Thursday, April 29, 2010


Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Much has been said about the progress in the workplace regarding safety and fair wages. But it hasnt always been so. April 28th is the day we remember those we lost in poor working conditions as well as highlight the new preventative measures that we implement today.

All too often, death, injury, and illness at work were hidden away and taken for granted. Workers' Memorial Day is an opportunity to promote campaigns and union organization in the fight for improvements in workplace safety.

The slogan for the day is Remember the dead - Fight for the living.

Since it's inception in 1984, Worker's Memorial Day has occurred on this date to commemorate the anniversary of the comprehensive Workers Compensation Act passed in 1914. It was combined with the Canadian Worker's Day of Mourning shortly after.

In the last decade, this day has also symbolized the inclusion of other causes through annual themes such as the Global Ban on asbestos in '06 and increasing awareness of HIV/AIDS from '07 to today. The International Labor Organization (ILO) has taken up the continual theme management while proclaiming 2010 to be Global Health & Safety.

Today is now an International day of remembrance of workers killed in incidents at work, or by diseases caused by work and annually Workers' Memorial Day events are held throughout the world. You will find communities commemorate the day with speeches, multi faith religious services, laying wreathes, planting trees, unveiling monuments, balloon releases, raising public awareness of issues and laying out empty shoes to symbolise those who have died at work.

If I could point out the obvious coincidence of the tragic mining disaster only a few weeks ago. The safety measures that were ignored which caused the deaths of so many are the very reasons we highlight those workplace precautions today.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Last Thursday, I had the privilage of attending the Kingston S-Cool Jazz Festival at UPAC on Broadway. These kids have talent!

Staring with the J Watson Baily Jazz Ensemble, I got to see the youngest group of performers belt out a couple of classics ending with Ellington's
Caravan. It was fun to see and hear them as they provided their own interpretation.

Followed by the Miller Ensemble, you got to hear the progression of experience that a few extra years of practice will provide. I have to say, Strayhorns "Take the A Train" had everyone boppin their heads.

The unique appearance was by what Director Shaut described as probably the only School Woodwind Jazz group in America. (that he knew of)
Their version of "On the street where you live" was interesting to hear with just those instruments.

The evening closed with the High School Jazz Ensemble bringing down the house with five classics ending with Ellington's Cottontail. The theatre was well occupied and mixed with proud parents and Jazz enthusiasts from around the area. This performance highlighted the need to fully fund the high arts in our schools. You'd never find the talent and shape it into the graduating artists that we saw that night had we not nurtured the musician in our youngest students.


It's happened a few days in a row now. Or perhaps, It's happening again but just on another issue. The news programs are having fun with the divisive actions of the US Seanate as 41 members of the GOP have filibustered the option to open formal debate on the issue of Banking & Finance Reform.

McConnell and company have walked lock step on this issue of tending to our nation's banking restrictions by voting NO when asked to bring the issue to the floor. But I don't know how long Mitch can keep the group together. It seems there are a few Senators showing signs of weakness.

Americas' anger at Wall Street is palpable. Polls show that over 70% want greater restrictions. Right now we have the chance to push through the most sweeping new controls on financial institutions since the Great Depression. All because most of those who lost a great deal in the last few years recognize the need to act now and with teeth.

But the Senate failed to get the 60 supporters needed to proceed on the regulatory overhaul. The surprise, well maybe not to everyone, was the NO vote coming from Ben Nelson, the Democratic Senator from Nebraska. This man has issues.

The bill as it stands, is not perfect. We all know that. It has some of the same weaknesses that we saw in the Healthcare Reform bill from last year. I understand there are a number of amendments waiting for the debate to start on the floor to close some of the loopholes that have been exposed as well as giving the bill more teeth. Especially in the way the authorities would pursue the possible wrongdoings by the banking institutions. But let the debate start already!

The pundits on most news channels are pointing to the recent success of the healthcare legislation and the appearance of the GOP protecting the large investment firms as a perfect strategy for the Democrats to not only maintain their majority, but to possibly add seats this November. I don't know if this strategy will pan out as some would hope, but it does give pause to where some Senators swear allegiance when dealing with consumer protections at this extreme. I'd like to think some lessons were learned.

