Friday, May 29, 2009
This would be the Clean Tech Competition Bill and although it will spur growth in the industry throughout the country, she is expected to add her initiative to the already growing movement here in New York State.
According to the AP story I found, she told the group: “I will be launching a new legislative effort to accelerate the development of technologies and early stage companies that can address climate change and improve energy security in the United States.”
Energy independence is closely tied to our country's financial security since foreign debt is the root cause of what ails America today. Adding to the fact that investing in the renewable industry has been the goal of upstate economic strategists for quite some time as we've seen with the Solar Consortium and a number of other incentive concepts focused on the Hudson Valley.
It seems fitting that Kirsten would follow in Hillary's footsteps on the issue of renewable energy and join Sen. Schumer in the effort to stimulate the upstate economy with this additional program. She went on to say: "This legislation would authorize $20 million for a new D.O.E. program, specifically designed to accelerate the development of clean technology companies and the creation of green jobs through these companies.”
Understandably, we are all looking forward to these green jobs to come to the area and flourish, but the gears of progress move slowly. So much so, that I fear the public will become impatient. I know we are losing families to other states chasing jobs and/or escaping taxes and it kills me to see all the Real Estate listings filling the papers.
Our Hopes are with Kirsten, Chuck, Maurice, Kevin and all those who are pushing so hard for the upstate economy to turn around. Now, if only we could change the public discourse between the Administration and the rest of us, we might see an acceleration in business investment in the city.
Note: the NYLCV has just celebrated their 20th anniversary.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
With the intent to help in the stimulus efforts and bolster the economy in some of our struggling communities, the Senate expects the modified tax credit structure to create jobs, increase property values and provide a better quality of life for all Upstate New Yorkers.
Some of the changes include a drastic increase of commercial credit from $100K to $5 Million, and for residential...an increase from $25K to $50K. But this isn't permanent and it's not state wide, it is focussed on just stressed areas with average incomes at or below the states median family income status.
The Senate has also changed the assignment status of the tax credit. No longer will it be tied to just one applicant. The process now allows a transfer from person to person within the company and even opens the opportunity for outside investors to access the program, with the intent of rehabilitating the structures in those stressed economic areas.
As stated in the AP, Malcolm Smith said... "Our State's ability to attract new businesses and investment will increase dramatically, and will help us produce the kind of results that the people of New York expect and deserve. There are struggling communities in every region of this state who will benefit from the reinvestment and beautification of our neighborhoods."
The City of Kingston definitely qualifies as an economically stressed community. Our state representatives are right to make these credits available throughout the state. I hope to see this passed by the Assembly and utilized locally. I'll see if there is any way of tracking what is accomplished locally as a result of this legislation.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
With all the national coverage focussed on Obama's Supreme Court nominee, you'd think this was a big deal...well, it is.
Voices from the far left and right are filling the airwaves and in print with prophesies of limitations on civil liberties and activism from the bench. I really don't think this will be the case.
If the far left sees Sotomayer as a questionable defender of liberal ideals and the wing nuts on the far right are calling her names [racist being one of them] then I think she's off to a very good start.
So let me mention that, for those who are paying attention, the highest court in the land is in no radical threat as I see it. So what's with all the chatter from these fringe opinionists? I say they are just doing what come naturally and getting paid for it handsomely.
Judges are bound to interpret the laws being challenged, not rewrite the core meanings of our Constitution. With over 3,000 opinions to sort through over her decades long resume, we are sure to see cases where someone may say "See, here's one example of activism!" or "See, she legislates from the bench!" It's all subject to interpretation and if you're looking for this red flag professionally, you'll grab whatever examples you can to make your point.
Sonia Sotomayer is sure to emerge from the nominating process as our next Supreme Court Justice and President Obama will have his first long term influence on the law of the land. However, the circumstances may be quite different if the opportunity comes again, for the Judge he replaces may not be of the left-of-center ilk like Souter.
