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Monday, August 8, 2016

heroin/ update-- Micki, Francena, Kari, Hannah, Craig sign letter-- for Dutchess to follow example of GOP Broome County Sheriff and GOP Broome County DA!

[thx again tons to Co. Leg.'s Micki Strawinski, Francena Amparo, Hannah Black, Kari Rieser, and Craig Brendli for just now at tonight's Co. Leg. meeting agreeing to sign on to my new letter here below calling for no further delay for Dutchess County to make sure nonviolent heroin addicts get threatment instead of incarceration-- as the GOP Broome County Sheriff and GOP Broome County DA and over 100 other municipalities have agreed to do, following the lead of Gloucester/MA Police Chief Leonard Campanello-- email all 25 of us at for action on this NOW, folks(!): ] [also recently in PoJo: "Addiction Recovery Services Struggling To Meet Demand" ] [finally thx to Poughkeepsie's Carol Curcio for educating us about !] August 8, 2016 Mr. Marcus Molinaro Dutchess County Executive Dutchess County Office Building 22 Market Street Poughkeepsie, NY 12601 Dear County Executive Molinaro (Marcus): We, the various undersigned members of the Dutchess County Legislature, ask you, as part of your Healthy Dutchess campaign, to work with the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) so that Dutchess County can follow the example of many municipalities and elected officials to make sure that heroin addicts get treatment instead of incarceration (as of January there were 29 nonviolent drug addicts locked up in our county jail). Over 100 municipalities across the country are participating in PAARI- including (here in New York State) GOP Broome County Sheriff, GOP Broome County District Attorney, Cooperstown Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff, and the police departments of Cooperstown, Cobleskill, Floral Park, Gowanda, Oxford, Port Dickinson, and Salamanca-- and in 24 other states across the U.S.-- Anaheim, Augusta, Groton, Lodi, Middlebury, Orlando, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Police, Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police Association. As the Poughkeepsie Journal reported May 25th, "the number of accident drug overdose deaths in Dutchess County jumped 31 percent from 2014 to 2015. Last year, there were 59 accidental drug overdose deaths investigated by the county's medical examiner's office, 14 more than in 2014. Fatalities from opioid-related overdoses among Dutchess residents surged from three in 2003 to 22 in 2007, and increased to 37 in 2013, according to the New York State Health Department. Dutchess had the highest rate of opioid-related overdose fatalities among its residents from 2009-2013 in counties with 20 or more deaths, at a rate of 5.5 per 100,000 people. Between 2000 and 2014, the rate of emergency room visits and hospitalizations among Dutchess residents due to unintentional, non-fatal overdose from heroin "more than tripled" from 11.8 overdoses to 41.8 overdoses per 100,000 people. In Dutchess County, 256 residents died from opioids- which include painkillers- from 2003 through 2014, according to the state." PAARI was started to support local police departments as they work with opioid addicts; rather than arrest our way out of the problem of drug addiction; PAARI committed police departments to encourage opioid drug users to seek recovery, help distribute life-saving opioid blocking drugsto prevent and treat overdoses, connect addicts with treatment programs and facilities, and provide resources to other police departments and communities that want to do moreto fight the opioid addiction epidemic. PAARI was created by Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello and John Rosenthal to bridge the gap between the police department and the opioid addicts seeking recovery, a revolutionary new way to fight the war on drugs by doing something about the demand, not just the supply; under their plan, drug addicts who ask the police department for help are immediately taken to a hospital and placed in a recovery program, not arrest or jail. PAARI: "For decades, municipal police officers have been on the front lines of the war on drugs; until now, they have been solely called upon to attempt to disrupt an ever-increasing supply chain; that meant police officers often found themselves arresting drug addicts as much, if not more so, than drug dealers and traffickers, and in most cases, the addicts were only guilty of possessing an illegal, life-ruining substance"- let's change this! - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [again-- appending this one below too-- just appeared in PoJo-- obviously pertinent to this issue; see and for tax policy fixes to address this!] Addiction recovery services struggling to meet demand Sarah Taddeo, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle 6:29 p.m. EDT August 6, 2016 Getting hit in the face was all part of Laurie Polata's plan. She was desperate to get her daughter Michelle out of a seemingly endless cycle of opioid drug addiction, sex trafficking and crime. Laurie's plan was to offer Michelle money and ask her to meet in a McDonald's parking lot. Laurie had police wait nearby, hoping she could coax her daughter into doing something to warrant an arrest, land her in jail and get her off the streets. Michelle came, and punched Laurie in the head as soon as she spotted law enforcement. "My head hurt, but my heart and my soul were at peace," said Laurie Polatas. "I knew my daughter was off the streets, and that was my goal." The plan worked, eventually. But not until after an overdose, a stream of treatment options and stints in jail, dropped calls and sleepless nights - the norm for a family dealing with a loved one caught in opioid addiction that claims 78 American lives every day. In the past five years, efforts to treat the growing number of opioid drug users have kicked into overdrive, with local governments and medical agencies scrambling to mobilize resources. But they're not keeping up. Between insurance roadblocks and the high demand for inpatient treatment slots, centers that may offer the best chances for recovery are struggling to cope. Admissions to state-certified treatment programs for heroin and opioid abuse among 18- to 24-year-olds rocketed up 222 percent between 2005 and 2014 in upstate New York according to analysis by Health and Human Services. On Long Island it is up by 242 percent. "We just don't have the treatment to engage people in an urgent manner," said Patrick Seche of University of Rochester Medicine's Strong Recovery program. "If someone is at the point of saying, I don't want to do this anymore, you can't say, 'come back in a month,'" said Jennifer Faringer of DePaul's National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence-Rochester Area. Road to treatment "I'm feeling pretty sick right now," said Danielle Ayers, leaning against the elevator to her apartment. She was sweating, desperation cracking the corners of her calm expression. Ayers worked as a local bartender. She lived in a quiet corner of the city and grew up in Pittsford. She loves her Pomeranian, George, a miniature puffball of a dog who's excited to see whoever comes to the door. After years of taking opioid prescription pills after a wisdom tooth extraction, her dealer offered heroin to her five years ago, and she didn't refuse it. Three out of every four heroin users become addicted in the same way, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "I live basically in hell," she said. "It's really an awful, awful drug." But her body was reliant on the chemical she injected between 10 and 20 times a day. "I love the way it makes me feel, I love the rush of it ... I love everything about it," she said. "But when I come down is when I want to die." She has tried to get away from it - she was clean for a year and a half, from November 2014 to this past April, having gone through local treatment. And she wants to quit again now, for good. She's motivated. But she was on waiting lists at two local facilities, neither of which had room for her. She traveled to the same Buffalo facility two days in a row recently: She was turned away first because the center had no beds, and again the next day because she wasn't in a bad enough state of withdrawal to get in ahead of others. In recent weeks, Ayers went through withdrawal on her own at her father's house with help from buprenorphine, under the brand name Suboxone, a medication designed to ease withdrawal symptoms. But that is just the beginning of recovery. Users who turn to treatment centers for help often get shunted to waiting lists for weeks, and sometimes open slots go first to those mandated through drug court. Drug court allows individuals to stay out of jail and get treatment, as long as they stay clean. But when users do land in jail, they often have only minimal support and are on their own after their release. "I didn't want to stop when they wanted me to stop," said Michelle Polatas, now 23. After the first time she went to inpatient treatment, she wasn't ready to give up the drug. Polatas started injecting heroin at 18 to save her relationship with a boyfriend. She eventually ended up involved with a local trafficking ring, sleeping with strangers to get money for heroin. Until the moment one of her traffickers and dealers let her leave to meet her mom at a McDonald's on the promise of money. Michelle spent 15 months in jail after that parking lot arrest. She went through all the programs offered there for substance abuse. She's been fully clean since last September, and she and her mom give joint presentations at local schools on drug addiction. "I don't question what she did," Michelle said about the McDonald's incident. "Jail saved my life." She used to wonder why she survived and others didn't, she said, but she came to realize that part of her future purpose was to help others defeat addiction. "What I tell people is, 'just keep holding on because it does get better,'" she said. Supply, demand "Everyone's trying to expand in order to meet the demand," said Patrick Seche of Strong Recovery. The program offers medication-assisted addiction treatment via methadone, buprenorphine or Vivitrol. Strong Recovery is in the process of expanding to nearly double the number of patients it can accommodate. But wait times are still there. A recently issued state notice allows inpatient and residential centers to expand by 10 percent, but only as long as they have space and can do it without extra staff or funding. And it's only a six-month measure, with the option of applying for a permanent expansion later. Another 270 extra treatment beds and over 2,300 new treatment slots will be added through state budgeted funds in 2017, but for now, most centers are working with a constant backlog. For a user who's surviving on the drug from moment to moment, without the guarantee of a phone, transportation or a roof over their head at night, navigating the treatment process is dangerous, said Faringer. Many overdoses take place while people are looking into or waiting for treatment; Patrick Nacy of Irondequoit was one. The 32-year-old had tried a treatment facility in California to curb his heroin addiction - he walked out after a few days - and one in New York state, but that didn't take either. He had a message from his psychiatrist on his phone when he died. She had a list of treatment centers in the Rochester area for him to look through. Nacy died the night before his sister's wedding. Treatment programs vary but most inpatient programs are at least two weeks long and involve group and/or individual therapy, and may include medication. But depending on the treatment center and its licenses, a user may not even get over-the-counter medication like Ibuprofen or Imodium to aid withdrawal. A parent's nightmare Jonathan Drescher, 26, went through several treatment centers during his struggle with addiction and typically stayed for the whole process, hoping to get to full recovery. He was living with his dad in Penfield when his heroin addiction started ramping up after high school - he had stolen everything of value from both his mom's and dad's homes, scrounging together the profit from the sale of iPads and jewelry to fuel his habit. His parents agreed that he could no longer live with either of them. "You think of your child not being able to eat, and not being able to have a place to put his head at night," said Lori Drescher. Meanwhile, Jonathan was sitting in a car, cutting into his wrists with a razor blade and wondering how dying could possibly be worse than the world he lived in every day. But he was too emaciated to draw blood. So he went home, having completely lost interest in his future. But Lori wasn't willing to back down. She and a counselor spent hours calling rehab centers all over the nation in the days following the suicide attempt, trying to find one that would take Jonathan immediately. Jonathan ended up at a long-term inpatient facility in Pennsylvania, where he was eventually hired as a staff member to support other participants. He regularly traveled to Rochester to speak on recovery. But a relapse last Thanksgiving forced the center to let him go. After another relapse and recovery stint this year, he graduated a second time from that facility in July and is now living in a recovery support community in Scranton. Lori Drescher added that while Jonathan is in capable hands, the fear that he'll return to the drug someday never leaves her mind. She has become a figure in the Rochester recovery scene, promoting recovery coaching and support for users' families and helping them navigate the thorny treatment and reintegration processes with their loved ones, both during and after rehab. "If you don't have access to treatment and you don't hav

