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October 28, 2016
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The vagaries of zoning

Had developer Philip Geras waited a few months before starting his project of converting a dilapidated former seasonal hunting cabin/lodge into an apartment complex, it is safe to say it would have stalled and, in fact, might never have seen the light of day. But the Tusten Town Board didn’t impose its moratorium on the construction of multi-family houses in the town until after Geras initiated the paperwork on his project.  Read more

If the people speak loudly enough…

Sometimes issues percolate up through the body politic, and the voices of people calling for the leaders to do the right thing become strong enough to drown out the requests and demands of the wealthy and powerful. That’s what happened on March 16; the U.S. Senate voted 49 to 48 not to end discussion on legislation that would have created the National Voluntary Bioengineered Food and Labeling Standard. That might sound like a thumbs-up on the legislation, but it actually represents a block.  Read more

New York voters want ethics reform

With Dean Skelos, the convicted former New York State Senate Majority Leader, and Sheldon Silver, the convicted New York State Assembly Speaker, both due to be sentenced on corruption charges next month, it should come as no surprised that 90% of New Yorkers believe that ethics violations are a major problem in Albany, according to a Quinnipiac Poll released on December 14, 2015.  Read more

Not in anybody’s backyard

Following the first years of furor over fracking for natural gas in this area, it seemed for a while that the conflagration had died down. In November of 2011, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) voted against approving fracking regulations, and since then there has been a moratorium on fracking in the Delaware River Basin while that body ponders how to proceed. In 2013, the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division affirmed the right of state towns to ban fracking via zoning.  Read more

Trump, immigrants and the workforce

The question of immigrants, undocumented and otherwise, reaches into a great many communities in the United States, including some in Sullivan County. There are several large businesses and a larger number of small ones in the county that employ primarily immigrants, and some portion of those employees is almost certainly undocumented.  Read more

Health and challenging the compressor

When the idea that property owners in the Upper Delaware Valley might stand to make a lot of money from hydraulic fracturing, most people thought the practice would soon be widespread here, because there seemed to be too much money to be made to stop it.  Read more

Party establishments should be careful what they wish for

We are currently witnessing a presidential primary season in which the powers that be in both the Republican and the Democratic parties are facing “outsider” candidates who are posing real threats to their establishment primary opponents. And in both cases, so far, the response of the party establishments has been to strategize how to make sure their establishment candidates come out on top by the party conventions this summer.  Read more

Keystone exams postponed

On February 3, Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law Senate Bill 880, which will delay the requirement for graduating students to pass a set of tests called the Keystone Exams or, if they fail, produce a project related to the exam areas. The exams focus on algebra I, biology and literature. The legislation says the exams will not be used to determine whether a student graduates any sooner than the school year of 2018-19.  Read more

Fighting FERC

Residents of the Town of Highland have understandably created an organization to try to halt the construction of a compressor station on the Millennium Pipeline on property formerly known as the Eldred Preserve.

Information on the website, www.nyscram.org says, “The compressor station presents a danger to the health, environment and property values of all of us who live nearby. Highland and surrounding towns have already passed laws forbidding this type of facility, but without action from all of us, these laws will not be enough to stop it.”  Read more

Overlooking voter fraud

Over the past few years, Republicans all over the country have been passing laws or attempting to pass laws meant to prevent something that almost never occurs: in-person voter fraud. Well, it happens that here in Sullivan County we have dozens of probable cases of voter fraud, and no one seems to have the power or will to make the fraudsters pay for their crimes.  Read more