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The Best Gifts from Schoharie County

Showing posts with label New York State. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New York State. Show all posts

Reminder: DEC Burn Ban in Effect Through May 14

Written By Cicero on 3/16/15 | 3/16/15

Note: This is a 2012 article from the Department of Environmental Conservation explaining its annual statewide brush burn ban beginning on March 16th and lasting through May 14th.

All residential brush burning is prohibited in smaller communities during the state's historically high fire-risk period from March 16 through May 14, state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens reminded New Yorkers today.
"This time of year has the most risk of fires and the risk is even greater this year due to the extremely mild winter we've seen across the state," Commissioner Martens said. "Since the open burning regulation passed in 2009, there have been fewer fires reported in New York state. In an effort to protect the health and safety of our children, families and our natural environment, we remind residents that brush burning is banned statewide beginning this week."
In 2009, New York toughened restrictions on open burning to reduce harmful air pollutants and help prevent wildfires. While the burn ban regulation allows residential brush burning for most of the year in towns with a populations of less than 20,000, it prohibits open burning in all communities during early spring when the bulk of New York's wildfires typically occur. The state regulation prohibits the burning of garbage at all times and in all places.
Several factors enable wildfires to start easily and spread quickly at this time, including the lack of green vegetation, abundance of available fuels such as dry grass and leaves, warm temperatures and wind.
Open burning is the largest single cause of wildfires in New York state. Data from DEC's Forest Protection Division shows that debris burning accounted for about 36 percent of wildfires in the state between 1985 and 2009, which is more than twice the next most-cited cause. In addition, from 2000 to 2009 New York's fire departments responded to an average of 2,300 wildfires each year from March 16 to May 14. That represents about 46 percent of all wildfires for the year.
Fire department data for 2010 and 2011 indicated a 26 percent reduction in wildfires during the burn ban period for those years when compared to the previous 10 years (2000-2009). In addition, 86 percent of all communities across the state had a reduction of wildfires compared with the previous five years.
Some towns are designated "fire towns" primarily in and around the Adirondack Park and Catskill Park. Under the Environmental Conservation Law, open burning is prohibited in these municipalities without a written permit from DEC. Open burning is prohibited at any time in these municipalities. To find out whether a town is a designated "Fire Town" and/or to obtain a permit, parties should contact a DEC regional office. For a directory of the DEC Regional Offices, visit the DEC website.
Violators of the open burning state regulation are subject to both criminal and civil enforcement actions, with a minimum fine of $500 for a first offense. To report environmental law violations call 1-800-TIPP DEC (1-800-847-7332), or report online on DEC's website.
A list of questions and answers on the open burning regulation is available on DEC's website.

Southern Tier Towns Want to Secede from NYS, Join Pennsylvania

Written By Editor on 2/20/15 | 2/20/15

For some Upstate communities, enough is enough. Upset with various New York State policies that seem to be the opposite of local wishes, a local movement aims for big change.

Aiming to leave New York State's high tax burden and upset over recent changes in fracking policies, some communities see greener pastures in Pennsylvania. This part of the state was the only region where a majority of residents polled would often support hydraulic fracturing. Other issues, including the SAFE Act, are deeply unpopular.

Altogether there are 15 towns in four counties that desire to secede, including in nearby Delaware County. The exact names of these communities has not been named.

Such a deal would have to be approved by New York, Pennsylvania, and the United States Congress. Such a move is unlikely, to say the least. State Senator Tom Libous did include a question about the prospect of secession in a mailer to constituents.

In a recent survey conducted for the The United States Conference of Mayors and The Council on Metro Economies and the New American City of economic growth in the 363 metro regions in the country, the following Upstate regions rated:

352nd Ithaca,  353rd Glens Falls, 354th Buffalo-Niagara Falls, 355th Elmira,  356th Kingston, 362nd Utica-Rome, and 363rd Binghamton.

The issue has made a splash, getting to the pages of the Washington Post.

Silver Allegations May Lead to Obstruction of Justice Charges Against Cuomo

Written By Editor on 1/29/15 | 1/29/15

Sheldon Silver's role in the limelight are not over. While he will be leaving the Speaker's chair in the State Assembly Monday and undergo a grueling trial, he may have one more trick up his sleeve. Silver presided over one of the most dysfunctional state legislatures in the country, and allegedly used his influence to make millions of dollars.

However, the national media is reporting that there is concern that Silver's fall may also bring dwon Governor Andrew Cuomo. One suit alleges that Cuomo disbanded the Moreland Commission, meant to find improper pay for play in the legislature, due to Silver's influence:
The Silver-led state assembly then filed a court motion to quash the commission’s subpoenas related to legislators’ outside income. In exchange for allowing the campaign finance bill to pass,
Silver allegedly demanded that Cuomo disband the commission, according to the complaint against Silver
US Attorney Preet Bharara’s case against Silver has been buffeted by months of investigation. His statement that watchers should "Stay tuned" seem to indicate that more heads may roll very soon.

