A Florida newspaper featured an article on congressional travel abroad paid for by lobbyists. The article named the top ten House recipients of congressional travel paid for by outside groups since 2000, by dollar amount. Our congressman, Maurice Hinchey, was number six with a total of $251,095.
Now I presume these trips were for the purpose of fact-finding so I would like to know having gained some newfound knowledge, how did that translate to our well being here in the Hudson Valley. Simply, did we get anything out of all of this or did the rewards go strictly to the lobbyists.
I’d like the congressman to respond to this question with a press release to our local newspapers. Or perhaps a reporter can FOIL his office to obtain the answer. Either way his constituents deserve to know.
Ronald E. Dietl
Constitution study group
Liberty starts at home with each and every one of us, and it’s vital to know and understand our founding documents in order to preserve freedom. Everyone is invited to join a Constitution Study Group Wednesday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Gardiner Town Hall. This is an information discussion, not a lecture or class, and we welcome all, including young adults. There is no cost, it’s free. This time we’ll be discussion Washington’s Farewell Address, if you’d like to read it in advance and be prepared to discuss. Call Pam at (845) 255-3557 with questions, or e-mail to GardinersRight@earthlink.net.
Support your local artist
I have been so pleased to witness the arts in the city of Kingston in a most lovely and life size way.
It was thrilling to see visual artists attaching their great works to buildings in Uptown, Kingston in anticipation of the O Positive Festival this fall. To my surprise after the weekend festivities, the artwork remained while more was added as a labor of love on a continual basis. It is the kind of thing that is so good for our community on every front.
For a visitor, it provides evidence that something exciting, forward thinking and creative is bubbling up here during an unprecedented downturn in our economy.
It’s no small thing. We all know that the arts industry attracts tourism dollars and is today’s fasted growing economic market in the country. In addition, efforts such as this can directly impact community development, promote cultural planning, stimulate business development, spur urban renewal, attract new businesses, and improve the overall quality of life in our cities and towns.
People need to keep in mind that artists are transient in nature. They can live anywhere they wish, really. So thanks to those who have chosen the City of Kingston and for helping to improve this deserving place. A special thanks must also go to the growing list of businesses and building owners who participate in this new art effort.
Keep it going, and let citizens like me know what we can do to support you.
Two more steps to save the environment
A week ago last Monday the New York State Assembly passed a temporary moratorium to wait until May 15, 2011, before issuing permits for hydraulic fracturing (also called fracking or hydrofracking where tons of water, sand and chemicals are blast under high pressure to force out the natural gas trapped deep within the shale rock). The vote was 93 to 43 with both Democrats and Republicans voting in favor of exploring the effects of this form of gas drilling on the environment and public health before proceeding. The State Senate passed the companion bill four months ago with a vote of 48 to 9.
If the governor signs it New York will be heralded as the first state to pass such legislation and take a leadership role in environmental policy. Pittsburgh was the first municipality to ban fracking in its city limits and was put on the map for this historic and courageous action.
The day before Thanksgiving, Gov. David Paterson on WAMC said “This is a very good example of public participation. Our DEC (one of the strongest in the country) originally ruled that hydrofracking would not affect the water quality in the area but we’ve received additional information and have not been able to come to a conclusion as to whether or not this is a good idea. Even with the tremendous revenues that will come in at this time — over a billion dollars a year — we’re not going to risk public safety or water quality, which will be the next emerging global problem after the energy shortage. At this point, I would say that the hydrofracking opponents have raised enough of an argument to thwart us going forward at this time.”
After the bill was passed in the Assembly the Governor became hesitant about signing, observing that the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) still has to create guidelines before permits for fracking are issued. These guidelines may not be ready by the date the moratorium ends.
I was in Albany the day of the vote. I spoke with Assembly members before they went into session and then I heard the debate. Assembly members had received an overwhelming grassroots mandate with phone calls, e-mails, letters and lobby visits. They argued and then voted for this time-out because it is safer to wait than put the environment and communities at risk.
First, please call Gov. Paterson at (518) 474-8390 and urge him to sign the moratorium by Dec. 13. This bill was passed in both houses by a large margin and reflects the public demand for action. The people have spoken and the Governor needs to follow the will of the electorate. And it is better for the environment to have this moratorium signed into law.
Second, please continue to educate family, friends and co-workers about this controversial method of drilling for natural gas in shale formations. A good web site is frackaction.com. Here is the link to a short but informative video to share. youtube.com/watch?v=nCyHS7fKmXI