The chairman of the Ulster County Legislature, Richard Gerentine,
recently tabled a resolution calling for the issuance of $6.5
million on bonds for the troubled Ulster County Law Enforcement
facility under construction on Golden Hill in Kingston, saying
he made his decision because it became obvious there were not
enough votes to pass the bonding resolution. The bonding proposal
required a two-thirds majority to pass and minority Democrats
announced they would not support the measure pending an investigation
into the cause of the cost overruns and almost one year delay
So far, the new jail has cost well over the original projection
of $51 million. The project may now top $90 million.
The Catskill Watershed Corporation Board of Directors on August
24 authorized contracts with two consulting firms for coordination
of a new Community Wastewater Management Program and the creation
of a plan for a web-based Geographic Information System (GIS)
network for the six-county Catskills region. Lamont Engineers
was the successful bidder to coordinate the Wastewater Management
program. Their contract for $301,385 includes subcontracts with
Lawler, Matusky and Skelly Engineers for technical services,
and Young, Sommer law firm for legal services required for the
study phase in developing community septic systems or maintenance
districts in Bloomville, Boiceville and Delancey.
Town Boards representing each hamlet will work with the consultants
to determine the nature of the project in those communities,
and to propose block grant amounts to be taken from the $10
million Community Wastewater Management Program fund to implement
the projects. Later phases will include development of engineering
plans, septic districts and sewer use laws, advertising for
bids, managing construction and establishing operation and maintenance
plans. The CWC Board also voted to engage Applied GIS, Inc.
of Schenectady. The firm will assess GIS capabilities and needs
in the region, develop an implementation plan and design a system
using a web-based framework for interconnecting GIS applications.
The plan is unique in New York State and is intended to foster
and improve communications among municipalities and agencies
utilizing geographically-linked data. The goal is to enhance
information sharing between agencies.
A chemical sensor set into a fast-flowing section of the river
north of Albany has joined five other monitors arrayed along
the river from Rockland County to Saratoga County in what some
have called a "hardwiring of the Hudson." The idea
is to overcome what researchers say is still a limited understanding
of the river's complex and ever-changing ecosystem. A
string of sensors providing real-time information on things
like flow and temperature is supposed to fill in the gaps. Such
data could be used, for instance, to predict the spread of oil
slicks, researchers said. The sensors were submerged this summer
as part of a project coordinated by the Rivers and Estuaries
Center on the Hudson. The observatory and Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute also are involved in the project, which is funded
by a $500,000 grant. The acoustic sensors are located in Haverstraw,
Piermont Pier, Poughkeepsie, Albany and Mechanicville.
Days and nights when the air temperature dips below freezing
will become increasingly less common by the late 21st century
across much of the world, according to a modeling study by scientists
at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The
reduction in 24-hour periods with freezes (frost days) is projected
to be most dramatic across the western parts of North America
and Europe, with little change expected for the Northeast. Over
the last half-century, many weather stations across the western
United States reported a decrease of 10 or more frost days per
year, mostly the result of warmer conditions in springtime.
Little change in frost-day frequency has been reported across
the upper Midwest and Northeast. Scientists found the frost-day
trends over the last 50 years intensifying during the next century.
Nearly all of the United States and Canada show losses in frost
days in 2080-2099 compared to 1961-1990. The biggest decrease
is from the Great Plains westward, where the model produces
more than 20 fewer frost days in a typical year by 2080-2099.
More than 40 fewer frost days per year are projected along and
near the Pacific coast from Washington State north into British
Columbia. The cause of this pattern is a shift in atmospheric
circulation. In northwestern North America, low-level winds
are projected to blow more frequently from the Pacific, bringing
relatively mild air during the winter. Eastern North America
is projected to receive more wintertime flow of cold Canadian
air. This partially cancels out the decrease in frost days that
results from overall climate warming. The frost-day study, as
well as a related effort examining heat waves, was produced
in preparation for the next assessment by the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change, which is expected in 2007.