Francena Amparo agrees-- Molinaro should give Ken Ricci back that $2000 he gave Marc last year (it's blatant pay-to-play corruption)-- fwd

[thx tons to our County Legislature's Assistant Minority Leader Francena Amparo for last night agreeing to sign on to this new letter below from yours truly calling on Molinaro to do the right thing, come clean, and return the two thousand-dollar checks he received last year from Ken Ricci, Pres. of Ricci-Greene, the firm awarded contract to design new $274 million jail boondoggle-- email us all at pass it on(!): ] [again-- pls call U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara on this at (212) 637-2200...or use this link(!): ] [...and call Stephen Barry @ NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's offices: 485-3900-- (right here in Dutchess/Poughkeepsie!) ] [want more proof/evidence of Molinaro/GOP complicity in pay-to-play locally?'s all here: dutchessdemocracy.blogspot. com/2016/02/ re-molinaro-pay-to-play-preet-bharara.html] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - August 8, 2016 Mr. Marcus Molinaro Dutchess County Executive Dutchess County Office Building 22 Market Street Poughkeepsie, NY 12601 Dear County Executive Molinaro (Marcus): We, the various undersigned members of the Dutchess County Legislature, honoring the twin legacy and memory on this issue of the late great former Dutchess County Executive Lucille Pattison and former County Legislator Duane Smith, ask that you return two thousand-dollar checks given to you by Ken Ricci (President of Ricci-Greene) of Larchmont last June 3rd and October 20th (Ricci-Greene is designing huge new jail expansion). We ask because our letters on this issue to the Dutchess County Board of Ethics, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, and NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman regarding such inappropriate pay-to-play conflicts of interest have been completely ignored by all three entities- and because our proposal to end such pay-to-play with a law similar to the one passed with a Republican majority in the Orange County Legislature in 2013 have been prevented from even appearing on the agenda for a committee meeting in our County Legislature, curiously. As the Poughkeepsie Journal itself noted in its "Keep Improving Dutchess Ethics Law" May 29, 2004- "Accountability in Dutchess County government has taken a big stride forward recently-- though there's still room for improvement...more could be done to foster accountability. The Legislature could look to other counties, such as Rockland, for examples of strong laws. Dutchess could limit campaign contributions to $100 if they come from individuals or organizations that do business with the county. This would minimize any appearance that they're buying political influence. Dutchess could also put a $100 cap on 'soft money,' or even eliminate it altogether. The term refers to gifts funneled through political parties or other means to get around direct contribution limits. Laws like these can help ensure that public servants remain honest in their official dealings. Dutchess County should continue to strive for integrity in government." Recall the original Poughkeepsie Journal editorial on this issue September 16, 2000 as well-- "Ethics Law Must Cover Gift Limits-"Dutchess legislators should approve important campaign finance reform proposals still pending to the revised county ethics law passed last week. These additions, proposed by Legislator Duane Smith, D-Beekman, would demonstrate across-the-board devotion to the highest ethical standards. To start off, Smith urges a $100 limit on all gifts to all candidates for county office from any person or company that does business with Dutchess County. That would eliminate any question of politicians returning favors for big campaign donations...Besides, the lawmaker urges closing loopholes so campaign contributors doing business with the county don't appear to be buying political influence. The Beekman lawmaker based his proposals on Rockland County's ethics law, which is superior to Dutchess' recently revised measure in several ways: It clearly defines conflicts of interest, simplifies the financial disclosure process and makes it enforceable, and ensures membership on the ethics board can't be controlled by a political majority. Rockland County's own legislative counsel, Bruce Levine, a Democrat, and his GOP predecessor both determined that the Rockland measure is completely within the county's power and isn't in conflict with state law. According to the state attorney general's office, Rockland's law has never been challenged. If Rockland County has been able to pass and enforce these campaign finance reforms without legal problems, shouldn't Dutchess be able to do the same by using the same model? Dutchess lawmakers should investigate that question. They have already straightened out the mess that was the old ethics law, giving county residents clearer, stronger standards to use in judging elected officials. Making Legislator Smith's proposals part of that law would complete the job."