Both the House and Senate bills, aim at heading off any recurrence of the near collapse of the financial system in 2008, would create a mechanism for liquidating large firms that get into trouble, set up a council to detect systemwide financial threats and establish a consumer protection agency to police lending. The legislation also would require investment derivatives, blamed for helping precipitate the near-meltdown, to be traded in open exchanges.

CSPAN provided everyone a chance to witness some curious banter as they showed the Financial Investigative Hearings.
A number of Senators pulled some colorful words from select internal emails within Goldman Sachs. The clips were shown later as the shocked Goldman Chairman Lloyd Blankfein was quoted the term "shitty deal" numerous times. It's not often that CSPAN gets the chance to broadcast four letter words to the masses.

The latest is that outgoing Senator George Voinovich, the Republican from Ohio, might offer his blessing to the majority by letting his YES vote start the formal debate. You'll find once he breaks the blockade, you'll see other Republicans join in. One thing you should know, George is not running for re-election.

As for that Investigative Hearing; It was interesting that John Ensign got to ask Chairman Blankfein some pertinent questions on ethics.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Sunday, April 25, 2010


Last week, our US House of Representatives passed the "Caregivers & Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act"
(I know that's quite a mouthful)

Congressmen Hinchey, Hall and Murphy joined with the rest of the majority to insure that veterans and their families get the care and support they need and deserve.

This bill will also provide support for disabled, ill or injured vets and brings in the whole new level of health services for the 1.8 million women vets who have traditionally been overlooked.

Maurice Hinchey was quoted in a recent press release: "The brave men and women who protect our country need and deserve our support as they address the physical and mental wounds they've suffered in the line of duty. I'm proud to have voted to pass this landmark legislation, which improves health services for veterans and provides services and provides assistance to the family members who care for those who have been injured. For too long, military families have shouldered the the burden of care, and this legislation will provide the relief they desperately need."

Having served in our armed services, I asked State Senatorial candidate Larry Delarose how he felt about the actions of the Congress: "Frankly, the upgrade and the recognition of women's health services has been long overdue. The VA is now offering prenatal coverage and newborn services for our returning female service members." He added: "What our representatives have supported is nothing less than monumental."

Hinchey's release concluded: The act will also improve access to physical and mental healthcare for Vets in rural areas as well as provide resources to learn more about the tragically high suicide rate among our returning vets these days.


So, what did you do this week to celebrate Earth Day? It was the 40th anniversary of the annual event which started in 1970 by a Wisconsin Senator as a national "teach-in" on environmental issues. Look what it has become.

While it was difficult for many people to take part in group clean-ups on Thursday, some of us got to tackle some hot spots solo. Likewise, we did see plenty of communal action this past Saturday throughout the City of Kingston under the title: "Kingston Clean Sweep" and what a successful day it turned out to be.

In what looked like swarms of bees with clear garbage bags, we saw eager folks sweeping sidewalks and rooting through bushes to reveal and collect debris from the uptown stockade district to the Rondout and everywhere between. Even the forgotten parks got a little attention.

I found myself rooting for recyclables down in the rail Chunnel along Hasbrouck & Delaware Avenue. There is a plan to really attack this mess in the near future. I'll get the details out there soon.

You may wonder what source of inspiration caused this surge in Kingston Pride. I would look no further than the resurgence of some citizen's interest groups that have developed in the last few years. The Neighborhood Watch Groups, Business Groups and the Kingston Digital Corridor as well as the emergence of technical connectedness that has bonded many of the faithful together in ways we'd never experienced before.

It doesn't end here in Kingston either. For the first time since the original Earth Day began, State lawmakers in both the Senate and Assembly pushed out environmental packages on the same day to mark the event.

From limiting state emissions of greenhouse gas to the more everyday issues like banning of a dangerous chemical from baby bottles and recycling of rechargeable batteries, and requiring recycling for items such as cellphones and computers. Many of these measures may not have happened had buses full of people not journeyed to Albany and lobbied our officials to do so.

Although several state environmental programs are expected to take a financial hit this year due to the wreck of a state budget, I expect concerned citizens will find a way to help bridge the gap through action and money. I think our experience this past weekend here in our city is a good indicator of that.

