The preliminary budget released by the town of Shandaken
shows the amount to be raised by taxes going up a modest
5.8 per cent. The subject of a public hearing on November
10 at 7pm in town hall, the budget calls for the amount
to be raised by taxes to increase $225,094 to $2,899,183.
Total spending is up from 2005, which hds $3,735,429 budgeted.
In 2006 it will cost $3,991,486 to operate Shandaken for
The preliminary plan, which shows no salary increase for
town board members, also shows a healthy unexpended fund
balance, although not as healthy as it was this year.
The balance, which began 2005 at $482,250, will drop to
The budget shows a new line item in the highway department
that should solve this year’s problem of mowing
the town’s parks, although it will be costly. $34,000
has been allocated so highway crews can maintain the several
parks in town. The funds appear following a summertime
debacle where the parks, especially the little league
field at Glenbrook Park, were not mowed because Highway
Superintendent Richard Merwin said he couldn’t spare
the manpower to do the job. As a result the town supervisor
hired a private contractor to do the work for $12,000.
It remains unclear why the highway department needs more
In other highway department changes, Merwin, who retires
at the end of this year, cut the salary for his job from
$40,159 to an even $36,000.
The biggest jump in the budget appears to be for the town’s
ambulance service. Slated to cost $215,125 in 2006, the
service cost only $154, 259 for this year. Long touted
as a service that pays for itself with the fees it brings
in, the ambulance revenues are only predicted to be $145,000
The town’s police department will now cost $250,859.
That’s up from this years $236,856. The jump is
largely due increased salary costs.
The cost to run the Phoenicia water district will jump
substantially from $123,851 to $169,165. The increase
is due to higher labor costs, the doubling of fuel costs
and a $13,132 payment on a bond the town board floated
earlier this year.
Another jump comes in the cost for street lighting. It
will run $32,000 next year, representing a $10,000 increase
over this year.
Town planners are expected to ask the Coalition of Watershed
Towns to appeal the recent ruling calling for more review
of the controversial Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park.
The planning board, which was scheduled to hold an official
meeting on Wednesday, November 9th, was asked by Supervisor
Robert Cross Jr. to decide whether they want the Coalition
to mount an appeal over the ruling rendered by a DEC Judge
that said the developers have not provided enough information
on the issue of Community Character for him to make an
informed decision as to whether the community would be
harmed if the project was built.
The DEC Judge presiding over the environmental review
issued a ruling calling for full adjudication of the issues
in a trial like setting. The Coalition, which represents
all the communities in the watershed, is a participant
in the review but did not want to make the appeal decision
alone. Instead its executive committee decided to let
Shandaken and Middletown, the towns most effected by the
resort proposal, to make the decision. Middletown’s
town board immediately weighed in last month and called
for an appeal, but Cross, concerned about ramifications
at the ballot booth, handed the decision to the planners,
who for some reason chose to wait to render a decision
until after election day, despite already holding at least
one official session and two workshops since asked for
the decision. John Horn, who was running for town assessor,
is chair of the planning board.
Meanwhile other communities have weighed in, with at least
one town of Woodstock official complaining that the Coalition
no longer represents the best interests of that community.
The complaint came from Councilwoman Liz Simonson after
the Coalition announced it was raising the dues of all
communities to help pay for legal changes on the horizon.
The term re-val is once again popping up in private discussions
around town of late, this time in connection with the
recent skirmish between the town and a citizens group
suing over an alleged illegal re-valuation of select parcels.
Apparently town officials are considering the launch of
a full-blown re-val of the town next year.
A re-val is basically the reassessment of all properties.
While some communities do them regularly, others, like
Shandaken rarely do. The last one was in the 1970’s.
The result of not doing them, in theory, is that properties
of similar values end up with wildly diverse values.
Driving the decision to do one appears to be the irregularities
surrounding large parcels. The town just signed a deal
with the state, which owns 74% of local land, to hike
the minimum assessment on those lands to $600 an acre.