CCA update-- Micki, Francena, Hannah, Kari, Craig sign my letter for Dutchess to follow Westchester/Ulster example-- when will county GOP finally move on this?

[thx to Co. Leg.'s Micki Strawinski, Francena Amparo, Hannah Black, Kari Rieser, and Craig Brendli for just now at tonight's Co. Leg. meeting agreeing to sign on to my new letter here below calling for no further delay on action now to get community choice aggregation up and running here in Dutchess-- email all 25 of us at to get more of us on board: Westchester doing now(!): ; recall HVNN/Roger Connor interview with me re: CCA a year ago: ] [join "Dutchess Demands Community Choice Aggregation here on Facebook-- share(!): ] August 8, 2016 Mr. Marcus Molinaro Dutchess County Executive Dutchess County Office Building 22 Market Street Poughkeepsie, NY 12601 Dear County Executive Molinaro (Marcus): We, the various undersigned members of the Dutchess County Legislature, ask you to reach out to and work with the Dutchess County Department of Planning and Development, Dutchess County Association of Supervisors and Mayors, Citizens for Local Power in Ulster County, and Westchester Smart Power towards the goal of initiating a voluntary-opt-out, cost-saving, green-jobs, clean-air, carbon-cutting community choice program for Dutchess County similar to Westchester Smart Power & Ulster County (Citizens for Local Power). As the Poughkeepsie Journal recently reported June 27th in an Associated Press article, "some New York communities are changing the way their residents buy electricity under an initiative designed to save people money while promoting renewable and locally produced energy. New York is the seventh state to allow community choice aggregation, which lets cities, towns and villages form energy-buying groups that automatically enroll all residents and small businesses. Instead of buying electricity individually from a utility, consumers pay a fixed price for energy under a contract negotiated by the local buying group. Contract terms may require all or most of the energy to come from wind, solar, hydroelectric and other renewable sources. A contract may also specify reimbursing consumers for reducing energy use." The Poughkeepsie Journal continued: "Ulster County in southeastern New York is developing a community energy program this summer as a tool for energy democracy towards the goal of local control of energy planning and decisions about where the supply should come from. Some communities there want to create local solar projects; some want to do aggressive education about efficiency. True price stability is achieved by diversifying energy supply and relying on local sources." More from that same article- "Westchester Smart Power, which was launched as a pilot project in 2015, includes 112,000 homes in 20 communities in Westchester County, solicited bids from energy service companies to supply electricity for two utility territories in the region. ConEdison Solutions, sister company to utility Consolidated Edison, and Constellation Energy won the contracts. Each agreed to rates below last year's utility price for either 100 percent renewable energy or a mix of fossil fuels, nuclear and some renewables." The Poughkeepsie Journal continued-"Sustainable Westchester, the nonprofit community group that launched the local energy program, said consumers are expected to save $4 million to $5 million a year in a region with some of the highest energy prices in the country. Fourteen of the 20 communities opted for 100 percent renewable energy. About 7,000 customers, or 6.3 percent, opted to switch back to buying energy through the local utility. All consumers still get their bills from the utilities, which collect a separate charge for maintaining the distribution system. Electricity makes up about half the typical bill." The Poughkeepsie Journal article concluded with this very important point: "Consumers have the power to opt out and switch back to the local utility if they want to." It should also be noted that Sonoma Clean Power, the community choice aggregation program in California, sells electricity to local municipalities, businesses, and homeowners at 25% less than the local private utility (PG & E- Pacific Gas and Electric)- we need this here!

Monday, July 25, 2016

stop fracking oil barges from docking in Rhinecliff or on Dutchess shores-- Elizabeth Spinzia, Carolyn Marks Blackwood, and Steve Hutkins are right-- see make public comment now to Coast Guard this summer on this!

