-quality lunch every weekday in
the church for anyone over 60 who met the program guidelines.
The suggested cost for each lunch was $2.25, but no one
was turned away if they didn't have the money.
The Office for the Aging offers similar programs in Ellenville,
Kingston, Rosendale and Saugerties.
Petitions calling for the program's reinstatement were
circulated in the area Tuesday, and many signatures had
been gathered by midday.
"We the residents of Shandaken Township and surrounding
communities strongly support the Senior Nutrition Program,"
the petition states. "Recognizing both the nutritional
and social importance of this program for our local seniors,
we urge the community to assist in the maintenance of
this program here within our community. For the benefit
of our seniors, we the undersigned ask that the Senior
Nutrition Program be reinstated immediately."
County Legislator Don Gregorious, D-Woodstock, a member
of the Arts, Education, Tourism and Community Relations
Committee that oversees the Office for the Aging, said
he and fellow Legislator Brian Shapiro, D-Woodstock, were
just made aware of the matter this week, and have met
with officials to sort the matter out.
Gregorious said that while the program was closed, it
was only temporary.
"The correct term is suspended," he said.
Gregorious said the program was halted because the company
hired to supply the meals complained.
"The problem with the congregate meals has been low
turnout," he said.
Gregorious said it was agreed that the program is needed
in Phoenicia, so officials are looking at a variety of
issues that they think contribute to the low turnout,
including a lack of transportation for seniors, and the
church's location, which Gregorious said might not be
ideal for the program.
He added that Shandaken officials have been contacted
and they are helping find alternative locations. Officials
with Ulster County Area Transit have also been brought
into the talks, Gregorious said, to see if that agency
can help with transportation issues.
According to the Office for the Aging, there's a social
benefit to the program in addition to the nutritional
"We hope seniors visiting the Senior Dining Sites
will enjoy social contact with people with similar interests,"
said Anne Cardinale, the director of the Office for the
A dramatic reduction in water usage in Phoenicia has thrown
the cost formula out of whack, officials say, and so a
change in the tax levy, an increase that is, for the district
can be expected.
How much of a change however remains uncertain.
This week, working from memory of his recent review of
water district finances, Supervisor Peter DiSclafani said
that data collected between May and December of last year
showed a drop of over 5 million gallons from the year
DiSclafani said he believes the drop is due to conservation.
Usage was not the only thing that changed last year in
the Phoenicia Water District. Following recommendations
from a water committee that met in private, last years
town board voted in a rate change for the users that shifted
much of the cost burden onto the high water users such
restaurants. That change followed a surprise last two
years ago when district property owners received a tax
bill significantly higher than the year before due to
increased district costs. In an effort to bring those
tax bills down the water usage cost were brought up. At
the time Supervisor Robert Cross jr. said the new formula
put the cost of water on those that use it.
While that is true, the formula never took into account
what would happen if water usage dropped.
DiSclafani, who was on the town board for the past two
before years before elected Supervisor, said that tax
bills sent out last year were based on the assumption
of a repeat of the usage the year before. Now, the large
drop in usage could represent a $25,000 budget shortfall.
Expected to offset that shortfall however, should be a
reduction of costs to filter the water because less has
been running through the system.
The figures however need to be fully reviewed. On Monday
District Water Commissioner Ric Ricciardella was unable
to confirm DiSclafani’s data.
He did note that last week several leaks were detected
and repaired along water mains. The repairs have stopped
leaks amounting to 75,000 gallons per day, Ricciardella
said, but those leaks were not in places that would have
affected anyone’s water meters.
Until January 2nd, Eric Hofmeister was a civilian. Most
knew him from his hardware store located on Phoenicia’s
Main Street in the Morne Imports Building and before that
in what is now the location of the Ulster Savings Bank.
And while that hardware store is still running well, Hofmeister’s
finding it hard to spend much time in it.
On January 2nd he was sworn in as the towns new Superintendent
of Highways after narrowly defeating former highway boss
Keith Johnson at the polls last November.
On Tuesday Hofmeister glibly summed up the job so far.
