Thursday, September 28, 2006

Tax Dollars at Work

I wanted to talk to Highway Superintendant, Jack Bush, about some details of his 2007 budget request. Neither of us wanted to be stuck in his office in the town garage yesterday, so I met him on the job at the new Town Hall site. Work is well underway and the open meadow where we met last month to break ground is already a distant memory.

Dryden Public Works crew and a private contractor were at work removing an underground fuel tank on the adjacent property recently purchased by the Town. The bad news was that the tank was nearly full. The good news was that it wasn't leaking. Three or four hundred gallons of fuel and water were pumped out of the tank. The tank will be cleaned and recycled and the fuel will be processed for recycling.

Jack and I talked about the budget in the truck on the way to where rock was being delivered for the Virgil Creek Stabilization Project. Flooding caused the creek to shift course a few years ago bringing it up against the base of the hill in the background. At the top of the hill the road is just a few feet away. So moving the creek back to its original course away from the hill was important to protect the hill and the road above. The relocation of the creek has been accomplished but placement of enormous rocks to stabilize the current course is ongoing.

We went on to visit the Virgil Creek Flood Control Dam. My crude composite photo doesn't begin to show how beautiful this area is.

I don't normally favor tampering this much with natural features. But if the village of Dryden must be protected from flooding, this seems like a good way of doing it. Above the fish ladder you can see the original course of the creek.

The earthen dam is the hill in the background of this view of the restricting culvert. During a "heavy rain event" the five foot diameter culvert restricts the amount of water flowing downstream and the water is held in the huge, man-made basin. A high water marker can be seen (barely) in the panorama above just to the right of the trees in the center of the photo.

And from atop the dam, this is the view of the Creek going more or less happily on its way. This 90 acre area is open to hiking and the dreaded snowmobiling. Seems to me it would also be good for cross country skiing.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Ithaca Journal

Simon's on vacation so I'll be reading the Ithaca Journal - at least the online version. This morning the Ithaca Journal reports on Dryden's application for funding to restore a house on East Main St. The town recently bought this property, adjacent to the new town hall site, to facilitate design of access to the new town hall. Funding from Restore NY will make it possible for the town to restore the house on this property and return it to residential use. A public hearing on the town's application for Restore NY funding is scheduled for 7:30 AM (yes AM) Tuesday September 26.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Barack Obama: Had Enough?

I wish news coverage of Barack Obama's speech in Iowa focused on what he said and not on speculation about his 2008 candidacy. And I wish that more reporters had actually heard the speech. The speech was televised. You can see it here. (Fast forward to about 23 minutes for the section of the speech quoted below.) How hard would it be to write an original article about it? Yet dozens of newspapers and TV and radio stations carried the AP story with the headline "Dems Need Tough Security Stance" and the quote "What Democrats have to do is to close the deal." And dozens more carried the Chicago Tribune article with the headline, "Obama greeted like a rock star in Iowa" ('though the Tribune's headline was "Iowa Democrats see contender in Obama.")

The New York Times at least picked up the line that caught my attention. Obama says, "I don’t think that George Bush is a bad man.” He goes on to say that Bush and Republicans "believe in different things” and to underscore the party’s agenda by explaining the variety of ways Americans have “had enough” of Republican and Bush administration policies.

In case you don't have time to listen to Barack Obama, here's part of the speech:
I don’t think George Bush is a bad man. I don’t. I think George Bush wants to do right by America. I think he’s a patriotic person. I don’t think the people who work for him are stupid people. I think a lot of them are smart - in their own way. I think the problem is that they’ve got a different idea of America than we’ve got. They believe in different things.

They have a sense that, in fact, Government is the problem, not the solution. And that if we just dismantle government piece by piece, if we break it up in tax cuts to the wealthy and if we make sure we privatize social security and we get rid of public schools and we make sure that we don’t have police on the streets, we have private security guards and we don’t have public parks, we’ve got private parks, if we just break everything up that, in fact, everybody’s going to be better off. That we don’t have obligations to each other, that we’re not in it together but, instead, you’re on your own. That’s the basic concept behind the ownership society. That’s what George Bush and this Republican Congress have been arguing for, for the last six years. And it’s a tempting idea. Because it doesn’t require anything from each of us. It’s very easy for us to say that I’m going to think selfishly only about myself.

That I don’t have to worry about the fact that 46 million people don’t have health insurance. I don’t have to make any effort to deal with the fact that our children don’t have opportunity to go to college because student loans have been cut. I don’t have to worry about the guy just who lost his job after working 30 years in a plant because his plant’s moved to Mexico or out to China, despite the fact that he has been producing profits on behalf of that company this whole time and he’s lost his health care and he’s lost his pension as a consequence. I don’t have to worry about those things.