[just sent this letter to my 24 Co. Leg. colleagues; pls follow up!] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From: Joel Tyner ( To: Subject: Colleagues-- my constituents here in Rhinebeck/Clinton want me to ramp up efforts to stop huge/nasty/noisy/polluting/fracking oil barges from docking in Rhinecliff and/or along Dutchess shores... Date: Jul 25, 2016 4:43 PM Hi all... Please let me know if you think you may be working with me to draft a letter to the Coast Guard echoing Rhinebeck Town Supervisor Elizabeth Spinzia's concerns re: oil barges along our shores: ; . Joel 464-2245 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Rhinebeck leader decries Coast Guard plan for to use local sites along Hudson River as rest stop for tankers, tugs By William J. Kemble, POSTED: 06/30/16, 9:31 PM EDT RHINEBECK >> The town is urging the U.S. Coast Guard to conduct public hearings on plans to establish 10 anchorage locations along the Hudson River that commercial tankers and tugboats would use as rest stops. Rhinebeck Supervisor Elizabeth Spinzia said during a Town Board meeting Thursday that three of the locations would affect local views of the river that have been cultivated as tourist attractions. “These are for large commercial ships taking oil back and forth to Albany, and they are long-term mooring points,” said Spinzia, whose town borders the river. “The issue with these ships is the Coast Guard’s saying it’s a matter of public safety, but they’re commercial oil ships,” she said. “They’d be moored within our viewshed, and there are issues with light pollution and potential oil contamination.” According to the Coast Guard’s website, locations under consideration include: • The Kingston Flats South Anchorage Ground, covering about 279 acres and accommodating up to three vessels with a draft, or hull below the waterline, of less than 22 feet, for long-term use. • The Port Ewen Anchorage Ground, covering about 47 acres for one vessel with a draft of less than 30 feet for short-term use. • The Big Rock Point Anchorage Ground, immediately south of Port Ewen, covering about 208 acres and accommodating up to four vessels with a draft of less than 35 feet for long-term use. • The Roseton Anchorage Ground, covering about 305 acres and accommodating up to three vessels with a draft of less than 40 feet for long-term use. • The Milton Anchorage Ground, covering about 74 acres and accommodating up to two vessels with a draft of less than 40 feet for long-term use. • The Marlboro Anchorage Ground, covering about 154 acres and accommodating up to three vessels with a draft of less than 35 feet for long-term use. • The Newburgh Anchorage Ground, covering about 445 acres and accommodating up to five vessels with a draft of less than 32 feet toward the northern end and less than 22 feet toward the southern end for long-term use. • The Tomkins Cove Anchorage Ground, covering about 98 acres and accommodating up to three vessels with a draft of less than 40 feet for long-term use. • The Montrose Point Anchorage Ground, covering about 127 acres and accommodating up to three vessels with a draft of less than 26 feet for long-term use. • The Yonkers Extension Anchorage Ground, covering about 715 acres and accommodating up to 16 vessels with a draft of less than 35 feet for long-term use. The Coast Guard, in a notice seeking public comments, said the anchoring locations were requested by the Maritime Association of the Port of New York/New Jersey Tug and Barge Committee, the Hudson River Port Pilots Association and the American Waterways Operators. “We are considering this action after receiving requests suggesting that anchorage grounds may improve navigation safety along an extended portion of the Hudson River, which currently has no anchorage grounds, allowing for a safer and more efficient flow of vessel traffic,” the Coast Guard said. The environmental watchdog group Riverkeeper, on its website, posted a letter from the Pace University Environmental Litigation Clinic challenging the Coast Guard’s statements that no anchorage sites are available. “Although the Federal Register announcement suggests that there are currently no anchorage grounds in the stretch of the Hudson from Yonkers to Kingston, in fact there is an anchorage at Hyde Park that was designated in 1999,” wrote Karl Coplan, the clinic’s co-director. “From early 2015 through present, researchers have been imaging the bottom sediments at both the existing approved Hyde Park anchorage and the area between Port Ewen and Sturgeon Point that was used as an unauthorized anchorage until November 2015. Ongoing population surveys and historical fisheries data prove without doubt that both anchorage areas are used by significant concentrations of federally endangered Atlantic sturgeon and shortnose sturgeon.” Coplan said the proposal would create problems for communities that have been trying to promote a healthy river as economic development tool. “Kingston and Newburgh are both investing significantly in restoring their waterfronts to make them desirable places to live, work and recreate,” he wrote. “Waterfront areas throughout the Mid-Hudson region are increasingly used for tourist accommodations, event venues and year-round residences. Encouraging ships to anchor adjacent to waterfront communities is likely to create noise and light pollution that affects residents’ quality of life and detracts from municipalities’ revitalization efforts.” - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - The Coast Guard is planning to add ten locations where commercial vessels can drop anchor on the Hudson River, and three of them are right here in the Rhinecliff area. As reported in, the additional anchorages are meant to make river traffic safer and more efficient, but they may also be a source of controversy for the cities, towns, and hamlets along the Hudson. The Coast Guard will accept written comments on the proposal until September 7, but the deadline for requesting a public meeting is June 30. The instructions for contacting the Coast Guard are here: . A more detailed description is in the Federal Register, here: It's very easy to submit comments online here: The vessels that anchor in this area are often returning to Albany to pick up crude oil. A leak would have devastating effects on the environment and local economy. Even as it is, the barges at anchorage are a serious annoyance. For safety, the barges are required to maintain bright lights all night long, so they cause visual pollution, and they run generators 24-7, causing noise pollution as well. They are a constant disturbance to those who live along the river. The three locations near Rhinecliff are Kingston Flats South, Port Ewen, and Big Rock Point. That means anyone living along the River from East Kingston down to below Port Ewen, along both shores of the Hudson, are subject to the disturbance and pollution. The Kingston Flats South anchorage, which would allow for up to three vessels, is also where developers are planning to build a large housing project along the western shore. How fracking brought barges to Rhinecliff Under current regulations, commercial vessels such as barges and their attending tug are actually prohibited from anchoring in the area of the proposed anchorages. The regulations say vessels may “occasionally anchor overnight in the vicinity of Kingston . . . to await daylight hours for passing through the constricted part of the river.” But vessels are not supposed to anchor for days at a time. The barges were never a problem before, partly because of this regulation and partly because there wasn’t much need to anchor here in the first place. Vessels would anchor near Yonkers or one of the other approved anchorages on the Hudson. But space became scarce between New York and Albany as more and more oil came to be transported on the Hudson and vessels needed to find other places to wait for a place in the ports. In 2011, oil terminals in the Port of Albany (operated by Global Partners and Buckeye Partners) were approved for expansion to keep up with the increased demand. Then in 2012, big changes took place. As John Lipscomb reported in November 2013 on Riverkeeper, "In the last 12 months, a new industry has started on the Hudson River, as shipments of crude oil from the Bakken fields of North Dakota have arrived by rail in Albany, for shipment by rail and barge to refineries in New Jersey and the east coast, and by tanker as far away as New Brunswick, Canada. These shipments are something new to the river—we’ve never had this type of oil transported on the Hudson before." The New York Times also took note of how fracking was changing the Hudson in an excellent article about the fracking crude passing through Albany. "With little fanfare," wrote the Times, "this sleepy port has been quietly transformed into a major hub for oil shipments by trains from North Dakota and a key supplier to refiners on the East Coast." In 2014, trains were arriving twice a day from North Dakota. The oil is then transferred into giant storage tanks before being loaded onto barges that make daily trips to refineries down the Hudson. With the increased river traffic, the approved anchorages became insufficient, and barges began anchoring off Rhinecliff, not just overnight, but for several days at a time, waiting for a spot to dock in the Port of Albany. From late 2012 through the spring of 2015, the barges were a constant presence on the river in the Rhinecliff vicinity. A barge would anchor for three or four days, often longer, waiting for a position at the Port of Albany. As soon as one barge departed, another would take its place. Sometimes there were two or three barges anchored around Rhinecliff all at the same time. Then last year, the drop in oil prices slowed down the rail shipments to Albany and the river traffic down to New York. The anchorage problem finally came to an end last summer after complaints from Rhinecliff got the Coast Guard to enforce the prohibition against barges anchoring here for more than an overnight stay. If the Coast Guard goes through with its plans to create anchorage locations off Rhinecliff, we will once again see large commercial vessels sitting in the middle of the river, day after day. Anchoring day after day Just to give an example illustrating how constant the barge traffic can be, consider this example. Using the website Marine Traffic, one can track the location of all the vessels on the Hudson (and anywhere else for that matter). On December 18, 2014, the tugboat Reinauer Twins arrived from the south and set anchor off of Rhinecliff. It remained there until December 27. On December 22, the Bruce McAlister also set anchor nearby, and remained there until December 29. On Christmas Day, a third tug, the Dean Reinhauer, joined the others, and remained there until December 28. Over Christmas, three vessels were anchored off of Rhinecliff. The risks of a spill “The Hudson River has long been part of shipping routes for other petroleum products, like heating fuel and gasoline,” writes the Riverkeeper in an excellent report about crude oil transport and all its dangers. But it wasn’t until late 2011 that crude oil began being transported on the Hudson. The crude “poses a new risk due to its characteristics as a pollutant and the massive volume being transported,” writes Riverkeeper. “A spill of crude oil in the Hudson River could devastate the ecosystem, put people’s health at risk and harm the regional economy, setting back decades of effort and billions of dollars invested to restore the river’s ecosystem." It's not an unfounded fear. Back in December 2012, an oil tanker named the Stena Primorsk ran aground about 6 miles from the Port of Albany. The ship was carrying 12 million gallons of crude oil—about the same amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez. The ship’s outer hull was breached, but a second hull prevented a spill that would have devastated the area around Schodack Island, a prime shad and herring spawning habitat, and an irreplaceable state-designated habit noted for the abundance of waterfowl. The possibility of a spill is also disturbing for our area because Rhinecliff and Rhinebeck, as well as many other communities along the river, get their drinking water from the Hudson, right where the vessels anchor. ​ Request for comments In order to change the federal regulations governing anchorages, the Coast Guard must go through what’s called a rulemaking process. As part of the process, it must also seek public comment. The announcement for the rulemaking says that the Coast Guard received requests for establishing new anchorages from the Maritime Association of the Port of NY/NJ Tug and Barge Committee, the Hudson River Port Pilot's Association, and the American Waterways Operators. (It’s possible that these associations have been lobbied by the companies that own the vessels.) "The public is encouraged to participate in this rule-making process," Commander Ellis Moose, chief of prevention in the New York sector, said in a statement. "We are in the preliminary, exploratory phase of this process. We understand this proposed rule-making expands beyond the maritime community and welcome feedback from local stakeholders working and living around the Hudson River." Requests for public meetings must be received by the Coast Guard by June 30. Written comments are due on September 7, 2016. When contacting the Coast Guard, cite docket number USCG-2016-0132. You can submit comments online using the Federal eRulemaking Portal at or go directly to this page.. For further information, call or email Mr. Craig Lapiejko, Waterways Management Branch at Coast Guard First District, telephone 617-223-8351, email - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Coast Guard plan: More barges anchored on Hudson Matt Spillane, 6:21 p.m. EDT June 20, 2016 Ten sites are being considered by the Coast Guard between Yonkers and Kingston. The Coast Guard is floating the idea of adding more places for commercial vessels to drop anchor on the Hudson River. 10 locations between Yonkers and Kingston have been chosen as potential anchorages, including sites at Tomkins Cove and Montrose. The Coast Guard is asking for public feedback on the plan, which officials said is meant to make river traffic safer and more efficient. ON THE WATER: 'Ghost ship' floats in Mamaroneck Harbor MORE HUDSON: Fishermen in kayak club say craft offers stealth Commercial vessels such as barges and their attending tug, tow or push boats would be expected to use the anchor sites. Coast Guard officials say that would accommodate a variety of vessels and configurations and would not interfere with areas of the river where boats have historically plied the waters. The Yonkers site would be the largest new anchorage, accommodating up to 16 vessels in an area spanning about 715 acres. The site would stretch from the Glenwood train station in Yonkers to the Dobbs Ferry train station. The Montrose anchorage would cover about 127 acres and accommodate up to three vessels just south of Montrose Point. North of there, an anchorage would cover about 98 acres for up to three vessels between Tompkins Cove and Verplanck. The approximate water depths of the proposed sites range from 21 feet to 65 feet. Requests for public meetings must be submitted to the Coast Guard by June 30. Comments must be sent to the agency by Sept. 7. "The public is encouraged to participate in this rule-making process," Commander Ellis Moose, chief of prevention in the New York sector, said in a statement. "We are in the preliminary, exploratory phase of this process. We understand this proposed rule-making expands beyond the maritime community and welcome feedback from local stakeholders working and living around the Hudson River." The Coast Guard said the idea was posed by the Maritime Association of the Port of NY/NJ Tug and Barge Committee, the Hudson River Port Pilot's Association, and the American Waterways Operators. In the last two decades, Yonkers has become an increasingly popular spot for vessels to drop anchor at a federal anchorage that runs from the city to the George Washington Bridge. Yonkers became busier in the past decade as higher petroleum prices and scarcer space in New York Harbor pushed vessels up the river and led them to stay longer. Visit for more information on the proposal and how to submit comments on the plan. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Twitter: @MattSpillane

