Archives for the month of: May, 2012

Many folks in Columbia and Greene Counties are still wondering what to make of State Assemblyman Pete Lopez’s surprise visit to Stuyvesant last Friday morning. The visit was unannounced and the public at large was not present at the visit’s location, the Hydroelectric Station in Stuyvesant Falls. Lopez was there to campaign for reelection in the newly formed 102nd District; Stuyvesant is new to him. That being the case, why the secrecy? Lopez seems a likable fellow and might have done well in a public setting.

One unkind explanation, posted on the Register-Star website, suggests it is because the revitalization of the Hydroelectric Station is closely associated with U. S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Lopez, by appearing there, hoped to gain credit by association. “A cheesy GOP fraud,” the comment read, “…to bask in another’s accomplishments.”

Although the public wasn’t there, a lot of very conservative politicos were, including Dick Bruno, the Stuyvesant Conservative leader and Matt Torrey, leader of the Columbia County Conservatives. So does that mean Republican Lopez is edging to the right?

The irony is, the stealthiness of the event has generated more conversation than there would have been had Lopez simply held a public event to introduce himself to the citizens of Stuyvesant. Hmmm—maybe that was the intention all along.

Here’s an interesting tidbit for Memorial Day weekend from our Columbia County correspondent, Lee Jamison.

Hi Tom,
A neighbor in Stuyvesant asked for a recommendation of an exterminator to get rid of carpenter bees in his soffits. Ned Depew (the handyman guy from WAMC “Vox Pop,” lives in Stuyv) wrote in an interesting alternative response with links. Remember, there are always choices! :-) Perhaps your BlueinGreene harried-homeowner readers might be interested. Endocrine-disrupting pesticides do more harm to us humans than the carpenter bees, box elder bugs or locust-hawks that many think we have to spray.
Lee

Begin forwarded message:

Ed –

Don’t be hasty. Although these insects are largely harmless, they are far from useless. They’re champion pollinators—something of which we are in sore need between the honeybee colony collapse and the bat population problems.

The males, who are the more active and aggressive have no sting—they are just trying to drive away a creature thousands of times their own size through sheer bravery and display. The females, who do have a sting—no more than an ordinary bee sting—have a yellow triangle in the middle of their foreheads. Sometimes the males will butt their heads against the stamens of a flower to put a false yellow pollen mark there and imitate the females!

They are amazing flyers—like hummingbirds capable of hovering and flying backwards, while at the same time, like the bumblebee, an aerodynamic impossiblity.

They are amazing and very useful animals – to the ecosystem. They do very little damage to buildings – their nests go in less than an inch and then take a right angle bend to a chamber or sometimes a few chambers where they lay their eggs. Because their penetration is shallow, they generally only damage trim and facing boards, which are relatively easy to repair and/or replace. Because they nest singly rather than in colonies, the amount of damage done in a single year tends to be minimal.

If these small holes bother you, you can fill them in the fall with wood putty and paint over them. It takes many, many years for a group of carpenter bees to do any real damage. The species found in this area are not social,(although they do pair-bond and the males help protect the females and young) so if you have one active nest per 2-3′ that is a “heavy infestation.”

Any household insecticide designed for wasps and hornets will kill them—but I urge you to read up on these fascinating creatures and learn to appreciate and co-exist with them. There’s information here and here.

I’ve worked in the construction industry off of ladders around soffits and fascias—their favorite nesting sites—for many years without ever having been stung by one, although they can be startling and pesky. They are gentle and delightful creatures.

Cheers,

N

Enjoy the holiday weekend, and let the bees buzz!

Occupy Hudson has been meeting regularly on Mondays at 7th Street Park (or nearby at The Parlor Coffee & Tea House in bad weather) for months now. This past Saturday, May 19, the group went public with an inviting, low-key event in the park.

Occupy Public Space
Photo: Tom Pletcher

It was an "unofficial" event, and I wasn’t able to stay for all of it. As noted, the atmosphere was low-key and friendly. There was some good music, plenty of hula hoops and lots of engaging and thought-provoking conversation, including a very well-led discussion of the commons (thanks, Christine!).

Hudson city officials had been notified about the event in advance, and everything went off without any hitches or glitches (that I’m aware of, at any rate). Just by holding this event in a public space, Occupy Hudson performed a valuable service by demonstrating the importance of public space.

Occupy Hudson will soon go live with a new website at occupyhudson.org. Watch for it, and check the online calendar for meetings and events. We hope to see you next time.

This past Saturday evening, several of us had a chance to meet congressional candidate Julian Schreibman in Hudson. The “meet & greet” (it was not a fund-raising event) was held in the spacious third-floor gallery of Hudson Wine Merchants on Warren Street; around 40 people were in attendance.