According to Olive Court judge Vincent Barringer, he reached
a decision in the pending case involving former Onteora School
District Superintendent Hal Rowe's passing of a school
bus with its lights on and sent his decision to the accused
on August 13. Rowe was fined the maximum penalty of $400, plus
a $55 surcharge for court costs. He will receive five points
on his license. Rowe could have been sent to 30 days in prison
as part of his sentence. Rowe originally appeared before Barringer
on August 4 to plead not guilty to charges that he passed a
stopped school bus in the parking lot of Onteora High School
on June 9, just weeks before he was to leave the job he'd
held for 11 years. At that time, school bus driver Steve Stettine
made a formal complaint with the Onteora front office and state
police were called after Rowe, parked in the midst of a line
of busese, passed Stettine's "blocker bus"
after asking that he be allowed to move so he could get to a
meeting. Blocker buses are positioned at the front and end of
a line to keep it from moving, and to restrict all traffic from
passing such a line when one of the blocker's lights are
flashing. Dr. Rowe was replaced by new superintendent Justine
Winters on July 1.
The Onteora Central School District is looking to receive $471,559
more in state aid than it did for the 2003-2004 school year.
According to school administrators, the added aid may
translate into restoration of some programs that were about
to be cut by the district's being forced into an austerity
budget by the defeat of two budget proposals earliuer this summer.
Regulations, however, decree that trustees may not exceed the
spending limits set by a contingency budget that was put in
place following the budget vote. The total amount being received
by the district will be $6,329,112 an increase of 7.7 percent.
Who Started It?
A marine unit fresh to Iraq is now thought to have started the
recent stand-off in Najaf with followers of Shiite cleric Moktada
al-Sadr that was ended this week with a peace settlement brokered
by another Shiite religious leader. Just five days after they
arrived to take over from Army units that had encircled Najaf
since an earlier confrontation in the spring, new Marine commanders
decided to smash guerrillas loyal to the rebel. Acting without
the approval of the Pentagon or senior Iraqi officials, the
Marine officers said in recent interviews, they turned a firefight
with Mr. Sadr's forces on Aug. 5, into an eight-day pitched
battle, one fought out in deadly skirmishes in an ancient cemetery
that brought them within rifle shot of the Imam Ali Mosque,
Shiite Islam's holiest shrine. Eventually, fresh Army
units arrived from Baghdad and took over Marine positions near
the mosque, but by then the politics of war had taken over and
the American force had lost the opportunity to storm Mr. Sadr's
fighters around the mosque.
And as a reconstruction of the battle in Najaf shows, the sequence
of events was strikingly reminiscent of the battle of Falluja
in April. In both cases, newly arrived Marine units immediately
confronted guerrillas in firefights that quickly escalated.
And in both cases, the American military failed to achieve its
strategic goals, pulling back after the political costs of the
confrontation rose. Falluja is now essentially off-limits to
American ground troops and has become a haven for Sunni Muslim
insurgents and terrorists menacing Baghdad, American commanders
say. The Najaf battle has also raised fresh questions about
an age-old rivalry within the American military - between the
no-holds-barred, press-ahead culture of the Marines and the
slower, more reserved and often more politically cautious approach
of the Army.
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said last week that
the country will face Œ'abrupt and painful''
choices if Congress does not move quickly to trim the Social
Security and Medicare benefits that have been promised to the
baby boom generation. Greenspan said that it was wrong for the
government to hold out the promise of more retirement benefits
than it is capable of providing. He said this issue was particularly
critical given the impending retirement of 77 million baby boomers
born in the two decades after World War II. Greenspan, as he
has done previously, suggested that possible changes would be
raising the retirement age to receive full Social Security benefits,
which currently is gradually increasing from 65 to 67 and added
that the projected doubling of the U.S. population over the
age of 65 by 2035 would add to the government's budget
deficit woes. Greenspan acknowledged that any decisions to trim
benefits or boost payroll taxes could be difficult politically,
but he said those decisions must be made and made quickly to
give baby boomers time to adjust.
The federal government has issued a national plan for how the
country should prepare for and respond to a pandemic of influenza,
should it strike the United States, laying out the public health
measures that would be crucial in the event of a flu pandemic,
including the emergency production of vaccines, the stockpiling
of antiviral drugs, the freeing up of enough hospital beds to
care for the sickest, the limiting of public gatherings and
the possible imposition of quarantines. But administration officials
said they were unable to resolve the complex practical and ethical
issues that could stand in the way of carrying out these measures.