As you can see, I focus less on her American Dream story when it comes to the merits of her appointment, her race and gender should be of no consequence. But you know we dont live in that sort of world when 24 hour news channels need to fill air-time and advertising space. Sure I like a good heart tug story like everyone else, but the top court is no place for melodrama. I'm just happy that her qualifications exceed question and we dont have another Harriet Miers circus moment on our hands.
Monday, May 25, 2009
OK, you're going to laugh at this one. The Town Board of Delcambre, Louisiana has approved a bill that bans saggy pants that show off the wearer's private parts or underwear. You're saying really? Is it possible?
I guess this trend in exposed underwear finally pushed this small town to act in regards to how much exposure is too much exposure. It's not just small towns either, now it's larger cities, and school districts throughout the country.
I discovered this humorous legislation because someone on FaceBook sent me an invite to join a group urging people to "pull their pants up!" The membership has really picked up steam and at some point, you'll hear about other communities attempting the same legislation.
Can you imagine our Kingston streets without crack? Well, the anatomy kind anyway. Seriously...who else is fed up with this exposed underwear thing?
From what I hear, the trend is based on the attire of prison and the men offering something, advertise that they are looking for a "Taker". Use your own imagination here, I cant go any farther.
So, my guess is that most of the guys doing the saggy bottom thing on the street don't know this. Trendy middle class kids of all races are droppin their drawers and frankly, there are some exposures that really test the boundaries of what constitutes a distraction to us drivers.
That town's Mayor, Carol Broussard told the press, "Just wear it properly. Cover your vital parts. I mean, if you expose your private parts, you'll get a fine. If you walk up and your pants drop, you get a fine. They're better off taking the pants off and just wearing a dress!"Speaking of dresses, how about the girls pants that look like pajamas? I know they didn't just roll out of bed at 2pm and walk to Dunkin Donuts. And you wonder if the Main Street Manager has his/her hands full? This is just another of the images we have to fight.
I do have to point out that people will complain that this will profile a segment of our society. How many times will we hear that? It seems pretty well diverse in underwear enthusiasts. Remember Underoos? Maybe if the Batman or Spiderman logo was visible, we could consider it advertising.
Well, the town of Delcambre decided those who violate the ordinance, which passed unanimously, could face a $500 fine and six months in prison. That might be a little extreme, but It has survived the courts...so far.
Florida Senator Gary Siplin has introduced a bill to ban saggy pants in Florida schools. He claims that sagging pants are a distraction from learning as they draw attention to the body. Moreover, he believes that if people really knew the origin of the fashion trend, they wouldn't be so quick to emulate it.
Next week: "J" walking across Broadway in traffic.
So, you're right ion the middle of something important, your mobile phone starts ringing in your pocket, you look, it's a number you don't know. Thinking it might be important, you answer..."Hello, this is the second notice that your car warranty has expired and you may be..." Now you're mad that they called you again!
We've all suffered with that automated call during this past year. But did you notice it stopped a few weeks ago? I hadn't thought about it either.
Turns out the FTC obtained a court order blocking "robo-calls" on those things and until I read that, I didn't realize my ignorant bliss. I once told the human that finally answered that I had a 1972 Pontiac LeMans convertible and that I would like to get the warranty reinstated. He hung up. That didn't stop the calls though.
The new one? Automated calls pitching bogus credit card interest rates and mortgage scams. Thats right, in this critical time, the robo-calls are targeting consumers with ridiculously low rates that most of us would think were too good to be true...once again, the old adage is true. Don't believe it for a minute.
To combat this, Sen Chuck Schumer has asked the Federal Trade Commission take action against these unsolicited calls. I can support that. What took so long to stop those warranty calls in the first place?
Anyway, I applaud Chuck for getting to this one right away. It seems the robo-calls are even pestering people who are on the Do Not Call list.