Monday, July 11, 2016

re: Dutchess Truth/Reconciliation Commission-- Francena Amparo & Kari Rieser agree-- our county needs one!

[thx tons to Co. Leg.'s Francena Amparo and Kari Rieser for just now agreeing to sign on to my new letter here below I circulated at this evening's full board meeting of our County Legislature-- calling for a real/actual/full Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Dutchess County along the lines of successful ones that have already been launched in Greensboro/NC, Maine, Canada, South Africa, and dozens of other places across the planet for decades now-- email all 25 of us at to help build support(!)...almost the entire letter here below is taken from Fania Davis' piece published online at Yes magazine's website several days ago (and-- recall as well folks-- Westchester County's Human Rights Commission (under leadership of GOP County Exec Rob Astorino) actually has subpoena power (why not ours?):] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - July 11, 2016 Mr. Marcus Molinaro Dutchess County Executive Dutchess County Office Building 22 Market Street Poughkeepsie, NY 12601 Dear County Executive Molinaro (Marcus): We, the various undersigned members of the Dutchess County Legislature, ask you to work with our county's Human Rights Commission and us to organize a new Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Dutchess County and a series of monthly public hearings to encourage and empower local residents to speak their truth directly to law enforcement and powerful officials in our county's criminal justice system and to facilitate circles of listening for all involved. Enough is enough-- for far too many decades there has been far too much racial discrimination in our local law enforcement, jail, and prisons here in Dutchess County (it's not just Samuel Harrell's killers still working without being charged for his murder at Fishkill Correctional Facility last year; it's systemic). It's time for this to end-- it's time for an open and public process of truth, reconciliation, and healing to begin to heal our local communities and bring us together in justice. Noted and well-respected civil rights attorney Michael Sussman has indicated a willingness to work with us here in Dutchess County to make this process happen. As Fania Davis noted recently in Yes magazine— “There are precedents for this approach: Some 40 Truth and Reconciliation Commissions have been launched worldwide to transform historical and mass social harms such as those we are facing. Their experiences could help light a way forward. The best-known example is the 1994 South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was charged with exposing and remedying apartheid's human rights abuses. Under the guidance of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission elevated apartheid victims' voices, allowing the nation to hear their stories. Perpetrators had a means to engage in public truth-telling about and take responsibility for the atrocities they committed. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission facilitated encounters between harmed and responsible parties, decided amnesty petitions, and ordered reparations, and it recommended official apologies, memorials, and institutional reform to prevent recurrence. There are North American examples as well, including the 2004 Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission in North Carolina, the first in the United States. This effort focused on the "Greensboro massacre" of anti-racist activists by the Ku Klux Klan in 1979. In 2012, Maine's governor and indigenous tribal chiefs established a truth commission to address the harms resulting from the forced assimilation of Native children by Maine's child welfare system. It is still in operation. And Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, also still functioning, addresses legacies of Indian residential schools that forcibly removed Aboriginal children from their homes, punished them for honoring their language and traditions, and subjected them to physical and sexual abuse.” Channeling more from Fania Davis-- a Truth and Reconciliation process for us here in Dutchess County based on restorative justice principles could not only help address the epidemic of racial discrinination in our county's and country's criminal justice system but also allow us as a nation to take a first "step on the road to reconciliation," to borrow a phrase from the South African experience. A restorative justice model means that youth, families, and communities directly affected by the killings-along with allies-would partner with the federal government to establish a commission. Imagine a commission that serves as a facilitator, community organizer, or Council of Elders to catalyze, guide, and support participatory, inclusive, and community-based processes. We know from experience that a quasi-legal body of high-level experts who hold hearings, examine the evidence, and prepare findings and recommendations telling us as a nation what we need to do won't work. We've had plenty of those. To move toward a reconciled Dutchess County, New York State, and America, we must make sure that we ourselves do the work ourselves, working along side by side with grass-roots community activists and leaders. Reconciliation is an ongoing and collective process. We must roll up our sleeves and do the messy, challenging, but hopeful work of creating transformed relationships and structures leading us into new futures. Unfolding in hubs across Dutchess County, a Truth and Reconciliation process could create safe public spaces for youth, families, neighbors, witnesses, and other survivors to share their stories. Though this will happen in hubs, the truths learned and the knowledge gained would be broadly shared. Importantly, the process would also create skillfully facilitated dialogue where responsible parties engage in public truth-telling and take responsibility for wrongdoing. Black youth in the U.S. are fatally shot by police at 21 times the rate of white youth. Children of color are pushed through pipelines to prison instead of being put on pathways to opportunity. Some make it through this soul-crushing gauntlet against all odds. But too many do not. Defining how long- and far-reaching a process like this would be is difficult because, sadly, the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson is only one instance in a long and cyclical history of countless unhealed racial traumas that reaches all the way back to the birth of this nation. Changing form but not essence over four centuries, this history has morphed from slavery to the Black Codes, peonage and lynching, from Jim Crow to convict leasing, to mass incarceration and deadly police practices. This is urgent. Continued failure to deal with our country's race-based historical traumas dooms us to perpetually re-enact them. Bearing in mind its expansive historical context, the Truth and Reconciliation process would set us on a collective search for shared truths about the nature, extent, causes, and consequences of racial discrimination locally for the last two decades. Through the process, those truths will be told, understood, and made known far and wide. Its task would also include facing and beginning to heal the massive historical harms that threaten us all as a nation but take the lives of black and brown children especially. We would utilize the latest insights and methodologies from the field of trauma healing. The process will create public spaces where we face together the epidemic of killings and its root causes, identify the needs and responsibilities of those affected, and also figure out what to do as a nation to heal harms and restore relationships and institutions to forge a new future. Like South Africa's and others, a Dutchess County Truth and Reconciliation process could draw on the principles of restorative justice. Rooted in indigenous teachings, for some 40 years the international restorative justice movement has been creating safe spaces for encounters between persons harmed and persons responsible for harm, including their families and communities. These encounters encourage participants to get to truth, address needs, responsibilities, and root causes, make amends, and forge different futures through restored relationships based upon mutual respect and recognition. Restorative justice is founded on a worldview that affirms our participation in a vast web of interrelatedness. It sees crimes as acts that rupture the web, damaging the relationship not only between the individuals directly involved but also vibrating out to injure relationships with families and communities. The purpose of restorative justice is to repair the harm caused to the whole of the web, restoring relationships to move into a brighter future. Applied to schools, communities, the justice system, and to redress mass social harm and create new futures, restorative justice is increasingly being recognized internationally. In Oakland, California, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth's school-based programs are eliminating violence, reducing racial disparity in discipline, slashing suspension rates, dramatically boosting academic outcomes, and creating pathways to opportunity instead of pipelines to incarceration. These outcomes are documented in a 2010 study by UC Berkeley Law School and a soon-to-be-released report by the school district. Oakland's Restorative Justice youth diversion pilot is interrupting racialized mass incarceration strategies and reducing recidivism rates to 15 percent. Police and probation officers are being trained in restorative justice principles and practices. Youth and police are sitting together in healing circles, and creating new relationships based on increased trust and a mutual recognition of one another's humanity. It's impossible to predict whether similar outcomes would emerge from a Truth and Reconciliation process in Ferguson-and the United States. But it's our best chance. And, if history is any guide, it could result in restitution to those harmed, memorials to the fallen, including films, statues, museums, street renamings, public art, or theatrical re-enactments. It might also engender calls to use restorative and other practices to stop violence and interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline and mass incarceration strategies. New curricula could emerge that teach both about historic injustices and movements resisting those injustices. Teach-ins, police trainings, restorative policing practices, and police review commissions are also among the universe of possibilities. In the face of the immense terrain to be covered on the journey toward a more reconciled America, no single process will be enough. However, a Dutchess County Truth and Reconciliation process could be a first step towards reconciliation. It could put us on the path of a new future based on more equitable structures and with relationships founded on mutual recognition and respect. It could also serve as a prototype to guide future truth and reconciliation efforts addressing related epidemics such as domestic violence, poverty, the school-to-prison pipeline, and mass incarceration. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Dutchess County could light the way into a new more peaceful future for us all.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Gabriel Hammoud's right-- broadband for all-- and safety for all, free from gun madness (2016 Rhinebeck High School Co. Leg. District #11 Essay Contest winner!)

