No party in Chatham

IT SOUNDED LIKE TEA PARTY sentiment: the calls for smaller, more efficient government, lower taxes, the elimination of waste and a call for elected representatives who listen to, instead of talk at, their constituents. But the participants didn’t fit the label.

Listening to national media these days, you’d think that the conservative Tea Party has a monopoly on demands for good government and the political muscle to achieve its goals. But the recent outcry in Chatham showed no particular ideological bias nor did the folks involved announce grander plans. People of all political stripes were just fed up. Read more…

Change in the wind

IMAGINE STICKY GOBS of crude oil washing up on the shores of the Roe Jan Kill or Kinderhook Lake. Picture Canada geese covered with dark goo, the beach at Lake Taghkanic turned to tar, the Hudson boat launch choked by petroleum the tide can’t wash away.

Fortunately we don’t face those direct consequences the way our fellow citizens on the Gulf Coast do following the fatal accident last month that destroyed the offshore oil rig and released millions of gallons of crude into the water. But like everybody who drives a car, shops at a supermarket or flips on a light switch, all of us who live in Columbia County live lives connected to the disaster unfolding off the Louisiana coast. And we bear some responsibility for finding ways to prevent such catastrophes from happening again. Read more…

We asked for it

THE SILENCE IS CREEPY. This time of year–this exact week–taxpayer groups and parents and students in some combination usually take every opportunity to try to convince voters to kill or support school district budget propositions, citing how deep an impact the proposed spending plans will have on their wallets or their futures, or both.

Earlier this year, as school boards prepared their budgets, some groups and individuals condemned plans to cut programs, but boards either found creative ways to fund what people most wanted or else the seriousness of the situation began to sink in with the public, causing people to realize that the money they demanded for their programs could only come from unacceptably high local property taxes. Read more…

Don’t arrest our farmers

THE IMAGES WERE SHOCKING no matter what you thought about the case: dead calves by the side of barn and a well-known farm family being taken from their farm in police cars. What kind of a world do we live in?

Eleven animals died at the Clapp farm in Hillsdale. Nobody disputes that. Law enforcement officials determined the four cows and seven calves, as well as other cattle at Sunny Mead Farm, appeared emaciated or malnourished as the result of the failure of the farm’s owners to provide them with adequate feed. Recent news reports have documented instances of other livestock–racehorses in one notable case–deliberately or negligently starved by their owner. To see how the Clapps were treated, it looked at first as if they had acted with similar indifference to the suffering of animals. Read more…

Stop first, then talk

HOW DID WE EVER live without cell phones? The government first authorized them 30 years ago, so a significant portion of the population quite literally can’t imagine cell-less existence (unless you live in parts of Ancram and other service-deficient communities). But now it turns out we have a problem living with them.

Last week we reported on local two accidents where authorities say the use of mobile devices by drivers contributed to one death and several injuries. In the first case, a 44-year-old Greene County woman seen talking on her cell phone lost control of her car, which left the road–Route 9 in Greenport–and flipped over. She died of her injuries. It happened in the middle of the afternoon. Read more…