“Sleep deprivation,” he said. “I’ve
been up since 2AM today and I was up at 2AM yesterday,
and was busy until 9 o’clock last night.”
While not planning out plowing schedules and helping the
Onteora School District decide whether to call a snow
day, the Supe is now talking over plans for the year with
the guys that seem to know best: his crew. Hofmeister
and the department are talking over all possibilities,
but the Superintendent said one crucial component of plans
for the year involves financing. Hofmeister is scheduled
to meet with state officials this week to find out what
funds are available this year for flood management work.
If such funds are out there for the taking he plans to
take advantage of the opportunity.
In the meantime, regular road maintenance is the order
of the day, and this time of year that means plowing,
With everything snow covered since last month it has been
hard to gauge the status of the over 70 miles of town
owned road, so Hofmeister urges anyone with suggestions
for what needs fixing to call his office at (845) 688-9901.
The state Health Department and the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency have identified Ulster, Dutchess, Columbia
and Greene counties as high-risk areas for radon contamination,
Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced earlier this month, urging
alongside state Health Commissioner Dr. Richard F. Daines
that New Yorkers have their homes tested for the colorless,
odorless gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium
in salt, rock and water.
The EPA said radon is the second-leading cause of lung
cancer in the country and that 20,000 lung cancer deaths
annually can be attributed to the gas. Radon occurs naturally
in the Earth but becomes a problem when it enters the
home. It gets indoors through cracks and openings in the
homes foundation and walls and around sump pumps.
New Yorkers can obtain radon test kits for $6.75 from
the state Health Department. Results of the test are sent
directly to whoever submitted the kit. To get a kit, call
(800) 458-1158, toll-free, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alarmed at the increasingly populist tone of the 2008
political campaign, the president of the U.S. Chamber
of Commerce has issued a promise to spend millions of
dollars to defeat candidates deemed to be anti-business,
saying he is planning, “To build a grass-roots business
organization so strong that when it bites you in the butt,
you bleed.” The warning from the nation’s
largest trade association came against a background of
mounting popular concern over the condition of the economy.
A weak record of job creation, the sub-prime mortgage
crisis, declining home values and other problems have
all helped make the economy a major campaign issue.
Presidential candidates in particular have responded to
the public concern. Former Sen. John Edwards of North
Carolina has been the bluntest populist voice, but other
front-running Democrats, including Sen. Hillary Rodham
Clinton of New York and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois,
have also called for change on behalf of middle-class
voters. On the Republican side, former Arkansas Gov. Mike
Huckabee - emerging as an unexpected front-runner after
winning the Iowa caucuses - has used populist themes in
his effort to woo independent voters, blasting bonus pay
for corporate chief executives and the effect of unfettered
globalization on workers.
Reacting to what it sees as a potentially hostile political
climate, Chamber President Tom Donohue said, the chamber
will seek to punish candidates who target business interests
with their rhetoric or policy proposals, including congressional
and state-level candidates. Although Donohue shied away
from precise figures, he indicated that his organization
would spend in excess of the approximately $60 million
it spent in the last presidential cycle. That approaches
the spending levels planned by the largest labor unions.
The chamber has become a significant force in state and
national politics under Donohue’s decade of leadership.
Once a notably bipartisan trade association with a limited
budget and limited influence, it has hugely increased
its political fundraising and developed new ways to spend
money on behalf of pro-business candidates. Under Donohue,
the organization has also frequently aligned itself with
GOP priorities. Under a system Donohue pioneered, corporations
contribute money to the chamber, which then finances attack
ads targeting individual candidates without revealing
the name of the businesses involved in the ads.
The GOP has meanwhile put out official word that it is
seeking millionaire candidates, wherever possible. Should
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said late
last year that employers could reduce or eliminate health
benefits for retirees when they turn 65 and become eligible
for Medicare. The policy, set forth in a new regulation,
allows employers to establish two classes of retirees,
with more comprehensive benefits for those under 65 and
more limited benefits - or none at all - for those older.