Just prior to that deal being signed the town raised the
assessments on nearby private lands to that minimum as
well. As a result those landowners filed a lawsuit,
Meanwhile, critics of the action claim that published
reports from the town supervisor stating everyone with
less than 20 acres is paying taxes on an assessed value
of at least $600 per acre are untrue. Tax records reveal
the town itself owns 120 acres in Pine Hill that is still
assessed at $370 an acre. Those same records show The
City of New York’s lands were not reassessed for
2005 and neither were the state’s at the time select
assessments were raised. Critics of the deal say the state
and city had been left unassessed and a deal was not done
because the state would not move up unless everyone else
did. The large landowners, they say, were used as a lever
to force the State to pay $600 per acre.
With this heading for court, a re-val appears to be one
solution because it would take care of all the properties
mentioned above and, in theory, put all on an even keel.
It comes at a price though. Full-blown re-vals can run
upwards of $200,000.
Angry Pine Hill residents hammered the Shandaken Supervisor
recently after being told of another delay in the decision
to borrow money to fix the Hamlet’s water system.
Last month residents asked the town to take advantage
of an opportunity to borrow $1.2 million at zero percent
interest to pay for much needed repairs. Even though the
opportunity will soon dissappear, the decision was tabled
after Supervisor Robert Cross Jr. said that a recent change
in the tax structure of the water district’s biggest
ratepayer would cause the taxes of everyone else “to
go through the roof.” Those present said borrow
Pine Hill residents delivered the exact same message but
the town board still refused. The explanation was that
the Board was concerned about raising the average rate
beyond the $75 per year increase they felt homeowners
It is now stated that the big ratepayer, the City of New
York, is not getting as much of a rate reduction as previously
announced. The City owns waste treatment plant worth millions,
and pays 70% of the water rates. Last Month Cross said
the City’s share was dropping to 50%. Now he says
its only dropping to 60 or 65%.
Hamlet residents took that as good news, and said the
board should go ahead with the borrowing plans. Cross
and Councilwoman Jane Todd explained that cost estimates
presented last month were inaccurate as well, so it was
no longer clear how much money was needed to really fix
The board is expected to have better figures soon.
The delay has pushed the borrowing decision to after Election
Day. Kathy Nolan, a critic of the Cross administration,
said it would have been better for the board to act before
the election so Pine Hill residents would know how well
they are represented before entering the ballot booth.
In related news, the Village of Fleischmanns just agreed
to borrow $3 million to upgrade the Village water supply.
They hope to begin work this month to increase water yeilds,
run better mains and rebuild other infrastructure, all
to avoid being forced to install a filtration system.
A committee formed by the Ulster County Legislature to
determine if a new department dedicated solely to economic
development should be formed has ended up suggesting,
along partisan lines, against severing current ties with
the semi-autonomous Ulster County Development Corp. There
will, however, be an effort to strengthen the county’s
position with that agency and its control over county
“We’re not trying to say UCDC is doing a bad
job,” said Republican legislator Joseph Roberti,
who chairs the Special Committee to Study the Creation
of an Economic Development Department in Ulster County.
“We’re saying the relationship needs to change…”
The county’s 2005 budget included a $260,000 contribution
to the Ulster County Development Corp. In the three previous
years, the county contributed $285,000 per year. Currently,
economic development activities fall under the purview
of the Legislature’s Economic Development/Education,
Tourism and Cultural Affairs Committee, which also oversees
the county Planning Department, Ulster County Area Transit,
Ulster County Tourism, the county’s Cornell Cooperative
Extension and the Ulster County Community College.
UCDC President Chester Straub, who came under fire earlier
this year for showing a growing closeness to local developer
Dean Gitter, said his agency has no objection to the county
taking a more supervisory role in its contributions to
and relations with the agency. Both he and Roberti said
they’re working with the county Planning Department
to draft a comprehensive economic development plan and
are seeking the funding, partially through state grant
sources, to finance it.
Mold and leaks… the problems at the yet-to-open
jail continue to proliferate.
Contractors have started testing the installation of windows
at the new Ulster County Law Enforcement Center, hoping
to pinpoint the source of leaks that caused more than
$50,000 in water damage at the facility this autumn.
Meanwhile, an environmental testing firm has confirmed
the presence of mold inside the new facility, and recommends
immediate removal of wallboard and other porous building
materials that were soaked through during recent heavy
rains. The findings confirm test results presented earlier
by Legislator Robert Parete, D-Boiceville, which showed
rare to heavy concentrations of several types of mold
in selected areas of the Law Enforcement Center. The county
Buildings and Grounds Department will hire an independent
contractor to begin pulling out wallboard, ceiling tiles,
and other water-damaged building materials that are harboring
or could harbor mold growth.
