So we've hit mid-summer and so far, so good in the Catskill
High Peaks. Well sure it's been hot and dry, more of both than
most of us would like but it's not as if we actually get to
choose. Dry weather though does bring lots of weekend visitors
and sell plenty of cold drinks, good chunks of our regional
economy need those things. So we'll stick with the hot and dry
since it's all we got.
No crises are evident locally except for this week's discovery
of the long-dreaded ash borer beetle, potentially a huge problem
for an area once famous for its legendary ash baseball bats.
Meanwhile Phoenicia is gearing up for a weekend of great performances
by world class artists fresh from the Met and elsewhere, all
thanks to our own local talent, both vocal and organizational,
and a huge amount of homegrown support from every quarter. To
judge from the energy it's garnered, the Phoenicia Festival
of the Voice has been a success before its first note's even
struck. We hope you'll all be there.
Shandaken, Olive, all the towns of the 28 corridor seem to be
puttering along well enough despite our borderline bleak economy.
In what's become a pleasantly normal, Ulster County government
is running better than it has... probably ever. But beyond our
sylvan valleys this summer things are a bit wiggier. State Senator
Bonacic, long a major booster for regional gas exploitation,
wisely did a quick 180 degree turn in favor of an 11-month moratorium
on hydrofracking, sought by amongst others, his Democratic challenger
this November David Sager, whose views are clearly in line with
some of the strongest regional sentiment on any subject evidenced
here in years.
So on this fracking issue which we've been covering for over
two years, for now we'll say this: Our state DEC's pathetically
obvious inability to manage this issue or regulate this industry
might be funny if it were a joke, though unfortunately it isn't.
Hopefully the Assembly will concur with the State Senate next
month and vote to slow down DEC's permitting process long enough
for the US EPA to complete its studies, issue its long-awaited
report, and provide some direction on the subject that states
and people can actually trust. The Russians who produce more
natural gas than anyone in the world, are waiting for that US
EPA report before deciding to invest another dime in their own
infrastructure or drilling plans.
If you think our dysfunctional state government is better equipped
to assess this without help than the smartest guys in Russia,
you might want to think again.
Less local but even farther off the Wiggy Scale is serious talk
emanating from the US Senate Republican leadership about repealing
the 14th amendment to the Constitution, dating back to 1868
and guaranteeing Due Process and Equal Protection under the
law and forbidding states from denying anyone's civil or political
rights. Whatup with that you ask? Well it seems the entire Senate
GOP braintrust - John McCain, Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham,
and John Kyle - all want to dump the thing, because it also
guarantees citizenship to anyone born in this country, something
which annoys them no end. And since the odds of this being approved
by 3/4 of the states and 2/3 of Congress are incalculably ridiculous,
it's clear they're doing it as a blatant appeal to the same
racist and anti-immigrant paranoia behind the recent Arizona
law compelling racial profiling by police. Could be that's what
wins elections in some states, and while we don't KNOW that
these guys are drinking frack-water.. it sure smells to us like
Benzene talking. BP