More than 10 million retirees rely on employer-sponsored
health plans as a primary source of coverage or as a supplement
to Medicare. Premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance
rose an average of 6.1 percent this year and have increased
78 percent since 2001. Because of the rising cost of health
care and the increased life expectancy of workers, the
commission said, many employers refuse to provide retiree
health benefits or even to negotiate on the issue.
In general, the commission observed, employers are not
required by federal law to provide health benefits to
either active or retired workers.
AARP and other advocates for older Americans attacked
the rule. “This rule gives employers free rein to
use age as a basis for reducing or eliminating health
care benefits for retirees 65 and older,” said Christopher
G. Mackaronis, a lawyer for AARP, which represents millions
of people age 50 or above and which had sued in an effort
to block issuance of the final regulation. “Ten
million people could be affected - adversely affected
- by the rule.”
Meanwhile, Medicare prescription drug plan premiums are
scheduled to rise by an average of almost 25 percent in
And at the same time, fears of a U.S. recession coupled
with a sudden spike in oil prices replaced terrorism,
pandemic disease outbreaks and short-term disasters resulting
from climate change as the issues global business leaders
are most worried about, said the “Global Risks 2008”
report. The report, which is based on workshops involving
corporate leaders, professors and risk analysts, also
listed dwindling food supplies as a growing concern.
The report coincides with a World Bank study released
Wednesday that expressed concern about the faltering U.S.
housing market and its impact on global financial markets.
Oil prices soared past $100 a barrel for the first time
ever in recent weeks, reaching that milestone amid an
unshakeable view that global demand for oil and petroleum
products will continue to outstrip supplies. Separately,
the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said
its member nations may not be able to meet demand as early
as 2024, though OPEC also said that deadline could slide
for decades if members increase production more quickly.
In conjunction with a number of other county departments,
the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office conducted a “Deadbeat
Dad” sweep throughout the state over the last few
months. With the aid of the county Department of Social
Services Child Support Enforcement, the District Attorney’s
office and Family Court, detectives and uniformed personnel
from the Sheriff’s Office focused their attention
on “deadbeat dads” that owed amounts of money
ranging from $5,000 to $100,000.
Eleven individuals were arrested stemming from the sweep
and the cumulative amount owed was over $210,000. Over
$37,000 that was owed in child support was collected due
to this effort. Furthermore, the various departments stated
that they will continue their efforts to apprehend those
individuals that are significantly behind in child support
payments by conducting more sweeps of this nature.
Among those arrested during the sweep were William Robert
Slaughter of 74 Parker Lane, Olive; and John Szymanski,
also of Olive.
Hurricane Katrina’s victims have put a price tag
on their suffering and it is staggering - including one
plaintiff seeking the unlikely sum of $3 quadrillion,
or $3,014,170,389,176,410 to be exact for some 489,000
claims filed against the federal government over damage
from the failure of levees and flood walls following the
Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane.
Of the total number of claims, the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers said it has received 247 for at least $1 billion
apiece, including the one for $3 quadrillion. “It’s
important to the person who filed it, so we’re taking
every single claim seriously,” Corps spokeswoman
Amanda Jones said.
Some residents may have grossly exaggerated their claims
to send a message to the corps, which has accepted blame
for poorly designing the failed levees.
Daniel Becnel, Jr., a lawyer who said his clients have
filed more than 60,000 claims, said measuring Katrina’s
devastation in dollars and cents is a nearly impossible
task. “There’s no way on earth you can figure
it out,” he said. “The trauma these people
have undergone is unlike anything that has occurred in
the history of our country.”
The corps released zip codes, but no names, for the 247
claims of at least $1 billion. The list includes a $77
billion claim by the city of New Orleans. Fourteen involve
a wrongful death claim. Fifteen were filed by businesses,
including several insurance companies. Little is known
about the person who claimed $3 quadrillion. It was filed
in Baker, 93 miles northwest of New Orleans. Baker is
far from the epicenter of Katrina’s destruction,
but the city has a trailer park where hundreds of evacuees
have lived since the storm.