Contractors have said that fixing the water damage will
not further delay the project - which already is a year-and-a-half
behind schedule and $12.6 million over budget - because
it can be done concurrently with other work. But at the
same time, sub-contractors have said that even though
they’ve been directed to begin repairs, they’re
not going to start until there is a plan to correct the
problems that led to the water damage.
No estimates were given of what delay, if any, the process
could add to the building’s projected completion
Bovis Lend Lease, the construction manager, has attributed
water damage to work done by Christa Construction and
R.S. Roofing and Sheet Metal, two of the prime contractors
on the job. Both have denied culpability.
Sheriff J. Richard Bockelmann questioned why the potential
for mold damage was not made public sooner, along with
whether the building was safe for his staff and contractors.
While county Buildings and Grounds Commissioner Harvey
Sleight said he doesn’t believe anyone in the building
is in danger, Quality Environmental could not say for
certain that the building is safe.
The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s elected chiefs officially
ended their five-year pursuit of a casino at Kutsher’s
Resort in Sullivan County and are concentrating on gaining
approvals for a gambling hall at Monticello Raceway. Two
of the three chiefs wrote to the Bureau of Indian Affairs
withdrawing their application for the agency to take land
into trust for the Kutsher’s project. They informed
the BIA they would appreciate all final reviews and clearances
necessary to allow a casino at the raceway, which is owned
by Empire Resorts. A copy of the letter was sent to Gov.
George Pataki, from whom the tribe wants a concurrence
letter stating that he supports the BIA taking land into
trust for the raceway project. The tribe’s leaders
then wrote to Harrah’s, their casino partners for
the Kutsher’s site since 2000, informing the Las
Vegas gambling company that they have no plans anymore
for the site Harrah’s controls. Harrah’s has
spent $40 million in pre-development costs and the tribe
could be held liable for much of the costs.
The 29-acre raceway site was approved by the federal government
in 2000 for a Mohawk casino, but the tribe abruptly switched
developers and sites, restarting the long application
Representatives of two Iroquois tribes in New York are
upset that publicly traded gambling companies may be misrepresenting
their tribal relationships. The inaccurate portrayals,
they say, could deceive investors on the odds for Catskills
Empire has said in SEC filings that it has a casino contract
with the “provisional” Cayuga government —
a pro-casino group that won a disputed election. But the
Bureau of Indian Affairs has refused to certify the election
or recognize the provisional government. So far, the BIA
recognizes only the current tribal government, which opposes
Empire, in its July 27 SEC filing, suggested the leadership
issue is unresolved. The company denies any deception,
saying it has fairly and accurately presented facts amid
a complex leadership dispute. The charges of misrepresentation
arose as Mohawk leaders, exploring bringing Empire and
Harrah’s together, asked Gov. George Pataki to back
the Monticello Raceway project. This has caused Harrah’s
to suggest the chiefs rethink the raceway plan.
The Shandaken Police report the arrest of Ernest H. Fudge
42 of Station Road, Phoenicia as a result of a Harassment
complaint and a separate investigation of an underage
party in early September where alcohol was consumed at
his residence and allegations that Fudge had exposed himself
to the minor that were present. Police state that they
responded to a .911 Domestic Friday afternoon where Fudge
was arrested and charged with Harassment, a Violation
from a complaint at his residence. Fudge was additionally
charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child and Unlawful
Dealing With A Child, both Misdemeanors after an investigation
that was jointly conducted with the Ulster County Family
Violence Unit and the Shandaken Police Department Fudge
was issued an appearance ticket returnable on November
Also, police report the arrest of Kenneth J. Manzoli 20
years of age of Boiceville on an outstanding Arrest Warrant
stemming from an Assault that occurred on Friday August
12th, 2005. Police state that a fight between 3 young
men outside the Phoenicia Supermarket resulted in a 19
year old male receiving a broken jaw. An Arrest Warrant
was issued on August I5th for the arrest of Manzoli who
just turned himself in to police. Manzoli was arraigned
in Shandaken Justice Court on Felony Assault charges and
remanded to the Ulster County Jail. Manzoli is also to
be extradited to the state of New Jersey where he has
an outstanding warrant from the Ocean County Sheriffs
Office for violation of probation from an unrelated incident.