Hi all... Congrads to Gabriel Hammoud, 2016 Rhinebeck High School graduate extraordinaire, for his amazing essay just below-- Gabriel wrote the winning essay for my 13th annual Dutchess County Legislature Essay Contest (first entrant w/footnotes too no less)! Gabriel reminds us all of the need now, more than ever to really and truly come together to end senseless gun violence/insanity once and for all-- and for high-quality broadband for all... [scroll down just a bit for Gabriel's essay; he got $100 for savings bond, certificate from the Dutchess County Legislature, & opportunity to share his essay on Sat. a.m. : WHVW] [recall-- Zephyr Teachout on point-- re: need for high-quality, cheap broadband for all: ] [yes ugh folks "concealed carry" of guns is legal here in Dutchess and across NYS: ; did SAFE Act go far enough?] [open question for Gabriel, all of us-- what of health/safety concerns re: Wifi?...quite a few schools all over the planet have literally banned wifi over health concerns: ] [of course CWA right on all this-- need to get Verizon to take NY $-- for broadband for all: ] [perhaps Institute for Local Self-Reliance can guide us locally on this-- see ; ; back in 2009 I brought ILSR Pres. Neil Seldman to speak many times here in Dutchess County before activists and leaders re: moving local region towards zero waste; time for broadband!] Pass it on... Joel 845-464-2245/876-2488 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - "What I would do if I were a County Legislator for Rhinebeck and Clinton?" by Gabriel Hammoud That's an interesting question. It is much too broad to answer in a single essay; however, I can begin by discussing three topics that are important and dear to me. The most important issue that can be addressed by any legislative body, especially following a tragedy like the one that occurred in Orlando, Florida only a few weeks ago, is gun control. It is imperative that national, state, and local governments are able to work together to stop dangerous, unstable people from acquiring firearms and all people from acquiring military grade assault weapons. That is why I would propose an omnibus gun control bill that would a) classify an assault weapon, or any weapon that could be reasonably interpreted to be an assault weapon, more broadly, as any semi-automatic rifle b) ban the sale and ownership of assault weapons in Dutchess County (punishable by fines not to exceed $50,000 and a five year jail sentence) c) ban the concealed carry of weapons in the county by those who are not state/federal officials d) increase county funding for gun safety programs and mental health care. This type of legislation is needed throughout the whole country. However, as Peruta v. County of San Diego demonstrates, it is possible, constitutional, and important to enact gun control on a local level. This would hopefully lead to a decrease in violent crime in the county and would help to prevent mass shootings and acts of domestic terrorism in our region. Some secondary issues I would focus on would be the availability of cable and internet in Dutchess County. My goal would be to treat internet providers, or ISPs, as utilities and thereby begin the process of providing public municipal internet in a similar fashion to how we currently provide municipal water and sewage. Ideally, through incentives to cable companies and public projects, the county would have 99% household broadband coverage by 2020, and would work with fiber optic providers and municipalities to provide fiber optic coverage to 90% of citizens by 2025. These numbers are certainly difficult to achieve. Yet since the FCC's declaration that internet is not a privilege but a right, it is important for this county to take action that would allow that right to be enjoyed by all. This project would enable underserved areas and lower income households to have access to the internet at a faster speed and more affordable rate, which is especially important given how much all facets of modern society rely on web access to distribute information and provide services. In sequence with that initiative, I would work to provide public Wi-Fi that blanketed the town and city centers of the region. This would allow people to be less dependent on their wireless in locations where cell service might not be available. In summation, I would work as a county legislator to enact tougher gun control, improve internet access, and establish public Wi-Fi networks. All of these proposals would help the county and its residents. 1. "A February 2013 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report to Congress said that the "Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 was unsuccessfully challenged as violating several constitutional provisions." 2. The report said that challenges to three constitutional provisions were easily dismissed." (Wikipedia). See Peruta v. County of San Diego (United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit)] 3. FCC's "Net Neutrality" as held constitutional by United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit 4. As defined by the FCC (25Mbps down by 3Mbps up with plans to move to 100Mbps down by 10Mbps up in the future). - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [recall my Co. Leg. resolution here below originally submitted by yours truly to our Co. Leg. offices May 16th, co-sponsored by just about everyone in our Co. Leg. Dem caucus-- but not even allowed to appear on agenda for even a committee meeting-- again-- letters to editor needed to local newspapers on this, folks-- weeks ago I shared all this with local media-- they've more than made up their minds to not cover this-- pls also feel free to email all 25 of us on this-- at!] FOR PUBLIC HEARING ON LACK OF HIGH-QUALITY, HIGH-SPEED, AFFORDABLE BROADBAND THROUGHOUT DUTCHESS COUNTY WHEREAS, as the Communications Workers of America, Assemblymember Didi Barrett, Clinton Town Boardmember Mike Appolonia, Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout, and many others have noted, there are far too many areas of Dutchess County lacking in affordable, high-speed, quality broadband, and WHEREAS, without 21st century telecommunications throughout Dutchess County we simply won't attract new businesses, entrepreneurs or young families to put down roots here; there are thousands of unserved residents and many more underserved locally in Dutchess County, and WHEREAS, for Dutchess County to grow smartly, attract young people and vibrant businesses and develop a true 21st century economy, access to fast and reliable Internet and cell phone service is essential; we are already lagging behind the rest of the state and cannot afford to fall further into the technology gap, and WHEREAS, the Columbia County Board of Supervisors last year commissioned ECC Technologies to do a study of the county's broadband in spring 2015; in a public meeting ECC representatives said the county is falling behind globally, with broadband coverage fragmented, competition and diversity of providers limited, the western side of the county best-served, the central and eastern sides falling below the FCC's definition of broadband and the rural areas lacking broadband overall; Dutchess County is similar in many ways to this assessment, and WHEREAS, last year Governor Cuomo committed $500 million to the New NY Broadband Program with the goal of "providing access to high speed Internet to every New Yorker in every corner of this state," and therefore be it RESOLVED, that the Dutchess County Legislature will hold a Public Hearing on the Lack of Quality, High-Speed, Affordable Broadband in Dutchess County Monday, July 11th at 7 pm in the Chambers of the Dutchess County Legislature on the sixth floor of the Dutchess County Office Building at 22 Market Street in Poughkeepsie. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Recall Casey Heady's awesome winning essay from last year here: "If I had the chance to be a county legislator and was able to influence and make a difference in my own community I would start with the things that are close to my heart. I would want to make it easier for high school graduates to get an affordable education with free community college. I would also want to make sure that there is always funding for programs that can help children through difficult situations in their early lives. These things are especially important to me because of the stage of life that I am now in. These things are personal and would affect me directly. This past year has been a particularly difficult one for me and my whole family. Starting with my Dad's Alzheimer's diagnoses leading to the loss of his job. The year seemed to slip through my fingers so quickly without a real plan for my continuing education. With money getting tighter and tighter it was an easy decision to go to Dutchess community college for a cheap start to my college years. Yet it is still hard to find the money to attend a community college when you can't even seem to find the money for a new shirt. There are many Rhinebeck high school seniors who would never even consider going to Dutchess but for the ones like me who are not in a crazy rush to leave Rhinebeck or may not be able to afford another school, free community college would be a huge weight lifted off their shoulders. There are many graduating kids in the county who will not be attending any college next fall, and I think if there was a way to offer free education to them this would change. Education is so important and I strongly believe that money should never be an obstacle if you are hardworking and willing to learn. We do have a great opportunity that allows the top ten percent of each Rhinebeck high graduating class to attend Dutchess Community College for free but in such a competitive school for grades like Rhinebeck it is extremely hard to secure a top ten percent ranking. Also most kids in the top ten percent don't have much of an interest in attending DCC. Free community college would allow everyone to have a good start out of high school and encourage them to do bigger and better things with their lives. In 2006 when I was diagnosed with leukemia I spent a lot of time in hospitals. I was in and out and sometimes for prolonged periods of time. This brings me to another topic that I am passionate about. I wouldn't have been able to have such a positive attitude if it weren't for, of course, my friends and family but also programs like mill street loft. I remember them coming to Vassar hospital every Tuesday, it would be something I could look forward to. Something to keep me going, and when the day arrived it kept me occupied and distracted from the side effects of the chemo I was receiving. But it was much more to me than just a chance to do arts and crafts for the day. It was an opportunity to leave my room and talk to the other kids who were