Anyone who receives one of these calls should file an official complaint through the FTC's website, http://www.donotcall.gov . Don't let it slide. It's one thing to be irritated to death by a non-threatening robo-call, but some of our most vulnerable may fall for the new credit card scheme. Lets kill this one right away.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
According to Professor David Blight of the Yale University History Department, the first memorial day was observed on May 1, 1865 by liberated slaves at the Washington Race Course (today the location of Hampton Park) in Charleston, South Carolina. The site had been used as a temporary Confederate prison camp as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who died in captivity.
The freed slaves disinterred the dead Union soldiers from the mass grave to be buried properly with individual graves, built a fence around the graveyard with an entry arch, declaring it a Union graveyard. On May 30, 1868, the freed slaves returned to the graveyard with flowers they had picked from the countryside and decorated the individual grave sites.
This established the first recorded Decoration Day. Thousands of freed blacks and Union soldiers paraded from the area, followed by much patriotic singing and a picnic.
Today, in addition to national observances, many individual communities hold memorial observance for all fallen soldiers who were from that town by having a ceremony in a church or town memorial park. It is common for fire and police departments to remember and honor members lost in the line of duty.
Towns often hold a Memorial Day parade in honor of such residents. Participation in such a parade is by community organizations and in the City of Kingston's case we will once again gather in front of City Hall this Monday for the ceremony that reminds us annually that Freedom isn't Free. We have and continue to secure our freedoms through blood and treasure every day.
My thanks to the men & women who serve in the armed forces and those who served before them.
I couldn't help but chuckle when I read about one of the emprisoned Mob Bosses from the 70's & 80's being deported back to Italy. He is being sent back early, having served only 24 of his 45 years.
Rosario Gambino was sent home on a flight from Miami this past week. The AP said he was a frail old man of 67...I'm guessing prison does no-one any good. [I feel bad]
Reason for his conviction? Well, we all glamorise the Mafia family lifestyle in the movies, video games and now even playing Mafia Wars on Facebook, so where does selling millions of dollars of Heroin make this glamorous?
Gambino was linked to the "Pizza Connection" probe, which broke a $1.6 billion heroin and cocaine smuggling operation that used pizzerias as fronts from 1975 to 1984.
Even today, we work so hard to teach our youngsters to resist the peer pressure to use, and yet the hard drugs of Heroin, Cocaine and now Meta-amphetamines continue to plague our neighborhoods.
Of course the bulk of today's drug trafficing comes through the open border from Mexico, so the players may be a little different, but we shouldn't forget that for all the movie fantasies and interactive games, people really do get hurt, families suffer and the taxpayer gets hit in the pocket.
Let's see what the Italian authorities do with what's left of Rosario when he faces their court system. Italy's main prosecuter that specialized in crime families during his days of operation, had since been hit decades ago. Italia has been waiting for his return for a long time.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
A majority of the Council had determined the move to table was necessary about a week prior to the meeting and felt the measure would only pit civic groups against each other at a time when there is already great turmoil in the management of some of our departments.
Ron Polacco asked permission to be the first motion and I had the pleasure of second. Opening the definition of occupancy to board member interpretation would only add to the daunting challenges facing the Planning and Zoning Boards and I for one wasn't comfortable with the unrestricted boarding house aspect of the proposed change.
For those of you concerned with YOUR neighboring buildings allowing tens of unrelated persons without regulation, rest assured, we are looking out for your best interest.
Friday, May 15, 2009
I am trying to imagine where I would find DOS operating computers other than that big blue box at the Kingston Transfer Station. The ordinance that restricts our street collection of TVs, computers and microwaves seems to have worked for the most part and surprisingly, I havent found that much of an increase of dumping on our remote streets.
I guess the best place to find DOS computers would be the County Office Building. Yes, they still have these antiques in the cubicles of our many county locations. I'm sure you read that our Comptroller, Elliott Auerbach, has cited the need to upgrade to a 21st century system in the press. Of course there's the issues of cost and training that will spark the fiery rhetoric that's sure to follow.
What I would like to remind everyone of is the hazards of Ewaste. What are we to do with all the old computers that no-one seems to want? Recent reports show that in the US alone, we dispose of 2 million tons of computer waste annually. About 20% gets recycled, and the rest is shipped to China and India where it's being torn apart by scavengers.