Katrina, which is blamed for more than 1,600 deaths in
Louisiana and Mississippi, is considered the most destructive
storm to ever hit the U.S. It caused at least $60 billion
in insured losses and could cost Gulf Coast states up
to $125 billion, according to the National Oceanic and
‘We’ll have procedures and we’re not
going to advertise what they are.’
The Board of Fire Commissioners of the Phoenicia Fire
District held their organizational meeting for the year
of 2008 on January 8th at M. F. Whitney Hose Co. Steven
Wadler was elected to a 2 year.term on the board and Todd
Carr for a 5 year term. Jane Todd administered the oath
of office to Richard Loveless, Steven Wadler, Linda Michela,
Todd Carr, Howard Sebald and Chief Gary Carr, 1st Asst.
Chief Dale Neal and 2nd Asst. Chief Ted Byron Jr. After
the swearing in ceremony, Richard Lovless was elected
to chairman of the board and proceeded to assign areas
of responsibilities. Fire Chief Gary Carr submitted his
annual report noting that there were 154 calls for the
year including 22 Personal Injury Automobile Accidents,
11 Structure Fires, 10 Tree & Wire incidents, 27 Cellar
Pumps, 50 responses to automatic alarms and 5 Carbon Monoxide
A discussion was held on some of the hazards some of the
residents of the district may have in their homes, including
the lack of smoke/carbon monoxide detectors, the the use
of extension cords. Iand the storage of 20lb propane gas
cylinders in the house.
A group of 11 environmental organizations, including Catskill
Mountainkeeper, have announced they will file a lawsuit
against the US Energy Department over its final designation
of a Mid-Atlantic National Interest Electric Transmission
Corridor. That designation could pave the way for construction
of the New York Regional Interconnection power line from
Oneida County to Orange County.
Environmental groups, municipalities and residents up
and down the proposed NRYI route oppose the project.
The National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor designation
would allow it to exercise the right of eminent domain
to acquire property.
Joining the lawsuit are Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation
Association, Environmental Advocates of New York, Clean
Air Council, Pennsylvania Land Trust Association, Civil
War Preservation Trust, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Brandywine
Conservancy and Natural Lands Trust.
In addition, the state Public Service Commission and the
Department of Environmental Conservation have filed separate
petitions with the federal Department of Energy seeking
a rehearing on the agency’s decision to make a large
area of New York State part of a National Interest Electric
Transmission Corridor. In the petitions, the state contends
that federal authorities disregarded key energy issues
and failed to adequately assess potential significant
The governor said designation of the transmission corridor
would set the stage for the federal government “to
preempt New York’s legitimate oversight and process
for reviewing and siting transmission projects within
our state’s borders.”
Over $400,000 in state funding secured through the State
Senate’s Republican Majority has flowed to anti-NYRI
group Communities Against Regional Interconnect, Senator
John Bonacic recently announced, noting that the funding
is the first installment of up to $1 million allocated
by Senate Republicans to oppose the NYRI plan.
The folks at Phoenicia’s Key Bank have reported
that two senior customers called to tell them that they
had received phone calls from the social security office
(supposedly) and that new cards were going to be issued.
First, however, the senior needed to confirm the social
security, their bank, and their account numbers, as well
as their address. Unfortunately, one of the seniors fell
for the scam.
New Jersey has became the second state to enter a compact
that would eliminate the Electoral College’s power
to choose a president if enough states endorse the idea
by passing legislation that approves delivering the state’s
15 electoral votes to the winner of the national popular
vote. Maryland - with 10 electoral votes - had been the
only state to pass the compact into law. The compact would
take effect only if enough states - those with a majority
of votes in the Electoral College - agreed to it. A candidate
needs 270 of 538 electoral votes to win.
The compact has also passed both houses of the Illinois
Legislature, according to the National Popular Vote movement,
and has been approved by one legislative house in Arkansas,
Colorado and North Carolina. Governors in California and
Hawaii, though, vetoed bills to join the compact.