Glad to have taken part in what turned out to be a terrific start in keeping Kingston clean and welcoming for 2010.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Expanding Housing Opportunities and Fair Housing is the theme this year.
I have attended several of these housing forums at the request of my friend Eric Amaral and have found them to be quite informative.

Members of the community, such as elected and appointed officials as well as numerous realtors, come away with a more focused perspective on the needs of potential homebuyers as well as learning what obstacles can be remedied through our individual expertise.

The three primary focus points will be:

  • Affordable Housing Opportunities and their benefits
  • Equal Opportunities for ALL, and their benefits
  • Fair & Affordable Financing Options (local, state, federal, and nonprofit assistance programs for buyers and renters)

This event is hosted by the Diversity & Emerging Markets Committee; a division of the Ulster County Board of Realtors.

This annual symposium/seminar is free and includes lunch for all attendees.

The event is Tuesday, April 27th from 8:30am to 3:30 pm and held at Quality Inn in Ulster, NY. (right next to the Thruway Exit 19)

AND... please remember that this SYMPOSIUM is Open to REALTORS/Real Estate Licensees/Professionals/Community but, you must Register! So, start alerting REALTORS/Real Estate Licensees/Professionals/Community.

To SIGN up: Call the board at (845) 338-5299
FOR Information:- please call: Y. Elene Schoeps @ (845) 657-8021
For: CONTINUING EDUCATION CREDIT, please have - Your DOS License

Monday, April 19, 2010


Hyperspectral Imaging 101

The forensics lab may have a new tool to use next time they are searching for a missing body. I know it sounds gruesome, but the scientists from McGill University have been testing this instrument through application for a little while now.

Hyperspectral Imaging is the new buzz word in this field and it's changing how people think about graves, soil and plant growth.

As soon as there is some decay, the whole Ph changes which alters the electromagnetic spectrum, visible and infrared light from plants and surface which is measurable from instruments above the search site. Scientists are finding graves of not only 10 and 20 year old burial sites, but of ancient ones too.

So, with a little more research, I find for the first five years a decaying body inhibits plant growth due to the toxicity of the soil. Plants that grow over such recent graves don't reflect as much light in the visible and near infrared region. This is what scientists can detect using their new fangled cameras.

After five years, however, the plants growing over buried body suddenly ref
lect about twice as much light instead of absorbing light. Although the naked eye cant tell, the hyperspectral camera is programmed to do just that. It takes about five years for a buried body to become fertilizer.

This technology is expected to help in discovering mass graves in areas where countries suffered decades of internal bloodshed and the victims were buried in unmarked mass graves. Do Bosnia and Rwanda come to mind?

Its not too wild to think that this could also help during archaeological dig sites, such as the recent Native American discovery at the future Millens Scrap Yard on Rt 32 in Ulster, NY. But whether we get to see this technology in action in our area or not, it should be available enough to give perpetrators of such heinous crimes less opportunity to hide their evidence.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I learned of a Gardening Workshop this Saturday morning through a Twitter alert Friday afternoon. I was looking forward to hearing Jesica Pascual explain what is called French Square Foot Intensive Gardening.

You see, Jesica is the volunteer manager of the City Hall Victory Garden located next to the Gallo Rose Bush on the west lawn. You can see the newly installed string bean trellis as you drive along Broadway.

This style of gardening allows us to grow the maximum amount of vegetables in the minimum amount of space. If all you have is a postage stamp piece of property, you can still enjoy the process of growing and harvesting your own veggies.

Jesica showed samples of quality mulch you could mix with your soil as well as options for mixing it and how deep. Rebecca Martin showed us a bag she acquired produced in Hudson, NY while we discovered UCRRA also has garden mulch available at their Rt 32 location.

I should also remind you that you can always create your own mulch from your grass clippings, leaves and veggie scraps right in your own back yard.

Now, what do you suggest we do with the deer, rabbits and squirrels waiting for our garden to flourish? Hmmm


Standing here is Steve Noble.
He's obviously not the "Big Belly" I refer to in the title.
For those of you driving around the City of Kingston in the last week, you'll notice the new high tech trash bins in some of our most notorious trashy locations along Broadway.

The novelty of the solar powered trash crusher is enough (we hope) to get the locals to use the collector. Steve, his wife Julie and the Recycling Coordination staff have worked a long time to acquire these compactors and I think I speak for everyone when I say Job Well Done!