What is in those older units is toxic. Unsuspecting health hazards plague these countries enough without ink cartrages leaching into foreign waterways.
I'm sure the antiques that Elliott cites as a hamper for county employees to operate, may end up in those same Ewaste dumps in a thrid world country and used as landfill. Can we change that?
There has been a recent push to require computer manufacturers to take back their older models in hopes to force them to reconsider that's in them. If they have to dispose of them personnaly, they will surely change the way they are built.
As for the need to upgrade the County offices, I say bravo Elliott. The dot-matrix paycheck printer in the basement may become the next exhibit at the Johnston Museum down the street.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Terrific news everybody. The City of Kingston's Independence Celebration has been saved!
By the good will of the lawfirm Mainetti, Mainetti and O'Connor, the cost of providing the services necessary to bring fireworks and entertainment to Kingston has been covered.
For those who have expressed concern regarding the city's fund balance and the elimination of several parks programs, you should be elated that those who do business in our city are willing to step up when the city is strapped.
Let me offer my sincere thanks to the good people who felt it vital that Kingston have it's annual downtown festivities and allow us all to show our national pride once again.
The event is scheduled for Sunday July 5th. More details will follow in the local papers with better researched material on the mechanisms that brought this to it's outcome. The city website will have more as well.
Thank you Mayor Sottile, for I know you had a hand in this as well.
Mainetti Mainetti & O'Connor
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I don't know how the initiative to merge the DPW and Rec. Departments together came to be. I certainly had no prior knowledge of the concept before the story broke in the local papers.
How is that possible you ask? Well, from what I've heard from my colleagues, no-one was consulted from the Council before the press release. Needless to say, a few of us have reservations.
Reading the banter between management and the union leadership, while chatting with the rank & file, I have to urge caution to those who are rushing to make this merger happen. Why?
The Departments were created separately for a reason. The training for operations in the two are different and the job description for either will provide much confusion during the time of transition. I'm not sure how much was developed as a proposal before letting the public know of the concept but so far, from what I hear from our employees, it seems empty.
Additionally, there is the threat of yet another wave of grievances and lawsuits as a result of this internal transfer of personnel. This may constitute a shift of job description without employee consent. Was this not considered? We don't have the money for this nonsense!
In an email to the Council from the CSEA Pres, Bart Robins says: "The Mayor did not involve us with this this move of his, he simply told us he was doing this in the near future and showed us some archaic code where DPW oversees maintenance of the parks. This can still be done without the merger."
Keep in mind, we have had years of discussion on the subject of how to collect trash and recycling better and yet here we are merging departments in a few months? Is it safe to say I feel apprehension as we step forward on this issue.
As Union leaders and the Mayor dive into this further, I'd like the Council to be more closely involved or maybe other Councilmen are having such discussions and I don't know about it. Wouldn't surprise me.
Monday, May 11, 2009
I'm not one for promoting players from the other team, but Joel Miller has joined a number of Republican members of the Assembly to enact legislation that would require installation of ignition interlock in the vehicles of all convicted drunk drivers. Where are the Democrats on this?
How long has this concept been floating around Albany and what reasons are there to stop it? Have victims of alcoholic related accidents only been Republicans that this kind of legislation can't cover New York State?
Taken right from Bill A774: The main reason why people continue to drive drunk today, despite 26 years of intense public education and law enforcements best efforts, is because they can. Research shows that one of the most effective ways of stopping drunk drivers from continuing to drive is through currently available interlock devices.
So, other than letting the minority in the house get a bill passed, I don't understand the hold up. Only one in eight convicted drunk drivers is required to engage the interlock device nationally. This brings the number of operating interlock devices to about 100K in the US. The results show a decrease of 50-90% in repeat offences when the driver is in this program.
