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September 02, 2014
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Weighing risks

Two towns in New York State, Dryden and Middlefield, have now been sued on account of zoning ordinances prohibiting natural gas drilling. That such suits would be filed has long been expected, but the timing raises tricky questions for towns like Tusten and Lumberland that are heading toward the home stretch of their draft zoning rewrites, with votes scheduled for later this year.  Read more

Interdisciplinary and cross-media huh?

Last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sent out a press release touting a new reorganization initiative. Also last week, the Pike County Conservation District (PCCD) discussed the problems related to the oversight and enforcement of natural gas pipeline construction. These two events, in two very different ways, cast light on what is becoming an increasingly critical question in our area: are the bodies charged with ensuring the viability of our habitat willing and able to do what is necessary to see that it is protected from degradation?  Read more

In it for the short haul

As the national jobs situation continues to deteriorate, voices calling for gas drilling as the only way out of our local economic dilemma become all the more strident. But several recent studies suggest that if we rush into a gas drilling economy, it may be only to find ourselves rushing out again, with less to show for it, even in the short term, than has been commonly assumed—especially as compared to other avenues likely to offer better long-term solutions.  Read more

‘I pay a lot of taxes in this town…’

How often have you heard this remark used, whether in a private conversation or a public meeting, to preface someone’s opinions about what a town’s policies should be or how its codes should be written? We’ve heard it fairly frequently over the years, including recently, without really stopping to question it. Although those who utter it don’t spell out why they consider it relevant, the implications seem clear enough. The speaker pays a lot of taxes; tax revenues are what a town uses to operate; therefore the speaker ought to have a lot of say in how the town is governed.  Read more

The power of shared experience

In 2008, James Marsh made a documentary titled “Man on Wire,” about the tightrope walk that high-wire artist Philippe Petit performed at the top of the Twin Towers of New York’s World Trade Center, back when the buildings were still under construction. The daring act—not only physically risky, but requiring a bold circumvention of rules and security systems—provides a poignant bookend to the destructive act that marked the end of those towers on September 11, 2001, 10 years ago this weekend.  Read more

Keeping it green

The Town of Tusten’s zoning rewrite was put online for public review on August 8. It is already open for written comment, and the first public hearing tentatively scheduled for September 26, followed by one on October 10.  Read more

Another line of defense

In our editorial of July 21, we argued that wrongful takings lawsuits resulting from ordinances prohibiting high-impact industrial use have little chance of succeeding, and that, therefore, we are unlikely to see more than one or two such suits in local towns that adopt such ordinances.  Read more

Voter manipulation: not the first time

With regard to last week’s editorial, a number of readers called or emailed to remind us that this is not the first instance in which questionable tactics have been used in Tusten elections. One incident that still raises eyebrows for many is the election in 2007 in which absentee votes, most of which were from the Narrowsburg Adult Home, flipped the election—and showed a radically different percentage of votes for each candidate from the machine votes cast the night of the election.  Read more

Manipulating the vote in Tusten

Shortly before Tusten’s recent referendum on who should appoint the town bookkeeper, a number of town residents received a hard-copy letter telling them they should vote “no.” We do not say mailed, because even though the letters had stamps on them, the stamps were apparently not cancelled, or not on the letters we were able to track down.  Read more

Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’

The ethics controversy that has erupted recently in the Sullivan County Legislature centers around the concepts of conflict of interest and appearance of impropriety, and an unusual county ethics rule that requires that an abstention on the basis of apparent improprieties that do not meet the technical standard of “conflict of interest” be recorded as a “yes” vote.  Read more