As a result, the plan provides only a broad outline of possible
actions that the officials said they hoped would provide a starting
point for public discussion. Disease experts believe that an
influenza pandemic is inevitable, but when and where it will
begin is unpredictable. Influenza, unlike many other infectious
diseases, has the potential to affect everyone in short order
in an epidemic.
In the plan, administration officials estimate that 89,000 to
207,000 Americans, or less than 1 percent of the population,
might die, depending on how the influenza virus behaves and
spreads. In the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, 500,000 of the
more than 20 million deaths worldwide occurred in the United
States, where the population at that time was 105 million. The
government has stockpiled enough of the antiviral drug, Tamiflu,
to prevent or treat influenza in one million people. A full
course involves taking 10 Tamiflu pills - two a day for five
The United States has called for the building of a "coalition
of the willing" to push for regime change to end the crisis
in Zimbabwe, according to the British press. The new American
ambassador to South Africa, Jendayi Frazer, said quiet diplomacy
pursued by South Africa and other African countries in its dealings
with the Zimbabwe president needed a review because there was
no evidence it was working. The US could not act on its own,
"put the boot on the ground" and give President
Robert Mugabe 48 hours to go as requested by beleaguered Zimbaweans
but the US would be willing to work in a coalition with other
countries to return Zimbabwe to democracy. Frazer, a protege
of President George Bush's national security adviser Condoleezza
Rice, added that the US believed that South Africa could play
a positive role in returning Zimbabwe to democracy and that
it had the means to do so. Her expression of a more aggressive
US line towards the Mugabe regime came the day before the British
Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, arrives in South Africa for series
of bilateral meetings with the Mbeki government during which
he intends to raise the question of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe recently
approved new legislation that will ban foreign non-governmental
organisations working in the human rights field in Zimbabwe
and the banning of foreign funding to Zimbabwean NGOs. Churches
have warned the proposed law would hinder their efforts to feed
hungry Zimbabweans. Ms Frazer said it was particularly important
to have Zimbabwe returned to democracy because the New Partnership
for Africa Development talked about Africa's responsibility
for democratic governance across the continent. "We
have always talked about building coalitions of the willing
and I, for one, believe that the coalitions of the willing are
going to be the new force in global affairs," she said.
The Ulster County Legislature's Government Efficiency
and Reform Committee will proceed with plans to reorganize the
county's public works departments, despite a lack of support
for the proposal in the Public Works Committee which oversees
the departments. The proposal calls for a single commissioner
to oversee the departments of Buildings and Grounds, Highways
and Bridges, and Public Works Administration, which handles
finances for both. The heads of the three departments would
become deputies who would answer to the commissioner. No jobs
would be cut, and no additional spending would be needed for
the new position. When the proposal was first presented to the
Public Works Committee last November, most members favored the
proposal, but held off making a decision until the newly elected
Legislature took office. At that time, the Government Efficiency
Committee was an ad hoc committee, and had to count on other
committees, in this case Public Works, to take action on its
behalf. That is no longer the case, as Government Efficiency
became a standing committee this year. So with or without the
blessing of Public Works, the committee recommended setting
a public hearing on the proposal at the Legislature's
September session. Lawmakers are expected to vote Sept. 9 on
setting a public hearing on the proposal for Oct. 6.
A "marathon" mouse which can run twice as far as
a normal rodent has been bred by a US-South Korean team of scientists
The genetically engineered animal has been given an enhanced
protein that turns it into an "endurance athlete"
and makes it resistant to weight gain. Changing a gene that
codes for a specific protein boosted the molecule's activity,
leading to an increase in so-called "slow-twitch"
muscle fibre. The findings have been published in the open-access
journal PLOS Biology and could be used to help people with muscle
or weight problems, say the researchers. The scientists also
acknowledge their studies could be abused by athletics cheats.
The basic idea is that the body's skeletal muscle - the
muscle that acts on the bones in the manner of a system of levers
to enable locomotion - is composed of two types of fibres: slow-twitch
and fast-twitch. Slow-twitch muscle fibre is by far the most
fatigue-resistant of the two types. Fast-twitch muscles are
capable of large bursts of power, but get tired more quickly.