I sometimes infuriate my friends and family when I make the statement that "People who step over trash are no better than the people who threw it there." Now people along Broadway may find it a curious duty to get the wrapper or cup in their hand into the compactor just to see if they are the one to trigger the crusher.

We shall see.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


It has taken a little time for the news to sink in. The President issued a memorandum Thursday evening declaring that persons hospitalized for any reason have the right of visitation by anyone of their choosing. Why does this matter?

There are institutions out there that would prohibit not only the visitation of a non-blood related partner, one who has power of attorney over their well being simply because they refuse to recognize the relationship. Example: Same Gender couples.

The rule change will make it easier for gay men and lesbians to make medical decisions on behalf of their partners. The president said the new rules would affect any hospital that participates in Medicare or Medicaid.

The AP printed this quote from Thursday's press event: “Every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindness and caring of a loved one at their sides. Gay men and lesbians are “uniquely affected” because they are often barred from visiting partners with whom they have spent decades."

I know I join a growing chorus of people who feel Obama could have made this effort shortly after he was sworn in. It may be a little late, but at least it's here. All to often, same-gender partners have been denied access to a patient's bedside when you'd expect it to make the most good. White House personnel are in the drafting stage of this change, so it wont happen this week, but I have to say the idea of equality in the hospital sounds sweet.

HRC's VP David Smith, was quoted in the New York Times: “It’s a huge deal! Nearly every hospital in the country will now be required to provide hospital visitation rights to LGBT families. It’s an enormous step. In the absence of equal marriage rights in most jurisdictions, this step provides an essential right to LGBT families for a gay person or a lesbian person to spend time with their partner in a critical situation.”

What prompted me to feature this topic was the AC360 story where Cooper interviewed the widowed partner of a patient in a Florida Hospital. Ms Langbehn was prohibited from the bedside of Ms Pond who suffered a brain aneurysm. Living together for over 20 years, she and their kids weren't allowed to see her until her death.

This would be a state faced with Crist & Rubio as potential republican candidates for Governor. One was comfortable with this prohibition, the other willing to roll back any resemblance of equality in the sunshine state. Now, neither will have the ability to stop unmarried, non-blood relations from visiting their loved ones at hospital bedside. Almost diminishes Rubio's reason for running.

Thank you Mr President.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


This is terrible. There is a group in California called the Tax Day Tea Party. The just announced that they have uninvited Orly Taitz. This cant happen! Is there anything we can do to change their minds?

The group from Pleasanton, California told the LA Times that it was getting calls from participating candidates who were concerned about being affiliated with Taitz. So let me get this clear; after a year of Obama/Hitler signs and carrying nooses at their rallies they are now upset with Ms Taitz?

Appearances from both Republican Senate hopefuls Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore are scheduled. They are vying to take on Barbara Boxer. The party organizers havent refuted her claims regarding the President's birth certificate, they just don't want her stealing the show.

The LA Times adds that candidate John Dennis, a Republican hoping to challenge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, refused to share the stage with Taitz. What Mr Dennis doesn't understand is that the people who will show up to this event want to see Orly and hear about the death panels and Maoist government theories. Isn't this what has given rise to the Tea Party?

Take this as a plea to the organizers in California; Please welcome Orly Taitz back to your event and give her the time on stage she deserves! I think it's a sad say when people like yourselves demonstrate the small-tent philosophy that so many of us have suspected. Here is your chance to show us you welcome all points of view in public.


The ratification of the County's Staff Association pay increase is finally coming to the Legislature. Not everyone is pleased about it.

Late last month, Executive Hein and the middle management union came to terms on a 13% pay raise for the rest of the year. Hein and company are looking for the Legislature to simply approve their negotiations. I'm not sure it will work out that way.

You see, The Union opted to delay increases in their pay rate during better economic times and have decided that now, in the midst of a financial crisis, that this is their moment to pounce. But there's a catch. Ulster County taxpayers cant afford another hand reaching in their pockets at a time when people are moving into cardboard huts.

Granted, this has been a long 5+ years without a raise, but my first thought is, aren't we happy to have the jobs we have? Ask someone on the unemployment line.