“Behind the Scenes: The Inside Story of the Watershed
Negotiations” is a
collection of 12 first-person accounts of the seven-year
struggle that culminated in the groundbreaking New York
City Watershed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) which was
signed in 1997, allowing the City to avoid building a
water filtration plant for its mammoth Catskill-Delaware
water supply, to impose stricter environmental regulations
on the region that supplies the water, and to purchase
vacant lands from willing sellers while in exchange, providing
funds to Upstate communities for environmental protection,
education and other programs. The MOA and its partnership
programs were considered a turning point in historically
bitter upstate-downstate relations and the agreement continues
to influence the lives of both stewards and consumers
of New York City water.
Compiled by Unadilla radio producer Nancy Burnett, the
“Behind the Scenes”
project was made possible with grants from the Catskill
Watershed Corporation (CWC) in partnership with the NYC
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and from
the Coalition of Watershed Towns. The collection includes
audio CDs and transcripts of interviews with negotiators
from the Watershed, the City, the Governor’s office
and the environmental community. This oral history collection,
with associated background information on the New York
City water system and its impact on upstate communities,
has been distributed to libraries and archives throughout
the West-of-Hudson Watershed and in New York City. Transcripts
and photos of the interviewees have also been placed on
the CWC’s website, www.cwconline.org/about/scenes.html.
“Behind the Scenes” is also archived at the
Catskill Center for Conservation & Development in
Arkville. For more information, contact CWC Education
Coordinator Diane Galusha, firstname.lastname@example.org; 845-586-1400,
The DMV Case
A former clerk at the Ulster County Department of Motor
Vehicles was sentenced to one year of probation recently
for not being forthcoming to investigators during an investigation
into the distribution of phony drivers’ licenses.
Donna Keefe of Boiceville was sentenced by U.S. District
Court Judge David Hurd in Albany after pleading guilty
to the charge, “making a false statement,”
on March 24. Keefe pleaded guilty in November 2000 to
making phony licenses at the DMV and selling them to people
who she knew had lost their driving privileges. For that
charge - a felony of “knowing and unlawful production
and transfer of an identification document” - she
was sentenced on March 23, 2001, to five years’
probation, a $2,500 fine and 240 hours of community service.
The original probation sentence and the new one will run
concurrently. Keefe received lighter sentences after she
agreed to cooperate with the government.
Keefe is one of two Ulster County DMV clerks who pleaded
guilty to participating in the scam. The other, Kingston
resident Jeanine Riggins, was sentenced in September to
three years of probation and 200 hours of community service.
A deputy clerk, Brian Donnelly, was encouraged to leave
his position by Ulster County Clerk Nina Postupack, who
oversees the DMV office, after he got a license for a
person he never met, officials have said.
Charging that the Supreme Court has undermined one of
the pillars of American society - the sanctity of the
home - the House of Representatives has passed a bill
to block court-sanctioned seizings of private property
for use by developers. The bill, which now moves on to
the Senate, would withhold federal funds from state and
local governments that use powers of eminent domain to
force homeowners to give up their property for commercial
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling in June, recognized
the power of local governments to seize property needed
for private development projects that generate tax revenue.
The decision drew criticism from a broad spectrum of private
property, civil rights, farm and religious groups which
said it was an abuse of the Fifth Amendment’s “takings
clause” which provides for the taking of private
property, with fair compensation, for public use.
The legislation is the latest, and most far-reaching,
of several congressional responses to the court ruling.
The House previously passed a measure to bar federal transportation
funds from being used to make improvements on land seized
for private development, and the Senate approved an amendment
to a transportation spending bill applying similar restrictions.
Several lawmakers who opposed the House bill said eminent
domain has long been used by local governments for economic
development projects such as the Inner Harbor in Baltimore,
the cleaning up of Times Square and the building of a
baseball stadium in Houston.
The Home Energy Assistance Program is accepting applications
for about $236 million in statewide allocations to be
distributed through county offices for the aging and departments
of social services. Maximum monthly income guidelines
have increased, from $1,702 per month to $1,803 for a
one-person household; $2,358 for two; $2,913 for three;
$3,468 for four; $4,022 for five; and $4,577 for six.