In this latest research, scientists changed a gene called PPAR-Delta
in order to enhance its activity. PPAR-Delta is a so-called
"master regulator" of a number of other genes. When
the researchers produced mice with enhanced PPAR-Delta activity,
they saw an enhancement in "slow-twitch" muscle
fibres and a decrease in "fast-twitch" muscle fibres
in the mice. Scientists tested the animals' endurance
on the treadmill and found they could run twice the distance
of normal mice. Normal mice can run about 900m before dropping
out due to exhaustion. The PPAR-enhanced animals were able to
run 1,800m - more than a mile - before they ran out of steam,
even though they had never been near a treadmill. Enhanced mice
can also run for about an hour longer than the average 90 minutes
a normal mouse can run for before it maxes out. The scientists
also found that the mice were resistant to weight gain, even
when placed on a high fat, high calorie diet that caused normal
mice to become obese.
The number of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.3 million
last year, while the ranks of the uninsured swelled by 1.4 million,
the Census Bureau reported recently in a move some have said
was politically motivated to get bad economic news out earlier
than expected so it would not hurt the Bush administration's
attempts to win a second term. Approximately 35.8 million people
lived below the poverty line in 2003, or about 12.5 percent
of the population, according to the bureau. That was up from
34.5 million, or 12.1 percent in 2002.The rise was more dramatic
for children. There were 12.9 million living in poverty last
year, or 17.6 percent of the under-18 population. That was an
increase of about 800,000 from 2002, when 16.7 percent of all
children were in poverty.
The Census Bureau's definition of poverty varies by the
size of the household. For instance, the threshold for a family
of four was $18,810, while for two people it was $12,015.Nearly
45 million people lacked health insurance, or 15.6 percent of
the population. That was up from 43.5 million in 2002, or 15.2
percent, but was a smaller increase than in the two previous
years. Meanwhile, the median household income, when adjusted
for inflation, remained basically flat last year at $43,318.
Whites, blacks and Asians saw no noticeable change, but income
fell 2.6 percent for Hispanics to $32,997. Whites had the highest
income at $47,777.
It was also reported that over half of all Americans are now
likely to go onto the national Food Stamp program at some point
during their lives.
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told the United
States recently that it was facing "decades of hatred"
from the Islamic world due to fighting in the Iraqi holy Shiite
city of Najaf. "The use of force by the United States
in Iraq and especially in the holy city of Najaf is utterly
wrong and doomed," state television quoted the all-powerful
leader as saying during a meeting with the Iranian cabinet.
"This will deepen the hatred between the US and the Islamic
world for decades," he warned, but voiced hope that "Allah
almighty will once again show his support of righteousness."
The city of Najaf, home to the ornate mausoleum of the father
of Shiite Islam Imam Ali, has seen three weeks of intense fighting
between US-led forces and rebel fighters loyal to cleric Moqtada
Sadr. This past week marked the birth anniversary of Ali, the
Prophet Mohammed's son-in-law and considered by Shiites
as his true successor.
The gap in safety between sport utility vehicles and passenger
cars last year was the widest yet recorded, according to new
federal traffic data. People driving or riding in a sport utility
vehicle in 2003 were nearly 11 percent more likely to die in
an accident than people in cars, the figures show. But S.U.V.'s
continue to gain in popularity, despite safety concerns and
the vehicles' lagging fuel economy at a time when gasoline
prices are high. For the first seven months of 2004, S.U.V.'s
accounted for 27.2 percent of all light-duty vehicle sales,
up from 26 percent in the period a year earlier, according to
Ward's AutoInfoBank. However, sales growth for the largest
sport utility vehicles has stalled lately, while small and medium-size
S.U.V.'s, engineered more like cars than pickup trucks,
continue to make rapid gains. Detailed results for federal front-
and side-impact tests and rollover tests can be found online
at www.safercar.gov. Complicating the safety question is what
happens to people in the other vehicle in a collision. Because
of the higher ground clearance of sport utilities and large
pickup trucks, their bumpers often skip over the crash structures
of passenger cars, raising the likelihood that an occupant of
the car will be killed or seriously injured. Automakers have
agreed to work together on structural changes, and the traffic
safety agency has proposed new rules that would require automakers
to install side air bags as a way to mitigate the problem.