in similar situations. It was very therapeutic, and the volunteers running the program were always so friendly and interactive. I felt that I could really open up to them and they would listen no matter what even if they had no idea what to say, just having someone listen sometimes was good enough. Funding for small programs like this may not seem so important with all the other craziness going on in the world but looking through the eyes of an eight year old it meant everything to me. I would make sure that programs similar to this one would keep going. I'm sure that most people wouldn't realize how important something so small can be. But I know that both the kids and the mentors benefited from this program. There are so many issues that hit home for me that it would be difficult to decide where to start. But I believe that it is important to fix or continue things that you have a personal connection to." - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [here below-- more winning essays from 2010 and before] From Kayla Arsenault... "Growing up in Rhinebeck I've come to notice the Fairgrounds rarely used. Using the Fairgrounds for events such as concerts that our local Hudson Valley bands could play at, a local drive-in movie theatre, family potluck days, and various competitions would be an effective use of the Fairgrounds space. The local bands would gather the surrounding towns creating a stronger community. Many people from around this area would come spread or get inspiration from this event. Local businesses will benefit greatly from this because many people will stop and eat or shop at Rhinebeck's local businesses. Also another plus would be that teens would get into less trouble because they would be attending these events instead of having free time to do whatever they please. To make families closer it would be great to have family field days. May through August would be acceptable months to have this because it would be after the car shows but before the fair. Things such as cook-offs, go-cart racing, and bull-riding would be fun and exciting for people to attend. For these events we could invite local business vendors to serve, display, or market their business' food. By gathering the residents of the community it would truly strengthen our neighborhood. Another way to use that space would be to have a drive-in movie theatre. This would give a place for kids to go at night and is also closer than the Hyde Park drive-ins. Some ideas for this would be classic movie night for the seniors and late-night movies for teens and adults. I'm hoping that you will take these ideas into consideration considering the fast growth in crime in Rhinebeck. Involving kids, teens, and adults back into the community is the main purpose of these ideas-- so if you make any of my ideas reality, I'm positive that a lot of things will change around Rhinebeck." - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From Alex Landa... "Rhinebeck, New York- a rather beautiful town, with an old-fashioned comfort that's rare these days. It's become a famous place to raise the young, and for the elderly to enjoy their wisdom years. Where does the middle stand, the teens, the young adults, and the working family? To be honest, many teens and even adults find it difficult to have a good time in town. This is a fairly stale area in all honesty, which has many people, teens and even adults resort to doing hard drugs and drinking their time away. I've lost friends due to this circumstance, and the idea of an internet café could spark some creativity through artistic means, as opposed to resorting to artificial means. This town lacks the creative side, as it's focused on entertaining the elderly and wasting too much time making artificial beauty to bring in naïve spenders from large cities, primarily New York City. Although the town has its fair share of narrow-minded people, who take natural beauty for granted, there are still the ones who need a spot to be with other artistic people, sharing their works, and having a mentally safe environment. I propose to make an internet café, of which is fairly self explanatory; a café with Wi-Fi connection, but with more. I also propose to include two separate venues to the side, one being an art gallery of which could be updated periodically. The second venue would be used for different occasions each week, one week it could be an open mike night, a battle of the bands, poetry slam, karaoke, plays be performed, and even setting up a projector and have a film festival. Not only could this generally bring a lot of amusement to Rhinebeck, it could greatly improve the economy. It would create new jobs; have builders create the new building, people running the café, setting up internet, creating the events, and so on. It would bring more people to Rhinebeck, as this idea doesn't seem too common in Dutchess County, so it could potentially have people bring their disposable income, which could go to the school, and fixing up some less that adequate roads and sidewalks throughout Rhinebeck. It could easily relieve parental worries; I'm sure they'd rather have their child come home fatigued from creative stimuli rather than narcotic stimuli. Rhinebeck, New York- beauty, relaxation, calmness, and low crime rate. Rhinebeck, New York- stale, drug filled, and not the best place for the middle range. This town needs spice, the cinnamon on top of a well-made cappuccino. Helping the economy, destroying boredom, potentially lowering the drug problem, and bring some more creative elements, I see, might not be a bad thing. My purpose for said proposal is to improve a town of which seems to dearly need improving. Lest we not forget, in today's day and age, living in a whirlwind of social demons, even this small addition to Rhinebeck could serve as a sanctuary to young, elderly, and middle range alike." - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From Forrest Hackenbrock... "If I were county Legislator I would focus on a few things. First I would attempt to survey the youth in the area, maybe by going to elementary high schools and asking various groups to fill out questionnaires. In the survey there should be questions about what kids would like to see more of in our area. I feel that in the town of Rhinebeck and Clinton, there is a lack of recreational resources for kids. The mini park is mainly for toddlers and younger kids. The rec park and Crystal Lake are the only other area in town that kids can play sports or hang out. These facilities are in good condition and provide recreation but there could be more. There is a quite large skateboarding community that is oppressed by a lack of skate spots. If there was even a small skate park, at the rec park or somewhere near by town, I think a lot more kids would be active and interested in such activities. I believe kids in our community would also benefit from a community center where they could just hang out, play pool, etc. If there were to be a stage where bands could perform I know it would flourish. I know this is easier said than done but with the right sponsors and support it is a possibility. Another thing I would concern myself with is environmental issues. I feel that many people in Rhinebeck and Clinton are involved with the green movement while others may not be. There should be public service announcements telling quick tips or facts on how to reduce our destruction of the environment. These could be billboards, or small signs around town, or commercials on the radio or TV. Our community must be aware of our carbon emissions levels and take a stricter approach on littering. The town of Rhinebeck obviously caters to tourists, especially from New York City. I enjoy our town and find it very unique and interesting. I like how the only corporation is CVS. Corporate involvement should be kept to a minimum in our town. As I walk through town I notice all the new establishments are upscale, and do not represent locals' needs. There should be more stores with practical items and prices, along with restaurants. I moved here in 2000, and did not like it very much. However, as I grew up, Rhinebeck grew on me, and I am now very happy and privileged to be living here. I think we are living on a high standard and should maintain that. The suggestions I made are the only improvements I can think of, because Rhinebeck is a very well established town. As long as the town can communicate with the community, the harmony that exists will continue to live on." - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From Scott McDonald... "In a town like Rhinebeck where poverty and crime are almost nonexistent, other subjects come to mind when I consider what could be changed to better our community. Our community as well as our country as a whole misuses resources, create ridiculous amounts of waste, and operate in an inefficient manner. I feel it is appropriate and necessary for me to use Rhinebeck High School, the institution with which I am most familiar under our local government, to demonstrate these observations as well as provide alternative modes of action. Everyday Rhinebeck High School deposits hundreds of sets of styrofoam trays and plastic silverware in the trash. To me, this waste is inexcusable. It would not only be cost efficient, but it would relieve a huge environmental burden if our school would just decide to buy real plates with real silverware and wash and reuse them each day. Also, Rhinebeck High School continues to feed the kids processed, canned garbage from some large food processing company located in the middle of nowhere when they could be providing healthy produce and supporting local agriculture at the same time. The school could also set aside a piece of land for growing fresh fruits and vegetables and use it as an opportunity to teach kids agriculture and nutrition as well as provide community service opportunities. The school district also tends to use artificial light instead of natural sunlight by keeping the window shades closed and turning the lights on, frequently to keep kids from being distracted by the outside world. This is wasteful in terms of electricity and energy, not to mention artificial light has been shown to be less stimulating to students in a learning environment. For the times when artificial light is necessary, the school should have full spectrum light bulbs installed as it is proven to be more likely to keep students alert, healthier for the body chemically, and cost effective in the long run. If I were county legislator for Rhinebeck and Clinton, I would try to impact the school system for several reasons. Not only is the system run poorly, but if done correctly, instilling values of conservation and local agriculture in the youth now would go on to prove very beneficial to both our town and the world in the future."