The goal is to ensure that the national popular vote winner
becomes president. Democrats who sponsored the bill have
noted that their party’s 2000 presidential nominee,
Al Gore, won the popular vote but lost in the Electoral
College. Sponsors contend the agreement would ensure that
all states are competitive in presidential elections and
make all votes important. It also would guarantee the
presidency to the person who received the most votes.
Republicans have criticized the bill as undermining federal
Meanwhile, the federal agency in charge of policing the
torrent of political spending during the upcoming presidential
primaries has, for all practical purposes, shut its doors
as of New Year’s Eve.
The Federal Election Commission effectively stopped business
on Jan. 1 because Congress remains locked in a standoff
over the confirmation of President Bush’s nominees
to the panel. As a consequence, the FEC will enter 2008
with just two of six members - short of the four votes
needed for the commission to take any official action.
And although the 375 auditors, lawyers and investigators
at the FEC will continue to process work already before
them, a variety of matters that fall to the commissioners
will be placed on hold indefinitely. Chief among them
are deciding whether to launch investigations into possible
campaign finance violations and determining the penalties.
Seven presidential candidates have applied to receive
public matching funds for their campaigns, but they may
not be able to access the money until the FEC certifies
their requests. That takes four votes.
The FEC is composed of three appointees from each party,
all nominated by the president. There is already one vacancy,
and three recess appointments will expire on Dec. 31.
The potential for an FEC shutdown has been looming for
weeks, as a handful of Democratic senators voiced opposition
to one of Bush’s nominees to the commission, Hans
A. von Spakovsky due to pronlems that arose during his
tenure in the Alberto Gonzalez-led Dept. of Justice. The
blockade worked, but Republican leaders in the Senate
countered with one of their own. If von Spakovsky were
rejected, they would not allow the two Democratic nominees
to be appointed, either.
“The Democrats have picked their nominees, and we’ve
picked ours,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
(R-Ky.) said as the Senate prepared to recess for the
holidays. “What we have here,” he said, is
“the Democrats trying to veto one of our nominees.
That isn’t going to happen. They’re all four
going to go together, or none of them will be approved.”
The US vice president, Dick Cheney, was behind a controversial
decision to block California’s attempt to impose
tough emission limits on car manufacturers, according
to insiders at the government Environmental Protection
Staff at the agency, which announced last week that California’s
proposed limits were redundant, said the agency’s
chief went against their expert advice after car executives
met Cheney, and a Chrysler executive delivered a letter
to the EPA saying why the state should not be allowed
to regulate greenhouse gases. They added that the agency’s
head, the Bush appointee Stephen Johnson, ignored their
conclusions and shut himself off from consultation in
the month before the announcement. He then informed them
of his decision and instructed them to provide the legal
rationale for it, they said.
In an editorial, the New York Times described the decision
as, “an indefensible act of executive arrogance
that can only be explained as the product of ideological
blindness and as a political payoff to the automobile
Johnson said that because Bush signed an energy bill last
week which raised fuel economy standards, there was no
justification for separate state regulation. The president,
the agency said, had provided a “clear national
solution” and there was no need for a “confusing
patchwork of state rules to reduce America’s climate
footprint from vehicles.”
But Johnson’s staff gave him the opposite advice,
warning him that should he block California, the state
would probably sue him in the courts and would probably
win. The state’s governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger,
immediately announced that he would challenge the EPA’s
ruling in the courts, describing it as “legally
That lawsuit has since been joined by New York and 14
other states, including Massachusetts, Arizona, Connecticut,
Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico,
Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
In other Cheney news, a veteran National Archives official
that challenged claims by Cheney’s office that it
was exempt from federal rules governing classified information.
Ended up with Cheney’s staff arguing for the elimination
of the official’s job. After months of struggle,
he finally decided to leave his position… stating
publicly that his fight with Cheney’s office was
a “contributing” factor in his decision to
retire after 34 years of government service.