The candidate made a strong, positive impression. He was both personable and pointed, engaging and engaged. Mr. Schreibman, who has been endorsed by the Democratic Party in Greene, Columbia, Ulster and Dutchess Counties, differs from current Congressman Chris Gibson is almost every particular. His progressive views on virtually every major issue (e.g., he is firmly anti-fracking and pro-women’s rights) track closely with those of BlueInGreene’s audience. Yet he has solid establishment credentials, including Yale, Yale Law School, and a stint as Assistant General Counsel at the CIA. In addition, he’s received he Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award for assisting in the prosecution of four al Qaeda members for bombing U.S. embassies. All of this should help him in New York State’s newly configured 19th Congressional District.

Julian Schreibman
Photo: Lee Jamison

The Democratic Party recognizes the national importance of the 19th District and believes Schreibman has a genuine chance to unseat Gibson. That’s why he’s earned a spot on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s (DCCC) highly competitive Red-to-Blue program. Of course, the GOP will be pouring money into our district too, in an effort to save Gibson’s seat.

Meanwhile, there is a Democratic primary election coming up on June 26. Joel Tyner, a longtime Dutchess County legislator and teacher, has gathered enough signatures to force a run-off. Schreibman was very diplomatic in describing the situation, and noted that he and Tyner agreed on nearly every issue. But Schreibman’s campaign is serious, and already has serious donors behind it. (Tyner has almost no money, which raises the question of just what he hopes to accomplish in a run-off election.) Tyner’s heart may be in the right place, as Schreibman noted, but he stands little chance in the primary and could be viewed as somewhat bumptious for forcing the issue.

Politics in present-day America requires huge sums of money, a fact we all know and bemoan. Schreibman bemoans it as well, and noted that he needs to raise some $10,000 a day ($1.5 million total) to compete with Gibson. At some point, we progressives need to lead the charge in getting the pernicious influence of money out of politics*. Meanwhile, we should do everything we can to help the Schreibman campaign succeed. It’s critically important, not only for our 19th District, but for the Democrats’ chances of regaining control of the House.

*Please note: voting for Tyner in the primary is not the way to protest the influence of money in politics. A Tyner win would only guarantee victory for Gibson in November.

The genesis of this group dates back to summer 2011 and the Rebuild the Dream movement, which was hosted by MoveOn.org. A few months later the name “BlueInGreene” and this website were created to rebrand the Greene County council of MoveOn. (Local MoveOn councils cannot use “MoveOn” in their names.) However, for a variety of reasons—including MoveOn’s status as a federal PAC and the restrictions that go along with that—BlueInGreene has decided to sever formal ties with MoveOn.org and become an independent organization.

We continue to believe in fair play, opportunity for all and forward motion. And we will continue to work on behalf of progressive policies in Greene County, the Hudson Valley region and the country at large. We’ll also continue to partner with other progressive groups, including MoveOn, but our new, independent status will allow us to back progressive candidates in ways that PACs cannot.

If you’d like to learn more, or you’re interested in working with us, please write to info@blueingreene.org.

Today, President Obama’s nearly two-year-long “evolution” on the subject of same-sex marriage came to an end: he now supports it.

Predictably, the president was both hailed and assailed for his announcement. Many saw nothing but political calculation, an attempt to engage and fire up his progressive base. Others saw a bold and gutsy move. We’ll note here that same-sex marriage is prohibited in seven of the nine swing states regarded as crucial to Obama’s reelection. To us, that makes today’s announcement look both honest and brave.

How about it—what do you think? Will President Obama’s support of same-sex marriage help him or hurt him in November? Open the Comments section at left and let us know.

Sometimes it helps to lighten up a little, and the creative remix of West Side Story that’s been making the rounds the past couple of weeks is bound to generate a smile, at the very least. The new “Occupy” lyrics are clever and nicely performed, and Officer Winski receives a much-deserved comeuppance. Check it out below if you’ve haven’t seen it before (or even if you have).

BlueInGreene couldn’t let this day pass without saluting our friends and colleagues in the various Occupy groups, who have done so much to bring America’s growing inequality to mass attention. If there is any hope for our two-party political system, it has been born on the streets.

As an example of the great influence Occupy has wielded, here is an angry, profane and engaging article by best-selling American novelist Stephen King on the subject of unequal taxation. Spoiler alert: a quote from the essay’s last paragraph is coming up.

Last year during the Occupy movement, the conservatives who oppose tax equality saw the first real ripples of discontent. Their response was either Marie Antoinette (“Let them eat cake”) or Ebenezer Scrooge (“Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”). Short-sighted, gentlemen. Very short-sighted. If this situation isn’t fairly addressed, last year’s protests will just be the beginning. Scrooge changed his tune after the ghosts visited him. Marie Antoinette, on the other hand, lost her head.

Think about it.

We’d planned to show the award-winning documentary Inside Job later this month as part of the “Wall Street to Main Street” exhibition in Catskill. Unfortunately, those plans have changed.

Do let us know if you would like to see this film. If enough of you vote “Yes,” we’ll try to show it at a later date.

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