But with fuel prices up an estimated 30 percent or more,
according to the state Energy Research and Development
Authority, even a maximum program payout of $400 won’t
go as far. Applications and more information are available
through county offices for the aging and departments of
social services. Questions can also be directed to the
state program help line, which is toll-free at (800) 342-3009.
The federal government’s long-awaited plan on how
to fight the next super-flu includes beefed-up attempts
to spot human infections early, both here and abroad,
recommendations on how to isolate the sick, and a plan
on who will actually inject stockpiled vaccines into the
arms of panicked people.
While it is impossible to say when the next super-flu
will strike, there have been three pandemics in the last
century and influenza experts say the world is overdue.
Concern is growing that the bird flu could trigger one
if it mutates to start spreading easily among people -
something that hasn’t yet happened.
Already the government is buying $162.5 million worth
of vaccine against that bird flu strain, called H5N1,
from two companies - Sanofi-Aventis and Chiron Corp. -
in case that happens. It also is ordering millions of
doses of Tamiflu and Relenza, two antiflu drugs believed
to offer some protection against the bird flu, stockpiles
that the pandemic plan is expected to order be augmented.
The flu vaccine-making system that serves as the best
available protection against a pandemic relies on millions
of chicken eggs, takes nine months to produce each year’s
flu shots and has changed little since the 18th century.
This creaky system poses a big problem if a new, deadly
strain emerges once the annual and inflexible production
Several biotechnology companies are at work on a new and
quicker way of making a flu vaccine they hope can replace
one that requires people to be inoculated with the entire
influenza virus. Their technique: extract just a few genes
from the virus and inject it into people. The nascent
technology, called DNA vaccines, is a form of gene therapy
that proponents argue is the best way to overhaul a 50-year-old
vaccine manufacturing system.
The prospect of a bird flu outbreak may be panicking people
around the globe, but it’s proving to be very good
news for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other politically
connected investors in Gilead Sciences, the California
biotech company that owns the rights to Tamiflu, the influenza
remedy that’s now the most-sought after drug in
the world. Rumsfeld served as Gilead (Research)’s
chairman from 1997 until he joined the Bush administration
in 2001, and he still holds a Gilead stake valued at between
$5 million and $25 million, according to federal financial
disclosures filed by Rumsfeld.
The forms don’t reveal the exact number of shares
Rumsfeld owns, but in the past six months fears of a pandemic
and the ensuing scramble for Tamiflu have sent Gilead’s
stock from $35 to $47. That’s made the Pentagon
chief, already one of the wealthiest members of the Bush
cabinet, at least $1 million richer.
In July, the Pentagon ordered $58 million worth of the
treatment for U.S. troops around the world, and Congress
is considering a multi-billion dollar purchase. Roche
expects 2005 sales for Tamiflu to be about $1 billion,
compared with $258 million in 2004.
The Ulster County Health Department has scheduled its
annual flu and pneumonia vaccination clinics. No appointments
are needed, and county residents may attend any site convenient
Residents deemed high-risk are encouraged to receive a
flu shot. This includes anyone over 50, and adults over
18 who have heart disease, chronic broncho-pulmonary disease,
renal disease, diabetes mellitus, other chronic metabolic
disorders, severe anemia and/or compromised immune function,
and others at risk of flu-related conditions.
The flu vaccine also is recommended for home care providers
and others who may be in close contact with high-risk
SENIOR citizens who have Medicare Part B benefits can
have their vaccinations paid for by Medicare. Recipients
must be entitled to Part B coverage on the date of service,
Medicare Part B must be the primary insurance coverage,
and a Medicare card must be presented on the date of service.
For those not eligible for Medicare Part B coverage, there
will be a $20 charge for the flu vaccine and $25 for the
pneumonia vaccine, payable at the clinic. County residents
enrolled in Medicare Managed Care programs should consult
with their primary-care physician prior to visiting one
of the clinics.
FLU SHOT clinics scheduled for the area are as follows.
* Nov. 10, 9:30 a.m. to noon, Midtown Neighborhood Center,
467 Broadway, Kingston.
* Nov. 16, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Ashokan Legion Hall, Mountain
* Nov. 18, 10 a.m. to noon. Trudy Farber Resnick Building,
50 Center St., Ellenville.
* Nov. 21, 10-11 a.m., Dutch Village Apartments, Washington
* Dec. 2, 9:30-10:30 a.m., Hurley Firehouse, 137 Old Route
· Dec. 9, 10 a.m. to noon, Woodstock Rescue Squad
Building, state Route 212, Woodstock.
