Editorial: Will nuclear option work?

AS MUCH AS WE KNOW about nature and science, nothing could have prepared us for the images from Japan’s multiple calamities last week. My thoughts turned immediately to our niece and her family in the Tokyo suburb of Yokohama. Fortunately, that densely populated part of the country escaped the devastation from the earthquake and tsunami. But my niece and nephew have young children, and along with mourning those who’ve died and the impact of the cleanup and recovery, they live with the threat of radiation exposure from crippled nuclear power plants.

Trying to comprehend this disaster inevitably leads to comparisons. Columbia County lies about 60 miles north of Indian Point on the Hudson River, the site of the nuclear reactors nearest the county. That’s about half the distance between my relatives in Japan and the plant that has released most of the radiation so far. Nothing in the recent history of our region points to seismic activity here anything like the earthquakes that regularly shake Japan. Still, the plants at Indian Point are built on the Ramapo Fault, a crack in the Earth’s surface where earthquakes can happen. Read more…

Time for change in Chatham

VILLAGE ELECTIONS CATCH me by surprise. They happen in March in this state, about as far away as possible from the fall general election, so higher profile races for town, county, state or national seats won’t drown out this exercise in grassroots democracy. But who’s thinking about better government in March? All I want is better weather.

It turns out that some folks in the Village of Chatham have had elections on their minds for months and have organized a campaign to elect candidates for mayor and Village Board under the Chatham United banner. Regardless of the outcome Tuesday, they have already made an impact. Read more…

Slurs are anything but ‘common’

HARD TO KNOW sometimes how to distinguish between intentional bigotry as opposed to clueless, ignorant or pigheaded behavior. And maybe the distinctions don’t matter much.

Consider the example last week of the elected assessor of the Town of Taghkanic, Art Griffith, who told members of the Town Board in a public session, “We Jewed them down,” referring to negotiations over a bill with a contractor. Read more…

What’s the plan on the budget?

IT’S HARD TO GET past worries these days that the car won’t start, the pipes will freeze or the ice will launch you bobsledding across the driveway. But whenever my feet warm up enough for me to think about the turmoil filling the news these days, I wonder what effect it will have on everyday life around here.

Leaving aside speculation about what events overseas mean for geopolitics and gas prices, the top story from Washington is the budget. If the House, Senate and president don’t come to some sort of agreement on current year spending by the end of next week, the federal government faces a “partial shutdown” like the one in 1995. True, plenty of people wouldn’t notice the difference right away if the government did close its doors, but experts say services for veterans, for instance, and funding that helps cities and states may be disrupted. Read more…

Audit reveals costs of technology

IT WAS A SWEET, classic photo in last week’s edition, similar to countless others we publish gladly. The Hudson Rotary was honoring two students, acknowledging their achievements with a gift of a dictionary… a printed dictionary.

What’s wrong with that? Absolutely nothing. Rotary is an exceptionally generous and public spirited organization, and this county is a better place to live because of the clubs’ activities. Likewise, the accomplished young people that the clubs recognize have the good manners to gracefully accept the gift in the spirit it’s offered. And perhaps, following the example of a geezer like me, some of those kids may even use a printed dictionary now and then. Read more…