Monday, June 13, 2016

new CCA letter signed by 6 Dutchess Co. Leg. Dems-- time for our county to save $$$ on electric bills, create new green jobs, clean local air quality, cut carbon emissions!

[thx to the following Dems in our County Legislature for signing on to this new CCA letter just circulated by yours truly at tonight's Co. Leg. meeting-- Micki Strawinski, Francena Amparo, Kari Rieser, Hannah Black, and Craig Brendli-- email,,; see,, for more!...J] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Mr. Marcus Molinaro Dutchess County Executive Dutchess County Office Building 22 Market Street Poughkeepsie, NY 12601 Dear County Executive Molinaro (Marcus): Over a year ago, in April 2015, Citizens for Local Power submitted a formal application to NYSPSC for a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program for Ulster County, with the the support of the County Executive there and many local officials of both major political parties across Ulster County. Given that at the end of May, Dutchess County was issued four Air Quality Action Alerts by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and NYS Department of Health, there are over 30,000 Dutchess County residents with asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema, and Community Choice Aggregation is now saving 25 percent on electric bills for municipalities, businesses, and homeowners in Sonoma County compared to PG & E electric rates, we, the various undersigned members of the Dutchess County Legislature request that our county’s Department of Planning and Development work with Citizens for Local Power and the NYS Public Service Commission to develop an application to the NYSPSC for Community Choice Aggregation for Dutchess County— to save money on electric bills here. Through CCA, communities can purchase and develop renewable, low-emission energy, and offer locally tailored programs and attractive financial tools that support increased local ownership of rooftop solar, energy efficiency, demand reponse, and other renewable technologies. CCA programs enable the transition to a cleaner, more reliable, and resilient energy system, without gas, oil, or nuclear energy. With CCA, profits stay local and encourage economic development, investing in new and existing local independent businesses and creating jobs. Clean energy careers are fulfilling, financially rewarding, and can sustain families, building stronger and more prosperous communities. CCA enables communities to secure competitive rates by leveraging their customers in contracts with retail or wholesale energy providers, energy efficiency installers, and renewable energy developers. Purchasing local renewables leaves customers less vulnerable to wildly fluctuating fossil fuel markets, and reducing overall system-wide costs keeps customers’ bills down. CCA programs focus on community benefits and are directed by municipal governments. This ensures accountability, transparency, and opportunities for public participation. Investor-owned utilities, though regulated, are primarily accountable to shareholders and operate to maximize a profit. Within a CCA area, customers always have the choice to opt out and buy their power directly from the local utility or other provider. In summary, CCA offers a group of towns and cities, counties, an individual city, or any combination — a viable path to a locally-based, clean energy model, encouraging local investment in energy resource development that creates local jobs, reducing greenhouse gases, securing more stable electricity rates, and providing the impetus to modernize the electricity grid to support a sustainable and resilient decentralized energy system—a win-win-win-win that Dutchess County would do well to follow Ulster on.