Elementary and middle school students in New York state
are just months away from the start of expanded standardized
testing required under federal accountability standards.
Next year, state math and English language arts assessments,
previously given only to fourth- and eighth-graders, will
be administered to all students in grades 3-8.
Educators say the new tests will help them better track
the progress of students as they grow, but they are concerned
about the resources schools must devote to scoring the
exams and about becoming overly dependent on the data.
The expanded testing, required under the federal No Child
Left Behind Act, begins in January and February with the
state’s English language arts assessment. Expanded
math testing will be rolled out in March, and other subjects
will follow in subsequent years.
Test formats will be similar to the fourth- and eighth-grade
exams, according to the state Education Department. Each
test will last 30 to 65 minutes, depending on grade level.
Concerns about overtesting are likely when the new assessments
begin, with some critics saying the testing already in
place is too much for some students.
“The move to state assessments should not be a dramatic
change for our students,” said Onteora’s assistant
superintendent for curriculum and instruction Deborah
For the last 10 years, Onteora’s second-, third-,
fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders have been taking standardized
tests developed by the same company that makes the state’s
exams - CTB/McGraw-Hill - as part of a district effort
to measure performance and target instruction. Onteora
paid to have the previous tests, known as Terra Nova,
scored by the publishing company. But thanks to the cost
of substitute teachers and staff development - this school
year, every teacher has to be trained to grade the tests
- the district doesn’t expect to see any savings
with the state tests, Fox said.
More information on grades 3-8 testing is available at
A New York appeals court has upheld a decision that bars
a village mayor from performing same-sex marriages. The
court says New Paltz mayor Jason West acted beyond his
authority when he presided over two dozen same-sex marriages
last year. The five judges unanimously agreed to uphold
the lower-court ruling. The mayor’s lawyer is promising
an appeal. West has maintained he was upholding the gay
couples’ constitutional rights to equal protection,
and thus his oath of office, by allowing them to wed.
West was among the first public officials in the nation
to marry same-sex couples.
West’s gesture came amid a flurry of efforts in
various states to enact gay weddings after San Francisco
Mayor Gavin Newsom allowed gay couples there to wed in
February 2004. Those efforts have largely been put on
hold by the courts. Officials, including Attorney General
Eliot Spitzer and Governor George Pataki, have said same-sex
ceremonies violate state law.
The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its
most important al-Qaida captives at a Soviet-era compound
in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials
familiar with the arrangement, the Washington Post recently
reported. The secret facility is part of a covert prison
system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at
various times has included sites in eight countries, including
Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern
Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay
prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence
officials and diplomats from three continents. The hidden
global internment network is a central element in the
CIA’s unconventional war on terrorism. It depends
on the cooperation of foreign intelligence services, and
on keeping even basic information about the system secret
from the public, foreign officials and nearly all members
of Congress charged with overseeing the CIA’s covert
actions. The existence and locations of the facilities
— referred to as “black sites” in classified
White House, CIA, Justice Department and congressional
documents — are known to only a handful of officials
in the United States and, usually, only to the president
and a few top intelligence officers in each host country.
The CIA and the White House, citing national security
concerns and the value of the program, have dissuaded
Congress from demanding that the agency answer questions
about the conditions under which captives are held.
The European Commission has subsequently said it will
investigate reports that the CIA set up secret jails in
eastern Europe. The governments of the European Union’s
25 members nations will be informally questioned about
the allegations and have noted that such prisons could
violate EU human rights laws and other European human
“As far as the treatment of prisoners is concerned
... it is clear that all 25 member states having signed
up to European Convention on Human Rights, and to the
International Convention Against Torture, are due to respect
and fully implement the obligations deriving from those
treaties,” a statement from the Commission said.
Led by Vice President Dick Cheney, the Bush administration
is floating a proposal that would allow the president
to exempt covert agents outside the Defense Department
from a Senate-approved ban on torturing detainees in U.S.
custody or weakening the prohibition.