Temperatures for the region, meteorologists studying the Catskills
and Hudson Valley are now saying, are not all that far from
normal. The normal high in July for the Albany area is 82, the
normal low 60, with temperatures in the Hudson Valley tending
to climb a little higher. For August the normal high for the
Albany area is 79 and the normal low is 58. However, in the
first 19 days of August, the Albany area saw 5.33 inches of
rainfall, significantly more than the 3.68-inch average for
the month. June and July also saw rainfall above the average
amounts for those months. The wetter, cooler weather has been
attributed to a strong low pressure system that has covered
eastern Canada for most of the summer. Normally, a Bermuda high
pressure system moves up the east coast into Canada at this
time of year, bringing with it the high temperatures that mark
summer. But this year, the low front stalled over the
region, keeping the jet stream and the hot dry stuff to the
The three companies that certify the nation's voting technologies
operate in secrecy, and refuse to discuss flaws in the ATM-like
machines to be used by nearly one in three voters in November.
And despite concerns over whether the so-called touchscreen
machines can be trusted, the testing companies won't say
publicly if they have encountered shoddy workmanship. They say
they are committed to secrecy in their contracts with the voting
machines' makers - even though tax money ultimately buys
or leases the machines. Although up to 50 million Americans
are expected to vote on touchscreen machines on Nov. 2, federal
regulators have virtually no oversight over testing of the technology.
The certification process, in part because the voting machine
companies pay for it, is described as obsolete by those charged
with overseeing it. The testing firms - CIBER and Wyle Laboratories
in Huntsville and SysTest Labs in Denver - are also inadequately
equipped, some critics contend.
Federal regulations specify that every voting system used must
be validated by a tester. Yet it has taken more than a year
to gain approval for some election software and hardware, leading
some states to either do their own testing or order uncertified
equipment. That wouldn't be such an issue if not for troubles
with touchscreens, which were introduced broadly in a bid to
modernize voting technology after the 2000 presidential election
ballot-counting fiasco in Florida. Failures involving touchscreens
during voting this year in Georgia, Maryland and California
and other states have prompted questions about the machines'
susceptibility to tampering and software bugs. Also in question
is their viability, given the lack of paper records, if recounts
are needed in what's shaping up to be a tightly contested
presidential race. Paper records of each vote were considered
a vital component of the electronic machines used in last week's
referendum in Venezuela on whether to recall President Hugo
But critics led by Stanford University computer science professor
David Dill say it's an outrage that the world's most powerful
democracy doesn't already have an election system so transparent
its citizens know it can be trusted. Œ'Suppose you had
a situation where ballots were handed to a private company that
counted them behind a closed door and burned the results,''
said Dill, founder of VerifiedVoting.org. "Nobody but an
idiot would accept a system like that. We've got something that
is almost as bad with electronic voting.''
President Bush's re-election campaign refused a request
by the U.S. Olympic Committee on Thursday to pull a television
ad that mentions the Olympics. The USOC asked the campaign to
pull the ads, which show a swimmer and the flags of Iraq and
Afghanistan. Some of the players on the Iraqi Olympic soccer
team complained about the ad appearing as part of a political
campaign. Legally, the International Olympic Committee and the
USOC have the authority to regulate the use of anything involving
the Olympics.An act of Congress, last revised in 1999, grants
the USOC exclusive rights to such terms as Œ'Olympic,''
derivatives such as Œ'Olympiad'' and
the five interlocking rings. It also specifically says the organization
Œ'shall be nonpolitical and may not promote the candidacy
of an individual seeking public office."
The first national comparison of test scores among children
in charter schools and regular public schools shows charter
school students often doing worse than comparable students in
regular public schools. The findings, buried in mountains of
data the Education Department released without public announcement,
dealt a blow to supporters of the charter school movement, including
the Bush administration.