We know that negotiations with our union counterparts are a duty of the Executive, but wouldn't the Legislature like to be somewhat informed as the process develops? I know our Mayor Sottile has brought in a member of each party to attend several negotiations just for this purpose, you'd think Mike would follow suit.

The concept is that the employees deserve the increase and to keep up with where they should have been, had they kept step with their CSEA counterparts, they are entitled to a 13% increase starting immediately. Well members of our
caucus had some reservations as to the timing and have expressed such thoughts over the last few weeks. Grumblings actually. They may have stalled in their increases compared to those they supervise, but the disparity in pay is still significant.

Here are some points to think about:
  • First contract between Ulster County and NYSUT in 5 years.
  • Kicking off with an imaginary 0% increase for 2010
  • Includes a non-compounding salary adjustment of UCSA employees relative to their underlings.
  • The elimination of the Flex Plan. Ruled improper practice by PERB.
  • It reduces the amount of sick/vaca time buybacks from 30 days to 15.
  • Increases the Insurance contribution to 10% current and 15% future employees.
  • New Hires will have to contribute 50% toward their retirement coverage.
All said, it sounds like a worthy deal, if our coffers were solvent. But they're not. What some of us are advocating is to take this proposal and set it to activate starting January 1st of 2011 rather than during this year. The funds are depleted and the thought of raiding what's left of the fund balance reserves and contingency account at this date make the Legislature very uncomfortable.

Noted in an older edition of the Freeman: As part of the deal, the union agreed to withdraw an improper practice proceeding it had brought against the county after the county eliminated the flex plan. Bartholomew said the union claimed in its filing that because the two sides were in negotiations the county couldn’t arbitrarily eliminate that benefit.

Our retreat from the Flex Plan at this stage is pretty much an admission of wrong doing at this point. Hopefully the issue is put to rest and we can stop spending tax dollars to fight such cases. But having the whole proposal set to engage at the start of 2011 makes the most sense. This would allow the Exec and Legislature time to find the funds properly while insuring the employees that we are making things right as we head into the new year.

What troubles me most is the acknowledgement that we are starting out with a $12 million deficit heading into 2011 if we do nothing. The Legislature, Executive and our employees have to look at the longer road here. Where will we find the money?

You can expect to hear much more from all the county leadership members in weeks to come. This and future contracts will be looked at very closely. But if this resolution for ratification comes to the floor without a 2011 start date, I'm thinking NO.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Alderwoman MaryAnn Parker has been saying it for years! Take the County to task for laying the brunt of the SafetyNet costs on the City of Kingston. She has been right all along.

As it turns out, the taxpayers in the City of Kingston have been paying for the county's responsibility not only for the residents
in need of services within out borders, but pretty far outside as well. Seemingly for decades.

The papers have reported that Mayor Sottile has discovered additional payments since the issue first showed it's ugly head. But he's right to ask for every penny that's ever been drained of city taxpayers for the time the county's DSS officials were ignorant of their duties.

Would someone please tell me why I am responsible for the lodging costs of someone in Lawrence County? It's coming out of my pocket correct? I think we are all looking at our tax paperwork a little closer than ever and asking some more pertinent questions regarding what our responsibilities are.

So now it's the story of the "lists" and how the county and city comptrollers are reviewing the past payments for the program. I admit, I didn't look at the lists of clients either. What list? I never knew of such a list until this whole issue blew up last month. For that people, I apologize.

I had to laugh when I read Jimmy's quote in the Freeman:
"It appears that the city of Kingston is paying for people in Ellenville, Saugerties and Kerhonkson who are not in the ZIP code, but those addresses where they are staying appear to be permanent addresses, in my opinion. I will be following up with the county, and I will make personal site visits."

I want to ride with him to see these locations as well. He's right to say that if a person locates to another community, that person should be that community’s responsibility. It's how the county's SafetyNet system is set up. Fair is Fair...Right?

If you think I have any faith in the a
bilities of DSS Commissioner Rodriguez, you'd be mistaken. He said; "If the mayor finds anything wrong with the list of clients, the department will move to rectify the situation." Good grief, you'd have to want to do the right thing from the beginning for us to believe youre interested in making things right today. Incompetent or intentionally malicious? You decide.