But here’s the problem. The problem is that that idea won’t work. Because despite the much vaunted individual initiative and self reliance that has been at the essence of the American Dream the fact of the matter is that there’s always been this other idea of America. This idea that says we have a stake in each other. That I am my brother’s keeper. That I am my sister’s keeper. That I’ve got an obligation. Not just for my self, not just for my family, but also for you. That every child is my child and every senior citizen deserves

That simple notion is one that we understand in our churches, in our synagogues, in our mosques. It’s an idea we understand in our own families, in our own blocks, in our workplaces. But it also has to reflect itself in our government.

You know, nobody here expects government to solve all our problems for us. We don’t want government to solve our problems. What we do expect is that government can help. The government can make a
difference in all of our lives. And that is essentially the battle that we’re going to be fighting in this election. It is a battle about education, it is a battle about health care. It is a battle about energy. But it is also a battle about what America is going to be about, America’s future, about how we relate to each other and how we understand our place in this world.

Now the fact is, if you look at the record of the last six years, we shouldn’t have a problem in this election. I know, Tom, you wouldn’t normally hear this quoted at one of your steak fries. But, you know, the other day I heard Newt Gingrich speak. I don’t normally quote Newt Gingrich – at least at Democratic events. But I’ve gotta say Newt caught my attention. ‘cause folks were asking him, you know, given all the problems Republicans have had managing the country, managing the economy, managing the war in Iraq, what do you thinks going to happen in this election? And Newt Gingrich said to the commenter, “If I was advising the Democrats, I gotta admit I would just use two words to campaign.” And the reporter said “What are the two words?” and he said “Had enough.”

Had enough! And I don’t know about you. But I think old Newt’s on to something. Because I’ve had enough…

Of Drug companies writing the prescription plan….
Of Oil companies writing the energy bill…
Of A Bill like no child left behind that left the money behind…
Of a do nothing, not even trying, effort to deal with the health care crisis that every single American is affected by…

And let me tell you something else I’ve had enough of. I’ve had enough of using terrorism as a wedge issue in our politics. I’ve had enough of that.

Cross posted at Five Wells
[ed. 9-22-06 Corrected link to the speech.]

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Town Board Meeting

Councilperson Stelick was well prepared to run the Board meeting in the absence of Supervisor Trumbull. The meeting opened with a statement from Peter Schug appealing to the Board to consider extending the current repayment schedule for Cayuga Press's economic development loan as he prepares to move the business to the Empire Zone in Cortland County. Schug expects to be moving in January and the Board plans to reach a decision about the loan by then.

Several Beam Hill residents spoke about the conflict surrounding creation of a motocross bike track in the neighborhood. One group is proud of creating a safe recreation area for teenagers interested in motorbike racing while another group is concerned about the noise and dirt coming from the track. The groups have begun talking about limiting the times kids use the track and Councilperson Stelick recommended that they contact Community Dispute Resolution Center if they are unable to reach agreement among themselves.

County Legislator, Martha Robertson, announced upcoming meetings regarding the County budget. In order to meet the legislature's goal of a zero tax rate increase, "The Tentative Budget eliminates or severely reduces funding for agencies and programs including the Recreation Partnership, Rural Libraries, Cooperative Extension, the Tompkins County Public Library, Lifelong, the Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance and the Human Services Coalition, as well as the County's Departments of Social Services, Personnel and Administration." Dryden residents are encouraged to read about the County budget and attend planned meetings if they have concerns about planned budget cuts. A public information meeting will be held Thursday, September 21 at 7:00 PM at GIAC. The public hearing will be November 14 with the final vote on the budget planned for November 21.

Dave Putnam reported that property owners in the proposed Pinckney Road water district have been contacted and two responses have been received - one for and one against formation of the district.

Recreation Coordinator, Jennifer Dube, reports that the agreement with the Village of Dryden for the Skate Park is ready. Dube also distributed results of the Recreational Needs Assessment conducted by a recreation class at SUNY Cortland. I expect to write more about this in the near future. I hope the report can be made available on the town website.

The Board approved a $2,000 payment to the Varna Community Association to fund recreation programming and agreed to endorse the association's search for funding for a generator to enhance the ability to provide emergency services at the Varna Community Center.

Zoning Officer, Henry Slater, reports that we have an opportunity to apply for funding from Restore NY to finance improvements to the Tuttle property adjacent to the new town hall site and recently purchased by the town.

The Renewable Energy Law proposal was accepted by the Board. That is, it was accepted as a proposal. Some objection to the proposal was voiced because the proposed law, intended to promote small scale residential and commercial use of renewable energy conversion systems, severely limits development of large scale production of electricity from wind energy. A public hearing was scheduled for October 5. Following the close of the public hearing the board may vote on the proposal.