The data shows fourth graders attending charter schools performing
about half a year behind students in other public schools in
both reading and math. Put another way, only 25 percent of the
fourth graders attending charters were proficient in reading
and math, against 30 percent who were proficient in reading,
and 32 percent in math, at traditional public schools.
Charters are expected to grow exponentially under the new federal
education law, No Child Left Behind, which holds out conversion
to charter schools as one solution for chronically failing traditional
The results, based on the 2003 National Assessment of Educational
Progress, commonly known as the nation's report card,
were unearthed from online data by researchers at the American
Federation of Teachers, which provided them to The New York
Times. The organization has historically supported charter schools
but has produced research in recent years raising doubts about
the expansion of charter schools.
Charters are self-governing public schools, often run by private
companies, which operate outside the authority of local school
boards, and have greater flexibility than traditional public
schools in areas of policy, hiring and teaching techniques.
In a striking shift in the way the Bush administration has portrayed
the science of climate change, a new report to Congress focuses
on federal research indicating that emissions of carbon dioxide
and other heat-trapping gases are the only likely explanation
for global warming over the last three decades. Previously,
President Bush and other officials had emphasized uncertainties
in understanding the causes and consequences of warming as a
reason for rejecting binding restrictions on heat-trapping gases.
American and international panels of experts concluded as early
as 2001 that smokestack and tailpipe discharges of heat-trapping
gases were the most likely cause of recent global warming. But
the White House had disputed those conclusions. The last time
the administration issued a document suggesting that global
warming had a human cause and posed big risks was in June 2002,
in a submission to the United Nations under a climate treaty.
President Bush distanced himself from it, saying it was something
"put out by the bureaucracy."
The new report, online at www.climatescience.gov, is accompanied
by a letter signed by Mr. Bush's secretaries of energy
and commerce and his science adviser.
The White House declined to explain the change in emphasis,
referring reporters to Dr. Mahoney, assistant secretary of commerce
for oceans and atmosphere and the director of government climate
Combining drugs with talk therapy works best in treating depressed
adolescents, the first large study of its kind has found, echoing
research in adults showing that treating the disease requires
more than a pop-a-pill quick fix. Although the study found that
psychotherapy plus Prozac works better than either method alone
at treating depression in adolescents, including reducing suicidal
thoughts, the study does not resolve ongoing questions about
potential links between some antidepressants and suicidal thoughts
and behavior in children.That's because patients on Prozac
had more suicidal tendencies during the 12-week study than any
other group: those on Prozac plus psychotherapy, those on psychotherapy
alone, and those on dummy pills alone.
Overall, 71 percent of patients on the combined treatment had
scores showing substantial improvement on a depression rating
scale. The combined treatment involved Prozac plus a form of
psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy, which teaches
problem-solving skills and ways to refocus negative thoughts
and behaviors.By contrast, significant improvement was seen
in 61 percent of Prozac-only adolescents, 43 percent of behavior
therapy-only patients and 35 percent of patients on dummy pills.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating the suicide
concerns and earlier this year asked makers of 10 drugs including
Prozac to add or strengthen suicide-related warnings on their
Over two decades, the income gap has steadily increased between
the richest Americans, who own homes and stocks and got big
tax breaks, and those at the middle and bottom of the pay scale,
whose paychecks buy less. The growing disparity is even more
pronounced in this recovering economy. Wages are stagnant and
the middle class is shouldering a larger tax burden. Prices
for health care, housing, tuition, gas and food have soared.
The wealthiest 20 percent of households in 1973 accounted for
44 percent of total U.S. income, according to the Census Bureau.
Their share jumped to 50 percent in 2002, while everyone else's
fell. For the bottom fifth, the share dropped from 4.2 percent
to 3.5 percent.
New government data also shows that President Bush's tax
cuts have shifted the overall tax burden to the middle class
from the wealthiest Americans.
The U.S. jobs market is soft, sending wages down. Hiring came
to a near standstill last month, with companies adding just
32,000 new jobs overall, stunning economists who had expected
seven times as many. More than a million jobs have been added
back to the 2.6 million lost since Bush took office, but they
pay less and offer fewer benefits, such as health insurance.
The new jobs are concentrated in health care, food services,
and temporary employment firms, all lower-paying industries.