And this business about enrolling in out-of-town programs but still beating Kingston's he serious? What does Roberto have over our Executive that we'd continue to ignore the fact that he really doesn't live on W O'reilly St. in Kingston? Ulster residency is a requirement for the position you know! Can't we get any qualified local help these days?

MaryAnn Parker continues to point out the unjust practices for administering the costs of the SafetyNet here in Ulster County. Long after her tenure as Alderwoman from the old Fourth Ward, her words still ring true.

Right from the paper; Sottile said the confusion could have been avoided if Ulster County — like every other county in the state — assumed full financial responsibility for the Safety Net program.

I have been discussing this with other members of the Legislature to the point that sometimes the banter gets a bit heated, but I feel I am chipping away at this issue. There have been years of prior attempts made by my colleagues that have fallen short during the budget hearings late in each fall, but the sudden interest by many influential parties this early in the year could make the issue a rallying call to make Ulster follow the procedures enacted in ALL the other 61 Counties in New York State.

Ulster County is the only one of 62 counties in the state that collects a share of the program cost from individual municipalities. The City of Kingston has hinted at the possibility of suing the county to force the case into court. The mismanagement in recent years and the imminent revelation of incompetence on the part of the DSS could be just what the City needs to gain a just verdict.

On a related note: Mayor Sottile has indicated that he would like those who are soaking up our taxdollars should be out there doing something for it. Isn't that a program instituted by President Clinton back in the 90's? Since it's expected that local unions will take issue with people doing jobs that employees would otherwise be doing had they not been laid off, lets find jobs that are outside the purview of the DPW.

Everyone knows I'd like some help cleaning the old tracks behind the Broadway branch of Rondout Savings. We could start there.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Thursday, April 08, 2010


By now, you've all heard about the Kingston Budget Proposal for 2010-11. It's the third draft from the board and, although significantly lower than the first two, it's still going to bust most of the taxpayers in the Kingston school district.

With our school taxes usually more of a burden than local and state taxes, any increased percentage has a broader impact. I know I will feel it more than my city tax increase, even if it's the same estimate. The amazing thing is just like where the City of Kingston's budget for 2010 went down $400K, the School District will only increase 2%. But the impact at home wont reflect that modest change be
cause of the drastic increase of healthcare costs.

I talked about the Library Media position on Wednesday night's show and actually reflected on the short video presentation we just had at our Programs/Education Committee in the Legislature. The positive effect the position has when bridging the students needs with today's technology in a learning setting is vital, and I'm glad the board chose to reconsider the cut.

A number of students and parents addressed the Board asking that the orchestra program be reinstated in the younger grades pointing out that that is where the potential talent is cultivated and prepared for the middle schools. With the additional $7 Million in healthcare costs hitting the school system in the last two years, the arts are usually the first to go.

Although they are cutting about 50 positions either through layoffs or through attrition, the overwhelming increases are still going to force the Board to increase the tax levy to the amount they proposed.

The positions being cut are listed in the papers. The capital expenses that are urgent are also addressed. What hasnt been discussed is the issues that callers brought to our attention, like how about a four day school week with two extra hours on the day? How about cutting the salaries at the top of the administration? How much do the teachers pay toward their benefits? If they are truly serving as teachers because of a calling to teach our children, then perhaps asking them to reconsider their portion of contribution to retain their teaching staff levels would be the approach?

Either way, this and the other increases, (one I helped to administer) will make everyone consider where they want to be in the next few years. I know I'll do my very best to help cut costs on the county level, but our friends in Albany have to reconsider how we fund New York State schools. This is getting ridiculous.

Monday, April 05, 2010


Tonight, I visited the Economic/Tourism Committee of the Legislature. I am not on the committee, but you all know how I love attending meetings.
One of the final issues addressed was [get this] a memorializing resolution! Yes...another one.

I know, they are warm and fuzzy toothless memorandums that we send to other elected bodies across the nation. We usually spend more time on them during caucus and session than the $6 million Bonds, but another one goes through committee anyway.

This one? Asking the Assembly and Senate to reject the Farm Workers Rights Bill.
This bill would amend the labor law by removing farm laborers from the list of workers excluded from coverage under the New York State Labor Relations Act.