This begs two more questions:
Could a civilian obtain this device for their teen-age offspring and is it limited to just alcohol detection? Perhaps someone in law enforcement can explain this.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Believe it or not, I have a soft side. Pictured here with me is Paul Michael Gilbert. Born Wednesday morning May 6th at the Kingston Hospital. His proud parents, Mark and Michele live here in Kingston and plan to raise all three of the kids within the Kingston School District.
When people ask me what motivates me to continue serving on the Common Council, I could just point to Paul Michael. Indeed, all of us who share the passion to serve in political office, at least at the onset, do it to make tomorrow better and save what's worth saving for the future.
Mark and Michele, like all young families, want the same quality of life and opportunities that all of us desire. There may be hundreds of people looking at this blog per day, but I bet you and all of the residents in Kingston would agree.
Ironically, Mark is one of those self proclaimed geeks everyone is talking about lately. Working with me on some small projects while getting Tempest Media off the ground, a new born changes the paradigm.
The push to enlighten the masses to the wonders of the Digital Corridor Initiative and the regional investment in solar energy product manufacturing couldn't be a better reason for tech savvy entrepreneurs like the Gilbert family to settle down in Kingston.
The passion to serve in any capacity of our city is not limited to one party, economic demographic or educational level. I have great respect for anyone who volunteers on the school or library board, planning or zoning commission, Alderman or Legislator. Little Paul Michael, and all the next generation, is who fuels our desire to make a better tomorrow.
As you see, even a big ogre like me has a soft side. Indeed we all do. I do however, [to a fault] expect others to act upon those noble goals when we engage each other in committees and on the street. I am sometimes disappointed. But will continue to look for the better in everyone because the mission to make tomorrow better demands it.
Note: Mark and Michele would like to convey just how wonderful their experience at Kingston Hospital was during the prenatal, delivery and recovery. Paul being the third child for Michele, ranks the service a 12 when given the choice of 1 to 10.
The future delivery wing and renovations should only secure this reputation for Kingston General.
KUDOs to the hospital staff.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Wow. The Board of Education made the tough but correct decision Wednesday. I hesitated to celebrate when I first heard the news for fear of imagining things.
So, beginning this fall, most students will be restricted from leaving the campus. Does anyone realise that the property value of the homes within three streets of the high school will jump in value? Don't tell the assessor, please!
At first read through the article in the paper, there will be a modest increase in seating in the lunch room. Any kinks in the program will be worked out during the summer, however...if the seniors do well in their classes, they earn the privilege to venture off campus. A positive incentive. Hmmm
Whatever changes the board has in mind for the cafeteria will be paid for by the 2009 budget, so we already paid for it. Making it more a "restaurant feel" is less of a concern to me as a school tax payer. The cafeteria felt like a cafeteria when I went to school and considering the students are patronising the poison distributors like Burger King and McDonalds, the issue of a nice restaurant will be lost on many of them anyway.
I just know that starting next fall, the number of complaints from the hundreds of homes surrounding the campus will diminish. Yes, the students will still speed up and down the streets at 7:30am and 2:30pm, making your skip across the street as treacherous as usual, but we will have less activity during the hours of operation.
Can I add that no-one labels all the students as villains in the immediate neighborhoods. As noted in previous posts, 90% of the student body is working studiously in class while the off campus shenanigans are taking place. The sports teams and the Jazz Band are two examples of phenomenal talent and a testament to the administration for encouraging students to develop their strong points.
What the locals want is security, cleanliness and respect for our property as well as the satisfaction of knowing our tax dollars are spent on quality education without off campus distraction. Believe me, that's all we ask.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Gottfried is pushing the idea that the public plan would actually be $30 billion cheaper than the $100 billion Americans now pay for private coverage without sacrificing quality care.
At first glance, the program would resemble the Social Security Payroll tax procedure with the unearned income of our wealthiest New Yorkers tapped through different means. The details havent been debated yet, but it's made it to committee and is expected to get serious attention. I might take a year, but with the extreme burden on small business the way it is, the public program is looking better from a employers point of view.