Silver to Leave Speakership Next Week

Written By Editor on 1/28/15 | 1/28/15

Sheldon Silver is out, at least for the time being. The NYS Assembly Democratic Party caucus is set to remove Silver from his position as speaker on Monday. He will be replaced with an interim speaker, Joseph Morelle, until a full election is held on February 10th.

Silver has been speaker since June 1994 and was indicted for his alleged role in steering millions in illegal contracts. While such activity has been suspected for years, documentation has come to light form a special prosecutor.

Lawsuit Alleges State Illegally Using Confidential Data for SAFE Act Confiscation

Written By Editor on 1/1/15 | 1/1/15

A lawsuit is alleging that the state is using its authority under the SAFE Act to illegally target gun owners. Under one provision of the law the state is using data from medical professionals to construct a state database of at risk residents, as reported yesterday.

A federal class action lawsuit led by Donald Montgomery claims that such data is being compiled illegally. The suit occurred after Montgomery had his guns seized after checking into a Buffalo hospital for trouble sleeping. This happened despite him being both a retired law enforcement officer and veteran.

Montgomery is suing Governor Cuomo and several other state officials for what he believes is an unconstitutional law. His lawsuit alleges that the state compiles data from medical professionals without a subpoena and without knowledge of the person whose information is being shared. This is in conflict with years of medical confidentiality. The plaintiff calls this a "gross overreach."

The lawsuit also alleges that the number of people listed as being unfit to own guns has been called "too low" by Governor Cuomo in October.

The suit alleges that the law unfairly punishes patients for voluntarily visiting mental health professionals, especially targeting former military and police.

If Montgomery et al wins the lawsuit, the portion of the SAFE Act dealing with such mental health provisions will be overturned.

Text of the lawsuit can be found below.

Cuomo Inaugurated for a Second Term

Governor Andrew Cuomo was inaugurated for a second term today, declaring that he would take further action over the next four years.

The event took place at the World Trade Center site and was well attended. The Governor announced that he had accomplished much in his first term and would eclipse it in his second.

The New York Times quotes the Governor as saying, "It’s time to be bold, my friends. Because there are no small solutions to big problems."

Photo credit: Governor's Twitter Account

State Minimum Wage Rises to $8.75

The state minimum wage rose from $8.00 to $8.75 yesterday, as part of an agreement of the state legislature. On December 31, 2015 the wage will further increase to $9.00. The legislature is considering a further increase to $10.10, while Governor Cuomo's administration is considering a further increase for workers under the wage, such as waiters.

Multiple states have wage increases coming into effect for the new year.

Florida Passes New York in Population

Written By Editor on 12/31/14 | 12/31/14

New York's population growth faced another major obstacle in the last year, with the state falling to the fourth most populous in the country. New York, with 19.7 million people, fell behind Florida, now with 20.0 million this year.

New York's population growth has stayed nearly flat over the last three decades, while other states see a large surge.

Meanwhile, job growth has also remained nearly flat. New York and Texas were nearly tied in 1990 while now New York is significantly behind.

NYS to Ban Fracking

Written By Editor on 12/17/14 | 12/17/14

It was unclear which direction the Governor's office was going to head in regarding fracking. After receiving a public health report regarding the potential effects of the practice, the Governor decided to ask the state legislature to ban the practice.

The acting Commissioner of Health stated, “I cannot support high volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York,” The Administration decided to side with activists that contended that fracking would cause more harm than good in the local ecosystem.

Cuomo Decision to Strip Union Rights After Teachout Endorsement

Written By Editor on 12/16/14 | 12/16/14

Albany is aglow today with talk about Governor Andrew Cuomo's decision to challenge a major public sector union. The Governor has decided to remove 1,000 positions across the state from union classification.

The move plans on removing about 2% of the Public Employees Federations' current membership, as reported in the Times Union. The paper reports that employees were simply handed the notice and asked to sign a form indicating that they had received it.

The decision still needs to be approved by the Public Employees Relations Board, but the move could affect state employed attorneys, accountants, and others. The union says that it will be challenging the decision. It also comes just four months before the close of the current contract, differing from the usual eight months that such a decision is normally made.

The move happened less than a year since the PEF endorsed Cuomo's opponent, Zephyr Teachout for the Democratic nomination for Governor. In the endorsement, the group criticized what it called a "culture of fear" under Governor Cuomo.

Cuomo Nears Fracking Decision

Governor Cuomo seemed to indicate that he will finally make a stand in the fracking debate. In the four years he's been in office, the Governor has not indicated either way where he stood on the controversial practice. Now he says that he is awaiting a health report on fracking's effects due out by January 1.

In a recent interview, the Governor was slightly more clear, but still obtuse about his final decision. He said, “By the end of the year, we should have positions on both that are clear. We'll start the new year with major decisions under our belt.”

It is not clear which position he will wind up taking. Some speculate that he may allow very limited fracking, but ban it in almost every part of the state.