Temp agencies alone account for about a fifth of all new jobs.
And three in five pay below the national median hourly wage
The new federal election law says everyone who shows up at the
polls on Election Day will get to cast a vote. But that doesn't
mean every vote will count. Ohio is one of several states taking
a strict view of when local elections officials can count "provisional
ballots" - the special ballots given to voters who go
to the wrong polling places on Election Day. While federal law
now says any voter who wants a ballot can get one, Ohio law
says any provisional ballots cast by voters in the wrong precincts
won't count. In fact, they won't even be opened.
This rule could affect thousands of Ohio voters on Nov. 2, when
legions of new voters are expected at the polls. Also, polling
places for many voters will be different after voting districts
were altered in 2001.
With a neck-and-neck presidential race expected in Ohio this
year, the handling of provisional ballots could be critical.
In the last statewide election, the governor's race in
2002, about 54,000 voters in Ohio cast provisional ballots,
records show. Critics say laws like Ohio's undermine the
intent of the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA, passed by Congress
in 2002 to ensure that eligible voters aren't turned away
from the polls because of mistakes in the registration lists.
By some estimates, as many as 1.5 million registered voters
were turned away in the United States in 2000. Elections officials
expect more provisional ballots this year because of intense
voter-registration drives around the nation, attracting many
first-time voters. In addition, many voting precincts were redrawn
based on population shifts in the 2000 census, which could confuse
Registration for the Fourth Annual Catskills Local Government
Day, to be held Friday, Oct. 1, is due September 15.
The event is sponsored by the Catskill Watershed Corporation
(CWC), the New York State Department of State (DOS) and the
Watershed Agricultural Council. It will be held at Belleayre
Mountain Ski Center, Highmount. The day's agenda
and registration form are on the Corporation's website,
www.cwconline.org. They can also be obtained by calling the
CWC at 845-586-1400, or toll free, 1-877-928-7433. Lunch is
included in the $10 registration fee. Workshops for municipal
officials and employees, as well as planning and zoning board
members and other interested individuals, will be held throughout
the morning. Topics include Site Plan Review and Special Use
Permits, Locally Unwanted Land Uses, Communication Towers, Local
Government Uses for the Internet, Zoning Enforcement, and The
Capital Improvement Plan.
"First Impressions," a program by which volunteers
from a distant town visit a community and record their first
impressions so that local planners and residents can improve
their hamlet's appearance, will be featured in a morning
The Catskill Watershed Corporation Board of Directors will hold
a special meeting Tuesday, Sept. 7 at 4 p.m. at CWC offices,
905 Main St., Margaretville. The purpose of the meeting is to
consider a response to new regulations proposed by the New York
City Department of Environmental Protection on recreational
uses of water supply lands and waters. The comment period for
the proposed regulations concludes Sept. 23. The CWC Board will
discuss at this special meeting whether to submit a response
to the NYC DEP. The public is welcome to attend. Formal public
hearings on the proposed rules will be held Sept. 8 at Walton
High School, Sept. 14 at Shandaken Town Hall, and Sept. 23 at
Neversink Town Hall. Hearings begin at 7 p.m.
Restaurant owners and other businesses in Phoenicia have been
fined $250 for not keeping garbage dumpsters clean. The action
is the next step taken to solve the escalating bear problem
that has plagued the hamlet, and much of the region, all summer.
Paul Pettinato, owner of Al's restaurant, appeared in
court on August 24th to answer to charges. The ticket issued
to Pettinato, written up by Officers with the New York State
Department of Environmental Conservation, came against a backdrop
of the August 17th shooting of a bear that entered a Highmount
home while two people were eating dinner, the latest confrontation
between man and beast and probably not the last before the Bruins
den up for the winter come November.
So mad was Pettinato about the action against him, he put up
a billboard sign that reads "Bear trespassing on Al's
property prohibited by order of the DEC. Violators will be jailed."
Pettinato claims the enforcement is selective, and officers
have not done anything the handle a much bigger part of the
"Nobody got a ticket for their garbage cans," he
Last Tuesday Pettinato refused to pay the fine. "I want
a trial," he said.