What does this mean? Farm laborers are currently excluded from the protected categories of workers covered by the Labor Relations Act, they are not guaranteed the rights given to other workers by section 703 of the Act. These rights include “the right of self organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in concerted activities, for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection, free from interference, restraint, or coercion of employers.”

A YES vote for the resolution is to be interpreted as pro farmer. Subsequently a NO vote would be the opposite. I don't see it that way. Neither do several of the Democratic Caucus members. Maybe we should amend it to read as an endorsement of the Bill; see how many votes we get. That would be fun.

Farmers are not happy with the direction the State Legislature is heading on this one. So why bring the issue back to us by having this on the agenda?

One friend on the Committee mentioned that a portion of the workers dont want the bill either. We later agreed that the two factors that may drive that little anecdote would be pressure from the farmers who are threatening their jobs and the fact that many would have to provide documentation if this were enacted in order to be eligible for the new labor regulations.

I just shake my head and chuckle.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


I just had to post this AP story from March 24th:

Law Enforcement Leaders Announce Support

Sacramento, CA – The California Secretary of State today announced that the Initiative to Control and Tax cannabis has qualified for the November ballot. Reflecting the Initiative’s broad and diverse support, the Secretary of State revealed that vastly more than enough signatures were submitted from voters from across the state in near-record time.

The news was hailed by a number of veteran law enforcement officials across California. “As a retired Orange County Judge, I’ve been on the front lines of the drug war for three decades, and I know from experience that the current approach is simply not working,” said Retired Superior Court Judge James P. Gray. “Controlling marijuana with regulations similar to those currently in place for alcohol will put street drug dealers and organized crime out of business.”

“The Control and Tax Initiative is a welcome change for law enforcement in California,” said Kyle Kazan, a retired Torrance Police Officer. “It will allow police to get back to work fighting violent crime.”

Jeffrey Studdard, a former Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff, emphasized the significant controls created by the Control and Tax Initiative to safely and responsibly regulate cannabis. “The initiative will toughen penalties for providing marijuana to minors, ban possession at schools and prohibit public consumption,” Studdard said.

For more on the public safety benefits of the Initiative, please see

Similar to the current regulation of alcohol and tobacco, the Initiative will give local governments the ability to control and tax the sale of small amounts of cannabis to adults age 21 and older. The Initiative includes significant safeguards and controls: it will increase the penalty for providing marijuana to a minor, expressly prohibit the consumption of marijuana in public, forbid smoking marijuana while minors are present, and ban possession on school grounds.

Studies by the Board of Equalization and the Legislative Analyst Office show that the Initiative will generate billions of dollars in revenue to fund schools and public safety. Several recent polls have shown the Initiative has the support of a majority of California voters.

California’s tax regulator, the Board of Equalization, which currently collects alcohol and tobacco taxes, estimates that cannabis taxes could generate $1.4 billion in revenue each year, available to fund schools, law enforcement, and other critical needs.

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office, which provides nonpartisan fiscal and policy advice, states that in addition to generating new tax revenue, the Initiative would allow correctional and law enforcement resources to be redirected to more pressing needs. The LAO says that in addition to generating “a few hundred millions of dollars annually” it could also save “several tens of millions of dollars annually” and permit the “redirection of court and law enforcement resources.”

For more on the fiscal benefits of the Initiative, please see:

Multiple polls show that a majority of California voters support controlling and taxing cannabis. California’s widely-respected Field Poll revealed that 56% of voters support the Initiative.

Friday, April 02, 2010


I dont have to tell you what I think about the changes in Recycling collection here in the City of Kingston. This going to change the way we all store our separated waste.

Here are my seven buckets of recycling that I put out this Monday. What do you suppose my curb will look like when I place another week's worth at the same curb?

How are we to expect the citizens of this city, who already resist separating their trash, to join the noble cause of recycling when the bottles & cans will now linger in the back yard for two additional weeks?

I know the press has publicized the matter to death (after the change happened of course), but who's idea was it to make this policy change? Alderwoman Andi has already voiced her opinion on her blog, several others have been in the papers, but why did this happen in the first place? Shouldnt the Council been notified so that they could inform their constituents?

You know the nine Aldermen would have hand delivered fliers to our doors had they been alerted beforehand.