Two months after Hurricane Katrina displaced more than
1 million people, problems with federal housing aid threaten
to spawn a new wave of homelessness.
In Texas, thousands of evacuees who found shelter in apartments
face eviction threats because rents are going unpaid.
In Louisiana, some evacuees are beginning to show up in
homeless shelters because they haven’t received
federal aid or don’t know how to get it.
Advocates for the poor say the situation will worsen this
winter. First off, the housing crunch could get tighter
in November, because the Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA) wants to move an estimated 200,000 Katrina
evacuees out of hotels as soon as possible. That increases
the need for apartments, trailers and mobile homes.
In New Orleans, constables have been busy tacking eviction
notices to often-empty apartments. With as much as a fifth
of the rental stock destroyed, demand is high and surviving
apartment complexes have waiting lists. And after a moratorium
on evictions imposed by Gov. Kathleen Blanco expired,
the landlords in the city filed nearly 2000 eviction notices.
In some cases, they logged as many notices in a single
day as court clerks usually see in a whole month.
Tenants have complained that the broken-down post office
- which is just getting around to delivering mail from
late August - had failed to deliver their paychecks, or
they accused landlords of being money-hungry. Property
owners, for their part, said they needed rental income
to make their mortgage payments; some claimed their buildings
were so damaged that all leases were void. At most of
the hearings, the tenants did not show up, a testimony
to the city’s emptiness.
Meanwhile, Louisiana is expecting a $3.7 billion bill
from the federal government for the state’s share
of the hurricane recovery, far exceeding anything the
governor had anticipated. The state is already dealing
with its own crippling budget problems, including dramatic
jumps in unemployment, business shutdowns and a state
budget deficit of nearly $1 billion in tax revenue alone,
and the estimate from the Federal Emergency Management
Agency was a shock. In the FEMA report given to Blanco’s
office, the cost of the federal response to Hurricanes
Katrina and Rita in Louisiana was estimated at about $41.4
billion, or about $9,200 for each state resident. The
state budget approved earlier this year for the entire
2005-06 fiscal year was $18.7 billion. New Orleans, meanwhile,
was given a $120 million federal loan Friday to keep the
city’s vital services running only until about March.
Even in a “good divorce,” in which parents
amicably minimize their conflicts, children of divorce
inhabit a more difficult emotional landscape than those
in intact families, according to a new survey of 1,500
people ages 18 to 35.
“All the happy talk about divorce is designed to
reassure parents,” Elizabeth Marquardt, author of
the study, described in her new book, “Between Two
Worlds.” “But it’s not the truth for
children. Even a good divorce restructures children’s
childhoods and leaves them traveling between two distinct
worlds. It becomes their job, not their parents’,
to make sense of those two worlds.”
The nation’s divorce rate reached record levels
in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, with
about a quarter of all Americans age 18 to 35 were not
yet 16 when they experienced their parents’ divorce.
There are no reliable national statistics on divorce,
but most experts say that even with divorce rates edging
down, about three-quarters of a million American children
see their parents divorce each year. The new survey, based
on the first nationally representative sample of young
adults, highlights the many ways that divorce shapes the
emotional tenor of childhood.
For example, those who grew up in divorced families were
far more likely than those with married parents to say
that they felt like a different person with each parent,
that they sometimes felt like outsiders in their own home
and that they had been alone a lot as a child. Those with
married parents, however, were far more likely to say
that children were at the center of their family and that
they generally felt emotionally safe.
The debate over how divorce affects children has long
been polarized, with many researchers focusing on statistical
data emphasizing that most children with divorced parents
do fine in life and many clinicians emphasizing the emotional
distress that many of the children feel. And given the
political overtones, many scholars who study family diversity
have been concerned that focusing on how divorce hurts
children could lead to efforts to restrict the availability
About half of those from divorced families agreed that
they had a “harder childhood that most people,”
compared with 14 percent from married families.
Locally, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County
is offering a two-part national satellite series for professionals
and volunteers working with families. The series will
examine the relationship between marriage and parenting
and the manner in which that relationship affects children.
The Impact of Couple and Marital Relationships on Parenting
and Child Outcomes will be broadcast on Friday, December
2 and Dec. 9, 2005 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. from Cornell
Cooperative Extension of Ulster County’s office
located at 10 Westbrook Lane in Kingston. The cost is
$30 for both sessions. Pre-registration before November
28th is required.
