Tea Party? Not here

ANYBODY LOOKING FOR A DRAMATIC confrontation last Saturday at the Golden Harvest farm store on Route 9 in Kinderhook went away disappointed. It was mostly talk and very little shouting, and probably didn’t change anybody’s mind, either. 

If Saturday is any indication, that’s the way the debate over healthcare reform is shaping up. There are two sides separated not by a middle ground or even uncertainty. The gulf is filled instead by rancor, mistrust, propaganda and ignorance. 

The occasion was Congressman Scott Murphy’s meet-and-greet with constituents of his 20th District, in sessions now called Congress on Your Corner. For his predecessor, Kirsten Gillibrand, audiences for these events were largely local residents. So it was a little unusual to find people at Saturday’s event who came from Albany suburbs, from Dutchess County and a few from outside the district. But they have a right to talk to a congressman just like every other citizen.

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Tea Party? Not here

ANYBODY LOOKING FOR A DRAMATIC confrontation last Saturday at the Golden Harvest farm store on Route 9 in Kinderhook went away disappointed. It was mostly talk and very little shouting, and probably didn’t change anybody’s mind, either. 

If Saturday is any indication, that’s the way the debate over healthcare reform is shaping up. There are two sides separated not by a middle ground or even uncertainty. The gulf is filled instead by rancor, mistrust, propaganda and ignorance. 

The occasion was Congressman Scott Murphy’s meet-and-greet with constituents of his 20th District, in sessions now called Congress on Your Corner. For his predecessor, Kirsten Gillibrand, audiences for these events were largely local residents. So it was a little unusual to find people at Saturday’s event who came from Albany suburbs, from Dutchess County and a few from outside the district. But they have a right to talk to a congressman just like every other citizen.

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Storms pack a message

LIKE POLITICS, ALL WEATHER is local. It’s what happens here that matters. This year that has become more evident than ever with grumble so often heard: Look at all this cool weather and rain—so much for predictions of global warming.

Experts warn that science can’t yet attribute individual weather events to the effects of a warming planet, even though the Earth’s climate is changing at a rate without precedent in recorded human history. Not even the sudden five inches of rain that submerged parts of northern Columbia County last week qualifies as proof positive.

But scientists do say that such events are consistent with the theories of how warming will change our lives, and that reminds us that government and individuals need to make some plans, if only because the transition to a warmer planet looks like a bumpy and expensive ride.

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EDITORIAL: Bricks, mortar and voter ire

YOU DON’T HAVE TO vote this November. Sure, the ballot offers a chance to choose among candidates for local offices, and it frequently happens that races hinge on one or two votes. But this year it seems like just the thought that you’ll vote has generated the seeds of change.

What else could explain the sudden about face of the county Board of Supervisors. Only a few months ago, the supervisors voted decisively to purchase the old Ockawamick School building in Claverack and then to move the headquarters of the county Department of Social Services to that site. Almost the only supervisors voting against the plan represent the City of Hudson, where the department is currently headquartered. Never mind the protesters and the outcry from city officials, this was a done deal.

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Seen any recovery lately?

THE LATEST GOOD NEWS/bad news story is that the federal stimulus package, adopted in February, has finally begun to arrive in the form of commitments by Washington to pay for a handful of long-overdue local public works projects.

The bad news comes from officials who know what the stimulus package—a.k.a. the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009—doesn’t have: enough money for a whole lot of other worthy projects. So does this mean the stimulus plan is a failure?

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