Below is a map showing the countries that have some version of government funded universal healthcare. Pretty much all the industrialised nations other than the U. S.
The title of the bill is New York Health Plus and as you can see, New Yorkers could get free health coverage from the state, and have their pick of the plans while still having the option to opt out to utilise a private program. Privately, we pay over $65 Billion per year. This plan, would cost taxpayers around $55 Billion.
The increase in taxes for such a plan are a necessity, and is of course, the major roadblock in getting traction in Albany, not to mention the heavily funded lobbyists who represent the insurance companies beating down our representatives year after year.
What do you think about the public plan and do you think the overall cost would benefit New Yorkers as planned?
Monday, May 04, 2009
The UC Democratic Brunch was a huge success! The staff at the Board of Elections and the party leadership deserve accolades for a job well done.
The combination of celebrating the 40 years of public service by Lew Kirschner and the anticipated visit by Kirsten Gillibrand caused the event to be sold out in advance. Let me tell you, the air was electric.
Those who worked with Lew over the decades, had some great stories to tell which culminated to the offering by the county committee, a crystal vase with our sincere appreciation for the years of service to the public and the party. But we havent seen the last of Lew.
We got to hear from Assemblyman Cahill, who introduced Maurice Hunchey, who had the honor of introducing the guest of Honor, Senator Gillibrand.
Kirsten started with added praise for the years of dedication that Kirschner served this county, having read the event journal and listened to the previous speakers. She spoke of the years her own family members were involved with State politics and wrapped up her conversation with issues that plague upstate New York during this tough economic period.
The Freeman went into detail about the fiscal specifics from her speech. I wanted to focus on how she carried herself. Quite well actually. She didn't become the Senator select by sitting quietly in the House of Representatives. However, her upstate values seem to rub the NYC democratic base the wrong way. We'll have to wait and see if someone challenges her in a primary.
Meanwhile, Kirsten and Chuck Schumer fight the good fight for New Yorkers. She expounded on the great admiration she has for Chuck and the lazer focus he has on the big issues. "Don't get in his way!" she said.
But most of all her inspiration to jump into politics in the first place lies with Hillary Clinton. Kirsten mentioned the famous "Women's rights are Human rights" speech she made in China back in '95 and how that moved her to serve the public.
All said, hundreds of faithful Democrats in Ulster, Dutchess and Orange got to meet our new Senator this past Sunday. The added result: three counties made a bit of money too.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Taken from the website: Albany Watch...
Gov. David Paterson announced today that the state has certified an additional 53 highway and bridge projects that will receive federal economic-stimulus money. So far, 126 shovel-ready projects have received a total of $389.2 million in stimulus funds. The total cost of the work is $519.6 million.
New York is expected to receive $26.7 billion in the next two years from the economic-stimulus package.Paterson made the announcement about the 53 new projects at a kick-off for a street repaving and beautification project in Albany.
Of the long list of projects noted in the press release for Ulster County was $2.2 million to repave about four miles of Route 28 between Routes 212 and 214 in Shandaken.
More of the list will be revealed as the week goes on.
This is the season where we hear about the increased number of bicycle accidents because the weather is nice and more of us are sharing the roads with cars and trucks. Many of us have been urged to get out there and exercise; bicycling is a good start.
But each year, more than 500,000 people in the US are treated in emergency departments, and more than 700 people die as a result of bicycle-related injuries.
Children are at particularly high risk for bicycle-related injuries. In 2001, children 15 years and younger accounted for 59% of all bicycle-related injuries seen in US emergency departments.
Learn more about the problem of bicycle related injuries and what you can do to prevent them at the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.
Friday, May 01, 2009
www.SupportYourVet.org is operational. This site is an invaluable resource for families and friends of veterans. Not sure what questions to ask? What topics are OK to discuss? Wonder what the different phases of coming home are for veterans? Want clarification or to talk to someone who might be going through some of the same things you and your family are? Then connect with these other families and friends of veterans through www.SupportYourVet.org.