Two new studies of the Hudson Landing development proposed
for the City of Kingston say the project violates policies
adopted by the city in its Local Waterfront Revitalization
Program and is inconsistent with state coastal management
guidelines, according to the Friends of Kingston Waterfront
After reviewing materials submitted by developer AVR Realty
to the Kingston Planning board, two expert analysts said
the 1,750 unit waterfront development would have unacceptable
visual impacts within Kingston, from vantage points on
the Hudson River from many areas of Dutchess County.
A second student found the project “would appear
to be out of character with the Hudson River National
Historic Landmark District and would impair the setting
of the Estates District Scenic Area of Statewide Significance.”
Stay tuned to see what compromises might occur there…
Over one thousand lawyers - including former Governor
Mario Cuomo and former Reagan administration official
Bruce Fein - have signed onto the above statement demanding
wide-ranging investigative hearings into unconstitutional
and potentially criminal activity by the Bush administration.
Michael Ratner, the Olive-based president of the Center
for Constitutional Rights and winner of the 2007 Puffin/Nation
Prize for Creative Citizenship, said: “The majority
of lawyers in this country understand that the Bush administration
has really gone off the page of constitutional rights
and off the page of fundamental rights, and is willing
to push the Congress to restore those rights.”
Ratner noted that even with regard to the US attorney’s
investigations, where Congressional committees held Harriet
Miers, Josh Bolten, and Karl Rove in contempt, leadership
has failed to enforce these actions by bringing the resolutions
to a vote.
“Just announcing that investigations will be held
and subpoenas will be issued is terribly insufficient
unless Congress is willing to enforce the subpoenas by
issuing contempt citations,” Ratner said. “Congress
has a constitutional duty to oversee the activities of
the executive branch and our entire system of government
is threatened when Congress simply folds before an obstinate
executive. Issuing contempt citations against Bolten,
Miers, and Rove should be Congress’s first order
of business in 2008.”
“This lawyers’ letter and the growing number
of signatures we’ll have on it, and prominent people
- it’s a way of saying to Congress, ‘You need
some backbone. You need to have a serious investigation,
wherever it might go, on these issues that really have
taken the United States out of the mainstream of human
rights.’ It’s absolutely critical,”
added Ratner. “We’ve opened up the door to
illegality.... Unless we have accountability on those
illegalities, we’re going to be facing a very bleak
future in which fundamental rights will not really be
Ulster Tomorrow officials said at a county Chamber breakfast
the morning of January 15 that the next step in bringing
Ulster County to a new level of economic development would
be to consolidate economic development services, and that
to complete their goals, there needs to be a culture of
change within the county collectively.
Ulster Tomorrow Committee Chair Glenn Sutherland claimed
“there are too many agencies in the economic pie”
in the county. UCDC President Lance Matteson called on
businesses to help in this process by offering their time,
services, and recommendations to the county to promote
the change. Finally, UCDC Board Chairman Ron Marquette
said the attitude of the county as a whole needs to change
for the county to catch up to the rest of the Hudson Valley
“Maybe a year or a year and a half ago, the mindset
was pretty pessimistic that things were going to happen
here, or that it was even beyond our control, but with
this culture of collaboration, this culture of change,
this culture of leadership, the mindset has gotten much
more positive,” he said. “We have to get over
the fact that it can’t happen in Ulster County,
that it always happens some place else, and with leadership
and a change in positive attitude, I think it can happen.”
The officials feel that the new county charter and election
of a county executive come this fall will help foster
this new initiative, and that business leaders will embrace
the Ulster Tomorrow mission to increase jobs and improve
affordability and prosperity.
Friends of Snuffy, an all-volunteer non-profit organization
helping stray dogs and cats, is sponsoring a fund-raising
costume party at Don Hills, 511 Greenwich Street, NY,
NY on Wednesday, January 30 th starting 8pm.
Come dressed as your favorite animal and dance to the
music of DJ Logic. elebrity judges will be on hand to
award a weekend retreat for two at the luxurious Emerson
Resort and Spa, located in the Catskill Mountains.
The entrance fee of $20.00 will go to direct funding for
veterinary care and adoption programs for dogs and cats
throughout the New York area.
For more information and to buy tickets visit www.friendsofsnuffy.com