The series will cover the relationship between marriage
and parenting, examining how healthy couples lead to healthy
kids. Participants will learn how to support unmarried,
new-parent couples in forming healthy marriages and stable
families as well as ways to strengthen couple relationships
so children of those relationships have a better life.
To receive a registration form, please call Barbara Grumberg,
Family & Consumer Science Program Secretary, 845/340-3990
or go to www.cce.cornell.edu/ulster/satellite.htm. For
questions about the downlink or to inquire about CEUs,
contact Susan Matson, Extension Educator Human Development,
Canada’s government unveiled changes to its immigration
policy recently, including plans to take in up to 300,000
new immigrants annually within the next five years. The
report backing the move said Canada accepted nearly 236,000
immigrants last year, facilitated 2,000 international
adoptions and reunited 6,000 refugee spouses and children
with their families but intends to accept as many as 255,000
new immigrants next year and would be prepared to accept
as many as 300,000 immigrants a year within five years.
Canada - a vast country slightly larger than the United
States, though much of it in the frigid north - has only
33 million people, compared with the U.S. Census estimate
of 297 million people in the United States today. According
to the most recent national census in 2001, 18.4 percent
of Canada’s population was foreign-born.
Meanwhile, it was announced by the Canadian government
that three of every four Canadians believe Canada should
restrict oil and gas exports to the United States if the
U.S. does not repay the $5-billion in softwood lumber
tariffs that were ruled a violation of the North American
Free Trade Agreement. The survey discovered that a solid
majority of Canadians — 78% — agreed Canada
should look for alternative markets for energy and lumber
exports, even though it could further damage trade relations
with the U.S.
Ah, Wal Mart!
An internal memo sent to Wal-Mart’s board of directors
proposes numerous ways to hold down spending on health
care and other benefits while seeking to minimize damage
to the retailer’s reputation. Among the recommendations
are hiring more part-time workers and discouraging unhealthy
people from working at Wal-Mart. In the memorandum, M.
Susan Chambers, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president
for benefits, also recommends reducing 401(k) contributions
and wooing younger, and presumably healthier, workers
by offering education benefits. The memo voices concern
that workers with seven years’ seniority earn more
than workers with one year’s seniority, but are
no more productive.
physical activity (e.g., all cashiers do some cart-gathering).”
The memo acknowledged that Wal-Mart, the world’s
largest retailer, had to walk a fine line in restraining
benefit costs because critics had attacked it for being
stingy on wages and health coverage. Ms. Chambers acknowledged
that 46 percent of the children of Wal-Mart’s 1.33
million United States employees were uninsured or on Medicaid.
Under fire because less than 45 percent of its workers
receive company health insurance, Wal-Mart announced a
new plan that seeks to increase participation by allowing
some employees to pay just $11 a month in premiums. Some
health experts praised the plan for making coverage more
affordable, but others criticized it, noting that full-time
Wal-Mart employees, who earn on average around $17,500
a year, could face out-of-pocket expenses of $2,500 a
year or more.
Roughly 2 million U.S. children ages 12 to 19 have a pre-diabetic
condition linked to obesity and inactivity that puts them
at risk for full-blown diabetes and cardiovascular problems,
government data suggest. Researchers from the federal
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National
Institutes of Health examined the prevalence of abnormally
high blood sugar levels after several hours without eating,
a condition called impaired fasting glucose, or IFG, that
is measured in a blood test.
One in 14 boys and girls in a nationally representative
sample had the condition. Among the overweight adolescents,
it was one in six. Affected adolescents were more likely
than those with normal fasting glucose measurements to
have other symptoms suggesting they might be on the road
to heart problems: Average levels of bad cholesterol and
blood fats called triglycerides were higher in youngsters
who had the pre-diabetic condition.
About 20 million Americans have diabetes, most of them
adults with type 2 diabetes, which impairs the body’s
ability to properly use the blood sugar-regulating hormone
insulin. This form of the disease is strongly linked to
being overweight and inactive.
“Intensive lifestyle interventions” including
physical activity and improving diet can help prevent
pre-diabetes from progressing in adults and it’s
likely the same can happen in children, the researchers
said. Doctors have said systematic societal changes are
needed, too, including more healthful school lunches.