NYS Retirement Fund Posts Loss

Written By Editor on 12/1/14 | 12/1/14

The New York State Common Retirement Fund, in which many of the state's pensions are funded from is facing a stark reality. Already believed by some to be underfunded, the State Comptroller's office announced that the fund lost .52% in the most recent quarter.

The results were published on the Comptroller's website. The fund is partially invested in a series of stocks and other equities meant to raise more money than the rate of inflation and pay for hundreds of thousands of current and future pensions. The fund gained 3.6% in the last quarter but the overall long term expected return is 7.5%. It now has $178.3 billion dollars stashed away.

Cuomo Vetoes Veterans' Benefit Bill

Written By Editor on 11/10/14 | 11/10/14

Just days after election day, Governor Andrew Cuomo decided to veto a bill passed by both houses of the state legislature. The bill, intending to aid veterans by allowing them to voluntarily purchase credit into the state retirement system for their service during peacetime.

The bill's synopsis says:

 Provides up to three years of service credit to members of public retirement systems of the state for military service rendered during times of peace; removes requirement that such military service occur during specified periods of hostilities; requires such members have at least five years of credited service, not including military service.

The bill passed the State Assembly 133 to 1 and the State Senate 57-0. Overall costs were going to cost taxpayers about $170 million. Both Assemblyman Lopez and Senator Seward voted for the bill.

Cuomo's veto message is below, citing in part that New York City's annual liability would be about $18 million.

Lopez Faces Easy Path to Fifth Term in Assembly

Written By Editor on 6/1/14 | 6/1/14

With local political attention focused primarily on the 19th congressional district election between incumbent Republican Chris Gibson and Democratic challenger Sean Eldridge, Schoharie's adopted son, Assemblyman Peter Lopez, has flown mostly under the radar as he prepares for his own re-election bid.

Lopez, who had served on the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors and as Schoharie County Clerk before his election to the Assembly in 2006, is currently running for his fifth term in the state legislature. As of this publication, there have been no confirmed opponents to the Assemblyman's campaign. 

According to queries into the incumbent's re-election committee, Lopez 4 NY, on the New York State Board of Elections Campaign Finance Reports database, Lopez has amassed a formidable $23,175.32 campaign war chest, possibly discouraging potential challengers from entering the race. 

The Schoharie County Republican Committee is expected to endorse both Lopez and State Senator James Seward at the GOP's upcoming nominating caucus on Wednesday, June 4th at the county building. 

After first being elected to the Assembly with 58% of the vote over Siena Professor Scott Trees, Lopez has subsequently cruised to re-election his past three electoral campaigns; two of which he ran unopposed in and last he carried with nearly a two-thirds margin during a national election cycle.

County Board Denies New York State Permission to Use Seal, Name and Offices in Enforcement of SAFE Act

Written By Editor on 12/21/13 | 12/21/13

The Schoharie County Board of Supervisors, joining several other county boards and legislatures, voted 11-3 yesterday morning to deny New York State permission to use the Schoharie County seal and name in enforcement of the so-called "SAFE Act," in a resolution introduced by Town of Carlisle Supervisor Larry Bradt.
Discussion of Mr. Bradt's resolution was kicked off when Town of Esperance Supervisor Earl Van Wormer put on a hat with an AK-47 in the background that read "come and get it." He wore the hat while praising his colleagues' pro-second amendment efforts, which led to the Board taking the resolution out of order.
Mr. Bradt would then read the resolution in its entirety:
Whereas, the State of New York has passed a gun control law referred to as the SAFE Act, and
Whereas, this act clearly indicates that the enforcement of this law is the responsibility of New York State, and
Whereas, in recent discussions, the State has indicated an interest in using the Seal of Schoharie County and the names of the offices of the Schoharie County Sheriff in pistol permit recertification notices, and
Whereas, the County Sheriff has voiced his strong objection to this request and suggestion, now, therefore, be it hereby
RESOLVED, that the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors denies the State of New York permission to use the Name, Seal of the County or any other likeness of it, Sheriff's Office Logo, letterhead or address for purposes of correspondence with legal and registered gun owners regarding permit recertification or any other purpose associated with the SAFE ACT, and it be further
RESOLVED, that copies of the resolution should be transmitted to the office of the Governor of New York State, the Superintendent of State Police, NYS Senator James L. Seward, Assemblyman Peter Lopez and the legislature of every County in the State of New York
Sheriff Desmond, who was asked to speak by Mr. Bradt, called the SAFE Act "a thorn in the Sheriff's department since its enactment." Adding that it is nothing but "more harassment of law abiding gun owners," and that he doesn't want to be "any part of this." The Sheriff also voiced his dismay over the SAFE Act's recertification process that will require residents, some of whom have had pistol permits for forty, fifty years, to recertify their legally obtained pistols with the Sheriff's Department.
The Board would follow Sheriff Desmond's comments with a roll call vote that would result in the resolution's passage. Two supervisors, Robert Mann of Blenheim and Donald Brandow of Conesville were absent, while three voted in opposition: Anne Batz of Broome, Carl Barbic of Seward and Amber Bleau of Wright.

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